Category: Wellness

Fitness explorer or dilettante?

24 weeks

Achieved tonight at a dance class.

As the year goes on it becomes more and more apparent– and amazing to me– that exercise is once again assuming a prominent place in my life. I look forward to my workouts and miss them when I skip them (although an extra rest day here and there is quite welcome). After being a devout indoor kid and couch potato for the first 15 years of my life, overtraining an under-conditioned indoor kid body for 7 seasons as a high school and college fencer, getting way too obsessive about diet and exercise after college, undergoing multiple rounds of physical therapy for various old injuries, and hopping on/off the yoga bandwagon more times than I can count, I’m taking great pains to make sure that my newfound exercise habit is varied, safe, and sustainable in the long term.

Now that I’m close to my goal of a full half-year of weekly workouts, I’m also becoming more sure of what kinds of workouts I like, so that I can make sure that I keep up the fitness thing for the second half of the year. So far, I have learned that I thrive in thoughtful, high-energy, and non-competitive group classes, especially those with an emphasis on linking breath to movement– or at least those with instructors who REMIND me to breathe. My winter/early spring obsession with ballet has faded, and I’ve discovered an intense love for Simonson Technique, which allows me to work within the limits of my body type and bone structure. I love Pilates more than ever and look forward to my weekly class (especially with Boyfriend at my side). I’m finding that with the right instructor, I kind of secretly heart barre classes. I even found my way back to the yoga mat a handful of times in the past 2 months. And as I mentioned recently, this week Boyfriend and I are heading to our first Flywheel class ever.

With all of these endeavors going on, I have begun to worry that I am too much of a dilettante/dabbler. I have been going to one barre class, one Pilates class, one or two dance classes, and sometimes a yoga class every week. Is this too random for me to see results? Would it be better for me to take, say, 2-3 barre classes and drop Pilates and yoga? I hesitate to say yes, because I feel great. My clothes are fitting way better than they have in recent memor, I can see visible biceps muscles upon flexing for the first time ever, and my calves look damn good. I also think my workouts complement each other. The strengthening of barre and Pilates finds a nice counterpoint in the movement of dance and stretching of yoga, and I have read too many exercise physiology articles at this point to in good conscience sign myself up for a regimen of 100% isometric training. Still, I can’t help but wonder whether I’m missing out in comparison to my friend who hits up Physique 57 every day, or the coworkers who alternate thrice-weekly spinning with twice-a-week power yoga.

The other drawback that comes along with this variety of boutique fitness classes is the overwhelming cost. I really need to get a handle on my fitness budget– I know it would be more responsible to just commit to a membership somewhere or maybe drop the more expensive classes *cough*Physique*cough* in favor of relatively budget-friendly yoga. I briefly considered, but ultimately decided against joining Equinox, because I just can’t stand the gym vibe, and refusing to give up my Pilates and dance classes renders the financial incentive nil. I also sometimes entertain the idea of joining the SoHo location of Exhale, but I worry that I wouldn’t go enough, or that I’d incur an overuse injury from only doing Core Fusion (although I know there are several varieties therein). Whyyyy do I not have a trust fund earmarked solely for overpriced boutique workouts?!? 😛

Today I also found myself wishing that I had a consistent workout buddy. Even though I’ve been doing all of these group classes, the vibe at some studios can be pretty cold, and I’m naturally shy– introducing myself to the girl next to me is never easy for me. Most of my friends either work out in the morning at studios far away from me, belong to full-service gyms, or don’t exercise at all. I have been talking Physique up to some of my coworkers, but none have taken the bait yet. A friend to grimace at from across the studio would be really nice. However, it’s clear that most people are there to get in and get out. I suppose I’d better get used to it…or grow some balls and start introducing myself to the ladies sitting/standing/shaking next to me.

A return to biking and blogging

A gorgeous Bobbin Birdie

I only WISH this were my bike. As it is, I’m riding something far less lovely.

