7 Local Health Hotspots
In no particular order, these are 7 of my go-to health spots for exercise, nutrition and over all TLC. Since I currently live in New Orleans, these are all local spots for me, but I if you’re not a NOLA resident, get creative and see how you can take these ideas and apply them to wherever in the world you find yourself!
Of course this is a favorite for me because this is where I train and workout myself, but I worked out here for over a year before I started working there as a trainer! I could go on and on about why Anytime has a place in the health spot of my heart, but I’ll keep it short: Community, Availability/Access, Atmosphere.
I never thought having “gym friends” would make a difference in my workouts, but a silent smile and wave from a friend on the treadmill as I walk in the door makes me instantly more excited to workout.
With consistency comes community, and I LOVE this about Anytime.
As the name suggests, it’s also open anytime, and not only that, but after 30 days of membership, you get access to all of the other Anytime Fitness locations IN THE WORLD! So you can literally workout anytime.
I didn’t always know what I was doing in the gym (and I still don’t know everything!) and "Gym-timidation” is cited as one of the main reasons people are hesitant to get their butts in the gym. I never felt out of place, stupid, judged or like the weak-little-new-girl. The atmosphere at every location I’ve been to is 100% welcoming and judgement-free!
Another gym I frequent and now coach at (Woo!! x1,000), this place is literally like no other. It’s hard to describe because of it’s individuality, yet as unique as it is, I felt like I’d known these people and worked out with them 100 times on my first night there.
Kristin, the owner/head coach and my now friend, has created a LEGIT program that even made me, someone who does not enjoy exercise classes, a fan of group fitness. Her classes are structured so that you’re never wondering what you’re doing, but they're also designed such that each person is going at their own pace with their own weights. You also feel like a total B-A because Kristin doesn’t back down from big-man moves and lifts.
You leave every class feeling accomplished, empowered, included and, of course, exhausted. I don’t know how she managed to combine fitness with socializing and strength, but she did, and her program is a must-try if you’re in the area.
Honestly, this place intimidated me initially because I know next-to-nothing about juicing and all of these “super foods” and seeds and powders that are all the rage right now, but I was given a gift card and won’t turn down a “free” snack, so voila.
I found myself in Raw Republic for the first time totally clueless: “What’s matcha? What does turmeric taste like? You put what in that green thing?!” Luckily, there are tasting cups to help you get a feel for what you like, and surprisingly, a couple of the initially-shocking green juices are my favorites!
They do a great job of labeling and listing out every ingredient, and they have foods, too, if you’re looking for more than just a drink. BUT— my very favorite addiction at Raw Republic is this pop-tart looking fig sandwich that has totally stolen my heart (technical name: Strawberry Fig Bar.) If you walk out without one of these babes, you’re living in ignorant regret and I feel sorry for you.
As far as healthy restaurants go, Sweg’s seems to have it pretty much figured out in my opinion. Their food is delicious and actually healthy, unlike some spots that have us tricked into thinking they’re healthy (however, it’s still possible to order something somewhat unhealthy and turn your clean-eating attempt into more of a “cheat meal” than you think, so be careful!)
I’ve gotten their pesto chicken with veggies and thought the portion sizes were perfect, and I actually enjoyed sitting in the restaurant and eating alone rather than taking it to-go, so I give Swegg’s an A+ for atmosphere and experience. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking for a quick healthy meal that isn’t necessarily “fast food.”
I’m obsessed with any place that you can customize your meal without being annoying (Subway, Chipotle, Poke Loa, etc.) because a) I’m picky and b) I’m usually trying to be pretty healthy, which often means asking for “no ____” or “light ____” when you go out to eat. So when I stumbled upon City Greens, a salad shop that has way more than salad, I was like, “Ok yes, this is me.”
Not much to say here besides I’ve always had excellent service, fresh ingredients and they have non-typical toppings and add-ins with a super efficient system of preparation. My *only* hesitation to going every single day is the price. Good ingredients are expensive, yo.
This isn’t a restaurant. I’m literally talking about any public library. Yes, this made my “health hotspot” list because HEALTH AIN’T JUST YA BODIES, Y’ALL. It’s your mind, too. (I’d argue it’s MOSTLY your mind, actually.)
I got a library card about a month ago because it somehow only just occurred to me that you can get books for free rather than pay $20+ to read them once and let them gather dust on the shelf. (Although there are certainly a few books I insist on buying rather than borrowing.) I walked into the library planning to get a couple books and come home.
I spent over an hour in total bliss, and I am not exaggerating.
I felt like I was hypnotized. I was so stress-free. I must have picked up 30 books and read a paragraph or back cover of each before I made my decisions. It was like transporting into 30 different small worlds, all while being less than a mile from my house. It was so soothingly quiet. I felt like I was floating between the shelves, and being around other people also being quiet and reading, studying, typing, etc. made for a meditative environment.
If you’re looking for a good mental health hack, 10/10 would recommend the library.
7. City Park & Audubon Park
These obviously had to make the list because, besides number 6, these are the best free forms of exercise (mental and physical) available to EVERYONE in New Orleans. Walk, bike, run, roller blade, walk-run, WHATEVER— but get outside and experience these parks.
Both have wonderfully paved trails and paths, and you know I’m all about being around like-minded people to encourage exercise, so seeing dozens of other people walking and biking and running while you’re out is just so motivating. City Park is much more expansive in terms of trails, but Audubon is great because you have the option of 1 quick loop or doubling it up for more. It depends on what type of workout you’re trying to do.
I like to jog the trails and geek out over the old trees, or do a combination of running/walking and exercises in between.