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3 Fantastic Health and Wellness Apps

first aid

I have to admit….

I am relatively new to the whole app thing.

The truth is – until (very) recently, I didn’t use them.

I tend to keep things simple and I prefer not to get terribly immersed in all of the latest technology for various reasons.

However, in an effort to gain a better understanding of how apps work and who benefits from them (and why), I’ve decided to do a bit of investigating.

Now while I can’t say that I have become well acquainted with many of them, I have taken the liberty of investigating a few of the apps that I feel will benefit anyone looking to stay connected to their healthy-living program while out and about.

Whether you’re on your way out to eat, dealing with an injury, or in need of specific food information while at the grocery store, the following apps will have something valuable to offer you.

And the best news is that they’re all free.

Now before I continue, let me mention that I am well aware that there may be some apps that many of you currently use and perhaps feel should have been included in this post.

In response, I’ll say that I respect that, but I have decided to focus on the ones that stood out to me because I found something unique in them – and for that reason, these are the ones I’d like to discuss today.

3 Fantastic Health and Wellness Apps to Use is a free online website dedicated to help people lose weight.

They offer a wide variety of tools to help you design a weight loss program based on your own specific needs.

Their app includes everything you’ll find on their website, so at your fingertips, you will have access to:

  • Diet plans
  • Exercise programs
  • Food and fitness trackers
  • Personalized daily menu options
  • Articles and blog posts from experts about nutrition, exercise and motivation
  • Recipes
  • Exercise video demonstrations and programs
  • Restaurant/ dining out menu options
  • Online chats and message options with other members for support

Sparkpeople is user friendly and their experts are well-qualified enough to warrant credibility in the advice they dispense.

They have over 15 million registered users, they have been named “One of the Best Diets” by U.S. News & World Report and have been featured in People Magazine, the Today Show, Good Housekeeping and more.

Once you download the app, you can create an account and get started on your weight loss goals immediately. You’ll be able to personalize your home screen to feature whatever is most important to you, and you’ll be on your way to staying connected to the process of well-being.

I personally used Sparkpeople several years ago for my own weight loss program and I found it to be quite helpful.

For more information, visit their website and register for the free program.

Red Cross First Aid

The American Red Cross offers an app that I feel everyone should have access to, especially if you’re involved in an exercise program.

The Red Cross First Aid app is filled with important, life-saving tools that can help anyone deal with an unfortunate situation, even if they have no medical background.

In this app, you will find:

  • Videos, pictures and animations to help with any situation requiring first aid.
  • Interactive quizzes to help you understand the signs and symptoms of any number of emergency situations including loss of consciousness, hypo/hyperglycemia/diabetes, heart attack, choking, strains and sprains, insect bites, wound repair, stroke, and more.
  • An integrated 911 call system that can be used directly from the app.
  • Safety tips for just about anything and everything…ranging from injury prevention to weather related catastrophes.

Since the content on this app is pre-loaded, you don’t need to be connected to the internet to gain acess to the information when needed.

Recognized for its usefulness by websites such as Mashable, and – this is one app you’ll definitely want to keep with you.

For more information, visit their website.


Fooducated is another tool designed to help with weight loss.

It’s free to use, however, some of the features do require an upgrade that includes a cost (gluten-free/ non-gmo info, etc).

The reason I added this to my list of fantastic apps to have on hand is because I LOVE the fact that you can use the scanner tool (free) to check the ingredients of any food item you’re looking to purchase at the store in an effort to get more insight into the ingredients.

As one user said in their review “Fooducate is like having a dietitian on speed dial”, and this is because of the detailed information you can received about what’s in your food.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to making healthy food choices has to do with having insight into ingredients. Anyone can decide to pick up an item that advertises the number of calories it has per serving – but the question is…

What are those calories made of?

This is important. And since it can be tough to understand labels (some of these ingredients could easily be around 100 syllables per word)…any additional information to help you to gain some clarity into what you’re about to purchase will come in handy.

This goes for whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply feed your family clean and healthy foods.

Fooducate has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, Shape Magazine, and more.

You can find more info about by visiting their website.

I Know There Are Many More I Haven’t Covered…

You may be thinking that I have failed to mention several other apps out there that are just as fantastic as the three I discussed in this post – and I’ll say that you’re probably right.

