Breaking the Norm

breaking the norm

It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

So why do so many of us get caught in traps and ruts—at work, at home, in our social lives, and especially when it comes to healthy behaviors? The answer is fairly simple: We do what’s comfortable and what’s expected.

But life is short. In order to see a change, you have to make a change.

This month, we at the Saint Paul Athletic Club are challenging you to break out of the norm. Say “so long” to the ruts you’re in.

Not happy with your social life? Put yourself in situations that cater to meeting new people, especially those with similar interests. (Psst—the SPAC and our sister property, the University Club of Saint Paul, have a packed calendar of social programming, including clubs, meet-ups, happy hours, dinners, holiday events, and more.)

Wish you could learn a new skill or find a new hobby? Take a class. Go hear a speaker. Join a club on the topic.

Want to expand your business prospects? Meet people. Shake hands. We increasingly live behind screens in this day and age, but progressing in business is still all about who you know—so get yourself in front of the right people.

Interested in finally achieving those wellness goals? Make it as easy, painless, and—dare we say it—pleasant—as possible. Real wellness is not about deprivation, restriction, or self-punishment (and don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you it is). Find a way to move your body that you enjoy and look forward to. (We promise, it’s out there.) Choose fresh, seasonal foods that make you look forward to them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance.

Another thing about wellness: It’s not just about your body. Authentic wellness is about nourishing your physical health as well as your social, emotional, and intellectual health. If one or more areas are lacking, it can feel unbalanced and frustrating and limiting—even if you do have a lot of good things in your life. Choose balance. Choose authentic wellness. Make a change.

Take a Break

Take a break

What if you’ve found yourself at the end of summer feeling more burned out than refreshed? Summer is supposed to be the most relaxing time of the year, and yet so many of us find ourselves overtaxed and overscheduled. There is so much pressure to capture the essence of the season and unwind—especially when our social media feeds are full of people sipping Piña coladas on a beach. That pressure only compounds the guilt and stress if we, instead, find ourselves racing from one obligation to another.

The solution?

Seek out opportunities for breaks in a way that fits with your life and your responsibilities. Shed the expectations of an Instagram-worthy summer and carve out moments of rest and bliss throughout the year. Perhaps that means stealing away from work in the middle of the day for a yoga class. Maybe it’s scheduling a weekly happy hour date with a friend (or a rotating cast of friends). Maybe it’s giving yourself twenty minutes with a great novel and a strong cup of coffee to kick off your day instead of instantly diving into emails.

The research can’t be more clear: Breaks are critical to health, both mental and physical. When we don’t take a break from our workout routine (or at least mix it up with something gentler or different once in a while), our muscles adapt and we stop making progress. We also make ourselves susceptible to injury and burnout. The same concept applies to the rest of our lives. What areas of your life are susceptible to burnout and stalled progress? How can you mix things up and incorporate more breaks? One week on the beach is great, but infusing a bit of “vacation mode” into every day is even better.

You deserve it.

The Real Meaning of Labor Day

Labor Day

For many of us, Labor Day signifies the close of summer. Sure, the season technically extends for a couple more weeks on the calendar, but Labor Day is when many of us close up the cabins, prepare to head back to school, and start drinking pumpkin spice lattes.

And yet, Labor Day wasn’t originally intended to signal a shift in the seasons, nor did it have anything to do with pumpkin spiced anything. Instead, Labor Day originated as part of the labor movement, as a day to honor and celebrate the workers who kept the economy moving forward. During the 19th century, workers—particularly those in the manufacturing trades—worked tirelessly, routinely putting in 80- or 100-hour work weeks. Workers began to fight back against these expectations, forming unions and organizing together to create leverage. (An interesting note: many business and government were reportedly very much in favor of reducing the number of hours in a typical workweek because when people work 18-hour days, they don’t have time to funnel money back into the economy via leisure pursuits.)

The exact origins of Labor Day, and whom should be credited with the holiday, is up for debate. However, we know that it Labor Day parades started in the 1880s and the first Monday in September became an official federal holiday in 1894.

Many of us mark the day with a barbecue or a final trip to the lake, but it’s important to note that not everyone has the day off. As a federal holiday, it’s observed by government offices, but there are still plenty of people who spend the day working. (Think: police, fire, medical professionals, servers…) If you encounter someone on the job today (or any holiday, or—heck—any day), honor their service and thank them for doing what they do. Let’s spread a little more positivity throughout the world!

Get with the (group fitness) program!

Group Fitness

Group fitness could be the magic you’ve been waiting for. Here are just a few reasons to check it out:

  • Mix up your routine to combat boredom
  • Break through a plateau by challenging your muscles in new ways
  • Eliminate the temptation for interruptions (no email breaks—it can wait!)
  • Meet people and maybe even make some friends
  • Feed off the energy of a community working together
  • Hold yourself accountable
  • Discover a new passion
  • Receive guidance from an expert instructor who can help you reach your goals and reduce the risk of injuries
  • Do away with procrastination—class starts when it starts!

