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Posted by Vishal Punj on Monday, April 24, 2017 - 12:36

When did you start your yoga practice?

I started practicing yoga when I was 18. I used to work at a restaurant and worked out 5 days a week. It was then I developed a terrible nerve pain in my back from carrying heavy items overhead, and likely my workouts. I decided to take a yoga class in hopes it would alleviate the pain. Not only did it help, but also it unlocked physical abilities I didn’t know I had. Which transcended my life because I realized how many other things I could be good at that I didn’t yet know. Yoga got me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to be bolder. Walking in to that studio my life would never be the same. I fell in love and adopted yoga.

What’s one of your favorite classes to take at Aatma? 

Definitely Strength and Conditioning, it's been such a compliment to my yoga practice. Plus, I'm experiencing some muscle development that I've never felt before, which is really exciting! Train long enough and you think you really know your body; it's humbling to know there's always something new to try, some different way to cross train. 

You’re currently going to school.  Tell us a little about that.

Yep, basically a driving narrative in my life for the past 3 years. I am an interior design student at Bellevue College, and an intern interior designer for a firm in downtown Seattle. Between the two I have a pretty large workflow that never ceases to stop - but I love academia, again, the humbling experience of knowing you can learn and learn and still never know it all. It's pretty fantastic studying/working as a designer as well; not only is it creative and challenging but it enhances the lives of people who interact with the space after the work is done. It's a tangible reward. 

You are quite the outdoorswoman.  Tell us about your love of national parks and how many you have visited. 

My first national park visit was Arches and Canyonlands in Utah. I was living in Colorado at the time and itching for an exotic adventure. Upon seeing and experiencing these incredible landscapes it dawned on me that I didn't have to travel across seas to have an out of this world travel experience. I learned the National Parks are our crown jewels, preserving only the most incredible landscapes and historical places. I became obsessed after that and vowed to see all the US NP as my life bucket list. I honor that and since beginning my journey 4 years ago have visited over 20 National Parks, and over 35 National Monuments/National Historic Sites.  

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Monday, April 3, 2017 - 11:15

Tell us why you love the Tabata format.

Tabata is a fun,challenging, high intensity workout that allows you to push yourself to your own personal limit! Whether you are new to the class or a skilled veteran, there's always an optimal variation of each movement in class to challenge yourself to your own needs. I love that the Tabata format includes short bursts of work which allows you to fit a variety of movements into one session and work many different muscle groups in a short period of time.  You'll never perform the same workout more than once and find yourself learning new exercises or overcoming new challenges with every class you participate in.

How much of your training as a collegiate athlete carriers over into your coaching?

I think my experience as a team athlete has really set me up to be an encouraging coach and I'm definitely someone that wants to push everyone in a positive way to do the best that I know they have the ability to do! Although Tabata class can feel like you're working as an individual, I like to find ways to incorporate team activities to bring in a little bit of a different challenge and give everyone the opportunity to learn about the other members that they work out with on a consistent basis. Being a volleyball athlete has also expanded my training knowledge in ways that can help increase an individual's strength, endurance, and reaction time in new ways that I feel can bring diversity to the classes.

You had been volunteering with the Seattle Humane Society for the past 2 years.  Tell us a little about why you chose to volunteer there and how that experience was for you.

The Seattle Humane Society holds a special place in my heart! I used to volunteer on a weekly basis, but my current schedule only allows me to volunteer my time every once in a while. I am part of the DBS (Dog Behavior & Socialization) program, where we work with the dogs that are available for adoption to make sure they get the attention and love that they need while they are in the shelter and patiently waiting for their forever home. We work with and train all kinds of dogs with their own unique personalities and special needs, so every shift is a new challenge!

I have always felt as though I should volunteer my extra time to animals in need because I am a HUGE animal lover, so when I found out about SHS and how amazing their volunteer staff was, I knew it was a perfect match. These people give so much of their lives to animals that people have chosen to give up, and it's truly inspiring to see how that effort can make such a huge difference and touch so many animal's and people's lives!

