Tag Archives: workout

Running Playlist Winter 2013

What a sunny, snowy Saturday we have in NYC!  It’s always so bright when in snows, it makes me forget how short the winter days are!

This morning we had a date with Barry!  We got there about 15 minutes early, but true devotees apparently arrive much earlier.  I told Frank that it was probably best to do the treadmills first to get the running over with, apparently that is a popular strategy because the treadmills were gone instantly.  Hello, strength.

I grabbed 8 pound weights, in hindsight 10s would have been better.  Frank took 25s, which is just insane. This was only my second time (first time recap here), so I was expecting 15 minutes strength, 15 minutes running, 15 minutes strength, 15 minutes running.

However, after several sets of lunges with the booty bands, lots of arm work and some ab work, I started thinking, those people have been on the treadmill a LONG time.  Is this a 90 minute class?  A few minutes later, Joey announced it was a 30 on 30 off day!

Initially I wasn’t thrilled about this news, I think it’s easier mentally to get through 15 minutes on the treadmill, even if you know you have to do it twice.  However, it really wasn’t too bad.  Don’t get me wrong, there were several occasions where the last 15 seconds took everything I had and maybe a little more, but we didn’t have to go up to crazy insane speeds, topping out at 9MPH for no longer than 90 seconds. The structure was something like this…

DIY Treadmill Bootcamp (similar not identical BB):

  • 2 minute warm up at  6MPH
  • 5 minute climb (start at 7MPH and increase by .5 every minute until 9.0)
  • 1 minute recover
  • 5 minute ladder (start at 7MPH and increase by 1 MPH to 9.0 and then back down)
  • 1 minute recover
  • 5 minute climb (start at 7MPH and increase by .5 every minute until 9.0)
  • 3 minute sprint with incline (run at your top speed and increase incline to 3.0 at minute 2 and 6.0 for minute 3) x2
  • 1 minute recover
  • 90 second spring at incline of 8.0
  • 30 second recover
  • 30 second sprint

I’m definitely getting why people love Barry’s, you feel so accomplished at the end!

So back to the playlist, here is my latest. I’m definitely in love with it.

Warm Up:

Take a Walk-Passion Pit (who I saw at the Garden last night!)


Sweet Nothing–Calvin Harris

Locked out of Heaven--Bruno Mars

Don’t Stop the Party–Pitbull (really love this for a good push)


Thrift Shop–Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Scream & Shout–Will.i.am (can I just say, thank god for Britney Bitch?)

Don’t You Worry Child–Swedish House Mafia

I Knew You Were Trouble–Taylor Swift <–Favorite T Swizzle song of all time

Beauty and a Beat–Justin Bieber feat Nicki Minaj

Ho Hey–Lumineer

Cool Down:

Suit and Tie–JT


Celebrity Workout Obsession

I may be a bit obsessed with celeb workouts.  Something about knowing that a star does the workout makes it instantly more appealing to me.  Is it the exclusivity? The enviable bodies of most starlets?  Just a weird quirk of mine?

I am not sure, but I do tend to gravitate toward celebrity workouts.  I am sure I wouldn’t know who Gunner Peterson was if he didn’t train, well,  pretty much everyone:

or David Kirsch if he didn’t train Heidi Klum

or Harley Pasternak who I know solely because he made Jessica Simpson look ridiculous in her daisy dukes!

Before I get carried away, my most recent celebrity workout was the Minka Kelly Workout from the latest issue of Self:

minka and the smith 008


I know Minka Kelly because she is Derek Jeter’s fiancé, but she was also on a show called Friday Night Lights :)

The workout was actually quite a good one, I loved the strength moves because there were only 4 and they focus on my trouble zone—the legs!  See the slideshow here.

I tried the strength at home and did the treadmill workout at the gym, obvi.

Here’s the treadmill part:

Time             Speed

  • Minute 1- 5.0 MPH
  • Minute 2- 5.5 MPH
  • Minute 3- 6.0 MPH
  • Minute 4- 6.5 MPH
  • Minute 5- 7.0 MPH
    Minute 6- 7.5 MPH
  • Minute 7- 8.0 MPH
  • Minute 8-9—4.5 MPH

Repeat 4 times total.

This is a pretty baller workout!  The 7th minute at 8 MPH killed me every time.  In fact, I only did the cycle 3 times and then hopped on the elliptical for 20 minutes.  I will try and work my way up to that 4th and final cycle!

The good thing is that I really have to push my self for the last two minutes before the break, so I give it all I’ve got rather than stay in the comfort zone!

Definitely try it out.  It’s easy to remember because you just add .5 mph per minute from 5.0-8.0 and then rest for 2 minutes.

What other celeb workout’s have I tried?

Physique 57 because of Kelly Ripa

NYC Ballet Workout because of Sarah Jessica Parker



Jivamukti and Pure Yoga because of Gwenyth Paltrow

re: AB Pilates because of Christy Turlington


Whew, that’s more than even I thought.

What’s still on my list?

The Tracy Anderson Method (Madonna and Gwen)

and Cardio Barre (a favorite of Melissa Joan Hart and Julie of the OC ;))

Do you do celeb workouts? Which ones?

Relive the Marathon Run

I can’t believe I only have one running class left! I did miss 3 because of work.  I have to say they really push me to my MAX!  I could never inflict that much suffering on myself!