We could keep going and going. When it comes to group fitness, there’s something for everyone. Some studios are limited to a specific type of group fitness, so you’re always doing the same type of workout. At the Saint Paul Athletic Club, we want you to try everything. Find something you love (or keep mixing it up).

Here’s a snapshot of our current offerings:

  • Barbell Strength
  • Strength Circuit
  • Cycle
  • Cycle & Core Conditioning
  •  Gentle Yoga
  • Vinyasa Yoga
  • Total Body Fitness
  • Water X Mix
  • Run Club
  • Outdoor Program

Ready for the ultimate total body experience? Try Fusion by SPAC, a signature workout based in hard-core science to help people of all fitness levels achieve a level they never thought possible.

Even if you love planning your own workouts and are excellent at holding yourself accountable, it’s nice to change things up and let a group fitness instructor handle the prep work, guidance, and motivation for you. When we do the heavy lifting, you can save your energy to do the…um…heavy lifting. (Or light lifting. Or gentle stretching. Or heart-pounding cardio. Or whatever makes you happy!)

To check out our current group fitness schedule Click Here

"Spring" & Earth Day

For those of us who call Minnesota home, this winter is one for the books.

Spring and Earth Day

After a serious lack of snow for most of the season, winter decided to show up in full force at the last minute, dragging things out unnecessarily and forcing many of us to hold on to our winter wardrobes (and, ahem, perhaps a few extra winter pounds) longer than we’d hoped.

In many parts of the country, Earth Day is the epitome of a spring event. People show up for tree plantings amid abundant greenery, sporting t-shirts and tan lines.

We might be in parkas.

But that’s okay. We Minnesotans are a hardy bunch. And we’re accustomed to getting our physical activity and socialization done indoors. (It’s easier when you have a space as beautiful as the Saint Paul Athletic Club.)

We’ll celebrate Earth Day regardless of the weather. This annual event hits especially close to home for those of us at Commonwealth Properties (the company that owns the Saint Paul Athletic Club and its sister properties). In an age when it seems as though everyone is tearing down buildings and starting over again, we’re known for rescuing and repurposing existing, historic properties. The Saint Paul Athletic Club is an extraordinary example of our commitment to restoration and renovation. It’s an inherently “green” approach, and we were doing it long before “green” was trendy. (We took over the historic Dacotah Building and opened W.A. Frost more than four decades ago.)

So, we don’t need sunshine and tan lines to feel ready for Earth Day. We embrace it all year ‘round. (And, by supporting our organizations, so do you!)


The Real Beach Prep

The Real Beach Prep

Don’t worry—this isn’t one of those typical “Beach Prep” posts you’ll see floating around this spring.

You know the ones. You’ve seen them all over your social media. These posts tap into a sense of urgency and guilt, trying to shame you into unrealistic diets and crazy workout schedules that’ll leave you depleted and hangry* rather than relaxed and ready for the beach.

The truth: There’s no such thing as a “beach-ready body.” If your body is at the beach, it’s a beach body. Full stop.

We don’t believe in crash diets. We don’t believe in unsustainable workout plans. We believe in balance, in nourishing your whole self, and in all-encompassing wellness.

We’re not worried about your beach body for spring break. We’re more concerned with you finding a lifestyle that helps you be the best version of yourself for the long term—long after the tan lines wear off.

That means something different for everyone—and that’s part of the beauty of what we do.


What’s the right recipe for you?

Perhaps you could use a little more Zen in your life via a new or reinvigorated yoga practice.
Maybe you really need some self-care through a massage.
Or some guidance with smart nutrition choices to fuel your days.
You might be a serious athlete who’s looking to up your game and hit some new PRs.
Maybe you want to improve mobility and balance.
You could be looking to develop a new sense of community or learn something new.
Perhaps you just need more time to connect with friends over a cup of coffee or a really good cocktail (or two).


We have nothing against muscles. We develop a whole lot of them here. But that’s just part of the equation. What good is a ripped bicep without a whole heart, a peaceful mind, and a strong sense of belonging?

Ignore the beach body posts. Release the guilt. Release the shame. Come as you are, and let us help you build a better life.

*That’s not a typo. Hangry, in case you haven’t heard of it, is a combination of hungry and angry. Oh, it’s real.

Get Lucky!

Get lucky 2018.png

This Saint Patrick’s Day, the Saint Paul Athletic Club is participating in the Get Lucky race. It’s part of the Monster Race Series and takes place on (when else?) Saturday, March 17th. Our team name is SPAC Attack and we’d love to have you join us as either a participant or a spectator. Get inspired and get lucky!

Speaking of luck, the Saint Patrick’s Day season has us thinking about luck. Some people don’t believe in luck at all. Some people believe wholeheartedly in it. What about thinking of luck like this:

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Let that sink in for a moment.

This approach doesn’t deny the presence of luck, but it means that you’re responsible for creating an environment that brings luck into your life. There are no shortcuts. There are no excuses. In order to see results, you have to put in effort on the things that matter to you.

