Warrior Dash Ohio II

5K Run: Warrior Dash Ohio II
Location: North Lawrence, Ohio
Cost: $80 until August 4, 2015
Rating: star_rating-01star_rating-01star_rating-01star_rating-01star_rating-01

We survived the Warrior Dash! I’m proud to say that the first 5K I ever completed was more of a boot camp obstacle course. This race makes any other 5K seem like child’s play. When the mud race trend was starting to get big in 2011, my husband Will and I decided that we were going to train for the Ohio II run in September. I had never done a 5K race before, so I was very scared of this one! We definitely did not train enough beforehand, but we made it to the finish line and have great memories to last a lifetime.

What I liked about it:
I’m the type of person who loves obstacles and climbing walls, so I had fun and learned a lot about my focus and physical strength. I dreaded the running part, because it seemed more difficult than the obstacles! The runners around me were all in different stages of life, from teenagers to middle-aged. Everyone can go their own pace – since there are several stops along the route, you don’t find yourself being passed by faster runners once you fall into your pace. Conquering the fire near the finish line is so rewarding – you feel like a badass after jumping over it. At the end, all the runners jump in the lake to wash off the mud and get refreshed.

What I didn’t like:
My too-old shoes happened to be so loose that one of them got stuck in the mud and came off within the first 5 minutes! The effort spent pulling my shoe from the mud and putting it back on over my muddy sock, all with people running around me was very overwhelming. This also affected my race time and I lost my running companions. You quickly learn to adapt and you realize that your shoes are going to be ruined anyway. Next time I would wear better fitting shoes, so they don’t become a hindrance on the course. It is always recommended you wear shoes that are broken-in but not past their prime. Wear a dark colored pair so the mud washes out easily. If you want to ditch yours like I did, there is a shoe recycling pile at the finish line.

Final thoughts:
I highly recommend you do at least one mud race in your lifetime. This one seems intense, but you can handle it with a bit of training. It’s a great entry level run to prepare you for next level marathons like the Tough Mudder, which requires you to be in top physical condition. Yes, it was strenuous and we were exhausted at the end, but it was totally worth it! The 2015 Ohio II Warrior Dash is next weekend…tickets are $80 until tomorrow, get yours now! The earlier you sign up, the cheaper the ticket. With several locations in the US there is bound to be one near you.


( Photos via Sport Photo )

Latin Heat at LA Fitness


Class: Latin Heat
Location: LA Fitness – Dayton, OH (Centerville)
Instructor: Lawrence
Rating: star_rating-01star_rating-01star_rating-01star_rating-01

I attended Latin Heat twice in 2013 when I lived in Ohio. I found the class by accident, since I intended to go to the Zumba class scheduled for the next time slot. I was confused at first, because I’d heard Zumba was also Latin-inspired, but this class included more traditional dance moves from the samba, tango, waltz, etc. I soon learned that this was a fun way to do traditional ballroom moves without needing a dance partner.

What I liked about it:
This class is so fun and energetic! There were a lot of regulars in the class, who seemed to be friends that attend to socialize after work. I could see it as a fun group to be a part of. Lawrence is an authentic Latin instructor, with a lively personality to go along with his tango and salsa tunes. The time flew by since I was having so much fun.

What I didn’t like:
I didn’t like that another attendee felt she had to reassure me that I would catch on to the moves. I have a background in dance, and I’d rather learn in peace, thank you very much. When you are new to a class, you understand that it will take some time to learn the steps and shouldn’t worry about who is watching you.

Final thoughts:
This is a really fun way to get in shape, especially if you love Latin-inspired music and dance moves. I personally wouldn’t attend as a regular since I’m looking for more modern upbeat music in my cardio dance classes. If you enjoy more traditional music and dance, this would be a great class for you. Wear dance sneakers if you have them, and prepare to dance the hour away!

Faithful Workouts


Class: Faithful Workouts “Inspiring Physical and Spiritual Fitness”
Location: NRB Network or Online
Instructor: Michelle Spadafora
Cost: FREE
Rating: star_rating-01star_rating-01star_rating-01star_rating-01

I decided to try Faithful Workouts because it was readily available on our DVR courtesy of my mother-in-law Kathy. She mentioned it once and said she really liked that she could record them and do the workouts whenever she liked. Seeing it on our list of recorded shows, I thought it would be nice to try instead of sitting on the couch watching anything else.

