New York Fitness Fave AKT Comes To Los Angeles & Target Stores

If you haven’t heard of AKT yet, I won’t judge you (that much), but let me take this opportunity to inform you, it’s one of the hottest workouts right now. AKT was created by Anna Kaiser, a professional dancer turned A-list celeb trainer. After shaping some of the hottest bodies including Kelly Ripa (I know I can stop right here, but let me drop a few more names), Shakira and Sarah Jessica Parker, she opened up her first New York studio in 2013. Very quickly, AKT achieved “it” status. Four east coast locations later, they are getting ready add another one in Los Angeles in 2017. The brand is also launching a limited edition collaboration with C9 Champion, available exclusively at Target (so feel free to pronounce it Tar-jay).

Last week, I had the full-on AKT experience at their Beverly Hills pop-up. I previewed the line and was totally wowed. Everything about this collaboration impressed me, including the quality, construction and (let me be truly honest about my priorities) style. Priced between $12.99-$41.99, every piece looks way more expensive than it is. Another great thing about this collab is that it’s body positive and size inclusive ranging from XS-3X. While I wasn’t able to preview the entire line, overall, I felt what I saw was cut on the more generous side. I plan to order a size smaller than I normally wear. 

I also got my workout on, taking a Sweat Dreams class. While this sounds like something that involves napping and losing weight, don’t let the name fool you. It was a fast-paced program that consisted of circuits, which alternated between strength training with weights and cardio moves as well as mat exercises. Designed to consistently challenge the body, I found as soon as I got the hang of each circuit, it was time to move on to the next one. I really had to keep my focus, which made the hour fly by. Incredibly intense, it was a lot of fun with an encouraging atmosphere. I also give the playlist bonus points because playlists tend to make or break my motivation. 

Sweat Dreams compelled me to push myself in ways I normally don’t. Because the class was in a smaller space, we only used two props, 3 and 8 pound weights. I rarely use weights heavier than 3 pounds. It was as if I took a magic confidence pill and I was really surprised about what my body could do. The entire experience has actually made me feel more confident in my other workouts. 

I do not look this fabulous when I exercise, but at least I can buy the clothes.

I do not look this fabulous when I exercise, but at least I can buy the clothes.

The class was taught by one of AKT’s top instructors, Ariel Hoffman. I was floored by her ability to take command of such a large group, making sure no one was lost, especially because it was the first time quite a few of the participants were trying AKT. Anna herself didn’t teach the class, but she had a really good excuse because she is eight months pregnant. However, she was there to supervise and correct forms (mine included). Anna glowed hard and had such a kind, happy vibe about her. I can’t wait until she gets back from maternity leave, so I can take a class with her personally.

While AKT isn’t officially open in LA yet, they have semi-secret classes at the Pacific Arts Center. You can check the schedule and book through the Mindbody and AKT apps. 

If you don’t live in a location with an AKT studio, no FOMO is necessary because a streaming program is available, as well as DVDs. But you will have FOMO if you don’t kick off the New Year with new gear on January 1st at Target. So, don’t forget to log in at midnight. Try not to think of this as drunk shopping so much as starting your resolutions at the earliest possible moment. If you prefer to shop in store, the line is available at select locations only. 

A Midsummer Day’s Product Round Up: Beach Please Edition

I love everything about the beach. From the sun and the salty air, to the sound and smell of the waves. I'm even like feeling hot sand on my toes. While I live in Los Angeles, my apartment isn't exactly close to the water and I don't really get there as often as I would like to. 

Here are some of my favorite beach beauty products. Some of these are specifically for the beach, which others help me look and smell as if I've spent the day the there, when in realty I was on dry land the whole time. 

Bobbi Brown Beach Eau de Parfum

This is one of my favorite fragrances. My friend Bliss, who has been my best friend since 4th grade, introduced me to it last year. I was telling her about how a former roommate of mine wore Fire Island by Bond No 9 and that I really wanted to buy it, but it was way above my budget at that point. She spritzed some of her Bobbi Brown Beach on me, which smelled like a slightly muted version of the Bond I was lusting after. Two weeks later I bought my own bottle and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Very light, it smells like a long summer day has spicy notes of sunscreen. I love it so much, I even wear it all year round.  

K+K Beach Waves Sea Salt Texture Spray

Beach waves are my signature go-to look these days because they require minimal to no heat styling and not a whole lot of effort (#lazy). I've tried a lot of similar products, but this summer, I’m really into K+K Sea Salt Texture Spray. It smells like a sandy sea breeze and doesn't dry out my hair. This product was created by Karena and Katrina, who you may know from their fitness blog and program Tone It Up.

