Protect Your Posture

Let's start this post by reminding you not to read this post with your shoulders pulled forward and your head tilted down! Whether we're on our laptops, phones, taking notes in class- many of our lifestyles involve some form to this posture for extended periods of time. More and more clients come in telling me that they know they have bad posture from how they sit at work, and I've had some clients where their posture has resulted in full blown upper crossed syndrome. They typically complain about tightness around the neck and back pain.


If this looks or sounds familiar, you can use the stretches in this post throughout your day to prevent long-term effects of the posture. While it can be natural for some, for many the posture was developed out of habit- causing aches, pains, and immobility. 

Chest Stretch 

Let's start with the big muscles. Sitting with your shoulders forward gets your chest all settled into a compressed position, making them tight.

  • Reach both arms behind your back.
  • Lace your fingers together with your palms facing up.
  • If you cant' hold your hands, grab the back of a chair.
  • Gently pull your hands down and away from your body.
  • Pull your chest away from your hands.
  • Feel: Your chest opening up.
  • Hold for 30 secs.

Wall slides

On the other side of your chest, those rhomboids and traps (upper back muscles) have been getting no action.

  • Put your hands up by your shoulders, elbows by your sides, palms facing forward.
  • Move your hands and arms up until your biceps are by your ears.
  • Bending at the elbow, slide your hands back down towards your shoulders, elbows back down by your sides.
  • Optional: Do this with your back against the wall, keeping your hands touching the wall throughout the motion.
  • Feel: Your shoulder blades squeezing together.
  • Repeat 15 times.

Lateral tilt

This stretch is for your traps, which also become tight with a static, forward shoulder posture.

  • Sit up nice and tall.
  • Bring your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Keeping eyes forward, imagine a line pulling the center of your head 45 degrees left and upward.
  • Hold for 15 secs.
  • Repeat for the right side.
  • Feel: The side of your neck and top of your shoulders being stretched.


Your neck is designed to rotate like a pivot, and it may not do this is you're only looking forward all day. 

  • Sit up nice and tall.
  • Bring your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Keeping your torso still, turn your face towards the left.
  • Hold for 30 secs.
  • Repeat for the right side.
  • Feel: The side of your neck being stretched.

Nose circles 

There are muscles deep in your neck that you can exercise, too!

  • Sit up nice and tall.
  • Bring your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Keeping your torso still, draw small circles with your nose.
  • At the bottom of your circles, you should be making a double chin.
  • Repeat 10 each direction.
  • Feel: Activation in the back of your neck.

These may take just a couple minutes to do, and I recommend doing them at least every 2 hours if you're sitting through most of your day. These brief periods of stretching/activity can help save you a lifetime of discomfort!


Is CrossFit dangerous?

I've gotten this question a lot. And like many questions where people are looking for a “yes" or “no" answer- the annoying answer to this is: it depends. In this post, I'll share my first CrossFit and some reasons why people have concerns about participating.

My First Time: Grassroots in Berkeley, CA


Every Saturday, Grassroots holds a Community Workout of the Day (WOD), aka, a free workout open to everybody! Actually, many advanced lifters also came through to get their heart rates up. The workout was a high-intensity partner routine- that you could make as challenging as you needed to by increasing the weights or increasing your pace.

I was excited even though I knew coming in that we weren't going to be doing power lifts. It made sense that a class open to everyone would keep it simple and time-efficient. But I was still got a bit nervous when I saw "90 burpees" on the board. 

When I found out we were going to partner up and get timed, the friendly competition got me excited again.

After a thorough and coordination-testing warm-up (it doesn’t take much but a ladder and simple footwork to test my coordination), we were filled in on the WOD. It included*:

  • Wall Balls
  • Sit Ups
  • Box Jumps
  • Burpees

*Apologies for not remembering the exact numbers and not taking a photo of the workout.

Brandon was my partner. We had worked out together before, and both wanted to have the best time out of the group. We had a rough strategy in terms of splitting up the wall balls into sets of 15, and pushed each other to move quickly to the next exercises. We ended up finishing first. Well, technically 2nd behind a man who didn’t have a partner.


We definitely broke a great sweat (per the photo) and felt energized after. If you feel like your level of fitness is intermediate-advanced, you could probably do the workout at least twice! If you really give your all and challenge yourself with the weights and pace, then one time through is definitely sufficient. The coaches walked around as we worked to check on our form and make sure we were not cutting corners in order to get more speed. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend to others!


For my Atlanta people, Nike Trainer Jamar Robinson M.S. has heard good things about Peachtree CrossFit!


