Fit Chic NYC’s Blog


Mornings are the best time to workout

One habit that I strongly recommend for fitness enthusiasts is adopting the practice of working out in the morning.

I know the thought of losing some precious shut-eye makes you squirm but there are some incredible benefits to relinquishing that extra hour of sleep. And after a brief readjustment period, you’ll find a schedule that works best for you. For example, after introducing 6am workouts to my routine over three years ago, I’ve found that my body performs optimally if I go to sleep right around 12:15am on weekdays in order to wake up by 5:30 the next morning.

So I’ve told you that you should workout in the morning, but why? Everyone will have different reasons, but some reasons that help motivate me to crawl out of bed to get hot and sweaty include:

1. The gym is typically less crowded in the early morning which means no waiting for a cardio machine, available circuit machines and free weights and first choice of available bikes for the early spin classes.

2. No guilt if plans are made for that evening because you’ve already got in a workout for the day!

3. It’s a great opportunity to clear your mind and focus on what you want to accomplish that day – I’ve been known to bring pen and paper in my gym bag for the stroke of genius moments I have while on the elliptical.

4. You get to start the day on a positive note. Yes you may be a little grumpy at first, but exercising releases endorphins, which helps alleviate pain, and exercise gets the blood and oxygen flowing throughout your body. But non-biologically speaking, it makes you feel exhilarated and ready to take on the world.

5. It’s a great way to jump start your metabolism for the day.

6. And it leaves time in your schedule to workout in the evening as well! Instead of one longer gym visit, I now cut my workouts in half and perform two shorter high intensity workouts throughout the day. Double the fun, double the metabolism boost!

But my top reason why everyone should incorporate morning workouts into their routine… studies have shown that people who exercise in the morning are shown to be more consistent exercisers. WebMD suggests that working out in the morning allows for consistency for the sole reason that there are no scheduling conflicts. I’ve never once had a friend call me at 6am wanting to grab breakfast. The majority of stores are not yet open so there are no errands to run and if your job requires you to come in at 6am, all I can say is “I’m sorry.”

I’ve sold you on the benefits and you’ve decide to give morning workouts a try (I promise you won’t be disappointed!). Here are some tips that I’ve found to be helpful throughout my readjustment period:

1. Make sure your alarm clock isn’t next to your bed and you have to physically get up to turn it off. And set backup alarms. If you’re really want to get into it, check out this dumbbell-style alarm clock from Fred & Friends which in order to shut off, you have to perform 30 reps.

2. Schedule which mornings you are going to workout before the week begins and commit to going. Being prepared is your best tool and if you know that you will be waking up early the next day, perhaps you’ll decide to turn of your Wii a littler earlier or watch your recorded TV shows another night.

3. Pack your bag the night before! Nothing is worse that waking up early and realizing you don’t have a clean sports bra or you left your sneakers at work.

4. Pick a gym that’s on your way to work. Consider renting a locker at your gym so you can leave towels and shower stuff there. That way you workout before work, shower and now you’re already halfway (or more!) to your office.

5. If you don’t make it to a scheduled morning workout, don’t fret, the day isn’t wasted! You can try to go that evening, or just take it in stride and try again tomorrow!

Of course the bottom line is that the best time to workout is whenever is best for you and your schedule. But there are benefits to morning workouts and everybody is capable of waking up a little earlier if they are truly motivated.



Move it, move it
February 21, 2009, 4:03 PM
Filed under: Fitness, NYC life | Tags: , , , ,

After a long month of apartment hunting, I’m finally moving next week. While attempting to carry home a few empty boxes and a couple of leftover newspapers from work a few nights ago, my arms felt like they were going to fall off! I literally thought there was a fire building and waiting to explode from inside my biceps. And mind you, it’s only a seven minute walk to my apartment from work.

This got me thinking… this whole moving process is going to burn some serious calories (hopefully)! The body burns calories by functioning alone (i.e. breathing, digesting food) and you also burn calories performing normal daily functions like washing the dishes and even sitting in front of the TV. While it’s a nominal amount and doesn’t take the place of exercise, every little bit helps!