What else do you enjoy doing here in Seattle on your off days?

As a PNW native, I love to get outside when it's not cloudy or rainy in Seattle! I've always been a hiker but I'm trying to get more involved in longer hikes and overnight hikes because we have access to so many amazing sites here in Washington. I also love to get out on the water to wake surf, wake-board, or paddle board! I have a trip planned for later this year to go to Iceland with some friends and I'm super excited to get out of the country to do some more exploring!

 I also work as a project manager for a marketing company, so I like to do a lot of things in my spare time that allow me to be creative. I do a lot of DIY projects and am continually looking for new and fun inspiration.

I'm definitely a big sports fan so I'm always in to watch the Sounders, Seahawks, or Mariners play a game and enjoy a nice craft beer.

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Monday, March 27, 2017 - 11:50

When did you start dancing and what got you into it?

I started dancing when I was about 3 years old. I've always loved grooving to my favorite music, but what really got me was all the different variations and styles. No matter how much I learn, there's always more to explore in the dance world! I feel like I can always improve and grow as a dancer.

What influences do you use in your choreography?

My influences have changed a lot throughout my life, depending on my favorite style at the time. Bob Fosse was a huge influence for me growing up, and once I got used to dancing, my influences became my own experiences. My choreography generally reflects my mood at the time!

As the cheer/dance captain at UW, how much of that experience carries over into your teaching style?

Being a captain has definitely helped me become more outgoing and learn ways to teach people. I've realized that the way I learn is not the way everyone else learns. More than anything, it's brought out my love of teaching and coaching people!

You’re currently pursuing a Masters at UW.  Tell us about that.

I'm currently getting my Masters in Public Administration (MPA) at the UW Evans School of Public Affairs. It's my first year in the program, and I've loved it so far. It's very math (economics, statistics, and finance) based, which was unexpected but has a lot of practical uses in the real world. My focus is in environmental economics-- I want to convince people to invest in the environment to make them money in the long run.

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 18:34
 
Starting today we are launching a referral program.
 
Help us spread the word!
 
Send someone our way and we'll thank you.
 
All they have to do is sign up for our $79 Aatma Introductory month and you get your choice of either a $20 credit on your membership or a $20 Amazon gift card.  It's up to you!  Just make sure they mention your name when they sign up.
 
*Referral program eligible for past, present, and future members.  Must have purchased a monthly membership or class pack to qualify.
By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Friday, January 13, 2017 - 16:03

 

The beginning of the year is a time when many of us think about what we want to accomplish in the months ahead.  We asked the Aatma team what intentions they have for 2017.  Here's what some of them had to say.

 

 

My New Years resolution is to be vegetarian, no meat of any kind. My other resolution is to eat less animal products :)  - Vivian

 

 

 

 

My resolution this year is to spend more time on self-care.  This includes getting more sleep and learning how to decompress better.  Although I was never a big drinker, I’ve  also decided to give up alcohol entirely. - Vishal

 

 

 

 

 I would say my New Years resolution is to pursue all aspects of my life wholeheartedly. Pursue my jobs, my relationships, my health (physical, emotional, spiritual), to the fullest extent. I know it won't be possible to give 100% all of the time, but I want to strive not to half do anything. - Jaclyn

 

 

 

 

My goal is to spend more time reading. - Alyssa

 

 

 

 

 My current goals are to make a home in my new space, eat clean, exercise daily and be outside more, even in the icy cold. - Amy

 

 

 

 

My goals this year include eating more vegetable proteins and less meat, trying to live a more minimal lifestyle, and building enough strength to do a chin up without band assistance! - Neetu

 

 

 

 

 My New Years resolution is to gain diligence in my training for Sin Moo Hapkido. After attaining my black belt at the end of 2016 I took a quick hiatus to take care of myself,    but in 2017 I plan to hit the ground running, kicking, and punching. - Rafi

 

 

 

 

I had a surgery last August and lost about 20 pounds! So I would like to get back more muscle.  Also I would love to see my parents in Japan this year since I haven't seen     them for a while. May 2017 bring you health and happiness! - Ayumi

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Monday, December 19, 2016 - 16:25

Tell us about your background in dance.

