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Craft Beer Week is Brewing in Athens, GA

Originally posted on visitathensga.com

Monday, March 27, 2017 12:00 PM by Valerie Cook

If there’s anything Athenians know, it’s good craft beer! Athens, GA is packed with local breweries that have mastered the art of craft beer. Stop into a brewery to try some of the local beers that shape the taste of Athens.

Craft Beer Week is brewing in Athens! Scheduled for April 3-9 2017, Craft Beer Weekis topped off with the Classic City Brew Fest at the Graduate Athens on Sunday, April 9. We can’t wait to celebrate Athens craft beer and local breweries! Check out our list of some of the favorite craft beers at local Athens breweries.

Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts Tasting Room

Housed in a historic 1940s warehouse, Creature Comforts was awarded “Outstanding Rehabilitation” by the Athens Heritage Foundation. The tasting area is nestled around the tanks where the beer is brewed, creating a warm atmosphere that lives up to the name “comforts.” Creature Comforts has a rotating tap along with their signature beers. Creature Comforts announced in January 2017 that they will be expanding to a second location, the historic Southern Mill Complex located on North Chase Street. The second location will be primarily focused on production and is expected to be open by October 2017.

Our Picks:

Topicália is arguably their most well-known beer, an IPA with a juicy twist for a light, refreshing taste. Athena is another local favorite—a Berliner Weisse with a tart taste and hints of cider and sauvignon blanc. This is perfect choice for the sour beer-lovers.

Terrapin Beer Co.

Terrpain

Terrapin opened its doors in 2007 after their first creation, the Rye Pale Ale, won the American Pale Ale Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2002. Since then, Terrapin has became a hotspot for craft beer in Athens, offering a selection of creative beers.

Our Picks:

The Hopsecutioner is a crowd-pleaser, an IPA with hints of pine and citrus flavors. If you’re feeling adventurous, spring for Liquid Bliss—a chocolate peanut butter porter that will surely put you in a blissful state.

Southern Brewing Company

Southern Brewing Company Beers

As Athens’ youngest brewery, Southern Brewing Company has made a name for itself with its wild yeast program. They collaborate with the University of Georgia and the Georgia Genomics Facility at UGA to isolate wild yeast strains. Southern Brewing Company is the only brewery in Georgia that collects and cultivates local yeast.

Our Picks:

Their Wild Azalea Saison contains a yeast strain caught off a wild azalea on the property of Southern Brewing Company prior to the land being cleared for the building of the brewery. This beer has a complex taste of orange, clove, banana finished with a peppery bite. Another one of the wild yeast beers, Cherokee Rose has hints of banana pudding and vanilla for a smooth, easy drinking taste.

Copper Creek Brewing Co.

Copper Creek Brewing

While Copper Creek Brewing Co. is a brew pub rather than a full brewery, it is certainly worth noting. The idea behind Copper Creek is that everyone deserves fresh beer! They prepare and ferment their ingredients on site for a selection of 39 styles of beer in rotation throughout the year.

Our Picks:

Girl Scout Cookie is a cream stout and a local favorite, brewed with fresh mint and has a distinct chocolate flavor for that classic girl scout cookie taste. For a dryer beer, try the Belgian Red saison-style beer with sweetish-tart malt and notes of raspberry and cranberry.

Prepare for Craft Brew Week and Classic City Brew Fest by exploring the many breweries in Athens! Check out our Spring EventsCraft Beers, and Bands and Brews for more Athens’ happenings.

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Athens’ Own: Owen Ogltree

Athens’ Own: Owen Ogletree

Originally posted on visitathensga.com

Monday, April 3, 2017 12:00 AM by Valerie Cook

A well-established writer, world traveler, national beer judge and craft beer enthusiast, Owen Ogletree has made a name for himself in the beer community of the southeast. Check out his story and why he thinks Athens, GA is the perfect craft beer town.

Meet Owen

Owen Ogletree

Owen’s beer journey began back in the early 80s at a barbecue joint in Atlanta. He had his very first beer that he still remembers today—a light beer with little flavor, but nonetheless refreshing. The appeal of beer for Owen was that it doesn’t have that sweetness of soda; the dryness and drinkability of beer makes for a more refreshing taste.

In Walton County Ga, Owen taught high school AP biology. During summers, he would travel throughout Europe, spending time in local pubs along the way. This sparked his curiosity as to what makes beers different all over the world. About ten years after his first beer, in the mid 90s, Owen began researching, reading and writing about craft beer. He first wrote for a southern beer newspaper, before becoming a writer for Southern Brew News, spreading the word about great craft beers in the southeast.

