How To Stay Healthy Mentally, Physically, and Emotionally This Winter with Joshua Neal


Hi, I’m Joshua Neal, and I am a Studio Manager, Performer and Inclusion Council Member for Life Time Fitness. Working out and dancing has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid. At the age of 19, I entered the world of fitness as a hi/lo and step instructor. From that moment on I knew my purpose was to help others be healthy. After receiving my Yoga Certification, Life Coach Certification and healing some deep-rooted wounds, I expanded my purpose even more by inspiring others to stay healthy mentally and physically.

With all the challenges and uncertainties that 2020 has brought us, it’s important that we stay healthy mentally, physically and emotionally this winter. Mental Health America studies show that the number of people seeking help has skyrocketed. Compared to last year, 93% more people this year have screened for anxiety and 62% more for depression. There are many mental benefits from working out:

  • Reduces anxiety, stress and depression
  • Feelings of Joy and Happiness
  • Sense of Achievement
  • Improved judgment skills and clarity
  • Increased learning skills

MASM and AHA recommend that you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity during the course of the week. The US Department of Health and Human Services states that 80% of adults do not meet those minimum requirements. There are many physical benefits from working out:

  • Stronger
  • Faster
  • More flexible
  • Weight loss/Weight gain achievements
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Longer life span
  • Strengthen Bones and Muscles

Here are a some tips how you can stay healthy physically, mentally emotionally this winter.



Be positive. You must want it. Gear your mind for success. Acknowledge how you feel first about working out in the winter and then adjust that mindset if needed. Develop a positive mindset and everything will build from it.


Goal setting involves in the development of an action plan. It is a major component to personal development. Once you have a goal in mind it holds you accountable to meet it. Additionally, share your goals with others for extra accountability. Think about what you want to do and achieve. For example: “I want to jog for one mile” or “I want to lose five pounds in 60 days.”


What all do you need to get ready? What will help you achieve your goal? For example, if you are going jogging you will need a good pair of running shoes. Maybe the HOKA Clifton 7 or the Carbon X 2. I run in my Cliftons often and they are super comfortable and light. Selecting the apparel is important when working out in the winter. I absolutely love my HOKA Bondi Hoodie and beanie.


Grab some friends. Share with your spouse what your goals are. Get the kids involved. Surround yourself around positive influencers. The more you include others the more likely you can achieve your goals. Plus, working out is much more fun with others!


Think of ways to make your normal routine more active. If distance is appropriate, walk/ jog to the store instead of driving. Or change your regular route for a longer one. Carry the grocery bags to the car. When cleaning at home, add walking up and down the stairs as part of the routine. When taking your pets outside to use the restroom, go for a little walk around the neighborhood.


Meditation allows you to be in the present moment. Yoga links the mind, body and soul. Meditation and prayer can prevent spiraling down the dark path or the “I can’t do this” attitude. Try to just sit still for 10 minutes and focus on breathing. Grab some comfy clothes and take a yoga class. The HOKA performance full length tights have a nice soft feel against the body and you can wear them anywhere. Yoga has many physical benefits including increased flexibility and balance. Beyond the physical, yoga offers mental benefits like relief from stress, anxiety and fear. Yoga is a great opportunity to turn inward and find gratitude.

Attending a church or any type of religion service will feed your spirit and soul. We need our mind’s body and soul leveled more than ever now. Churches are beginning to open their doors with social distance protocols. There are many apps and social media platforms you can use to help jump start your meditation, yoga and religion practice.



Working out in the winter can be a challenge because of the temperature. However, in the cold your body can regulate its temperature better. This means that you can often exercise farther and longer which allows you to burn more calories according to the American Heart Association. Exercising in extreme temperatures has shown the ability to enhance endurance and mental edge. So, take it outside, get active and don’t let the cold weather slow you down. Activities outside include but are not limited to: running, walking, meditating or practicing yoga in the park. Locations outside can be an additional motivating factor. Consider an open parking lot, your back yard, areas with color, parks, track and fields or just a nice view of nature. Remember to dress appropriately. The HOKA 1/2 Zip Midlayer is great for outdoor activities in the winter.

Whether you are stuck at home because of the current pandemic or just don’t have time to get out, there are still plenty of ways you can work out at home. Many fitness professionals are unable to return to the gym. They are offering workout programs on their social media platforms, and some even go live via Zoom, Instagram or Facebook. Certain health clubs are beginning to go virtual and or offer on-demand classes.

