Mom to Iris. Wife to Todd. Our little family lives at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We love it here and I love sharing little bits of our life.

© 2014 sarahfortune.


Articles written by: Sarah

A Beginner’s Guide to Jazzercise

Some of my most popular blog posts have been the ones about my journey with Jazzercise, and some of my most commonly asked questions from friends and folks online is about Jazzercise. Since I was a beginner myself not that long ago, I thought I would answer some of the questions I’ve gotten, as well as some that I had when I first began:

What do I wear?
Sorry to disappoint, but the neon leotards and spandex left with the 1980s. For your first Jazzerise class wear whatever you are comfortable in, but remember you’ll be jumping and moving around, so you’ll want something that gives you flexibility and support. Personally, I wear cropped leggings (even in the winter because you truly work up a sweat), sports bra, tank top, and sneakers. You’ll see a wide-range of outfits though. Some people are head-to-toe is cute workout gear, while others keep it ultra-cas in a t-shirt and shorts.

What do I bring?
Just water and yourself! Some people bring their own mats and weights, or even a towel or extra cushion to put down on the mats that are provided. At my center, there are almost always enough mats and a range of weights to choose from. While you use weights in every class, mats aren’t always needed. You’ll occasionally use exercise balls and resistance bands, but those are provided as well (and no prior experience is needed).

Okay, so there are weights. What do I start with?
If you are already familiar exercising with weights, then you probably know what’s best. But if you are a newbie like I was, I started with 3-pound weights and then after about a week went up to 5-pounders. Currently I go between 5 and 6-pound weights depending on the class.

So there are different types of classes?
Yes! That’s what helps keeps it fun and what helps keep it a well-rounded workout. Each class format is a different mix of songs/workouts, with some being more focused on cardio (Dance Mixx) while others are more focused on strength (Strength 60). You can read more about the different class types here. And you can always find out what classes are happening and when via the Jazzercise app or by searching for your center on their website. For example, here’s my center’s schedule!

Is it really a good workout?
As with any exercise, you’ll only get out as much as you put in. Overall though, people (like myself) are surprised to find out how much of a challenge each class can be. The classes are typically an hour long and are a good “one-stop-shop” for your daily exercise.

I can’t dance. Does that matter?
Anyone can Jazzercise. I don’t consider myself a dancer in the least, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun trying. Plus, one of the many things I love about Jazzercise is that it’s helped with my coordination overall. You’ll learn that each routine is choreographed to work specifically with each song, so you can feel (and hear) when you’re about to change movements. And if you count in eights, it will be easier to stay on track. None of that truly matters though – The environment is made to make you feel comfortable so that you can just do your thing and make it your own workout. It’s a no-judgement zone.

Do they still dance to 80s music?
While I think a throw-back class would be awesome, Jazzercise definitely keeps it fresh with what’s popular on the radio (my fave routines are the ones to Bruno Mars). That means we get to learn new routines pretty often, so even if you are brand new to Jazzercise, it’s likely that the veteran next to you is learning something for the first time too.

I have an old injury. Can I still try it?
Absolutely! While there is a lot of hopping and lunging that can be tough on the knees, instructors give low-impact options for each workout.

How many calories do you burn?
I wear an Apple Watch and I find that I burn approximately 450 – 550 calories per class. I discovered this blog, which has some good insight into the amount of calories burned for each class format.

How do I get started and how does it all work?
Once you sign-up (you can pay per class or join for 3, 6, or 12 months), they print you out a little card with your name on it. Before each class, you pull your card so that they can scan it. This helps keep track of how many classes you attend in a year. They usually announce during class when you hit a milestone, such as 25, 50, 75 or 100 classes. And with the new app, I think we’re going to see a transition to scanning your phone instead of the card, so that’s exciting! Jazzercise also announces great deals a few times throughout the year, so be on the lookout for a joining special – that’s how I got hooked.

Any questions I missed? Feel free to ask or share your insight below! The Jazzercise community is a warm and welcoming one, so if you are curious the best thing to do is just give it a shot and keep in mind it usually takes at least a few classes for it to “click.” You can read my previous posts here and here.

PS – This is not a sponsored post. I’ve just enjoyed sharing my Jazzer-journey!

Come See Me Speak at PRSA NWA!

Well, isn’t this cool? I’ve been asked to speak at the Public Relations Society of America – Northwest Arkansas chapter (PRSA NWA) meeting this month. As a former public relations student at the University of Arkansas, I admit it is kind of awesome to see things come full circle and be invited to share my experience in the social media world. You don’t have to be a member to attend, but either way – there’s lunch, so I consider that a win no matter how good of a job I actually do. Find out more and buy a ticket here!

#VeggieSwap with Green Giant!

As with many 5-year-olds, dinner time is a struggle in our house. Getting Iris to eat her vegetables (or any part of her meal at all) takes so much effort. I actually enjoy cooking dinner every night, but I find that when it’s finally time to sit down and enjoy dinner as a family, the work has just begun. Whether it’s telling Iris to eat something other than her bread or to eat “just three more bites,” we’re constantly having to make sure she’s getting her nutrients. Things changed a little bit this weekend though.

Green Giant has launched a new line of frozen veggies, including Riced Cauliflower & Sweet Potatoes, which is 100% made with vegetables. And not only is it gluten free, but it has 70% fewer calories than rice! I also love that it comes without any sauce or seasoning, so you can prepare then just the way you like.

