Update: The Long and Winding Road

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I have been living in New York City for the past month and a half and plan to be here several more weeks. I have always wondered what it would be like to live in New York, I know that several months doesn’t count as living but it has given me a good taste of big city life. I have been splitting my time between my friend Amanda’s in the East Village and my friend Emily’s in Chelsea. I feel so fortunate to have such amazing friends who have opened their home to me making this stopover doable.

So far this journey has had me traveling from place to place spending no more than three nights in one location. My stint in New York threw me into a bit of a spiral. I had free time unlike anything I have ever experienced. I could take a three hour walk around town, duck into a coffee shop and meet friends for dinner. I could walk around Farmer’s Markets with my friend Josh who is a Chef watching him purchase food for the menu he was preparing that night. I should have been enjoying every moment of this but I found myself feeling guilty and even a little depressed.

I haven’t not worked since my early years as a college student and this free time had me feeling a bit out of sorts. I was surrounded by people rushing about their daily lives, and I had no reason to rush. I decided it would be beneficial to me to work some while I was in town and signed up with a temporary agency. The first morning I was on call I was riddled with anxiety about going to work in this crazy busy city. My phone never rang. The next morning was much the same and it has turned out that my phone has never rang, I decided instead of continuing on this path of anxiety to just relish in this time, enjoy the slow pace as it will be gone before I know it.

I have spent much of my time enjoying this city and my friends who live here. I was slow to connect with trainers and have had little luck connecting to nutritionists, healthy eating bloggers and healthy chefs. I have some guilt that I haven’t lost much weight while here (down an additional 3 pounds) but am proud to say I haven’t gained any. I have tried all sorts of food but am trying to eat in moderation and with all the walking I am doing here I feel stronger and leaner every day.

This week I have four workouts in a row ranging from high intensity interval training to yoga to aqua Zumba. I am still committed to my journey and warming up to the idea that I need to embrace each iteration that there is, each location holds its own challenges and joys.

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Exceed Physical Culture

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I almost didn’t recognize myself, I purposefully and willingly signed up for a Sunday morning workout. I took the Summit Class at Exceed Physical Culture which had us doing 45 second intervals with a ten second rest in between each set. It had been awhile since I had trained like this and I have to say I missed it a bit. I was reunited with my friend the TRX and while I still struggled through each set I was struggling less, hopping off the floor and transitioning between stations easier.

Exceed’s website brags that it was chosen in 2013 by NY Magazine as one of the best gyms in the city and that it was “for deadly serious athletes who like to, you know, sweat.” I am not going to lie this intimidated me a bit. I don’t necessarily like to sweat and I am definitely not a deadly serious athlete. I was however able to do the majority of the exercises and I definitely found myself sweating.

My trainer was Gabe Blanco, who has his own weight loss story, was a patient and motivating instructor. He was very attentive without being over bearing, checking in with me frequently to ensure that I was using the correct form and that my trick knee was holding up to the challenge. Several years ago after graduating from college he found himself overweight and ready to make a change, he started altering his diet and working out and lost 70lbs! Quite an inspiration. He decided he wanted to help other people share in this experience so he became a certified personal trainer. In addition to training at Exceed he also trains clients one-on-one through his personal business Never Stop Improving.

I usually enjoy the end of a class as it signifies the pain is over but this class ended with Gabe standing at the door handing out hugs. If you know me, you will know I am a sucker for a good hug. I left Exceed Physical Culture smiling, having just received an inspirational hug and feeling proud of my accomplishments thus far.

If you are in the NYC area and are looking for a trainer or gym check out Gabe and Exceed Physical Culture.

Gabe Blanco  – gabrielblancofitness@gmail.com or 917-678-2583

Exceed Physical Culture

Gabriel Blanco, Personal Trainer

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DMF – Dance Motivation Fitness

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I am starting to wonder if people have been lying to me my whole life. I have been told on many a wedding dance floor that I am a really good dancer. True, there usually was copious amounts of alcohol flooding these compliments but somehow I still believed them.

