Fit Chic NYC’s Blog

Life Lessons I Learned In The Bikram Studio

Balancing Stick Pose

Despite my initial whining, during my 25 days at Bikram Yoga NYC (I had guests in town the last five days of my month Groupon pass) I was able to take a total of 15 classes.

Obsessed doesn’t begin to describe my passion for the practice. Here’s why:

1. I believe sweat is a strong indicator of a good workout. In Bikram, you’ll start sweating before class even begins.

2. In other forms of yoga there can be a lot of down time while holding poses; and, being the competitive person I am I like to look around at other people. That isn’t great for my meditation nor is it polite when they awkwardly catch me starring at them. In Bikram, moving your eyeballs is energy you can’t afford to waste.

3. The group mentality of the class is incredible. Yogis in general tend to foster a sense of comradeship with each other but there’s just something about dripping sweat in front of each other in as little clothes as possible for an hour and a half that makes you feel so…. Connected.

4. Bikram is a moving mediation. While I’ve never been able to fully “zone out” in other forms of yoga (see number 2) in Bikram I find that I’m completely concentrated on my practice.

5. I like to control my schedule and plan it out to the very last details so if you’re like me (very Type A) Bikram is the yoga style for you. Every class is performed exactly the same way and while you might think that performing the 26 postures in the same sequence every time would become monotonous, each class feels entirely different

6. The first class or two is miserable. But that moment when it all just clicks makes the initial suffering entirely worth it.

7. I get bored when I hold a posture for too long – even if it’s tough. In Bikram, no posture is held for more than a minute and I know exactly what’s coming next (see number 5). Knowing when it’s going to end allows me to judge my effort level.

8. I semi-jokingly told my friend that I’d consider a breast reduction so my practice would be better. Personally, I feel that a having a naturally (or unnaturally if that’s your style) large chest hinders some of the postures because they just get in the way.

9. Bikram has a strong cardio component. I wanted to wear my heart monitor during class but I couldn’t get it to stay completely silent so I left it at home. One instructor said that the Balancing Stick Pose pose was comparable to 30 minutes on the treadmill. While that might be a stretch, it gets your heart rate up.

10. You can do anything for 10 seconds. Suck it up and push through.

My Bikram Science Experiment

I’m still on my Bikram high from last night – I totally kicked ass in class. It seems that the third class was the charm for me and it’s funny how I went from “I’m about to die, why did I sign-up to do this” to “I want to do this everyday” in a matter of four days. But consider me converted.

That being said, I wouldn’t be a New Yorker if I weren’t skeptical of my new-found “enlightenment,” hence my Bikram Science Experiment.

So here’s the deal: I bought a month pass to Bikram Yoga NYC from Groupon. My initial goal was to (1) shock my body and try to reap the benefits of Bikram practice. I’m strong, but at 5’1” my muscular frame tends to look a little bulky so (2) I’m seeking the much envied, strong, lean bodies of hipster yogis. And since I enjoy a workout challenge I (3) wanted to give Bikram another shot (if you remember, my first try – and my first FitChicNYC post! – wasn’t exactly encouraging). But now, I’m on a mission to determine whether I actually reached a Bikram high in my third class, or if it was a fluke thanks to a few variable factors.

Let’s examine the facts, class by class.

First Class: Saturday, April 10, Noon
I braced myself for this. I knew it was going to be rough. I hadn’t done Bikram yoga in over a year, and no matter how in shape I am, I was going to have to go through a readjustment period in acclimating to the heated room. The heat was brutal, and when the sun started creeping in around 1pm (30 more minutes to go), and my mat just so happened to be in the spot where it shined through. Joy. My concentration was on breathing and I had to sit down during the last few standing poses. Overall, I felt horrible and I didn’t reach my full potential during the poses.

Second Class: Sunday, April 11, 11AM
I showed up – which was already an accomplishment. The sun wasn’t as strong (and I changed my mat location slightly) so I thought I was going to rock this class. While I admit my breathing was much more controlled, I still just wasn’t getting it during certain postures and much to my dismay, I had to sit down during the end of the standing sequence. Once again the heat got to me and I left feeling a little better than I did the day before, but was wondering why I signed up for this insanity – I wasn’t getting the most out of my practice, I was totally wiped out for the rest of the day and quite honestly I hate staring at myself for 90 minutes while I drip sweat.

Third Class: Tuesday, April 13, 7PM
Okay so here is where I reached my Bikram high. Not only did I complete the 26 posture sequence without taking any breaks, I was also able to move into poses that I had to modify for the first two classes and believe it or not, I actually kind of enjoyed the heat. As I mentioned, I’m skeptical. I think that the time of day had EVERYTHING to do with my new-found enlightenment because (1) since it was a night class, the sun wasn’t shining, so it wasn’t as hot in the room and (2) I know my body and I am stronger at night.

