Tag Archives: Wander Talks

Wander Talks Episode 17: Dancers and Body Image

body image
Body image is a very real par of a dancer’s psyche.

In this week’s episode of Wander Talks, I sat down with dancer and recent USF graduate, Jacqui Dugal, to discuss something that is very prevalent in the dance world: the “in-between disorder,” which is not an eating disorder but not a homeostatic state of mind. Body image is known to be distorted amongst the dance community. We are surrounded by mirrors, thin peers, and are forced stare at ourselves in a leotard and tights almost everyday. With this, dancers must be VERY conscious about what they put into their mouths, as well as keep up with their own cross training to supplement any necessary calorie expenditure. Dance demands so much from you: it requires endurance, a fit body, a strong mind, and thick skin. However, having all this pressure to look and “dance” the part can start to distort the young dancer’s mind, especially when it comes to what they keep in the kitchen.


Body Image

As Jacqui and I discussed, it can be VERY difficult to even identify when this can even be considered problematic. Outside influences, dance professors, and even our own critical eye can be enough to prompt some unhealthy behaviors. Jacqui admitted to weighing herself habitually (a very common behavior), and I admitted to being okay with wanting to skip a meal. None of these behaviors can ever be considered “healthy,” but when you’re in the spotlight 24/7, it is very hard to tell yourself that these “behaviors” are detrimental to your mental health.

As an artist, it can be difficult to explain exactly what prompts these troubled thoughts. Dancers are a breed of artist that share the same demands of a sport, in terms of physicality. Outside sources may not understand why these dancers desire to achieve such a physique. It is not for mere satisfaction, more so that it is for our art. But, no matter the motive, I hope to find a way to help dancers and others with a body image distortion overcome their tendency to be overly critical so that they can prevent future damage to their body, both mentally and physically. Nothing is worth your love and passion if it is going to destroy you.

Wander Talks Episode 15: Training With Three Athletes

What some of the best do when training.

On this episode of Wander Talks, I sat down with some fellow students of mine, all of which were guys that are both insanely intelligent and excellent athletes.



Chris Gai is one of my classmates in the undergraduate Exercise Science Program. He is head of the USF Powerlifting Club, as well as a part of the USF Kettlebell Club, working towards becoming a physical therapist, and has assisted our professors in one of the most recent performance research studies at USF. This guy knows his stuff, and is proficient on all things iron.
Joseph Brooks, whom I last spoke with on Wander Talks, is a graduate student in the Exercise Science program. Brooks is both a knowledgeable student and a competitive athlete in two sports: rugby and Strongman.
Stephen Beugrand is also another past guest on Wander Talks. Stephen is also an undergraduate student in the Exercise Science program, has competed in various Men’s Physique bobdybuilding shows. He has had quite some experience in different programming varieties and diet manipulations. As last seen on Wander Talks, Beaugrand is very knowledgeable about nutrition.
I brought the three of these guys together to discuss different training methods for each sport to show how complex and varied it can be from sport to sport. Simply placing a weight down and picking it up is not all it takes to get strong, ESPECIALLY when training for something specific. It all comes down to the specificity principle that is so commonly referenced in our field.
Hearing what these guys had to say and how knowledgeable and passionate they are for their craft was extremely enjoyable to observe, and I was lucky to partake in such a conversation.
Wander Talks and Killing The Breeze thanks all the guys for their appearance on the show. Stay tuned to see where these guys end up!

Wander Talks: Episode 6 – First Date Etiquette

first date
Coffee at an italian cafe is probably a go.


In this episode of Wander Talks, I am joined again by my friends Kenny Davis and Will Nogueira to talk about the do’s and don’ts about first dates. First dates, as we all know, tend to be the most awkward experiences, and can leave us scarred or swept away. It’s all depends on the happenings within the date itself. So many factors come into discussion when trying to decipher what should and shouldn’t happen. Kenny, Will, and I spent a great deal of time trying to tackle as many topics as possible.