As I had mentioned above, I’m relatively new to the app thing, so I am just now beginning to discover some of these wonderful tools that have been available for quite a while.

Given some time, I’ll do more investigating and create a follow-up post to share my views on other available apps designed for weight loss and healthy living.

If you would like to offer some suggestions, please leave them in the comments section and I’ll make it a point to check them out.

Have you used any of the three apps discussed here today?

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4 Simple Ways to “Control Your Diet”

FF Healthy Indulgence

Before I go on, let me just mention that I don’t particularly care for the word “diet”.

I’m also aware that even saying “I don’t believe in diets” has become rather cliche’.

And I’m soooo not cliche’

But the truth is, using this particular word does bring an image to mind…

…and that image is one that focuses on eating habits.

So on that note, I’ve decided to go ahead and use the silly word for the title of this post, even though this isn’t about dieting.

It’s about lifestyle choices (another cliche’).

The truth is, establishing and maintaining a nutrition regimen that focuses on optimal health doesn’t have to be a struggle.

It does, however, take work. But work and struggle don’t have to be one in the same. While one focuses on pain, the other can be implemented using strategy.

For the sake of this article (and your sanity), we’re going to focus on strategy.

The good news is I have come up with a few strategies in regard to practicing healthy eating habits that I think you’ll not only find doable, but realistic, fun and creative.

So without further ado, let’s discuss.

4 Simple Ways to “Control Your Diet”

1 – Don’t Keep Junk in the House

Now I know this may seem obvious, but the truth is that it’s much easier to refrain from eating junk if there isn’t any around.

The reason I can attest to this is because it’s a behavior that I personally follow.

Knowing that I have a particular fondness for certain types of – well – not so ideal foods, I know that if I were to keep them around, there’s a much higher likelihood that I’ll eat them.

So instead, I keep my kitchen free from junk food.

Now like most of you, I feel like having something sweet once in a while. Because of this, a strategy I implement is to keep some dark chocolate bits in the freezer to help satisfy those cravings when they arise.

And speaking of cravings… while I do believe that it’s good to indulge from time to time (more on that below), the best way to combat unhealthy habits is to keep those products away from your home/immediate environment as often as possible – unless you know how to use them without them using you.

However, if you are someone who struggles with food cravings of any type, check out this post, which is filled with information and strategies on how to deal with them.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have been raised in households that at some time or another, may have promoted unhealthy eating habits; and if this didn’t take place at home, then it sure did through your social activities, overall surroundings and the mass levels of advertising that happens everywhere else.

With this in mind, it’s accurate to surmise that some, if not most of us do crave junk food at times, and this is why it’s a good idea, strategically, to keep this stuff out of your kitchen.

2 – Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable

Keeping your blood sugar stable is another effective way to control your diet.

When the body becomes low on glucose, it craves sugar. This is because the nervous system relies on glucose to survive…so if you become hypoglycemic, the natural response is to gorge on just about anything you can get your hands on as soon as possible.

To avoid this, keep some light snacks around such as fruit, nuts or non-gmo snack bars and consider planning your meals in advance. By ensuring that you have enough energy to fuel your body properly, the chances of you overindulging become much slimmer.

3 – Allow Yourself to Indulge

Yep, I said it.

Allow yourself to indulge…

at the right time…

and for the right reason.

Moderation is a beautiful thing, and it can bring freedom into your life, if you know how to use it properly.

One way to use moderation intelligently is to identify if there is an occasion coming up which will involve some of the foods you’re looking to avoid on a regular basis and allow those occasions to be your opportunity to satisfy your cravings (as long you aren’t doing this frequently).

Is someone about to have a birthday? Are you attending any events in the near future that will involve fattening foods?

These are the times when strategy comes into play.

If you’re craving something sweet, but you’ll be attending a friend’s birthday bash in a week or so, why not save the indulgence until then?

This way, you aren’t saying no to your craving, you’re saying “not now, but probably later”.

It’s a way to direct your behavior that doesn’t involve restriction, but does incorporate a sense of empowerment and purpose in response to your needs.

I’ve used this strategy many times and I’ll tell you…it works wonders.