Why some people think CrossFit is Dangerous:

CrossFit wouldn't have become a national phenomenon if it was all bad. There's over 7,000 CrossFit-affiliated boxes in the US, and tens of thousands of athletes that kip and clean on a regular basis. So what leads some to warn about potential injuries as a result of cross fit participation?

1. Poor Technique

This could be because of the coach, or because of the participants. The issues are magnified when a lack of proper technique is combined with inappropriately fast progression. This is why many facilities start their participants out using broomsticks, or don’t even focus on lifts for beginners- because in most cases, you need to have the fundamentals of the exercises down before adding load.

One of my clients explained that when she got injured after doing CrossFit, the coaches did start her off with a broomstick, but kept telling her to toss on more load even though she had just gotten the broomstick down. This quick load progression combined with the often fast pace and explosive nature of exercises/workouts- are an injury time bomb.

2. Under-recovery 

I had one client who was super ambitious. He was doing CrossFit at Iron Tribe, and then asked me to provide him with high intensity personal training sessions in addition. I asked him to do split days- separating our sessions from the cross fit by at least 24 hours. 

He didn’t listen to my advice, and he got injured. This wasn't necessarily Iron Tribe’s fault or my fault. As his trainer, I advised him of the risks of overtraining, and Iron Tribe should have done similarly. In the same way that fitness professionals should be  Participants, themselves also have the responsibility to listen to their bodies and heed the advice of fitness professionals, the professionals also need to provide the advice.

After Grassroots, I’d say I had a great, although still limited, experience with CrossFit. If you try it out, enjoy the fun, community feel- but continue to be careful and listen to your bodies!

My First Time Flying with Acroyoga

This is what happens when a bare-foot stranger in tights approaches you in a crowded park and asks: “Do you want to join us?"


Okay, so I’m sure this isn’t what always happens- but being the mild germaphobe that I am, I’m glad I assessed his feet, my tights, and concluded that I would be sufficiently protected from any serious germs.

It started when Chantal, Sarem and I were awkwardly attempting to record workout videos in Dolores Park. We noticed a group of people nearby doing much less awkward- actually impressive, partner poses. Overestimating ourselves, we started to mimic the poses on our own. Nick, the kind bare-footed man, saw our struggle and invited us over.

He demonstrated with his partner, how easy the poses were once you had the proper positioning, and how posture and trust were key to ensuring the physics of the poses worked.

While my friends and I were successful in completing the poses with each other, there was still some nervous laughing, shaking, and spotting (support from experienced people in case we fell) necessary. Nick offered to “base” us. This meant it would be time for his feet and the front of my hips to make contact.

I left my friend go first. 😅

She was visibly and audibly excited at the ease of her lift-off, and immediately let her hands go to extend her torso into full “flying" position. Now I was ready.

Getting into the start position, I immediately felt the difference between my friends little feet digging into my hips creases, and Nick’s feet feeling like comfy pads. After the super smooth liftoff, I felt so comfortable that I extended my back more and reached for my feet to get into “bow" pose.

The initial joy of achieving the pose, combined with an intuitive desire to maintain the pose- caused an increased awareness of your body’s stabilizing muscles, and trust in your base. The result was a very unique mental calm and serenity that was intimately connected with your physical positioning.

I had never been happier to be making contact with a stranger’s bare feet before! 

He asked if we wanted to hang upside-down, and at this point we were much less hesitant. This position involved more steps, so I still let my friends go first to make sure I was still avoiding flesh to foot contact. 


This was also dope! The simultaneous joy and peace from flying, could also be found in “bat” position. I had a newfound appreciation for acroyoga, and its ability to leverage physics to enable human body to achieve new physical and mental elevations. 

The next day, my friend’s back muscles were sore from being worked out by the extensions, and I got an amazing stretch for my hip flexors and quads.

Our wonderful instructor, Nick, is looking to go on the road with his partner to formally teach acroyoga across the nation. I got his contact number and hope to follow his progress. In the meantime, I definitely recommend you trying out acroyoga! It’s easy if you can get to Dolores Park in San Francisco- the people practicing are super friendly, so all you have to do is ask! If you’re in Georgia or just want to mitigate any barefoot fears, try an acroyoga studio, or very carefully try in your home using online tutorials!

Huyen's Workout #8

Moves from my light leg day.

I used more weight than pictured in the video, but still went lighter than usual since I was feeling a bit under the weather. I'm always tempted to go heavier, especially when other people are around. But it's important not to let your ego put you at risk for injury, or in my case- make me sicker. After a solid mini-band warm-up and a tasty post workout meal, this workout left me feeling worked but energized.