What To Wear

This is incredibly difficult and heavily dependent on what the date entails. That is, if you know what your getting yourself into. Besides the obvious outfit choices between outdoors-activities and dinner-dates, girls and guys can have some trouble deciding what is appropriate. Girls may worry that their outfit is too revealing or too conservative. Guys may be hesitant to pull out the nice button downs or to just throw on a basic t-shirt. We touched on this topic frequently, attempting to decide what provides the most comfort for each other, what constitutes “appropriate” attire, and how dressed up you should get for a first date.

Where To Go

This is also a very hard factor to determine when planning a first date. The cliche “dinner and movie” may have faded out in popularity ratings because of the sheer awkwardness of eating and then sitting in a theatre without a word exchanged. Will, Kenny, and I threw around possible date venues like restaurants, bars, and activities like go-carting and tossed around the pro’s and cons of each. Bars introduce a social environment that can also bring about uncomfortable run-ins and loud surroundings. Restaurants are traditional, but do leave you staring at one another in attempts to hold a conversation for over an hour (and not to mention the awkward paycheck moment). Will made a good point about the benefits of activities: how it gives you something to talk about, forced interaction, and an opportunity to see how you both “click.”

How To Be

This may be the hardest one of them all: “Should I kiss them?” “Should we not touch?” “Should we drink?” These are questions everyone think when going out on a first date. Jumping back to the topic of appropriateness, many people differ in opinions when it comes to picking a girl up for a first date, or if one should lay a hand on the other at all. Opinions definitely differed in conversation between the guys and myself. One thing we did agree on was the introduction of alcohol. This “liquid confidence” was agreed to be the absolute worse thing to be brought out on a first date. From possible vomit to obnoxious conversation, we all could safely agree that drinking to inebriation would be a bad idea.
In general, first dates are almost impossible anticipate. It’s safe to assume that you’ll run into awkward moments and uncomfortable conversations. Basically, the best thing to do on a first date is to throw expectations out the window. Be as respectful a possible, pay attention to body language, and embrace your awkwardness. Even if it’s a disaster, at least you’ll have a story to take from it and wisdom to share.

Wander Talks: Episode 14 – Joseph Brooks the “Strongman”

Joseph Brooks understands what it means to compete on this level.


In this week’s episode of Wander Talks, I sat down with fellow USF Bull, Joseph Brooks. Joe is in the Exercise Science graduate program over at USF, as well as a Strongman competitor and Rugby player, both of which I am very new to. Luckily, Joe was happy to explain both in great deal, including both the sports themselves as well as the training aspect. To say that this guy is “very active” would be an understatement.

Joseph Brooks

The first ever “World’s Strongest Man” competition was held in 1977 in Universal Studios, California. From then on, it has grown in both popularity and recognition. The Strongman “Hall of Fame” include champions like: Bruce Wilham, Bill Kazmaier, Phil Pfister, and Brian Shaw.
This sport includes so many different events, as Joe described, and sounds like an insanely exciting show. Certain events include: vehicle pulls, keg tosses, and fridge carries. All of these are exactly as they sound, these guys are pulling firetrucks, lifting ridiculously huge stones up and over their bodies, and deadlifting objects that seem impossible to lift off the earth.
As for training, Joe trains both in gym, in Strongman fashion, and for Rugby. I’ve watched him train in USF’s Campus Recreation, and it is incredibly impressive. Joe’s work ethic and determination for these worlds carry into his performance in all three fields: he won one of his first Strongman competitions, and he can squat over 400 pounds (with beautiful form, might I add). On top of all of these activities, he also manages to keep up with his school work for graduate school.
The purpose of the USF graduate program in exercise science is to prepare fitness professionals that are equipped to meet the needs of adults in their pursuit of health, performance, and optimal body composition. Exercise science professionals work with adults in leadership roles in areas such as directors of corporate worksite health promotion, all levels of athletics, wellness clinical rehabilitation, personal fitness consultant, and sport performance positions. In addition, graduates of this program will have the educational background to pursue doctoral education and other advanced degree programs.

Wander Talks: Episode 11 – Spring Break 2015

spring break
Spring Break Bahamas cruise.


