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  • “BP & CrossFit” - article for This! Magazine

    “BP & CrossFit”

    (This! - November/December issue)

    The health benefits of pizza: the crust provides insulation for the cold winter months; tomato sauce contains lycopene, your prostate's best friend; cheese aka dairy makes for good, strong bones. Bonus points if your pie contains pepperoni, thus meeting your protein requirement. Because of this form of thinking, it's imperative I spend a decent amount of time in the gym.

    Like most people, I would go workout only to find myself in a rut and not accomplishing my ultimate goal. The ultimate goal being looking good naked; call me J-Lo because I'm real. Who really wants to develop and increase their strength, only to utilize it on moving day for a friend? Not me. That's why God created credit cards and professional movers. To achieve my ultimate goal, I decided to join Roanoke's first CrossFit gym, Brickhouse.

    Jay and Amanda Forrester, co-owners of Brickhouse, describe CrossFit training as “functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity” or in layman's terms, “You gon' sweat.” Coming into CrossFit as a beginner can feel very intimidating, which is mainly provoked by misconceptions. Most people think you already have to be fit to do CrossFit or, for females, that you'll get bulkier. Amanda stated, “just come in; that mentality will only put you behind”. Jay proudly boasted, “the Brickhouse team is good at getting the average person fit”. That's where Amanda steps in and gets the ball rolling with a private foundations course that allows newcomers to get comfortable with the barbell. It's important to note that all workouts can be modified based on skill level. And believe me, I modify the crap out of them!

    Once you've become immersed in the CrossFit world, you'll start to hear the term cult. Paraphrasing Greg Glassman, CrossFit CEO, Amanda said, “cult has such a negative connotation, but if when you hear cult you mean community & passionate, then yeah!” Being on the inside, I can honestly say I've never seen any strange pagan rituals. Then again, I only attend class twice a week, an hour at a time. Come to think of it, I do see all the CrossFit folk drinking the same beverage called “FitAid.” I may need to do a follow-up piece, but I digress.

    I suppose you're now wondering, “how's Blair at CrossFit?” It might seem, to borrow a word from Trump, braggadocious to discuss my CrossFit abilities. As any humble man would do, I asked my coach Zach Bennett to tell me how great I am, for literary purposes of course. Zach blankly stared at me, clearly blown away by this honor and said, “you're very positive”. Man of few words, I like it.

    Get a jump on the food-filled holidays. Whether you share my same ultimate goal or if you prefer the health and fitness aspect, definitely check out my buddies at Brickhouse CrossFit, by visiting BrickhouseCrossFit.com

    PS – My goal is to contort my face, while working out, with the same intensity as my coach.

  • “BP & Spray Tanning” - article for This! Magazine

    “BP & Spray Tanning”

    (This! - September/October issue)

    Most people associate the summer season with Pina Coladas and beach vacations, but for me, it resurfaces my yearly concerns. The first of which is vision blindness. You see, when temperatures begin to raise, my khaki shorts allow my lily white legs to emerge from hibernation. The sight alone warrants moderate eye protection. However, if the sun hits my gams just right, the reflection alone is enough to burn your retina. The second concern, and arguably the most important, is the sun’s incessant attempts to make me the human equivalent to a lobster. So, instead of being bullied for yet another summer, I finally took matters into my own hands…

    Unfortunately, the time zones in Antarctica threw off my internal clock and I managed to return to our fair city during the height of summer. While most Roanokers bathed in the summer sun, the penetrating waves seemed to vibrate against my skin, as if indicating that the sun was laughing at my inability to travel with a calendar. I was on the verge of accepting defeat. Being a blue-eyed Brazilian seemed like a distant dream.

    Enter Barbara Neal Evans, owner of Blown Away Spray Tanning on Brambleton Avenue. Barbara first contacted me after reading and enjoying one of my previous articles. Immediately I loved her. It was then she invited me to stop by and consider getting a spray tan. How could I pass this up? It was finally my chance to be sun-kissed without getting sun-dissed. #WordPlay

    Barbara initially started her business simply because “it was fun and looked good” but through her journey, it became more about giving individuals a safer alternative to harmful UV rays. Skin protection is a passionate topic for Barbara. Within her salon, you’ll find displays of high quality sunscreens and various posts about sun safety. One alarming fact I discovered: Melanoma is the second most common type of cancer in teens and young adults and is the leading cause of death in women ages 25 to 30. Yikes!

