Finding Your Fitness Mojo! by PJ Monson


The Merriam-Webster definition for mojo is : A power that may seem magical and allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.

This definition puts the source of  "power" on the outside in a context of magic spells, talismans, and charms, thus Mojo becomes an uncontrollable idea that is based on luck and superstition with possible benefits to only those most fortunate. However, by shifting the source of "power" to the inside, specifically inner strength, will power, and emotional balance, Mojo becomes a controllable quality that anyone can possess and use to help them achieve their goals.

I use the word mojo a lot when I am referring to my clients' natural workings of their brain, i.e. their instincts, dailyMOJOTRIANGLE habits, or on going emotional state. I always tell them, when it comes to reaching their health goals, there are a million ways to do everything, it is my job as a fitness coach and personal trainer to match what they want and what they like with what I know they need. Hence, we need to find your Fitness Mojo!

Finding your Fitness Mojo is defining your personal blueprint for a healthy lifestyle that will harmonize what you want with what you need using the three main pillars of strength, cardio, and nutrition making success not only achievable, but also sustainable.

Over the course of the next month CentralSweat will focus on tools and tips to help you find your own Fitness Mojo. We will discuss "best practices'" in setting attainable goals for yourself and successfully breaking bad habits that keep you from achieving those goals, hear from people who have successfully found their Fitness Mojo and how they did it, highlight affordable options for summer fitness, and introduce you to tools like CentralSweat's Fitness Mojo Notebook that is helping people create their mojo blueprint as we speak!

I have to admit I was taken aback last week when I learned that 70% of today's health care costs comes from human behavior. This statistic is not meant to scold but empower you with the idea that you possess the capability to become the best version of yourself and with that comes freedom. The freedom from ongoing aches and pains, the freedom from high level stress, the freedom from a lifetime of medication, and the freedom in knowing that putting yourself first is not selfish but self preservation.

Start creating your Fitness Mojo today!

"She who has health, has hope; and she who has hope, has everything."  -Anonymous




Give a Little Get a Little by PJ Monson


Hope is wishing something will happen.  Faith is believing something will happen. Courage is making something happen.

There was something in the air this past weekend.  As you may know (after all, we have been obsessively blasting about it) we partnered with Tay-Bandz this past Saturday in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Pediatric Cancer Research.  We joined the incredible folks at Tay-Bandz early Saturday morning in Mineral Springs, a lovely spot on the Upper West Side of Central Park.

We thought it might rain.

We thought we might not sell-out.

We thought wrong.


Not only did people come out from the woodwork to support the cause, but volunteers came out in droves.  Friends donated their time.  They donated their money.  They donated their energy. A huge army of cancer-killers organized, handed out waters, talked to passers-by, handed out gold shoelaces, tweeted or instagrammed the event, or brought founder/trainer PJ Monson Gatorade to get her through her 8 hour training day!  We did crunches, burpee's, sit-ups, jumping jacks and ab crunches.  We definitely sweated.  We even had a father walk by with his young son who learned about the cause and donated $100 cash.  The effort and enthusiasm was breathtaking, and it will not be soon forgotten.

photo 5

Thank you, Tay-Bandz, for involving us in such a courageous effort.  Thank you to all of you who came out to support Taylor's legacy.  It feels so good to reach out and help someone else.  It feels so good to get out with friends and work out for a good cause.  We will do it again soon.

Meanwhile,  feel free to get to know Taylor (click!).  We certainly did.


A Workout That Lasts A Lifetime by PJ Monson

Do you live in NYC?  You can help a child in need!
Next Saturday, get a bunch of friends together and come workout with us for 45 minutes in Central Park!
We here at CentralSweat have partnered with Taybandz, a non-profit organization that raises money for Pediatric Cancer Research, and have organized an incredible Saturday to raise money and awareness for this beautiful cause.
It's called CentralSweatsGold, and you can sign up HERE!!!!
When: Saturday, September 21
Hourly workouts from 9am-4pm
ALL PROCEEDS go to Taybandz!
Taybandz was founded by 11-year-old Taylor Matthews.  Taylor was high-spirited, fun-loving, brave and determined. She used contagious laughter and smile to brighten every one’s day. Above all else, Taylor believed, that in life…”All You Need is Love”. She bravely fought pediatric cancer for 5 years with a strong compassion for helping others.  Join Taylor's cause, and participate in CentralSweatsGold!

“I will be happy when…” by PJ Monson

We here at CentralSweat have had an amazing past few weeks.  We have partnered with Taybandz, a charitable organization formed by 10-year-old Taylor to raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research.  Founder Polly Monson will be in Central Park Saturday, September 21st from 9am-4pm training hourly, 100% of the proceeds will go towards Taybandz.  CLICK HERE to read more, donate or sign up! We have also had a post go viral!  Dorothy Camack was featured this week and wrote about how she lost 100 pounds in her incredibly inspiring article "Finding Freedom."  CLICK HERE to read!!!

We have a lot to be grateful for.  Today we would love to feature a blog by Kate Bartolotta, who writes about BEING ALIVE.