Huyen's Workout #7

Quick, High-Intensity Leg Routine!

I've been focusing a lot on regular multi-planar work in my lower body routines. Doing exercises in different movement planes and at various angles is essential to optimally training your muscles- preparing them for your sports or activities of daily life. In this routine, I neglected the transverse plane, but trained in the sagittal and frontal planes (moving side squats). I'll break down this concept more and provide a fully multi-planar workout soon!

Song: Phero Hill - Don't Change


3 Themes to Give Your #HealthGoals Longevity Part II: Love/accountability

Love will have the strongest influence on the longevity of your health journey. Whether it’s love for yourself, love others have for you, or loving aspects of the journey itself- a journey lacking in love will not be an easy or enjoyable one.


How does love translate into accountability? Accountability seems like a cold, punitive concept, but I see it as based on expectations and responsibilities. Love in all of its forms entails both. Wouldn't we all question those who say they love us, but treat us unkindly or do nothing to show it?

The same idea applies to you and your pursuit of wellness. Loving yourself is taking care of your body. A loving friend will be supportive. Loving the journey means doing what you need to do to sustain it. Consistently acting contrary to expectations makes one question if you are being sincere. *Note I say consistently, because we're human and things happen.

In order for any of these forms of love to manifest into long, happy, healthy wellness journey- you should identify your accountability measures. My favorite form comes in human- a workout partner. People who are with you shooting in the gym, or who don’t pressure you into eating another ten cookies when you’ve already had your fill. Friends don't have to be by your side every step of the way; but when they are, notice who gives who a hard time and who wants to see you succeed.

Personal accountability measures include calendars, journals, alarms, sticky notes, or apps that plan your sessions and show you your progress. 

And to make sure that you enjoy your food fuel and the workouts themselves, be diligent with your recovery and vary your routine with new forms of activity and recipes.

With accountability measures, comes progress. With progress and improved health, comes happiness- the end that lots of philosophers say we’re all seeking. For 2017 and beyond, I wish for all of you to find/serve your purpose, engage in copious amounts of self-care, and love without limitation.


Bookmark all three themes!

AskHuyen #3: Winter Running

A topic/question you want covered by AskHuyen: 

Running in the winter

Details/Specific Questions: 

Hey Huyen! The air is really dry in the winter, and I find myself getting a sore throat really quick. How do YOU run in the winter and make it more enjoyable?

Layers: Nike Dri-FIT Tank + Nike Dri-Fit Half Zip + Generic Half-Zip Sweater + Lululemon Half Zip + Gloves & Peruvian Handband Souvenir 

Layers: Nike Dri-FIT Tank + Nike Dri-Fit Half Zip + Generic Half-Zip Sweater + Lululemon Half Zip + Gloves & Peruvian Handband Souvenir 

Up there with San Francisco hills and shin splints, winter time is one of the true tests of a runner. Okay so shin splints may be in a league of their own, but for new and experienced runners alike, cold weather could take your outdoor running routine out of the…well...running… completely! 

As a Georgia resident, the weather does a lot of things throughout the year, including drop well below a comfortable temperature for jogs. I see the chilliness as a little challenge each year, and still run at least twice a week during the cold months. I'll cover my winter running strategies that may be useful for your throat issues and make your run more fun.

First, my strategies that keep me from getting a sore throat:

  1. I make sure my chest and throat are covered. Sounds obvious but sometimes people will just wear a crew neck sweatshirt that still leaves their throat exposed. I rock my Nike half-zips. If you don’t have a running zip-up that covers your throat, this breathable running scarf is a more affordable option. 
  2. I also consistently breath in through my nose and out through my mouth. My coaches made me do this in high school and it helped me manage cramps when running. Using this breathing technique in cold weather minutely delays the cold air hitting my throat and lungs, making breathing more controlled and less harsh.
  3. People really don’t think they'll sweat in cold weather, but depending on your exercise intensity and duration- it can absolutely happen. I usually run at least 3 miles and am always sweaty by the end. For the same reasons you hydrate well in the summer, stay well hydrated in the cold months, too. If you’re throat’s already dry, then cold, dry air will fast-track you to Sore Throat Central.

As for my general strategies,

Jogging in place at a traffic light.

Jogging in place at a traffic light.

