From Stressed to Stretched

I took a deep breath before entering the building. I have said this before and nothing has changed I am always nervous to try a new workout. Classes in New York have an even greater level of intimidation to me, but there really is no reason, I have had only one uncomfortable experience when I was told by two incredibly skinny 6 foot model types that I was doing an exercise wrong and I have been scared ever since.

This day I was trying Lastics, a class designed by Donna Flagg, that consisted of various stretching techniques. I’ll be honest, I chose this workout because I thought I would breeze through with little sweat and exertion, I was wrong.

Within moments of the first stretch I was shaking, it was as if all of a sudden my legs were plugged in to an electrical outlet somewhere. We were seated on the floor, legs stretched out in front of us,  instructed to push our legs down until they were flush to the floor, no matter how hard I tried to push the back of my wobbly knees to the floor I couldn’t. Donna was very in tune to what everyone in the class was doing so I couldn’t hide. She came over and pushed gently on my knees helping them to finally touch the floor, she told me to keep them there and when she let go they popped back up, I had no control.

At one point we were instructed to pull our leg up behind us with our heel touching our butt, I struggled, leaning against a wall trying to grab at my ankle. I know from plenty of workout classes that I am one of a few who can’t successfully do this without holding on to a wall or kicking my leg up behind me and praying that my hand connects with my shoe laces so I can hold on to something other than my actual foot to do this stretch. What makes this move so difficult for me? I have no clue, could be extra padding, could be lack of flexibility, it’s definitely a lack of coordination.

There were plenty of other moves that were equally as challenging for me but in the end I left feeling good, my muscles were awake, I had exerted plenty of energy and had learned a new form of exercise.

Donna is a no nonsense instructor who calls you out when you aren’t hitting the perfect form, needless to say I got a lot of attention. I normally would have been embarrassed by so much attention but I was not alone and while direct, Donna is very friendly.

The workout is meant to aide your body in creating lean, limber and elongated muscles. I knew that taking one class wouldn’t get me to a dancer’s body but I am definitely intrigued. If you have interest in learning more about Lastics you should check out Donna’s collection of books and dvds for home practice.

The images below were taken from Lastics.com

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Aqua Cycle NYC

Taken from Aqua Cycle on Facebook

Taken from Aqua Cycle on Facebook

I had my eye on Aqua Cycle in New York for over a year. A spinning class done in the water on submerged bikes seemed pretty spectacular, couple that with an ambiance of classical music and candles and I was sold.

I had several awkward moments, the first happened before I even got to the pool. I was trying to sneak by a naked woman in the locker room without rubbing up against her and I fell against the wall hitting the light switch which in turn cast part of the locker room into darkness. Thankfully my friend Emily was with me and I got to share a laugh with her, one of many to occur in the hour long class.

It’s rare for me to purposefully put myself in a situation where I am in a swimsuit in a pool with strangers. I remedied this by wearing a tank top and workout pants, which worked fairly well until the crotch of my pants snagged on the seat during a move that had us placing our hands on the bike seat and and lifting ourselves on to the bike from behind.

The class instructor Emma Galland, is a certified holistic health coach and nutritionist as well as the author of “Feeding Success” and the owner of Goji Fitness, and if that wasn’t enough she has also co-created a vegan, organic superfood protein powder called Zenberry. I was very impressed with Emma, her entrepreneurial endeavors as well as the way she effortlessly led our class with a cast on her arm.

She adjusted my bike for me, and due to my height I stuck out of the water far past my neighbors, it felt a bit like I was back in elementary school towering over my classmates in our school picture.

The bike has no resistance dial like in an above water spinning class, the resistance is solely up to the rider, at first it felt like riding a bike with a broken chain with my pedals spinning fast and in an uneven jerky sort of pattern but soon enough I got into a rhythm and must have been doing something right because my leg muscles were on fire! We moved our way through three positions, sitting, standing and finally pedaling while floating behind the bike.

Aqua Cycling is popular in Europe but currently the only place to spin in a salt water pool is in TriBeCa. The classes are a bit pricey but if I lived locally I would try to find a way to support the habit.

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Welcome to Bollywood!

In my quest to continue my journey of “Losing Weight Off the Interstate” I scoured the internet for more unique classes in Manhattan. I came across Bollywood Cardio Dance classes at Beauty and the Beat Dance Company. I couldn’t sign up fast enough, I love the bright colors and the music I associate with Bollywood and wanted to experience a piece of it firsthand.

