Jillian Tullgren is the Lifestyle Editor of What'sUpNewp. She enjoys a quality cup of properly steeped green tea and only writes in a black Moleskin. Follow her on Instagram @gypseachild.

Newport is full of inspiring people, amiright? Entrepreneurs, scientists, artist, and fitness gurus; kick butt community members who embody everything about athletic culture. In honor of celebrating our local athletes, and those who are especially involved in our community, we have created our ‘Newport Mavens’. Since Newport is so small, a huge amount of our focus is on community; we try out classes, meet new instructors, support the newest fitness craze (as long as one of our friends is teaching it). We sweat our buns off and love to hate and hate to love our trainers, yoga instructors, or anyone else who tells us that eating a pint of ice cream is a huge ‘no’ and that burpees are a huge ‘yes’.

That being said, I reached out to some of our community mavens and asked them a few questions about their fitness routine and lifestyle. My responses were pretty close to perfect and are all extremely inspiring. We can look to these mavens as our Sweat Guru’s, or something like that. I am still working on a proper title. Can you tell?

Each week I will produce a feature of a local maven for us to “ooo”, “ahh” and marvel over. This weeks maven is …

Valerie Griffiths

All photographs are taken by Jennifer Manville of Jennifer Manville Photography.
All photographs are taken by Jennifer Manville of Jennifer Manville Photography.

Valerie is certified at the 500-hour level through Live Love Teach and her teachers: Philip Urso, Stacey Dockins, Renee Deslauriers and Terry Munnelly. Valerie’s class is designed to help students develop mindfulness with breath and body awareness through fun and challenging poses. She recognizes that yoga is a journey and each individual’s practice is unique to them. Valerie lives in Portsmouth with her husband, 3 children, and her dog, Ruby. You can catch one of her classes at Newport Power Yoga, Rhode Island Power Yoga, as well as privately at her home studio, “The Breathing Barn”.

Tell me about yourself! Do you own a studio or exercise space? What formal training’s do you have?
“I have been involved in fitness since my teens, always loving and trying new classes and trends. I started teaching yoga three years ago and completed my 500hr certification through Live Love Teach. I am a firm believer to always have a beginner mind. ”

Do you have a fitness background? If so, what is it?
“I have been practicing yoga for 20 plus years in some facet; however I became passionate and devoted to it for about four years now after taking a heated vinyasa class at Newport Power Yoga. I left feeling amazingly challenged both physically and mentally, and knew I wanted more of that feeling.”

Words of advice:
“My words of advice, hmmm…  ‘each one of us is so much more than our thoughts‘…  these words are what move me in my own practice and in my teaching.”

Favorite music to listen while exercising:
“I love music all kinds, I love how it speaks to everyone; however I prefer practicing and teaching yoga without it, it allows me to get really truthful with myself.  My personal experience with music and yoga is that it just becomes another distraction from allowing yourself to get still, quiet…  and in the stillness is where we find our true self.”

Part of your routine that never changes:
“Watching my class like a hawk and matching breath to movement. I try my best to be purposeful with each as well as the words that I use in class. Keep it simple and clear and relatable to everyone.”

What is your ‘superfood’ or ‘super’ meal of choice, or, if you diet, what is your ‘cheat’ meal?
“I have been plant based since January of 2016, I love trying new recipes and getting really creative with my food, it’s all about flavor for me, and the way the food makes me feel. It is another gateway to practice mindfulness. If I eat a “super food” and it doesn’t make me feel good it makes no sense going back to it no matter how “super” it is.”

What motivates you?
“I am motivated by compassion and kindness and helping others find it in themselves and give out to others.”

I have been a student of Valerie’s since her journey started at Newport Power Yoga and when she says that she watches her class like a hawk, she means it. Her dedication to the unity of breath and movement is apparent, and her joyful heart makes sweating your bum off in a room full of strangers feel like paradise.

All photographs are taken by Jennifer Manville of Jennifer Manville Photography.
All photographs are taken by Jennifer Manville of Jennifer Manville Photography.
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