  1. I start by putting more layers on top of that half-zip I mentioned earlier. Another obvious-sounding recommendation, but some people may choose to just wear their warmest winter coat or layered cotton long-sleeves. I like to have the option of unzipping or taking off a sweater, rather than being stuck in one hot jacket. The layers of cotton long-sleeves may be warm- but aren’t the most sweat-wicking fabric and can cling grossly to your body. I try to have a dry-fit layer closest to my skin.
  2. One of my crucial layers is my gloves because -Lawd, the first run I did this winter, I genuinely felt like my fingers were going to fall off. And it happens! Since your hands and feet are furthest from your core, they can lose heat faster and be more susceptible to frostbite. Even if it’s not cold enough for frostbite to be a concern, your uncomfortably cold hands can cause you to clench your fists, which could mean unnecessary tension in your arms and shoulders. So, wear gloves if you can!
  3. I do a dynamic warm-up to prepare my muscles. A few I do from this video include A-skips, butt kicks, birds, and high knees.
  4. Since I run around Nawfside Atlanta, aka the Gwinnett Suburbs, I stop at quite a few traffic lights. When I get to the lights I try to keep my heart rate up and my body warm by jogging in place, while bobbing my head to whatever’s bumpin' in my headphones.
  5. Speaking of headphones, I don't know how I made it through three seasons of cross country without listening to music while I ran. For some people, it helps put you in the right mindset to push yourself through the run.
  6. If you need a more literal push, you can never go wrong with a workout buddy who wants to run with you. Even if you're on different fitness levels, the fact that they want to go with you means that you have an accountability parter. If one of you is slower than the other, you can lunge while they power walk, or stop to do squats in place as they rest. An audible "let's go" can be the difference between literally going the extra mile, or turning around to go home.
  7. Finally, as your nose might be running, your head feels weirdly moist under your hat and you're wondering why you're doing this to yourself- remember the purpose you attached to this run. It's putting you closer to your health goals and proving that there's yet another obstacle that can't get in your way.
Nancy doing the Bird warm-up drill.

Nancy doing the Bird warm-up drill.

3 Themes to Give Your #HealthGoals Longevity Part I: Purpose/Intent

Resolutions come and resolutions go- especially as we get farther away from the night of sparkly dresses, champagne poppin' and countdowns. So instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve identified 3 themes to guide you on your health and wellness journeys.

The themes are:

The two terms for each theme are interrelated. The first term keeps your sights on long-term holistic health, while the second is more training-specific and applicable day to day. I chose these themes based on lessons I’ve learned throughout my journey, and principles that I’ve personally applied. 

Considering the time y'all have and attention spans (no shots fired), this will be a three-part series starting with Purpose/intent.

Why are you using valuable mental space, exerting precious energy, and using limited hours to devote to health in the first place?

At first thought, maybe you signed up for that gym membership because you want to be serious about those abs you’ve been wanting to see in the mirror. Maybe at this point you just want to look great naked or find a boo. While I encourage body positivity and personal validation- these are real goals for people, and it's understandable why.

But ideally, your efforts won't be driven by a mirror, but from within. A purpose that continuously encourages you to be healthy even after you see your abs or talk to the fine guy/girl at the gym.

Some examples would be wanting to thrive and enjoy your daily activities. Having the energy to carry out your purpose in the world. Being more present or engaged when spending time with family.

Once you’ve identified the purpose of your journey, make your actions intentional and targeted towards it. From your general workout program design, to each exercise you perform, to the meals you eat, to how often you leave your desk at work. Have a plan for how you’re going to change up your routines over time to continue making progress. How is your diet and nutrient timing going to make sure you have enough energy? Are you squeezing your butt as you squat for maximal glute activation? Can you get up to take a lap around the office as a break from the deck your working on?

Beginning by setting aside 30mins to an hour for exercise is a start, but also focus on translating that purpose into intent, and be as active as possible in your wellness pursuit.

In our age of social media and gym selfies, it’s easy for our goals to have vain or superficial beginnings. The mirror can undoubtedly contribute to keeping you on track. However, starting with a deeper purpose and being intentional with your energy will keep you on this journey for the long haul.

Bookmark all three themes!



Huyen's Workout #5

Upper Body Chest & Back Supersets

Applied the AskHuyen on Supersets to this Upper Body workout! 

This video would be an example of traditional supersets working opposing muscle groups. If you've been training for a while, you can do compound sets to increase the intensity. Compound sets entails doing two different exercises for the same muscle group consecutively, with little to know rest. See the most recent AskHuyen for more information on Supersets and how to use them if you're a beginner!

🎶➖ @thefewatl x L8KB - Jazz Don't Crash .