Kindness costs us nothing and pays exponential dividends. I can’t save the whole world. I can’t bring peace to Syria. I can’t fix the environment or the healthcare system, and from the looks of it, I may end up burning my dinner. But I can be kind.


Finding Freedom by PJ Monson

Our guest blogger today is the incredible Dorothy Camak.  Dorothy is the Community Relations Director for a pediatric dental practice. She is actively involved in bringing early dental education to area schools.  Dorothy also works as a free lance dental media consultant.  She is a volunteer for the annual AnMed Camellia Ball, a local charity gala.  The event benefits Pediatric Therapy Works, a program that provides physical, speech, and occupational therapy services to children in the community.  Dorothy resides in Greenville, SC where she can be found downtown most weekends scoping out her next "treat meal." 
Follow Dorothy as she completes her "30 before 30 list."


Aristotle said "through discipline comes freedom."

I love a to-do list. I thrive on a schedule. I am the kind of girl who gets a thrill from checking things off! I always did well in school, I keep a tidy home, and I am super prompt.  Why then, did I seem to have little to no self control over diet and exercise?  My childhood, adolescence, and college years were filled with yo-yo diets, obesity, and self loathing.  I bounced from one diet to another, only to fall off the wagon with late night Wendy's drive thru trips. I will not elaborate on the Hot Now Krispy Kreme moments.  ;)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPost college was filled with many life changes, cross country moves, and you know "adulting." It was during that time that I began to learn about the true freedom(and joy) that comes from living a disciplined life. In order to be disciplined in this area long term, I had to be educated. We know education to be key for success in life, and nutrition/exercise is no different.  This had to be more than striving to be skinny. I had actually lost a significant amount of weight before I was truly educated on the importance of nourishing my physical body and how to properly do it.
My weight loss road has been paved with highs and lows, detours, regrets, and wrecks. I felt, at times, more like my body was the enemy rather than my ally.  Sweet friends, your body is precious.  A gift from God.
Love it.  Nourish it. It will thank you.  When I finally began to understand that we were on the same team, I tasted freedom.  This was a turning point for me.  Just as my soul craves fuel that only my God can give, my body craves a fuel that comes from proper nutrition and clean foods. My true "success" came when I accepted how connected my spiritual self and physical self truly are.  When I submitted to this truth, my pathway cleared.
duringBeyond educating myself on proper nutrition and physical exercise, accountability has been essential in maintaining that freedom.  We are not meant to live our lives alone.  I have friends who spur me on at work, in my faith, and my food and exercise habits.  Aligning myself with people who honor their bodies has been vital to my progress.  I am more likely to practice good habits when I am around those who do the same.  This is a daily practice and could be anything from texting words of encouragement, recipe ideas, or confessing to a slip up! Lean on each other, life is much better that way.
When new friends or acquaintances learn that over seven years ago, I was almost 100 pounds heavier than I am today, they often ask how I did it.  I think the more important question is, "How do you keep doing it?"  I have weighed less than I do as write this, and I just recently lost 20 pounds that I gained a year ago.  You see, my friends, this is a "to-do" list that I will have to make each day. Some days I get it and some days, I fail miserably.  I live my life under the grace of God, and I believe His mercies are new every day.  Each morning, I have a chance to honor Him, and one way to do that is through my body.
So in an effort to give you some practical everyday applications and tips, I will leave you my "Top Ten."  When I find myself veering off the path, these truths always bring me back!
"Fail to prepare, prepare to fail."
10. Meal plan.  Look at your calendar for the upcoming week. Make a grocery list and stick to it.  Plan when and what you are going to eat.  Identify potential pitfalls in the week and plan accordingly.   I may get a few weird looks for eating egg whites at 10am at my desk, but my body cheers me on!
9. Schedule your workouts and treat them with the same priority you would a work meeting, class, or audition.  Listen to your body. Do what is fun.  If you do not like running on the treadmill, don't do it!
8. Drink water. Everyday. All day.
7. Have a measure of progress other than the scale.  (Take measurements, compare clothing, take photos.
6. Treat. Yo. Self.  I have started calling my "cheat meals" "treat meals" because I am not cheating if it is part of the plan.
5. "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper."  A truth that always works.
4.  Do not skip breakfast.
3. Always carry nutritional protein filled snacks.
2. Practice DAILY accountability with a friend.  Encourage each other.
1. Live with gratitude.  "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."-- Psalm 139:14
Follow Dorothy as she completes her "30 before 30 list."

Fight for the Cure by PJ Monson

PJ Monson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over six years. Her training began in Chicago with a certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine,  focusing on motivational weight loss programs, functional training for long distance runners, and small group programs for brides. She moved to Washington DC in 2009 and secured continuing education credits in kettlebell training, TRX resistance training, pre/post natal care, and became a NASM certified performance enhancement specialist (skills in strength, power, and endurance training for athletes).  Health and wellness will always be her first priority and she is so excited to build a strong Central Sweat community focused on healthy lifestyle.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing woman, Sue Matthews. She shared with me the story of her daughter Taylor's courageous fight with cancer. She used her pain to find strength, and carries on her daughter's mission to help find a cure for the cancer that prematurely took her life. I was instantly empathetic and inspired, and immediately thought: "What can I do?"
The month of September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. CentralSweat will to honor this by changing our website to gold, the official color dedicated to raising awareness for pediatric cancer, and will join in a fundraiser to raise money and awareness for this worthy cause! Little Taylor was an athlete so it is only fitting that we, as athletes, should come together to support one of our own! She is beloved, she is missed, and through Taybandz she is still fighting. CentralSweat has joined the fight and hopes you will, too!
Read little bit about the cause:
Taybandz was founded by 11-year-old Taylor Matthews.  Taylor was high-spirited, fun-loving, brave and determined. She used contagious laughter and smile to brighten every one’s day. Above all else, Taylor believed, that in life…”All You Need is Love”. She bravely fought pediatric cancer for 5 years with a strong compassion for helping others.