Brewtopia

As founder and editor of Brewtopia.Info, Owen is able to share his knowledge and the current happenings in the world of craft beer. On Brewtopia.Info, you can find everything from Brewletters to Owen’s blind beer evaluations, and even sign up for a beer excursion! Owen takes groups on Brewtopia beer excursions to discover and experience beer from around the world. He has so far taken groups to more than 50 locations across Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and many more. In February, he took 32 brewers, pub owners, beer writers and craft beer enthusiasts to Ireland. They experienced firsthand small Irish craft breweries that were just getting started and were able to spread the gospel of craft beer across Ireland. In past trips to Ireland, it was all about lagers and Guinness, “Now things are really changing, people in Ireland are picking up a desire and appreciation for more flavorful beer styles,” says Owen.

Owen loves craft beers for their diversity and complexity, which varies around the world. It’s hard to chose just one favorite stop in the beer tours that he’s taken—each place brings a new aspect to craft beers. He noted that craft beer in Belgium is one of his favorites, for the “intensity, uniqueness, and wine-like character of many of the beers there.” He’s also a fan of cask ale in England pubs for its elegance and sociability. Despite traveling the world tasting craft beers, Owen believes the best of them all is close to home, “Of course, American craft beer is the best beer in the world because of its artistic quality, creative nature and intense flavors.”

Classic City Brew Fest

Classic City Brew Fest

In the 90s, Owen and his friend went to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. They were so impressed with the event that they thought that a festival in Athens might have a chance at success, considering the rise in popularity of craft beers at that time. Owen recalls, “We had no idea how difficult running a beer festival would be, and it looked like the first year would be our last.” What started as a small idea between two friends turned into one of the most successful beer festivals in the southeast, with the 22nd Annual Classic City Brew Fest coming up April 9, 2017 at Graduate Athens.

What’s unique about this particular beer festival is that “every room has its own atmosphere, beer selection, and flavor.” The most popular area is the Cask Ale Pavillon, where guests will find 30 unique beers with special flavors and ingredients. Crowds at Classic City Brew Fest are kept small to minimize crowding and keep the focus where it should be—on the beer! This year the Welfare Liners will be performing at the festival during the beer sampling. A lot of great things can be said about Class City Brew Fest but, “people must come out and experience it on their own to really appreciate the quality of this great craft beer festival,” says Owen.

What’s Next in Athens

A UGA graduate, Owen didn’t realize how much he missed Athens until he moved back to Atlanta. “You can’t beat the vibe of this city in terms of wonderful people, nice places to eat and drink, and the overall culture.” Athens is becoming known around the southeast as a beer destination, complete with great breweries and pubs such as Creature ComfortsSouthern Brewing Company, and Terrapin Beer Co., along with Copper Creek Brewing Company beer pub. Owen credits Athens on its progressiveness: “I never thought I would walk downtown in Athens and smell the aroma of beer cooking.”

On March 13, 2017, Georgia Senate Bill 85 passed in the Georgia House of Representatives, permitting customers to purchase beer directly from Georgia breweries. This is a big win for breweries across the state, although Owen notes that this bill only brings Georgia up to par with states throughout the country that have already implemented these changes. “The beer community is just returning to a pre-prohibition state of normalcy,” he says.

On what’s next for Athens, Owen believes that there is room for a few more breweries. He hopes that soon Georgia breweries will be allowed to open restaurants and entertainment complexes connected to their facilities, which has worked well in other parts of the country to generate millions in beer tourism. Bill 85 is just the beginning in the journey of craft breweries in Georgia, and Owen predicts the further success of the industry; “Once a beer drinker falls in love with craft beer, they never go back to plain, flavorless, boring light beer.”

Uncategorized

Cover Letter

April 24, 2017

Dear Recruiting Manager,

I am applying for the general interest arts and entertainment critic position within your organization. I have a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Georgia. I believe that my coursework experience makes me an excellent candidate who will bring value to this newspaper.

From my time at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, I have had several years of experience in different forms of writing—both digital and print. I have taken courses in magazine writing, news reporting, media technology, and critical writing. Throughout these courses, I have gained extensive experience in interviewing, developing stories, formatting and meeting deadlines. I have specific experience writing reviews in various areas including film, art, television, food, music and theatre.

I interned in the Public Relations and Marketing Department of Southeast Georgia Health System. During my time in the department, I proofread and edited the weekly hospital newsletter, put out press releases and created and edited Power Point Presentations for medical informational purposes. I also assisted in marketing events such the annual “Health Fair” which involved calling and scheduling participants. I gained experience in both public relations and communications and was able to utilize my writing and verbal communicational skills.

Currently, during final semester at the University of Georgia, I am a Public Relations and Marketing intern with the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau. I manage the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, write weekly posts to the blog, promote events happening around town and craft newsletters keeping email subscribers up-to-date through constant contact email blasts. I assist the Public Relations Coordinator with crafting itineraries for upcoming press visits. I have also been able to observe SEO reports and learn about the value of social media and digital marketing.