TV Synopsis:
“This program helps you get your body and your faith in great shape. Workouts include contemporary Christian music, motivating quotes, inspiring scripture and, of course, heart-pounding exercises.”

What I liked about it:
It was actually a challenging workout! The moves fired up muscles in my legs and core, which I really needed to work on. I had missed attending aerobics classes, and this filled that void with a cheerful coach and energetic moves. As a Christian, I enjoyed the unique combination of fitness and scripture. Since I did this workout on Sunday, it was just what I needed for a great start to my week.

What I didn’t like:
I needed to skip half of the core portion of the workout, since I didn’t have weights and a ball at the ready. Next time, I’ll use the TV in the bonus room where we keep our equipment. You’ll want to make sure you have an exercise ball and a set of weights if you don’t want to skip anything.

Final thoughts:
Overall it was a nice workout, about 30 minutes long with a good mix of aerobics moves and calisthenics to satisfy me. I feel refreshed and ready to take on the week ahead. If you want to try it too, you can find it on TV on the NRB Network and online as a free program called F3 Plan.

( Photo via Faithful Workouts )

Top 5 Workouts to Try in Jacksonville


Please excuse my extended absence! A few months ago I was trying to do too much too quickly around the house and ended up with broken and sprained toes. Really sad, considering I was starting to get into a good workout routine again. I had to cancel the classes I planned to try and did a lot of resting. Now I’m better, wearing my heels again and I can run some – it’s all about the small wins, people! I hoped to do all the Jacksonville classes I’d planned once healed. However, during the time I was recovering, we made the decision to move to Nashville in February! Since our move is less than a month away, there’s little chance I can afford to do all the studio classes I want. A couple of them are free, so I’m going to schedule a class to get fit amid all the packing and planning. These are the top 5 workouts I want to try in Jacksonville:
DanceTranceDance Trance – Beginner Class, Neptune Beach, FL (Over 50 Locations Nationwide)

I have always loved dance classes, and I was drawn to this once since I first saw a poster in a local clothing boutique. It is self-described as “a workout program for all students that love music and dance. It covers such a large array of music venues, is offered in different skill levels, and also includes a social network that members can belong to and associate with as members”. The Nashville location won’t be open for a few months, so I’ve got to try this one before the big move. New students can try the beginner’s class on Mondays and Wednesdays for free, so I thought it would be a great excuse to visit soon!

UnderSunFitnessUnder the Sun FitnessSunset Yoga For Strength, Jacksonville Beach, FL

This is a bucket list item for me – do yoga on the beach… even better, make it during sunset! I signed up for this class once but didn’t go because I thought it would be raining, only to find out the class went on as scheduled. Jacksonville is so spread out that a 15 minute drive to the beach would get me out of the rain, but I hadn’t learned that yet. Now, I’m determined to get to a class, because I simply won’t be able to do yoga on the beach in Tennessee!

RebounderzRebounderz Jacksonville – Trampoline-Based Boot Camp, Jacksonville, FL

This place caught my eye when we first moved here because of all the fun things to do – laser tag, archery tag, bowling, and a trampoline arena! It’s a perfect place to bring your kids and exercise together. If you like structure to your jumping, you can attend their Trampoline-Based Boot Camp, which “is a great break from the gym and will provide you with a total body workout, all while having fun!” For me, this is like going back to grade school when my trampoline was still intact! I found a similar gym in Nashville, Sky High Sports, but I’d like to go to this class if I can!

TrapezeHighFLTrapeze High FloridaFlying Trapeze Class, Middleburg, FL

Ever since I discovered XoSarah, a favorite blogger and aerial performer/instructor from Michigan, I have been wanting to try aerial and trapeze. It really appeals to the adventurous side of me. This is the only one of its kind in North Florida, so naturally it’s on my list. The Flying Trapeze Class is for all levels and you can “learn to swing, fly and catch under the coaching of trained instructors. With lines, harnesses and of course a net, you’ll learn to fly through the air with the greatest of ease.” I saw some aerial classes in Nashville, but not trapeze, so this is another must for me!

