Yoga on the Rocks with Core Power Yoga

When was the last time you did something totally 100 percent just for you—and not for anyone else? I almost never do, but this weekend is a big exception. I went to Denver to participate in Yoga on the Rocks with Core Power Yoga. The event was unlike anything I’ve ever done before—I did a sunrise class with a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, an absolutely stunning location. Check out some of the pictures:

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Lately, I’ve been less diligent about practicing yoga—but this event was a good reminder of how much I enjoy it. I’m definitely going to make an effort to get to more classes when I return home—and if you’re in the Denver area August 9th or 16th, I highly suggest you come try Yoga on the Rocks for yourself! (If you won’t be in Denver, you may enjoy these tips on how to bring your yoga practice outside.)

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How to Exercise Intuitively (Plus, Links!)

Ever since I wrote about my recent fitness class fatigue, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of intuitive exercise. It’s something I first heard about while doing an intuitive eating challenge back in May; the idea is that, rather than dragging yourself to the gym and doing whatever will burn the maximum amount of calories, you should stay active in ways that you actually enjoy—and it definitely doesn’t have to involve doing the same exercises every day. Rather, just as you would listen to what your body is craving to eat intuitively, you should do the same with exercise and move in whatever way feels best to you in the moment.

Granted, everyone has those days when you don’t want to start working out because of sheer inertia—but are so glad you did afterward. Still, I’ve been making more of an effort the past several days to really ask myself, “What type of workout are you in the mood for today?” and make my decision of what to do based off of that. Today, I did a short bout on the elliptical at the gym (while reading The Silkworm; I know you’re not “supposed” to read while you’re working out, but I love it!). And I also biked to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with my boyfriend. No, it wasn’t as intense as a cycling class. But it was way more fun—and I saw some gorgeous flowers! Take a look:

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I’m going to continue to make an effort to exercise intuitively (including not forcing myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. when I’m really enjoying evening workouts more lately). Here’s what else I have on my wellness radar this week:

Have a well-intentioned week!

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Do You Ever Get Fitness Class Fatigue?

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Lately, I’ve been taking a LOT of fitness classes. In fact, for all of June, my only workouts were at fitness classes because I had a free 30-day trial to ClassPass, a monthly service that gives users access to dozens of fitness studios across New York City. It was fun to try out lots of new places, but something funny happened; at a certain point, I started to miss the familiarity of just hopping on the elliptical with my iPhone. I missed going to my gym around the corner from my apartment and recognizing the people working at the front desk.

I thought it would be impossible to get bored when I was trying new classes regularly, but it became a little tiring going to new places all the time—and not knowing the drill at any of them. There’s definitely something nice about knowing what to expect and being in a setting where you’re comfortable. I’m not going to be giving up fitness classes any time soon (I particularly like booking them when I want to work out in the morning—I know I won’t skip exercising if I actually sign up for a class). But now I also know that I won’t be swapping my gym membership for fitness studio hopping, either. And for the next couple of weeks, I think I’ll be spending more quality time with my gym instead of booking any classes—I’ve missed it!

Have you ever burned out on fitness classes? (Or is it just me?) Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Photo courtesy of localfitness.com.au

Do You Ever Make Themed Playlists?

At work, I write a column called “Your New Favorite Playlist.” The idea is that I get a playlist from a different fitness studio or class each week and share it with readers so they can use the tunes to invigorate their own sweat sessions. This week, the playlist came from the indoor cycling studio SoulCycle—and it was from a Michael Jackson-themed ride! And it gets better: I actually got to participate in the ride earlier today! Here’s a photo of me with Trammell, the instructor who came up with the genius idea to host a class featuring music from the king of pop:

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This is the second themed ride I’ve done; I also did a Frozen-themed SoulCycle ride back in March (yes, I love Frozen!). Going today reminded me how fun it is to work out to a themed playlist sometimes. It definitely adds a ton of energy when you’re in a group session—after all, everyone there is guaranteed to know and love the music—but even when you’re on your own, it’s a fun change of pace.

I know I’ll be working out to the playlist we used today in a future gym session (you can find the playlist on Spotify). And I’m feeling inspired to create my own themed playlists, too. The only tough part will be deciding which theme to choose: Train, Taylor Swift, Avett Brothers, ’90s movie soundtrack songs. There are so many good options! Do you have any themed playlists you’ve created that you love? If so, share them in the comments!

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What’s Your Favorite Bridge Run?

