2017 Top Nine – Part One – Detroit Fitness Edition

Detroit Body Garage Community Workout
Community Workout at Detroit Body Garage 01/01/2018

2017 Top Nine – Part One – Detroit Fitness Edition

Welcome to 2018!  I am going into this year focused on the word “Community”.  My intention is to continue to build the community around me in Detroit and, also build this community here within this blog.  I hope that if you do not live in this city, that I will help inspire you to spend more time here and for those of you that live here, I hope to help you find something new to draw this city even closer to your heart.

I take joy in all the “Top Nine” Instagram posts recounting everyone’s year.  I’ve enjoyed doing them myself in the past couple of years.  I started out to write this post as my top nine Detroit experiences for the year and found that the closest I could get to my top nine is about the top 50! I realized there were three basic themes among them: fitness adventures, food excursions, and events/causes.  So, this is the first of three parts of the best of 2017.

Part One is about the top Detroit fitness adventures from 2017.  At the end of 2016, I met Christina from The Bar Method Detroit at a pop-up dinner, which started a domino effect of meeting a village of fitness entrepreneurs, all with a goal of helping Detroit get and stay healthy.

The Detroit fitness community is open and ready to engage everyone, no matter where you are on your own fitness journey. This past year I sought out every Detroit fitness adventure possible.  Just like many of you, I have that hesitation/fear of not fitting in, not being able to do the workout, overall failure.  The reason I’ve been able to move forward and seek these experiences out is that every single one I’ve participated in has welcomed and supported me, allowing me to work within my own abilities.  There has never been a moment where I have felt I stepped into somewhere I do not belong. These experiences had the added benefit of introducing a community of wonderful individuals to me.

To set the stage as to where I’m coming from, I’m currently at one of my heavier weights and I still battle limitations from a leg that was broken in three places two years ago, which often causes me to need modifications to a workout.  And then, there is that older age piece that can make you wonder if you will fit in.  So, if you are reading this and thinking, I want to start working out this year, but I need to wait until I lose some weight, I am too old for this or that workout, or I need to do some working out on my own first to be able to keep up, or any other reason that is keeping you from moving forward – please, stop and rethink.  I promise you that if you move a bit out of your comfort zone and try stepping into one fitness/class event, you will realize what Glinda the Good Witch said to Dorothy – “You’ve always had the power…”.

My Top 9 Detroit Fitness Adventures of 2017:

  1. Detroit Body Garage (Owner: Terra Castro) – Built on her motto “Be Bold”, Terra has created an inclusive, motivation fitness community in West Village and throughout Detroit.  There are three parts to what Detroit Body Garage has to offer:
    1.  Regular workouts at the Detroit Body Garage:  The workouts are HIIT (High Intensity, Interval Training) workouts that will challenge you but are easily adaptable to all levels.  Every workout is different which keeps them engaging.  A diverse schedule is available each day so you can find a time that works for you.
    2.  Monthly Free Community Workouts:  These are free workouts that give the whole Detroit community an opportunity to come and sweat together.  They are always high energy and sometimes include a pot-luck after, building that community feeling.
    3. Pop-Up Workouts in various locations like the Foundation Hotel:  My favorite this year was the Hip-Hop Workout with Patti Dukes-Jordan.  Nope, I am nowhere near a hip-hop dancer, but I sure had fun trying (and a lot of laughs!).  Patti is a motivational, high energy instructor and will get even you (me) twerking!  Patti has her own studio – The Studio Fitness Dance Culture that I plan on visiting for a dance or Zumba workout in 2018.
  2. The Collective at True North Yoga Studio (Owners Bre Nourse & Rachel Gillette) – All varieties of practice are led here.  They provide a healthy challenge with modifications to make the moves attainable for all levels.  The location, True North, is part of a Quonset hut community.  Inside, the heated cement floors are welcoming, especially in the cold winter.  The space itself helps bring you serenity while you practice.  They also offer various workshops like sound healing and meal planning.  The Recovery Yoga led by Giustina on Sunday evenings is a restful way to end your week and realign your body.
  3. Caffeinated Community Fitness (run by Cat Golden of Nine Lives Health & Bre Nourse) – These pop-up workouts happen on the last Sunday of every month.  They are held at Atwater Brewery on Joseph Campau.  In the Summer they are outside at the rooftop bar, in the Winter they happen inside the brewery.  There is usually a 30-minute workout like Bar Method or HIIT led by a guest fitness expert, followed by 30 minutes of yoga led by Bre.  The Caffeinated piece comes next door at Ashe Supply Co. After the workout, everyone receives a free coffee or tea.  This aspect of the event is beneficial because you get a chance to spend time after with those you just practiced with.   
  4. The Bar Method (Owners Christina Carroll & Amelia Zamir) – Christina and Amelia have been leading free community workouts at the Detroit Opera House while they anticipate the opening of their downtown studio in the next couple of months.  Bar training is isometric and dance moves that give you a serious workout!  The instructors watch carefully to make sure you are performing the proper movement for the best results. 
  5. Trap Yoga (by Kisa Doll) – Trap what??  Yes, Trap Yoga!  Kisa is a bright light that engages anyone that walks into her class.  This is a fantastic practice for beginners as Kisa breaks each movement down, making sure everyone can modify where necessary.  And yes, the music adds an unexpected element that is a fun twist on the usually zen, quieter yoga practice. 
  6. Trap Ride at Live, Cycle, Delight (Owner: Amina Daniels) – Keeping on the Trap theme, I went to this spin class led by Julie.  You reserve a bike ahead of time and I thought I was being stealthy by reserving the bike as far from the instructor as possible.  But no, it was the bike right in front of Julie!  It was a high intensity, tough workout.  I set a goal early on to just stay on my bike and keep pedaling for the entire class which I was able to achieve. Even though I knew the workout would be tougher than I can manage right now, Julie motivated me and recognized my effort.  I sweated like I have never sweated in a class and truly enjoyed it.  And, once again, trap music in a workout is a great motivator and distraction!
  7. Kick Abs (Led By Coach Kiwi) – These workouts are offered in various pop-ups around the city.  I have been to two of them, both were sponsored by Under Armour.  Coach Kiwi is a strong motivator and gives you a heart-pumping hour of cardio kickboxing and abs workout. 
  8. Yoga on the Riverwalk (Sponsored by Blue Cross, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and taught by Michelle Moten) – Michelle has been teaching summer yoga for all abilities on the Riverwalk for many years.  Website: www.detroitriverfront.org.  Michelle also has her own studio, Urban Solace, that I plan to visit this year.  There are two types of yoga workouts on the Riverfront:
    1. Yoga on the Riverwalk: (Free!): 10:00 a.m. on Fridays from June – late August and held in Rivard Plaza.  For those able to make a Friday morning workout, they are a wonderful way to start a Summer weekend.  Michelle leads a peaceful practice to ease you into the weekend.  As you hold postures in this class you look out over the Detroit River and often are mesmerized as a freighter glides by.
    2. Glow Yoga:  It is just as fun as it sounds.  This practice usually is held one Wednesday evening each month from June to August along the West Riverfront.  Participants receive glow batons that give the glow feature of the practice.  Once again, views of the Detroit River while you practice, this time leading from Sunset into darkness.  I have found these workouts to have a fun atmosphere, and often there are a few little ones participating that are a joy to watch (and amazing how they can achieve the various positions!).  There is a slight cost for these workouts, as you get glow goodies with them.
  9. Yoga Day at Comerica Park (Sponsored by Danielle Karmanos Work It Out program) –   Yes!  Yoga on the field in Comerica Park!  I think that says it all as to why this made my Top 9 list.  PLUS each participant received a Tigers logo yoga mat.  The practice was led by Raina Nemeth of the Yoga Garden.  It was a very energetic workout and parts of it were outside of my abilities, but I was with hundreds of others on the field at Comerica Park so it was very worthwhile!  As with all yoga practices, when something is out of your realm, there is always a modification or child’s pose.  This was a one-off event, but the Work It Out program leads various pop-up events throughout the year.

With any fitness program, there is always a need for gear, especially the right shoes.  I highly recommend supporting Run Detroit (owned by Justin Craig & Alia Polsgrove).  They give a superior level of customer service and support this city in every way they can.  They also host free group runs every Saturday at 8:00 am for all levels.

So, that wraps up 2017.  My hope is that you have been inspired to give something new that challenges you a try in 2018.  The feeling you get when you push yourself out of your normal boundaries is one of exhilaration.  Come join me!


Once a week, I plan to highlight a worthy Detroit charitable cause that could use support.  There are so many that I imagine I will never reach them all, but hopefully, I will bring attention to at least some of the great work being done in this city.

 Detroit Dog Rescue Logo

The temperatures are extremely low right now in the city and DDR is out there in the elements trying to rescue every dog they can that is being left outside or abandoned.  They are rescuing many, many, many dogs every day and finding them loving, warm homes.  In some cases, they are also able to educate an animal’s owner to bring the dog indoors and improve its quality of life that way as well.  It is hard, dangerous work being done by caring volunteers.  They are in constant need of support to keep this work moving forward.

DDR’s mission statement is “Detroit Dog Rescue is focused on raising awareness for the plight of the forgotten, homeless and stray dogs of Detroit.”  With more than 50,000 homeless and stray dogs out on Detroit’s streets, and with an understaffed Department of Animal Control in the City, most dogs picked up by Animal Control Officers are euthanized.  DDR advocates for humane alternatives such as no-kill shelters, foster care and adoptions, pet identification and healthy pet population control through spay and neutering.”  The organization is “dedicated to making a difference in the city, one dog at a time.”

Having an animal’s companionship has been important to me from the time I was growing up with two dogs (both were rescues) to my beloved cat Cali today.  For the many of us for whom a pet brings so much into our lives, I believe we should also be looking out for their less fortunate brothers and sisters. The long-term goal of DDR is to continue to maintain the City’s only no-kill shelter in Detroit.  I encourage you to visit their website to learn more and help if you are able.



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