S0, inspired to do a little research, I was able to come up with an estimation of how many calories I’m going to burn just by packing my room, cleaning my apartment and moving – then doing it all over again while unpacking – thanks to the calculations I found at CalorieLab.com:

Sweeping floors, 15 minutes: 34 calories
Washing dishes, 15 minutes: 22 calories
Vacuuming, 30 minutes: 60 calories
Packing suitcase, 2 hour: 120 calories
Moving furniture and household items, 2 hours: 590 calories
Scrubbing floors/bathtubs, 30 minutes: 82 calories
Packing/unpacking boxes light to moderate effort, 4 hours: 592 calories
Putting away household items, moderate effort, 2 hours: 236 calories

… So give or take, I’m looking at burning around 1,736 calories next Friday. Not shabby for a workout that’s guaranteed not to be boring! And honestly, after all the stress I’ve had from this whole ordeal, it’ll be nice to reap some extra benefits. To bad I never want to move again!



Think of it as fierce yoga
February 19, 2009, 11:56 AM
Filed under: Fitness, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , ,

Great question Lynne. Through both my experiences, and research, I find Bikram Yoga to be fundamentally different than other yoga styles. While I’m by no means a yoga expert, I do enjoy the practice and try to take classes at least once a week and experiment with the different styles.

Typically I practice Vinyasa Yoga which utilizes a flowing movement, and at the core of its practice are the Sun Salutations – a series of poses done in a flowing succession. Hatha Yoga is the more popular practice, and is what people usually mean when the refer to “yoga.”  This style has a slower, calmer pace and is about establishing a balance. Both of these styles utilize a variety of poses allowing each practice to vary depending on instructor. There are lots of other styles and if you’re interested, I found a great yoga style guide here.

Bikram Yoga was developed separately by yoga master Bikram Choudhury and is practiced by performing a strict sequence of 26 postures, each performed twice during a 90 minute class. The studio whose class I took, Bikram Yoga Lower East Side, compiled this fun description of the different postures. According to the official Bikram Yoga College of India Headquarter’s website, this sequence is effective because of it’s tourniquet effect. Unlike other yoga practices such as Vinyasa which is designed to create flowing movement and Hatha which incorporates stretching, Bikram poses are designed to stretch, constrict and compress the body to create pressure. This sequenced stretching and compression of various internal organs was designed to help improve circulation, increase joint mobility, boost the immune system, release toxins and stimulate the nervous system.

For example, during my previous yoga training, if I wasn’t flexible enough to have my forehead touch my leg during a pose, it was a stretch for me to work towards. However during the Bikram class, students are encouraged to bend their knees in order to force the forehead to touch the leg in order to create that constriction and compression that the pose was created for. A yoga instructor telling me to bend my knee? This was oddly exciting, until I moved fully into the pose and felt the constriction, ugh!

Oh and that brings up a good point, during the classes I took (which happened to be taught by the same instructor), we were told, not shown, how to move into the designated poses. Unlike the other yoga classes I’ve taken where I could watch and follow the instructor to move into the pose, the Bikram class I took was lead entirely through verbal visualization and encouragement. The 90-minute performance my instructor gave – and I say performance between her description and motivational encouragement and pure stamina to talk for 90-minutes straight in the heated room –  deserves an Oscar. It was very easy to follow and I was able to model my positions after the obvious Bikram experts in the class.

Another main difference I’ve found is in the basic nature and atmosphere of the class. In my other yoga classes, during the practice you are free to move around and readjust. But I found Bikram to be strict. It’s fierce and intense. You follow a precise order of poses and move from pose to the designated neutral stance with precision. Each class is exactly the same and was designed in a precise order and extraneous movement is discouraged. I’ll admit, I felt a little naughty for grabbing my towel to wipe the sweat off my face or readjusting the shorts that were riding up my thighs but after the warm-up, you are encouraged to have water between poses and take breaks when needed.

