Cure for the common cold front

SN&R's got your backside covered with workout and nutrition tips to help bust through that lazy winter hibernation

Jess Rhodes, an instructor at The Yoga Seed Collective, advocates yoga to get rid of wintertime sluggishness.

Jess Rhodes, an instructor at The Yoga Seed Collective, advocates yoga to get rid of wintertime sluggishness.

photo by wes davis

Get fit at Bodytribe Fitness, 920 21st Street; (916) 835-4982;; The Yoga Seed Collective, 1400 E Street, Suite B; (916) 978-1367;; and Fountain of Health Wellness Center and Spa, 2820 T Street; (916) 456-4600;

Whether you’re a fitness junkie routinely hitting miles of pavement before work, or a sporadic, half-hearted exerciser, there’s no denying the biting winter season has finally settled in.

When the streets are wet and gray clouds blanket city blocks, even the most health-conscious person’s workout routine is bound to slip into hibernation. Instead of blaming it on the rain, however, or hiding beneath a quilt for the winter (which leads to, usually, the packing on of unwanted pounds), SN&R’s got you covered with tips from an alternative fitness trainer, yoga instructor and nutritionist who recommends lots of butter. Really.

’Empowerment through movement'

Bodytribe Fitness owner and head trainer Chip Conrad has logged more than 20 years in the fitness industry and has owned a gym for nearly a decade. Not only does he regularly speak out against what he refers to as, “the corporate fitness world,” he’s also taught his workout philosophy of “empowerment through movement” across the country, from Los Angeles to New York City. Such empowerment, however, doesn’t require fancy equipment—Conrad encourages those who walk through his fitness sanctuary to take their routine back to the basics this winter to the comfort of their own living quarters.

He points to his own apartment as proof that anyone can find the means for an effective workout.

“I’ve got maybe 6-by-6 square feet of space, and that’s plenty of room,” Conrad says. “I can spend a whole session in [my apartment] doing all sorts of things, as long as I’m willing to be creative about it.”

During his cross-country travels, Conrad says his biggest surprise as a fitness trainer was learning just how many people can’t properly execute a basic push-up.

Dawn Throne of Fountain of Health Wellness and Spa recommends eating seasonal veggies to keep you healthy.

Photo By wes davis

Such simple moves are crucial, he says. Indeed, Conrad swears by old-fashioned calisthenics and other basic exercises that include pull-ups, squats and even yoga variations.

The key, he adds, is incorporating a twist. For example, Conrad suggests exercisers try transitioning from a squat directly into a yoga pose—and then holding the move.

He also advises clients to construct an inexpensive but effective workout tool by fashioning a sandbag into a barbell.

“The big secret that I actually like telling people is that you don’t need the gym at all or a gym membership. Movement is such a free expression of the body,” he says.

“A critic will say, ’Why is a push-up so tough?’ An artist would say, ’How many ways can I do the push-up?’ My goal, as a trainer, is to [turn] people from critics into artists.”

A healing practice

It’s cold and drizzly on a recent Tuesday evening outside The Yoga Seed Collective. On this night, patrons flood out of the building one by one, each pink-faced with exhaustion and carrying a rolled yoga mat under one arm.

Jess Rhodes, a petite, 27-year-old brunette, shakes hands with the yoga practitioners at her A to Om beginner’s class and then bundles up to exit the warm, musky room. Rhodes has taught yoga since 2009 and promises that the practice is for everybody—regardless of age, gender, shape or size.

“You can come to a yoga class here, and you’ll sweat more than you’d ever sweat in a cardio class at the gym,” Rhodes insists. “Yoga has been something that has healed me and keeps me feeling good all the time.”

A former rugby player, Rhodes suffered numerous injuries from her time on the field, including a popped lung and broken ribs. She started exploring yoga after she broke her back doing back handsprings while practicing Hapkido, an ancient form of Korean martial arts.

While it wasn’t an “end of the world” injury, she says now, her body required new, gentler movements.

Her Hapkido instructor introduced her to yoga in very simple, basic terms: breathing and stretching. Flash-forward two years later, and Rhodes now instructs yoga classes weekly. The practice has had a major impact on her body, helping to ease a lifetime’s worth of aches and pains, she says.

“[I] have broken lots of things, so I shouldn’t feel this good.”

She sees its positive impact on her clients as well. One yoga student lost 40 pounds after progressing through the yoga studio’s beginner and intermediate classes while another—a Vietnam War veteran—discovered yoga’s mental benefits.

You can use fancy weights like Bodytribe Fitness owner Chip Conrad does—or, as he suggests, fashion your own from sandbags.

Photo By wes davis

“He saw this YouTube video of a veteran that couldn’t walk doing yoga, and then [he was] running at the end, and it made him cry,” Rhodes says.

Such a profound result, she adds, is not uncommon.

“[Yoga] makes everyone cry.”

Pass the butter

With a last name like Throne, no wonder Dawn of the Fountain of Health Wellness Center and Spa has deemed herself the “Health Queen.” A nutritionist and business owner for more than 20 years, Throne insists that everyone should treat themselves royally this winter by eating age-old foods that also include one fatty luxury most doctors and nutritionists avoid: butter.

“If you want to have good health, I look at it as eating royally—or eating good foods that are very historic,” Throne says. “It’s like treating yourself with such importance that you’re regal in your food choices.”

But don’t just slather any old butter on that piece of toast, she warns.

“It has to be pasture butter—meaning the cow ate green grass,” she says. “It has to be the best.”

An avid farmers market shopper, Throne also encourages people to forgo store-bought apples, which she says are sometimes refrigerated for up to a year. Instead, she advises shoppers to purchase locally grown fresh-picked fruit.

Throne also stresses eating for the season to keep the body and mind healthy.

“For example, tomatoes aren’t in season, so don’t eat them,” she says. “All your lemons and your citrus fruits are in season, and there’s a reason for that: They’re high in vitamin C and help fight against viruses. … Acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins—they’re all very high in vitamins A and D, which also go together to fight against [illness].”

Other in-season vegetables to keep an eye out for this time of year include cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and a variety of chards—all high in vitamin C and soluble fibers.

Throne suggests cooking these vegetables in soups this time of year, ensuring a low-calorie, nutritious and comforting meal.

“All of those [vegetables] give us our strength for the winter and are very important foods to eat at this time [of year],” says Throne. “This is the time for soup. It warms you up, and it fills you up.”