Category: Fun


This week nutritionist and Pilates studio co-owner, Jessica Hope Restrepo, owner of TONE Pilates and Wellness Studio in Astoria, NY, lets us in on some secrets about nutrition and losing weight! She has been advising and training men and women in both NYC and LA for many years now and is known for getting results. So what has her experience and training taught her? Let’s check it out:

Q. Where did you go to study/get certified in nutrition?

A. I studied at the Integrative Institute for Nutrition. I am a Certified Holistic Coach and a member of the American Association for Drugless Practitioners.

Q. Carbs. Should we stay away from them or are they good for us?

A. The school where I studied taught the 90/10. 90% of the time you are eating cleanly (whole unprocessed foods); 10% you are breaking the rules a little. It comes down to bio-individuality. It means one specific type of diet isn’t right for every person. There’s no one-size-fits-all diet –each person is a unique individual with highly individualized nutritional requirements. Personal differences in anatomy, metabolism, body composition and cell structure all influence your overall health and the foods that make you feel your best. I really don’t believe in depriving yourself of carbs and we all need carbohydrates for a balanced diet. Remember vegetables have carbs and you wouldn’t want to cut that out. 🙂

Q. Right now there’s a lot of debate about the health benefits of being vegan. What are your views on meat and dairy?

A. I think it goes back to what you, as an individual, feel is good for your body. There are many people who can’t process dairy or have adverse reactions to meat. I believe if you are not eating meat or dairy you need to take measures to make sure you are not deficient in vitamins like B-12, Vitamin D, Iron, Omega-3 and DHA. Only you can make the choice for yourself.

Q. To cleanse or not to cleanse? (…as in food cleanse, juice cleanse, any cleanse)

A. Hmmmm..In my opinion, cleansing is a very personal decision. No one can tell you to do it. You have to REALLY crave a cleanse. Almost everyone’s diet could stand some improvement. Doing so is a conscious, ongoing commitment. I think better than a cleanse is eating a plant based diet, rich in fruit and vegetables. That’s the better way to go.

Q. Favorite post workout snack? Is it good to eat before and after you workout or should you hold off?

A. Eating 30-60 minutes before a workout is usually a good time frame, however it really depends on the individual. An apple with a little peanut butter, almond butter, a handful of dried fruit, some greek yogurt and trail mix are good pre-workout snacks. My favorite post-workout shake is a Green Monster Smoothie. (Check out recipe below!!)

Q. What type of diet do you recommend for someone who is trying to lose weight?

A. I don’t like to think of it as a diet, more of a lifestyle. Eating cleanly, (cutting out processed foods, eating as much whole foods as possible) and exercising are key to creating lifestyle changes. Diets don’t last and will not create long-term results. Everyone has a calorie budget, whether you’re trying to maintain your weight or lose a few pounds. I’ve found that people ignore this simple fact. Your calorie budget allows you to build a healthy diet, and it helps prevent frustration about weight control. Try planning meals, stop drinking your calories, and as always, exercise. You won’t lose weight overnight. Well, you could lose weight quickly, but you don’t want to — it’ll come back just as quickly. What you want is gradual weight loss that stays lost.

Q. Above all else, what one thing will help to shed those unwanted pounds?

A. The best way to get yourself on track is to become accountable. A food diary is the best way to see what you are actually ingesting as far as calories. Once you actually see what you are eating you will be more aware and you can make better decisions as most times we eat mindlessly. You can download an app on your smart phone, like Lose It or My Fitness Pal to help out. They are wonderful because you can enter goals and exercises to see an entire picture of your day. They will keep account of your calories and help you learn what an entire day of food could look like for you.

Q. What piece of advice do you wish every client knew?

A. You are stronger and more beautiful than you think you are. You are your own worst critic and way too hard on yourself. Negativity can only keep you down; enjoy the ride!! Confidence is everything!


4 cups spinach and kale

1 tablespoon of chia seeds

1 cup almond milk

1 banana

1 tablespoon peanut butter
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and add ice. Blend until creamy.


Special Thanks to Annie Elrod and her awesome blog Three Red Springs for the interview!


Getting to know you!

Alicia Lavender, co­-owner of Pilates studio, TONE Pilates and Wellness Center, in Astoria gets real as she opens up about how she got into Pilates, what things she wishes every student knew, and why she’s hooked on Pilates for good.

Q. Why do you still pursue Pilates?

A. I love Pilates, I love what it does for the body and how it makes a person feel. I truly love seeing a new client be amazed by the power of their center and realize how standing tall and proud can change perspective.

Q. What’s the secret to staying fit long­term? A. If you don’t’ move it, you’re gonna lose it!

Q. What got you interested in Pilates?
A. Pilates was a lifesaver for me. I blew out my knee performing in 2006, had to have three knee surgeries. I used Pilates as my rehabilitation…I knew then I needed to be in this profession!