Life Time Fitness has recently partnered with Apple to offer a digital and virtual platform with a large variety of classes at an affordable rate. You are guaranteed to find a class just for you. I personally have a couple of classes on the Life Time On-Demand page. Don’t have workout equipment at home? There are still many options for you. Get creative! Use home furniture to help assist with your workouts. For example, you can use a chair for stabilization in a Barre class, or use can jugs of water as weights. You can use towels as sliders. Department stores carry a variety of workout equipment that you can purchase. No excuses: clear a room and start moving!


There are many fitness challenges that you can participate in. Joining a challenge not only help you reach your fitness goals but they also hold you accountable. Fitness challenges are fun and will help you maintain your workout routine during the winter. You can find various apps and online challenges that are designed for all levels to get involved with. Life Time offers a virtual 60-day challenge without even coming to the club.


Your diet plays an important role in your physical and mental health. Your body will experience changes in energy level and metabolism during the wintertime. It is important that you continue to watch your eating habits and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Consult with a nutritionist or dietitian for a personalized meal plan. In the winter you want to be able to find foods that can withstand the cold and provide nutrients that are essential during the winter.


Your mental health is more important than ever. 2020 has brought us many uncertainties and has forced us to change the ways we normally live. As mentioned earlier, mental health statistics across the board have increased, so this is a great time to self-reflect and turn inward. Allow yourself to just feel. A great way to reduce stress and anxiety is to read a book and or journal your thoughts. If writing is not your thing, then talk to someone about your feelings. Whether it’s a professional therapist or a friend, let it out. It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay to keep it in. Talking and journaling allows you to release negative energy and emotions, and brings calmness to the mind and body. Your mental health is important.

Staying active in the winter is valuable to your mental, physical and emotional health. I hope that these tips will help motivate you; inside or outside, be creative and make it a goal to be active this winter. Find that accountability partner and connect with others. Cheers to 2021, and cheers to a healthier you mentally, physically and emotionally this winter.

– Joshua Neal


Ways to Take Control Of Your Mental Health Through Movement

A new year signals the chance to ease our way into routines that support healthier and more balanced lives. Dr. Danielle Richardson is helping people do just that through feeling-focused yoga classes and wellness retreats. The Los Angeles based optometrist and founder of Fierce Clarity supports busy women as they envision more holistic lives. She defines Fierce Clarity as a declaration of design. 

DrRSkyMyai Anthony (@myyaaii)

Richardson’s own journey into wellness began in 2014 when she found herself overcome by burnout and sickness. “I wasn’t taking care of my body, my priorities were out of whack, and I was completely disconnected from myself. I was under constant stress, barely sleeping, and skipping every meal possible. My body started to fall apart and I began to have severe IBS,” Richardson said. That’s when her doctor recommended that she try yoga to decrease her stress and symptoms. Fast forward to 2015, two days after she finished optometry school she packed her bags and went to Bali, Indonesia on a month-long vacation where she was fully immersed in self-care, from messages to taking yoga classes. A month away revealed the need to heal on a soul level in order to improve her physical health. She dove into healing via yoga, energy therapies, Balinese medicines, massages, radical self-love, and self-care. The trip completely changed the course of her life. She eventually signed up for a yoga teacher training program to help others tap into healing and elevated sense of purpose through movement. 

While everyone may not be able to take a soul-searing trip to Bali for a month, Richardson is employing some of the approaches to self-care that she learned in her own yoga and wellness practice. “People feel like these experiences are sort of unobtainable. And that is sort of the genius of Fierce Clarity bringing that experience that I had, that experience of full healing and self-healing really to other busy stressed-out women like myself,” she said. Now she’s offering virtual feeling-focused yoga classes. She shares some of the approaches she has incorporated in her daily self-care, as well as tips for bringing a yogic practice into your life. 

Don’t Wait Until You Burnout To Take A Break 

DrRBridgeMyai Anthony (@myyaaii)

“For me, it was a lot of headaches, a lot of digestive problems, a lot of mood issues, irritability, pessimism, and cynicism. I just felt deeply unsatisfied and miserable. I was changing cities, changing as much as I could change about my life, yet I still felt miserable. I think that for me that was kind of a key sign that there was truly a misalignment happening in my life.” 

Get Acquainted With Your Natural Energy Level 

DrRArmsMyai Anthony (@myyaaii)

“We all have our own natural circadian rhythm and our own natural sort of biological clocks, so some of us wake up with energy in the morning, and others of us build energy throughout the day. If you are a person who has a lot of energy in the morning, maybe your self-care is working out in the morning. Maybe it is getting up early, maybe it is that morning routine that is 90 mins long because you have an additional 2 to 3 hours every morning.

