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Sugar Alternative Baking

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

2c Pureed Pumpkin (1 15oz can)
6 eggs
1/4c Ghee or melted Butter
1/2c Honey
1c Almond Flour
1/2c Coconut Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp all spice

In food processor mix pumpkin, eggs, honey, melted ghee or butter. Add the almond flour, ¼ c of coconut flour, salt and all the spices. After mixing, if your batter is still loose add the remaining 1/4 c of coconut flour (you want the batter thick but pourable). Pour into loaf pan. Cook at 325 for 40 min or until toothpick comes out clean form the center.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1c Instant Oats
3/4c Whole Wheat Flour
1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbs coconut oil or unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2c Maple Syrup or honey
1/4c Raisins

Whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in med bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg and vanilla. Stir in your sweetener. Fold in raisins. Let the cookie dough chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325. Drop cookies onto parchment paper or nonstick cookie tray in 15 rounded scoops, flattening slightly. Bake for 11-15 minutes. Cool on pan for 10 minutes.



Client Feature: Carol Gagliardi

What brought you into Imagine?

I had been interested in taking a yoga class for awhile but had never got around to it.  When Imagine opened right below the dentist office it seemed too convenient to pass up.  Still I hesitated, until I had my annual routine physical and found out that I had osteoporosis from a tumor on my parathyroid.

The parathyroid regulates calcium and because mine was overactive, it caused calcium to leach from my bones.  I had the tumor removed but realized that the damage was done and I had better start taking my health a little more seriously.

I finally decided to sign up for that yoga class.  I had read about the benefits of yoga and thought now was the time.  Sure enough I found that yoga made me feel better and I actually enjoyed the classes!  So I decided to take the next step and sign up for the circuit classes.  I feel stronger, less tired and more flexible!  It has been a great experience for me and signing up for the classes helps keep me motivated.

What do you enjoy most about Imagine?

The people at Imagine are wonderful and the staff and instructors are very welcoming.  They help people at every level and sincerely seem interested in the cliental.  I love that it is so personal and that the members are incredibly friendly too.  The coffee and snacks are great too!

Have you achieved any health and fitness goals working out at Imagine?

I always thought that just “life” provided enough exercise and that playing the cello and gardening was good enough. Since I’ve been working out at Imagine I realize that there really is something to this exercise thing!   My goals are to continue to get stronger and improve my posture and maybe even lose a few pounds.

What inspires you, what quote and or mantra do you live by?

As I get older I feel it’s important to keep moving, stay busy and try new things.  And remember the mind is like a parachute, it works best when open.



Chicken 2 Ways – Herbs and Spices

Chicken 2 ways! Herbed or Spiced!

Herbed Crock Pot Chicken
2 lbs chicken breasts (bone in), washed and patted dry
½ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs parsley, chopped
1 tbs oregano or thyme, chopped
1 tbs rosemary, chopped
1 tbs sage, chopped
1 cup diced tomatoes
½ cup chicken stock


Blend chopped herbs in ¼ cup olive oil and coat chicken thoroughly.  Set aside for 15 minutes.  Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet and slightly brown the chicken on all sides.  Remove chicken to the crock pot; add tomatoes and chicken stock then simmer for 4-5 hours on low.


Spicy Chicken Breasts
2 lbs chicken breasts, boneless
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbp ginger
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp turmeric
¾ tsp cinnamon
1 cup diced tomatoes
¼ c. dried apricots, chopped


Preheat oven to 400.  Cut chicken into bite size pieces, cover liberally with S&P and chili powder.  Heat 2 tbsp olive in skillet then sear chicken and remove from pan, set aside.  Saute garlic, ginger and all spices for 1 minutes.  Add tomatoes and chicken back to pan. Simmer to a boil, add apricots, cover and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until chicken no longer pink in the center.

How did “Medicine Balls” Get Their Name?

The word medicine describes anything that restores health to the body. The medicine ball itself promotes health by invigorating the body and increasing strength and mobility. They were first used by Persian wrestlers looking to become stronger. Hippocrates used medicine balls filled with sand to help people develop strength and President Hoover introduced the Hoover medicine ball in 1931. Given all that they do for our bodies and that the word medicine was first synonymous with the word health, “medicine ball” was the perfect name.