Taylor knew the agony of the current state of the art in pediatric treatments and how little is being done to keep other kids from knowing her pain and fear. That is why she created taybandz, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding research for pediatric cancer.  Taylor always believed that individuals could make a difference through their own private efforts!

JOIN US on September 21st and support and celebrate National Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month and help us to keep Taylor's dream alive.  Taybandz will be teaming up with CentralSweat in Central Park for the fundraising event of the year!  You can sign up for a $15 hour-long boot camp with certified personal trainer Polly Monson or bring your children for kids hour with children's dance instructor Rachel Gordon!  You can even click to make your tax-deductible donation on the site right now!  100% of the proceeds go directly towards Taylors cause.  Join us because Taylor was right... individuals really can make a difference!
Click here or visit to sign up for boot camp with CentralSweatsGOLD!!! Or make a donation directly to taybandz by clicking here!

Your Mental Mojo by PJ Monson


PJ Monson is the founder of CentralSweat, and has been working in the health and fitness industry for over six years. Her training began in Chicago with a certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine,  focusing on motivational weight loss programs, functional training for long distance runners, and small group programs for brides. She moved to Washington DC in 2009 and secured continuing education credits in kettlebell training, TRX resistance training, pre/post natal care, and became a NASM certified performance enhancement specialist (skills in strength, power, and endurance training for athletes).  Health and wellness will always be her first priority and she is so excited to build a strong Central Sweat community focused on healthy lifestyle!

I moved to Spain last year to make a life-change.  I needed to move forward, to try something new, to take a risk.  I had just barely recovered from a bad car accident that left scars on my face and heart.  I was at the tail end of a heartbreaking relationship.  I had read Eat, Pray, Love (I know, at least I'm admitting it) and was inspired to travel, and my recent obsession with the Spanish language made a semester in Spain seem the perfect choice!  When I moved, I knew nothing much past the word “hola!” I quickly immersed myself in the culture and was in school everyday for close to six hours. After a few months I became incredibly stressed out and depressed to the point of almost giving up. I went to my professora, Queralt (whom I love), and told her how I felt. She simply replied, “Polly, no lo pasa nada,” meaning “it’s ok.” (She said that to me a lot!) She went on to say that I spent too much time worrying about the mistakes I made or the things I couldn’t say instead of just focusing on the fact that I had just spent six hours in a classroom speaking and understanding a language I did not know two months ago! This new perspective opened my eyes and I soon found myself applying it to other sections of my life. I found that it directly applied to how I worked out, what I ate and how I felt about my body and my choices.  I had spent so much time focusing on where I fell short (my bad habits) instead of how far I had come (my good habits).

MOJOTRIANGLENow I'll come back to the Blueprint for a Healthy Lifestyle I wrote about last week!  (Didn't catch it?  Click Here!) The Mental Mojo is the foundation of our triangle. Choosing the right cardio, strength, and nutrition plan is about making good decisions that support your healthy lifestyle. But what gives you the motivation to make those good decisions? Why do we eat ice cream after a breakup but lose 5 pounds when starting that new amazing relationship? Why are popular study snacks chips instead of carrots?  Why is working out the last thing we want to do when life gets too busy?

Some of the answers to these questions may seem like common sense, and I am in no way implying that you should forgo Ben & Jerry’s for that healthy breakup chopped salad. I am simply encouraging you to ask “why!” When I talk to my clients about their day-to-day routines the question I ask the most is “how were you feeling when you decided to do that?” Habits, good and bad, that we consider automatic are simply everyday choices grounded in a strong mental foundation. This foundation is specific to you based on your past experiences, outside influencers, and everyday routines.

Start thinking about the things you do right and feel good about more than the things you wish you hadn’t done or could do better. Hold on to the feeling of accomplishment you felt after that long jog, or the calmness that surrounded you after yoga class. Take the time to create for yourself the mental picture of what your ideal healthy day would look like. Now turn that picture into a puzzle and break it up into many pieces, each piece being an action or an emotion. Everyday start to put the puzzle pieces together, one positive action with one positive emotion, until, before you know it, your puzzle is complete and your picture is your everyday!