Finding the new Green Giant veggie options next to the other frozen vegetables at my local Walmart, I grabbed the Riced Cauliflower and Sweet Potato mix to give it a try. After throwing a couple chicken breasts in the oven, I steamed the riced cauliflower and sweet potatoes in the microwave. So instead of serving the baked chicken with the standard rice, I was able to sneak in some (yummy!) veggies – and in no time at all.

To say Iris loved it is an understatement. I think the natural sweetness of the sweet potato made her an instant fan. I paired it with another new Green Giant product, Broccoli and Cheese Veggie Tots so she got a double whammy of easy, kid-friendly veggies. The end result? Iris had a “happy plate” not even realizing that she ate all of her vegetables. As a busy mom that wants to make sure my kid eats – and eats well – these will no doubt be staples in my freezer from here on out.

This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are my own.

Mom-Work Life

I know I share a lot about my mom-life, but I often don’t dive into my work-world. So if you don’t know, in addition to being Iris’ mom and blogging when I can, I do work full-time. I’ve actually been working a job (or jobs) of some sort since I was legally able. At the age of 15 I started out as a dishwasher at my local health food store, eventually spending much of my late-teens and early 20s working as a barista in a coffeeshop. At one point, when I was living in the Washington D.C. area, I held three jobs at once – a clothing store in Georgetown, a little lunch spot near the White House during the week, and at an after-school program/nursery at a church – all while going to school (and it’s from all of this experience that I am a devout believer that everyone should work retail and/or food service at some point in their life).

So while I spend every Monday through Friday at the office, I do realize I rarely share that side of my life – which is a pretty big chunk. Frankly, that’s kind of by design. Not only is what I do on a day-to-day basis probably boring to most folks (re: lots of paperwork and emails), but what I do for a living isn’t easily explained and most people respond in one of two ways:

“Oh…” with a confused look, then changes the subject quickly.

(insert one million questions)

I actually prefer the latter response because I love and feel strongly about what I do, so I enjoy telling people about it. Though I certainly understand the subject in general isn’t always the top item on people’s dinner party topic lists. So, on to fun stuff…

Where in the world do you work?
To completely oversimplify it, I work for a non-profit organization and manage the national licensure exam for funeral service. That’s as deep as I’ll go on here (I don’t want to bore you with the details), but if you ever see me out and are curious, I’d be happy to tell you more. I’ve been there in total for almost nine years and am very fortunate to not only love what I do, but the people that I work with as well.

How did you get into THAT?
I had just graduated from The University of Arkansas and was finishing up an internship at the Walton Arts Center, when I saw a classified ad for a “Public Relations Coordinator” position. There was no mention of funeral service, but a quick Google search of the phone number led me to the organization’s website… where I was equally confused and intrigued. Fast forward many years and I’m now in a different role, but still with the same organization. While what I do is rather complex, my day-to-day work is strictly administrative, so a background in funeral service isn’t necessary. That’s what we have the amazing volunteer experts for.

So what did you go to school for?
I graduated from the journalism department, with a concentration in advertising and public relations. That’s what led me to apply for job, thanks to the title!

How often do you travel for work?
It varies, but usually around four or five trips per year. I’ve gotten to go to some pretty awesome places, but unless I extend my stay I don’t get too much opportunity to explore. Besides our annual convention, I facilitate various committee meetings which are held in different locations across the country.

How do you balance work, being a mom, and running a blog?
I’m constantly pulled in different directions – dashing from one obligation to the next, but isn’t that what being a mom is all about? I’ve been known to take a vacation day just to get the laundry done, but thankfully Todd and I make a pretty good team. Now that Iris is a little older, I feel better about leaving her for my work trips or at preschool during the week, or even when I take a little time to myself on the weekends to work on my blog. I’ve learned that I need that creative outlet to balance out the business side of my brain, and I like that Iris gets to see what hard work looks like. At the end of the day I’m proud of the different hats I wear, even if they get a little heavy at times.

Overall, I’ve learned a lot about a field that I knew not that much about. Such as that it’s full of amazing people that are humbly serving people in their toughest times and I am lucky enough to get to work alongside some of the best in the profession. At the end of the day, I’m proud be a part of an organization that is always trying to do the right thing for the sake of public protection. So there ya have it… Probably with more questions than answers. And I’m off to put Iris in the bath because – my mom hat has once again taken priority.

March Adventures

I’m fresh off the heels of one of the busiest weeks of my job – our annual meeting. After lots of preparation, we jetted off to the beaches Hilton Head, South Carolina. While it sounds lovely (and it was), we were too swamped making sure the meeting was going as planned to truly enjoy our setting. I did manage to survive giving two presentations, one of which was an hour long of just me and a PowerPoint up at a podium. I made it back that Friday evening, just in time to keep my bags packed and hit the road bright and early Saturday to Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was my mom’s 65th birthday and she suggested an afternoon betting on the ponies at Oaklawn. Who was I to turn that down?! As exhausted as I was, it was well worth the quick trip. I even won on every race I bet on, except for one – but during that race I found 20 bucks on the ground.

After another week in the office, we were off again on another adventure the very next weekend. Our neighbors rented the sweetest, coziest little cabin in Jasper, Arkansas for the weekend and invited us along. Less than two hours from our house, it was an easy trip that forced me into a bit of needed relaxation. We even got our first (and hopefully last) snow of the season.

Now that we’re back from that little getaway, our schedule is settling down and I don’t think I’m traveling again until next month. We of course already have our annual Rosemary Beach trip booked, so I’ve already begun counting down the days. In case you’re wondering, it’s 67 days away – but not soon enough.