Tag Archives: Lady Bird Lake

Celebrate the Magic of Nature

oct-16

Point to Ponder:
How often do you spend time alone outdoors and in nature?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Despite being raised in a rural community in Texas and surrounded by fields of grass, corn, cotton, wheat and maize, it wasn’t until I attended the University of Texas that I realized my love and deep need for nature. As almost anyone who lives or has lived in Austin experiences, at some point or another, Town Lake (a.k.a. Lade Bird Lake) becomes the treasured best friend who hears our prayers, absorbs our tears, and celebrates our accomplishments. While on my runs, she was always part of the cleansing, healing and restorative process that my body, mind and spirit needed. Not only did my time with her boost my confidence, but spending time in and around always enhanced the clarity of my thoughts and vision. In fact, I never left her without a problem solved and/or solution in hand. And, while I knew how much I loved and needed her, it was until I moved to New York City and didn’t have her at my fingertips that I longed for her.

As the quote in the pictures says, Mother Nature has the power to please, calm, comfort and nurture, and in my opinion, she has infinite healing powers too. I believe we have an intrinsic need for her in our daily lives, which is why when I founded iGnite ten years ago, one of our core principles was outdoor group fitness. Over time, and as a result of wanting to grow with our members and provide optimal class experiences, our outdoor-only model shifted to offering indoor classes as well. This is not to say that we didn’t try offering every possible class outdoors, because we did. This included year round outdoor yoga, Pilates and even dance. For example, through trial and error, we quickly found out that yoga at 6:00 a.m. and in 35 degree temperatures was counterproductive. I should’ve known that the body would have a difficult time loosening up while shivering, and despite wearing layers of clothes, gloves and shoes, not being able to feel your fingers or toes makes balancing and downward dog extremely difficult. Thinking back, it seems completely absurd that I ever thought that yoga under such conditions would work, but we were committed to all that Mother Nature had to offer us. And, while offering year round yoga and some of the other classes in nature isn’t ideal (at least in Austin), Mother Nature never disappointed. She was and is consistently consistent with showing off her magic!

As we continue to celebrate iGnite’s tenth birthday, this week I invite you to celebrate the magic of nature and enjoy her life-giving gifts by spending a minimum of five minutes outdoors everyday, alone, and without any device or technology. Just like taking a screaming baby outside immediately soothes he or she, we are no different. Our time in nature is equivalent to pushing the reset button for our mind and spirit, and whether your time is experiencing a sunrise, sunset, the fall foliage, walking barefoot in grass, sitting near a body of water, hiking in the mountains, listening to the birds or going for a walk or jog, it is all grounding and the perfect solution to a busy mind and unsettled spirit. All in all, it’s a very cheap and simple solution that we all need to include in our daily routines.

Finally, in the event you need more evidence why time in nature is essential, check out scientific proven benefits from an article in Business Insider. I don’t know about you, but I could use some serious short-term memory help!!!

  • Improved short-term memory
  • Restored mental energy
  • Stress relief
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better vision
  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper thinking and creativity
  • Possible anti-cancer effects
  • Immune system boost
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced risk of early death

Action Item:
Each day this week, spend at least five minutes in nature alone and without technology.


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From Small Beginnings Come Great Things

Aug28_2016

Point to Ponder:
As a result of your time in iGnite, what metamorphosis have you experienced?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

One of my favorite pastimes is looking through photo albums. I can easily spend a nostalgic hour placing myself in each picture and sweet memory. This is often what happens when I look at the picture shown above, as it sits in my office where I can see it everyday.

The picture was taken ten years ago, at iGnite’s first location. While it was nothing more than a concrete slab that once served as a bridge that crossed over Lady Bird Lake (a.k.a. Town Lake), it was ideal because it was overlooking the lake, semi-secluded with a giant oak tree and a perfect size parking lot on 1st street. Back then before boot camps were popular and Austin was not inundated with studios and gyms, our members brought a physioball (a.k.a. udderballs because they had little legs that looked like udders), a set of blue, red and yellow resistance bands and a jump rope. The only class offered was a basic fitness class that I led on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00 a.m and 8:00 a.m. We had no indoor location so we didn’t retreat inside when it was cold. Instead, we bundled up and never stopped moving. I vividly remember several 6:00 a.m. mornings when the temperature did not rise above freezing, but we were all committed to one another and excited to be outside on the lake, together. It was then that we realized that Austin really did have a winter season. It just happened between 12:00 a.m and 7:00 a.m.

Often times during the 6:00 a.m class it was very dark and runners and/or walkers couldn’t see us coming toward them with our giant udderballs, until they were within a few feet. However during the 8:00 a.m. class, we were unavoidable. We’d skip down the trail laughing with our udderballs lifted high above our heads (don’t knock it til you try it–it’s hard!), and as much as the passers-by would try not to make eye contact, it was impossible. You can imagine the looks we got….but more importantly, there were thousands of smiles exchanged along with “Good Morning!” from our members.