I have grown up surrounded by the arts—I danced and performed in local theaters throughout high school. I have had some level of experience in all forms of art, whether it’s visiting galleries with my talented artist friend or attending local concerts with my roommate in the music business. I have experienced art on all scales, from local to global. I studied abroad ay Oxford University where I was able to experience more refined arts on a larger scale. I have developed a great blend of local and global arts of all forms. I tend to lean more towards contemporary arts, whatever is happening in the moment, but know how to recognize and appreciate the arts that shaped our world today.

I am passionate about the arts and my overall goal that I would like to bring to this organization is the enrichment of every day life. Critiques are not about what’s good and what isn’t—they are about evaluating and reflecting on culture in a way that sparks interest. I feel that fewer people are making time for the arts in their busy schedule and I believe that with well-written, knowledgeable critiques of local and global culture, the arts will become more prominent in communities.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Valerie Cook

Critical Writing, Uncategorized

Movie Review

‘13th’: Uncovering the Exception to the Rule

Valerie Cook

Director Ava Duvernay (Selma) unveils a chilling new documentary that delves deep into an issue that has long been a part of America. At first glance, the documentary might appear to skim the surface of corrupt prison systems in America. However, within the first five minutes it makes a bold declaration on the history of the 13th Amendment, the shape in which it molded our country and its perpetual effects on our society.

Right off the bat the film takes us back to the days of the abolition of slavery, highlighting the 13th Amendment, which was created to abolish slavery. The phrase “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime” flashes on the screen within the first two minutes, introducing the main argument that criminalizing African Americans has become the new form of slavery. “Except as punishment for a crime” is seen as the exception to the rule that slavery is unconstitutional.

The documentary takes a deeper look into the pitfalls of the justice system from the abolition of slavery all the way to present day. The extensive research and preparation is evident as the film paints the picture of the hardships of African Americans facing discrimination by the police and the justice system. Simplified diagrams and statistics are presented throughout so that people can understand the bigger picture of what is going on. Stories are told throughout the decades that all embody the issues and effects of mass incarceration.

The individual stories are perhaps the most powerful pieces of the film. The story of Kalief Browder, who was just 16 years old when he was sent to prison for supposedly stealing a backpack, is a perfect model for the faults in our system. The majority of African Americans are pressured to take a plea deal rather than go to trial, regardless of whether they’re innocent or not. Browder would not claim to be guilty when he wasn’t and decided to take a stand against the justice system. He was held in prison for three years under inhumane circumstances until the charges were finally dropped. He later committed suicide after the emotional turmoil that he went through during his unwarranted time in prison.

Stories like Browder’s add an emotional connection to the viewers who may be separated from the issue and cast a sense of urgency in the need for change. Although the film covers a good chunk of time, it neither drags nor distances itself from the relevancy of the issue today. At one point, we see images from riots and police brutality in the 1960s with an unnerving voiceover by President Trump saying things like “I love the old day. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks,” in reference to a protestor at one of his rallies. The juxtaposition of Trump’s comments as a voiceover to police brutality in the sixties sends a strong message that not only are things not changing—they might be getting worse.

The goal of this film is to shock people as much as it is to expose an ongoing issue. The film itself discusses how shock factor is sometimes a necessary tool to get people to listen. It’s impossible not to feel the weight of the images as they flash upon the screen—lynching, beatings, and shootings throughout American history.

“13th’ clearly presents the prominent issues of police brutality as it is today while reaching back through history to make meaningful connections and unearth an ultimate problem of prolonged mass incarceration of African Americans. However the questions remain, why is this still an issue today? How can it be changed? The documentary wraps up its argument with the commentary on how people often claim they would never tolerate slavery, segregation, or discrimination, but ends with the impactful words: “we are living in that time, and we are tolerating it”.

 

 

 

Critical Writing, Uncategorized

Music Review

Music of Love and Loss: More than a recital

Valerie Cook

When I hear “recital” I tend to envision an amateur desperately hoping to perform without a misstep, often without success; that could just be how my recitals as a kid went. However, the faculty recital in the Ramsey Center deserves more than the label of “recital”. This performance in the faculty concert series was anything but amateur. The musicians weaved together an exciting performance of complex piano pieces performed by former UGA faculty member Richard Zimdars, paired with captivating vocals by tenor Lawrence Bakst.

The evening may have only consisted of two musicians, but the music created resonated with rich tones throughout the concert hall. In contrast to Zimdars’ slight frame and adorable bowtie, he played the piano with such compelling intensity that I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He has taught master piano classes all over the world and spent the last 40 years as a professor at UGA. It came as no surprise that tenor Bakst has performed in opera houses in Europe for 25 years—his stage presence was strong as he looked straight ahead into the audience and confidently delivered strong opera vocals in both Italian and German.