4 – Learn to Recreate Healthier Versions of Your Favorite “Bad” Foods 

Now before I continue, let me just clarify that when I suggest recreating something sinful, I’m not suggesting you make a grilled cheese sandwich out of fat free cheese spread and 45 calorie “light” bread.

This isn’t a healthy creation.

It’s a chemical sh*t storm disguised as a low calorie alternative.

Recreating something healthy out of what’s normally considered sinful has to do with using fresh, real and natural ingredients.

An example would be to make your own pizza using a high fiber flat bread or a (gluten-free crust if necessary), and substituting fresh tomatoes for sauce (or using a clean and organic sauce) and piling on your favorite vegetables.

Instead of using cheese-like products, consider looking for an organic source of cheese made from grass fed cows and top with herbs such as fresh basil, pepper and oregano to give it some fantastic flavor.

The options are endless, and you can always do a search on Pinterest or youtube to find an abundance of ways to create healthier alternatives of your favorite dishes.

All you need is a little patience and imagination.

Strategy is the Key

Instead of restricting yourself and doing without, the best way to “control your diet” is to be conscious and deliberate with your behavior in regard to food choices.

By using the strategies mentioned in this post, you will be armed with realistic ways to not only face your cravings, but you’ll do so in a way that makes the new choices more enjoyable, more empowering…and more permanent.

I use them, and they do work.

Try it out for yourself. You have nothing to lose…other than some bad habits.

Have I missed anything? How do you control your diet?

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Should You Take Supplements For Optimal Health?

FF Supplements

Is it just me…

…or does it seem that now, more then ever we continue to look for optimal health in a bottle?

Now before I continue, I’ll just mention that I’m not condemning, criticizing nor bad mouthing anything or anyone.

I personally feel that there are many beneficial ways to approach well-being, with supplementation being one of them.

However, the question is…how, and why are they being used?

This is important. And the answer(s) should be the deciding factor as to whether or not supplementation will work to your benefit.

Should You Take Supplements?

Now assuming that you actually did, in fact, answer the above question, then perhaps you’ve become a little clearer into why you may feel the need to include supplements in your wellness program.

The truth is, this isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing. Everyone has their own individual reasons as to why they do the things they do –

And in addition to this, we all have our own unique genetic structures that render it a bit tough to objectively know whether or not what works for one person will also work for another.

The idea behind using supplements properly (or at all) will be decided on your current state of health and why you feel the need to take them.

See, supplementation is nothing more than a tool in the wellness industry. Tools, (in most cases) in and of themselves, are often neutral. It’s the perspective and intention of the user of such tools that can render them as either beneficial, or detrimental.

There are some great reasons to using supplements, and there are some lousy ones.

So which reasons are which?

Let’s list them.

Advantages of Using Supplements

Supplementation can be considered useful and helpful when used for the following reasons:

  • If you have a genuine vitamin or mineral deficiency that cannot be corrected by natural means alone (ex – nutrition, getting additional sunlight, etc).
  • If you have health complications and using supplements acts as a way to implement a more natural remedy that can authentically replace medicine (ex – calcium for Osteoporosis). Always check with your healthcare provider.
  • If you are using them with a clean and balanced perspective that results in improved health and performance – but you aren’t emotionally dependent on them (ex – taking a multi-vitamin to help to fill in any gaps in an otherwise sound nutrition program).
  • If there are no medical or health conditions in which supplementation would be contraindicated (ex – some necessary medicines in the presence of a health complication do not mix well with certain herbs or supplements).

Disadvantages to Using Supplements

There are factors that can lead to negative consequences if supplementation is used improperly.

Those reasons are:

  • To replace sound nutrition, or act as a reason to justify bad eating habits.
  • To boost performance through unethical and unhealthy means (ex – obsessive/compulsive behavior and/or using anything that mimics the effects of steroids).
  • As a weight loss tool (ex – diet pills). I’ll expand on that in a bit.
  • Over-supplementation (ex – if some is good, more must be better). I’ll expand on that as well.
  • As mentioned above – if there are contraindications involved in using supplements. Certain medical conditions and/or medications do not mix well with specific supplements.

