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Stay Fit and Healthy This Summer

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Green Bird Fitness Founder Lauren Whitehead reflects on her journey and shares her top five tips for summer.

By Saba Ghaffari, Photos by Courtney Runn

Austin native Lauren Whitehead never imagined when she began college at Texas A&M University that she would develop a passion for teaching group fitness, a passion that would eventually lead to her opening her own studio, Green Bird Fitness, located in South Austin.

While Whitehead has been active since childhood, she took a different path when it came to her studies, majoring in zoology. It was while she was an undergraduate that Whitehead started taking different group fitness classes at the campus’ recreational center. She became instantly intrigued.

“I realized that these people were teaching classes with the Britney Spears microphone, like, ‘Who are these people?’ ” she says. “It was always so fun and was so motivating. I looked forward to going there. And then it was a fun little community.”

Whitehead began training in every single format she could: kickboxing, cycling, strength training, yoga and Pilates. Soon enough, she became an instructor, teaching various group fitness classes part time at the recreational center while studying for her master’s degree in biology. The group fitness classes were like a haven, as they provided a huge stress relief from her graduate work. When Whitehead graduated and moved back to Austin in 2011, she really began to kick it into high gear, teaching fitness classes at six venues throughout the city.      

Lauren Whitehead says she chose to offer those classes because of their restorative benefits and ability to provide a great workout. Before she discovered barre, she was dealing with physical injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis, as well as a bone growth on her heel resulting from the high-impact workouts she was used to teaching.

“[Barre] is something where it’s life-sustaining, like when there are people in the class with you that are in their 20s and then there [are]others that are in their 40s. There [are]people that are pregnant, there’s a woman in her 70s and you’re all able to do the same workout but get this crazy amount of challenge out of it. That was just life-changing to me. You can do this forever, and you’re not going to get these injuries from it.”

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to re-evaluate your routine. Lauren Whitehead offers her top five tips for reaching your summer fitness goals.

Start now. “It’s a long-term thing. If you’re looking at a timeline, if summer is your goal, now is the time to start.”

Be consistent. “Consistency is key, so no matter what you’re doing, you should do it like three to five times a week for like 30 minutes to an hour. That consistency will help you see what you’re doing.”

Set small goals. “It’ll be more sustaining when you set those small goals. So, then when it becomes winter, then you’ve got these other things in place and you don’t have to stress out so much about like, ‘Oh, but it’s the holidays.’ … You’ll already have your habits ready to go.”

Look for changes in your body, not just on the scale. “It’s about how you feel rather than what the scale is telling you to feel. You want to look at the muscle tone.”

Don’t get discouraged. “It’s the long game. It’s the investment in yourself. … It’s a lifestyle change, not a quick fix.”

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