Making eye-contact and saying “Good Morning” to everyone on the trail was actually one of our spiritual and mental exercises. Why? Because while walking and running most people are looking down and it’s uncomfortable to say “good morning” and make eye contact with strangers. However, it was an opportunity for us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and grow. And, in order to be bright lights, it’s important to acknowledge people with eye contact and a friendly “Hello.”

I could go on and on with stories, and maybe at our 10th birthday party on the evening of September 15th (save the date!!), we’ll share our favorite iGnite memories, with one of my personal favorites being with the former First Lady of Texas, Anita Perry, and her secret service detail. Until then, when I look at the picture I think about the Proverb quoted, “From small beginnings come great things”.

My original goal for iGnite was to get as many women as possible to exercise outdoors together and experience the changing seasons and the physical, mental and spiritual healing powers of nature. And, just as our mascot and logo is the Monarch butterfly, the purpose was for everyone to grow and experience a literal transformation, or metamorphosis. The reason why I choose the Monarch butterfly is besides being graceful, gorgeous and free, like I believe all women are and should feel, the life of both a butterfly and a woman is difficult and ever changing. Her metamorphosis from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly is hard and looks painful, but in order for her to become a beautiful butterfly, the process is essential. This is a woman’s life, and in order for us to continue to grow into everything we are designed for, to experience our vast capacity of greatness and contribute to the world, a continual metamorphosis must occur. This transformation is filled with hard work, struggle, challenge, and even heartache, but the gifts along the way as well as who we become are all worthwhile!

It was less than one year from the start of iGnite that a true metamorphosis began to occur in our members. They grew from caterpillars into full-grown Monarchs! They were ready for more challenge, which birthed the start of holding more classes and different locations around central Austin (again–before traffic was a real issue). It seems simple, but changing locations created a greater metamorphosis because along with the new location came an unfamiliar phyisical and mental experience. Change equals challenge and challenge equals growth.

Metamorphosis was occurring rapidly and despite varying our locations, it became obvious that our members needed more beyond just a basic fitness class that I could provide, so I welcomed gifted and passionate teammates, a variety of diverse classes and multiple locations. While iGnite’s beginnings were simple, small and very special, out of them have morphed innumerable wonderful things: lifelong friendships, community, restored health, confidence and purpose. You are doing things you never thought you could or would do, you have made yourself a priority, you are supporting and lifting women up and you are flying!

Regardless of our size or whether or not you’ve been a Monarch for one day, or ten years, our purpose for you remains the same, which is for iGnite to be your metamorphosis springboard so that you can fly into everything that God has created you for, which is undoubtedly for you to do something great and be somebody amazing!

Just as our vintage iGnite video that lives on our website’s About page and was created almost six years ago shows, iGnite is a celebration of life’s blessings–the unknown and the immeasurable beauty that each day brings. iGnite is the power of believing, the power of taking care of yourself so that you can be your very best! iGnite is a way of life. iGnite is every woman. Today is your day! Now is your time to iGnite Your Life!


Action Item:
Within iGnite, what can you do to experience a greater metamorphosis?


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10 Day Re-boot: Leisa’s Day 4

iGnite 10 Day Body Reboot

Leisa White

by Leisa White

I feel like today (day 4 of the re-boot) was my turning point. I have had a headache and aches until today which I am sure were down to caffeine and sugar withdrawal! Giving up coffee A.M and Tea P.M (yes, Brits really do drink a lot of tea) was the hardest part for me and while I do plan on having them again after the 10 days I will be much more mindful of my intake.

IMG_0130I’ve really enjoyed breakfast and the hot water and lemon fulfilled the need to hold a warm mug while waking up. I had the porridge option this morning as I needed a break from eggs and although I’ve never made it with coconut milk before I loved it.

IMG_0138My energy today has been great and I took Seamus, my excitable dog, on a wonderful long walk around town lake in the glorious sunshine. Being outdoors this week has been so easy in this Texan weather and mixing it with exercise is even better. Seamus also loved it and followed it by sleeping all afternoon.

I think being outside has been my favorite part of the week so far. I have walked more, taken my computer outside to work and have even been having my lunch outside.

IMG_0133The food part has been the easiest for me as it is all the things I love but it has taken a little more planning. When you can’t just grab a sandwich or piece of toast (yes, Brits also eat a lot of toast) it helps to have everything ready to go.
It was helpful to be reminded of this which I did with containers ready to throw together a quick salad.

I am looking forward to the remains of the re-boot now that the headaches have gone and my energy is great. The only thing I wish is that I had less to do and more time to sleep. I have slept like a log but it is impossible to get to bed as early as I’d like with carpools and teens. Now the weekend is around the corner though I plan to catch up!

