Hilton Knoxville, Tennessee

This past weekend the husband and I picked up and headed south to Knoxville, Tennessee. The weather was incredible, a lovely 18 degrees, and we managed to squeeze a lot into a short amount of time.
When we started looking for a hotel we knew we wanted to be able to walk to Gay Street and Market Square (centrally located) and my usual requirement of being active on social media. It's important to me as I like to get insider tips on the area and it's a great way to ask the hotel questions! It didn't take long for us to decide to stay with the Hilton Knoxville.

I just loved the lobby of the hotel. The d├ęcor is bright, modern and there is so much to do! There is a bank of computers for your use, a few restaurants and even a full service Starbucks! I almost jumped for joy when I saw the Starbucks (I'm obsessed with Flat White). On Saturday night we were at the Tennessee Theatre and we returned to the hotel around midnight. The lounge, The Orange Martini, was alive with people and drinks everywhere. It was the place to be on a Saturday night! They have a great selection of drinks and delicious bar food on the menu.  

The lobby was a great spot to sit in comfortable chairs and watch one of 2 TV's. Throughout the weekend I noticed people sitting here and catching up with friends and colleagues, there seemed to be a few different conferences going on in Knoxville. The lobby was always bustling with activity no matter the time of day. There was just as much activity in the morning as there was at night.

We stayed in a Guest Room with King sized Serenity Bed. The room was the perfect size for a weekend getaway with lots of room to relax and more than enough room for all my luggage. Free Wifi is a lifesaver for us visiting Canadians and the in room coffeemaker was stocked with Coffee Bean! I fell in love with Coffee Bean while visiting the west coast a few years ago. The bed was comfortable and the bedding was perfect, like sleeping on a cloud. We had a very pretty view of Church Street and the Knox County Public Library. It felt so nice to see blooming trees and flowers since we are still dealing with below zero temperatures in Ontario.

We walked to the World's Fair Park and went to the top of the Sunsphere were we saw our hotel! You can see it is the first tall building right behind the UT Conference Center, talk about the perfect location!

Many thanks to the incredible staff at the Hilton Knoxville for making our stay so enjoyable, including the social media team who gave me many recommendations over twitter and to Fran for helping us with our reservation. We can't wait to come back and stay with y'all again!

Workweek Look - Raspberry Blazer

I live in bright coloured clothing and my work wardrobe is no exception. I was in need of a blazer but I knew that the standard black would not work for me. I was looking for a bright colour and something that could be worn in different seasons. I found this raspberry coloured blazer at Banana Republic and I knew immediately it was the one! I have had it a full year now and it works perfectly in the Fall, Winter and Spring! For a big meeting I wore my black Sloan Banana Republic pants, Nine West leopard flats, Target leopard belt, Ralph Lauren Oxford shirt and my Michael Kors Hamilton bag.

One of my favourite features of this blazer is the pinstripe lining, it adds another little jolt of colour!

I love the fit of the blazer and did not see the need to have it tailored. In my experience Banana Republic clothing is more tailored that other brands but I do find that their clothing runs a little small. I love online shopping at BR, they have great online sales, so I make sure to try items on in store and mark down my preferred sizes in the Notes app on my iPhone. This way if something goes on sale I am ready to spring into action!

Weekend Look - Purple Hunter Boots

(Boots - Hunter Boots, Jeans - Gap, Sweater - Old Navy, Bag - Louis Vuitton Neverfull, Gloves - Target, Vest - Jacob)

We are finally seeing above zero temperatures and it felt nice to leave the heavy jacket at home. I wear my purple Hunter Boots from Fall to Spring and everywhere I go people ask me about my Hunters. The most common question I get asked is, "are they warm enough?" When the temperature is below zero I wear a pair of fleece liners and they keep me very warm.

They are very comfortable and the best part, besides being super cute, is the great tread on the bottom. This is very important when you are walking in a parking lot that is doubling as a skating rink! I bought my Hunters at Heel Boy in Uptown Waterloo last Spring and they still look great! I wipe them down when they get salt or mud stains but I have never treated them or washed them with anything more than just plain water. 

There are so many colours of Hunters to choose from. Next on my list is Navy, Olive Green, Red and Pink but my Purple ones will always be my favourites. 

Knoxville Road Trip Playlist

I love building playlists, especially ones for road trips! 