Yesterday was no exception.  I am shocked at how good I feel today, especially since I had a leg workout yesterday AM—more on that in my next post.

So, I jogged a little over 4 miles to the meeting location.  Mainly since I thought it might start pouring during the class.

Now most classes are 2-4 miles with plenty of rest in between miles.  Of course, the class I picked to do a 4 mile pre-class run was the longest distance class of the entire 10 weeks.

The class was a 5.2 mile pick up run along the last part of the NYC Marathon course.  Hello, NYC Marathon Memories  (see my recaps  here and here).

My girlfriend (actually a friend who jumped in and ran the last 8 miles of the marathon with me) wanted to do the longer version of the class with the advanced group.  Now, I am not afraid of distance, but I am afraid of speed. I  can barely keep up with the intermediate group!


Last 5.2 miles of the NYC Marathon course with 4 speed picks ups between 400 and 800 yards.

Warm up

We ran from 81st up to 110th as a warm up, true to the real marathon course, we ran on the outside of the park. 


  • Next we ran down to 90th at a fast (pick up) pace, entering the park
  • We recovered to Cleopatra’s Needle, then picked it up to around 65th and East Drive.
  • We briefly recovered and then sprinted out of the park
  • We jogged down 59th street to where the marathon reenters the park on the west side.
  • Our final push was to Tavern on the Green, the official end of the marathon!


Phew, an unexpected 9.5 mile weeknight run! It felt tough, but good.

18 Miles-a day late, but not a mile short

I had planned to do my long run on Sunday, but I kind of forgot that going out the night before a long run is generally not advisable.  So while I had a great time hanging out with Liz on Saturday night, I was in no shape at all to run on Sunday morning—or the rest of the day for that matter.  I managed to make it to the gym for 30 minutes on elliptical and some ab work, but I spent the rest of the day out of commission.  Sub-two Coronas and a vodka soda and I am wrecked, sad, but true.

  liz and I and the LES 003

So like a good girl, I stayed in on Sunday—and rather pathetically watched a few episodes of season 1 of the OC while doing some NYTimes crossword puzzles, then I read some more of an embarrassingly bad Jane Greene novel that I bought in the Tambo airport on the way home from South Africa and never read.

The delay was actually beneficial in few ways, it gave me an extra day to get over my annoying cold, the weather today was perfect for running–cool and breezy today, and I no longer felt hung over as all hell.

So I left the house a little after 8 and headed toward the 59th Street Bridge. I have to say, despite the huge hill that is the first half of the bridge, I was feeling pretty groovy.  Not the usual first few miles of tightness.  I was going at a fairly slow pace, but in the first three and a half miles of my run, I had already tackled several hills, so I was happy to actually be enjoying myself despite the 15 miles still ahead of me.  I ended up doing different loops of the park:

1.) The lower 5 mile loop—Central Park South cutting Across at 102nd St

2.) The upper 5 mile loop-72nd St running up to the 110th Street transverse

3.) The middle 4 mile loop-72nd up to 102nd and around


Just as I finished the last loop, my Garmin beeped mile 18.  I felt pretty euphoric.  Like a smart little runner, I walked around for a bit and took my time doing some stretching. I did all the usuals. I continued to walk around the Upper East Side blocks to cool down for about 15 minutes before I realized that I looked like a complete tool walking around Park and Lexington wearing not only my very sexy fuel belt, but my wrist band credit card holder, my ipod arm band, and my watch, foot pod and heart rate monitor.  I felt silly enough running with the whole kit and caboodle, but walking around in it? There is just no excuse for that. 

Truth be told I was really on the look out for  a Starbucks, I had a gift card and I was craving an iced coffee like nobodies business, but unbelievably, I didn’t find one in my 6 or 7 block radius, so I aborted the mission and hopped on the 6 train down town.  The weather in the park was so ideal (68ish and breezy) that I hadn’t even broken a sweat, which I am sure the fellow train passengers greatly appreciated.  When I hopped on the 7, I was pretty jealous of everyone heading to the US Open. 

So some quick highlights about different aspects of my run. (I stole this idea from Katherinebtw.)

Distance and time:

18.09 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  I have only run farther than this twice.  One twenty mile training run for my last marathon and the actual marathon. It is the longest I have ever run all by myself.


Very hilly.  While my time was just under 11 minute miles, I was okay with that because I was not only training for distance but improving my endurance for hilly terrain—aka a marathon with several bridges. 

Hills covered included the 59th street bridge, the climb from 1st to 2nd ave, the climb from 59th street to east drive, cat hill (3 times), the great hill (once) and the numerous gently rolling inclines of Central Park.


1 mocha clif hammer gel-this was not as unpleasant as anticipated.  While I certainly wouldn’t grab one for an afternoon snack at work, it did it’s job fueling the last 8 miles of my run without freaking out my stomach too much. 

6-6 ounce water bottles from my fuel belt, two refilled.

Post-run-1/2 kashi golean tlc crunchy caramel chocolate bar.

  I didn’t eat breakfast because I woke up at 2 in the morning  for about 2 hours, and during that time I had a bowl of ice cream.  While this is not something I endorse or do often, it did keep my blood sugar  high enough to fuel the first 10 miles of my run.  It also allowed me to get away with not eating right before my run, which never agrees with my tummy.