Strive for Progress Not Perfection; A Melodrama by PJ Monson


Emily Perkins-Margolin is an entrepreneur and downtown theater kid in New York City.  She is a voiceover artist, actor and has her own home cooking show and blog entitled At Home with Emmy Lou.  She is also the COO of Samovar Film Productions, LLC, a boutique agency that creates promotional material for actors, artists and theater companies.  Emily joined the CentralSweat team after working out with PJ for $5 in Central Park for many months.  Emily and Polly discovered that not only were they dear friends, but that they could become great business partners as well. She can’t wait to continue her journey with CentralSweat. I don’t strive for physical perfection.  I lust after it, sure.  I long for it.  But I don’t strive for it... perhaps because I don’t believe anything would actually change were I to work out.  Sure, I’ve seen it happen with my friends.  One year they are ‘normal’ and the next super thin, well dressed and happy, all because they have developed this new habit they call “running.”  I hate running.  Hell is running.

I hate doing all of those other things, too.  All of it.  I like childs pose in yoga and that about does it.  My best friend, a trainer, says that it is because I am ‘deconditioned.’  I call it out of shape.  Weak muscles make for a weak spirit...I have no workout spirit.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t like myself in photos. Catch me at a bad angle and I untag myself immediately and hope no one saw.  I don’t want to be that girl that got fat after high school.  Or the chubby friend.  The chubby wife.  How terrible!  I have elephant legs! And THERES NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT.

I know.

I can do something about it..

I could eat this most of the time.


I could cut back on my sugar intake.  Boy, do I intake sugar.  I bet she doesn't intake sugar.

I could read those encouraging pinterest word photo-thingys.

And I could workout despite myself. (Thats me, red shorts, in the park with CentralSweat for $5. I attached tiny pic on purpose, of course.)


I could do all of these things.  I just need to make myself do them.  So so much love and encouragement to all of our readers. Whether you are fit and maintaining or are ‘deconditioned’ and hoping for the best.  We are all in this together, and that motivates me.  Slowly but surely, one step at a time, I am going to get up and get out and give it a try.  A good try.  I owe it to myself.  You do, too, e-readers, I humbly think.  We are working towards a healthy heart, after all.  A healthy heart and a healthy spirit.






Inexpensive Goodness by PJ Monson

Amanda Beaudin resides in Los Angeles, California where she is an actor and blogger.  We are so excited to feature her on the CentralSweat blog today, as she is a dear friend and advisor of the company!  She has always been a passionate cook, but about 5 years ago she developed a severe dairy allergy which meant she had to figure out how to make satisfying meals without cheese, cream or butter. Oh the HUMANITY!! She also does her best to avoid gluten, she is in Los Angeles after all. You're lucky she eats anything other than kale. So Midwest appetite + West Coast physique?? What's a girl to do?? Make her own recipes of course. And make them she does. She recently started a dairy (and mostly gluten free) blog at and is very excited to share her recipes and culinary adventures here with the Central Sweat team. Bon Appetit!

For those of us on a budget, and hell, these days who isn't, the bulk bins are our BFF's. If you don't have a store that has bulk grains, beans etc, I highly recommend finding one. Sooo much cheaper. This recipe is a new favorite at Chez Beaudin. It's good warm, cold, the day of, the next day. Overall very versatile, easy and inexpensive. It comes from a wonderful cookbook called The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. I've made a couple modifications, but I want to be sure to give my boy Peter credit. While I love me some meat, vegetarian cookbooks are great because they prevent your veggie dishes from becoming boring. For my novice cooks out there, the reason you rinse and sort your lentils is because...

1. They get dusty, yuk

2. Sometimes little stones find their way into the mix. Nothing ruins a meal like eating a rock. Just sort through them and make sure there is all lentils in your lentils

Ok, here we go!

Warm Lentil Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes


6-8 dry-pack sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup green lentils, sorted and rinsed

coarse sea salt

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1/2 stalk of celery, finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 of a lemon, juiced

2 Tbs red wine vinegar

black pepper

chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

  1.  In a small saucepan, combine the tomatoes with water to cover. Bring to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add the lentils and boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp salt and continue to boil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender, but still hold their shape. Drain, transfer the lentils to a mixing bowl, and toss them with 1 Tbs of the oil.
  3. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, warm 2 more Tbs of the oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring often, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Stir the vegetables and remaining olive oil into the lentils.
  4. Drain the tomatoes, slice them into quarters, and add them to the lentil mixture.
  5. Season the salad with lemon juice and vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve

Makes 4 servings

Your Blueprint for a Healthy Lifestyle by PJ Monson

PJ Monson is the founder of CentralSweat, and has been working in the health and fitness industry for over six years. Her training began in Chicago with a certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine,  focusing on motivational weight loss programs, functional training for long distance runners, and small group programs for brides. She moved to Washington DC in 2009 and secured continuing education credits in kettlebell training, TRX resistance training, pre/post natal care, and became a NASM certified performance enhancement specialist (skills in strength, power, and endurance training for athletes).  Health and wellness will always be her first priority and she is so excited to build a strong Central Sweat community focused on healthy lifestyle!

I developed a Blueprint for a Healthy Lifestyle over my many years working as a personal trainer.  I would often find that clients needed help answering those very important start-up questions...

  • What do you want?
  • What are your strengths, your weaknesses?
  • How can I help?

