All posts by Louis Gabriel

Group boxing and health therapy for vets are on L.A.’s health agenda

A new West Hollywood boutique boxing studio, mindfulness in Studio City and a fundraiser at the Grove. Here’s a look at wellness news around Los Angeles.

Open since early October, Crubox focuses on 50-minute high-intensity group boxing classes. Participants work on and off with a heavy bag for an all-body workout that is aimed to burn between 600 and 800 calories. Once sealed off in the striking, brick-walled space — no cellphones, specific water breaks — expect to follow sets based on traditional boxing moves that are also designed to work the core. The classes are for all levels. Classes can hold up to 24 people. Boxing gloves are provided.

Info: First-timers pay $30 for the first two classes; subsequent single classes are $30. Packages available. 8453 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 917-5026

Since it opened in the spring of 2016, the Den Meditation Studio on La Brea Avenue and 4th Street has drawn a steady stream of yoga and mindfulness buffs to its all-day classes. Owner Tal Rabinowitz has just brought that brand of happy to the Valley with the recent opening of a studio in Studio City. The new spot mimics the cozy, laid-back appeal of the original. The 2,000-square-foot space features an interior made from reclaimed wood and brick; guests can help themselves to the generous tea and coffee bar, and lounge in a reading corner stacked with motivational and inspiring books. Classes are in a similar vein to the first studio, and include a “Lunchtime Detox” or an end-of-day “Happiness” session.

Info: $23 per class. Packages available. New customers can pay $50 for 21 days of unlimited classes, plus three special workshops. 12323 Ventura Blvd.; (818) 856-8303.

If anyone could benefit from alternative healing methods such as chiropractic and massage, it would be military veterans suffering from PTSD. In early November, Los Angeles organization Heaven & Earth Oasis is hosting its annual event to raise money for free treatments such as water therapy and acupuncture for veterans struggling with anxiety and pain. Founder and president Valerie Heath said the goal of Heaven & Earth Oasis is to offer “a safe and peaceful healing space … providing free holistic and alternative recovery therapies to those traumatized by war.”

Info: 5th Annual Veterans Thrive event, Nov. 4, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Maggiano’s Little Italy in the Grove. Tickets are $175; $200 at the door; or $1,500 for a table of 10.


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Amazon Echo Plus review

In our Amazon Echo Plus review, we learn Amazon eliminates the middleman with a built-in smart-home hub and all of Alexa’s skills rolled into one speaker. Connect your smart home devices seamlessly and set up Routines quickly and easily to make life easier.

The post-Amazon Echo Plus review appeared first on Digital Trends.

As flames fade, wine country grapples with emotional scars of devastating fires

In the days since fires ravaged towns here, people have pulled together. Strangers at coffee shops share their trauma, talking of homes destroyed and loved ones lost.

Almost everyone seems to know a neighbor who knocked on a door or lifted someone into a car, and saved a life.

The phrase “The love in the air is thicker than the smoke” is on signs in shop windows, in Facebook posts and on people’s lips.

The community solidarity has buoyed people’s spirits, experts say. But when it fades, the trauma will stay.

“That’s when the cracks start to show,” said Jennifer MacLeamy, a therapist in Petaluma, which neighbors Santa Rosa, the city hardest hit by the fires. “People’s lives are still devastated.”

The wildfires that ripped through the region killed more than 40 people and displaced tens of thousands from their homes. Those who evacuated had only minutes to do so, leaving them with few, if any, possessions.

Other natural disasters, including previous wildfires in California, have left scars in the minds of survivors, studies have shown. Already, therapists in the Bay Area report hearing from patients who say they’re having trouble sleeping or feel scared when they hear heavy winds or sirens.

Health workers say North Bay residents require psychological attention to head off serious problems. Those mental health needs, however, are often neglected after disasters as communities focus on repairing the damage that can be seen.

Anxiety, flashbacks and tantrums

Talking to therapists at the Petaluma Health Center recently, a woman described her 4-year-old son as extra needy and energetic since they evacuated their home.