Q. Where were you certified?
A. I got certified in Brooklyn, The Fitness Guru (that is now called The Lab under Lawson Harris and Michael Feigin).

Q. What are you famous for in your classes?

A. My Evil Finger and my sense of humor! I try to make the torture enjoyable for everyone…I like people to laugh through pain…Bahaha…evil cackle!

Q. What is your favorite muscle to work out?
A. Oh, I’m a booty girl…Right now I’m loving squats with power loops, side squat, side squat with leg lifts…it’s almost bikini season, gotta keep it tight!

Q. What’s your favorite motto in Pilates class to live by?
A. Ohhh, that’s a tough one, I have a few, “If you pooch, I will poke it.” Also, “Bring your pelvic floor to the party!”

Q. What piece of advice do you wish every client knew?
A. Don’t take it so seriously. Enjoy it and have fun. Also, you have to feed your soul; make sure to find time to do things that make you happy. If you exude happiness you will create a world around you of happy people; it’s infectious.

Q. Favorite brand of nail polish and current favorite color?
A. Essie for sure, right now it’s a coral, it’s called Haute something…makes me think of the beach and sunshine!

Our thanks to Annie Elrod for taking the time to interview and write this blog!

Motivation is Key!

Working out is great. It feels good while doing it; you feel good after; you look great. I mean come on, what’s not to love? But therein lies the rub. Consistency. Every good intention’s worst nightmare. Life gets busy. Work goes late, and before you know it working out is dead last on the priority list. As consistent as the changing seasons is the broken New Year’s resolution. So how can we combat that? Is there a way to stay strong year round and stick with it long enough to see the much coveted lasting results? You bet there is. It’s called accountability. Let’s face it, in a room by yourself with nothing but a pint of Ben and Jerry’s staring you in the face, doom is bound to rear its ugly head. But with a friend close by Jerry can be defeated. So why not incorporate that into your Pilates routine? Great idea. Stay motivated by grabbing a friend to be your Pilates workout buddy. Not only will you feel more motivated to show up to class when you know someone’s counting on you, but your friend will be a great way to help push you to workout to the best of your ability. And quite frankly, working out with a friend is just down right fun! So in honor of this epiphany that is falling upon Valentine’s Day, your fabulous friends at Tone would like to offer you a chance to put this epiphany into practice! So for the week following Valentine’s Day we would like to offer you the chance to bring a friend with you to mat class for free! So put on your favorite cupid socks, grab your favorite friend, prance on over to one of Tone’s sweet mat classes, and together let’s make a change that’s been proven to last the whole year through!

Take a Breath, Take a Compliment

How many of us look in the mirror and are happy with what we see? If we are not stressing about our weight, we are worrying about wrinkles or obsessing over our hair.

Being in the fitness world it is easy to get caught up in constantly comparing yourself to others.

Real beauty isn’t about symmetry, weight or makeup; It’s about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Why can’t we take a compliment and believe it?  The key to being comfortable with compliments is to stop believing that other people share your low opinion of yourself. They don’t. You are your own worst critic. Most people look at others and see what they wished they had. They aren’t as critical of you as you are. Even if they were, they don’t have time to evaluate you because they’re too wrapped up in their own concerns.

Many times we hear women complaining about how fat they are or unhappy they are with certain body parts, obsessing and obsessing. We rarely hear people celebrating their success.  This month we challenge you to celebrate your success, be proud of where you are today and where you came from. To look at yourself in the mirror and see the beautiful person standing in front of you. To say thank you to any compliments that comes your way. Embrace you and every wonderful part of you.  Stop the critic! Embrace your beauty inside and out, your power as  women and own it!

This clip from Amy Schumer lends her humor to a situation we all know too well…


Cronuts and Craziness!

Photo Jul 26, 5 38 35 PM You may or may not know Jessica and I are both Aries. Basically that means we are both stubborn, persistent and determined. On the Fourth of July we came up with the decision that one morning we would get up early in the morning and wait in line for the famous Cronut and then head to the MOMA for the Rain Room. We knew we were going to be waiting a few hours in line. But little did we know just how long it would take….