Thus came my Blueprint!  It gave my clients a visual tool they could use to focus their thoughts. It also helped them to understand me, where I was coming from, and what I was trying to help them accomplish!

MOJOTRIANGLEImagine a triangle resting on a line (exciting I know, but stay with me.) The line represents your mental foundation, which holds up the triangle. Without a strong mental foundation the rest of your goals can not be achieved and your triangle will collapse! Each wall of the triangle represents an intricate part of everyone’s health and wellness mojo-cardio, strength, and nutrition. Each wall must be strong enough to hold the other two or the triangle collapses.

The Blueprint helps you pinpoint where you should focus your energy while on the journey to a healthy lifestyle.

Over the next several weeks I will elaborate on the Wellness and Weight loss Triangle Blueprint (WWTB) to focus on each section specifically.  I will pose some start-up questions you should be trying to answer for yourself. This is not about giving you specific cardio plans or telling you what foods you should or should not eat. Health and wellness is not a one size fits all concept!  Why give you one answer to a question that has many?

We will concentrate on how to determine what your mindset is at this current moment! Are you positive, negative, lonely, or hopeful? We will explore what would be the best cardio plan to fit your lifestyle, define what you think it means to be strong, and figure out best practices in learning to develop and maintain a balanced diet!

When you start to build on your own WWTB then you begin forming the healthy habits that make up your own healthy lifestyle. Most of my ideology, including the WWTB, is built off of the conversations I have had with many amazing clients over the years and the research I have done to be able to train them.

The topic of health should always be a two-way conversation... so please let me know what you think! I am looking forward to this upcoming month and learning about people’s own Blueprint for a Healthy Lifestyle!



Come As You Are by PJ Monson

2011-08-21 13.36.05

Our guest blogger today is Ashleigh Catsos, a registered teacher with Yoga Alliance.  Ashleigh completed her 200-hour certification through School Yoga Institute in Fort Collins, Colorado.  She teaches both private and corporate classes, and you can catch her subbing at NY Health and Racquet Club or Mala Yoga in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.  Ashleigh is also a writer, actor and director.  For inquiries or to practice with Ashleigh, visit her site at! 

Come as you are. 

Why now is the best time to start your home yoga practice, clutter and distractions and all.

I moved to my Brooklyn apartment four months ago.  Wow, when I say it like that, I realize I should be more settled in than I am, than I feel.  Even now, looking around my new (-ish) living room, I see things that are out of place or that have not yet found their place.  A bit how I feel, in fact.

There is something about me that always wants things to be perfect; my dress wrinkle-free, my purse uncluttered, my casual spontaneous ponytail...premeditated.  Each day, these things out of place in my new home begin to dig at me, which is why, perhaps, it has been so difficult for me to launch my home yoga practice here in Brooklyn.


Yoga literally means “union”, most commonly in reference to the union one seeks to find between breath and movement during a practice.  It can mean infinitely more than that, however, which is the incredible thing about yoga: union with the divine, union with the inner self, union with the present.  For me, yoga now means connecting my new surroundings and this transition to myself.  It’s about embracing my current state as it is, not trying to disguise it as anything other than what it is – a transition.  It might not be neat, it definitely is not easy, but it is me and, therefore, it is honest.  Today, I cleared a space for myself amidst the clutter and returned to my personal practice and was reminded of the most miraculous thing about yoga: nothing is required other than you, in whatever stage of life you are right now, whatever level of your practice.  And a yoga mat helps.

Here are two of my favorite asanas, or yoga poses, to get you started today:

Exercise 1:  Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses used in a traditional Sun Salutation sequence, but it is also a great asana to practice on its own, and one of my favorites for stretching out and toning the entire body.  Work up to holding this pose for 1-3 minutes, focusing on deep inhalations and complete exhalations.

A)   Come onto the floor on your hands and knees, placing your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers pointing forward, and tuck your toes under as you take a big breath in.

B)    Exhale as you slowly begin to lift your knees away from the floor and straighten your legs, drawing the tailbone up to the ceiling, your top thighs back and your heels onto or down toward the floor.  Straighten your knees if it is available to you but be careful not to lock them; you may also keep knees slightly bent if tight hamstrings prohibit you from straightening the legs comfortably.  Work from where you are.

C)    Firm the outer arms and press the pads of the index fingers firmly into the floor.  Keep the head positioned between the upper arms while you continue to lift the tailbone up and back to encourage your weight to move out of the wrists.

Exercise 2: Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Not only is Paschimottanasa a great stretch for your spine, shoulders and hamstrings, but it is a cooling pose that calms the mind and helps to relieve stress.  Again, begin from where you are.  Never force yourself into a forward bend: often, because of tightness in the backs of the legs, a beginner’s forward bend might look more like sitting up straight.  It’s not about how you look, but about how you feel and the least important part of this pose is how deeply forward you can bend. Trust yourself to know when to stop coming forward in the pose, and build from there.  Stay in the pose anywhere from 1-3 minutes.

A)   To begin, sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you, pressing actively through your heels to keep the legs energized.  I like to fold and sit upon a blanket to lift the buttocks slightly, which will help to ease tension in the low back and allow the forward bend to me more effortless.  Press your palms or fingertips into the floor next to your hips and lift your chest toward the ceiling.

