Tag Archives: yoga

Summer Solstice Yoga

If anyone had told five years ago that someday I would spend the morning lying on my back in the middle of Times Square, I’d never have believed it.  Although not too long after, I kept hearing about the Solstice In Times Square.  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an all day yoga festival in the middle of times square where thousands of yogis take classes throughout the day.

This year Athleta was a primary sponsor of the event and they invited me to join the first class of the day.  In fact, they sent me this adorable little zen invitation!



Oh Althleta, you make me feel so special!

On Friday morning, I was sprinting to registration booth (as I was running late) and the friendly staff helped me find a place to set down a mat right away.  Fortunately, I hadn’t missed more than a minute of class, so I wasn’t far behind in poses.  I have to say, at first, it was a CRAZY experience.  Cars were rushing by right next to me, people were staring, pointing and taking pictures, I was in Times Square after all.

That’s when I realized exactly what they meant by mind over madness.



Within 5 minutes I had almost forgot about the sounds, stares and chaos going on all around me.

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The class itself was led by instructor Drisana Carey, who you may have seen in any number of Athleta ads.



She was great.  By the end of the class, I was in a great mood.  Relaxed and ready to tackle the last day of the work week! I think morning yoga is the way to go! I never get as much out of yoga in the evening as I do when it sets the tone for my day!

It was a really fun event, I’ll definitely be attending next year!

Yoga for All

When I first tried Strala Yoga, I felt as though I had finally found a place from everyone, athletes, yogis, and just plain normal people. No incense, no chanting, no readings, just a yoga workout that anyone from a yogi to your average Jane looking for a good stretch can appreciate.

While this may seem simple, in my experience, it’s actually pretty rare. While there are a few studios I happily frequent (okay,  frequent is a relative term in my yoga practice, but you know what I mean): Laughing Lotus, Pure Yoga–and when I need a quick, cheap yoga fix: Yoga to the People.   I don’t venture out to much because I find that many studios are just too dogmatic for my taste or practice level. I don’t do yoga for spiritual reasons, or to connect with the universe, I do it for the wonderful full body stretch and relaxation it provides.

Fortunately, I recently tried Strala Yoga. Strala is a relaxed studio with a friendly vibe where yogis and occasional yoga practicers can co-exist happily. The studio is simple, just a very large, open rectangular room with soothing, clean white walls and hardwood floors. As I set up my mat, I noticed several water bottles on the floor. I was once told that real yogis don’t drink water because it cools the body, whereas yoga is meant to heat the body and allow it to cool itself naturally without water or brow wiping. Seeing water bottles next to my fellow classmate’s mats reassured me that I could enjoy a swig of water without exposing the fact that I am not truly a yogi. I was in good company.

While I loved feeling so comfortable at Strala, what really sold me was the workout. Founder Tara Stiles, author of Slim, Calm, Sexy Yoga, created a practice comprised of workouts that emphasize gentle breathing and create strong, long, lean bodies. The classes are simply titled strong, relax and basics. I found the strong classes to be uniquely challenging and each had a discrete style and format. Unlike most yoga classes I have taken, the classes I took at Strala didn’t follow a traditional flow or center on the sun salutation, but rather focused on a several series of poses that complemented one another, I never knew what was coming next.

The classes started out with a gentle stretch and warm up before moving into a challenging series of poses. In one class, I was challenged to hold variations of boat pose for what seemed like five minutes, I was already falling out of position in the first ten minutes of the class! Typically ab work is my favorite part of the workout, so I was surprised that a yoga class could push me past my limits so easily. That is one of my favorite things about Strala, it’s a challenging workout, but still provides stretch and stillness. The strong classes are almost athletic as they challenge you to use balance and strength to hold poses for several breaths. The instructors are wonderful about making slight corrections that make a big difference in how much you feel the stretch. As someone who doesn’t practice regularly, I am always worried that I am going to look silly when it comes times for inversions. But I was happy to find that inversions at Strala were always optional; they give those who want a challenge the chance to go into handstands, headstands and wheels, but an alternative were always offered–and I gladly accepted. Even if I didn’t partake in inversions, by the end of my classes, I was sweating and ready for savasannah. The hour and fifteen minutes was just enough to challenge me and give me the full body stretch I need to balance out my running workouts.