4am: alarm goes off…. Jess picks me up at 4:40 a.m. We head down the BQE over the Williamsburg Bridge and fly into the city ( Jess doesn’t drive fast at all 😉 ). By 5am we are in front of 189 Spring St., Dominique Ansel’s Bakery, home of the world famous Cronut.  Insert dance break. 🙂 🙂

We were  fifth and six in line for the Cronut! By 6:30am the line is really wrapped around the corner. By 7am you’re not guaranteed a Cronut since he only makes 250-300 a day… the nerve! Three hours may seem like a long time to sit and wait for a delectable pastry but really the time flew by and before we knew it we were standing up ready to go, doors open.
You’re allowed two Cronuts per person and at five dollars a Cronut you think that’s not bad! However, when you’re in the bakery you see all these other delicious goodies and you can’t help yourself, you kind of lose your mind. $50 later Jess and I sit down at a table and are about to dig in. Can someone please say HOLY SUGAR!!!!!!

A camera crew approaches us and asked if they could film us taking the first bite.  “No problem”, I said (Jess not too thrilled with this idea) Zoomed in, camera is in my face as I’m taking my first bite of this mouthwatering masterpiece.  He kept asking me to take bite after bite after bite and before I knew it I was halfway through my Cronut.

What’s a cronut you ask? It’s a deep-fried croissant filled with calories, oops I mean cream and blackberry jam completely rolled in sugar with pink frosting on top. Taste resembles a cream cheese King Cake. Shout out to NOLA! You take one bite and you’re on a sugar high, you eat the whole thing and you are fully cracked out on sugar. CRACKED OUT!!!!!!

30 minutes later we are back in the car heading up to the MOMA. Side-note: Jessica gets a ticket for an expired inspection sticker!  This ticket sets off the sugar craziness. We transformed from two women into two tasmanian devils…
Our tongues now numb from the sugar, craziness continues to ensue..  Sugar high makes for crazy ladies driving.

Photo Jul 26, 8 47 49 AM

We roll up to 54th and Sixth Avenue, beach chairs on our back. We think this line doesn’t look too bad, we got this! We maybe even be home around 2pm.. MWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
The line starts moving pretty quickly and we think will be here four hours max. An hour later one of the MOMA helpers tells us from our point on it’s an 8 to 10 hour wait. Jess and I look at each other and say, “If you’re in, I’m in.” Then we sit and wait and wait and wait.  As you can see from this picture we went through a bunch of emotions that day. Mostly we laughed, because we were together and we are great partners in crime.

This line was full of entertainment. Including a woman dressed in a pink leotard with black tights with runs in them. I think we were both waiting to see if she was going to bust out dancing but alas she never did.  We are still puzzled trying to figure out why you would choose to spend eight hours with your leotard and tights on. Our annoying neighbor behind us  fell asleep in the never-ending line and people kept walking over him since at that point had no love for him anymore.  Jessica got hit on by a teenage snow-cone maker and a sea of giant metallic silver umbrellas to protect all of us from the sun. Which we thrilled to use when the sun was beating down on us.  Our beach chairs were definitely the stars of the line.  Pretty much everyone envied us for our comfort and let’s be honest our cuteness. Even the staff remarked about us (or our chairs) numerous times.  Apparently we were the only ones who came prepared.
SEVEN AND A HALF hours  later we step into the exhibition. The sound of rain, the cool air, the dark room with a spotlight sent chills up our spines: Maybe even tears to our eyes. Rain falling all around us but wherever you step the rain stops. Beautiful silhouettes, shadows and highlights. It’s an experience I will never forget. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
 This is one of those days where you’re truly thankful you live in the city that never sleeps. To feel wonder, joy and maybe a bit too much sugar it’s a perfect day for me, a day of adventure and true patience.
What have you done this summer that maybe is a little crazy, but soooooo worth it?

Reflection of a Year

Have you noticed as you grow older the faster time goes by? I remember 
as a little girl a year felt like forever. Now a year flies by and I
 can’t believe where the time has gone.
 Last April at this time we 
walked to the edge of a cliff and we have been flying high ever since! 
Risking to go out on our own was a major life changing decision. 
Last April we made it a 

Sometimes I think we’re dreaming, at other times I wonder why we 
didn’t do it sooner. I know it may sound cliche but 
everything happens for a reason. Every experience leads down a path 
and prepares you for your next adventure even if in the moment you can’t
 truly see the meaning in it all. All I do know is, Alicia and I were meant to meet that cold day in December 2007. We weren’t sure where we were headed but we knew we were in it together!  ( insert dance break) 

One year ago we were ripping up carpets, ordering flooring, purchasing equipment and painting. It was the most exciting, scary, exhilarating time for us.

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One thing we have always recognized is how lucky we are to have the
 most amazing clients a studio could ask for. We definitely have broken 
out of the mold of your traditional Pilates studio. You all have supported our journey with your enthusiasm and need to be beaten..:) We are family at TONE and would not have it any other way.

Looking back over this year, even though we were scared shitless we knew this was a risk we had to take.

