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!
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. >.<
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.
Score! Five more weeks until I hit the half-year mark of consistent weekly workouts.
My Foursquare-monitored exercise streak continued today as I checked into Dance New Amsterdam for 90 minutes of Mind Body Dancer Yoga. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this class, which is supposedly geared toward dancers (if the name didn’t make it obvious enough). Perhaps we’d spend half the class in Dancer’s Pose. Or get berated for not being sufficiently bendy. Thankfully, it was actually just a nice, flowing vinyasa class with a solid mix of Sun Salutations, standing poses, twists, etc. Because of the hot weather today, the last half hour of class included some cooling pranyama, restorative poses, and a generous savasana. Yum.
My favorite thing about the class was that the flow felt steady and safe, not frenetic– we weren’t throwing ourselves from plank-to-chaturanga-to-up dog-to down dog over and over again. Another observation: despite the crowd being young, fit, dancer-y, and 100% female, I picked up on none of the weirdly competitive vibe that is unique to the NYC yoga scene. Zero. Everyone was just very much in their own world, doing what they needed to do. Kind of like in a dance class…duh.
After class, Boyfriend and I met for tapas at La Oficina Latina in Nolita, where I enjoyed a split second of accidental awkward eye contact with Adrian Grenier. You know, from Entourage, and that Melissa Joan Hart movie Drive Me Crazy from way back in 1999. I’m pretty sure he’s been in other stuff, too, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what. Conclusion: he’s pretty mega handsome, in a scruffy way. And he belongs to my coworker’s food co-op!
We then went on a quest for vegan dessert, and having missed the window for visiting Babycakes, we ended up at a hippie-ish place called Whole Earth in the East Village. Now, they supposedly have amazing vegan pumpkin pie, but I decided to ignore everyone else’s rave pie reviews and ordered a vegan triple-chocolate brownie. BIG MISTAKE. I’m highly doubtful that three(!) kinds of chocolate actually made it into the brownie, because it tasted mostly like cardboard and despair. It was one of those vegan baked goods that really tasted, well… vegan. But really, I should never say that, because I’ve had amazeballs vegan cookies, cupcakes, muffins, etc. So using “vegan” as shorthand for “disgusto” is hereby outlawed from my vocabulary. It was a shitty brownie, end of story. Next time I’ll listen to everyone and get the damn pie.
Anyway, I was disappointed to have blown $4 on a crappy dessert, and then we tried to hit up Lula’s for some dairy-free ice cream but were shot down as they’re not open on Mondays. So we went home without any treats, and I cried. And then we watched Sunday’s Mad Men and I cried for real. If you’ve seen the episode, you’ll know what I mean, I think. Maybe. I also kinda cry a lot, so who knows?
But I digress!
Tomorrow I’m trying a new workout. I’ll be visiting Pure Barre up near Columbus Circle, because my Tuesday dance class was canceled, my favorite Pilates teacher is all booked up, and I didn’t want to play the waitlist game with Physique 57 after accidentally canceling my reservation and losing my spot. (I’m also still too scared of spinning to use that Flywheel credit I bought on a whim the other week. Will my “preemie lungs,” as Boyfriend puts it, explode from all of that cardio? Will my butt fall off after sitting on a hard, narrow bike seat for 45 mins? These are the things I worry about.) Wish me luck!