In all reality my experience with the Indian culture is limited to cuisine and an incredible weekend at a friend’s Sikh wedding. That event was filled with music and dancing but the little dancing I did with my friend’s uncle’s who dominated the room didn’t really prepare me for this class.

I had fallen off the exercise bandwagon a bit and was both excited and nervous. To no surprise my coordination hadn’t improved from the last dance class I took, when the group was going left, I was typically going right, as they moved forward I was at least one step behind. Even with the potential embarrassment of my two left feet I had a blast, I caught my reflection a handful of times and I was smiling my way through the entire class.

The Creative Director, Namrata Bajaj led an entertaining and tough workout class, if you don’t believe me just check out how pink my face is in our picture below. Namrata was originally trained in Africa and then in Indian Classical Dance in Las Vegas, which is where she came up with Cardio Bollywood. In addition to the various classes she teaches she also leads a dance troupe in various event performances across the city.

If given the chance I would definitely go back to this class, though when she offered for me to stay for the class right after mine I quickly declined, I mean, everything in moderation right?

www.bnbdance.com
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Bollywood

My trip to the Barre

In my last post I told you about all the fun I have been having and how I haven’t been my best when it comes to exercise, so I wouldn’t blame you if you assumed this post was about me actually drinking in a bar. It turns out fun can be had with multiple bars/barres, enter Barre3 in Seattle.

I was home for a quick visit and my good friend Sara asked me to join her at her fitness class, Barre3, a combination of ballet barre, yoga and Pilates. I knew when I accepted the invitation that it was going to be fun, working out with friends typically is, but I didn’t fully know what to expect of the class.

The instructor, Amy Masterson, was very friendly and attentive, aware that it was my first class. We started by doing some warm up stretches which gave me some confidence, I can stretch almost as well as the next person.

The tough part began right after the stretching, let’s say four minutes in to an hour long class. I made the mistake of looking at the clock after what seemed like twenty minutes of calf burning to see that really only a few minutes had passed. In the past I believed that calf strengthening exercises were a piece of cake, this class proved me wrong. I had always had a lot of respect for the pose and strength of ballerinas but this reminded me of their true athleticism.

We moved from standing to the floor to do the pilates and yoga. I have come to realize that I don’t like the “downward dog” pose in yoga. I feel intense pressure in my wrists, the blood rushes to my face threatening to make me pass out and my palms become so sweaty I slide all over my mat. What I do love about yoga is when instructors allow for adaptations to poses for those who struggle like myself. I held the position as long as I could before coming down to my knees with the support and approval of Amy.

The class was great, the company was amazing and I had fun at the barre, though I would be lying if I said it was more fun than the bar. This barre however, worked out my body and soul while the other bar just works out my tolerance and wallet. I think I made the correct choice in bars/barres, plus it was only 10:00 in the morning.

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My instructor: Amy Masterson

 

 

 

100% Fitness & Chiropractic

If my slow blogging hasn’t been an indicator I will tell you now that I have been struggling in my focus on “Losing Weight Off the Interstate”. I lost my drive a bit while home for the holidays and I have slowly been trying to recapture the steam I had for the first half of my trip. I have reached out to a handful of people with little response but that changed when I posted pictures to Instagram while in Nashville. A woman with the handle @abbyrex liked several of my images and when I looked at her profile I saw she was a personal trainer in the Nashville area, I reached out to her and we agreed to meet in nearby Franklin, Tennessee.

We met at a small coffee shop within a mile from where I was staying with my cousin and his family. I was nervous as I had seen some pretty impressive pictures of Abby Rorex and her incredibly in shape figure. This would not be the first or last time I found myself nervous to meet someone, Abby was quick to put me at ease with her friendly smile.  Abby was joined by her boyfriend Dr. Travis Owens and together they are combining their practices to bring a holistic approach to fitness and health, it was like I got a two for one with my meeting. :)

Abby is training clients through 100% Fitness while Travis is working with clients through 100% Chiropractic. They are currently in the process of creating a combined space in downtown Franklin, right across the street from one of the areas largest Farmer’s Markets.  The two were chosen by the Owners of 100% Chiropractic to create the first “whole body healthy centers” in the Nation. There are other 100% Chiropractic centers in the nation but Abby was chosen as the first 100% Fitness instructors, once the model has been proven they will start to add fitness to their services.