EdgeRockGymThe Edge Rock Gym – Indoor Rock Climbing, Jacksonville, FL

This rock climbing gym made it on the list because it’s another great way to mix up your fitness routine. I enjoyed rock climbing at summer camps growing up and the UA Rec Center, so I remember it was a great workout I’d like to do again. They offer some classes for members, but I’m most interested in a climbing session. Rock climbing is a full body workout and you’ll work muscles you didn’t know you had, plus it’s affordable and fun. What’s not to love?

Your turn: Since this post is all about workout options in Jacksonville, I’d love to hear your suggestions for classes and gyms in the area! Leave a comment below to share your favorites.

( Feature photo via Flickr )

Mat Pilates at LA Fitness


After starting a new job earlier this year, I have been focusing more on design and less on fitness… the shame of it all! I have a couple classes scheduled at local Jacksonville studios, and I plan to continue reviewing my workouts on here. To get back in the swing of things, here’s an older post I never had a chance to publish. I need to get myself back into shape too, heading to the gym in my condo now!

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Location: LA Fitness, Jacksonville, FL (Kernan & Atlantic)
Class: Mat Pilates
Instructor: Pamela

I was inspired to try Pilates after reading Kate Hudson’s recent article in Shape. I thought I was quite fit until I went to this Pilates class at LA Fitness. It was so hard! With my yoga and dance background, a few moves were relatively easy, but I could barely do most of them! I had’t felt this sore since I went to Bikini Bootcamp last summer. My legs felt like jello and I practically had to pick up my legs to get my boots on.

I would give this class 5 stars for the good workout, but I gave it 4 stars based on the music. The music was not my taste. There seemed to be an emphasis on uplifting, flying music. When there was the occasional song I liked, such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” I could see where you could gain energy and feel like a ballerina.

At first, I was confused by the way Pamela would indicate form for each of the positions. She would make eye contact with a particular person who wasn’t doing it quite right and imitate them to emphasize what was bad form and then she would continue to move in correct form. Being a newbie in Pilates, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to imitate her or not. I figured it out halfway through the class and continued with the motions as best I could, trying to ignore her whenever she would try to correct someone. I don’t have much suggestion for how she could improve her instructions, so I guess it’s something to work through once I get the moves down.

This was such a difficult workout, one of the twenty-something girls even walked out! I was determined to make it through the whole class, but I “suffered” for about a week after. I would recommend building a strong core before attempting this class, or make it through a few classes and you are on your way to a dancer’s body like Kate Hudson.

( Photo via SHAPE )

Keeping Up with Your Family and Staying Healthy This Summer

I’m excited to have my first contributor posting today! Kendra has some great tips for staying healthy while traveling with your kids this summer.

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Going on vacations is the best part of summer break to me. I always love to get away whether it’s on a road trip or just going some place completely different for a while. It’s easier to go a little overboard as well, and I have to admit that I have ruined my diet more than a few times by going on vacation. However, I have developed some tricks to keeping myself healthier on vacations and also getting my family to join in my wellness plan as well. Hopefully these tips offer some good ideas for you as well.

Play As Many Games As Possible

Whenever I start planning a trip, I always include some down time where my family and I can play our own little active games. Whether that means going to the park and bringing along a bocce kit or just starting our own scavenger hunt around the pool, I find that it’s really helpful to include these calorie-burning activities in the plans from the very beginning. Kids always enjoy making up fun games, and they don’t even realize that they’re exercising off that macaroni and cheese from the night before.

My Kids Love the Water

I do too! It’s so important to me that I always find activities for my kids around water. They love snorkeling, boating, swimming and just anything that involves splashing around. Rowboats and paddleboats are fun to hop in and scoot around in for a while while also burning off calories. You can burn hundreds of calories per hour just by paddling around in these things.

Eat Healthier at Dinner

Vacations are a time for eating out and splurging on the things you’re not supposed to have. I always find that I go a little bit overboard at buffets. I made myself stick to a rule. I can only go up once, and the next day I have to follow up with lighter meals that include lots of vegetables. This really balances out the bad food that I indulge in and lowers my caloric intake.