    Barbara’s friendly and personable demeanor made it easy for me to strip down to my skivvies and get my spray on. Once we were underway, Barbara used the “premier sunless tanning product” Norvell. According to Barbara, each individual client of Blown Away receives a natural-looking tan because of the product’s ability to adapt to one’s skin tone.

    After a thorough “paint job”, I glanced at myself in the mirror. I looked like a Greek God, well… a Greek God with astigmatism, but I’ll take what I can get. As you can see in the picture, my tan was no joke. It looks like I’m wearing thigh-high boots… And yes, I was indeed the top leg color. Thank goodness I don’t have an addictive personality because I could get use to this (Sipping my 7th glass of pink Franzia).

    Barbara and the rest of the staff are fantastic. Check them out at BlownAwaySprayTans.com

    PS – I haven’t brushed my teeth for a week and they STILL look white, bonus!

  • “BP & Drinks with Waynette” - article for This! Magazine

    “BP & Drinks with Waynette”

    (This! - July/August issue)

    Nothing feels more cosmopolitan than taking a “vino-laced” lunch in downtown Roanoke with the President… (Sipping a glass of cab sav) of Dr Pepper Park at the Bridges, Waynette Anderson.

    My drink break following President seemed a little misleading, mainly because Obama has me blocked on Twitter. I’m sorry, I like posting photos of every meal I consume. But I digress; let me try that introduction again…

    I’m a pepper. You’re a pepper. She’s a pepper. Waynette Anderson is the “pepper” behind Dr Pepper Park at the Bridges. Nailed it!

    As a hard-hitting journalist, it is my duty to ask the hard questions. Channeling my inner Barbara Walters, I asked, “Where are all the rides at Dr Pepper Park”? Side note to other journalists; definitely have about 11 sips of wine to achieve Ms. Walters’ speech pattern. Waynette graciously patted me on the head and simply said, “You’re an idiot”. Come to find out, Dr Pepper Park at the Bridges is a community venue and NOT an amusement park.

    Dr Pepper Park is a private venture, funded only by sponsorship, and is another exciting example of how our community is growing. It’s a place where all are welcome: kids, pets, bikes, trolls, etc. Plus, the park has a variety of participating vendors to highlight your experience including, but not limited to, beer! Waynette strives to provide an outlet for underserved niches of musical genres, as evident by the park’s current line-up. I have my fingers crossed for Davey and the Polka Barn Maidens. Waynette’s enthusiasm over the park’s schedule was so infectious, that I downloaded the Dr Pepper Park app, which conveniently allows you to buy tickets to any and/or all of their events.

    As lunch progressed, it was clear who had a better tolerance for wine. As Waynette proceeded to order a second glass, I struggled to take notes, which coincidently are a struggle to decipher now. Case in point, I wrote, “How often do cicadas come around”? Maybe that was a quote? Nonetheless, it’s a very good question; perhaps the topic for my next article? Another note that’s a head-scratcher, “local to organ prox”… Maybe alcohol and journalism don’t go hand and hand as I initially thought.

    As lunch wound down, Waynette called me an Uber and I thanked her by saying “you have a pretty lady face, lady”. As I fell into the backseat, my face managed to purchase tickets to multiple events at Dr Pepper Park and break my screen. Needless to say, I have a jammed packed schedule ahead of me.

    Want to join me at Dr Pepper Park but don’t know how to get there? It’s okay. I’m directionally challenged as well. Dr Pepper Park is located just across the street from the Virginia Tech/Carilion School of Medicine on South Jefferson Street. You can find the park by walking or driving into South 16 apartment complex, next to Starbucks, and follow the road to the rail crossing. The stage is next to the Walnut Avenue Bridge. Did that help? Did I lose you? Then maybe it’s best you visit: DrPepperPark.com