There was one thing about my Strala classes that was completely unexpected. The feeling of calmness I felt for several hours after class. It was wonderful to leave the studio, step into the madness of the city and still have a lingering sense of relaxation and serenity to guide me through my day. It’s not always easy for cardio fiend like myself to find a yoga workout that is both enjoyable and beneficial, but Strala’s slim, calm, sexy style of yoga is exactly what I need.

Strala Yoga is located at 632 Broadway. Classes are $15 and new member discounts and packages are available.

Upcoming Fitness and Foodie Fun

I love summer in New York, it seems like there is always something to get excited about!  I am excited about a lot of things, since the first is coming up tomorrow, let’s start with food.

Tomorrow I get to have dinner with GENA at ABC Kitchen.  So excited.  We will give you the full report of JG’s new green restaurant.

Earlier this week I found out I won a Self Workout in the Park sweepstakes!  A $50 gift certificate to Energy Kitchen. I never win stuff, especially without knowing I even entered! Score.  The boy eats at EK a minimum of 5 times a week, so he was pretty excited!


On June 8th, I am attending Taste of LIC. I have been wanting to go for years!  Very excited.  Almost every single food and beverage vendor in the hood will be there.  The list is pretty incredible.  These neighborhood “tastes” seem like a lot of fun, has anyone checked them out?  Tickets for the LIC one are available here.

And if there could be any more food news, I continue to gorge :)  Finally after two years of waiting, a restaurant will open in the former Sapa space.  I think Sapa was the most stunning restaurant in the city before it closed almost three years ago.  I hope Nuela, after a two year delay, will look and taste as good.

Okay, let’s move on to fitness!

It is high time I gave myself a fitness challenge and stuff with it.  What is my motivation?  Caribbean Cruise in July.  Well actually, night in SoBe, followed by cruise. I am trying to think of a proper name for this challenge, Cruise Control Challenge? Boat Body Challenge?

Anyways, here is what I am thinking.

First a June running challenge.

I haven’t been running much if at all lately. I love running when I am in a routine, but when I fall out of it, I kind of forget what all the fuss is about.

At first I thought, I will try and run 26.2 miles a week every week in June.  But since I have barely been running at all, that seemed like to big a stretch and too much additional mileage.  Instead I decided on 78.6 miles in June—the equivalent of 3 marathons. That’s about 2.5 miles a day or 17.7 miles a week, which seems reasonable.

Proper Running Technique

If you are looking for a running plan, Self has training options for 5k, 10k and half marathons in the current issue.  The running section features, my fav, Kara Goucher, and the 6 best food for runners—almonds, eggs, greens, oranges, quinoa and sweet potatoes-yum.

In addition, I am going to keep doing the Vital Juice Daily Bikini Body Workout twice a week and try to do each of the three Physique 57 DVDs once a week.  5 days of strength total.

In a perfect world, I would take one yoga class a week too.  Lucky for you and I, Pure Yoga and Blueprint Cleanse are continuing their free yoga on the 4th  Thursday promotion through the summer.  You have to take advantage of this at least once!


May 27th, June 24th, July 22nd and August 26th.


  • 6:00pm – Hot Yoga
  • 6:30pm – Basics
  • 7:15pm – Power Vinyasa

Reserve your spot in class by emailing jenna.baker@pureyoga.com and make sure you state which class you would like to attend.

I will be at dinner for the class tomorrow, but hope to take advantage of some of the others.

Okay, that’s more than enough for one post.  I’m outie.

Long Island City Love

I am not going to lie, I fall easily, for places that is.  While I haven’t yet fallen in love with a person, I find I am a softy for countries, cities, islands, parks, mountains, bodies of water, etc.  I could probably find myself pretty happy just about anywhere.  Invite me to your town, and my romance will quickly blossom.

While clearly, I declare my love for all things NYC quite regularly on this blog, today I thought I would refine my make out session to my actual neighborhood: long island city

I moved from Manhattan to Astoria in May 2005 and moved to Long Island City in May 2008.  While there are many things I miss about living in Manhattan and Astoria, I  have embraced Long Island City with my whole heart and am happier here than I ever expected.  Initially, I had some reservations…I mean, I was pretty sold on our building, the roof deck and the gym were the most amazing  that I had ever seen in an apartment.  And the view from my bedroom ain’t bad either.night view 015

But the neighborhood was/is pretty industrial; I didn’t know anyone except my roommates, and there wasn’t even a proper grocery store or drugstore.  Luckily less than a year later, that changed and now we have a great whole foods-esque store and a duane reade right in our building, and a gorgeous park opened that runs all along the water.  I find Long Island City young and fun, but also a very meditative place to live. I can relax and have relative quiet and have sky and water.  The 7 is great when it’s great, but of course, every few months it can be a nightmare when it decides to misbehave, but you have to take that in stride. 

