Philosophy | Vision Fitness & Wellness

Wellness Wednesday Coaching

In Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, a duckling was made an outcast, ostracized from the other ducklings, and was really depressed. One day he looked across the pond and saw the most magnificent creature he had ever seen, which happened to be a swan. The duckling jumped into the water to swim up to this magnificent swan, but he realized he had grown up and had become a beautiful swan himself. You may not be able to convince yourself that no matter how much you view yourself as an ugly duckling, deep inside there is a swan waiting to grow up and be beautiful.

Some people have deeply rooted self-image problems and/or a sense of identity that cause them a lot of pain. No matter how much they want to see themselves as something far more beautiful, it’s too painful to depart from their current sense of identity. A lot of times if we set goals that are too big, it’s going to cause them to derail or fail. It’s not going to motivate us toward success.

The lesson here is that the ugly duckling’s life changed not when he saw himself as a more beautiful version of himself, but rather when he saw a completely different creature: another swan. If he had looked down into the water and saw a reflection of a swan where he thought he was a duckling, he would not have been able to process it.

We all have a mental self image that’s set like a thermostat from years and years of conditioning. Once we start achieving our fitness goals, we may self-sabotage. Try to find an alternate reference point that’s not threatening. If you consider yourself an ugly duckling, try to find an external reference point. Find your swan – someone that you really admire. What is it about them that makes them so attractive, and which of those attributes are aligned with you?

Sometimes when you see an attribute in someone else that you find really beautiful, it’s because those attributes are reflective of what we see in ourselves.


Social Networks and Weight Loss

What influence, if any, do our social networks have on the obesity epidemic? Researchers found that if an individual has just one friend that is obese, this increases their chances of obesity by 45%.  If they have a friend-of-a-friend that is obese, this increases their chances of obesity by 25%. And if they have a friend of a friend of a friend that is obese, this increases their chances of obesity by 10%.

Research concluded that our lives are influenced and shaped by the people closest to us.  This is also known as Affiliation Theory.  There are 3 possible causes for this:

  1. Induction – your obesity is directly causative of my obesity.
  2. Homophily – we gravitate towards each other because of a link or we share something in common.
  3. Confounding – we share a common environmental exposure.

If behaviors within a reference group are pervasive enough, then the behaviors leading to obesity become an unconscious standard for what is acceptable. It becomes a part of our sub-conscious social-mental programming.

It stands to reason that if the Affiliation Theory is a common cause for obesity, then there has to be an inverse causality. Through group expert participation that facilitates the development of healthy networks, we can help people establish the behaviors that serve them best.

We are very guilty of treating the symptoms versus the behavioral drives of obesity. If we don’t determine what the behavioral triggers are, or what the root cause of the problem is, then we don’t have a solution. If we don’t have the solution then we become part of the problem because we drive what is known as learned helplessness. This means that we make problems much more complex and don’t give any viable solution. Thus, the next choice for an individual might be to not do anything at all because they don’t believe a solution exists.

What if the pain of weight loss is greater than the desire for change? If reference groups are so powerful in their influence over people’s behaviors, then what happens if a person comes into gym & starts losing weight outside of social network for support? What happens if the more they lose weight, the more they start to feel guilt, loneliness, rejection & maybe even depression? Without the replacement of the social network, we may be driving recidivism.

If we can encourage people to show up and have fun in groups, we can foster a new social network that allows them to derive support and a sense of belonging. Belonging is a fundamental human need – more important to an individual than esteem and the recognition for accomplishments (such as weight loss). If we can create that dynamic for people, we may solve a huge part of the weight-loss challenge.

Vision Fitness Wellness Mastering Impulse Control.


An experiment in the 1960s showed that children who had less impulse control also showed less scholastic aptitude later in life.  In contrast, the children that had greater impulse control demonstrated the ability to delay gratification (during the study they did this for up to 20 minutes, and thereby received double the reward). Fourteen years later those same children showed an average of 250 points higher on SATs, more self-confidence, greater levels of drive, and better overall scholastic achievement.

Is lack of impulse control a result of nurture or nature? Is it something that is learned because one is rewarded for it over and over in life?  Is it because one doesn’t have a compelling enough vision for the future?  Or are we just born lacking that level of impulse control? As it turns out, impulse control can be a factor of both nature and nurture.