The performance was themed “Music of Love and Loss”, and by reading the English translation of the lyrics it was clear what the pieces were about. However, the program translations weren’t needed to see and hear the emotion spilling from both the pianist and opera singer in their gripping delivery.

There were some pieces of exclusively piano, and I was not thrilled to notice on the program that one of the piano compositions was a fifteen-minute ballad. However, Zimdars performed the piece so artfully and enchanting that by the end of the piece I was in such a state of relaxation, I hadn’t realized that fifteen minutes had passed.

The unduly named “recital” was a free concert in the UGA performing arts center and was far superior to anything that I could have expected. At times I felt as if I were in an Opera house in 17th century Europe. I was not expecting to feel transported to a different time and place, but that is what music has the power to do if performed right. I was pleasantly surprised with the wonderful, bold sounds as Bakst and Zimdars filled the room with music of love and loss.

 

Articles, Profiles, Uncategorized

Athens’ Own: Mimi Maumus of home.made

Originally published on visitathensga.com

Featured in the New York Times food blog and Georgia Organic’s Chef Spotlight, Mimi Maumus calls Athens, GA home. She is the chef and owner of home.made, a southern style restaurant known to locals as one of the best restaurants in Athens. Home.made is well-known for its southern style cuisine, including pepper jelly pecans and Swanee Bites—cheese straws sandwiched with pimento cheese rolled in pecans. Mimi has her roots in New Orleans, which she expertly weaves into her style of southern food offered at home.made.

Meet Mimi

It’s undeniable that Mimi has an eye for food—her creations are unique spins on classic southern-style foods. Growing up in New Orleans, she spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her family cooking up classic southern dishes. Her family’s extensive garden supplied many of their ingredients, including mirlitons, figs, tomatoes, green beans and pecans. Mimi’s grandmother inspired her love of cooking preserves, pickles, and chutneys. Home.made embodies Mimi’s experiences with her family’s southern cooking and staying true to her roots while keeping things made from scratch, “I also cherish old family recipes and try to recreate my food nostalgia from childhood,” she says.

Before home.made

Mimi was able to experiment and develop the unique flavor of home.made while working at independently owned kitchens. After dreaming of opening a restaurant of her own, Mimi decided to convert her own kitchen and spend part of her time as a personal chef and caterer, and part as executive sous chef at Five & Ten under James Beard award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, before deciding to devote her attention completely on developing home.made. What started out as a personal chef business, home.made has expanded to double its size, “The business has really grown organically, literally out of my home, for 10 years so every step has been based on necessity and demand.” Of what’s next for home.made, Mimi says that everything will be “totally up to demand.”

A Unique Taste

The brilliance behind the menu of home.made lies in its creative take on traditional dishes. Mimi uses bold flavors to create the taste so unique to her restaurant, notably her famous pepper jelly. She makes sure to use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Mimi has found innovative ways to incorporate local Athens ingredients into her menu, “As a chef, ingredients and technique are really the two things that I value the most,”. Her Grilled NY Strip, features oil infused with 1000 Faces Coffee. Also notable about home.made’s taste is Mimi’s devotion to her dishes and to her customers, “My style of cooking is very focused on the person eating the food—trying to consider the entirety of their experience,” she says of her approach to cooking.

The New York Times food blog featured one of her especially unique recipes: pickled magnolia petals. When asked about her inspiration for such unusual dishes, Mimi says that she is a curious person, interested in food history and possibilities. As for her magnolia petal inspired dishes specifically, Mimi says “what good southerner doesn’t want magnolia vinaigrette on their roasted peach salad?” Her Mayberry sandwich—a creation of fried chicken, pimento cheese, pepper jelly, bacon, lettuce and remoulade all on a hearty buttermilk biscuit—was named one of 100 dishes locals love by Explore Georgia. Home.made is the perfect stop on any trip to Athens for a taste of the South—with a twist!

See what all the hype is about!

Stop into home.made for lunch or dinner Tuesday through Saturday! On Saturday, Mimi offers a special brunch menu where you can try her mouthwatering buttermilk biscuits topped with ambrosia lemon marmalade. If you have a busy schedule, try her “take away” items to have at home! Home.made also offers some of her most popular snacks online. Mimi made her line of southern snacks available nationally because “California friends kept asking for cheese straws!” Love home.made? Have your next event catered with Mimi’s delectable creations.

Check out our restaurant page for foodie itineraries, events and updates to plan amazing dining experiences while visiting Athens!

Uncategorized

Best Spots to Hear Live Music in Athens

Originally published on visitathensga.com

It’s no secret that Athens, GA is a music town. From classic favorites like R.E.M. and The B-52s to newcomers like Mothers and New Madrid, the music industry has been getting a taste of Athens for generations. On your visit to Athens, check out some of Athens’ best spots to hear live music to stay up to date on the local music scene and possibly catch Athens’ next big star!