Although designed for anyone, at any fitness level, in my opinion, Bikram Yoga probably isn’t for the modest or faint-hearted. You’re going to be hot and uncomfortable on top of trying to be as flexible as possible and take each pose to its full potential. You’re going to be disgustingly sweaty. You’re going to want to be as minimally dressed as possible. It’s a challenge, and the first class isn’t going to be fun. But give it that second chance, it is an incredibly rewarding and empowering experience.

Still up for the challenge and interested in trying a Bikram class near you? Here are my tips:

1. Bring multiple water bottles. Better to have extra, trust me, I ran out and was miserable.

2. Start hydrating well before the class.

3. Bring multiple towels. A large bath towel to cover your mat and a wash cloth to wipe yourself down with.

4. Don’t me modest, strip to the essentials. But please, wear the essentials! I saw way more than I signed up for during one of the classes.

5. Be humbled by the experience. Unless you regularly spend and hour and a half in the sauna, the heat will take getting used to. You will be increasing your heart rate, stretching and working towards a total body detoxification. Embrace it.



Winter Sweat
February 16, 2009, 6:00 PM
Filed under: Fitness, Yoga | Tags: , , , ,

As a native South Floridian, I’ve developed a healthy appreciation for the sun and more importantly, air conditioning. While used to breaking a sweat, I’ve never been one to willingly endure prolonged sauna-like sessions.

I’ve always been a big fan of yoga and Pilates but the thought of practicing in a heated room of about 100 degrees sounded, well, exhausting. But for some inexplicable reason, since moving to New York City I’ve had a desire to practice Bikram Yoga. So after about two months of staring at the schedule of Bikram Yoga Lower East Side on my computer, I finally decided to get myself to one of their classes.

My first Bikram experience was, interesting to say the least. For those of your unfamiliar with Bikram Yoga, it is a precisely designed yoga series that involves a strict regime of 26 postures performed in a heated room, and according to Bikram Yoga Lower East Side, “it works by something called the tourniquet effect: stretching, balancing, and creating pressure all at the same time to restrict blood flow to certain parts of the body.” The purpose of practicing in a heated room is supposed to help protect muscles, detoxify the body and stimulate heart rate.

After 90 minutes of trying not to drown in my own puddle of sweat, I have to admit that my concentration and form lacked significantly. Between thoughts of running out of the studio screaming and stripping outside in the 30 degree weather, I somehow managed the composure to make it through class. Nevermind the fact that the humidity in the room left me gasping for air, and I ran out of water 45 minutes into the practice, I was also dressed in black capris and a black shirt… big mistake. Each class begins with a specific breathing exercise, which upon first observing, made me feel like I walked into the sacrificial room of a cult. But as the class continued, I noticed this unspoken bond between everyone (or rather a mutual insanity) and it was instantaneously something I desperately wanted to be a part of, and Bikram Yoga became the new skill I wanted to master. The effects of my first class lingered with me the rest of the night as I downed water bottle after water bottle and awoke the next morning to a little present from dehydration – a nice headache.

But that didn’t stop me from waking up early and dragging myself out of bed the next morning to make another class – trust me, it was a true testament to my willpower and for the entire bus ride, I was questioning my own sanity. But it was worth it. I came more prepared today – two water bottles instead of one, and despite my overbearing self-conscious thoughts about my body, I stripped down to a tight tank top and spandex shorts, because of my stronger fear of passing out. Moving through the posses, contorting and twisting my body and embracing the dripping sweat (rather than trying to daintily prevent it) felt incredible and easier than the first time. The last half hour didn’t drag on like before and while my form still needs some work, I found myself in some weird state of nirvana as I left the class thinking to myself “I made it, I really just did that.”

I’ve heard that surviving your first Bikram Yoga class goes down as one of those memorable moments, you know, like your first kiss or graduation. You’ll just never forget where you were, what you wore, how you felt etc. If anyone else has practiced Bikram Yoga I’d love to hear your first experience with the class!