Feeling, aches and pains:

I have to say, the run was fairly effortless.  I never really got the leg soreness, I have during the last couple miles of some of my previous long runs.  I even considered continuing my run since I was feeling so strong.  I had a few fleeting moments of fatigue, but nothing too bad.  I could have pushed myself a little harder speed-wise I guess.  Toward the end of the run, my left foot started to feel like my sneaker laces were way too tight. It was very strange there was a strange pain under my my big toe and a lot of pressure on the top of my foot.  My GT2140s have always fit a little more tightly than my GT2130s, but I have never felt that uncomfortable before.   That is why body-wise I felt fine at mile 18, but the pain running across the top of my foot was intense enough that I figured it was a good time to stop—I had reached my distance goal after all.  I am going to war my GT2130s on my next long run to see if it is the shoes or it is my foot. I iced it this afternoon and it is feeling much better.


I actually listened to Kara Goucher’s Endurance Boost and Serena Williams Running Workout twice each!  I know it sounds weird, but I like having someone encouraging me along the way—and Serena’s songs have all these great-runspiration lyrics. 

I have mentioned them both many times, but if you want to check out the great running tracks:

Get Fit with Serena Williams Playlist—you can listen to them in full and download the workout

Kara Goucher Endurance Boost-available for purchase on itunes

After all that coached running music, I listened to some random tunes from an old workout playlist.

  • Ain’t Nothing Wrong with That-Robert Randolph
  • Keeps Getting Better-Xtina Aguilera
  • 40’ Franz Ferdinand—new fav artist
  • Top of the World-Pussy Cat Dolls
  • Buttons-Pussy Cat Dolls
  • Rich Girls-The Virgins
  • Untouched-The Veronicas
  • Popular-The Veronicas
  • Sorry Sorry-Rooney
  • Let it Rock-Kevin Rudolph
  • Just Fine-Eve
  • If U Seek Amy-Britney
  • Sun Ain’t Shining No More-Asteriod Galaxy Tour
  • Around the Bend-Asteriod Galaxy Tour
  • Stronger-Kanye West

I am glad my first super long run is over.  Next week, I try and tackle the big


CrossFit LIC Confessions

So let’s consider this Crossfit review part 1!  I really think that you have to take a class a couple times to get a real sense of it. But Crossfit LIC only has one instructor, so at least that will give some standard level of measure.

(interruption: there is an amazing lightening storm going on outside my window right now! love)

First, the confession.  After all my virtuous professing that I will now be the exemplification of a morning worker-outer, um (picture me bright red), I overslept this morning!  I woke up around 7 instead of 6:15! Oops.

Well, I felt guilty enough to get my butt in gear and do a nice 4-mile morning run instead.

The ying and yang of my feelings about am exercise immediately came back to me:


I have tons of energy and enthusiasm throughout the day when I workout in the am

Less Good (aka bad):

my body is stiff and resistant in the morning, hitting cruise control mode when running takes quite a while

So anyways, I really wanted to try Crossfit, especially since I had already signed up for my free week trial. So I may have canceled my plans tonight to try an evening class.  I seem like the biggest flake, but the plans were not a big deal.  Plus, starting on Friday there is a 90% chance that I will be working 12-14 hour days/ 7 days a week for a minimum of two weeks, so I thought a little me-time and time to do laundry before things get crazy was a good plan.   The anticipation of a more than doubled work week was also part of the impetus to switch to AM workouts.

In any case, I raced home from work to try out the 6:00 class.

Right off the bat Crossfit has two major things going for it.  Things essential for any new workout class/plan/studio to become part of your life, no matter how addicting:

  1. Convenient Location: less than a block from my apt.—check!
  2. Good Class Schedule: 4 classes a day, 6:30 am (best time for before work), 6, 7 and 8PM…perfect for any evening worker outer’s schedule. double check

So I arrived at the “studio,” which is basically a garage with gymnastic rings and fitness equipment, but really it is a concrete room with a wide open front.

I passed a very cute guy killing himself on the rings.  I was more than a bit nervous as it is me and a bunch of buff and sweaty men.  I quickly found the also very cute studio owner and introduced myself. (I really come off as boy crazy on the blog, don’t I? I guess I just appreciate a pretty face and I am not shy about giving compliments when they are due.) I also whipped out my preprinted, signed release form like a total workout rockstar, by which I mean, teacher’s pet.

The owner/instructor was very nice, far less scary than i anticipated.  He asked me a bunch of standard questions, including when was your last intense workout and can you jump rope.

Hmm, I wasn’t too good at punk rope, so that would be a not too recently and not really.

He found me a rope and gives me some pointers on my form that improve my experience jumping 100%, but I was just not able to master double spin jumping or knee tuck jumping. So he told me, I should substitute standard jumping.  Given that I was pretty sure I was about to make a total full of myself no matter what, I happily agreed to downgrade.


The class assembled and  I was still the only girl—suddenly i was not feeling very hardcore. We started with a warm up, neck, hip and arm circles. Then we moved on to push ups, which the instructor actually let me do on my knees as long as I touch my nose to the ground.  Wow, the marines aren’t as crazy as nalini method, physique and core fusion instructors! After that there were inch worms, walking lunges, walking lunges with stretching, sit ups and squats.   Despite being the only female, everyone was very welcoming and supportiv–a lot of, first time? congrats and good luck!.  And the instructor was great about correcting my form in a non-embarrassing way.