B)    Inhale and lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist, trying to keep the front of the body long.  If possible, clasp the sides of the feet with your hands or loop a strap or a towel around the soles of the feet and hold onto the sides firmly.

C)    Now, use your breath to find length and release in the pose.  With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso, drawing the inner groin deeper into the pelvis.  With each exhalation, surrender more into the forward bend.  As you ease into the bend, the lower belly should touch the thighs first, then the upper belly, then the ribs, and the head last.

Our Makeshift Triathlon by PJ Monson

Tri 2

Elise J. Willer is a dear friend of CentralSweat, avid runner, and is the Legislative Policy Organizer at CT Working Families.  We are so honored to have her as a guest blogger today!  In January 2013 I decided to participate in my second sprint triathlon. I signed-up for a tri at the local YMCA scheduled for early June 2013 and put together a manageable 6 month training schedule.

Tri 3I wish I could tell you that I was successful at keeping to that schedule but the truth is-I did a pretty poor job of training through the months of March to May. I work in politics and the Legislative Session 2013 in my state was a killer. I worked a lot of hours, spent a ton of time in my car driving to meetings, and worked out only sporadically throughout the session.  In addition, I started having hip pain during my running workouts.

The session closed at midnight on June 5th following several weeks of days spent standing in heels on the marble floors of the Capitol until 2 or 3am (if I was lucky).  My triathlon was scheduled for June 9th, only four days following the end of the session. Despite the warnings from concerned friends and family I prepared to participate in the June 9th triathlon. I recognized that I was in good enough physical shape that despite the hip pain and lack of training, I could indeed get through the tri. You see, the session itself was somewhat of a bust for my specific work and like anything in politics, the successes I had were met with bittersweet compromise. I needed to successfully complete something- no compromises. I was going do this.

Unfortunately, participating in the tri was harder than I thought because Sunday morning, despite the two alarm clocks set, I woke up just as the triathlon was starting. Turns out, the months of late nights, early mornings, unhealthy food habits and stress had taken its toll. But if there is anything I’ve learned from my time in politics its not to sweat the small stuff so I threw my bike in the car and headed over to the starting point with every intention of participating in that triathlon.  It didn’t matter if I started late or finished last. But all the determination in the world doesn’t help you if police officers won’t let you near the parking lot or starting point. I was turned away twice and disappointingly drove home.

It was time for plan b (or maybe c at that point)

I was determined- by the end of the day I was going to have swum ½ mile, biked 15 miles, and run 3 miles. If I couldn’t participate in an organized triathlon I would just participate in an “unorganized” triathlon.  In essence, I would create my own.

I drove home, contacted two of my best friends, Christy and Ruth, and told them of my change of plans.  I got home and immediately started out on the 15-mile bike ride using one of the routes I’d found to train.  The area is fabulous for biking!

As I returned home after the ride I saw Christy pulling into my driveway in her running gear.  Christy isn’t much of a runner but she herself came determined to run 3 miles in solidarity of my makeshift tri. Ruth had made us bib numbers and we set off on our 3 mile run.

As I walked across the hot sand following the swim I was filled with a sense of pride. Christy had run three miles, Ruth had fought the cold and swam ½ mile in the ocean and I had completed my triathlon distances. The decision to participate in a triathlon back in January had, in a day, become so much more. Against all odds, we had successfully overcome physical and mental challenges. We strengthened our friendship and sense of community. Each one of us, throughout the day, had been an athlete, a cheerleader, a friend and a winner.

People say life is what you make of it and I couldn’t agree more… Life can be sweet, healthy and fulfilling if you choose to make it so.



A Defining Moment by PJ Monson

ImageDo you ever wonder what got you to this exact life moment? How did I get to this exact place, doing this exact thing at this exact time? Any history buff will tell me all of the answers can be found in understanding my past.  My ability to take risks, (i.e., creating CentralSweat) comes from a wisdom gained from past life events, a natural progression. My path toward CentralSweat began two years ago while walking home from a friend’s birthday party in DC. A teenager, drunk and high at the time, drove through a red light at 55mph and hit me head on in his SUV while I was in the crosswalk. My first memory of the traumatic event was waking up in the hospital and seeing my brother’s comforting face thinking to myself, “Where am I? What’s going on? Is this going to take long?  I have a date and a haircut tomorrow!” The left side of my face was completely smashed in from the impact. However the rest of my body, aside from a few bumps and bruises, was working and fully functional. I not only had survived, but I had survived with minimal injury!

The spiritual side of me sees a miracle, but the rational side of me knows it was mostly because I was in good physical shape. The impact of the car didn’t break any bones.  I had protected my body from more extensive damage by maintaining a healthy lifestyle! I had already been a trainer for several years, and the accident only confirmed what I believe is the truly important thing about fitness.  It’s about a strong heart, not slim hips.

I love the one-to-one relationships I form with my clients, and I wanted to find a way to connect with more people. I decided to move to New York to pursue an MS in PR and Corporate Communications. The skills of this degree combined with my knowledge and experience in health and wellness led to the creation of CentralSweat. It is a company about making connections under the umbrella of choosing a healthy lifestyle. It was my healthy body that saved me physically but my relationships with people that saved me mentally. I believe you need both, and that is what I want to create with CentralSweat.  Come join me in spreading the CentralSweat mojo!