This week’s episode of Wander Talks comes to you from The Atlantic Ocean (well, not exactly). Rachel sits down with her cruise crew, Michal Dumala, Ashley DeRigo, and Jonathan Wang, to talk about their recent endeavor on a Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas. This cruise departed on March 5th, and arrived back to the Cape Canaveral Port on March 8th. Three days of fun doesn’t even begin to describe the adventures that we four embarked on. Yes, it was a typical cruise experience, but it was definitely one to remember.
After getting back from 4 days in the cold, stormy Brooklyn winds, I was delighted to return to my sunny Florida weather. It was refreshing to take in the warm sun rays as opposed to trying to not bust my butt on the ice-covered pavement while trying to catch a 6am cab. After checking in, the “cruise crew” was delighted to board a boat filled with multiple hot tubs, a big pool, endless food, and ongoing events. The Bahamas excursion was also a day of firsts: interaction with the locals, clear blue water, parasailing, and mystery juice-filled coconuts. Besides the horrendous turbulence and slight motion sickness that we had the displeasure to experience, our first cruise experience (and Ashley’s 7th) were all things positive.
This past week was a great example of how great a week off from school and most responsibilities can be. Yes, it always feels like spring break should last more than a week and yes, it sometimes seems to make going back to school that much harder. But using a free week to completely release and let go can be so beneficial for your mind and your body. Of course eating crappy food 7 days straight won’t make you feel too hot, but what better motivation to get back on track once the break is over. The “cruise crew” ate up that 3 day vacation, but based on how exhausted we felt after finally getting back to Tampa, we can probably all agree that the cruise could not last forever.

Wander Talks: Episode 10 – The Power of Pilates

Pilates from a student and teacher perspective.


On this week’s episode of Wander Talks, Rachel sits down with fellow Exercise Science classmate and Pilates instructor, Megan Burditt. Megan began teaching Pilates last year at USF’s Campus Recreation Center and has grown very passionate about this method of training. The great Joseph Pilates, providing people with a great way to build core strength and rehabilitate their bodies in areas like physical therapy, developed Pilates.
Joseph Pilates was first a self-defense instructor in 1912 in England. During World War 1, he was interned as an “enemy alien,” and began to train other interns with a more refined version of his exercise methods, using items like bed springs for resistance training purposes.
After the 1918 flu epidemic in England, Joseph claimed his client’s survival triumph to his practice. After returning to Germany, this system of practice gained popularity in the dance community, specifically with dance legends Rudolf Van Labon and Hanya Holm.
In 1926, Joseph moved to the US, married his wife Clara, and began training New York City Ballet dancers in the adjunct studio. From then on, his students carried on the teachings of “Pilates,” opening studios for practice and stretching the technique all across the country.
Now Pilates has been implemented to dance classes, fitness classes, physical therapy sessions, and other situations that call for core strengthening. It is not a class or series of exercises focusing only on crunches or stretches, nor is it identical to Yoga or another typical fitness class. Pilates is a mind-body practice that focuses on strengthening the abdominals and muscles near the spine by engaging the trunk, pelvis, and shoulder girdle. The entire class consists of keeping a “neutral spine,” awareness of breathing, and developing balance in strength among the bigger/favored muscles and the smaller/less trained muscles. This can aid in injury prevention, recovery, and overall health in one’s day to day life.
Understanding how important the core seems to be under-valued by many people. Those who have poor posture or suffer from lagging back pain while weight lifting are prime examples of individuals that potentially have a weak core. Even the strongest of weight lifters that have a weak core are at risk for injury. Think about a tree. A tree with a strong trunk can withstand storms and larger branches stemming from it’s center. If the trunk were brittle and unstable, it cannot possibly sustain stability for a long period of time, no matter how sturdy the branches may be. The core of anything is the brick of the whole and where the center of gravity lies.
The goal of Pilates is to help build better posture, create a stable core, and bring a little more ease into someone’s life. Whether it be mat Pilates or Pilates with a reformer, Pilates will add strength and stability in the mind and body in anyone who practices it. Megan’s passion for Pilates comes from the strength and peace of mind she has seen blossom within herself, and she hopes to spread the knowledge and power of Pilates through teaching.