I seriously had to question my ability to dance when I took a class at DMF, Dance Motivation Fitness. Created by Lindi Duesenberg, this class inspires and empowers you while making you sweat. Each song that plays has its own choreographed dance moves which to the average person are pretty easy to follow. I apparently am best when doing dance moves such as “starting the lawnmower” and “grocery shopping”, if you don’t know these moves let me know. What I wasn’t questioning was the fact that DMF is a good and more importantly FUN workout.

Lindi, who is originally from Seattle, keeps everyone going with her energetic personality and her motivational quips. It is often hard to remember why you are doing something while engaging in a move called “the booty pop” and looking at your red face and fuzzy hair in the studio mirror, but Lindi reminds you to be the best you can be and to push yourself in a non cheesy and empowering way.

In addition to her growing dance class business Lindi also likes to give back. She is currently working on starting a non-profit which will bring DMF into local schools, empowering kids through dance and discussions around life skills and education. Additionally, she hosts a dance class quarterly where all the proceeds go to a chosen charity. This Thursday she is hoping to raise money for The Young Women’s Leadership Network Schools.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I had stopped smiling on the streets of NYC, when Lindi reached out to invite me to class she told me that I needed to ignore what people had told me and to continue smiling. I can tell you, without a doubt that I was smiling the entire dance class. Smiling because I knew I was off dancing beat, smiling because I didn’t care and more importantly smiling because I was having fun.

Below you can see a video of one of her classes.

Lindi DMF

Creator of DMF, Lindi Duesenberg

Weight Hate: Spanx You Very Much

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I have mixed emotions about Spanx, on the one hand I LOVE the product, they take all of your lumps and bumps and smother it in a tight spandex hug, and who doesn’t like to be hugged? On the other hand they must be fashioned after some ancient torture device.

When you pull them out of the packaging they look like they are made for a four year old, you flip the package over to follow the guideline to sizing and realize that you did purchase the correct size.  Now the most important step to putting these things on, make sure no one, and I mean no one can see you as you struggle to get these things over your thighs, hips and ass to their final resting position.

In the beginning, it is simple; you get both feet into them no problem.  The Spanx crotch is now a bridge between your feet, essentially creating a situation like a school kid who has had their shoelaces tied together.  You should now pray that the phone doesn’t ring or the fire alarm goes off because you will be going nowhere fast.  You move the Spanx up your leg until the crotch sits as a bridge between your knees, essentially cutting off the blood flow to your lower legs.  You push on, you pull and tug to get the tights up and over your butt and hips, the fabric is so taut now that you are giving yourself rug burns on your fingers while swaying your hips to the left, to the right jumping into a squat and then with one final pull at the waistband and a leap into the air the Spanx settles around your waist.

You better hope that you didn’t do your hair or makeup before you got dressed because now your hair is fuzzy with perspiration and your makeup is sliding off your face from the exertion. The process may be excruciating but the end results are worth all the pain., once I pull my outfit on over my Spanx I quietly whisper “Spanx you very much”!

Nago Academy – Capoeira

Sometimes challenges mask themselves as humiliation. I arrived for my Capoeira (Brazilian Martial Arts) class at Nago Academy and was shown into a large room of twelve people who were all dressed in white and running around in a circle. I looked down at my black workout pants and hot pink and orange striped tank top and started humming “One of these things is not like the other”. I approached the instructor, also dressed in white, and told him I was new, he pointed to the group and indicated I should start running. So I ran. It felt a little like elementary school when you have to find the perfect entry time to jump rope double dutch style but I found my opening and joined the circle.

Every corner we took, and there were a lot as the room was small, my feet kept slipping threatening to throw me to the ground. I wondered why no one else was having this problem and then realized I was the only one wearing socks, everyone else was barefoot. I stepped aside, ripped off my socks and then had to re-enter the circle.