We can learn greater levels of impulse control through practice, but that starts off with a compelling vision. What we do is highly aligned with our reasoning.  If a person can’t master their vision for the future, they won’t be too compelled to give up the reward in the present. It’s hard to trade The Now for what seems to be an ambiguous reward down the road. This is why it’s essential that your future vision is made tangible in your current reality.

For some, bad habits in the present can offer an immediate gratification that outweighs any possible future consequences.  Secondly, we must understand that change comes in increments, not all at once. Ask yourself the following: what is one habit you can change in the near future (starting at small behavioral modification)? Achieve this, and it will be ample evidence that you are capable of more.

Pedal on the Pier Santa Monica | Vision Fitness & Wellness
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Pedal On The Pier For The Kids

At Vision Fitness and Wellness, we believe everyone should have the opportunity to engage in one of the most basic human endeavors: movement. This joy of movement begins with each of us from an early age. We learn to sit, to crawl, to walk, and to play. A youthful spirit of play is present in all of Vision’s programs, and we are often reminded of the purity of children on a playground, simply moving.

Unfortunately, the harsh realities of certain parts of the world directly impact today’s children. These kids desperately need our help, and they deserve to be safe, fed, healthy, and free to explore. That’s why this year, we are partnering once again with the Harold Robinson Foundation for an exciting event benefitting at-risk youth. This event, called “Pedal on the Pier,” will take place June 1st, 2014 at Santa Monica Pier.

Pedal on the Pier features over 400 cyclists on 100 high-tech stationary bikes. Folks are sponsoring both individuals and teams to ride 100 miles in five hours. The ultimate goal is raising $500,000 in order to send 20 inner-city schools to all-expenses paid camps. The camps themselves will have a host of activities which are not only fun, but also develop leadership and character in a safe, nurturing environment.

My team and I would greatly appreciate your donation – every pledged dollar counts, and will be passed on directly to the Foundation. Your donation is also completely tax-deductible. To make a pledge, simply click here.

If you’re interested in being a member of our team, have any questions, or would like to start training for the event, please email us at What a fantastic way to get back in shape, with a clear goal in sight! If you’d rather not ride, the event itself will be a fun day for the whole family, featuring a DJ, celebrity guests, food, vendors, and much more. Come on out and show your support in person!

Thank you in advance for your support. I know these kids really appreciate it, as well. We look forward to seeing you all in June!

Vision Fitness and Wellness Run Club

March Run Club Sessions & Race for Success

What full body workout can you do with ZERO equipment? Join our Run Club and experience a whole new way to enjoy the outdoors, build camaraderie, and get in great shape. There is nothing else like the natural high of lacing up your shoes, meeting up with friends and new faces, and taking in the Westside of Los Angeles the way it was meant to be seen: one run at a time!

We believe that running here in SoCal is its own kind of poetry – the soft pitter-patter of feet, the lapping of the waves nearby, the feeling of fullness as you fill your lungs with ocean air. Our Run Club participants look forward to their Saturday run adventures all week. There’s no better way to release stress and energize your entire weekend. We’re starting a new session March 1st, so register with us today.

We also want to invite both experienced runners and up-and-comers to an exciting event at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, March 8, 2014 – the Race for Success 5K Run/Walk and Kids’ Run! The 5K Run/Walk will start at 8 am, followed by the 1K Kids’ Run at 10 am. Register here for this fun family event. Choose “Vision Fitness & Wellness / Playa Physical Therapy” to join our team.

Vision Fitness and Wellness Run Club

Start Your Running Journey Now

Never having been a runner, I began participating in Natania’s running classes at my gym. With her diligent coaching, I began to actually ENJOY running and her tips on technique and form are priceless. Soon after, I joined her Vision Run Club. She met me on a weekend and ran a 5K with me so that we could establish my base time. After that, I began attending her weekly classes and followed the daily training schedule. Six weeks later, I ran my next 5K and shaved off 3 minutes from my time. Her workout regime was systematic and safe! Natania emphasizes safety, good body mechanics and not to go overboard. I highly recommend joining her running club!!! She definitely knows her stuff and keeps your best interest in mind! Am proud to say that I’m running my next 5K in a few days. :) Thank you Natania-you’ve given running a whole new meaning for me!