Wander Talks: Episode 13 – Marta Gorecka

What is the root cause of them?

This week’s episode of Wander Talks focused on the idea of distractions. Primarily, on the distractions that come with studying and germs. I sat down with my friend Marta Gorecka, the inspiration for one of my articles about germaphobia. We spent the entire day studying for multiple tests that we have coming up this week. While doing so, like any other student, we found ways to turn our attention to something irrelevant to the material we were trying to review. Gossip, social media, iPhone applications, and food were all big focus killers in our day of cramming. So with this, I decided to actually sit down and dive into how exactly we fall into these pits of unproductiveness.


Marta Gorecka

Our brief conversation turned discussion led right into Marta’s germaphobia, a big distraction in her life. I grilled Marta on questions that forced her to further explain why exactly she obsesses over the littlest things, and how much her touch of OCD has affected her life. Like I discussed in my article, germaphobia is not exactly something you can control. It isn’t similar to someone who is conscious of germs that can potentially get you sick (like me), it’s a compulsion that can trigger major anxiety if not acted upon. Marta went into detail about certain situations that cause her the most trouble: gyms, subways, dirty floors, and bathrooms. All of these settings may sound reasonable to anyone slightly mindful of where they set their belongings, but this was taken to a new level that I can relate to a little less.

Talking with someone who actually experiences the full effect of germaphobia/mysophobia really put the condition in perspective. It’s one thing to observe someone acting on their complusive behavior, but it is another to actually hear the reasoning behind it. Hearing Marta describe her point of view helped me understand where she was coming from, and made clear to me that she is fully aware that her fear of germs is more abnormal than normal.

Wander Talks: Episode 7 – 50 Shades of Grey Review

50 Shades
Two guys and a girl on 50 Shades of Grey.

In this week’s episode of Wander Talks, I sat down with my good friends, Joshua Abbott and Brandon Mosely to discuss the heavily controversial movie, 50 Shades of Grey. We went as a group to view the film on the day it premiered, sitting almost too close for comfort in the front section of the theater. I thought it would be interesting to get some feedback on what the two men had to say about the movie, especially since one had read the book and one had not. This already created a perfect setup for conversation brewed from vastly different exposures to the kinky novel-turned movie.


Hot or Nah?

Without giving too much away for those that don’t know what 50 Shades is all about, it was described by many reviews to be a poor depiction of sexual chemistry and set fire in the world of feminism. My friends and I surely thought that the sex was limited when compared to the book, and definitely had a different response to what we saw when compared to other reviews.
USA Today described it as a movie that “glamorizes sexual violence” while other reviewers credit the storyline to be a step back for feminists. Just check out your Google search bar. Many people have seemed to be bothered by bringing this kinky preference to the big screen because it somehow seems to portray gender roles in a negative light in the most unromantic way possibly. Personally, and what was gathered from the podcast, it didn’t seem like something that was trying to push dominant-submissive acts into my own bedroom, and it definitely didn’t make me feel like less of a woman if I found any of the sex-scenes to be hot. We lightly touched on preferences on sex and how this shouldn’t be interpreted as a movie filled with misrepresentation, rather a movie opening a door to sexual preferences that we as a society aren’t as familiar with.

Book vs. No Book

It didn’t seem like there was a big difference between the perspective of one who had read the book versus one who had not read the book. Josh and I only had the “pleasure” to have read a more detailed depiction of each sexual scene. We all agreed that it may have beneficial to have a background view of the characters to see what shaped their way of being, but we’ll have to wait and see if the second and third books do just that (we’re playing catch up). Being that this book was not a storyline that could get very deep, it didn’t seem like there was much you could miss if you hadn’t read the book. You’re judgment on the quality of the film seemed to come from your own personal preferences of what makes a good movie (filmography, acting, and dialogue) rather than the transition from text to film.

General Consensus

We concluded that the film wasn’t as awful as it’s been described. It ended well, and wasn’t as bad as critics made it out to be. It was not Oscar material, but it wasn’t a complete disaster in our eyes.

Wander Talks: Episode 12 – Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas
A travel agency based on music festivals sounds like a sweet idea.