So if my hypothesis is correct, I will reach my maximum potential in Bikram yoga if I practice at night. I have 25 more days to test my theory but I’d love for you to weigh in on my little workout experiment.

How to increase burpee speed

Reader Mark B. is working on his burpee challenge and asks:

I’m up to 22 in one minute. I’m going for 30. Anyone have advice to increase speed?

First off, 22 is great! So let’s talk about how to get over your speed roadblock. The science behind a minute of burpees – it’s considered anaerobic exercise, meaning it doesn’t use oxygen as its main source of energy.

To increase speed I suggest training in intervals, using the Tabata protocol. Tabata works by performing eight non-stop rounds of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest totaling four minutes. So pump out as many burpees as you can in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds then go straight into 20 seconds of burpee action, rest for 10 seconds etc., completing the 20/10 cycle a total of eight times.

For the next week don’t perform a minute of burpees straight, train with the 20/10 intervals.

When you only have a minute of work, speed is king (assuming form is already correct) and by using Tabata’s repeated short intervals, you are conditioning your body to work without a full recovery.

Good luck!

Music to Motivate: March Playlist
March 10, 2010, 10:48 AM
Filed under: NYC life, Overheard At The Gym | Tags: , ,

I like to think I have good taste in music, dare I even say at the forefront of the scene at times. Thanks to satellite radio I was totally rocking out to “Just Dance” and “Lollipop” before the songs became hits. And while I’m not spinning at clubs, I do take great pride in my personal playlists. I’ll admit I enjoy quite the eclectic mix of music, but when it comes to working out I need something upbeat. Whether a song ties me to a place, person or thought, it has to motivate me. Here’s what I’m playing to keep me pushing harder, faster, stronger.

DJ FitChic1. All of the Above – Maino2. Horchata – Vampire Weekend

3. In My Head – Jason Derulo

4. Telephone – Lady GaGa featuring Beyoncé

5. Hey, Soul Sister – Train

6. Take It Off – Ke$ha

7. Africa – Karl Wolf featuring Culture

8. Cowboy Casanova – Carrie Underwood

9. No Te Veo – Casa De Leones

10. Sweet About Me – Gabriella Cilmi

11. BedRock – Young Money featuring Lloyd

12. Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) – AR Rahman and The Pussycat Dolls

13. My Life Be Like – Grits

14. Morning After Dark – Timbaland featuring SoShy and Nelly Furtado

15. Say Aah – Trey Songz featuring Fabolous

16. One Day – Matisyahu

Would you want to train celebrities?

Sorry guys, I’ve been on a bit of a blogging vacation – well an actual vacation that turned into an extended break from blogging – but I’m back and going to dive in with a poll!

Jillian MichaelsOn her Facebook page Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels has said:

Want to clear up some press mistakes. There have been a few articles out saying that I’m training Tara Reid and Nicole Kidman. This is not true. I am interested in the health of regular people. I do not focus my time on “the privileged few”. The only famous person I have agreed to work with is Maria Shriver because …she is a personal mentor of mine and an all around amazing humanitarian.

I want to know, if you were a trainer, would you exclude celebrities from your clientele?

Kate Moss hits the barre

Kate Moss' March 2010 Harper's Bazaar coverSupermodel turned prima ballerina Kate Moss will trade in her couture fashion for a leotard and tights as she is set to co-star in a ballet movie with 62-year-old Mikhail Baryshnikov, the famous Russian dancer and choreographer who played Carrie Bradshaw’s boyfriend in the final season of Sex and the City.

To prepare for her role, the already pin-thin model is taking private ballet classes and “has to be fit, healthy and looking good, so her late nights and heavy partying have to be reduced,” the Daily Mail reports.

The film, rumored to be named Baryshnimoss, will first be screened at a fund-raising event, then shown as a gallery installation British Vogue says.

For being such a health and fitness junkie I apparently have quite the obsession with the too-thin Kate Moss, but I think she looks the part!

Keep Your Heart Healthy Year-Round

In the 80s Chris de Burgh sang about The Lady in Red, but on February 11th, red got a high fashion makeover as celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum and Bethenny Frankel strutted down the runway in red frocks to promote heart health.

Why? Heart disease is the number one cause of death among women in the United States, and while February is American Heart Month it’s important to keep your heart healthy year-round.

Find out your risk of heart attack and reduce controllable factors by keeping a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise as well as limiting sodium intake and not smoking.

Train for your heart

Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk, but to give your heart a good workout you have to train in the right zone. Calculate your training heart rate and see the benefits of the different zones here. And to ensure you’re reaching your target rate, exercise wearing a heart rate monitor.

So show yourself a little love and take care of your heart.