– Priya Siva, Vision Fitness & Wellness Run Club Member

Why We Started the Vision Run Club

Hey – it’s Natania here and I want to share my running story! I wasn’t born a runner. I became a runner.

I was a very competitive athlete in regards to gymnastics, baseball, swimming, etc. But I was never really good at long distances. I remember from public school we had to run a mile and I could barely make it. I recall starting and then not being able to continue to run and wondering, “Why?” I never felt successful in running as a child, so I didn’t follow up with it. I felt successful swimming and diving and doing short 50 meter sprints and using my body in that way, and that’s the path I followed.

My career went on and I moved out to California. Running had always been in the back of my mind as something that I wanted to do.  I lived in Santa Monica, and I had dreams of getting up and running to the pier. Initially, I worked a lot in corporate executive positions within the fitness industry that pulled me away from working one-on-one with clients, which is where my true passion lies. During that time I felt separated from what I really wanted to do. It was a lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of stress. There was a time when I got sick and I put on some weight – about 20 pounds heavier than my healthy body weight.

I met an amazing friend at work, and I noticed that she had a calendar for her track practices. I became intrigued, and I said to her, “I want to get back into running. Would you be my running coach?”. She took me out to run, and on the first day we did some drills, and then she said, “Okay, let’s run.” I took off and she told me, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down!  You’re not going to be able do this run that fast.”  And I said, “Really? I need to slow down?”. And I realized that all my life I always started fast and sprinted and everyone had tried to get me to slow down for longer runs.

My friend was a mid-long distance runner, so I ran with her, and then she brought me over to her track team. That was challenging. I wasn’t let on the team for over a year. I kept showing up to practices and I was still the slowest one on the team. But I really wanted to develop as a runner and overcome the challenge. I entered my first track meet, and the 400 meters nearly killed me – the last 100 meters I had no clue what hit me, like a bear on my back! It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done both physically and mentally.

Now when I do run, I use it as a form of meditation, a form of focus that brings me back to the things I really love: movement, health, happiness and feeling alive. I love sharing that with people. I love to give back all that’s been given to me over the course of my running journey. I run because it helps me overcome things that I think are not possible. I run because it helps me break through seemingly impossible obstacles. I run because I sometimes have to dig deep and find that inner strength to move forward. I hold on for just a second more and say to myself, “I can, I will.”

I hear all the time, “I am not a runner, I can’t run, etc.”. Deep down I think some people really do want to run but are concerned, fearful about hurting themselves or have had a bad past experience, like my own. Running is a form of freedom, inner strength and form of motion. Everyone wants to be free. All it takes is moving away from the “I can’t” mindset and giving it a shot. With the right coach, belief from within and from good friends on the outside – you can become a runner.

Ready, set, go!

At Vision Fitness and Wellness, running is about teamwork. We know that every runner is at different levels, and we are here to make sure your runs are fun, social, and on track with good form.  We offer six weekly runs as well as local 5K and 10K group runs.  Our Run Club is starting a new session this Saturday, January 11th.  Sign-up today and receive a free Lorna Jane/Vision tank top!

The New Year is the perfect time (and perfect weather) to start on your own running journey.  You don’t need to carry an Olympic torch – just the unique torch inside of you.  Call us now at (424) 731-0140or email to join the best run club on the Westside of Los Angeles.

May the wind be at your back, always. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up on your dreams!


Playa Vista Trainer Talks: Believe in You and Reach Your Fitness Goals!

“Yes, you can!” “You are stronger then you think!” “You got this!” …

You can hear our team chanting this in our group classes, sessions and during our Run Club races. You might be thinking at times, easier said than done!

We have to be honest, at certain times, for each of us, there are those moments of self doubt.

Yet, it can be so hard to lace up those shoes and show up to the starting line of your first 5k, run in to the ocean for your first triathlon and even step in to that Zumba class for the first time. Our minds are filled with “what if I can’t keep up”; “what if I’m doing all the wrong steps”; “what if people laugh at me”.

Getting fit, like success in so many areas of life, requires a bit of vulnerability. You have to be willing to get out there, try something new, move in a new way, challenge yourself…Change.

The good news is that every time you try, you get a little stronger for the next time. Making that step of faith can be scary. When you don’t have the confidence around physical fitness it can seem much safer to stay on the couch.