In this week’s episode of Wander Talks, I was lucky enough to sit with Brian Thomas and talk about his rapidly-growing company, Musical Festival Trips. This awesome idea was conjured up by Brian a couple years ago, and has become every festival goers dream means of transportation. Not only are you signing up to attend some of the biggest festivals in the country, but you’re also getting to travel there with a big group of music lovers just like you. In addition, all those stresses of having to find rides, book hotels, and find food are all taken care of you. Sounds more like a fantasy, doesn’t it?

The way this works is simple: pick out a travel package for the chosen festival and RSVP. Once all of that is complete, you are all set. All you have to do is pack up, check in on the designated day, and hop aboard the bus. Once on the bus, the festival fun starts then: music is blasted, you can drink as long as you’re 21, and positive vibes are spread throughout the cabin. Then once you arrive at your destination, unloading and enjoying the music are all you have to worry about.
Most of the buses depart in different locations throughout Florida, since it is a Florida based company, but that doesn’t limit how far MFT will go to attend a festival. Past festivals include Magnetic Music Festival, Basslights, Life In Color Miami, Electric Daisy Carnival, and the whimsical Electric Forest. Brian hinted at possible ideas for growth in travel, such as flight plans to travel overseas to Belgium’s Tomorrowland, and I have no doubt that this will happen in the next few years.

Brian Thomas

Talking with Brian only got me more excited and willing to venture back into the festival world, and definitely hop onto one of the MFT buses. Based on my past experiences, the most stressful part of going to concerts was finding ways to get to them. I’ve had the displeasure of driving endless hours, booking hotels only to find out I couldn’t check in because I was under 21, and experiencing unforeseen travel expenses. No matter how hard you try to plan a trip, the likelihood of something not working out or someone backing out is still pretty high.
What I love about MFT is that everything is taken care of for you. Everything that you pay for is ALL that you will pay for. You don’t have to worry about not having a ride back, not knowing where to stay, or not having a set meet-up spot. You don’t even have to feel 100% responsible for having to make sure your group is all together. By traveling with MFT, all you have to worry about is yourself, the music, and making memories with your MFT travel family.
I can’t wait to see where MFT goes in the future. Brian and his team are working hard to keep it running and growing, and are doing a fabulous job. The latest trip for MFT actually departed about 8 hours after this podcast was recorded. They journeyed off to Buku Music and Art Project in New Orleans. Upcoming events for MFT include: Spring Weekend, Counterpoint, and Electric Forest.
For more information, check out the Music Festival Trip website!

Wander Talks: Episode 8 – The Downfall of Getting Older

getting older
You can’t sugarcoat the pitfalls of getting older.

This week on Wander Talks, I sat down with my friend Will Nogueira to discuss age and what comes with getting old. We started out with the question, “which is more of a problem to society, children or elderly people?”


Getting Older

It’s interesting being 21 and having such a weird perspective on children and older people. We ourselves aren’t exactly adults yet we haven’t been around long enough to claim a full-lived life. We still have millstones to hit, while we’ve already triumphed through big hurdles to get where we are today. Almost all of our wisdom and insight come from observation.
With that, Will went into his reasoning behind his opinion on why the elderly population is more detrimental to society than children are, based on his own interactions with this group of people. I found pro’s and cons in each group of people, and then carried the conversation on into the need for advice or experience.
Experience is practical. It cannot be taught, and no amount of advice can stop you from going through something. However, advice, as I pointed out, can be beneficial by helping us place our own experiences in perspective and help us better understand the happenings in our own lives. Jumping back to our previous topic, Will and I debated back and forth whether or not advice from elderly people was in fact useful or unnecessary.
Thinking about how people evolve over time and how each generation differs, yet similar in the way we progress is insane. When we get older, we’re thought to become these crippled individuals with a novel’s worth of knowledge tucked away because it’s based on an outdated life. The fear of getting old and dying resonates in our minds today because we know realistically that our fate is that of the generation that preceded us, yet we continue to look at them with such confusion and rebel against their older values. I think that the generation before us holds nothing but valuable insight on the world, but it is understandable why some feel as if they are more of a space-holder.