This one is heavy on the country with a few pop hits and of course, some Lana Del Rey for my upcoming trip to Knoxville, Tennessee! 

{Profiles} Crystal Reia

I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so many incredible and talented women. Everyone I know has this amazing inner strength to push forth and live the life they were meant to. It isn't just enough for me to know how amazing they are, I want to share them with the world! I put together a questionnaire to ask these fabulous women about their careers and some of their favourite things. I hope you enjoy! 

For Celebrating this Life's very first {Profile} I give you my personal trainer, Crystal Reia. 

Tell me what you do for a living?

My official title is a “Personal Trainer”… but I will always consider myself first and foremost a teacher. I love to teach! It’s my passion! Essentially my job is to educate clients on how to improve their health and wellness through safe tailored fitness programs and classes. I also provide nutritional advice and support, as that ultimately will determine a client’s success. I love working with women of all ages and walks of life as my primary focus tends to be Women’s Health; although I do train couples as well.

How did you end up becoming a personal trainer?

I have worn many hats so-to-speak in my former career years. I was in the stock trading industry for 16 years as well as taught dance and piano for 10-15 years. Teaching and dance was always my favorite! I danced ballet, tap, jazz, modern and hiphop for approx. 28 years.

Speaking very honestly, I ended up getting sick at my trading job with terrible high blood pressure unbeknownst to me until I found myself in the hospital nearing a stroke. Sometimes one can get overwhelmed with the day-to-day stresses and pressures of a high demanding job that they get stuck in the same cycle. It’s so important to listen to your body! I did not. I felt unhappy, lethargic and not even wanting to dance anymore; which was my passion. So with my husband’s persuasion and help, I took a leave of absence to really think about what I wanted for my future and to get myself healthy again. I got back into the gym daily and started loving the way it made me feel. So much so, that I studied and signed up for the Personal Trainer course and other courses. I loved it! For the first time in a long time, I felt like me again and I was taking care of myself again the way I should. I didn’t want other women in our community to feel helpless and stressed the way I did. So I decided to become a personal trainer not only because of what taking control of my life and fitness did for me, but to help others do the same. That is why I started Your Health-Your Choice.

What’s a typical day look like?

I love having the flexibility of choosing my own hours and my own type of classes and choreography. I do work long hours, but I love what I do! I run a variety of different classes: Privates, Small Group Training Sessions, Larger Ladies Only Bootcamps done to music, Yoga Stretch Classes, Mom and baby Classes, Some mobile training to people’s homes, Happy Feet (which is a tap dancing/fitness class I teach at a local retirement home for seniors in chairs). My busiest training times seem to be mornings and late afternoons into evenings, because of my clients work hours. But this suits me fine, since I need a few extra hours in the day to make up new workouts, classes and programs and prepare music for my Bootcamp classes. It’s also nice to have the flexibility of running errands in that time as well. I have weekends off to spend with my husband, friends and family.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get in the field?

Number one? Make sure your passion is not only health and fitness (You gotta walk the walk) but more importantly you must love to teach. A good teacher/trainer needs patience, perseverance and personality! I not only help many clients with their fitness and eating, but often I end up being a sounding board for them too, to vent and release their stress. You need to be a good listener and frankly? Just simply to care; being an unbiased support for them when maybe nobody else is.

You will also be dealing with a tonne of clients that range in age, ability, injuries etc. so being able to think quick on your feet to adapt and change and give options in your programs or classes is huge. Know your client and provide the best experience from start to finish that you can. Be willing to be flexible and find your own special niche. What are you best at? Find what makes you as a trainer unique from others. How do you set yourself apart? And remember WHY you got started in this career in the first place. Stay humble.

What is your favourite part of your job?

The simple things actually. I love working out with my ladies. I loooove music. So to find new and exciting songs to motivate my ladies in classes makes me excited! Meeting new and wonderful women in our area. And of course most of all… (here’s just one example) getting a text or an email from a very excited client telling me that they just put on a pair of jeans they haven’t worn since high school. It really puts a smile on my face to share in my client’s successes. Whether they be big or small?… they are all inspiring me to keep doing what I do each day. I don’t think they realize how much of an inspiration they are to me! I’m so proud of each and every one of my clients, when I look back and see where they started and how far they’ve come!

