Tagged: fitness

Happy 2013!

Here's to 52 more!

Here’s to 52 more!

As I checked into my first workout of the year at Physique 57 today, I hit my major milestone of 52 straight weeks of exercising! Looking back, some of said weeks were a tad light (read: I barely got to class once), but I’m crazy excited that I managed to show up to sweat at least once a week, every week, for the whole year.

This year marks the first time since college that I’ve sustained a consistent exercise program for more than a few months. In fact, I experienced many fitness “firsts” in 2012…these were some of the highlights:

  • PILATES! I actually took my first Reformer class on New Year’s Eve in 2011, but I had my first-ever private session with my favorite teacher in January 2012 and started taking class every week after that. Boyfriend and I go to her class in Brooklyn every week, and I never want to give it up. My core strength has improved like whoa, and most of my old nagging sports injuries have faded. Meanwhile, Boyfriend’s back never bothers him anymore, and he has all sorts of arm muscles now. Thanks, Joe!
  • Taking my first Lotte Berk-based barre class at P57 in February under the guidance of the amazing Holly. I am still not sure if barre is the best workout for me, but it’s true that there’s nothing else like it.
  • My first experience with truly athletic yoga– FLOW with Erin Jacques and Amanda Murdock at SLT Yoga. I left a sweaty, melty mess. I really need to take this class more.
  • Finding, and becoming obsessed with, fitness review blog/platform RateYourBurn. I am a RYB fiend and will talk the site up to anyone who will listen to me, as it’s hilarious AND useful.
  • Trying my first-ever spinning class at Flywheel. I was saddle-sore for like a week afterward (tmi?), I almost had two asthma attacks, and my wonky knees don’t take well to cycling, so I haven’t been back. But it was an adrenaline rush I’ll never forget.
  • Trying Reinvention Chair at Chaise23. My arms were sore for days afterward from pulling on those bungees!

Other firsts included The Bar Method, Pure Barre, Barre3, Pilates ProWorks, aerial vinyasa at Om Factory, Refine Method, a whole bunch of new-to-me yoga studios, Gaga, and some Pilates mat and tower classes. I don’t even want to think about how many MindBody accounts I’m currently juggling.

Perhaps the most meaningful “first,” however, was finding Simonson Technique dance classes, initially at the Joffrey Ballet School and then at Dance New Amsterdam, its real home. Every teacher I’ve had has been phenomenal, and I always leave class feeling limber, inspired, and excited to return. Dance (excluding Zumba) isn’t a calorie-torcher like Refine, spinning, or SPX, but it is my very favorite way to move.

With my injuries and exercise-induced asthma, not every workout spells rainbows and unicorns for my body, so I had some serious fitness ADD this year as I tried to figure out what worked best for me. I am trying to be more focused now, but I’m still going to keep experimenting with my schedule and trying new classes. (I’m especially excited for Lithe to come to town.) Let’s see if I can keep this fitness streak going for another 52 weeks…

Cheers to good health, friends, food, and sweat in 2013!

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Tracking my workouts with SlimKicker

I have begun to think that Foursquare is not the best, most accurate way to track my workouts. Despite feeling good each time I receive a new “N weeks at the gym! That’s a new record!” notification, I’m craving something more accurate and robust that actually acknowledges the individual sweat sessions I put in.

The Nike Fuelband intrigues me, but I have heard that the activities I mainly do, like yoga and Pilates, don’t register well on the device. Sad.

However, I am a sucker for anything else that employs game mechanics, so I’m starting to play around with SlimKicker, which lets me track my workouts and food, complete challenges, earn badges, and level up via a website and an iOS app. It seems kind of like a Fitocracy and MyFitnessPal hybrid, although unlike Fitocracy (which uses a “freemium” business model), I can access everything for free.

fitocracy homepage

I’m not super-interested in keeping a food diary, as I am more focused on building and maintaining a consistent fitness routine rather than losing weight, so I’ve mostly just logged some workouts, which is a fairly simple process; you can search for a type of workout or use a parametric filtering system to drill down into specific exercise types and body parts. I had some trouble finding Pilates until I realized that it was findable using search, but didn’t live in any of the filter categories (at least not the ones I checked). HOWEVER, now that I’ve entered Pilates and yoga into my workout, I do see them pop up in my default list of “Recent Exercises.” Awesome!