Stay at Healthy Resorts

Whenever we travel, I look for hotels and resorts that have fitness centers and healthy items on the room service menu. There’s always a time to indulge, but there should also be time to go get in some cardio and sneak in a healthy snack when you’re hungry and don’t want to leave the hotel. Booking a hotel with a quality gym is one thing we did for our upcoming trip to Orlando. It proved to be a bit difficult as there are so many places to stay, however there are sites out there like Gogobot that allow you to read user reviews.

These tips have really helped my family, and I hope they help yours as well.

“My name is Kendra Thornton and I am a mother of 3. Before being promoted to the position of full time mom, I was the Director of Communications at Orbitz. I now live in Chicago where my family is my number one priority in everyday life.”


( Photo via King Rentals )

Back on the Fitness Wagon


Maybe I never really jumped off the wagon, but I haven’t been to a class in a while. I’m going to the gym when I can, doing a vigorous routine on the stationery bike or elliptical and a floor routine of stretches, abs, and pushups. It can get boring at times, but with good pump-up music in my ears (I often listen to Spin Cycle on iHeartRadio) it gets the job done. Afterwards I reward myself by relaxing in the sauna.

I do find that I’m more motivated and get a better workout from a class. And I’m falling behind on my decision to try new workouts this year! I absolutely want to try Zumba and do yoga on the beach sometime in the next couple months. The LA Fitness schedules don’t always match up with mine, especially since I’ve started a new job. I plan to try GoRecess now that I have a little extra money. Here’s what I did this week.

I came down with a cold over the weekend, and I’m convinced it’s from my first time working in an office in 7 months! I let my body rest today, even though I was really eager to get a workout in.

Since starting a new job, there are no morning workouts for me – I’m just not a morning person! To keep myself from using dinner as an excuse to stay home later, I started cooking early and let it simmer on low while I went to the gym. I was feeling much better, so I was able to do 25 minutes on the elliptical and then my abs routine.

Such a beautiful day. I didn’t have any client work to do in the afternoon, so I decided to read a book by the pool. Later, Will and I went to Art Walk in downtown Jacksonville where we did a LOT of walking and exploring.

I felt much more relaxed at the gym on Tuesday knowing dinner was already done, so I decided to try it again today. I changed into my workout clothes, cooked dinner, then headed to the gym. This time I used the cross-ramp elliptical on the performance setting, which doesn’t let me change the resistance when it gets more difficult. I also changed up my abs routine by adding pushups and elbow planks.

Rest day, after work we went to the store for drinks, then cooked dinner and watched movies at home.

This was a nice family day at the beach and farmer’s market. We had my baby nephew in tow, so lifting his stroller up and down steps and pushing/pulling it across the sand made for a nice workout!

Your turn: What workouts did you do this week? Do you have any suggestions for what my next class should be?

Let’s Keep Each Other Accountable!


You may wonder, why start a website with workout reviews? I started Fitness with Mare not only to share my experiences, but to keep myself accountable! And what better way than to start a blog about something I already enjoy doing. As I’ve said before, I love trying new workouts, but I still need motivation to get off the couch and go. I’ve decided to take this one step further by recording what I’ve done for my workouts each week. I have a few more reviews lined up from classes and runs I’ve attended in the past and I don’t want to get lazy over the next couple weeks. I enjoyed sharing about LindaLu Fitness and I want to continue sharing my favorites in Ohio. Here’s what I did this week.

Gym day with my sister-in-law Laura, including 40 minutes on the elliptical, stretching, and free weights. Laura is pregnant, but was feeling like she needed some exercise, so we got on the ellipticals with low resistance so we could talk. This was a great relaxing gym day to follow up my intense Step Plus Abs workout the Thursday before.

Beach day with my husband Will, running and walking with our dog for about 40 minutes. We try to do this at least once a month to enjoy the fact that we live near the beach and to give our dog Cody some exercise too!

Recover, getting a good start to the work week (I know it was a holiday, but hey, I’m a freelancer!)

Rest day, catch up on housework

My first Pilates class at LA Fitness, I didn’t know what to expect, but I am wiped out. Review coming soon!