If you are a person whose natural energy level isn’t highest in the morning, maybe that morning routine will not serve you in the same capacity. So I think understanding your natural energy level is important because then you can understand what practices will fit within your natural rhythm to be most supportive of caring for yourself.”

Put Together A Selfcare Toolbox  

DrRSeatMyai Anthony (@myyaaii)

“You should have a self-care toolbox that you can consult, so you can pull things out based on your energy level for that day. I am an early bird, so I wake up at 6:30 AM everyday and I usually lay in bed until 7:30 AM, but then I work out. If I don’t workout first thing in the morning I’m going to get tired, I’m going to make up a bunch of excuses, but I know that it’s important to workout because it supports my digestive health, It supports my mental health, and it allows me to add structure to my day. I think encouraging people to explore tools that they can put in their self-care care toolbox and understanding that we are not stagnant people so your self-care practices should not be stagnant either is important.”

Introduce Yoga To Your Routine 

DrRLegMyai Anthony (@myyaaii)

“I recommend everyone start by finding a local studio and do their beginner introductory special. They will always have one. It’s usually between $30- $50 a month and you can take unlimited classes.

Yoga is a living, breathing practice so it lives and breathes differently through each teacher. So you have to explore different teachers to find a style that you resonate with and to find a practice that you resonate with. While it can be intimidating to see handstands and splits all over Instagram there are a lot of teachers who focus on beginner to intermediate students, where the practice is made more accessible. You also have to have the beginner’s mind, every class is not going to be your best yoga class. It’s like letting go of that experience and understanding with anything the more you practice yoga the more comfortable it feels in your body and the easier it becomes.

Many times people can’t feel their bodies, because they are so disassociated, so it kind of feels weird to move in a particular way. Giving yourself a few classes allows you to get back in your body, start feeling things again, open up some of those energy channels, and those energy blockages.”

Identify A Practice That Meets Your Needs 

DrRFloorMyai Anthony (@myyaaii)

“The style of yoga I teach is feeling-focused, so the classes are divided based on feeling, which I think is focused on beginner to intermediate students, so it makes it super easy. The classes are relaxed, which is a relaxing class. Refresh, which is a class you take when you want a fresh burst of energy. Refocus is when you want to focus and want to be challenged. Reconnect is a more soul focused class. Subscribers can pick a class based on their mood. We aren’t stagnant, so we don’t want to do the same thing every day, so having some variety there.”

Photography provided by Myai Anthony. Blog content provided by Priscilla Ward.


Native Women Running with Verna Volker

Verna Volkner is an ultra runner and a Diné woman from New Mexico, who currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Diné is what the Navajo People call themselves in their own language, which means “The People”. Upon introduction, the traditional way a Diné person introduces themselves is naming their clans.  This tells you where they’re from and who their family is. Verna’s clans are Tódích’íi’nii (Bitterwater) nishlíi, Hashtl’ishnii (Mud People) bashishchiin,  Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle) dashicheii, and Tó’ áheedlíinii (Water Flows Together) dashinalí. These identities express Verna’s background and her quest to bring forth the Native People into the world of running.  


Verna created a social media group through Instagram called, Native Women Running (NWR).  This group was created out of her great frustration at the lack of Native representation. Verna never saw anyone who looked like her in the running world, which was upsetting because running is such a sacred experience for many Native runners.  Running is a celebration of connection to the land – the drumming of the feet hitting the earth, the prayers that are breathed in and out of the lungs, the power of the legs pushing forward, giving you the ability to make one more stride.  Running invites you to observe the beauty of the land that you pass through – the sage brush, the trees, the grass.  Running invites you to be in communication with our four-legged cousins – the birds of the air, and the insects that fly or crawl. When we run, we feel and experience it all. 


In 2009, Verna started running. As a mother of three children, she started running to lose weight and to help engage a healthier lifestyle. It was tough and it was hard – even simply running a mile wasn’t easy.  But as hard as the beginning was, it pushed her forward and showed her that she can do something she never thought she could do: she could run. Slowly that mile became two and she began to recognize something else – someone else. As the miles increased so did her awareness of herself. She found a passion; she found a new journey.  


NWR represents a group of strong resilient Native runners. It’s a rare gift when a social media group somehow feels like a family, but this is exactly what Verna created.  The space she holds and brings forth is one of beauty, strength, pain, and resiliency. Women share personal stories of joy and affliction. They share adoration of the land on which they run on.  Inspiration moves throughout the group, they encourage each other, they push each other. But more importantly they support one another.  