There are countless times we have met clients that in the past set fitness goals with their trainers and end up feeling like failures because they did not quite attain the goals the trainer set for them. The secret is in visualizing your own goals and making them come to reality. Collaborating with a trainer and wellness coach can help you move to a new place in your fitness program.

A coach enables change by focusing on your stated needs, values, vision, and goals and helping to bring out your personal best.

A coach can help you define your goals and set mini goals building on your success. Don’t set a goal to go from no exercise to being at the gym for an hour each day this week. When we set a goal (no matter how small) and achieve it, we are building confidence. More specifically, we are building self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is merely the belief that we have the skills and abilities to be successful at a specific task. If I asked you on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest) to rate your ability to find your home, I’m sure your reply would be a 9 or 10 – unless you’ve just moved or had a medical emergency. But, if I asked you on a scale of 1 to 10 to rate your ability to lose weight, to run a marathon, or to go vegan, you might not rate yourself as highly. We all have things that we are good at and others that need a little…ahem, practice. We aren’t meant to be perfect. But incrementally increasing our confidence when it comes to our ability to live fit is invaluable to our health and to maximizing energy.

Setting small goals each week or month can help you to increase your self-efficacy, which research shows will increase our willingness to exercise more intensely and is linked to a lower BMI (body mass index). Essentially, setting realistic and achievable goals helps build your confidence so you can strive for more and greater goals.

How do you get started flexing your self-efficacy muscle? Choose a goal. Do you want to run a race? Start with a 5K or a 1-mile fun run. Maybe your goal is to be more consistent with exercise, so you start with a goal to exercise at least 3 days a week. Maybe your goal is just to get active period. Start by committing to put on your running shoes each day when you get home from work and at least walk around the block.

Want to know the 4 secrets to achieving your goals? Write your goal down, post it where you can see it, tell others about your goal and track your progress. Really savor and reflect on your successes as you see what you can achieve. You’ll be amazed at how rewarding setting mini goals can be!

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Playa Vista Fitness & Wellness- Changing Seasons & Your Training Program For Success!

Sunday (Sept. 22) at 3:44 p.m. was the arrival of the September equinox. The Northern Hemisphere shifted from summer to fall, and the South emerged from winter into spring.

It is that time again where the air seems a bit crisper as summer fades and fall begins. Fall, as we’ve all known since we were little, is the season of change and transitions. Seasons are not meant to be static, and neither are people. We are at our best when we are open to new ideas, flexible to life’s curves, and willing to get out of our own comfort zones.

The same goes with your training. You might have the best intentions with your training program but for some reason you are no longer seeing the changes you would like and your motivation is zapped! The reason might be you have to change up your training program to go along with the changes in your body and also progress you towards your goals.

Training does have its change of seasons as well. The term widely used is periodization. Periodization is simply cycling through different types of training to create specific changes all leading towards a desired goal. Each type of training program either builds on or enhances the prior and future. That goes for both strength and cardiovascular training. “Instead of doing the same routine month after month, you change your training program at regular intervals or “periods” to keep your body working harder, while still giving it adequate rest.

For example, you can alter your strength-training program by adjusting the following variables:

  • The number of repetitions per set, or the number of sets of each exercise
  • The amount of resistance used, heart rate zones you are in during your program
  • The rest period between sets, exercises or training sessions
  • The order of the exercises, or the types of exercises from traditional to progressive
  • The speed at which you complete each exercise
  • There are many different types of periodized strength-training programs, and many are geared to the strength, power and demands of specific sports.
  • Such a program will allow your muscles to strengthen gradually and is appropriate for anyone interested in general fitness.

By changing each variable you will create a different adaptation in your body. By collaborating with a trainer you can look at your vision for yourself in regards to your health, fitness and wellness. Vision Fitness is excited to offer our Quick Fit session at our best rate of $30 to get you started on your new program!

Partnering together to plan out your training program and the different phases of training will be one of the most powerful determinants in you reaching your goals this year!

A happy and a healthy to you always!

The Vision Fitness and Wellness Team




Playa Vista Personal Trainer – TRAIN SMARTER, NOT HARDER!

xr6571_make-yourself-smarter-with-brain-training2xHeart Rate Training for your cardio program will not only help you stay on track with your fitness and wellness goals but also ensure you have a good base and jump start for next year! Heart Rate Specific Training will reprogram your metabolism to burn more fat. A cardio program based on your individualized training zones will assist you in creating metabolic efficiency. This relates to your ability to train your muscles to burn fat.