SlimKicker

My SlimKicker dashboard.

From my initial explorations I can see, with my UX-professional hat on, a few other design issues– for instance, when I double-logged my Pilates class from Monday, it was hard for me to find the individual day for me to edit my entries; it would be great to see just a really simple log of every piece of activity I’ve entered lately. The graphing/data visualization is still pretty light, as I can only see how many calories I’ve burned, and filter down by activity type. However, it seems like a pretty new service, and I’m sure the team is always rolling out new enhancements and features, so I really look forward to seeing how the platform evolves!

 

Stay classy: Barre Essentials at Pilates Proworks

Barre Pro

Unlike this lady, everyone in my class was wearing pants. [Source: Pilates ProWorks]

Despite my recent moratorium on Lotte Berk-based barre classes, I decided to use the last class of my FITIST 4-pack on a “Barre Essentials” workout at Pilates ProWorks on 14th Street. I’d recently read some enthusiastic reviews of Barre Pro– the PPW version of Lotte Berk– which raved about how different it was from the usual suspects, thus piquing my curiosity. I had been to this studio once before for their Pilates Pro class and enjoyed it, but felt kind of like I was going to fall off and die the whole time…my balance kinda sucks, and I don’t do that well on elevated Reformers even in non-Pilates-on-crack classes, so in Pilates Pro my flailing truly reached new heights. Anyway, I was wary of going all-out with Barre Pro  since I hadn’t taken barre since August. Also, I feel more Amateur than Pro in basically everything fitness-related, so Essentials felt right for me.

Looking back, I definitely made a good choice. There was only a small group of us in the studio, half of whom were attending the class for the first time. The moves were all familiar, and a few felt a tad easy-ish, but overall I got a much needed ass-kicking in a way that eased me back into barre mode.

The teacher, Jackie, did a great job of cueing and explaining the moves, and it felt like I was really under the care of a bona fide Pilates instructor (which she is!) rather than some rando dancer.

My favorite part about the class was the dance-y warmup, which made it feel like I was in a jazz class and got my heart rate up. The warmup was followed by arms, thighs (sometimes WITH arms), glutes/seat (I muddled through the standing seatwork because of a hip injury but relished the extreme side-butt fire during the floor section), and abs with the squishy ball under the small of our back (also had some trouble with abs because of my bum hip, but I did my best). Each section was also punctuated by planks: regular-flavor, spiderman planks, mountain climbers, etc. There was definitely more of a cardio aspect to the class, and I found that both terrifying and delightful. One thing I’m glad that we didn’t do is “round-back” abs under the barre, which have felt gimmicky and potentially injurious in nearly every other Berk-based class I’ve done.

The class as a whole felt like an awesome hybrid of mat Pilates, sports conditioning, and Lotte Berk. This might have been a result of the class being beginner-level, but I also liked the slightly shorter sets…most barre classes I feel like I’m putting myself at risk for an overuse injury from all the reps, but this felt a lot safer.

Verdict: I’ll be back! Excited to try Barre Pro, 30/30, and Barre X (barre + TRX combo, what!!) in the future, too.

Back on the wagon

Today I joined one of my lovely lady friends for a dance class at DNA, which marked my fifth workout of the week, following Pilates on Monday, dance on Tuesday, a surprisingly awesome barre class– yes, after swearing off of barre I went back “one last time,” but more on that later– on Thursday, and another Pilates class yesterday. Most weeks, it’s so hard to get to that second dance class…I’m not sure why, though. Maybe because it’s 90 minutes long? I somehow have a much easier time to committing to hour-long classes…

Anyway, I haven’t gone five-for-five in an embarrassingly long time. Here’s to sticking to fitness commitments! [Cheers! It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?]