Today’s my last day vacationing in Charleston, so I wanted to make sure to get in a good run. I went to the Arthur Ravenel Junior Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina (the one you cross in the famous Cooper River Bridge Run, which I did in 2013) and went for an absolutely gorgeous 4-mile run. Take a look at some of the photos I took while on the bridge:

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And here’s one that I didn’t technically take while I was on my run, but I took it right afterward from a nearby park (you can actually see two different views of the bridge if you look closely at the edges):

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Beautiful, right? I think bridges may be one of my favorite places to go for runs (before I hurt my heels, I did the Williamsburg Bridge all the time since I live so close to it). But something I realized this morning is that, had I not known someone who lives in Charleston who could tell me exactly where to park and how to get on the foot path, I probably wouldn’t have bothered running the bridge. And the only other bridge runs I can even think of are the Golden Gate Bridge and ones in New York City (believe it or not, I still have yet to run the Brooklyn Bridge).

When I did a search for bridge runs online, I quickly realized how difficult it is to find a list of bridges with foot paths that make great places to run. It’s just one of those things that locals who are into running know all about—and tourists don’t. Which is why I want to pass the baton here and ask you to share your favorite bridge run. Are there any I should make sure to add to my running bucket list? Please share your suggestions in the comments!

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Genius Fit Traveling Trick: Tying Your Sneakers to Your Suitcase Handle

It’s a problem that anyone who wants to work out while on vacation struggles with: How the heck are you suppose to fit your sneakers into your suitcase, along with everything else you want to bring? (And no, those three extra going-out outfits you threw in there just in case canNOT come out.) All too often, sneakers are left at home and vacation workouts are sacrificed.

I love running in new places, though. Not only does it help keep me sane and in shape, but it might just be my favorite way to explore a new city.

That’s why I was so, so excited last month, when I was flying to Miami for my friend’s bachelorette party and saw a smart solution to this problem: tying your sneakers to your suitcase handle (the same spot where lots of people attach a neck pillow).

So yesterday, when I was packing to visit one of my college roommates in Charleston, I knew I had to try it. Check it out:

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What a simple but brilliant solution, right? You just do the first step of tying your shoes (pre-bunny ears), then repeat that step again around your suitcase handle, then proceed to tie and double-knot your shoelaces.

My sneakers seemed pretty secure, but there is one caveat: If I were checking my bag, I’d be nervous about a shoe getting lost in the underbelly of the plane. So if you’re doing not taking your bag on-board as a carryon, I’d recommend stuffing a plastic grocery bag in your purse and removing your shoes right before you check your suitcase. The bag should be easy enough to stow under the seat in front of you—and you’ll be able to work in as many sweat sessions as you like when you get to your destination.

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Making Friends at Fitness Classes

Some friends and I at a Flywheel studio in Miami!

Some friends and I at a Flywheel studio in Miami! (I’m on the right.)

I recently got a 30-day free trial for ClassPass, a monthly service that gives users access to dozens of fitness studios across New York City. So I’ve been trying to take advantage and load up on as many workouts as possible! This week, I’ve been to indoor cycling classes at two different studios (and a third one at my gym—I don’t know when I turned into such a cycling junkie!), a yoga class, and an aqua cycling class (where the bikes are in a 4-foot-deep pool!). Sadly, a pool-side yoga class I was supposed to take Wednesday morning ended up getting canceled because of rain.

It’s been fun trying lots of different workouts, but one of my favorite things about the experience so far has been talking to other people in the classes. For whatever reason, it feels a lot easier for me to strike up a conversation with someone at a fitness studio or in a class than it does at the gym when I’m on the elliptical. I guess classes are just an inherently more social setting, so I don’t feel like I’m disturbing people as much. Here are some of the gym friend pickup lines I’ve used:

  • “Thanks for keeping me motivated during class!” Last night, I took a cycling class at a studio called Flywheel, which records your torque and RPMs to calculate a total score for you—and a few times throughout the class, they’ll post the standings so you can see how you stack up against other people. I was in second place the first time our scores were posted, then I moved up to first place. I ended up slipping into a close second, but I went up to the girl I’d been trading spots with afterward and thanked her for giving the drive to push myself harder during class. We ended up talking about our favorite instructors and what times we usually go to Flywheel classes. Hopefully I’ll see her again!
  • “Do you think I should grab water before we start?” This morning was my aqua cycling class! And let me tell you: You can’t exactly set a water bottle on a bike when it’s under water. (There were a lot of logistical issues I was unprepared for, but that’s another story.) I noticed one of the girls set her water bottle on the edge of the pool, though, and decided to ask her advice about whether I should have my water bottle nearby, too. I read somewhere once that asking someone for advice or a small favor helps endear you toward them. If nothing else, it definitely helped me start a conversation this morning!
  • And of course: “Have you been here before?” It’s basically like asking “Do you come here often?” But you know what? It works! I used this one after a rowing class last week while another woman and I were waiting for the elevator. We ended up taking the subway home together and chatting the whole time.