A passion that is especially uplifted by this group is advocacy and awareness of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW).  The numbers of stolen sisters are staggering – our women and girls are being taken from us at an alarming rate.  Native women are murdered at a rate of 10 times higher than other ethnicities and it’s the third leading cause of death for beloved family members.  The majority of these murders are committed by non-Native people. Due to the lack of communication between state, local, federal, and tribal law enforcement, it’s difficult to begin the investigation process.  We can’t begin to tell you about the violence that our women face. And it’s not just on the Reservations, it’s down the street –  in urban neighborhoods, and in suburban homes. What’s also staggering is that 84% of Native/Indigenous women will experience violence in their lifetime.  Violence against Native Women is everywhere. Verna and NWR raise a voice for the voiceless.  May 5th is the international day to honor our MMIW and dsVerna created a virtual run to honor our missing and murdered sisters.  It was powerful to witness the vast number of supporters, who wore red and came together to honor our women and children.  

Through NWR, Verna expresses her greatest hope: to create more visibility for Native runners. And not just one runner, but all runners.  To learn more about NWR, visit their website, and follow them on social media, Instagram and Facebook, @nativewomenrunning.   


Verna is featured wearing the Bondi 7.

Photography and blog content provided by Jaylyn Gough.

Choosing the Right Shoe for your New Year’s Resolution

New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep. Like any commitment, following through means taking the steps necessary to set yourself up for success. 

Part of that is having the right gear and finding the right fit.


Whether you’ve decided to train for a marathon or just want to get outside more, the wrong running shoes or apparel can make it that much more difficult to keep up with a new good habit.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, here’s a little HOKA advice on how to to gear up for the new you:

The right shoes for running a marathon


If you’re committed to training for and running a marathon this year, look into carbon-plated running shoes.

Made with a cutting-edge carbon fiber plate between the midsole and outsole, this emerging running shoe design technology combines superior cushioning and stability with minimal energy loss. That’s what makes these cutting edge running shoes perfect for those looking to extend their endurance over the course of the year.

HOKA has been in the carbon-plated running shoe game since 2019, and is celebrating the first day of the new year with the new Carbon X 2, available January 1st. 

The right shoes and apparel for getting outside more


Choosing the right gear for spending more time outdoors depends on what you mean by “getting outside more.”

If your goal is to go for regular walks or runs around the neighborhood this January, look into a trail running shoe. Trail running shoes are sturdy and durable, built with grippy rubber outsoles for a stable ride. Even if you’re not planning on hitting up a trail, added traction features offered by trail running shoes make them a good option for running in rain, snow and ice.

If “going outside” means exploring nature in all its rugged glory, then you might need something a bit more impervious to the elements than trail running shoes with breathable mesh uppers designed more to avoid water logging than keep your feet dry over prolonged stretches. Trail running shoes with GORE-TEX uppers will protect your feet from the elements, perfect for day hikes. For more difficult, technical terrain or overnight trips, try a full hiking boot for added stability.

And if you’re an accomplished trail runner or hiking enthusiast looking to raise your game in the new year with the most advanced gear available, check out the TenNine trail running shoe and TenNine Hike GORE-TEX boot. 


The right shoes for cross-training


Cross-training shoes should be versatile. They need to be great for most types of exercise, and wearable before and after a workout.

A lightweight, breathable running shoe is perfect for cross-training. Since they’re not meant for intense, long-distance running, these shoes can cut down on the foam while still providing superior cushioning. Add a breathable, snug-fitting upper, and you’ve got the perfect shoe for any kind of workout.

A perfect example is the Hupana Flow. Built with an engineered knit upper for breathability and a springy, responsive rubberized foam outsole, it’s a running shoe that works for just about anything. Combine that with some training apparel, and you’re set.


The right shoes for relaxing self-care


Not every resolution needs to be about pushing yourself harder. It’s just as important to give your body and mind a rest.

Start with your feet. If you’re a runner, ensuring your feet get the proper time to rest and recover is crucial. And if you’re not, there’s nothing better than wearing something comfortable.

Try on a pair of recovery sandals. The ORA recovery slide is built to aid the post-race recovery of overworked feet, whether you’ve just run an ultra marathon or not. It’s a slide with a HOKA max-cushion midsole.


Tackling a New Year’s resolution can be hard, even if you have the right tools for the job. But as long as you stick to actionable goals and keep a positive mindset, you’ll get yours done. You can do it.

Good luck and Happy New Year. It’s Time To Fly™

How Carbon-Plated Running Shoes Took the Running World by Storm


You’ve probably heard of carbon fiber, the ultra-lightweight yet ultra-firm material used to make high-performance bike frames and Formula One cars. 