Georgia Theatre

This Athens classic has a rich history that makes for a unique concert experience. Built in 1935, this art-deco inspired venue started as a cinema before becoming one of Athens’ most renowned places to see live music. Over the years the Georgia Theatre has accumulated an impressive repertoire of bands that have performed on its stage, from Alabama Shakes to CeeLo Green to Florida Georgia Line. With a show almost every night, you’re sure to find one that catches your eye!

The 40 Watt Club

Most music lovers in Athens are familiar with this iconic venue. The 40 Watt Club has been a stomping ground to big name musicians, including R.E.M., the B-52’s, Drive-By Truckers, Of Montreal and so many more. With low ceilings and warm atmosphere, a show in The 40 Watt puts the emphasis on the music and will have you thinking of the days when legends called Athens home.

The Foundry

Longing for a classic southern atmosphere complete with good beer and comfort food? The Foundry offers handmade southern favorites such as cornbread and grits while diners can sit back and enjoy live music—or even perform yourself! On Tuesdays, you can join in the fun with live band karaoke. The Foundry is a great place to catch a concert earlier in the day, with some afternoon shows for the whole family or an evening of smooth jazz.

Nuçi’s Space

Located on the edge of downtown on Oconee Street, Nuçi’s Space is more than a music venue. It advocates and raises money for the prevention of suicide and ending the stigma associated with mental illness. This is a perfect spot to enjoy a show while supporting a worthy cause.

Caledonia Lounge

This quirky venue is a great way to catch up-and-coming musicians in an intimate setting. Highlighting indie-rock, the close space of Caledonia Lounge creates a sense of being a part of the performance which can be ideal for music lovers. Need some air? The patio out front is the perfect space to catch a breather during a show.

Hedges on Broad

Bigger than it looks on the outside, Hedges is the go-to place for outings with a group of friends. The large brick venue often hosts DJs and country music—anything to get you dancing. The performances at Hedges are often upbeat and lively. Hedges kicks it up a notch on holidays, with balloons and confetti falling from the ceiling.

Flicker Theatre and Bar

Popcorn and cozy couches add to the charm of this Athens favorite. Grab a drink and see bands from all over the country in this snug venue. Local artists also have the option of performing at open mic. Check out Open Toad Comedy Night for standup and improv!

Hendershot’s

Nestled in the heart of scenic Prince Avenue, Hendershot’s combines a love for coffee and music. A wide range of music styles come to Hendershot’s to showcase their sound, including jazz, folk, and blues. A perfect spot to unwind with a neighborhood feel.

The Classic Center

If symphonies and musicals are more your scene for live music, The Classic Center is a great change of pace. Its capacity of 2,290 seats allows for hosting larger performances such as the Blue Man Group and the Beach Boys. It is home to the Athens Symphony Concerts and the Broadway Entertainment series, bringing the magic of Broadway to Athens.

UGA Performing Arts Center

The Athens music scene goes far beyond the local sound of Athens. Musicians travel from all over the world to perform at the University of Georgia Performing Arts Center. Symphony Orchestras from as far as Ukraine will travel to play in Athens this season, as well as world renowned pianist Seong-Jin Cho.

Want all things Athens music? Discover more venues and events on Live Music Athens or learn more about Athens music history on a walking tour!

Uncategorized

A Romantic Valentine’s Getaway to Athens, GA

Originally published on visitathensga.com

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and the pressure is on for couples to find the perfect romantic getaway. Don’t stress—Athens, Ga. has got you covered with some of the best Valentine’s trip ideas in Georgia.

Where to stay

If you’re looking to turn Valentine’s Day into a weekend getaway, these Athens hotels are perfect for couples.

Hotel Indigo

A boutique hotel located in the hub of downtown Athens, Hotel Indigo will bring a hip, modern flare to your romantic weekend. On February 11th, Hotel Indigo’s  Rialto Club will team up with local vendors for an elegant dining experience featuring some of Athens’ finest, including Terrapin craft beer, Jittery Joe’s coffee, and Condor Chocolates. Go all in  book an overnight stay in one of Hotel Indigo’s king penthouse rooms for a romantic weekend in Athens that will not disappoint.

The Colonels Bed and Breakfast

This quaint bed and breakfast is reminiscent of an antebellum plantation, complete with breathtaking magnolia trees and 30 acres of charming scenery. Relax in a rocking chair on the front porch or take a stroll to see the horses in the barn. A weekend at The Colonels Bed and Breakfast is the perfect place to stay for couples looking for a more intimate setting, however the hustle and bustle of downtown Athens is only a few miles away. Book a romantic two-night weekend getaway package that includes champagne or Belgian beer, fresh flowers, and snacks in a lovely setting by candlelight. The package is offered from February 10th to the 19th at $500 per couple.