The Quiet Experiment

iGnite - Silence is a SuperpowerPoint to Ponder:

How mindful are you in your everyday errands and activities?  Are you comfortable with silence?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

I love a good experiment.  For example, I love finding new driving routes, trying new classes, workouts and locations (in iGnite of course), running a different direction around Lady Bird Lake, driving for a week with no music or talk radio, and even testing new “fad diets” just to mix it up and confuse my body, mind and spirit and see the results.  Here me out, I most certainly love order and prefer for things stay the same, though I really enjoy experimenting and stretching myself because there is always something new to be learned.

I may have used the term “fad diet” incorrectly because I’m not a fan of dieting, however I enjoy experimenting with food trends, assuming they are healthy.  I have tried being a vegetarian, vegan and eating all raw.  My goal was to learn how my body would respond and if it was something that was sustainable and worked for me.  What I learned was that none of them work for me, but I did gain great knowledge and tips from them all.

As for running, there was a time when I never ran with headphones around Lady Bird Lake because I loved hearing my breath, the pounding of the trail beneath my feet and most sacred, the sounds of the trail.  Then, one day I decided to listen to music for the extra motivation.  I did like it and the music was encouraging, but the experience was completely different.  I couldn’t hear my breath or the crunching of the trail which is what I had enjoyed for so long. Most importantly, every time I ran I received clarity on a life issue.  It was meditative and mother nature always spoke to me. Furthermore, one time while running with headphones, the headphones died at the half way point and because I was relying on the music to get me through the run, finishing the run was an absolute nightmare.  From that point on I vowed that I’d never wear headphones again because it was clear that a dependence had been established.  The same holds true when running or walking in a different direction on the trail.  Even though it is the same distance and same trail, when I start in the opposite direction or at a different location, my body, mind and spirit can’t go into autopilot and the experience is altogether unique.

As I write this journal I am sitting on my father’s back porch in total silence.  It’s just me, the cool breeze (crazy!!!), the singing birds and the rustling leaves.  I can think clearly, feel my body and hear my spirit.  It’s serene, perfect and so different than most days that come with the noise from children, television, traffic, the radio, and life in general.  And, because just two weeks ago in the journal Music: The Multipurpose Medicine, I recommended turning on some tunes and letting music feed your soul, you may think I am crazy for recommending that this week we turn off the music, the television and controllable noise and do life without it, just to see what happens.  Maybe for you this means turning off your television, radio,or  simply not talking when you don’t need or have to.  It’s simply an experiment to see what all we can hear.

With each passing day I realize that with most things in life there is no right or wrong way.   We are consistently evolving which includes growth, which also means that what works one day may not work the next. This is why we must remain open to change, trying new things, and experimenting, specifically as we did in iGnite many years ago. During one week we experimented with not talking to one another during the workouts. We saved talking until the end, where we shared our interesting realizations.  This of course seemed counter-culture because iGnite is all about being in and with community.  But in the spirit of discovering what we can learn, what we can see and most importantly what we can hear when we are quiet, I am suggesting that we try it again, as the results were exceptional!

Action Item:

In your workouts this week (and in other situations where you’d usually find a way to distract yourself with media or conversation), challenge yourself to be silent and focus instead on being entirely mindful of your surroundings, what you are doing and how your body is feeling. Observe what a difference it makes at the end of your workout! 

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Grow Inside by Getting Outside

Image

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.
-Pedro Calderon de la Barca

As spring moves in (the first official day is tomorrow!) and brings with it longer days and better weather, lift your spirit by getting outside! A study in Evolutionary Psychology reveals that different natural settings bring about specific emotions in us. So depending on how you’re feeling this spring, head to one of these Austin-area spots to put a smile on your face!

When you need to unwind and relax…
Head down to Lady Bird Lake, Lake Travis, Lake Austin or even a pond or fountain near you and enjoy the H2O. “Water’s aesthetic qualities, such as its rhythmic movement, may induce a calming effect on our psyche,” says study author Joe Hinds, Ph.D.

Water helps us unwind & relax

Water helps us unwind & relax.

When you need to find clarity or do some deep thinking…
Go for a wander in the Barton Creek Greenbelt or another woodsy area. “When we’re isolated from the everyday hustle and bustle, we’re forced to turn inward and connect to ourselves in a deeper and more focused way,” says Hinds.

When you’re feeling lonely and isolated…
Make a trip over to Zilker Park, Pease Park, Rollingwood Park, Bee Caves Central Park or your closest neighborhood park. “Designed to be gathering places, parks give us a sense of togetherness,” Hinds explains. Who of us isn’t perked up by a renewed sense of community?  That’s it! Your go-to plan for the days when you need a pick-me-up. Thank goodness we live in a city with endless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors!

Have A Comment? Share With Us! 

Listen to this song we love, and we know you’ll love too:

      • Brandi Carlisle’s “Have You Ever Wandered Lonely Through the Woods?”

Other Resources We Think You’ll Enjoy:

  • Louis Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

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Click on the Image above to link to Louis Schwartzenberg’s Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. Ted Talk.