For as much as I love LIC, I have to say, I don’t hang out in my hood nearly as much as I should.  Or many I am just in a rut, I am certainly a repeat sushi offender at Shi and doggedly loyal to my local to my wine shop Blue  Streak, and I have had many a brunch at Cafe Henri.  At this point, I am on a first name basis with the duane reade manager and the clerks at many of the delis, but there are so many places I am dying to explore!  Over the last month or so, many new places opened or merely came to my attention for the first time.

Let’s have a look.


Testaccio.  I walked by this sexy looking trattoria many times before I found out it was a roman-style Italian restuarant that opened in late October.  I have yet to go, but the reviews from Foodista and Joey in Astoria look very promising.

El Ay Si.  A comfort food place that just opened.  While I am not into rich cuisine, the chefs have several notable places, so I at least owe it a visit.  Again reviews are decent. I walk by it everyday and it looks like a great place for a glass of wine with a cute date.

Manducatis Rustica-the sister of the famous Manducatis a bit further into LIC, the outpost is just a few blocks from me and I am embarrassed that I have yet to go.  It’s supposed to be a hidden gem serving Italian food from my beloved Napoli.  Plus, they just starting serving brunch again, swoon. Check out the raves on Foodista and LIQ City and Serious Eats


A casual country store serving breakfast, lunch and brunch.  All the food is local, naturally grown and many dishes are organic.  It looks cute, casual and cozy—like a healthy cracker barrel, lol.  Full scoop at grub street and foodista.


Penthouse 808 at RAVEL A roof top bar at a Boutique Hotel.  I meant to check it out during the summer, but apparently I am not too late.  Time Out featured Ravel in this week’s issue and apparently the roof deck is enclosed and open for the winter, replete with fireplaces. Good thing because my roof deck is closed :(

Dutch Kills  Another place I can’t believe I haven’t tried.  Owned by the mixologist masters behind Milk and Honey and Little Branch, the drinks are sure to be amazing.  I wonder what kind of scene it will be since, Milk and Honey is by referral only and Little Branch has an unmarked door, I don’t think Long Island City is cool enough to be that pretentious, but I plan to find out. NY Mag and Eater seems to think it is.


The Secret Theater  A secret to me until today.  Cyrano De Bergerac is playing now.

Queens Film Festival-this weekend!  Thanks to Joey in Astoria for calling this to my attention. 

The Chocolate Factory.  While the name indicates otherwise, this is home to dance, music, art  and theatre.

Socrates Sculpture Park.  You know it’s my fav.  Free art, yoga, pilates and film!

P. S. 1

PS 1 MoMa Known for the summer warm up series.

Noguchi Museum I haven’t been but it is well respected for its sculpture collections.

Silver Cup Studios.  Unfortunately, the home of 30 Rock and Gossip Girl does not do tours, but the website says nothing about stalking…jk  In any event, during filming seasons, you are bound to spot some shooting around town.


Yoga Room-Yoga, Pilates and Bikram Classes in a serene studio space.

City View Raquet-Remember the infamous Ramona/Jill tennis match? This is where it when down.  If you can afford it, it looks like quite the place.

Crossfit LIC.  I have reviewed this. It hurts.  In a good way. I love it.

Kayak.  Free kayak through the LIC Boathouse. weather dependent.

A big thanks to all the blogs that helped provide the information for this post–great resources for anyone living in LIC or astoria:


joey in astoria


Marathon Tips to Get You to the Finish Line—Part 2

No, more like this :)

Part 2 of the Jack Rabbit Sports interview focused on Injury Prevention and Treatment while training. Yeah, I was pretty interested in this section!

The first thing I learned–and which I found quite interesting–were the definitions of walking, jogging and running! LOL.