Graduate Athens

For the entire month of February, Graduate Athens will be offering a special Valentine’s Day package. Pick out a special bouquet from their collection arranged by Flowerland which will be waiting upon arrival along with a sweet treat from GiGi’s Cupcakes! If you’re looking to unwind, book a couples massage at The Spa at Graduate Athens.

For the Foodies

Valentine’s Day is not complete without a romantic dinner for two. Athens is now known throughout the South for our food scene.

Five & Ten

Use the holiday as an excuse to dress up and go out with your sweetheart. Five & Ten is the ultimate fine dining experience with mouthwatering food from James Beard award-winning chef Hugh Acheson.

The National

Another Valentine’s Day go-to, The National will be offering a 4-course prix fixe menu at $50 per guest. This Mediterranean style restaurant with a twist offers an extensive wine list and the atmosphere of a European café.

Heirloom Café

This quaint café sources as much of their ingredients as possible from local farmers and artisans to create fresh, delicious dishes. Heirloom’s charming patio filled with flowers is perfect for a brunch to start out your Valentine’s weekend.

Condor Chocolates

After dinner, walk through the lovely Five Points neighborhood to Condor Chocolates to satisfy that sweet tooth. Condor Chocolates produces and sells bean-to-bar Ecuadorian chocolate. From truffles to macaroons to gelato, it’s impossible to leave without tasting some of these irresistible creations!

For the Low-Key Couple

Want to skip the fuss of dressing up, or try something offbeat or unusual for Valentine’s? These options are great for couples looking for a carefree night.

Athens on Ice

Through February 16th, Athens on Ice is open to the public! Ice-skating is great for mixing up the traditional date night and spending quality time with your loved one. After skating, take a stroll through downtown Athens.

The Rook & Pawn

Perfect for a double date, The Rook & Pawn is a cozy board game café with pub-style food and drinks. Its seemingly endless selection of board games is stacked from the floor to the ceiling. So bring your couple friends and browse the vast selection of games for a fun-filled night!

Georgia Museum of Art

Head over to the Georgia Museum of Art for a creative evening that won’t break the bank. With free admission, you and your loved one can browse the extensive art collection containing over 10,000 works of art.

Botanical Garden

Take a stroll through Georgia’s State Botanical Garden for some fresh air and beautiful scenery, with trails and gardens that make for a perfect Valentine’s photo op. Stay for dinner in the glass conservatory surrounded by tropical plants! During Orchid Madness, a nearly month long fundraiser benefiting the UGA Horticulture Department, the Botanical Garden is offering a unique Valentine’s package that includes live music, a champagne toast, and a buffet complete with beef tenderloin and grilled salmon. Every couple will be sent home with an orchid plant at the end of the night.

For the Music Lovers

Wrap up Valentine’s Day in Athens with a bang with these live performances at our world-renowned music venues.

The Georgia Theatre

For an evening of blues and rock, head over to the Georgia Theatre on February 14th to see Anders Osborne with an opening performance by The Ghost of Paul Revere. Leave the kids at home for this one, as the event is open to those 18 and over.

The Foundry

The 10th Annual Sweethearts Duet Hoot will be held at The Foundry on February 13th with free admission. The Athens Folk Music and Dance Society will present this evening of duets as musical couples perform a selection of songs.

Get started on planning your Valentine’s getaway in Athens.

Magazine Writing, Uncategorized

The suspense is building with TRX Suspension Training

Valerie Cook

Athens, GEORGIA (April 1, 2016)–In a gym typically packed with equipment, there’s a nearly empty room dedicated to a new fitness fad.

Roughly ten straps hang from the ceiling in a room of The Club, a health and fitness center that hopped on board with the new trend of suspension training.

TRX Suspension Training is a unique fitness style that primarily uses bodyweight exercises designed to increase balance and strength through a total body workout. TRX stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise.

Bodyweight exercises utilize bodyweight to perform exercises as a form of strength training. These exercises can be tailored to fit each person’s fitness level based on their bodyweight.

“It’s a really great place to start for a lot of people, so that they’re not making things too tough,” says Shelby Harris, a certified personal trainer at the Omni Club of Athens. Harris believes that bodyweight exercises are less intimidating for beginners who aren’t familiar with gym equipment and more complicated exercises.

Allison Nermoe, with the Health Promotion and Wellness department of Southeast Georgia Health System, says that bodyweight exercises are the best form of strength training because they don’t require equipment and can be done from almost anywhere.

Trends come and go within the realm of fitness, but the use of bodyweight exercises has only increased in popularity. Nermoe believes that these bodyweight exercises will stick around for a while because they are convenient and effective.