It was great spending the morning chatting with Abby and Travis and after a quick interview Abby and I went to a local park to do a light strength training workout. I was pretty proud of myself because she asked if I had time and I considered bagging out after the interview but I was happy to have met her for the workout. We did a handful of strength moves using hand weights and our body weight, it was definitely enough to ensure my body was sufficiently sore the next few days. :)

As I continue on my journey, if I ever need inspiration I just need to look to Abby’s pictures to keep striving towards my goal! A huge thanks to Abby and Travis for taking the time to meet me! What great people!

 

Abby

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Travis1

Southern Descent

With all my delays in various locales and the added visit to New York City for the Super Bowl weekend I was short on time and had to speed down the East Coast.

I took a train from New York to New Jersey where my car was parked at my friend Eva’s home. We had a few days to spend together before I had to head South as I needed to get down to Ft. Lauderdale within the week. This didn’t give me the time I wanted in several states but I was able to spend a few days with my Aunt Lynn and Uncle Mitch in Charleston, S.C. and was able to visit my cousin Carl who I hadn’t seen in several years.

Continuing my descent South I made my way to Jacksonville, Florida where I was finally able to put my feet in the sand, and walk along the surf! I spent several nights with my friend Charlie and her family and was treated to some great Southern Hospitality.

My itinerary stayed on track and I picked up one of my good friends Sara Dean, who also happens to be one of my fitness pros supporting my trip, in Ft. Lauderdale. Sara has a very successful business in Seattle and (kindly) beats many Seattleites into fitness submission with her boot camps. I was excited to spend a few days with a good friend in the Florida Keys but I was a teeny bit scared that this good friend was Sara as I hadn’t been working out much.

Our first day we did a quick workout in the hotel gym, impressing an older gentleman on the elliptical trainer with the intensity of our workout. We hopped in the car and took the long yet beautiful drive to Key West, Florida, stopping about halfway to grab a coffee and after the workout and sitting in the car I was already waddling about, pathetic.

The remainder of the weekend we were able to squeeze in more exercise with a run (for Sara)/walk (for me) and a good water workout. We started our mornings with a protein smoothie and spent the majority of the days laying by the pool or at the beach soaking up the sunshine, the evenings were spent trying to find some quality entertainment and dining options.

I feel so blessed to have had the time with Sara, who has always been so wonderful and supportive as both a friend and a trainer. Now if I can just keep the workouts going now she has left me!

First steps in the sand, Jacksonville, FL.

First steps in the sand, Jacksonville, FL.

Beach Day!

Beach Day!

Beer Thirty!

Beer Thirty!

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset!

Sunset!

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Getting my tan...er pink on.

Getting my tan…er pink on.

Yoga, a plus!

Rochelle and Sarah

Plus size, as you may know is not my favorite phrase. Perhaps it is because I have had to ride miles of escalators to the depths of retail stores looking for the “Plus-Size” section or it may just be that I have been Plus Sized for so long that I hate being lumped into a category. It is a well known term, everyone knows what it means when it is mentioned so I am pretty sure it will be around for awhile and I will just need to embrace it.

When I came across a class called “Plus-Sized Yoga” I was at first a bit hesitant, if I go then I am admitting to the whole world or at least those in the class that I am plus sized. I realized that a class is no different than shopping in the plus sized section, and really who said it was such a horrible thing to be plus sized after all.

I arrived at the studio where Rochelle Rice was teaching a series of five classes for her “Plus-Size Yoga” class. I joined a handful of other woman of all shapes and sizes, some clad in fancy yoga wear others in sweatpants and t-shirts, we laid out our yoga mats and started to stretch. There was nothing intimidating about this class or these women, accidental met glances were returned with smiles and everyone was very welcoming. I was invited to get up in front of the class and explain my journey and I was met with even more warmth and support, many of the ladies approaching me after the class to learn more and to encourage me.

Rochelle is the President of In Fitness & In Health, an organization she created that encourages movement and exercise among all body types regardless of size. Her bio sums up her passion for her company “Rice’s interest in Plus-Size Exercise came through her concerns about the inordinate stress put on thinness in our society, rather than fitness. Providing a safe environment where women could exercise physically while feeling secure emotionally, became Rice’s passion.”

If the yoga class I took is representative of Rochelle’s work then I personally believe that she is living her passion. If only all fitness classes everywhere could be so welcoming and warming to the soul. I left and had absolutely no qualms about being labeled “Plus-Size” with these amazing woman.