After towel drying, while my hair is still damp,  I spritz some on and roll my hair into two side buns a la Princess Leia and fasten them. Then I re-spritz the buns. I'll let my hair set for 20 to 30 minutes, if I'm not going anywhere. If I need to be somewhere, I'll blast each bun with with a hair dryer for a few minutes and then take them out. Ta Da! Instant beach waves!

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Dry-Oil Sunscreen

Alba is one of my favorite natural brands. I have yet to find a product they make that I don’t like. Their pricing is relatively affordable and they’re sold everywhere from Whole Foods to CVS. Sometimes I think there is nothing more annoying than finding a product I’m really into and then not being able to find it anywhere local. And yes, I can always order online, but sometimes, I like to pick something up at an actual store. But I digress....

Alba's Dry-Oil Sunscreen smells like a fruity drink. It probably smells like Hawaii, but since I’ve never been there, I can’t make that claim. Most oils I've seen have a very low SPF (like 4 or 9, why even bother?) and I won't use them because I'm afraid to burn, but with SPF 15 I don't have to worry. 

Desert Essence Organics Tropical Coconut Hand and Body Lotion

I feel like coconut-scented lotions can smell like one of two things. Either like a gas station air freshener or like something you want to drink on a tropical island and garnish with a paper umbrella and fruit wedge. Desert Essence's Tropical Coconut Lotion smells like the later. It's totally delicious. I think I've smelled nearly every coconut lotion available (not kidding) and this is my favorite by far. It's also paraben-free, which is important to me because I use this product on my entire body every time I get out of the shower. 

Nios Shield Leave-In Conditioner with SPF 15

For years, I've always wondered why no one invented hair sunscreen and then Nios Shield finally did. I've been coloring my hair blonde for more years than I can remember and it has a tendency to get really brassy and turn gold. And yes, I use purple shampoo, but I like to fight the brass before it starts. I always apply this product before a beach or pool day. Then I re-apply if my hair gets wet. You can also use it on your scalp, if you have a tendency to burn there. 

Everyone Soap Coconut + Lemon

I love Everyone Soap because it's a body wash, bubble bath and shampoo all rolled into one. While I confess I'm more of a bar soap person (so old school, I know...), this is the one body wash I don't feel bad treating myself to because it's inexpensive and smells like a vacation. Most of the time, I actually use it as hand wash (EO so needs to add this use to the label) and the giant 32oz bottle lasts for months. My hands are extraordinarily sensitive and break out in a rash from most chemical-filled washes. This doesn't irritate them at all. Like most of my favorites, paraben-free. 

RMS Beauty Eye Polish in Solar

RMS Beauty's Solar Cream Eye Polish is a big game changer for me. You just apply it to your eyelid with your finger tip (nope, no brush needed) and it's the perfect gold/bronze(ish) shade without being too glittery or shimmery.  Like all of RMS Beauty's products, their eye polishes are non-toxic and made with organic ingredients. 

Nuxe's Huile Prodigieuse

Nuxe's Huile Prodigieuse is a dry-oil, so it's not runny and the bottle is almost spill-proof (spilled oil always causes the biggest mess- ugh!) If you want to transform into a bronze goddess in seconds, this is your go-to. You can use this oil on your face, body, or hair for a little extra bronze glow. There's something I really appreciate about products that have multiple uses.It also smells like a fancy summer day in St. Tropez. It's hard for me to resist a product that smells good!

Boots No7 Extravagant Volume Waterproof Mascara

I have mixed feelings about waterproof mascara because most are hard to take off, but I don't really look good without it. So, if I'm going to a social event that involves a body of water, I'll apply Boots No7 Extravagant Volume Waterproof Mascara. It gives my lashes just enough of a coating without looking like I'm wearing too much makeup. You know, it's for those moments when I'm trying hard not to look like I'm trying too hard. It stays on all day, but comes off easily with makeup remover when I get home.

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub in Coconut Lime

If you like Pina Coladas (and overrated songs), then you'll love Tree Hut's Shea Sugar Scrub. Sugar scrubs are better for your skin than salt scrubs because they aren't as drying. Also, I'm clumsy and accidentally cut myself all the time, so if I use a salt scrub, I literally end up rubbing salt into my wounds. One thing I love about Tree Hut's Shea Sugar Scrub is that is looks pricey, but only costs $6.99. It's also paraben-free and leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized. No post-shower lotion necessary.