  • Walking is considered 2-3 MPH (15-20 min/miles)
  • Jogging is considered 5-9 MPH (7-14 min/miles)
  • Running is considered 10PMH (6 min/miles) or faster

I guess I am the little jogger that could.  :)

The most common injuries include: knee (34%) including IT Band syndrome, Postermedial Tibia (13%), Achilles Tendon (11%), Plantar Fascia (7%), Stress Fractures (6%) and everything else (29%)

The most common causes of injuries are called the “Terrible Too’s”  Don’t let this be you!

  • Too Much
  • Too Soon
  • Too Fast
  • Too Little Rest

Other things that contribute to getting or avoiding injury include:

  • running surface
    • concrete-highest chock
    • asphalt-consider the slope and levelness of the torad
    • grass-unstable
    • sand-unstable
    • packed dirt-good
    • tracks
    • treadmill-good for injuries because it is much less impact than concrete
  • shoes
  • strength (it is proven that runners who include strength workouts in their training have less chance of injury)
  • stretching (the jury is out on the effectiveness of stretching, but it sure makes your next run easier)
  • structure-this is what you were born with

How to Get Back on Track

The good news all of the coaches, drs and PTs I have spoken with do not tell runners not to run or exercise when injured.  This is because they know runners won’t listen :) But seriously, for many injuries a doctor will not tell you not to run, they will help you modify your training. Here are a few steps to recovery:

  • Rest (they didn’t mention it, but I would say ice too, and depending on the type of injury, compression and elevation, also anti-inflammatory medicine is helpful, but it is dangerous to run on ibuprofen.  8-hour Tylenol is highly recommended for runners)
  • Compromise by reducing mileage, frequency, pace.  For example, instead of running 6 miles in one day, divide it into two runs
  • cross train (a good spinning class is worth about 6 miles)
  • stretch
  • physical therapy
  • my addition: a good/optimistic attitude and a great blogging community

The importance of Footwear (what girl doesn’t love foot wear?)

  • Gait analysis is important-make sure your running store has it!
  • 70% of people are overpronators
    • just because you have flat feet doesn’t necessarily mean you overpronate or need lots of arch support
  • If using custom orthotics, use a neutral shoe, probably 1/2 size larger.
  • Replace shoes every 400ish miles.
    • 75,000 miles divided by body weight is a more exact measurement of shoe life
  • Shoes have a 2 year shelf life
  • Get fitted for size every 12 months-feet change and grow
    • make sure to have 1/4 to 3/8 inch of space from longest toe

Here are some of the stretches he suggested:

injury 007 injury 008 injury 009 injury 010 injury 011 injury 012

Well, it is a gorgeous day out! I guess I am glad I am up early.  I started my day with a Polly’s Yoga for Runners video. I am going to hit the gym for an easy elliptical workout and then maybe a full yoga class.  I really don’t want to pay for a class, but I might spring for it or just do my Core Fusion or NYC Ballet Workout DVDs.  There is a free sunset yoga class from The Yoga Room on the piers tonight, but my staff is coming over for team development, so I will have to miss it.  Somehow even though it is right outside my door, I have never been able to take advantage of any of the free classes! Oh well, I am excited to have them over!

Fit Recessionista: Om, Run, Learn, and Listen

Just a note, many of the specials I mentioned in this post are ongoing, so if you didn’t get a change to zumba or bollywood bhangra, there is still time!

Here is a round up of the September specials to keep you fit, healthy and with a happy bank account balance:

Let’s start with the stuff not quite so NYC exclusive—more at the end too:

Lululemon Classes! If you live near a Lululemon, be sure to check out their schedule of free yoga and pilates classes!

I haven’t checked all the NYC store schedules, but the Union Square shop is offering a Yoga for Runners Class on Tuesday, September 22nd from 8-9PM!  I really hope to attend!

On Sunday, Sept. 27th there will be a Bootcamp for Beginners Workout from 10-11AM

Thoseare just two of several weekly free classes so check out your local schedule for sure!

Try a free intenSati class!

The class sounds great at it is free on Tuesday, September 29th from 6-7PM.   Meet at the Washington Square Park Arch.

IntenSati class description: a high-energy exercise routine that fuses aerobics, martial arts, dance, yoga and strength conditioning, letting you do many routines at once. Combining spoken affirmations with simple choreography, intenSati is said to provide a heart-pumping workout that is physically challenging and spiritually mindful.