What is your favourite quote/motto to live by?

My all time favorite famous quote would have to be the Mother Theresa quote:

What is your favourite book

Right now health & fitness wise, I am loving Jonathan Bailor’s “The Calorie Myth.” It’s made me rethink some things and recommendations that I give to my clients about their nutrition. If you want to simplify and change your health for the better, I highly recommend reading this book!

How would you describe your style (personal and interior design)

I loooove clothes! LOL Well when I’m not wearing fitness gear, which is pretty much every day! I would say some of my favorite brands of clothing are definitely Free People, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Denim & Supply. I love both rocker chic and gypsy boho style of clothing and hair. I am a true girly girl at heart! I also just found Susan Harris Design. She is a designer from Toronto. She makes the coolest shawls, mittens, leg warmers etc. out of old pieced together vintage wool sweaters. Very unique!

Since we are still considered winter, you’ll most likely see me wearing a nice loose flowy off the shoulder top, sweater or T Shirt, skinny jeans or tights, thigh high wooly boot socks and my Hunters! I’m also in love with accessories! What women doesn’t love scarves, shoes, jackets, bags and jewelry! LOL I know it’s terrible! I do like to dress up from time to time too! But really? I’m more of a summer girl… bring on the summer flowy maxi dresses and sandals!

My home style is more modern and minimal. Lots of white accents, clean lines with a splash of colour here and there in each room. I love funky functional modern furniture with a touch of old live edge woods and textures. More stone and barn board accents are definitely in my home’s future!

Who is your style icon?

I’m actually at a loss for words. I follow only a few celebs on Pinterest if I like their style. But honestly? My bestie, Janet is definitely the most style icon woman influence in my life. She is always up on the best new trends and hooks me up with the best clothes and accessories. I’m so lucky to have her as my friend and not just for fashion advice!

What is your ideal Saturday night?

That’s easy. Definitely hanging out with my hubby, family or friends. We are major foodies, so we enjoy entertaining! All kinds of cooking, wine and music = one happy Crystal!

What is your favourite perfume?

This makes me sad because MAC discontinued my favorite perfume MV2 years ago. I haven’t been able to replace it yet with anything similar. Please bring it back MAC! So right now I have a nice light grapefruit and vanilla body spray I use from Vital Bath. I don’t wear a lot of heavy perfumes because of training I guess and my hubby is not crazy about heavy perfumes either.

Favourite drink?

Besides water…. It would be red wine. LOL All my friends and family can attest to this. Haha!

What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

I appreciate everything I’ve learned along the way in my other career path because of the skill set and experience it has given me to be able to run my own endeavors today. I would have told myself long ago to follow my passion in dance and fitness teaching earlier. I honestly do not know why I waited so long to start my own business!?! Maybe timing? Fear? Maybe settling with what you know? Sometimes we get used to what we know and to step out of our comfort zone is difficult; but I guess life change always is difficult for most people. “Nothing worth having comes easy!”

What is one thing you are looking to accomplish in 2015?

At the moment, I’m looking to expand my classes into Waterloo. I already provide service to Kitchener, Galt and Guelph. I would love to start up a ladies bootcamp class in Waterloo!

Favourite song right now?

Ugh, you would ask that, knowing how much of a music fanatic I am. LOL
I’ll try and keep this short! I love too many to count! ASTR’s cover of “Hold On We’re Going Home”, Alt-J’s “Every Other Freckle”, Phantogram’s “Fall In Love”, Lorde’s “Tennis Court” (Flume Remix), London Grammer “Hey Now” and any Glass Animals tunes… I could go on and on! It would be pages!

What is the last thing you bought for yourself?

That would have to be make up. I bought two new Lip Sugar’s Colours from Sephora. Rose Extreme and Petal. Perfect hint of lip colour for teaching and training!

Your Health-Your Choice
Crystal Reia     PTS, PFS, OAS
Email: yourhealth-yourchoice@live.ca

I want to thank Crystal for being my very first interviewee! I had a great time reading her responses and learned a few new things about her. Crystal's personal journey on how she ended up becoming a personal trainer is awe-inspiring and it's one I reflect on a lot. It's amazing how the body and mind will tell you something is wrong, if you can just be quiet long enough to listen. No journey is easy, but as Crystal has shown us, any bump in the road can be the catalyst to something wonderful.