This first month of summer has really been flying by– mostly because life has been so damn busy during the past few weeks. Boyfriend and I moved to a larger apartment last weekend– a real, live one-bedroom, woo! I’ve also been hard at work in class, although though this moving business has thrown a real wrench into my whole “20 workouts per month” plan. As of June 15th I’d only worked out a measly six times: 2 barre classes, 2 yoga classes, a dance class, and a Pilates class. LAME! (However, I did spend the entire weekend of June 8th packing, lifting, and unpacking giant plastic boxes of my belongings, so I’m inclined to count that as exercise as well.)

Luckily, last week I managed to claw my way back onto the wagon and completed 5 workouts almost by accident. At this rate, the end of the month will see me almost catch up to my stated goal of 20 workouts, as opposed to having the goal fly by, untouched. So that’s better than nothing.

First, I enjoyed a great, sweaty Simonson Technique class on Tuesday at DNA. On Friday I attended a great second class with Sarah G. at Physique 57 SoHo, but was crushed to hear her say that she”ll be moving out of the city soon. I suppose this will be my chance to branch out and try the classes with Lindi, Antonietta, Emily T., Cassie…all the instructors I keep hearing great things about but haven’t yet tried. Saturday brought me my weekly wonderful dose of Pilates with the equally wonderful Karina Michaels at Reforming New York. I sweated the hour out with Boyfriend and a former co-worker, after which we rewarded ourselves with ‘wichcraft in the park. Mmm.

Now, if you possess rudimentary counting skills, you’ll notice that I only worked out 3 times between Tuesday and Saturday. This brings me to my final 2 workouts of the week– two surprise bike rides on Saturday and Sunday afternoons! After lunch on Saturday, Boyfriend and I headed up north to visit my mom’s place. When we arrived, she brought out a couple of old hybrid bikes that had been sitting in the garage for 10+ years, and said we should try them out. If we liked them, she’d have them tuned up and would bring them to the city for us the following week.

The bikes seemed to be generally the right size for us, so we brought them to the gas station and filled the tires, before (at my behest) walking the bikes to a quiet-ish street to begin the ride. My cycling skills are, to put it lightly, MAJORLY WEAK. I can barely manage a hand signal without losing my balance. But after warming up for a few minutes in an empty church parking lot, I rode about 5 miles that afternoon. Not all at once, mind you…we kept stopping to check Google Maps. It’d been a long time since I’d navigated the side streets of my hometown by car, let alone bike. The following day, I defied my aching sitz bones to do another quick 3-miler to and from the beach. While I’m still a little shaky alongside cars, especially at intersections, I think with some practice I’ll be more confident on the bike. I’m definitely going to start out on the park bike paths and greenways in Brooklyn before attempting to ride on the street. It’ll be a work in progress.

My new bike is only an entry-level hybrid from 1997, so it’s going to need some modifications in order to be fit for even light city riding. I need to put a bell and lights on it just to make it legal, and I definitely want fenders and a rear rack. If I start riding the bike to the office, I’ll probably get some puncture-resistant tires (cream ones!) swept-back/North Road/townie bars instead of the standard riser bars, so I can sit more upright, and perhaps a nicer saddle. And in terms of theft-prevention, I’ll need to replace the quick-release levers on the wheels and saddle with locking hex nuts or something similar. Oh, look…now I have something new to obsess over in addition to my boutique fitness class schedule.

In other news, Boyfriend graciously agreed to sign up alongside me for our very first Flywheel Sports class. We’re taking a Friday evening class with Ryan, since every weekday evening class with Jesse, about whom I’ve heard so many great things, filled up so fast once the booking window opened. If it goes well, this summer may well be filled with more indoor and outdoor cycling than I originally anticipated. And if this is the case, I’m going to have to invest in multiple pairs of padded shorts. Or one of those donut pillows to sit on.

Summer of triceps (and accountability)

The heat wave over Memorial Day weekend did nothing if not remind me that 1) summer is just around the corner, and she’s going to be a bitch, and 2) I will probably have to wrestle my way into a bathing suit at least once over the next few months. Blerg. However, Well + Good NYC recently posted a piece on “how to design your perfect summer,” and since I blindly follow all advice I read on the Internet, I’m obeying life coach Laurie Gerber’s first tip:

Write it down. The most important thing is to actually create a detailed plan, says Gerber, and put it in writing. Start with the tips below. “Extra credit if you read what you wrote, post it somewhere, and/or tell people!””