Monday also marked my 47th week of working out, according to Foursquare. One of my Foursquare friends, by the way, has gone to the gym every week for 70+ weeks. HOW WILL I EVER CATCH UP??

47 weeks at the gym

Workout failure, blerg

I sooo meant to go to a modern dance class tonight at DNA…I even wore an exercise tank top as a base layer under my sweater at work today in order to minimize my changing time! Alas, after getting sucked into a conversation with my boss at the very end of the day I totally missed my window to get to the studio on time. Gah.

One thing I’ve really been slacking on lately is following through with the workouts I put on my calendar. Jess at Fit Chick in the City really inspires me with her “Say It, Do It!” feature, so in the name of accountability, I’m going to list out my plans here with the intent of ACTUALLY completing them.

My next 7 days will go as follows:

Wednesday – 90-minute yoga class @ Mala
Thursday REST (not by choice, have a work commitment!)
Friday
– 75-minute yoga class @ Strala
Saturday
– 50-minute Intro to Megaformer @ SLT (eep!)
Sunday
REST
Monday
– 60-minute Yoga FLOW @ SLT
Tuesday 
– 90-minute dance class @ DNA

And then…it’s home for Thanksgiving for turkey and veggies (bringing our CSA box home to share with Mom) and maybe some Black Friday yoga. Namaste, y’all!

An evolving routine

See? I didn’t stop working out between July, i.e. my last fitness-related post, and November, I swear! However, the hurricane two weeks ago DID have me stuck inside for almost a whole week and I have to admit, I wasn’t at all proactive when it came to seeking out opportunities to take class. I didn’t even bust out my Tara Stiles yoga DVDs. It was basically laziness central in my apartment. As such, I was surprised that Foursquare gave me a 43 weeks-at-the-gym shoutout when I checked into my first post-storm Pilates class at Ellie Herman Pilates. EHP is Boyfriend’s and my new favorite Pilates studio as it is gorgeous, offers tiny classes, and is about a 10-minute walk from our apartment. Anyway, it felt amazing to stretch, move, and sweat away some of the Halloween candy I shoved in my face while trapped inside. (I REGRET NOTHING.)

What I actually mean to write about, though, is how a few months ago I abandoned the never-ending stream of Lotte Berk-based barre classes that I took all summer, and my workout-of-choice mostly shifted to yoga– a mix of both vigorous vinyasa and slower alignment-based classes.

I made the change in my routine for two main reasons: one, I was starting to experience knee pain after taking Bar Method classes, even with modifications for my injury, and two, the expense of attending class even once a week was becoming unsustainable when added onto my dance and Pilates classes, which always take priority. Oh, and I also just plain fell back in love with yoga! I took a literally breathtaking Flow class with Erin Jacques at SLT Yoga, which totally kicked my ass and reminded me why I got into yoga in the first place. Since that class in August I’ve also found some great teachers in two of my neighborhood yoga studios, Mala Yoga and Area Yoga. (I’m making a serious effort to fall in love with Brooklyn studios…I have spent the past 11 months going into Manhattan for workouts several times a week, and really, what’s the point of both living and working in the better borough if I’m always trekking into the city?)

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m ever going to go back to barre class. In my time as a barre devotee I noticed my quads, calves, hip flexors, and IT bands getting tighter, all of which I need like an extra hole in the head. My arms got way toned, but my triceps muscles got super-tight, like to the extent that I started experiencing nerve entrapment. And I honestly can’t stomach the thought of the crazy muscle burn anymore. For now I’m looking for a better balance of strength and stretching, and I feel like I get enough of both from yoga and Pilates. Barre-based workouts have worked wonders for many ladies, including some of my friends, but I guess my weird body can only handle so much isometric work.

And that kinda sucks. Because seriously, guys, my arms were looking AWESOME. >.<