Cocktails and Bikinis by PJ Monson


Summer is in full swing, and to me that means friends, cookouts, cocktails and bikinis! I try to workout a little extra in the summer months because I am always showing a bit more skin! Keeping a comfortable figure is as much about what we eat and drink as it is about exercise!  I think alcoholic beverages are something we quickly overlook.  (lookout, Saturday evening cosmo!) A surprisingly a large portion of our added sugar intake comes from what we drink! Here are a few quick and easy CentralSweat tips that will keep you on track during these free and easy summer months!

When in doubt, choose wine!

 Wine is always about 100-150 calories a serving.  Although wine is made with sugar, it’s always the smarter choice when compared to a juicy cocktail!

Club soda, club soda!

 There are many mixed drinks that involve fruit juice… I love a tangy vodka-cranberry with a slice of lime!  I always make fun of my best friend because she still drinks screwdrivers!  But those fruit juice drinks really add up.  Next time, order your vodka with soda and a splash of cranberry or OJ.  Or even better, get a gin and soda/diet tonic with lemon and lime! You can save yourself hundreds of calories simply by choosing your mixers wisely.

Light beer is (sigh…) always a better choice.

The good news is the alcohol content is the same!

Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

You can keep yourself from the midnight French fry/ 5 cosmo evening by pacing yourself.  Having a club soda with lime or water with lemon in between drinks will save you calories and will make your morning a whole lot brighter!

Awareness is key.  Don’t sweat the small stuff… If you are looking at the ocean from the deck of a beach house and want to order a Pina Colada, do it!  It’s your treat!  But next time your out for your weekly Thursday girls night out, choose wine, light beer or a low calorie mixer and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

And don’t worry.  It’s supposed to be an ongoing process.  The more knowledge we gain the more choices we give ourselves in the pathway towards becoming our best self!



Live and Eat Well on a Budget! by PJ Monson

Emily is an actor and voiceover artist in the city.  She has been attending CentralSweat workouts since the company’s inception, and has her own blog, entitled At Home With Emmy Lou.  In her blog she posts recipes, gives gardening advice and provides tips and tricks about home décor.  She has been kind enough to contribute to our blog today, giving us a few idea’s on how she keeps an eye on her own personal health and wellness in a fast paced city on a budget.    Hi!  Im Emily! I have been working out with Polly in the park for some time now, and was honored when she asked me to write a guest post for her company, CentralSweat!  At first I was a bit insecure!  “Me? Write about health and wellness?  But I bake too many cookies!” (I have quite the sugar addiction.)

However after some careful thought I do believe I have a tip and a quick recipe that may be helpful!  A tip that, I believe, goes along with the CentralSweat mantra! Here it is!

 I Eat at home. A lot!

 I have found that the easiest way to gain weight (and spend money!) in the city is to eat out.  Restaurants use butter, oil, bacon, and extra salt in almost everything!  Eating at home allows you to control every thing you put into your body, and helps you to stay creative and spontaneous as well! At first constant cooking can seem intimidating.  When you work full time and come home from a tiring day of work, do you really want to get behind a stove?  Believe it or not, I often do!  It helps me to unwind and spend time with my husband.  After a few weeks, you can have a fully stocked pantry with everything you need to make something great in a jiffy.  And something heart-healthy, to boot! I have found that I can eat for a whole week on what it would cost to get a glass of wine and a salad at a restaurant!

Below, you will find a recipe that keeps my husband and me full for days! Your groceries should be less then $20! (I like to get a bag of onions and a bag of lemons each week… we always use them!)

imagesYou will need:

  •  1 whole chicken
  • 4 green zucchinis
  • 1 bag of onions
  • garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 head celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 lemon

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  In the bottom of a roasting dish, drizzle olive oil.  Above your sink, take the chicken out of the packaging and remove and toss innards.  (If you are adventurous, sautee with garlic or onions and serve!) Really salt and pepper your bird!  This will add a lot of flavor! You can also take lemon and poke holes in the skin, then place in between the chicken's legs.  Put the bird into its roasting dish, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes!  Ovens and bird sizes vary, so remember to test by cutting behind the leg.  If the juices run clear, it is ready!  If cloudy, cook for 15 more minutes!

Meanwhile, dice your zucchini and onions and sautee with 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium high heat until charred.  Stir frequently!

You can serve your roasted chicken with zucchini hash!  You can also make chicken salad, or serve cold cuts for lunch the next day!


Make chicken stock!

Take the bones from your leftover chicken and put into a large soup pot.  Fill with water.  Loosely dice onion, carrots and celery.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer, covered, for 2 hours.  Take off top layer of fat from broth, and remove and toss all veggies and bones.  You can freeze your stock, or make homemade soup right away!  A friend of mine recommended pouring the stock into ice treys to freeze.  She then has homemade stock cubes every time she cooks!

Feel free to e-mail me with any questions!  And follow my blog at!