Benefits of Heart Rate Training:

  • Helps you maintain and lose weight this holiday season
  • Improves your performance and endurance
  • Train smarter and not harder
  • Teaches your body to burn fats

So where do you begin?

The best way to create an individualized program is to meet with your trainer and perform a sub max VO2 test. This test can create individualized zones for you to train in based on your ventilation and heart rate readings. From the test, the ratio of measured Oxygen (O2) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) during ventilation gives an indication of the type of fuel being used during exercise (fat or carbohydrate).

A major marker on the test will be your Anaerobic Threshold. This is when there is a shift in the blood lactate levels and fatigue sets in. The rate at which this occurs is different for each individual and each activity. Based on your heart rate ranges individualized training zones and a program is created for you. Training in these zones properly can improve your anaerobic threshold meaning you will be able to work harder for longer periods of time before fatigue sets in.

If you do not have this option you can start by figuring out your maximum heart rate. One-way to do this is using the formula 208-(0.7 x AGE )= MAX HEART RATE. This is the most conservative formula but not going to fit for everyone. You can use this number to create a cardio program based on the energy systems or adaptation you want to create that day for your program.

Knowing what zones you should train in is based on your goals and current level. Here is a basic overview of the different training zones and the adaptations that occur.

Warm up Zone — 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate: The easiest zone and probably the best zone for people just starting a fitness program. It can also be used as a warm up for more advanced athletes. This zone has been shown to help decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of degenerative diseases and has a low risk of injury. 85% of calories burned in this zone are fats!

Zone 1 (Fat Burning) — 65 – 75% of maximum heart rate: This zone provides the same benefits as the healthy heart zone, but is more intense and burns more total calories. The percent of fat calories is still 85%.

Zone 2 (Endurance Training) — 75 – 85% of maximum heart rate: The aerobic zone will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system AND increase the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred zone if you are training for an endurance event. More calories are burned with 50% from fat.

Zone 4(Performance Training) — 85 – 90% of maximum heart rate: Benefits of this zone include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardiorespiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you’ll be able to fight fatigue better. This is a high intensity zone burning more calories, 15 % from fat.

Red Line Zone 5 (Maximum Effort) — 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this zone burns the highest number of calories, it is very intense. Most people can only stay in this zone for short periods. You should only train in this zone if you are in very good shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so.

Recovery heart rate- This is the heart rate your body will drop to after two minutes, after stopping an exercise session. For instance you exercised for 30 minutes and your heart rate was at 155. Two minutes after you stopped exercising, your heart rate then decreased to 95. This recovery heart rate measure helps to evaluate your overall heart fitness level. Use this measurement to compare between exercise sessions.

Heart rate training and creating an individualized program with a Cardio Coach can be a valuable and fun way to stay on track!

train smarter, not harder. Avoid Holiday weight gain

A happy and healthy to you always!

The Vision Team

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Healthy Inspiration for a Healthy You

Sport and life achievements and success concept. Rear view sporty girl raising arms towards beautiful glowing sunshine.

The Internet is an amazingly powerful tool. It can be an excellent aide in your goal to live a healthy and fit life. There are like-minded people, inspirational stories and experts – like me – who can help you along the way. I love having the opportunity to supplement my clients’ training with online support.

But lately there seems to be an influx of unhealthy images accompanied by “motivational” quotes popping up on blogs and social networks. Pinterest even took steps to ban these pictures from its site. These so-called “thinspirations” often target young girls and women with stick thin, augmented, airbrushed images as inspiration to lose often-drastic amounts of weight.

Weight loss can be a great goal and for many people is an important step toward living a healthier life. But what if the number on the scale wasn’t your only measurement of success? What if feeling great, looking good and laughing more were all things you wanted to gain? Wouldn’t you feel more inspired by images of healthy, happy women living the lives they’ve always dreamed of through sustained wellness?

Instead of lusting over the bodies of supermodels, let’s take this time to be inspired by real women who are taking steps to be active, fit and beautiful.

What are your healthy inspirations? I want to work with you and inspire you in a fun, fulfilling way. We will focus on your physical well-being with my expertise as a trainer, as well as your decision-making through coaching. Today, I want YOU to be your inspiration!