Next came  kettle ball strength exercises.  When I first picked up my huge, light pink (tres girlie) kettle ball, I thought, holy crap, this is not going to happen, this is like a million pounds.  However, I followed the instructions and focused intensely on correct form throughout the series so I didn’t hurt myself, and everything went pretty much okay.  At one point, I am pretty sure the cute instructor even said nice job while looking in my direction.  This wass about the same point that the instructors smoking hot wife arrived to join us.

Now for the workout.  Apparently that class was a “bench marking workout” which is one of the easiest ones.  I guess that was lucky.  In each class, the main workout is an assigned set of exercises (completely different each day) that you must complete within 20 minutes.  As you finish you are given your time, which you write on the dry erase board.

Here is was:

  • 50 double spin jump ropes, 50 sit ups
  • 40 double spin jump ropes, 50 sit ups
  • 30 double spin jump ropes, 30 sit ups
  • 20 double spin jump ropes, 20 sit ups
  • 10 double spin jump ropes, 10 sit ups

(This alone would be a great at home mini workout if you are strapped for time.)

I modified with my single jumps, which made it way easier for me the the other poor people in the class.  I also didn’t realize on the first round that you had to do all the jumps consecutively and if you miss you start over, so I kind of cheated the first round!  I still need to  learn how to double jump or double the number to make it more of a challenge.  But I will say that doing back to back jumping then sit ups is a great workout.  And the time flew by, actually that part only takes me 10 minutes and 20 seconds.  So I will amp it up and push myself to try the harder versions next time.

In any event, by the end, I was covered in sweat, but it was also 80 something degrees outside with only a fan for air circulation, so I was sweaty within the first 5 minutes. What is with LIC and bikram workouts?  Oh, I should say, not only was I soaked in my own perspiration, but the hot wife was taking TONS of photos during the class.  I was like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  please stop!

The class ended with stretching. Everyone was really excited to hear what I thought of my first Crossfit Experience, and tell me about their amazing fitness improvements thanks to their CF experiences.

So hear is what I thought:

  • I love the team environment of this class!
  • I like that every day the workout is completely different
  • I like that people told me they saw huge changes in their strength and ability in just a few weeks.
  • I love the convenience of schedule and location
  • I liked the emphasis on form and personal attention
  • I left the class with A TON more energy than I went into it with.  It was a great stress reliever, and I still feel on top of the world.
  • I like that the time goes really fast
  • I like that there is always room to challenge yourself further
  • The Crossfit playlist rocked my world, lots of stuff I was listening to about a year and a half ago, but great to hear again, paralyzer, beck, cake, and Eminem, and great stuff I didn’t know off the top of my head, curious!
  • I like that the website has videos and home workouts
  • I don’t love the no AC, but I guess fall is around the corner
  • If swanky workout ambience is high on your list of getting fit importance, this is not the space for you.  Other studios are different i am sure.
  • It wasn’t as killer as I expected since the really hard stuff only last 20 minutes max, but I also did the beginner version, so that really isn’t the workout’s fault. But I am not sure the workout would be quite enough on its own.  TBD

Clearly so far Crossfit has been a very positive experience. I am excited to try it at least 4 more times this week before deciding whether to buy one of the packages.  I have enlisted my friend Derek, who happens to be a marine, to go with me on Thursday, so maybe he will offer his perspective of the workout on the blog!

Bottom line: I missed exercising a lot!  Even just one day of a fairly intense endorphin rush has made a huge difference in my mood and energy.  I’ll keep it.

Night kids!

Dawn Workouts and Deals

The last few weeks, the great advice by the HLS organizers, and my schedule for the upcoming week have made one thing abundantly clear: morning workouts are a must!

Last week I averaged about 3-4 hours of sleep a night, mainly due to anxiety, and therefore I only did one formal workout.   While I think it is safe to say that sleep trumps the gym when we are dealing with so few hours, I definitely noticed that my ability to cope with craziness plummeted without my daily sweaty release. So I am going to try to start going to bed earlier, when possible and  not letting any excuses get in the way of my AM workouts.

Today was a pretty chill day compared to the last couple weeks, but even so fitting in a workout eluded me:

  • 6:00 AM wake up, finish two research papers due this afternoon
  • 7:30AM shower get ready
  • 8:00 AM leave apt, head to subway
  • 8:10 AM get off train at Grand Central walk to work and pick up coffee (2ish miles, so a bit of exercise)
  • 8:50 arrive at work
  • 12:30 PM-lunch with boss (no lunch hour workout)
  • 5:00 PM leave work to attend work related planning session (no after work workout)
  • 7:00 race to Astor wine to pick up a bottle for dinner with a girlfriend. They are out of my new favorite, Cupcake Chardonnay, but the guy recommends an amazing Riesling that does not disappoint.
  • 7:30 Meet friend at Nook, a cute BYOB place in the theatre district
  • 9:00 call sister and congratulate her on landing her first real job!
  • 9:30 PM arrive home and start blogging

Too much wine at dinner means that the 30 day shred session I had intended is not happening–thus recommitting me to my AM workout plan!

But guess what? I have a VERY excited new workout planned!