Sometimes you get into a routine, you begin to feel safe and secure and you forget what life is really all about.  We realize no job or relationship is worth suffering for. At the end of the night if you are not happy then maybe it’s time for a change. There have been so many wonderful memories for us here @ TONE. We can still make each other laugh even when we are tired and hungry and writing this blog. 🙂 Who knew we were going to be writing a blog!!! Not these girls!!!!! ( insert jazz hands)

Change can be scary, risk it all or gain nothing. What do you want to change? Are you willing to walk to the cliff?
 “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

Bottom line we are grateful, are hearts are full and we look forward to another year together. We wouldn’t be here without some truly amazing people who have been our support.  Special thanks and gratitude to the two best hubbies in the world, Kenny and Jose for dealing with us day in and day out. Momma Cohen, Aunt Mara, Uncle John, for giving us the chutzpah to fly!

Why Surfing…Why Surfset?!

In today’s world we are constantly looking for the next best thing. Whether it be technological or fitness related. Alicia and I are consistently reading, learning and growing in our own practice. We thrive on what’s new and exciting to challenge us and our clients while keeping in the realm of our ideologies which can be hard in the fitness industry…shake weight/belly belt!!

We are definitely not your cookie cutter Pilates instructors at TONE. So, it’s important that whatever we do, we stay true to our beliefs and foundations. It’s imperative to love your workout or you won’t do it. We realize the need for cardiovascular activity, both of us struggle to find ways to enjoy what can be the mundane task of running on the treadmill.

Enter SurfSet! As dancers we always liked being motivated in a group setting. We are not enthralled with running on the treadmill or the elliptical, it’s much like a hamster in a ball and it’s hard to stay present and aware of our body patterns in these situations. We both would rather take a class and feed off the energy of the class for motivation. SurfSet is exactly what we’ve been looking for. It allows us to challenge the heart and have a great time while doing it.

Many times we see bad form on the treadmill and elliptical. Round backs, rolled shoulders, no controlled breath and no connection to their core. At TONE we are sticklers on form, breath and a clear connection to our center (core).

SurfSet combines this level of core training merely because it’s on an unstable surface. It combines cardio and strength circuits so before you know it, your heart is pumping, you’re sweating, possibly swearing and burning calories.

So bottom line: We all get bored, we all like a challenge and SurfSet will help you Spring into Summer!!

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Cupcake Shenanigans!

Since Its almost Valentine’s day we thought it would be appropriate to blog about our cupcake baking experience. Yes Pilates instructors eat cupcakes too!

As Alicia and I have gotten closer we quickly discovered we had another thing in common: our love for baking.

So when we saw a deal for a two hour baking class, we jumped on it. A 2 hour cupcake baking and decorating class? What could be better?

We had high expectations for the class…but that all changed when we pulled up to the address: there was a window with a big cupcake and skeins of yarn. Our class was taking place inside a yarn shop?…Yes you heard that right a yarn shop. That should have been our first clue.
The ovens looked liked easy bake ovens and the recipes were, dare I say ancient?  Yes they were ancient!
We were definitely the loudest participants of the class and we somehow became the class clowns….but that’s pretty much how we like it! 😝
We baked the day away,  laughed  and even made a few new friends. We seem to make friends everywhere we go.I’m not sure we learned anything new but we definitely blew off some steam and may have just drove the staff a little crazy…dare I say we terrorized the staff:
“Don’t you have real vanilla?”, “We can’t use crisco. Only real butter for us!”
As you can’t imagine they were thrilled to have us in class.
The outcome of our cupcakes: lets just say “menza a menz”, but a day of laughter and shenanigans did indeed insue.
I guess the point of this Saturday really was for Alicia and I to do something to nurture us outside the studio.
One thing we recognized as soon as we opened TONE was how important it was to stay healthy – emotionally, physically and  spiritually.
Our motto is work hard and play hard! We feel it’s especially important to remember that motto as we all get so busy and stressed these days. We want to encourage our clients to try to keep each other healthy by enjoying life and never taking things to seriously even when things get tough. Sometimes that means even frosting a cupcake in a yarn shop with a friend!

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Two women + one dream = TONE

Two women, one dream and a LOT of hard work.

Looking back over the last few years, it has been an amazing journey with many ups and downs but we wouldn’t have traded it for the world. From the moment Alicia and I met each other we knew we were meant to work together. I can remember the exact moment that we met each other way back when in December 2007.  That was the moment that changed our lives as we knew it.

We have been dreaming, developing, creating and working together ever since. We are two women who are passionate and determined and truly love what we do. We are thrilled to be able to share it with our clients, friends, loved ones as well as everybody and anybody we meet.

We really want this blog to reflect who we are: fun loving women, instructors, wives, entrepreneurs and friends. We look forward to sharing our adventures with all of you.
Welcome to our blog in our special corner of the big city.