“I think that the fitness industry is finally getting a grasp on all the benefits that bodyweight exercises can provide, especially as our society continues to lead such busy lifestyles,” says Nermoe.

TRX Suspension Training has taken advantage of the benefits of bodyweight training. This system utilizes gravity to make effective workouts with minimal equipment. A strap set that mounts from the ceiling is the extent of the equipment needed to get an effective workout.

TRX was developed by a Navy Seal as a more efficient workout method during deployment. Tim Carlson, who served four years in the United States Marine Corps and current owner and CEO of BodyworX Studio 912, is familiar with the difficulties of exercise during deployment.

“You have to be creative depending on your environment that you’re in. I would carry my tennis shoes, Abmat, jump rope and water bottle,” says Carlson.

Carlson prefers bodyweight exercises because they tend to be more efficient in terms of space and cost.

“TRX straps were easy to transport and would give you a great workout,” notes Carlson.

Core strength is one of the primary goals that can be accomplished through using TRX Suspension Training. Carlson acknowledges that in the Marine Corps, cardio and core training is key to survival. The Marines adopted TRX in 2007 as a staple of training.

While TRX was designed to make exercise easier and more accessible for deployment workouts, it’s not just for soldiers.

“I could teach an 80 year old TRX, just because of the bodyweight and the foot position,” says Pat Kent, Director of Personal Training for The Club and TRX instructor. TRX can easily be tailored to the needs of each person taking the class.

However Kent was not impressed with the new trend at first.

“Someone asked if I thought it was any good and I didn’t know much about it and I said nope!” Kent recalls with a chuckle. He has since changed his mind, noting that the trend within fitness has begun to move toward body movement exercises as opposed to isolated exercises.

The response to TRX has been “tremendous,” Kent says, “Every class I have is full.”

Kent teaches his class at six thirty every Tuesday, but despite the early hour he still sees an amazing turnout.

Chris Lee, a certified TRX instructor, believes TRX differs from other fitness because of its versatility. Cardio, strength training, balance, and mobility are all incorporated into one fitness technique. Lee also mentions the “cool” factor associated with the class.

“Many people are curious about those yellow straps they’ve seen around the gym,” he says, noting how his clients like the unique qualities of exercises using the TRX.

While TRX is fun and adaptable to most fitness levels, Lee admits that there is a slight learning curve for new users. The most difficult aspect of a TRX class is usually the balance and focus that it takes to complete an exercise. Instructors of TRX are also careful to make sure that everyone has the correct form. This is easier to manage with the small class sizes that TRX tends to have.

“We keep it small, it’s intimate,” says Pat Kent of his classes at The Club.

The typical structure of a TRX class is a small group that allows for one-on-one instruction. This decreases the possibility of injury for those who aren’t familiar with TRX and who are unsure of the correct form.

While the primary method of TRX has mainly been in a gym setting with a personal instructor, the trend has shifted towards practicing suspension training at home. The TRX Home Gym has been a best seller. It is a portable suspension trainer that allows for home workouts.

“You can workout outside and tie it around a tree branch, put it over a door,” says Harris, who is familiar with the product.

The versatility and the simplicity in which TRX Suspension Training has utilized bodyweight training has made this fitness style become one of the top trends in the industry today.

Over one million people in 60 different countries have caught onto the trend of TRX Suspension Training and it continues to grow.

 

 

Magazine Writing, Uncategorized

Wild Card

Yoga: More than just a pose

Valerie Cook

Athens, GEORGIA (April 20, 2016)– It was 1997—a time when home workout videos were popular among fitness fanatics. Debi Garrett, an aerobics instructor and self-proclaimed workout junkie, rented a VHS tape of yoga and remembers feeling an amazing sensation, “I was hooked.”

What started out as a fun workout option turned into a lifestyle for Garrett. She is now a certified yoga instructor at Five Points Yoga in Athens. It became such an ingrained part of her routine; she finds that if she doesn’t practice yoga, even for a few days, she doesn’t feel as good all around.

“Yoga gives you everything you need: strength, flexibility, balance,” says Garrett, “There’s also the mind-body connection that you don’t find in any other form of physical exercise that I have experienced.”

That mind-body connection is one of the reasons so many people keep coming back to yoga after they try it for the first time. Shannon Ball, co-founder of Five Points Yoga, highlights the importance of connecting the body and mind, especially in relation to health issues.

“Yoga is an amazingly powerful way to reconnect inside, to move energy in our body in a culture of overweight, stagnant people,” says Ball. She is concerned about the inactive nature that people are demonstrating in their daily lives. However, Ball notes that as people are able to relax and get in touch with themselves, they tend to make healthier choices in their everyday lives.

Dr. Rebecca Marshall, a professor at the University of Georgia who specializes in yoga and mindfulness meditation research, stresses the importance of a healthy mind leading to a healthy body. She has based her research on analyzing the effects that yoga and mediation can have on the mind.

