Before my first Ketanga retreat
I had been a licensed social worker for more than 10 years. I loved working in various areas of the field, including clinical therapy and nonprofit management, but I did not have a sense of fulfillment.
I wanted more. I wanted to help people become their best self in a way that wasn’t quite under the traditional social work umbrella.
At the time, in 2015, I was a fitness enthusiast who just loved to workout in my free time. I was looking for inspiration, and I decided to take a risk, step outside my comfort zone, and book a solo trip to Costa Rica through Ketanga Fitness Retreats.
My Ketanga Experiences
My first Ketanga trip was to Costa Rica with Coach Curtis Williams, and it was amazing!! I loved everything the retreat had to offer from morning and evening workouts, to food, to zip lining, surfing and more. It’s was a fitness vacation filled with both high-intensity and low-impact workouts, delicious food, and fun activities. Plus, it allowed me to see a different country that I would have never thought to visit on my own.
The following year, I signed up for a totally different type of Ketanga retreat, one just a few hours away by car in the Hamptons, NY. The weekend trip with Coach Kelly Keesler was a combination of beachfront Pilates, local dining and enjoying a small group atmosphere (away from the traditional craziness and partying of the Hamptons!). My most unforgettable experience is the 5-mile bike tour that unexpectedly turned into a 12-mile adventure!
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One of the biggest surprises I learned about myself during the retreats is how much I love nature. I’ve always loved water but to go hiking and see open land with all of the beauty that nature has to offer is therapeutic within itself. To be grounded and rooted in nature is truly amazing and has stayed with me since then.
Improving People's Lives
Shortly after my first trip with Ketanga I decided to follow my heart and what made me happy—become a fitness instructor. I figured out I could take my invaluable skills/tools as a social worker combine them with fitness to impact lives in the fitness and wellness arena!
Currently, I am fulfilling my dream as a group fitness instructor at Equinox throughout New York City, a personal trainer and, most recently, a doula!
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So, why join Ketanga on an adventure? For me, the benefits of signing up for a retreat are relaxation and the ability to unplug from the daily grind. In this busy and over-stimulating world we may take recovery for granted. Self love and self care come in many forms. Signing up for a retreat enforces this love and care by giving people a chance to recharge the batteries that often run on empty. Plus, you may get inspiration in the most unexpected ways... and your life may take a wonderful turn from it, like it did for me!
To learn more about Bianca, her fitness classes and doula services, you can visit www.BiancaCrystal.com or follow her on Instagram @_biancacrystal.
Check out Ketanga's upcoming retreats here or sign up below to join the email list and be the first to hear about new trips, inspiring stories and fitness & travel tips!
1. Apple Pie Baked Apples
If it’s almost all fruit, is has to be healthy, right? That’s what you can tell your guests when you present them with this beautifully put-together Apple Pie Baked Apple. It has all the flavor of the Apple Pie with less of the crust, so you’re able to enjoy this unique treat without the added guilt that comes from having a second...third….and potentially 4th slice.
Recipe can be found here via Sally's Baking Addiction.
2. Purple Sweet Potato Pie
Praised for its high level of antioxidants, the Purple Sweet Potato is the ultimate hero in this vibrant pie! It’s an untraditional twist on an otherwise traditional pie, and the best part is that since this variety of Sweet Potato improves blood sugar regulation, you are actually doing something good for your body by eating it! Additionally, everyone in the family, allergies included, can enjoy this one because it’s entirely vegan.
Recipe can be found here via The Endless Meal.
3. Healthy Pecan Pie
While Pecan Pie is typically known for being incredibly high in sugar, this recipe swaps out the icky, refined ingredients for more natural options. Sweetened with dates and maple syrup, this pie provides all of the flavors that everyone loves from a Pecan Pie without any of the intense sugar-crash that comes after a piece.
Recipe can be found here via The Healthy Foodie.