People often ask me how I find out about stuff going on in the city.  I scour NYMAG, Timeout, CitySearch, VitalJuiceDaily, but tomorrow’s workout came to my attention in a somewhat more serendipitous fashion.  A few times over the last few weeks, I have walked by an open garage-type space on my street that had lots of gymnastic rings and tons of super fit people standing around.  I was incredibly curious (acroyoga maybe?), but hadn’t had a chance to investigate.PICT0049

Then, the other day, the sweatiest man I have ever seen got in the elevator with me.  Now I am as appreciative of a good sweatfest as the next person, so  I said, good workout?

He said, yeah it is the group fitness class down the block.  It almost killed me.  Seriously, I want to die.  oh, and the first week is free.

Free kickass workout? Magic words to me!

So after a second of googling,  I found out that just down the block was CrossfitLIC!  A bootcamp style workout based on marine training.  I had heard of Crossfit studios in the city, but convenience is key, and this could not be any more convenient if it was in my  (tiny ass) closet.  So I am all signed up for 6:30AM tomorrow, and I can’t wait.  I tried to get the roomstars to join me to no avail…yet. hehe.  Crossfit has outposts all over, so investigate if you are interested in checking it out. Read more about it here!

More deals that won’t slim down your wallet!

Gena convinced me that a “ fit recessionista” feature should be a staple on my blog, so look for my first official “get fit for less” type post coming up.  As an avid lover of saving a dime, I am excited to get back to posting deals on a regular basis, which has always been one of my intentions with the blog. I will do my best to incorporate ideas and deals in and outside the city. Plus, I hope to have some great product and class giveaways to boot! Here is an idea of what is to come:

The Yoga Room, which I recently reviewed, is offering a free outdoor class on the piers of Gantry State Plaza at 9:00AM on Saturday.  This is also ridiculously convenient, so if I don’t have to work, I will be checking it out!parkyoga

gantry2gantry 3

Fitness in the Square is still the place to be, especially if you don’t have to work! Thursday mornings  in Union Square take advantage of yoga at 8am, Brooklyn Bridge Bootcamp at 9am and Tai Chi at 10am.

Nurture’s Path is holding an open-house launch party on Aug 18, 2009, from 6-9pm at 1133 Broadway, Suite 1020. A group of alternative health practitioners will also be on hand to provide more information about their healing modalities and give complimentary mini-sessions.  In addition to shopping and pampering, guests will also be treated to healthy snacks and beverages, special one-time only discounts, and be entered into a raffle to win some of the products for sale. The first 25 guests will receive an exclusive gift bag. Guests should RSVP to nurturespath(at)aol.com.

Complimentary consultations at Body Love Wellness (244 5th Ave)

Golda Poretsky at Body Love Wellness is offering a free 30-minute consultation (normally $60) to see where clients are in terms of their relationship with food and their body. You’ll discuss symptoms or ailments you’re experiencing and whether a holistic approach to food and body acceptance can help

And finally, some fun extracurricular reading:

Can Running Actually Help Your Knees? (my friend sent me this interesting NYTimes article)

Looking Past the Numbers If you still count calories, here is one more great reason to stop.  Kim Snyder is one of my favorite non-mainstream bloggers and she just did a good post on shifting your focus from calories in, calories out to food in, food out.  It is a pretty standard raw food perspective, but definitely worth checking out.

Goodnight kids.  Crossfit workout review and some thoughts on running coming up this week!

Gena on Becoming a Yogi


I am thrilled to welcome back my amazing friend, one of FitnessNYC’s regular guest–posters and Choosing Raw Blogger Gena!  I asked Gena to do a post on yoga, since it is a form of exercise I appreciate, but try as I might, I have never been able to truly harness my inner yogi and love it the way so many do!  I have certain classes and instructors I really enjoy—mainly because they are the high intensity, feel like a workout type of yoga classes, but I have never really felt that I get to that much hyped “inner calm, loss of ego, harmony with the world” place. I have to say the following post  is one of my favorite posts ever! I think many of  you will relate to Gena’s yoga story and find her guidance as helpful as I do. Gena, thank you so much for sharing your journey and struggle with honesty, humility and a whole lot of humor (yes, prepare to laugh about yoga).

Hello, FitnessNYC readers! It’s a pleasure and an honor to be Melissa’s guest again.

The last time I did a guest post for Mel, it was on a topic I feel like a credible expert on: the raw foods lifestyle and diet. This time, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a bit to discuss Melissa’s forte: fitness! In particular, I’m here to talk about my journey with yoga.

Two or three times each week – or as often as I can – I pick up my yoga mat and head to Laughing Lotus or Yoga Works in the Flatiron district. For the next hour or hour and a half, I chant, sweat, stretch, balance, and twist with fifteen or twenty other men and women. I relish the wisdom of my instructor’s opening thoughts; I lean into triangle pose with giddy anticipation of the stretch in my inner thighs; I push myself to lower further and further before rising back up in chaturanga; I sweat and wobble in crow pose until—90% of the time—I topple over with as much dignity as I can muster. At the end of class, I sink into Savasana feeling calmer, happier, and more myself than I was before.

Two years ago, I snickered at women like me. Two years ago, I was a gym rat. I read fitness magazines and tore out the monthly strength moves. I challenged myself to sweaty hours on the stairmaster and treadmill. I bemoaned my difficulty with running, and yet forced myself to do it—in spite of achey hips, in spite of tendonitis, in spite of the fact that I just didn’t like it very much.

