The AOTF 2020 Gift List
These Pandemic times may have shut some of our favorite activities down, but it also may have sparked some new interests! I'm passionate about many things, but Yoga, The Royal Family, and people new to that fitness commitment are MY JAM! There are so many gift lists out there, but I wanted to put one together with items I not only own but love. These are truly niche gifts that are perfect for the holidays, birthdays, or just to say I appreciate you days!
For The New Yoga Instructor
I followed Jessamyn Stanley on instagram long before this book came out. In a world where the Yoga community gained followers by being super skinny, blond and posing in outrageous poses, it was quite refreshing to see this voluptuous Black woman doing the same. She's not just about body positivity, but body representation. If I believe that Yoga is truly for everyone, then having a book with this cover on the bookshelf should not be revolutionary. It should be quite normal.
When designing a Yoga sequence for class, I occasionally felt a lack of inspiration. Sometimes, I felt I was doing the same class every week and wondered if the participants got bored. These three items were for sure my saving grace. The Yoga Cures book has poses for various ailments that were great to build a class around. The sequencing book is basically my Yoga bible. It is filled with sequences and class formats based on varying participant levels. My Yoga Magazine subscription is a great way to enhance my own personal practice. The cover stories are always inspirational and their website does an excellent job at breaking down poses.
This was my actual training manual for my first Yoga certification. There are so many Yoga schools out there. I landed on YogaFit because it was self paced and designed to be taught anywhere with minimal equipment. The goal was to bring Yoga to the masses even under fluorescent lights on a gym floor. This was my love language. Meeting people where they were and showing them how inclusive Yoga could be. This is a great starting point for not only an instructor, but anyone who wants to dig a little deeper in the meaning Yoga.
More and more schools are incorporating Mindfulness into their curriculum. This small but educational book is packed with activities and concepts that are perfect for the classroom or kids bedroom! I'm trained to teach kids Zumba, but I don't have a Yoga For Kids certification. With this book, I felt well prepared when I presented sessions for kids.
For The Newly Crowned Royal Enthusiast
This book in a nutshell is beautiful. It's big. It's bold. Every picture is stunning and photographed by Jackson. He has been shooting the Royals for over 15 years. He's also married to one of Kate Middleton's stylists, so the access if unparalleled. This book also includes images from the historic Sussex wedding.
This is the only thing on this entire list that I do not own, yet. Elizabeth Holmes is known on instagram for her "So Many Thoughts" in which she puts many many many tiny captions/thoughts regarding royal style on her stories. She's really a fun one to follow and I enjoy her fashion expertise. In HRH, she adds quite a bit of research and historical context to the royal looks featured in the book. It's cute and a fun gift for someone who is into fashion but not in a pretentious way.
I once saw Meghan Markle wearing Rothy's flats, so I bought a pair of Rothy's flats. You like my Mean Girls reference? Anyway, The Duchess of Sussex is all about sustainable fashion. These shoes are made from recycled plastic water bottles. Yes, seriously. These shoes are so comfortable and they make a perfect airport travel shoe. As a fitness instructor, I really don't wear heels. I think I have maybe two pairs. Occasionally, I attend an event where I just don't want my feet to hurt by the end of the night but I still want to be stylish. Rothy's are perfect. They also make bags too!
When this streaming network first launched last year, I did the free trial and was disappointed. It had very dated 80's looking content and therefore, I cancelled. Then as Covid hit, I saw someone comment in my Royally Obsessed Facebook group (don't judge) that True Royalty TV was offering a crazy discounted price. I thought I'd give it another go and see if they updated the platform. I signed up for $5 a month and I have really enjoyed it. They definitely upgraded since I'd logged in last. They even have a show detailing the latest royal news that is updated regularly. They also have new documentaries and true crime stories about many royal historical figures. Fun Fact: This channel was created by the husband of American stylist Juliet Angus. She was on the cast of the now cancelled Bravo show Ladies of London.
One thing I'm LOVING about 2020 is the conscious effort people are making to support more businesses founded by women of color. Meghan wore this mask while volunteering in L.A. over the summer. The company is called Royal Jelly of Harlem. They were shocked when they saw The Duchess wearing their item and thrilled when it quickly sold out. So of course they renamed the mask she donned as Duchess Blue and they are back in stock. All of their items are also made in NYC.
I get ROASTED by my family every time I put this on and I really don't care. Again, another purchase I discovered in my Royally Obsessed group of girlfriends (whom I've never actually met.) It stands for Her Royal Highness. It's cozy and cheeky at the same time. Yup, I said cheeky.
For The Newly Committed to Home Fitness
Be shocked when you discover how much you can do with these two sizes of fitness balls. The Pilates ball is perfect for improving range of motion and engaging muscles when squeezed. The stability ball is amazing for core strengthening. Did you see my ten minute video of my favorite stability ball core exercises? Abs on FIRE for sure. Using both of these balls in various ways, has helped strengthen my lower back. They are a must, for all levels and all ages. Make sure if the recipient is shorter than average in height, they get a 65cm or less stability ball.
Yoga mats are not just for Yoga. I use 5mm mats for all of my mat exercises. I found the 4mm are just too thin for my knees and 6mm is too thick for my taste. I have had people in classes with mats even thicker and they love them. It really is about preference while also considering if the spine needs more cushion. 5mm are a great starting point. I picked Gaiam because this brand comes in a variety of thickness and prices. They can also be found in many box stores like Target or TJ Maxx if you want to actually touch one before you buy. Yoga blocks are also a great way to bring the floor a little closer. Yoga is not just for the flexible. It's for those who want to be more flexible and a block is a great accessory to measure improvement in this department. Just be aware, I picked Gaiam because they are sturdy and reliable. Some brands of mats and blocks smell when you unwrap them because they use cheap materials. You won't find that with Gaiam.
I think I posted on instagram about my joy when I moved from the 3 pound weights to the 5 pound weights in a lifting class taught by my girl Heather. I was surprised to learn how weights are not about bulking up, but really burning calories faster and toning. Weights are also super important in helping to prevent bone loss. It's not a coincidence that this brand of resistance bands are called Theraband. Many physical therapists encourage these when issues like tendonitis arise. Exercise really can be therapy! Again, building strength is the name of the game. We want to pick workouts and items that promote longevity. These are items we can use throughout our lives! That's why it's called an active lifestyle. Not an active 3 - 4 years.