According to Web MD, research has shown that Curcumin (tumeric) may reduce the pain associated with Osteoarthritis. However, since tumeric might slow blood clotting, it can have adverse effects if mixed with other medications (ibuprofen, aspirin and others) that also slow blood clotting, such as bruising and bleeding.

While there may be specific benefits to using herbal supplements, it’s best to know how they may or may not interact with any other medications you are taking – as the consequences can range from mild to severe depending on the circumstances.

When supplements are taken for weight loss (diet pills), unpleasant and dangerous side effects can occur.

Some of them being:

  • Loose stools
  • Possible liver damage
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Severe anxiety and agitation
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting

There have also been widespread reports about certain diet pills causing severe organ function, some of which have resulted in death.

It isn’t worth the risk.

And as much as I hate to say this, if you do some additional research (and it won’t be tough to do since there is plenty of information out there to support this topic), and you STILL want to give it a go…then I’ll simply suggest that you avoid wearing white pants, consider clearing your social calendar for a while…and make sure you have someone you trust close by to monitor you.

Now, if you are thinking that “more is better” in regard to vitamins and minerals, it’s important to understand that taking too much of anything can cause possible harm.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, too much vitamin D (blood levels exceeding 100 ng/mL) can be dangerous since too much of it could cause an increase in calcium absorption, which can cause abdominal pain, muscle pain, mood disorders and kidney failure – in addition to a possible increase in the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Medline Plus published an article about the negative effects of too much iron, with symptoms including things like fever, low blood pressure and fluid buildup in the lungs.

Too much of anything, even when considered beneficial can lead to imbalances which may create complications that might just be worse than the original problem was to begin with. It’s always best to get expert advice in regard to supplementation, especially when combined with other health issues or medications.

Maintaining Healthy Habits Naturally

I personally have no issues when it comes to supplementation, as long as it’s being used in conjunction with a general approach to healthy living.

This includes sound nutrition, regular exercise and an overall outlook stemming from a balanced, conscious and well-rounded perspective.

Just because something is advertised as healthy, beneficial or even natural doesn’t mean that it’s right for you, nor does it mean that an excess of it (or anything else) is a good idea.

Supplements can become expensive as well…so if you decide to take them, then at least establish a lifestyle that consists of well-being on all levels so you can minimize the impact that supplementation can have on your wallet.

In doing this, you’ll also avoid becoming dependent on them…which will allow them to play the useful role they are designed to play – for the right reasons.

What are your reasons for using supplements?

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Ask Dana – Weight Loss Without Shakes, Special Meals, Etc.

FF Healthy

I’m actually pretty excited about this particular Ask Dana post.

The reason is because it’s a question I have an excellent answer for. It also happens to be in two parts, so I’ll address each issue first and then discuss how they’ll work together for the most effective results.

The truth is that well-being is all-encompassing, so it takes the combination of nutrition and fitness into account – which I’m sure you already know by now.

But we’ll discuss it in more detail today.

So without further ado, let’s get to this month’s question.

Ask Dana – Weight Loss Without Shakes, Special Meals, Etc.

Question – 

“Is there a possible way to lose weight without shakes, special meals etc..?

I have been wanting to lose weight for ages and I am a teenager who would like to lose about 15 kgs around my legs, chest, belly and butt area! Would you have any suggestions/workout ideas etc…?

I like your previous advice a lot.

Thanks for your help!”

Answer –

First of all, great question! While I happen to enjoy smoothies, and I do eat healthy snack bars occasionally, the truth is that it’s ideal to develop healthy eating habits as early as possible. While it’s never too late to make a change, the fact that you’re 15 places you in an excellent position to start implementing these new habits and evolve into them as time goes on, hopefully for a lifetime.

In regard to shakes, quick meals or any other “convenience” foods for weight loss, while I do find that they have their time and place, I prefer eating whole foods as often as possible. This way, you learn how to use food properly and gain the benefits that different food groups have to offer for a well-rounded sense of nutrition.

If I were you, I would seek to discover what fruits and vegetables I enjoy the most and look to add them into my meals. An example of this would be that if you were craving a pasta dish, you would bulk the dish up with steamed or sauteed veggies.