4. White Bean Shepherd’s Pie
Though pies over Thanksgiving are usually considered sweet, we wanted to throw in a savory one to give you options! This Shepherd’s Pie is chock-full of fiber and vegetables, so you don’t even have to waste any space on your plate for your aunt’s wilted salad. And here’s a phrase you probably never thought you’d hear a wellness site say: opt for extra pie instead of stuffing, and save yourself calories later!
Recipe can be found here via Veggie Primer.
5. Skinny Pumpkin Pie
Could we even make this list without the king of all the Thanksgiving pies, Pumpkin? Nutrient-dense with a low calorie count, the pumpkin provides ample opportunities to add flavor to the pie without compromising your diet. So go for that second slice of turkey AND pie, because this recipe allows flexibility to your meal plan without requiring you to change immediately into sweatpants post-meal.
Recipe can be found here via Skinny Taste.
Here's to a healthy, happy and tasty Thanksgiving! And if you're looking for a last-minute getaway, consider joining us in Costa Rica for the Beach Bum Boot Camp Thanksgiving Retreat! Details here.
When you’re feeling creative but want to keep wearing your favorite pair of jeans regardless of the holiday, creating your own life-sized passport is definitely the way to go. Plus, you’re able to re-wear it year after year because even if your style changes, the Passport, like your reliable pair of Old Navy jeans, stays the same. Bonus: include photos from different places you have been to represent "stamps" from those countries!
2. Map Pin
If you’re looking for a couple’s costume, look no further! Whether you’re attending a party with your S/O, best friend or maybe a casual coworker, this costume is sure to be a Halloween party success! And the good news is even if you get separated, you’ll always be able to find your way back to one another. Want to make it ghostly? Add some ghoulish makeup and write "Mapquest" on your costume. RIP, old friend.
3. Flight Attendant
This costume is sort of like receiving a mini Hershey’s in your candy bag. It’s reliable, sweet and will definitely get you points because it’s a crowd pleaser. Plus, if you’re the host, you can be trusted to direct people to the kitchen, the bar and the exit when it hits 10pm.
When you don’t want to carry a purse around all night, you should just be the bag! Depending on how well-crafted the costume is, you could probably also sneak in your own drinks in snacks when you’re unsure about the selection that will be available at the party (or you want to be the hit of the party!).
Everyone says they want to travel the globe, but not many people love it enough to actually BE the globe. Show your love for the world and waltz around the room knowing full well you have endless bragging rights for this epic outfit. Good for pregnant ladies, too! (Or for anyone looking to indulge on those Halloween treats without letting it show!).
6. Travel Bug
You may say you've got it, but now's your chance to show it... the travel bug, that is! Whether you throw on the classic I <3 NY shirt, have world-map workout leggings (so cute!) or wear goodies collected on your travels, just add a pair of bug antennae and you're all set! Out with a special someone who you'd like to join you on an upcoming trip? Give them a 'bug bite' to pass along the travel bug so they have to join!
Have ideas for other travel-inspired Halloween costumes? Comment below to share! Best idea will win a Ketanga luggage tag!
(Ketanga) What do you love the most about yoga?
(Kayla) A distinguishing feature of yoga that appeals to me is that it’s highly adaptable. Yoga can be tailored to accommodate a range of body types, levels of conditioning, injuries, and differently-abled bodies. We typically think of yoga as a physical practice that builds strength and flexibility, but for many people, the benefits of yoga include gaining mental clarity through meditation and mindful breathing or developing spiritual resiliency by studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
If I’m being completely honest though, what I love most about yoga isn’t deep or philosophical. I love that my practice has taught me to commission my own body as functional (and free!) exercise equipment, which makes squeezing in a workout significantly easier when I’m on the go. I feel reassured and liberated knowing I’m inherently equipped with all the “tools” I need to maintain my fitness regimen anywhere.
You have a three-song playlist, what’s on it?
1.) Cotton-Eyed Joe, 2.) Cotton-Eyed Joe, and 3.) Cotton-Eyed Joe Remix ft. Pitbull.