You have no idea how sore I am from that Pilates class. Today was a workday with a client, along with some Advil and detox tea!

Still recovering from the class, I’m probably taking it easy today by going on a long walk with Cody.

Your turn: We can keep each other accountable! What are some things you did to stay active this week?

( Photo via Cooper Aerobics )

Bikini Bootcamp with LindaLu Fitness


Location: LindaLu Fitness, Adrenaline Sports Performance, Cincinnati, OH (Liberty Township)
Class: Bikini Bootcamp
Instructor: Linda

I went to Bikini Bootcamp last summer and this class kicked my butt! I had a Groupon for LindaLu Fitness, but didn’t think to use it until I knew I’d be moving to Florida. This was my last chance workout, since I needed to get fit quick for my cruise in 2 weeks. This was the only class with available spots… very appropriate for my cruise goal!

You can expect a lot of variety from day to day with Linda, one benefit of taking a group class with a personal trainer. To warm up before this class, we ran 1 mile from the gym to the nearby school and back. It was super hot outside that day, so Linda had all the doors open in the gym to help with the heat. For the main workout, we did a timed cross-fit routine so we could all go at our own pace. The heat combined with working as hard as possible during each timed exercise made for a grueling workout. When she says go at your own pace, do it. You don’t want to pass out from trying to keep up with others, especially if this is your first workout in a while. Proceed with caution!

At first I was confused by the other girls saying this was their second workout of the day. I thought they were really taking this bikini thing a lot more seriously than I was. Finally one of them asked me, “Are you training for the bikini contest too?” That explained everything. “No,” I replied “I’m just trying to get in shape for my cruise in 2 weeks!” We were all getting bikini fit, but they were on a completely different level altogether! Don’t let this deter you from trying out the class, because Linda will get you in the best shape of your life. If you went to this class at least once a week, you would become one hot and fit gal! They all wondered if my first class would scare me off, and probably assumed as much when I didn’t show up again. Don’t worry, they did not scare me away, I just moved out of state! I would definitely attend more classes if I could, including Hot Yoga and Kangaroo Kardio. Next time I’m in Cincinnati I’ll do my best to book another class!

( Photo via LindaLu Fitness )

Step Aerobics Plus Abs at LA Fitness


Location: LA Fitness, Jacksonville (Atlantic & Kernan)
Class: Step Plus Abs
Instructor: Oday

I’ve been to LA Fitness several times since I made the commitment to get fit, but last night was the first time I attended one of the classes in a while. I always seem to have time to go when there are no classes on or I get to the gym too late. This gym is very busy after 5 pm, so I liked going at 4:30 before most people are out of work. There were about 10 people in the class, so there was a lot of room and we could all easily see the instructor, Oday. He was great! Before the class began, he went over all the different steps so we would know what to expect. This is helpful, especially if you have never done step aerobics before. I took an aerobics class for an elective in college at Alabama, which was about 4 years ago, so I was grateful for the review.

When we were ready to start, he turned on the music, which was a mix of dance music by artists like Lady Gaga and Pitbull. I love to dance and really got into it. It made the class feel more like a party, that is until he announced that the warm up was over and I was exhausted. He had us all do a cardio count to check our heart rate, then he asked us to yell it out so he knew we were ready to start the main workout. I couldn’t believe we were just getting started, but I pushed through and made it to the end. I need to work on stepping with the correct foot, because that would make the steps and add ons easier to follow. I messed up a few times, but that’s just part of the learning process. I just kept moving and focused on having fun. After the cool down steps, we got out the mats for the abs portion. Luckily for me, I had been working a lot on my core already, so the 10 minutes of abs didn’t kill me. Overall, it was a successful workout – I had a fun time and burned over 400 calories. If you are in Jacksonville, I highly recommend you try this class with Oday. He teaches on Mondays at the Beaches location and on Thursdays at Atlantic & Kernan. I will definitely try to go again!

On a side note, if this photo doesn’t inspire you to try some aerobics, I don’t know what will! These girls look awesome in their bright colors, and I want all their clothes. I hope I can jump that high by the end of the year!

( Photo via Reebok )

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