To use food properly, you want to keep your blood sugar stable to avoid hypoglycemia. I would recommend eating approximately every three hours or so to make sure your glucose levels don’t get too low. Without giving you a specific diet plan (which are available at places like, I can offer some soft suggestions.

Breakfast – Plain, organic oatmeal with walnuts (check serving size info and follow) and berries.

Snack – Organic greek yogurt and fruit

Lunch – Mixed baby greens with veggies of your choice, quinoa salad or lean humanely raised/grass fed animal protein and balsamic vinegarete dressing

Snack – Veggies and hummus

Dinner – Cage-free locally produced eggs prepared however you prefer mixed with lightly steamed veggies

You want to get a nice, balanced amount of different foods and experiment with a variety of recipes.

Keep an open mind and try new things. Shop locally and make sure that whatever you’re purchasing comes from a company that promotes labeling of foods (non-gmo project, etc) and consider attending (or hosting) a healthy pot luck. This will make the entire experience fun and creative.

You can also consider growing your own food – as there are several benefits to doing this.

In regard to physical fitness – I would recommend a wide range of different activities.

Strength training is great, but at 15, I would avoid intense weight lifting and high intensity plyometrics. The reason is because your bones are still developing and while these activities can offer benefits if used in balance, if they become the cornerstone of your workouts, they could, over time, cause injuries and damage to your growth plates.

Discover what you like to do naturally and stick with it. This is what promotes longevity and consistency. Involve your friends if any of them have an interest since having a workout partner offers several benefits.

There are some fantastic fitness programs you can do at home listed in this post as well.

And lastly, if you are new to exercise, follow the tips in this post and make sure you take exercise safety seriously to avoid unnecessary injury.

Putting it All Together

If you develop a balanced program that focuses on overall well-being, you will not only lose the weight, but you’ll most likely keep it off.

Weight loss in and of itself is a nice goal to have, but the idea is to establish habits – stemming from an empowered mindset – that will continue to produce a lean and healthy body naturally.

Always remember to have fun, be creative and practice a safe and structured exercise program.

I hope this answers your question. Thanks for sending it in.

Do you have any of you have a question you want to ask?

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3 Health and Fitness Professionals You Need to Know About


We see them everywhere…

I’m referring to the stories, products and services of mainstream health and fitness celebrities.

They appear on television, in magazines and just about everywhere else.

And before I continue, let me just say that I’m not knocking any of them in any way.

That’s just not how I roll.

However, in light of this, I do feel it’s important to point out that there are some amazing people out there who offer a tremendous amount of value to the fitness industry that don’t receive the same amount of publicity as the aforementioned individuals do.

For this reason, I feel it’s my job to bring awareness to a few people I am confident you’ll benefit from knowing a little more about.

The following health and fitness professionals stand out to me because of their level of care, credibility and professionalism in the industry.

3 Health and Fitness Professionals You Need to Know About

1 – Juan Carlos Santana, MEd, CSCS

Juan Carlos Santana is the CEO and founder of The Institute of Human Performance (IHP) in Boca Raton, Florida. He is often referred to as “the country’s leading practitioner of functional fitness”.

JC has simply raised the bar in the fitness industry. Some of his (extensive) credentials include serving as Chairman of the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) Sport Specific Conference, the NSCA Florida State Director and as a member of the NSCA Conference Committee.

Now while most (if any) of you probably don’t reside in Fl and may not have an opportunity to visit JC and his staff over at IHP, you can still benefit from knowing who he is, what he has brought to the fitness industry and his educational materials – in addition to learning about some of his fitness equipment (one example being the JC Predator bands featured in this post).

Now I happen to know JC personally because as a graduate of Fitness Institute International, I was lucky enough to take his Functional Training Specialist Course since it was part of the school’s curriculum. Simply put, this was a hands on course that instructed fitness professionals about functional training methods to improve the everyday movements and mobility of the clients who worked with them.

Besides being a prolific speaker, author and coach, JC has developed extensive training programs for professional athletes, youths and seniors in addition to general populations and people in need of rehabilitation.

JC has a Youtube channel where he shares a wealth of information, including educational material for fitness professionals, exercise videos designed to target specific needs, and footage of some of the professional athletes who train at his facility.