For the past handful of years, this revolutionary material has quietly been changing the game in a similar fashion for running shoes.

HOKA has been part of the carbon fiber revolution since the beginning, developing the Carbon Rocket – one of the earliest carbon fiber plated running shoes ever used in races. (The original Carbon Rocket never went on sale to consumers, but a later version of it – the Evo Carbon Rocket – was widely available.)

Many associate carbon-plated running shoes with professional marathoners and ultra distance runners, but the technology benefits runners of all levels of experience. Whether you’re a seasoned competitor looking to shave milliseconds off a personal best or a newer runner looking to start off on the right foot, carbon-plated running shoes have plenty to offer.

Joining the carbon revolution


A carbon-plated running shoe is basically a sandwich, with carbon fiber plates and placed between the midsole and the outsole. Of course, perfecting the design isn’t as simple as just wedging carbon fiber into an existing shoe.

Released in 2019, the Carbon Rocket was HOKA’s first carbon-plated running shoe, and its primary structure consisted of a soft foam midsole and a grippy, rubberized foam outsole.

The addition of a carbon fiber plate to this winning formula for maximum cushion performance was designed to stiffen the shoe, giving runners a more stable, propulsive, efficient ride, and helped the foam layers compress and expand more quickly to return more energy with each stride.

The Carbon Rocket was a strong first step into carbon plated shoe design, contributing stability and minimal energy loss in a package that delivered speed and distance performance while maintaining a low total weight.

Runners noticed the difference immediately, both mile-by-mile and over the course of full marathons.

From design breakthrough to breaking records


Because running shoes with carbon plating are designed to combine a stable base, increased energy return and a springier feel, runners noticed a more marked difference in performance over the course of longer runs.

As the initial Carbon Rocket design provided real-world road testing for the newest evolution in distance running shoes, HOKA’s approach to integrating carbon fiber quickly took a new leap forward. Our next carbon-plated shoe, the Carbon X, featured more foam cushion than the initial Rocket, with a redesigned carbon plate and a new, lightweight upper, designed to get the absolute most energy return out of every footstrike.

We built it specifically for the purpose of breaking a world record: the fastest 50-mile run. Mission accomplished, with plenty of help from Jim Walmsley’s incredible endurance. But it was also a shoe designed to help propel every athlete forward – whatever their speed, whatever their goals. All of HOKA’s carbon fiber-plated shoes are designed to produce top performances by elite athletes while allowing the rest of us to experience their unique ride. 

Carbon-plated performance goes near-weightless


The next evolutionary stage in carbon-plated running shoe design was to squeeze every performance advantage possible out of a shoe designed for a broader range of running events than just the ultra marathon.

Enter the HOKA Rocket X.

With a midsole made of new EVA foam – the lightest we’ve ever made – the Rocket X combined a breathable mesh upper and grippy rubber outsole with a super thin, redesigned 1mm carbon plate.

Weighing in at just over 7oz, the Rocket X is the lightest running shoe in the HOKA lineup, while also delivering the propulsive launch of a carbon-plated shoe. The result is designed to be as beneficial on the track as it is on the road, and a perfect starting point for runners of all experience levels looking for a taste of what carbon fiber can do.

The future of carbon-plated running shoes


While the Rocket X contributes lightweight responsiveness as an everyday running shoe or middle distance performer, it’s not meant to replace the Carbon X for endurance runs.

The next step in bridging that gap is the Carbon X 2.

Built from the ground up for long-distance runs, the X 2 shaves weight from the Carbon X model with a lightweight mesh upper, featuring a streamlined tongue and redesigned collar for a snug fit. The midsole is also made of softer, lighter foam designed for more energy return, paired with the original Carbon X’s rubberized outsole. The carbon fiber plate itself is also placed lower to the ground to give the Carbon X 2 an even softer feel.

Preorder a pair in advance of their January 1st release. 

Are carbon plated running shoes right for me?


As with any design innovation that results in rewritten record books, carbon fiber-plated running shoes have drawn their share of debate and controversy among the upper echelons of the running world.

Do they offer an unfair advantage? Is it okay for a new generation of athletes equipped with carbon fiber-plated running shoes to threaten long-standing records that were broken without that technology?

We’ll let the relevant governing bodies decide.

In the meantime, rest assured that heated debate among elite athletes obscures the bigger picture for a majority of runners: since feeling good while running is a good thing, carbon fiber-plated running shoes should be available for anybody.

Give them a try, see how they feel, and find out what a more propulsive ride does for your speed, endurance and, most importantly, confidence.

Take the leap. It’s Time to Fly™.