Whenever someone asked me if I liked yoga, I scoffed. Yoga? Get real, I thought. Yoga wasn’t a workout. Yoga was stretching. It was stretching and chanting and lots of mumbo jumbo about strength and inner peace dressed up as a workout. But I knew better. I knew that all those cute, Lululemon-clad yoga chicks were really just spending money to chill out for an hour or two. What could I have to gain from yoga? I already worked out plenty—realworking out. And anyway, I’m was (still am) a born and raised New Yorker. We don’t do balance. We don’t do inner peace. We don’t do rishdi. We do competition. We do speed. Our om is broken.

Of course, a little rudimentary psychoanalysis would have reminded me of the obvious: whenever I find myself reacting to something with immediate and intense defensiveness or dislike, it is a sign that I feel threatened. Usually something I fear I won’t be able to master. And so it was with yoga.

As soon as I came to terms with this (and it took a while, but I did), I realized that my cowardice simply wouldn’t do. I could no longer dress my fear of yoga—which was really a fear of being forced out of my neurotic comfort zone—up as a valid dislike. I was going to have to give yoga a try.

One thing that any friend of mine will tell you: I am not a moderate person. It’s all or nothing with me. I go whole hog or I go not at all. Not surprisingly, “I want to learn yoga” became “I’m booking tickets for an eight day yoga retreat by myself in Mexico.” What can I say? I was three years overdue for a vacation, and I was curious. I knew that being away (in addition to all of the non-yoga pleasures it would offer me) would give me some discipline as I developed a practice of my own. It would take me away from the excuses that New York so often provided me: work, stress, scheduling. Most of all, it would help me to confront my fear.


And help me it did. For the next week, I expanded my heretofore fleeting encounters with yoga into a very pleasant acquaintance. I won’t lie: I still found it a little weird, all the chanting and the relative stillness of the practice. But I was feeling good. I was learning. And as I rubbed my unbelievably sore triceps and glutes each night, I was starting to suspect that yes, yoga is one hell of a workout after all.

Fast forward a year and a half. These days, I can barely imagine my life without yoga. Week in and week out, it gives me innumerable joys. It helps me to relax (and god knows, I need the help). It helps to bring me out of the rather self-centered little cosmos of my work day, reminding me that there are things bigger and more important than my editing and my business: there is the integrity of my own body, which demands my attention and care; there is an cultural practice that has been honored for centuries; there is a communion between women and men who want to escape the banal and every day , even for an hour, by challenging themselves with the physical and mental rigors that yoga teaches. And yes, it’s possible—though I make no promises—that there is a higher force to be found somewhere in those sweaty poses.

Best of all? Yoga hasn’t dulled—as I thought it might—my gym workouts. It’s enhanced them. I enjoy my strength training all the more because yoga has made me stronger; I’m less prone to bemoan my difficultly with running because yoga has taught me the importance of persistence and fortitude. The most enduring lesson I’ve learned from yoga, though, is one that I am constantly teaching clients in my work as a raw foods coach: patience.

Believe it or not, new clients who are hesitant or resistant are not the most challenging, for me. It’s the clients who are determined to go raw overnight who are the hardest to work with. I love their enthusiasm and determination, of course, but I have to constantly encourage them to slow down, take a deep breath, and accept where they are in their journey. Sure, it’s relatively easy to go high-raw if you’ve been eating mostly raw and mostly vegan for a long time. But if you’re coming from a more mainstream dietary place, a rapid transition won’t be easy—in fact, the feelings of deprivation or adjustment it might provoke can be counterproductive, forcing you to give up on raw foods altogether or feel guilty about your “failure” to go raw overnight.

This is why I preach the importance of transition. It’s crucial to be aware of one’s lineage as one begins a new journey, and to respect that immediate gratification isn’t always best—or even possible. I was vegetarian for about ten years before I was a vegan; vegan for many years before I toyed with high-raw. And I was semi-raw (never with the intention of being fully raw) for many months before I started eating high raw consistently. As I began my raw journey, I was miscombining foods and eating much more intricate dishes than I do now, a year later. Get the idea? There’s a long history behind my raw lifestyle; it developed organically, which is why it feels so delightfully natural to me now.

And so it is on the yoga mat. But as with all life lessons, patience is easy to teach, and tough to learn. Perfectionist and type A chick that I am, I am forever fighting off frustration that I can’t yet do a headstand (cause I can’t, not yet), or feelings of annoyance when I know that a certain pose is off kilter, or bewilderment at the fact that a pose I had no trouble with yesterday is suddenly tough today. Most of all, I fight off my own desire to be a master yogi right away: I want perfect chaturangas, and I want to rest my forehead on my feet in Paschimottanasana, and I want to be able to do all the jump throughs in an Astanga class.

But I can’t. Not yet. And every time I find myself compelled to move too quickly—which could mean tainting my yoga practice with competitiveness at best, or injuring myself at worst, I remember the yoga and raw foods analogy: transition, transition, transition. You can’t usually go raw overnight, but you can enjoy many of the benefits of a raw lifestyle by taking steps towards a raw diet over time; you can’t go from a beginner’s class to peacock pose overnight, but you can certainly relish the many health benefits of yoga practice at whatever level you’re at, all the while acknowledging that a long path of improvement lies ahead.