I have 6 years of Jazz-dance company/stage experience in Fukui, Kyoto, Japan.  My mother was a big influence on me becoming a theatrical dancer and dance fitness instructor since she had dreamt for me to join Takarazuka musical school in Kansai, Japan. We used to go see musical and stage-plays a lot together.

I also have more than 15 years of teaching experience both in Japan and here in the US.  I’ve taught Les Mills Bodyjam, Bodystep, High-low, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Zumba.

Most folks think of Zumba as based only on Latin beats, whereas yours is a little different.  Tell us more about that. 

I have many variations and always try to introduce different types of World Beats and dance formats. This allows the class to explore the joy of dance and music. When it comes to Zumba, I became certified not only with the basic official Zumba Zin program called Basic 1 Latin formats but also Basic 2 dance formats such as samba, belly dancing, flamenco, tango and more.

What sorts of other things do you enjoy doing besides dancing?

I love going to see Broadway musicals and stage-plays here in Seattle and also in Japan. I will fly to Japan up to 4 times a year just to see my favorite idol's stage-plays in Tokyo and Osaka. Otherwise I enjoy just spending ordinary time and life with my family and friends. 

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 11:37

A special thank you to all who came out to our super fun Fitbit event this past Saturday, Nov 19!  Fitbit ambassadors Kaisa Keranen and Kevin Ng provided the perfect combination of sweat and zen in an hour long workout while managing to keep a smile on everyone’s face.  Oh and did we mention the fabulous vendors and giveaways?  Fitness and fashion apparel leader Lorna Jane provided the style, ZICO coconut water kept us all hydrated, KIND snacks kept us feeling satiated, and Brew Dr. Kombucha kept our taste buds buzzing.  Much like Fitbit’s mission to keep us all moving, our mission here at Aatma is to expose our members to as many different types of classes and workouts to keep you inspired.  Stay fit and keep moving!

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 13:50
We're excited to announce that Fitbit is partnering up with Aatma Fitness Studios to hold an exciting event on Saturday November 19th at 9:30am.
 
Fitbit Local Ambassadors Kaisa Keranen and Kevin Ng will be putting on a fun all-levels workout.  Get your sweat on with a fat-burning bodyweight workout and then stretch it out with a rejuvenating yoga flow.  There will also be a raffle to win a free Fitbit tracker!
 
Event details and registration can be found here.  Register now.  It's free!
 
Also please note that some of our regular classes will be cancelled that day to accommodate the event. Please check the schedule to see if your class is being affected.
By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Monday, October 3, 2016 - 11:10

When and why did you start practicing yoga?

I started practicing yoga on and off with my mom when I was 6 and came back to it a little over 5 years ago. At the time, I held a job that was very stressful and although I had always exercised by running and lifting weights, the idea of slowing down was presented to me by one of my colleagues (I was a little intense) and it turns out it was life changing. 

You teach Hatha yoga with us.  How is Hatha different from Vinyasa?

Hatha is a practice which cultivates a balance between mind, breath and body. Although Vinyasa can be a form of Hatha, Vinyasa is typically connecting breath and movement as more of a flow. 

You made the move from New York to Seattle.  What inspired that decision?

I decided to leave my corporate job and the NY lifestyle to explore my yoga practice and service.

As someone who used to work in fashion, what is your favorite yoga outfit?

Honestly, I wonder if anyone would know that I worked in fashion by looking at me now :). I prefer to practice in loose roomy clothing and to wear all black (a nod to my NY roots), but in an effort to step out I sometimes try to add color to my clothes with my pants and my earrings.