He’s been featured in several well-known magazines including Men’s Health, Women’s Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, and more. In fact, IHP was recently featured in Self Magazine’s recent article titled “Best Of the Best: Top Gyms in the Nation”.

Whether you’re a fitness professional, exercise enthusiast or someone who simply wants to learn more about the immense benefits of functional training from the man who is considered one of the top “go to” professionals in the industry, visit and check out the Facebook page.

And if you’ve ever thought about taking your passion for health and fitness and turning it into a career, I would recommend checking out the IHP University program. It’s a hands on educational experience where you’ll interact with and learn from some of the best in the field.

Here’s a quick teaser to give you some insight on what it’s all about.

2 – Rick Kaselj, MS

I have to be honest and admit that I don’t recall how I became familiar with Rick Kaselj’s work. None the less, I’m happy I did because I feel that what he has to share is valuable for anyone regardless of how long they have been exercising, or instructing.

Rick’s website is – and yep, the title is an accurate description of the type of material he has to share. He has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and following graduation, he focused on exercise and injuries.

Several years later, he decided to further his education and earn his master’s degree in science with a focus on rehabilitation and corrective exercise in an effort to address muscular imbalances in order to prevent and rehabilitate injuries.

While we all understand that health and fitness offers plenty of benefits, the truth is that injuries do happen.

And since I have written a book dedicated to the subject of helping to make those of you who do engage in an exercise program avoid unnecessary injuries during your workouts, Rick’s work not only harmonizes well with the preventative aspect of this, but also addresses the corrective measures to implement after an injury has already taken place.

Rick has a Youtube channel filled with exercise demonstrations as well as a free newsletter that goes out to his subscribers covering a wide variety of topics including exercises for injuries, general health and fitness information and workout ideas. You can also visit his Facebook page where he reads some of the comments left by those with specific questions about injuries and makes videos addressing them.

Pretty cool, right?

I recommend checking out his work by browsing through his videos and visiting his website. In fact, while you’re there, you can type in a specific issue you’re having in the search bar and you’ll discover a list of material from his website designed to target that particular problem.

Since I’m aware that many of you spend a good part of the day sitting, I’ll share a video where you’ll learn some simple stretches you can do while at work to help alleviate rounded shoulder syndrome.

3 – Jeffery Segal, BS, NSCA-CPT, CSCS*D, CPTS*D

Like JC, I am proud to say that I personally know Jeff.

He is a kind, well-educated and dedicated fitness professional with a rather inspiring story to share.

At 25, Jeff was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Having been told he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, he decided he had other ideas.

Jeff enrolled in Fitness Institute International, Inc. Personal Training School in Boca Raton, Fl, and earned his Certified Personal Training Specialist (CPTS) certification. After that, he went on to further his education in the fitness industry by becoming an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), as well as an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association Certification Commission and eventually became the recipient of the Personal Trainer of the Year award from both the NSCA and Fitness Institute.

When he isn’t working with clients, Jeff spends his time traveling throughout the states giving motivational lectures to people living with MS.

He’s in great shape, and has inspired those living with this disease to seek well-being as a means to a happy and healthy life.

He serves as a living example to those who listen to his words and follow his guidance.

While Jeff doesn’t have a Youtube channel, he is featured in several videos through the MSFtaff channel. I went ahead and did a specific search for Jeff, and I’m sharing the results of that search here to make it easier for you to find his work.

I will, however, share a quick, but important tip from him in regard to how heat affects people with MS and why planning ahead is the right thing to do.

You can also visit Jeff’s website by visiting If you or anyone you know has MS, I encourage you to connect with him and follow his work.

Why I’m Sharing This Information with You

The reason I decided to write this post is because as far as I’m concerned, it’s my responsibility to bring awareness to certain people that I feel have contributed something valuable to the wellness industry.

There are many others out there that I know you would benefit from learning about, and because of this, I intend to do a follow up post with a few additional people who I may have left out this time.

A good fitness professional can offer many benefits – and I’m certain you’ll enjoy learning about the ones discussed here today.

So check out their websites, watch their videos and follow their work. You’ll be glad you did.

Do you know of any well-qualified and exceptional fitness professionals you’d like to tell me about for the follow up post?

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