“I told my mom he’s a Stage 5 clinger right now,” the woman told MacLeamy, who is the center’s director of behavioral health.

Children might have separation anxiety, be unusually irritable or complain of headaches or stomachaches after traumatic events, MacLeamy said. Some might regress and begin sucking their thumbs, throwing tantrums and wetting the bed even though they had grown out of those behaviors.

MacLeamy created a Parenting Through Crisis class last week after co-workers told her they were struggling to talk to their children about the fire. She said the cashier at the grocery store started crying when MacLeamy asked how she was doing.

“People are just barely stitched together,” she said.

Julayne Smithson, 55, was working as a nurse at Kaiser Santa Rosa hospital while her mobile home burned across the street. She had purchased the home and moved to Santa Rosa just three weeks before.

Smithson and her Chihuahua, Tiki, found a place to live temporarily, but are still searching for permanent housing.

“It’s just amazing how stressful this all is. You don’t realize it, you don’t realize you’re in stress, but you’re just exhausted,” said Smithson, 55.

Anxiety, flashbacks, sleep disruptions, and hypervigilance are normal, and what therapists call an acute stress reaction. The strain may reopen old emotional wounds, or lead alcoholics to begin drinking again. Not everyone experiences these problems immediately.

“We’re really anticipating the reality of this to hit people in the next couple of weeks — the reality of what they lost,” said Maryellen Curran, who oversees behavioral health services for the Santa Rosa Community Health centers.

PTSD after natural disasters

The feelings could develop into post-traumatic stress disorder if they continue for more than a month and interfere with relationships or work, experts say.

A study of Californians evacuated from their homes during the 2003 wildfires showed that 33% were depressed and 24% were experiencing PTSD three months later. People whose property was damaged and who were injured or had a loved one injured were the most likely to be affected.

Lawrence Palinkas, USC professor of social policy and health, said people trained in mental health should be triaging survivors of the fires and referring those who are particularly stressed or not coping well into treatment.

Some experts say there’s a 30-day window after a traumatic event, a “golden month,” in which even small interventions can make a difference.

“It should be happening right now,” Palinkas said. “Simply because you’ve provided food and shelter, it doesn’t mean the job is completed.”

Sonoma County health workers have been administering psychological first aid to evacuated people for days, county health department spokesman Scott Alonso said.

“As long as those shelters are open and there’s a need, our folks will be out there,” Alonso said.

Some questioned whether the region has the capacity to provide more mental health care. The healthcare system took a major hit in the fires, with hospitals and clinics damaged and hundreds of medical professionals losing their homes.

When community solidarity fades

Even for those who didn’t lose homes or loved ones, seeing a hometown dotted with trucks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and people wearing masks can be painful. The air still smells of smoke.

Cyndi Evans, 49, couldn’t sleep through the night for days last week because the winds were changing so quickly that a new neighborhood could be at risk within minutes.

“I felt very vulnerable, very raw,” said Evans, who lives south of downtown Santa Rosa.

Evans said she’s grateful her home was spared and her family is safe. She began volunteering at a shelter last week.

“I still feel weepy for our town,” she said. “This isn’t over yet.”

Many people, some of whom are experiencing survivor’s guilt, welcomed those displaced into their homes. Shelters in the region reported having too many volunteers and donations.

The sense of unity and support that swells after a crisis is one of the best ways to ward off PTSD and depression, but it often wanes when rebuilding starts, Palinkas said.

Some groups will feel slighted because they won’t get as many resources as others, he said. Social networks also fray after disasters because loved ones have died, people scatter to find new housing, and survivors tend to withdraw because they feel isolated, he said.

“The disruption of the social fabric of the community is as much a victim of a disaster like this as the disruption of individual health and well-being,” Palinkas said.

Andrea Williams-Epting, 30, started a Facebook group to share mental health resources for people affected by the fire. She said she’s heard people in Guerneville — about 20 miles west of Santa Rosa and close to a redwood park — say they’ve become sensitive to certain triggers: the sound of the wind, helicopters, people smoking or candles.

‘Walking Dead’ actor Tom Payne talks training — for the zombie apocalypse

If the dead do rise, will you be ready?