Do you usually talk to people during workouts, or do you prefer to keep to yourself? Do you have any tips or tricks for how to turn fitness studio chats into actual friendships? That’s a bridge I haven’t crossed yet, but I’d like to soon!

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Giving Myself Permission to Stop Doing Workouts I Don’t Like

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You may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote about a yoga class I kept going to—even though I didn’t really like it—because the two instructors were just so nice. Basically, I knew the class wasn’t for me. But the instructors remembered my name, talked to me before and after class, and were just generally really upbeat, likable people—so I felt guilty not going.

But after I wrote my previous post on the class, I decided it was time to grow a pair, and I stopped going. The very next Monday (the night of the class), I went to my gym instead. When I got there, I realized there was a cycling class about to start, so I decided to jump in and try it. And you know what? It was awesome. Not only did I get a great workout, but the instructor had so much enthusiasm and energy. He made sweating up a storm fun. I’d even go as far as to say that he might be my favorite cycling instructor ever (including the ones who teach at pricey studios like SoulCycle).

Isn’t it funny how life works sometimes? I felt so anxious about going MIA in that yoga class, but as soon as I did, I made it possible for myself to take another class that I ended up enjoying so much more. Maybe it’s a sign that karmic forces exist in the fitness universe (or at least that it’s about time I stopped making decisions motivated solely by guilt). Anyhow, I’ve been going to that cycling class ever since. And the next time I find myself in a workout that I’m not in love with (even after I give it a couple of tries), I’m going to think back to this experience and give myself permission to stop going—and I hope you’ll do the same!

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photo via localfitness.com.au

Running Songs to Keep You at a 10-Minute-Mile

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Exciting news: Yesterday, I got on the treadmill for the first time since October! (If you’re just tuning in, I had an injury that sidelined me from running for several months.) I didn’t want to put too much stress on my feet, so I limited myself to a mile—and I made sure to stick to a six-mile-per-hour pace. On the treadmill, this isn’t too hard to do—you just set your speed and stick with that. Still, it helps if you’re listening to songs where the beats coincide (at least roughly) with when you want your feet to hit the ground. And when you’re running outside, listening to the right playlist is even more helpful since it can help you hit the pace you’re aiming for.

Here’s a playlist I made to help prevent me from going too fast while I’m still easing back into running. All of the songs are ideal for a 10-minute-mile pace, according to jog.fm:

1. Florence + The Machine, “Dog Days Are Over”
2. Taylor Swift & Colbie Caillat, “Breathe”
3. EGX, “Everything Is Awesome”*
4. Passenger, “Let Her Go”
5. Beyoncé, “Start Over”
6. Bruno Mars, “It Will Rain”
7. Paramore, “Hallelujah”
8. Katy Perry, “E.T.” (feat. Kanye West)
9. Miley Cyrus, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”
10. Jack Johnson, “Breakdown”
11. Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours”

*Yes, this song is totally from The Lego Movie. What—it’s catchy!

The playlist lasts 41 minutes, so it’s perfect for an easy four-mile jog. Enjoy!

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Working Out with Google Glass

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If you’ve been following my blog, then you know that I’m not supposed to start running until Monday—doctor’s orders. But I made an exception recently when Google invited me to come to their New York offices and go on a run while wearing Glass. The idea was that I’d be testing out the device’s Strava app, which uses GPS to track your distance, pace, elevation, and more. I know, I know—I should have declined, considering my running ban. But the offer sounded way too cool to pass up—so I said I’d do it (can you blame me?). I went on a slow, short run, tested out another app called LynxFit that acts as a virtual personal trainer, and played with some other fun features built into Glass. You can read about my full account of what it’s like to run with Glass on WomensHealthMag.com and even check out some of the video footage I recorded with the gadget while on my run. I don’t know that I’ll be spending $1,500 to buy my own Glass any time soon—but it was a ton of fun to try it out!