And here’s the good news: the raw lifestyle and the journey into yoga are very, very long paths, but they’re not marathons. No one is pushing you to finish quickly. So we all have time: time to enjoy the journey, time to honor our limits, if not relish them, and time to forgive our imperfections as we move along.



I am thinking I need to book a yoga retreat in Mexico, anyone care to join? :) Thanks again Gena, this was a truly fabulous and relatable post.  I am excited for my next yoga class!

Working out…in stripper heels

Working out can be sexy – when you do it in stripper heels…photos for blog 007

Hey everyone, I know you will be excited to welcome back my roommate Liz!  While her amazing post will definitely speak for itself, I would like to confirm a few facts about Liz and her workout of choice—who I am sure I am missing terribly right now :(.

1.) I have taken this class once, and it was a GREAT workout.  Far harder than I expected from someone who almost never ever works out….Liz.  The fact that she does it in the heels seen above makes her some kind of heroine. I think her review does the class more justice than mine because she has taken it for years. 

2.) She has a bangin’ body—and stripper strength just adds a little finely piped icing to the delicious cake.  Soley to validate that statement—and not to embarass her—after our recent trip to the beaches of MV, one of my friends said to me, “for someone who says she doesn’t workout, Liz has an amazing body.”

So.  I think we can safely say that there are approximately 2 things we have learned about “Melissa’s roommate Liz” from this blog.  1: I hate working out.  2: I think feeling good about yourself and being in touch with your inner (and outer) sexy are at the top of the list of important things to do. 

In theory, I love working out.  I love the adrenaline, the endorphins, and most importantly, how good it makes people feel.  My main problem is that I just think it’s boring.  I don’t care if I can watch TV while I climb stairs and never get anywhere; I only watch a few shows, and I really don’t want to admit my secret love of VH1 reality shows to everyone in the gym (especially since in my building the gym has been known to be hot guy central).  So, I’ve found a way to combine something I hate with something I love to make it something I actually like quite a bit – a strip workout class, specifically, Strip Xpertease

Taught by Kim Smith, a former dancer, this class isn’t for the faint of heart (it’s a no-nudity, women-only class, but has a fair amount of ass slapping, chest grabbing, and general self-groping – all in good fun, of course).  Instead of a cardio strip class like some offered by gyms, this class uses actual dance moves, and through repetition coupled with core strengthening, gives you a ridiculous workout.  Also, Kim teaches a bit of a routine at the end of the workout, so you get some bona-fide sexy from the class to take back to your lova. 

The class focuses on some core and leg strengthening moves (and puts a twist on well-known moves like squats and lunges), stretching (which of course has its own twist), and often includes the use of a chair (for moves like the “sexy bicycle” – a version of the more boring pilates move).  The class is taught twice a week, and after 2 months, gave me some rock-hard abs (and another healthy dose of self confidence).  It’s an hour and 10 minutes, and hosts a variety of women of all shapes and sizes, ages, and flexibility.  All of the rates and dates are available on the website. 

Now the inevitable question: what do I wear to such a class?  Well, wear whatever makes you comfortable.  Because of the moves, I recommend yoga pants or spandex, and whatever top makes you comfortable.  Some women wear sports bras out of work-out habit, and some wear push-up bras for that little extra dose of sexy.  In terms of footwear: heels!  I’d suggest starting in whatever height of heels you would wear on a Friday night (but make sure they have rubber soles) – it’ll help you with balance.  As you get comfortable, upgrade your game to 6-inchers.  I have to admit, there’s just something really satisfying about wearing stripper heels while toning up!

So, if you’re looking for a little change-up to your workout routine, I highly recommend giving this a try.  It helps bring out the inner (and outer) sexy, and really, who doesn’t want that? 

In addition to workout classes (known on the website as “Stripper Strength”), Strip Xpertease teaches a variety of non-sweaty classes – ie, Basic Moves (basic dance moves), Lap Dance Intensive (speaks for itself), Down ‘N Dirty (a floor routine), and the Desire Series (a little bit of everything).  You can do it in a class or private lessons (yay birthday/bachelorette parties!).

My Study Abroad Health and Fitness Plan


Yesterday I shared a round up of healthy travel tips.  So today I thought I would go into my specific strategy for this three week trip.  My attitude is always go with the flow and as much natural exercise as possible.  This is a busy study trip and I won’t be back in Africa anytime soon, so I don’t plan to spend all my free time in the gym, but as I do have a marathon to run in November, I hope for a little more than that if possible!


(Fitness, Fitness is my Favorite! Insert Will Ferrell SMILE!)

So when I arrived at orientation for the program, the first question I heard someone ask (I was a little late since I had to come from work), was “is there a gym?”  God bless that guy’s heart!  I never would have asked but I almost cried when he did!  JK.  So I knew I was in good company, I hadn’t thought I would join a gym, but since our classes start at 10, there is not a whole lot to do between wake up and class, and the gym seems like a productive use of time for early birds like me.  Actually, almost half the students wanted to join the gym, which is only $35 for 3 weeks!  The cost of 1 Physique 57 class!  So even if I only go a few times a week, it seems worth it!  I am not sure what gym it is, but I am praying it happens to be the Virgin Active that is in the city!  The gym looks awesome and has lots of early morning spinning class-woo-hoo!