What Are You Sweatin'? by PJ Monson

CentralSweat  (What Are You Sweatin'?) Polly is a certified personal trainer and is the founder of CentralSweat.  You can workout with her for $5 in Central Park every Saturday at 9am! (Click here to sign up.) 

CentralSweat will provide inspirational blogs and postings from industry professionals to people that just have a cool way of looking at something. Stay tuned! 

One of my favorite things to say to my clients is “you can call or email me anytime, except the morning after!” No pain no gain guys! The pursuit to reaching your health goals, whatever they might be, is hard! Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something!

You know you have achieved success in establishing a healthy lifestyle when your everyday choices reflect not only what you want, but also what you need. Excellent! But how do you get there?

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is to actually picture yourself as a healthy person. Have you ever seen the “before they were stars”show on E Network?  It’s fascinating because it shows you the journey (the work they did to become famous.) All you have been exposed to is the end result, their celebrity. The same thing happens when an unhealthy person meets a healthy one. They think the marathon runner must have entered life by literally running out of the womb, the vegan chick must have been raised in a forest so this diet is all she knows, or simply the healthy athletic girl must simply be that way because she has always been that way so its easy for her. The truth is that each of these people had a journey, some harder than others, but there was always a starting point and an end goal.

Sometimes starting is just believing that we ALL have the potential to be the best versions of ourselves. The next step is to figure out

  • What are you sweatin' and how do you overcome it?

Are you sweatin' your diet?, your workout routine?, your job?, your family?, your relationships?, lack of time?, or all of the above? All of these things influence your behavior when it comes to making everyday lifestyle choices. It is necessary to be aware of them and understand how to deal with them in order to balance them. This is where CentralSweat wants to hold your hand!

The definition for advice is the “guidance or recommendations concerning future prudent action, typically given by someone regarded as KNOWLEDGABLE.” (The Free Dictionary)

The key terms to take from this definition are guidance, recommendations, and knowledge. My biggest pet peeve is anyone promoting themselves as “the end all be all” when it comes to health and fitness. There is no universal right answer! I tell my clients there are 100 different ways to do everything and it is our job as health coaches to help you find YOUR right answer.

People read health books, visit online websites, and hire trainers to search for answers, but you will never find the right answers if you are not asking the right questions. CentralSweat will be a website full of answers, but will focus mainly on the journey. What is my first step? How do I take the first step? What’s next?

Many people tend to flock to one diet, or one trending exercise.  CentralSweat is focused on a journey in baby steps and a LIFE lived in moderation.

It has taken me years to get to the place where my wants can coincide with my needs. I am never really done, and that is a hard truth.  These things that we are “sweatin” now will never fully go away. Life can get harder as we get older and responsibilities grow. BUT we can choose to get smarter, we can gain wisdom, and, if we let ourselves, we can BECOME STRONG!

Let’s start Sweatin!;)



What is Central Sweat? by PJ Monson

CentralSweat is about saying yes to a healthy lifestyle.  Workout for $5 with certified trainers in Central Park and follow our website for updates and heart-healthy recipes.  Stay tuned to our up-to-date social media outlets for  encouragement, workout tips and more!  Follow us on Twitter, friend us on Facebook and make us a part of your daily routine, because you don't have to join a gym to be a part of the fitness community that will change your life.

copyright 2013 CentralSweat

Contact Us by PJ Monson

Contact us with any questions, concerns, ideas and suggestions!

We are more than happy to chat with PR and media members. Feel free to drop us a line below!

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FAQ by PJ Monson

Frequently Asked Questions Can I show up without signing up for the class?

All class sign ups must be made online prior to the start of each class.

Can I bring cash?

Unfortunately not! Payment is mandatory upon sign up. All payments are made through PayPal.

Can I sign up for more than one class at a time?

Right now, It is only possible to sign up for one class at a time!

Can I bring a friend?

Yes!  However they would need to sign up ahead of time to prevent class overflow.

Classes cap at 15 people. If you decide last minute you would like to come or a bring a friend then you are welcome to try, but please be aware that if the class is full you will have to wait for the next available time slot.

Can I cancel a class and get a refund? 

There are no refunds.

CentralSweat has a 24 hour cancellation policy.   Classes can be cancelled due to personal reasons With 24 hours advance notice.   Each attendee can re-schedule for any class held the following week.

Class will only be cancelled due to inclement weather or emergency. You will be notified no later than 2 hours prior to scheduled class.  *If it’s raining, class is cancelled!

copyright 2013 CentralSweat

Meet The Central Team by PJ Monson

imageFounder PJ Monson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over six years. Her training began in Chicago with a certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine,  focusing on motivational weight loss programs, functional training for long distance runners, and small group programs for brides. She moved to Washington DC in 2009 and secured continuing education credits in kettlebell training, TRX resistance training, pre/post natal care, and became a NASM certified performance enhancement specialist (skills in strength, power, and endurance training for athletes).  Health and wellness will always be her first priority and she is so excited to build a strong Central Sweat community focused on healthy lifestyle.

“There are no absolutes and no guarantees in the health and fitness industry, just the idea that everyone holds the potential to become the best version of themselvesboth inside and out.”