How Can I Get Better Balance


How can I get better balance? – This is a common question we hear at Imagine. Marie Morgan, one of our personal trainers put together this  tip sheet to help guide you.  
Strength Exercises-

  1. Chair Squats- Sit on edge of chair. Lean trunk forward and reach arms out in front of torso. Push through heels and rise into standing position.
    Do this 2-3 times 8-15 reps.
  1. Stability Ball Squats- A more advance move for those who can do it. Place a stability ball between the small of your back and wall. Bring your feet 1.5-2 feet out in front of you making sure your knees don’t go over toes when in squat position. Lower into squat position until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Hold for 2-3 seconds and return to standing. 2-3 lets of 8-15 reps.
  1. Heel Raises- From standing position ( use wall if needed), push through toes lifting heels off ground maintaining good posture. Lower heels to ground and repeat. 2-3 sets of 8-15.


Balance Exercises-

  1. Single Leg Stand (Level 1)- Stand next to wall or counter top, using a hand to balance. Try to stand on one leg and hold for up to seconds or longer. Repeat each side 1-3 times.
  1. Single Leg Stand (Level 2) – Same as level 1 but with eyes closed.
  1. Single Leg Stand with chair tap (Level 3)-  Stand with a chair 1-2 feet in front of you. While balancing on one leg bend at the waist and try to tap seat of chair and come back up to standing position without putting lifted foot on ground until done with set. 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps each side.


Tips for Fall Prevention:

  • Try a Tai Chi class at Imagine
  • Remove clutter from areas of high traffic in your home
  • Get regular eye examinations
  • Use proper technique when lifting heavy objects
  • Wear appropriate shoes (rubber soles, non slip)

August Member Spotlight – Gloria Thomas

What brought you into Imagine?

I got the postcard in the mail about Imagine’s special, 2 weeks for $20. I remember it was the 2015 Thanksgiving break from U-M and getting colder outside so I was looking for anew gym. I had mostly been running after leaving my previous gym due to an injury I sustained there. I visited Imagine nearly everyday that first week and got hooked.

What do you enjoy most about Imagine?

No doubt it’s the people. The workouts are great, but in addition to exercise that is appropriate for my aging body, the people – staff/trainers/instructors, and fellow members – all shared their experiences, gave input and feedback on how to get the most out of an activity, and simply reached out to embrace newcomers into the Imagine community. If you don’t want feedback and input, you won’t get it. You will, however, get a warm, smiling face and an extended hand introducing him or herself to you.

Have you achieved any health and fitness goals working out at Imagine?

I’ve absolutely gotten much stronger from the weightlifting. I’ve also learned to push myself to do some exercise regularly—daily, if possible. Further, I now appreciate the benefits of diversifying my workout routines. It’s important to fit in the stretching from yoga for strengthening and flexibility, weightlifting for building bone density and strength, and cardio for fitness.

What inspires you, what quote and or mantra do you live by?

People who make health and fitness a priority in their lives inspire me; many of them are members of the Imagine community. Quotes that immediately come to mind that I use as inspiration are “A hard body is good to find” and “Just do it.”

Gloria and trainer, Jeff Barnett pictured above.

Swiss Chard Taco Wraps

Swiss Chard Taco Wraps

For the Wraps:

1tbs olive oil
1 15oz can of black beans, rinsed & drained
2c corn kernels
2c cherry tomatoes
1 sm red onion diced
1 bell pepper diced
3c cooked brown rice
2c fresh herbs, chopped
12 Swiss chard leaves

For the Cumin-Lime Sauce:

3 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1/4c EVOO
2 scallions (minced – white and light green parts only)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp honey
½ tsp fine grain sea salt
(Optional – add hot sauce, diced avocado, shredded cheese, pickled jalapeno)

Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar and secure it with a lid. Shake vigorously until the dressing is well combined. You can also do this with an immersion blender or food processor.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the black beans, corn, pepper, tomatoes, red onion, and pepper. Cook until just heated through. About 5-8 minutes. Toss in cooked rice and fresh cilantro, and then toss with the dressing. Season with a little salt and stir until well combined.