Actor Tom Payne, who plays the role of Paul “Jesus” Rovia on AMC’s megahit “The Walking Dead,” which has its Season 8 premiere Sunday night, believes he may have a fighting chance.

Training to slay zombies for the camera has real-world application.

“If you want to survive the zombie apocalypse,” Payne said, “you need to focus on increasing your stamina.” If you’ve ever seen a show about zombies, there are lot of them, and they just keep coming.

Sure, it’s fictional, but the idea of zombie fighting can be motivating for increasing one’s fitness. Case in point: the popularity of the “Zombies, Run!” app some runners use for motivation. Payne’s motivation is: “I want to do the character justice for his fighting ability.”

Payne explained that most “Walking Dead” characters, both on the show and in the comic book it’s based on, have “scrappy fights. They brawl. It’s really messy.” But “Jesus” is different. “The character is more dynamic and thoughtful about his fighting.”

This partially relates to Payne’s smaller stature. Standing 5 feet 7, , he endeavors to be less brawler, more Bruce Lee.

“I’ve been learning some high kicking and other martial arts stuff because that’s the basis of the character,” Payne said. “I have a new appreciation for how fit martial artists are. There is so much energy being exerted when you fight.”

But one of the things focused on is conservation of energy.

“When you don’t know how to fight you tend to put all your energy into one punch. That will tire you out quickly. You learn to keep energy in reserve and use your body in an efficient manner.”

And the training was important, he said. “It’s a real cardiovascular workout doing the filming. You sweat so much.” Payne said. “I was surprised how much they have us do our own stunts. I kept waiting for the stunt double to come in, and they almost never did.”

Payne did gymnastics when he was younger and had the size and experience for the tumbling the role demands. But he didn’t have a fighting background and needed to learn.

“It was a challenge to see if I could do it. I didn’t want them using a stunt double because it looks better if you can do the fighting moves yourself.”

To learn to fight for the camera, he had to learn to actually fight.

“When learning boxing and martial arts, there wasn’t any fakery in my training. When teaching you the basics of fighting, even though it’s faked for the camera, they teach you to do it for real.”

Payne enjoys having the new skill, but also refers to it as “weird.”

“There was a moment when I felt like it was creeping into my personal life. I’m not an aggressive person in any way, but there have been situations at night with alcohol involved where people are being obnoxious and you feel more capable and it’s very strange. It gives me a different kind of confidence. Learning this skill changes you.”

Perhaps Armageddon is around the corner, and perhaps it isn’t. If the apocalypse is nigh, Payne says, “I feel a little more capable now. I might be able to survive.”


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The hottest trends in workout wear this fall

There you are, suiting up and showing up for barre or yoga class, an early-morning run, spin, or hike. And then it’s off to brunch, work, kids, dates … life.

The athleisurewear trend particularly suits Southern California, where so many of us swear by clothing that can transition from workouts to the rest of our lives.

The retail apocalypse is hitting many clothing categories and shopping centers. Sales of “active apparel” totaled just more than $45 billion in the 12 months ending June 2017, up slightly compared to the prior 12 months, according to NPD Group’s consumer tracking.

And if you need head-into-the-holidays, get-in or stay-in shape inspiration, there is evidence that what we wear really does affect us psychologically. Researchers even have term for it: “enclothed cognition.” So, yes, that new racerback sport bra and crop leggings just may help you go the extra mile.

We headed out to the Active Collective trade show at the Huntington Beach Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa to see the trends many are going to be spending money on to crisscross town. Luckily, there are still the mesh, cutouts, moto-chic and bold geometrics that we love from Onzie and Electric and Rose. Here are a few other notable trends:

Lush botanicals

Lush Botanicals ala the ENCHANTED LEGGING (Spring ’18 Collection) ($88, Noli Yoga / Noli Yoga

Sweet, floral patterns are giving way to lush botanical, even jungle, patterns as seen at brands Jala (SUP Yoga Leggings in Tropic Thunder, $82), Live Clothing (Ultimate Neon Leaf Legging, $98), Lorna Jane (Amazonia Core Ankle Biter Tights, $106.99, Wild Botanical Sports Bra, $62.99); Wear It to Heart (Rapa Nui Sports Bra, $45), Noli (Enchanted Leggings, $88) and PopActive (Banana Leaf Aurora Bra, $65, Leggings, $68).