Free Spinning Class:

I truly wish there were more spinning studios, so you wouldn’t have to have a gym membership to take advantage of such an awesome workout.  Soul Cycle is offering free classes to celebrate it’s new UES location. You can enjoy one free class by calling (212) 639-1300.  Time slots for freebie classes are: Sept. 25 at 1PM & 6PM,  Sept. 26 at 5PM, and, Sept. 27 at 5PM.  Thanks to Vital Juice Daily for the info!

Free Running Seminar:

NYRR Learning Series event to give marathon runners some final tips about a tapering plan, nutrition, and dealing with aches and pains.  The program intends to help participants prepare for the last month of marathon training.  The program targets both first-time and experienced marathoners.

Free Running Groups:

    6 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022
    Tuesdays 6:30pm, Thursdays 6:30pm, Saturdays 9:00am.  Runs are your choice of 3, 5, 7 miles, post-run refreshments served.
  • ING DIRECT Weekly Group Runs (Monday evenings at 7:00 p.m., starting July 6): These are organized runs over planned routes, with leaders for various pace groups. Post-run refreshments provided.
  • ING DIRECT Café, 58th Street and Third Avenue


If you are a New York Road Runner’s member, you receive discounts at several sports stores including: 10% off at Paragon Sports, Urban Athletics and Super Runner’s Shop. Plus discounts on: acupuncture, chiropractic, coaches, massage, nutritionists, PT, podiatry, and sports medicine.

Serious RUNSPIRTION to make you run RUNSTOPPABLE!


On September 30th, Dean Karnanzes will be speaking about becoming a super athlete or at least get off the coach, active and healthy.  Dean  is the author of one of my favorite running books, Ultramarathon Man, and has run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.  To reserve free tickets to this Northface Speakers Series event, which will take place at 7PM at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, click here. I wish so badly I could go, but alas, I will be working.  I really think it will be an inspiring event!

For my beautiful Brooklynites,

Body by Brooklyn Spa and Lounge (275 Park Ave (at Washington Ave), Clinton Hill, Brooklyn )  is having a great Fashion Week special from 9/24-9/25

All day Thursday and Friday receive free a mini manicure and an eyebrow shaping; score two-for-one entrance to the spa’s expansive wet lounge, plus two gratis glasses of champagne ($44 retail); and take 10% off all services. Then snack on all-natural and vegan (free!) catering while checking out the discounted threads from local designers.


You know it’s my fav.  Head to Urban Outfitters to listen to and download 25 free tracks.  Some are more workout worthy than others, so preview to taste :).

Not free, but fun!

Lindsay Price’s Playlist:

They’re all good, but I starred my favorites!

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!

Weekend Wrap Up, Workouts, Reviews!

Wow, I feel like more has happened in the week I have been home than in the entire six month before I left.  Fortunately, a lot of it has involved two of my favorite things, fitness and friends!

I have mentioned that I am getting back into my workout routine and that it has been more difficult than I anticipated, hello sorebody!  However, I am definitely beginning to feel like myself and 30 minutes of cardio no longer kills me!  In fact, I am back to normal as of today! 

Just to recap, this weekend I went for my first official long run of the marathon training session—one down!  I met Katherine and one of her great friends for an easy 10 miles.  One full loop, plus the 4 mile loop of the park.  We took it easy and enjoyed the fact that NY Road Runners was having a long training run, replete with plenty of water stations to steal from hehe!  I was thrilled to have finished 10 miles, six longer than I had run in a month without much difficulty at all.  Especially considering I had consumed more than a couple glasses of prosecco while out with a girlfriend at Dove and Otto the night before! 

That evening I went out to try a place I have heard a lot about, but had been resistant to try: Studio Square (aka the new beer garden).  I had been resistant to try it not because it didn’t look nice (in fact it got 4 out of 5 stars in the Time Out Review), but because I have such a love and esteem for the old beer garden, and I didn’t want to cheat on it for it’s younger, chicer, hipper cousin. (photos below from google images)

Studio Square

I have to say Studio Square thoroughly impressed me.  It was packed, there must have been easily 1000 people spilling over the surround bar patio and out of the huge outdoor seating section.  I actually wasn’t sure if we could find seats.  But fortunately we did and the night involved lots of fun, meeting new friends, learning new games, and flip cup—during which we were enthusiastically cheered on by at least a hundred fellow patrons.  haha. While I do not consider myself a beer fan by any stretch of the imagination, I would definitely recommend skipping the sangria, it was way too sweet. 