You work with Yoga behind Bars.  Tell us a little about that experience.

Yoga Behind Bars is a nonprofit in Washington state dedicated to bringing yoga and meditation instruction to prisons, jails and detention centers. Their programs promote rehabilitation, help to build safer communities and contribute to reform of the prison system. I have never felt so lucky as to be asked to volunteer and then hired to work at YBB. I work in their office as a Development Coordinator and teach at a juvenile detention hall in Tacoma; to create and hold space in an environment where there is no space is pretty powerful; it proves that anything is possible. I highly recommend it.

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

Posted by Vishal Punj on Monday, September 26, 2016 - 11:57

Tell us about how you got into boxing.


 I used to be a salsa/hip hop dance instructor. Six years ago, one of my dance students told me her uncle had opened a boxing gym and wanted me to check it out.  Walking in I remember feeling excited and a bit intimidated by the ring and bags.  After meeting the owner, he ran me through my first boxing training. At the time I was drinking and smoking cigarettes every day. So by the end of my training session I was sweating what felt like battery acid and spitting up black stuff. But as bad as that sounds, I had never felt better in my life.  I was hooked, and so I decided to cut back on my drinking and quit smoking, cold turkey, right then and there.  I knew from that point that I wanted to be a boxer.

What is your advice to folks who may find the thought of taking a boxing class intimidating?

Don't allow your fears to get in the way of learning something you may be interested in. If you're intimidated by the thought of a boxing class, go and observe one you'd be interested in taking. Take time to speak with the trainer or coach, voice your concerns and see how they respond.  Basically get as much information as you can.  Then make an informed decision.

Your class involves a lot of conditioning.  Why is that necessary for boxing?

Boxing is a sport that can wear on an unconditioned body quickly and even cause injury to those who are not practiced enough.  This is why it is imperative that every boxer undergoes as much conditioning as safely possible.  When a boxing student starts incorporating sparring into their workout routine, they usually notice in the first round how tiring it can be to box for only 3 minutes (1 round).  Getting worn out or gassed during a sparring round is one of the worst feelings you can experience.  Your guard starts to drop as you lose more and more energy and before you know it, you're taking punches where you weren't a few moments ago.  So now you're tired and defenseless and still have half the round left to get through.  To help prevent unwanted situations like this one from occurring, good conditioning is key.

You also served in the navy for 4 years.  We’d like to thank you for your service.  How has that experience shaped you?

 The Navy was one of the hardest but also most rewarding jobs I've ever had. Physically and mentally, it challenged me to push past my hang ups of what I perceived my personal limitations were. As a result I learned that these limits are only in my mind, and my mind can be used to push myself beyond what I originally thought possible. I've applied this lesson to everything I've done since my days in the Navy and have achieved greater things than I thought I would ever accomplish in my life.

We also hear you like to cook.  Give us one of your favorite healthy recipes.


Shrimp Tacos w/ Cilantro Lime Sour Cream


1 tablespoon olive oil


1 teaspoon chipotle or blended chili powder


1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound medium shrimp (about 20), peeled and deveined


 8 corn tortillas

8 sprigs cilantro for garnish

2 limes, cut into wedges

Sauce:

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Juice and zest from one lime

Salt to taste

 

For sauce:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine.

 

For tacos:

Heat a stovetop or outdoor grill to medium-high. Mix the olive oil, chipotle or chili powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Grill the shrimp until translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side. 
Grill tortillas, until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side. (Alternatively, wrap in a damp paper towel and heat in a microwave.) Spoon sauce on the tortilla, then top with about 2 or 3 shrimp and a sprig of cilantro. Serve 2 tacos per person, with a lime wedge on the side.

By Vishal Punj

Vishal Punj is the owner of Aatma Fitness Studios, a full service boutique health and fitness club in the Center Of The Universe, Seattle.

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