Extended sizing

Fit-To Size: Lululemon wasn't at the Activewear trend show but their Enlite Bra is an example of the trend toward more specific sizing: ($98,
Fit-To Size: Lululemon wasn’t at the Activewear trend show but their Enlite Bra is an example of the trend toward more specific sizing: ($98, Lululemon / Lululemon

Megabrands such as Lululemon showcased and quickly sold out of extended-fit sports bras last year, and brands at Active Collection trade show continued the trend. Shock Absorber — tagline, is “Only the ball should bounce” — offers sports bras for U.K.-size C-cups up to HH (that’s apparently a size L in the U.S.) à la its Active D+ Classic Support Bra ($59.99). Shape Active offers sizes XS to 3XL, Danskin XS-3X and Beyond Yoga XXS to XXL.

Even ‘smarter’ workout clothes

Smart: Designed to get wet but not heavy to take you from yoga to windsurfing Mahiku Hawaii's Aloha Sport Leggings ($90)
Smart: Designed to get wet but not heavy to take you from yoga to windsurfing Mahiku Hawaii’s Aloha Sport Leggings ($90) Mahiku Hawaii / Mahiku Hawaii

Sweat wicking, butt lifting, thigh firming, core supporting, tired-leg relieving: These are just a few ways technology is supercharging activewear. The Intelligent Legging ($129) incorporates slimming shapewear; Koral Sway Leggings ($135) are made with compression fabric to reduce lactic buildup and increase oxygen; Mahiku Hawaii’s Aloha Sport ($90) leggings are designed to get wet but not heavy to take you from yoga to windsurfing. Varley highlights sweat-wicking, antimicrobial materials (Runyan Black Bra $65), and HPE’s antimicrobial silver technology helps prevent bacterial buildup (High-Waist Seamless Leggings, $135, Moon White and Keep Me Close Bra, $85).

Environmentally friendly

Eco-conscious activewear: Inspire Active Wear (Wing Long Leggings $84)
Eco-conscious activewear: Inspire Active Wear (Wing Long Leggings $84) Inspire Active Wear

Eco-conscious activewear — made from, for example, recycled plastic bottles and recycled wool, or prioritizing sustainability — can be found at Lolë (Olivie pant, $90, and Travis Top, $75); Prana (Boost Bra, $59); RE3 (Dreamcatcher Hot Shorts, $49); Teeki (Great Star Nation Hot Pant, $72, and Tank, $32); and Inspire Active Wear (Wing Long Leggings, $84).


Insprational activewear: For Better Not Worse (DREAMER DOER T-Shirt, $44)
Insprational activewear: For Better Not Worse (DREAMER DOER T-Shirt, $44) For Better Not Worse / For Better Not Worse

As a popular running coach says: “You are strong! You are beautiful! You are brave! You are smart! That hill is tough — you are tougher!” You can get inspired with For Better Not Worse (Dreamer Doer T-Shirt, $44); GoodHYuoman (Everyday Grateful Pullover, $68); Sub_Urban Riot (Good Vibes Tee, $44). Channel your inner warrior with NUYU’s “Warrior Princess” Muscle Tank, $55.

Flashy and glamorous

Wear It To Heart (Disco 54 Tank, Disco Candy Bralette)
Wear It To Heart (Disco 54 Tank, Disco Candy Bralette) Wear It To Heart

Because some days you just need to be extra-extra not ordinary: Hollie Watman (Gray Foil Halter Top, $130); Wear It to Heart (Disco 54 tank, $54, Disco Candy Bralette, $49, and Ophelia / Sapphire Disco Track Reversible Bomber Jacket, $140); Lukka Lux Black Stained Glass Renegade Jacket, $98, Metroid Legging ($88).