On a final note, the new beer garden is not replacing the old, it serves a different purpose.  If I want to wear heels and have a slightly lounge/club vibe, I will go to the new beer garden.  For a laid back, bring the (big and boisterous) family and wear flops experience, that’s beer garden classic.


On Sunday I woke up surprisingly full of energy, and was eager to try out The Yoga RoomI have Gena’s awesome yoga post to thank for that! The Yoga Room has two locations in Queens, and the LIC studio just moved to a gorgeous space just three blocks from my casa! I took advantage of the $10 classes open house special and signed up for Hot Yoga and Hot Bodies Pilates.  

This was the fourth Bikram class I have taken, and the first one in a few years.  The room was HOT, definitely 110!  The class had a good mix of veterans and newbies.  Bikram involves 26 poses, and you do each twice in a row.  I really enjoyed the standing series.  Interestingly enough, the standing side stretch was one of the most challenging for me.  I seemed to have plenty of strength and flexibility for all of the others, although I got wobbly at times—balance is apparently not my forte! I like the 26 poses because you can really focus on getting into the pose or focusing inward, since there is not a lot of jumping around from position to position.  That said by the time we got to the mat poses,  I was experiencing occasional bouts of boredom and wanted things to move a bit faster.  The second half involves sivasina between each pose.  Nevertheless, at the end of the class I felt longer, more limber and even a bit leaner, it was a wonderful stretch for my entire body.  I was also fairly invigorated and totally drenched in sweat, in an extremely cleansing way not a gross way.  I went to the changing room to switch outfits and get ready for Pilates.

I grabbed a free mango zico coconut water—yum, that was being given out in the lobby.  When I asked where my Pilates class would be, they said the same studio.  Wait, what?  The hot room?  Stupidly, I thought hot bodies Pilates was just a cute name for a vigorous Pilates class.  It never occurred to me that a Pilates class would be hot.  I have never heard of bikram Pilates.  I was more than a little nervous to spend 2 and  a half hours in a such a hot room, but my yoga instructor was taking the class, so I decided to just try it and see if I would be okay.  Fortunately, the Pilates class wasn’t as hot as the yoga, maybe 90 degrees. 

While I really enjoy Pilates, I don’t get the chance to take it very often, so this was a nice treat.  The class was about a fifth the size of my yoga class, so we got lots of personal attention from the instructor.  The class was pretty challenging.  We used the ring a lot, which really added to the intensity of the ab work.  I like that Pilates feels like a workout more than yoga, but I like how yoga lets you focus on something beyond the workout and get in touch with yourself and the world.  I will say that I don’t really see the need for heat in Pilates (or even yoga for that matter).  I definitely appreciate the renewing feeling and opportunity for focus that a bikram yoga class offers.  But I see it as an occasional novelty, not something that I would take on a regular basis. I do look forward to trying the non-bikram yoga and Pilates and reformer classes at the Yoga Room since you can work more intensely when you are not in such hot conditions, and consequently, drenched in sweat. 

Overall, I really enjoyed both classes, the stunning and spacious—rare in yoga–studio (will take pics next time) and friendly staff! The Yoga Room isn’t cheap, classes are $18 each, although you save a few bucks when you purchase a class card. They are offering a special of $89 for unlimited monthly classes, almost half off the regularly cost and far cheaper than the Core Fusion or Physique 57.  Speaking of P57, workout dvds have finally been released for those non-NYers, NYers (like me) that can’t afford $35 a class, or NYers that like the convenience of not having to stick to class schedules, which tend to fill up anyways!

On a final note, I always think of taking a yoga class as a way of doing something special just for myself.  I think of it as treating myself and my body really well.  I hope the Yoga Room continues to offer great specials, so that I can treat myself more often :) Sunday was definitely a great day for some “me time,” some R and R with the roomie, and settling happily back into my life in the city.