To assemble the tacos, scoop a healthy portion of the veggie mixture into each chard leaf and either wrap like a burrito or hold like a corn tortilla.

My Fitness Journey – Natalie Peterson

My name is Natalie Peterson and I am the Marketing Director at Imagine Fitness & Yoga. I also teach Yoga and Circuit training classes. You will also find me leading 1-1 personal training and Yoga sessions and the Free Monthly Nutrition Workshop alongside Jackie Farah.

My fitness journey began 25 years ago when I was on my first sports team, soccer. I decided I didn’t like it though, 6-year-old me hated running. The next year I played on the boys baseball team. I still have a very vivid memory of being teased for wearing very frilly girlie socks with my uniform and cleats. I thought I looked great!

After my brief experiment with soccer and baseball I moved on to basketball, volleyball & horseback riding. Those stuck with me.  My parents encouraged me and both of my sisters at a very young age to play many sports. Growing up I loved playing and exploring outdoors. Being outside riding bikes and playing tag around the neighborhood until the streetlights came on was how I spent my summers. As I got older I narrowed down my ‘play’ to just basketball and volleyball. I still play both sports

During college I kept up with both sports and did a little running as well. I was teaching group exercise and coaching the Freshman volleyball team at my old high school when I was inspired to return to school for my Masters in Exercise Physiology and make fitness a career. I loved the time I spent working with my group classes and the girls that were a part of the volleyball team.

The years I spent completing my Masters is when I learned how to lift weights and eat right. Up until then weight lifting was not part of my routine and I had yet to truly discover a healthy diet for myself.

I moved to San Diego CA and began a strength & conditioning internship at one of the top 10 gyms in the US and ended up working for 4 years along side some of the best trainers and people I know. I learned so much from my colleagues and clients there. Most importantly I learned what a gift it is to impact someone’s life with health & wellness.

My time in San Diego is also when I fell in love with Yoga and knew I wanted to teach. I realized that for me fitness means to train for life. I wasn’t going to only run or only lift weights or do Yoga. I wanted to train so that I was fit to do a little bit of everything.

I think that another reason that I train the way that I do is so that I can give the best of everything to my clients. I didn’t want anything to be missing in their programs. And I will never ask my clients to do something that I don’t do myself.  I wanted to make sure when we trained it was a mix of strength, flexibility, balance and nutrition. Without the education or experience with it in my own life it would be very hard to bring that alive for someone else.

Fitness has impacted my life so much, it has become a way of life. I have been injured, out of shape, too busy to get my workouts in, but thankfully always make my way back. Fitness is a lifesaver. Not only for my physical health but mental health as well. I know what a better co-worker, friend, spouse and human being because of fitness.

Steel Cut, Rolled, or Quick Oats?


You’ve seen them on the shelves, in recipes and on the breakfast table. But what is the real difference between these different kinds of oats? Is one healthier than the other?

The key difference is in the amount of processing that has been done to each. Steel-cut oats are cut from the whole oat groat (also known as the berries or hulled kernels). Rolled or Old-Fashioned oats are steamed then pressed to flatten the oat. The instant oats are pre-cooked, dried, rolled and then pressed. The more processing that has been done, the faster they cook.


Although the amount of processing is different, the nutritional value is practically the same in the three varieties. These three kinds of oats are all a great whole grain to incorporate into your diet, and most commonly into breakfast. Acting as a good source of fiber, oatmeal helps to lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Try them hot or cold, fresh cooked or prepared as overnight oats. Roll them into energy balls or homemade bars. Prep those steel cut oats in a big batch ahead on Sunday to last you throughout the week. And don’t forget to sprinkle on your favorite fresh fruits, nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, peanut butter, and more. Oats are a great dish that can be dressed up in a variety of ways to enjoy just the way you like them!

– Maggie Maier




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Contact info:

Imagine Fitness and Yoga
3100 W Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Monday - Thursday: 6:00 am - 7:00 pm
Friday: 6:00 am - 3:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am - Noon

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