Once we were all warmed up our instructor asked us to line up against the wall where he started creating groups. Now it started feeling like Jr. High, I sensed I was going to get picked last for my lack of athleticism. One by one he started pulling people from the wall and putting them into groups until I was the lone, pink (both my tank top and my skin from the exertion) person standing against the wall. He looked at me and told me he was going to be my partner. I had a mixture of emotions, fear, as I was going to have to workout with the instructor and joy because he was hot.

The rest of the class was challenging but enjoyable, I was able to do the majority of the moves and only once did one tiny modelesque girl tell me I was doing it wrong. When I entered the class I was embarrassed at how different I was, how much I stood out from the group but when I left I was proud of my accomplishment. It takes huge “Brazilian nuts” to walk into a community like this and not turn around and run away.

Image taken from www.nagoacademy.com

Image taken from www.nagoacademy.com

Chaise Fitness

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Image taken from www.chaisefitness.com

Workout in a chair? Yes please! This sounded like an easy(ish) workout and since I had been slacking on my workouts a good segue back. Boy was I wrong, this is one tough workout!

Chaise Fitness was founded by Lauren Piskin a competitive figure skater turned certified Pilates instructor and her daughter Rachel Piskin who is a retired professional ballerina. The studio boasts “The Reinvention Method” which combines Pilates, aerobics, strength training and ballet. I am not very seasoned in most of these, having given up on things like aerobics when I fell trying to do a backwards hop onto a step many years ago.

I took two of their classes, the Reinvention Chair and the Bungee Blast. The moves in the first class were easy at the beginning, though, simple use of the suspended arm bands turned to me on all fours with a little tiny ball wedged behind my knee doing leg and glute lifts. Ouch. I am happy to report that I did not fall off the chair or lose my ball, I held on tight. My instructor Rachel, was incredibly down to earth, helpful, encouraging and supportive. I had no idea that she was the co-founder of Chaise Fitness.

The second class, Bungee Blast had us working out on a mat and using the overhead bungees. At first glance I thought this was going to be an easier class but within minutes I was feeling the burn in my hips and my glutes. I thought I was doing it wrong at first because I had never felt such burning in my hips but our instructor Maria graciously moved us on to the next move to give our hips a rest. Maria was also a wonderful instructor, kind, helpful and really encouraging. I found out after the class that she is also a member of the New York Knicks Dance Team as well has danced for musicians such as Rihanna and Pitbull.

To get a better idea of what the workout looks like watch this quick video:  player.vimeo.com/video/73461917

At the end of the video Lauren says that they wanted to create a welcoming and supportive place for people to become their best self. I believe that they have succeeded, from the moment I stepped in to the studio to the moment I left I felt welcomed, supported and never once did I feel any judgement, oh and I had fun too! I hope my remaining fitness experiences in New York are as positive!

Co-Founders Rachel and Lauren Piskin. Image taken from ChaiseFitness.com

Co-Founders Rachel and Lauren Piskin.  Image taken from ChaiseFitness.com

A New York State of Mind

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I have always dreamed of living in a big city and this trip seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a taste. I will be in New York City from now until the beginning of December.

I have quickly learned some of the rules to big city living. The toughest for me has been to quit smiling at strangers on the street. I can’t help it, I am a friendly lady. It turns out that those smiles here are more of an invitation to interact than they are at home. I have successfully wiped the smile from my face but I didn’t throw it away because I am planning on smiling at strangers again after my departure.

I have had the opportunity to catch up with some amazing people with hopes to catch up with even more. Some of my favorite people live here and being in the same city as so many wonderful and supportive people has been very good for my soul.

Working out and healthy eating are still very much at the forefront of my mind, I am taking two separate fitness classes this week and will be excited to share my experiences with you. I am reaching out to various food and fitness professionals and hope to stack the deck with some amazing experiences and some more weight loss!

Chat soon!

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I saw a Banksy my first weekend here!

I saw a Banksy my first weekend here!