You might say that you want to lead a healthier lifestyle, but do your efforts reflect that desire? Are you simply hoping for a break? Hoping for change? Or are you acting in a way that makes the good stuff possible?

How about bringing more luck into your life? We’d love to help you start with the hard work.

Why You should Try Yoga

February Why you should try yoga blog

Yoga is an ancient tradition that has been in practice for more than 5,000 years. (How’s that for tried and true?) After expanding to the western world, yoga was something of a “fringe” pursuit for a long time, but it is now more popular than ever.

So why haven’t you tried it?

Too hard?
Too easy?
Too feminine?
You’re not flexible?
You don’t want to chant?
Don’t have the right clothes?

We see your excuses. And we’re here to shut them down.

Yoga is for everyone—young, old, people with advanced fitness levels and total beginners. Yoga has a slew of benefits including strength, flexibility, mobility, muscle tone, metabolic balance, cardiovascular and respiratory health, improved performance in sports, reduced injury risk, and weight control. Plus, many people find yoga to be extremely beneficial for their mental and emotional health.


You don’t need to be flexible. You can wear whatever is comfortable for you. Yoga is increasingly practiced by athletes—including, notably, football players—to protect against injury and increase mobility. It’s a phenomenal addition to any sports or fitness regimen. And yet, yoga is also a great place to start for beginners and people with limited mobility. A good instructor can help you modify moves and even work around injuries. And while yoga does have spiritual roots and continues to have spiritual connotations to many, your yoga practice can be whatever you want it to be—no chanting required.

We’d love to see you escape from the end-of-winter doldrums in a yoga class this spring. What do you have to lose? Go ahead—stretch yourself.

The Best Valentine

The Best Valentine

‘Tis the season for love. February typically celebrates romantic relationships. Sweethearts focus on what they can do to spoil each other, but we’d like to propose another approach. What if you focus on spoiling yourself?

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a relationship or not—you can still make yourself a priority this month.

So what do we mean by “spoiling” yourself?

We aren’t talking about chocolate and candy. In fact, we’re talking about quite the opposite. This February, focus on how you can treat yourself the way you deserve.

Here are a few ideas:


Treat yourself to a session with a personal trainer or try a group fitness class.

We know, we know—for many people, the idea of a workout is about as far away from “spoiling” yourself as possible. But let’s reframe it. When you find the right workout—one that works for your body and your life—it can transform you on a physical, mental, and emotional level.

Finding the right one can be intimidating. Drop in to a few group fitness classes to narrow down what feels right. (Psst—exercise can actually be fun. Trust us!) You can also meet with a personal trainer if you’re feeling lost in the gym. A good trainer can help you set personal goals and develop a workout aimed directly at achieving those goals. They can also help you understand gym equipment so you make the best use of your time and minimize injury risk.

More energy, a longer life, improved health, and some great muscles? Sounds like spoiling to us.


Indulge in a massage.

Don’t wait for someone else to buy it for you. A massage is for you, and you deserve it. It’s not just about relaxation; massage has proven therapeutic benefits. Better yet—start a workout plan and schedule a massage (or a regular series of massages) as a reward to keep you motivated.


Expand your horizons.

Why is it so easy to meet people and learn new things when we are in school, but as soon as we leave, we switch on autopilot mode? Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop meeting new people. Don’t stop expanding your horizons. Ideas: attend a networking event. Join a club related to a personal interest. Learn a new language. The world is out there—go get it!

This February, show yourself some love. The results will be sweet.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of New Year’s Resolutions

Resolutions: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Ah, the New Year’s Resolution. It’s so earnest. So optimistic.

So likely to fail.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, more than 40% of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions, but fewer than 10% report feeling success in achieving their resolutions. More than one-quarter of resolutions are abandoned within the first week, and nearly half are discarded after one month.

And while age might come with wisdom, it (statistically speaking) doesn’t appear to come with willpower. People over age 50 are significantly less likely to achieve a New Year’s resolution compared with people in their twenties.

The most common New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier and/or lose weight. Getting more exercise, general self-improvement, quitting smoking, and spending more time with friends/family are also common themes.

If so few people follow through on resolutions, why should anyone bother making them?

The answer: In spite of the depressing statistics on achievement and follow-through, there’s one more statistic from this data set that stands out, big time:

People who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who didn’t explicitly make resolutions.


So you might have set a resolution and neglected to follow through, but if you’re not making a resolution at all, it’s a pretty safe bet that nothing positive is going to change.

The lesson here: Whether you want to classify it as a “resolution” or a “goal,” and whether or not you want to associate it with January 1st, having a clear picture of want you want to achieve is critical.

And yet, clearly, setting a goal isn’t a golden ticket to success.

How do we start out with such positive intentions and yet fail to follow through, year after year?

And what can we do differently?

We’ll talk about that next time. Stay tuned.

(Psst—you don’t need to wait for the next blog post to talk about setting and achieving goals. The staff at the Saint Paul Athletic Club and University Club of Saint Paul are ready to talk to you any time.)