KIDDING! That last one isn’t even a song…I hope? I’m stalling because this is a tough question for someone like me, who is equal parts music lover and cripplingly indecisive. Some of my all-time favorite artists include Andre 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, Beyoncé, and Billie Eilish. That said, here is my three-song playlist, which I reserve the right to change a minimum of four times before I complete this senten--
1. ATLiens – Outkast
2. Hide (Tropkillaz Remix) [feat. Childish Gambino] – N.A.S.A
3. The Next Episode – Dr. Dre
What is your advice for someone just starting out their practice?
Fall on your face! Seriously. The fear of falling often prevents us from trying poses, particularly arm balances. Sometimes our perception of our physical limitations is no more than a self-inflicted psychological barrier. It goes without saying that maintaining proper alignment and working your way up to the full expression of any arm balance is a mandatory prerequisite before attempting to strike a pose that’d make the Instagram Gods bless the rains down in Africa, but once you’ve mastered the basics, give yourself unconditional permission to faceplant. Surviving a fall empowers you to pick yourself up with both your front teeth and your ego intact.
What about your inside tips on mastering a yoga pose... let's say crow pose?
While I can appreciate how metal it is to brag about having bruises on the backs on your triceps after practicing crow pose all day, it means you’re probably dumping too much weight into your triceps in lieu of engaging your core. Here are some cues I think of when I practice crow pose that may be helpful for you as well:
What excites you about hosting a fitness retreat?
I’m really looking forward to meeting fitness-oriented folks with whom I can explore beautiful landscapes, share lots of laughs, and above all, create yoga classes that are so fun and challenging, the tears of joy staining their cheeks will become indistinguishable from the beads of sweat dripping from their perfect little foreheads. I have kept in touch with all the incredible friends I made on my last Ketanga Fitness retreat and I’m excited to make more.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
I have webbed toes! (No, unfortunately they don’t make me notably faster at swimming.)
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t put yourself in a position where you are the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with vibrant, interesting people from whom you are always learning and growing.
1. Pumpkin Workout
Sure, pumpkins have the perfect place in pies, lattes and carving stations. But did you ever think that they could be… in a workout? Forget everything you know about pumpkins, because we’re about to blow your mind! Replace your usual kettlebells, free weights and even the barbell with a couple heavy pumpkins. You can squat them, press them, plank them and even swing them! (Some would say even carving them can be a workout!) Just promise us one thing: please don’t drop them.
When the leaves start to change color, and it finally cools down just enough to put on a long-sleeved shirt comfortably, all you want to do is be outside in the crisp air. So let us suggest Shelter Island (to the New Yorkers reading this) as the ideal place to step out and remember all the reasons that autumn is your favorite time of the year - especially because it is close to so many fresh markets to pick up cider and healthy produce afterwards! Allow the wooded trails to re-invigorate your love of the outdoors!
Summer was all about hopping in the water, and fall is the perfect time to take advantage of being on top of it! Put on that coordinating plaid/vest combo, and grab a friend to brave a water activity with you when it’s below 70 degrees. There are endless options to rent kayaks in Upstate, NY and regardless of which one you get, you’re sure to get incredible views.
4. Biking Amongst the Foliage
Put that gym membership on hold and take advantage of being able to ride a bike without hitting the 1-2-1-2 instructor-mandated pace. There’s nothing like the feeling of fall air on your face, and there’s the exciting element of having to avoid any rogue, falling leaves. Better yet, use it as your main mode of transportation, and see how much money you save by not buying gas or a subway card. Then take that hard-earned cash and treat yourself to a cider donut (or three)!
5. Apple Picking
Next to carving spooky faces into pumpkins, is there an activity that screams fall quite like apple picking? If you’ve never thought of this as a workout, now is the time! Jump for those hard-to-get honeycrisps resting on the top branches, and squat each time you come back to the ground. Benefit of this activity? You’re earning your reward as you workout!