AskHuyen #2: Supersets for Super-Beginners

A topic/question you want covered by AskHuyen: 


Details/Specific Questions: 

I'm a beginner and would like information on supersets. The best workouts? What are considered "opposing body parts"? Help! ️

Photoshop skills on 10.

Photoshop skills on 10.


Have no fear! Supersets are here! And beginner-friendly.

I’ll save the superset work-out recommendations for the end. First I want to establish exactly what supersets are, and why you’d even want to do them.

Though they may sound like the name for some extra advanced training method reserved for advanced lifters, superset just means that you’re alternating between two exercises back to back, often for opposing muscle groups and with little rest. (NSCA). 

Opposing muscle groups essentially act opposite to each other. For example during the bicep curl, the bicep contracts while the tricep lengthens. It’s usually pretty easy to identify them since most are literally opposite to each other on your body (quads and hamstrings, chest and upper back, abs and mid/lower back). Here’s a more extensive list using the scientific names.

I enjoy supersets when I’m trying to hit muscle groups hard while saving time. 

Alternating between opposing muscle groups during a circuit allows some muscles to rest briefly while you work the other muscle group. When I bench press, I’m primarily using my chest, while my back helps me stabilize. Then I can go straight into a bent-over row, where my back now does most of the work.

Emphasize brief* rest periods between the two exercises, because it helps keep intensity nice and high- increasing your Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which translates to more work for your muscles and higher calorie burn. If I wasn’t supersetting and had just finished some heavy front squats, my quads would need to rest longer, allowing me to catch my breath for longer- decreasing my EPOC. Instead, I could superset the squats by going into deadlifts since my hamstrings would be ready to do more work.

With only two exercises per circuit, you'll also get the benefit of not moving around the gym as much or hog as much equipment as you might need to for a longer circuit. You can complete a superset of bicep curls and tricep extension with the pull of an iron pin/safety lever on the cable machine with no travel at all.

As a beginner, don't overdo it on your weights- focus on maintaining proper form. Despite that shorter rest periods can increase intensity, keep your training level in mind your rest periods so that you don't pass out. No one wants that. My good friend and C.S.C.S. Aaron High noted that supersetting completely different muscle groups could be best for super-beginners. During a quad-dominant front squat, you’re still activating your hamstrings somewhat, so to ensure enough rest, you can go straight into some push ups instead of deadlifts. 

As you train more you'll be able to lift heavier weights and rest less in between opposing muscle groups.

Okay, now here are some common supersets including those mentioned throughout the article:

  • Bench Press (Chest)- Bent Over Row (Back)
  • Bicep Curl - Tricep Extension
  • Squats (Quads) - Deadlifts (Hamstrings)
  • Leg Extensions (Quads)- Leg Curls  (Hamstrings)
  • Back Squat (Lower) - Push Up/Chin Up (can be assisted) (Upper)

Hope this helps and keep the questions coming!

Huyen's Workout #4

If I'm ever feeling even the slightest bit under the weather like I was this day, a moderate workout and some echinacea tea are my go-to remedies.

Note: I say "moderate" and "oncoming" sickness, because vigorous exercise when your immune system is already compromised can make you even sicker.

After warming up with Sprints and Duck Walks, I started this lower body circuit by superset-ting Squats and Single Arm Deadlifts, before going into a Single Leg Glute Bridges, Stationary Lunges, and Weighted Squat Jumps.

Song: Batman by Matt Dé Lereaux


The brother's of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Pi Delta Delta Chapter joined a SayHuyen HIIT class, adding some new faces to the mix.

While everyone gave their best efforts and got an intense sweat going, participants who had been attending weekly showed OUT with impressive endurance- proving that High Intensity Interval Training and general aerobic conditioning should be a key part of any balanced exercise regimen. The "BQQT Camp" was part of the fraternity's HQlistic Health Week.

If you're interested in a fitness event for your group or organization, check out the services page.

Sister, Sister

You're never too young to learn good form. Plus what better way to bond and mentor my young one then under some barbells? ... Okay we usually bake together- but balance is key.

I taught her two of my core leg day moves: squats and deadlifts.

TIP: We used dumbbells and plates in place of kettlebells- both great alternatives if your gym doesn't provide access to actual kettlebells. Just keep in mind that when using a larger plate, it could be easier to lose control of the plate seeing as the weight is pulling farther away from your body. Make sure you have used at least the same amount of weight in a kettlebell before substituting with a plate. Also ensure that you have an extremely secure grip if you are substituting with a dumbbell, seeing as they were not designed to be swung.

Song: Chill Bill by Rob $tone ft. J.Davis & Spooks