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How to Ease Back Into Running Post-Injury

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Guess what? I can start running again in one week! Let me back up a bit: Last October, I started having really intense heel pain in my left foot. If I stood for too long or went for a run, I would be limping by the end of the day. I went to a podiatrist and found out that I have heel spurs, which make it more likely for me to get plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the ligament that connects your heel to your toe bones becomes inflamed (translation: It hurts). If you’re a runner, then you probably know my pain (or at least know of someone who’s experienced it). Part of my treatment involved taking an indefinite break from running—but my podiatrist has finally given me the green light to start again on Memorial Day!

Granted, there is a catch—I can’t just go back to the mileage and speed I was at before my running ban. Like with almost any injury, I have to ease back into it. Now, I’ll admit: Patience is not my strong suit. But I really, really don’t want to hurt myself again. So I’ve devised a few strategies for making it easier to go slower and run shorter distances—at least in the beginning:

Make Running Dates with Some of My Slower Friends
I know, I kind of sound like a jerk right now. But it’s a fact of life: Some people are slower than others (and there are plenty of people out there who are faster than me). But to force myself to slow down, I plan to make running buddies out of friends who typically go at a slower pace than me. Or, when I join a running club, I’ll make sure to head out with the 11-minute-mile group, rather than the 9-minute-mile one. As an added bonus, I’ll have way more fun running with others  than I would on my own.

Run to the Gym…and Then Get on a Cardio Machine That Won’t Irritate My Heels
I’ve been allowed to work out on the elliptical, stationary bike, and rowing machine for a while now. So I know that running one or two miles won’t feel like a “real” workout to me because it will be finished relatively quickly. But if I run one mile and happen to have that mile end at the gym, then I can do another 30 or 40 minutes on a cardio machine and slowly build up to longer and longer distances.

Make a Playlist of Slower Songs
Research shows that you automatically run faster when you’re listening to songs with more beats per minute. So it follows that if I make a playlist filled with some of my favorite slow(er) jams, I’ll be less tempted to go at my max pace. (I’ll share the playlist I end up making with you in a future post.)

Intersperse Running with Walking
I’ve always been a proponent of the run/walk method, particularly for longer distances. It helps me recoup some of my energy and make sure I’m not sacrificing my form when I get tired. But whereas before I might have only walked for one or two minutes three or four times during a six-mile run, now I think I’ll alternate one song running with one song walking—and build up to shorter and shorter periods of walking.

Do you have any other suggestions for how I can pace myself and fight my natural inclination to overdo it? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Have You Ever Gone to a Fitness Class You Didn’t Like Just Because the Instructor Was Nice?

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When I first moved to Brooklyn, I found out (through some creative Googling) about a restaurant near my apartment that hosts yoga classes in its spare room on Monday nights. So cool, right? (Also, can you tell I live in the hipster capital of the world?) I really, really wanted to make it to class, but things kept coming up at work…and then the instructors put the class on hiatus during the winter.

A few weeks ago, the classes started back up again and I finally made it out to one. The instructors were super friendly, chatting with everyone beforehand and encouraging people to stay afterward to grab drinks with them. I was really looking forward to the class itself…but then it turned out to be not my style. At all. I like it when instructors really talk you through the sequence and give pointers on poses that may be unfamiliar/tricky. But we moved from pose to pose so quickly in this class that I felt like there was no time to set myself up in the proper form each time—let alone get specific instruction and guidance from the teachers. Also, I felt like the worst yogi in the room by far. (I know you’re not supposed to compare yourself to other people in the room, and I’m generally pretty good about this—but it’s no fun when you just feel like you’re out of your element and everyone else is in a different league than you.)

So you’d probably assume that I didn’t go back, right? Well, I did. I’m a strong believer in giving new fitness classes a couple of tries since it’s usually hard to tell how much you’ll like it right away. But a funny thing happened after I came back a couple more times. First, my feelings about the instructors’ style of yoga didn’t change. Second, I started to feel obligated to keep coming because the instructors were so sweet and enthusiastic. They remembered my name every time I came back and told me not to worry if I was ever running late because of work—that they’d save a mat for me. I know it’s crazy, but I felt guilty for even thinking about not coming back. These classes had essentially turned into pity workouts.

It wasn’t until I got a reminder e-mail about an upcoming class—and noticed how much it filled me with dread—that I realized I needed to decide whether the benefit I got from talking to these nice instructors outweighed the stress that dragging myself to a class that wasn’t a good fit for me was causing. While I do think there are obvious benefits to liking the people teaching your fitness class (or liking the people with whom you’re attending a class), I chose not to continue going to this particular yoga class. It’s funny, though, that I would feel so compelled to keep going in the first place.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? If so, how did you handle it? I’d love to hear about it!

 

photo: courtesy of localfitness.com.au

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