Her researched focused specifically on breath work and how it can help change the mind. Alternate-nostril breathing is a breath technique used in yoga and mediation, which requires breathing in and out through one nostril at a time. It is believed to balance the hemispheres of the brain. Marshall studied this technique in people who have had a stroke and found it increased their verbal fluency. In her studies, which included stroke victims and controls, she found that it helped both groups with depression, anxiety and had an overall calming effect on both the body and the mind.

Marshall feels that yoga is becoming increasingly popular because people are starting to notice all of the benefits associated with it. When people were not as familiar with the practice of yoga, the general attitude towards it was skeptical.

“People said like, somebody from India is coming to do yoga,” Marshall notes of the hesitancy to put stock in an unfamiliar practice, “but now it’s like actually in research journals. We know that it can change executive function.”

Increased flexibility is a common aspect associated with the practice of yoga. Marshall recalls that flexibility issues are the reason she got involved with yoga originally.

“I was in graduate school I couldn’t touch my toes, and I was in my 20’s and I thought that’s wrong,” she says with a laugh.

Garrett notes there are common misperceptions about flexibility in yoga, “you don’t have to be flexible; that’s a total myth.” It is more important for someone who is not flexible to practice yoga, in order to keep his or her knees and back healthy.

A rising trend in the world of yoga is that it is now being used as a form of medical therapy. In addition to already having a yoga instructor certification, Garrett is now pursuing an advanced yoga therapy certification. She has seen firsthand how yoga can help people with physical ailments. She currently works with a client who has Parkinson’s disease.

“He swears by his yoga once a week to help him manage his symptoms,” says Garrett.

She believes that yoga therapy can work well alongside Western medicine practices and is finding that an increasing number of people are coming into the Bikram Athens studio on the recommendation of their healthcare providers.

Jolin Conine, an instructor at Bikram Athens, is also familiar with the medical health benefits of yoga.

“I woke up one day and started having chronic neck and back pain and didn’t really know why,” she recalls.

Conine ended up in the hospital where she learned that she had four herniated disks, “I tried all of these different ways of trying to relieve the pain.”

It wasn’t until she tried hot yoga, also known as a Bikram practice, that she started being able to manage her pain and stress levels. Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses practiced in a heated room designed to work the whole body. What started out as a way to relieve pain from her herniated discs turned into something more.

“You realize there’s so many other benefits that your body and your mind are getting, that it keeps you coming to the yoga,” says Conine.

Conine has recognized the increasing number of athletes that are now taking her yoga classes. She notes that some of the football players from the University of Georgia have come to practice yoga; she feels that yoga is now an accepted part of an athlete’s training regime.

While most yoga calms the mind and has health benefits, there are specific practices that are aimed at achieving different goals.

Ball says that most styles can be modified to work with a lot of populations. She primarily teaches restorative and vinyasa yoga. Restorative yoga is beneficial for anyone who needs to slowdown and restore, hence the name. Vinyasa is also known as flow yoga because of its fluidity from one movement to the next.

“Vinyasa is a wonderful option for so many, but seems especially effective for people who need to move a bit to help their minds settle and relax,” says Ball.

With so many different styles of yoga and the complexity of the different poses associated with them, the certification process to become an instructor is lengthy. The process varies, depending on the style of yoga and how much time you are willing to invest. However, there are standards set by a governing body called Yoga Alliance that those who train yoga instructors must abide by in order for their students to be considered registered instructors. The minimum requirement to be considered a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance is completion of a 200-hour training program. From there, it is important that they gain teaching experience in order to become a more qualified instructor.

The 200-hour certification process can be completed in various time frames. Some ways that certification can be completed include a full month of intensive training at an ashram, a secluded retreat where yoga is practiced, or at two-week intervals. Conine believes that the more time invested in learning the practice of yoga, the more that instructors will gain and improve their practice. Regardless of how someone becomes an instructor, the methods all have the same core concepts. It requires in-depth training—becoming a yoga instructor isn’t just mastering the poses.

“So there are different systems, but they all include like a certain amount of spiritual information, a certain amount of anatomical information, a certain amount of actually learning how to do the poses, like the breath work as well,” explains Marshall.

Yoga is as much a spiritual practice as it is physical. Meditation and focus play integral roles. Marshall notes how there is now more evidence associated with the meditational focus needed in yoga.

“There’s so much beautiful research on how it can help things like heart disease, how it can help special education children, special needs children with autism,” she says.

Some yoga instructors credit yoga’s increasing popularity to the higher functions that it can provide to practitioners. Ball believes that people are finally noticing the important elements of life that yoga provides.

“The emphasis on inner reflection, breath and present moment pulls us to what we really want and need.”