Getting Back in the Routine

I still can’t believe I am back. I miss everyone from the program like crazy.  It is amazing how well all 23 of us got along, and a good thing since we were together for 21 days straight!  Fortunately, I have had a warm welcome back from all of you lovely bloggies, and my dear friends.  When I got home on Sunday, my friend Derek came over and we went out for sushi at Shi.  Not that I couldn’t have gotten sushi in South Africa, but it is such a New Yorky thing to me.  BTW, the “Cupcake” wine was probably the best white wine I have ever had.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to see my roomie yet, which is KILLING me.  But she did leave me a little homecoming gift:more blog pics 307 We share a cultivated love of HIMYM—if you hadn’t noticed.  So the fact that I am now a proud owner of the Bro Code cracks me up.  Did anyone catch last night’s episode?  The Yips?  It was amazing.  One of my favorites…the fact that it involves joining a gym may have something to do with it!

So besides getting back to daily life, getting back into my fitness/healthish eating routine has been necessary too.  I did manage to work out about 40-60 minutes/5 days a week while abroad, but the serious lack of strength training definitely took its toll!  Not to mention that my diet was all over the place and quite indulgent on many occasions.  But I am going to do full posts on my running and gym trips and of course the food (traditional African, tea time, and South African American—made by us), so don’t worry, no details will be spared.  

Anyways, I thought I had probably gained 4-5 pounds since I often felt overly full and didn’t miss too many tea time delectables. So I was surprised that I actually weigh the least I have in a year or so; however, I am also as mushy in the middle as I ever remember being, so the old scale really doesn’t mean much to me.  I am sure as soon as I add strength back into my routine, my weight will go up a bit, and hopefully my muscles will firm up a bit too—I anticipate some shredding in my future.  I don’t know very much about how fat your body can lose muscle and gain body fat, but hopefully trying to reverse the process isn’t too intense.  I can never seem to get a straight answer on increasing versus decreasing body fat and the best plan of attack, so if anyone knows, I would love the info!

Fortunately, while I was away my Garmin FR 60 finally arrived!

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I had a little trouble figuring out how to use it—must change date, but hopefully a little more time with the manual will help me figure things out.  It’s definitely cute and sleek, I just hope it has the performance and features I need!

So on Sunday afternoon, I had slept probably 17 hours between the plane ride and napping in my wonderful bed, so I did an easy 4 miles and about 10 minutes of light strength.

Monday morning I did a good 4 miles, it was pretty hard, but I was going at a decent pace.

Today, I did one of my favorite types of exercise, city walking. I walked from Grand Central to work, around 2 miles.  Tonight I did about 25 minutes of cardio and 10 or so of lunges, squats, plies and crunches with complimentary weight moves.

I have also gotten back to a produce heavy diet–and have really been enjoying it.  I am making a big effort to bring my lunch to work, rather than to spend $12 everyday on something so so.  Last night I made a great roasted eggplant, sweet potato and chickpea salad paired with an arugula, carrot, tomato, cauliflower, broccoli and cucumber salad.  I toasted the eggplant and sweet potato with a drizzle of balsamic vinegarette and sprinkled them with cinnamon, garlic powder, and cayenne.  After 20 minutes I added the chickpeas for another five.  Quick and easy.  I tossed the raw veggie salad with just a tiny tiny bit of dijon mustard, agave and soy sauce.  The meal was delicious and filling.  more blog pics 301

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Best part was that I was able to get two dinner and part of a lunch out of the ingredients; bI used more argula and chickpeas toasted with salsa and parmesan for an easy lunch. 

In other news, I have been setting up some running dates and a co-worker invited me to join a big group doing the Philadelphia Distance Run in September.  While it is a little expensive, I think it will be a fun course and a good time.

Oh and really really exciting news, I have a ticket to the Healthy Living Summit.  So I finally get to meet my blogging idols—all of you! And I am staying with one of my best friends from middle and high school, so I am psyched!

Now that I am back in the city, I am excited to get back to reviewing classes and sharing deals. 

Did anyone see the hike/yoga combo  through Outward Bound advertised on Vital Juice Daily?  I totally want to go!  Preferably by winning! I need to save save save these days!

Also in yoga news, there are a couple yoga and pilates studios right in my neighborhood that I haven’t tried.  I guess I also have free yoga and pilates in the building and never go, but I just keep forgetting! Anyways, the Yoga Room is having an open house on August 1st and 2nd.  $10 yoga and pilates classes and $15 reformer classes.

I am out for now, night all!

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!