I will also be there with one of my biggest sources of gym-spiration, my friend Nico.  He works out twice everyday!  I hope we will run together fairly often, and he will push me outside my comfort zone to improve my speed and endurance.  I do plan to run 3 times a week with at least one long run. And hopefully, when we aren’t traveling, to take advantage of whatever is popular at the gym.

I ordered the Garmin FR60 in early May.  It was supposed to be available for shipment by June 2nd, but unfortunately, it still hasn’t arrived.  I give Garmin credit for being quick to respond; I have exchanged over 15 emails with 4 different people, but even though my watch was supposed to  definitely have shipped by June 24th, it never arrived.  I am a little bummed since it was a $175 investment that I will not be able to utilize while I am away, but I pray that when I arrive home it will be waiting for me—preferably with a huge bow!


In South Africa you don’t have to worry about eating things cooked or even drinking the water, so I am not too worried about adjusting my diet.  For the record, the second question asked at orientation was, “will there be vegan options?”, so I figure I am pretty safe.   The only supplement I am bringing is probiotics.

For the 17+ hour flight, I am bringing the extra veggies in my fridge: baby carrots, celery, cucumber slices and sugar snap peas, plus a couple energy bars and buying huge bottle of Evian at the airport.  I also requested the vegetarian meal, so hopefully that will be honored.

Every morning the place  where we are staying will provide a “health and english breakfast.” I am not sure what a health breakfast is, but it sounds good to me!

In general, I tend to eat richer food in smaller amounts while I am traveling. I am usually too busy for lots of snacks and grazing, and obviously I don’t have to worry about boredom eating, plus that tends to be the general lifestyle in Europe.  The three meals plus afternoon gelato tends to work out well for me.  In addition to less grazing, I truly believe the limited consumption of processed and packaged foods makes a huge difference. Even though I find I am served food prepared with much more oils, fats and white flour than I am use to, the overall quality and minimal processing of the foods seems to make them more acceptable to the body–in my experience anyways.

I know that we have access to the kitchen and there are regular grocery stores nearby.  Even though it is winter in South Africa, I hear the produce is amazing! Tshwane is pretty cosmopolitan, so there is a huge variety of restaurants of all ethnicities. I plan to prepare most of my own lunches, and save eating out for dinner when possible.  I want to try the regional flavors, but I would rather spend my money on elephant rides than food.

I am bringing some snacks and supplies with me!

dinner with gena 005

I almost never eat bars at home, but they are great for on the go.  I also decided to bring some of Newman’s Own Organics Dried Apricots and Prunes to help bulk up my salads and for my sweet tooth.  And some oatmeal–because why the heck not?

Saying Goodbye!

I have had a fabulous bon voyage weekend–running, friends and great food!

It started out with an amazing dinner with Gena at Quintessence.  This is a great raw restaurant; the food was uber-yum last night!  I started with an a la carte taco and had the new sprout, goji berries, cherry tomatoes, candied walnuts and the most amazing fig balsamic dressing.

dinner with gena 003

The best part of the night (not counting the lovely company and conversation)was definitely getting TWO cds hand mixed by Gena.  One is a travel mix and the other is a NYC mix, I can’t wait to listen to them on the plane!

dinner with gena 006

After saying good-bye, I headed to 71 to say hi to a friend in town just for the weekend.  I thought I was full after dinner, but when I passed One Lucky duck, I couldn’t help from getting a pint of the Almond Butter Cup—recently featured on Veggie Girl’s blog.

dinner with gena 008

I hit the subway perfectly and made it home in two stops with minimal meltage.  A couple of bites before bed was the a very sweet ending to the night.  At $18 a pint, it is a good thing a little goes a long way.

This glorious and sunny NYC morning I got up early to do some final loads of laundry and then head of to help the organization I used to intern for with a quick program.  After I walked from Port Authority to my friend Derek’s apartment.  We debated a run in the park versus working out at the Reebok Sports Club, but it was way too nice a day (the nicest we have had since last summer) to spend inside—even though I really want to check out his gym :).  So we did the same 4 mile loop I did with Katherine yesterday.  It definitely felt significantly harder than yesterday, I think I was going faster since I didn’t want to bore Derek out of his mind.  In any case, I remembered over the last two days,  just how much more awesome running with company is!  I plan to email everyone I know that is even remotely interested in running as soon as I come back and set up plenty of running dates.

I was pretty famished during and after our run, so after a quick shower, we had a nice brunch at Arte Cafe.  A glorious day full of sunshine and my favorite nyc ritual (brunch), what a great way to spend my last full day.  Although this suddenly amazing weather is making it so hard to leave! Not to mention that the new park that I have been looking at from my window for ages finally opened this weekend!  It looks amazing.  lic 001

I have always loved the look out piers at The Gantry

lic 009

but now there is a big park with hammocks!

lic 008

lic 007

and many more lookouts and benches

lic 006

lic 005

and you can get up close and personal with the pepsi cola sign

lic 003

All right, I must be off to finish last minute packing, cleaning and organizing and to say goodbye to a few more people, and if I am ambitious head to a friends roof to watch the fireworks.

Happy Independence Day Folks!

PS Just as a reminder, I have posts scheduled throughout the next three weeks!