I’m willing to bet that Laurie’s already designed her perfect summer, and probably knows her stuff, because she looks really happy in her headshot– like she’s laughing at a really clever joke that we can’t hear.  So here I go, writing it down.

In the months of June, July, and August this year, I hereby pledge to:

  • Complete 20 workouts each month (an average of 5 per week).
  • Of those 20 monthly workouts, at least five will consist of trembling and grunting my way through a Physique 57 or other barre class (Core Fusion, Pure Barre, Bar Method, etc.)
  • Try something new/scary every month. So in June, I plan to take my very first spinning class at Flywheel. (Will my exercise-induced asthma and wonky knees be able to handle it? We’ll find out!) July may see me attempting taking on a hardcore session of metabolic resistance training with the Refine Method, and in August I’d like to make an ass of myself at Brooklyn Boulders or something else completely different from my usual dance-yoga-Pilates-barre routine.
  • And of course, I promise to rest on two non-consecutive days every week to let my body recover. That part’s easy.
Outside of working out, I will also:

  • Turn 27 without whining about how I’m getting “so old” (but really guys, I’m getting sooo old omgzwtf)
  • Drink cocktails– preferably fruity ones with a gin base– on rooftops, as often as possible.
  • Take advantage of the spacious kitchen in our new apartment with some serious hot-weather-friendly home cooking.
  • Obtain the necessary appliances to blend and juice to my heart’s content.

I’ll be sharing stories about my workouts and eats the whole way through. Stay tuned.

Foursquare as fitness motivation

18 weeks at the gym

Thanks, Foursquare!

On Tuesday, Foursquare said I’d worked out 18 weeks in a row. This was exciting news.

Most people who know me would say that I’m a bit of a Foursquare obsessive. I check in constantly and am always gleeful to unlock specials– with good reason, I say, since I’ve gotten Amex statement credits, free cocktails, and clothing discounts from Foursquare. I once got into a multi-week, back-and-forth battle for the Mayorship of my office with some coworker I’ve never met. (I eventually gave up because she started checking in on weekends. *cough*CHEATER*cough*.) Foursquare helps me keep track of where I’ve been, gives me suggestions for places I might want to check out, and lets me see what my friends and former coworkers, who make up some 80% of my friends list, are up to.

Foursquare Gym Rat badge

The coveted ‘Gym Rat’ badge: absurdly easy to get if you’re actually athletic; a major victory if you’re me.

When I started working out more regularly in January of this year I was jazzed to unlock the Gym Rat badge fairly quickly (10 gym check-ins within 30 days). I also noticed about a month ago that the app was giving me props for going to the gym every week, keeping track of how many weeks in a row I’d worked out. This little counter’s serving as a surprising form of extrinsic motivation: I’m now fixated on keeping that number growing.

My current goal is to get this number up to 26 weeks, which would be exactly half a year… and to keep it going after that for as long as I can sustain it. Even if I only work out 1-2 times in a week, that’s still great compared to my extreme couch potato-ness of 2011. I realize it’s the same old “You set a new record!” message as when I go to bars/parks/the theatre for X weeks in a row, but I don’t really care. I also know that this wouldn’t work if I were an outdoor runner or cyclist, but since I do most of my workouts at dance, yoga, barre, and Pilates studios it works for me.

Obviously, the motivation to work out has to come mostly from within. I work out because it makes me feel strong and clears my head. But this is just a little extra boost for my motivation. I also have no idea of which day the “week” counter resets, so I’m extra motivated to not let one rest day turn into four.

Chlorophyll has superpowers

I gotta say, after reading this Well+Good NYC post about New Yorkers embracing the magical healing powers of chlorophyll, I’m feeling mighty guilty about only being able to choke down half of the chlorophyll shot included in my one-day Organic Avenue LOVEspring cleanse before I felt like I was going to vomit into the sink. (Maybe I’ll tell y’all about that cleanse someday!)

Shot of pure chlorophyll

Why couldn’t we be friends?

Even drinking this guy as I read the post wasn’t enough to assuage my sense of failure:

My green juice

Broccoli-spinach-kale-cucumber-apple-lemon-ginger

I guess I’m just not as hardcore as my pigment-chugging peers. D:

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