Fit Chic NYC’s Blog

A Standardized Version of Health?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all standard of health. Being healthy doesn’t mean being a size 2. Or in some cases, even a size 8. (Hello ever heard of the “skinny fat” syndrome?!) It means dropping excess weight, increasing cardiovascular strength, incorporating daily exercise and eating healthy to help prevent disease and live a longer, happier life.

Oxygen’s new show Dance Your Ass Off is trying to do just that for it’s 12 overweight contestants whose lives are at risk physically, mentally and emotionally by their weight. I was able to interview host Marissa Jaret Winokur (Hairspray, Dancing With The Stars) before the show started – check out my byline in issue 26 of Star – and was able to meet her at last night’s premier preview event at the Oxygen Network studios. No she’s not skinny but she has a healthy outlook on health and fitness and oozes with a self-confidence that makes her sexy!

Here is my clip about the show that ran in the magazine (available online here):

Take the glitz and glamour of Dancing with the Stars, add the emotional roller coaster of The Biggest Loser, and you get the new reality weight-loss competition Dance Your Ass Off.

Twelve full-figured fleet-of-foot contestants will try to shed pounds by busting a move, hoping to win a healthy new body and the $100,000 prize!

Each week, the contestants learn a new dance style, such as hip-hop, ballroom and even pole dancing, with a pro partner. Then they perform in front of a live audience and a panel of judges led by dancer Lisa Ann Walter. After receiving their scores, the contestants weigh in, and the one with the lowest combined dance and weight-loss total is sent packing!

Host Marissa Jaret Winokur, Tony Award winner for Hairspray and Dancing with the Stars alum, thinks shaking your butt is a great way to a healthier you. “You’re doing a cardio workout while having fun,” she tells Star. “You sweat like crazy, but because you’re so focused on learning the steps, you forget how much pain you’re in!”

There are daily practices and gym sessions with trainers and nutritionists on site to help the dieters change their lives. And for Marissa, getting a chance to strut her stuff again was reason enough to sign on. “I hadn’t danced since DWTS, and I was so inspired that I started dancing again,” she tells Star. So would she have stood a chance in this competition? “I tried to pole dance, and I only lasted 20 minutes,” she laughs. “I wouldn’t make it very far on this show!”

These contestants aren’t striving to be 120lbs., rather they are trying to lose weight and learn to incorporate a healthy diet and exercise in a fun way. Lesson to take away – be inspired by those around you, but work towards your own personal goal of health.


Embarrassed At The Gym

I’m almost two weeks into my burpee challenge and while I’m not in the lead, I’m proud to say that I’m the most improved and already increased my rpm! But my biggest challenge in participating – overcoming my fear of performing.

What?! Yep, it’s not the thought of being completely and utterly winded in a minute flat, it’s my self-consciousness in performing the exercise. Next time you go to the gym, look around; you don’t really see people throwing themselves onto the ground, doing a push-up and jumping back up again very often; let alone a female breaking a sweat. Hence my dilemma. While I’m proud of my strength I find myself wandering around the gym for a reclusive area, out most gym-goers’ view to perform my burpees. Why? I’m embarrassed.

When I’m at a CrossFit box (CrossFit lingo alert “box” is what you typically call their place of operation/studio) I have no problem dropping chest to deck and whipping out a minute of burpees. No stares, no questions. Rather when I get winded I’ll hear cheers of encouragement to push harder, better, faster stronger! But throw down burpees at a globo gym (CrossFit lingo, any chain/luxury gym) all you get is weird stares and maybe an off-hand comment or two.

And perform a burpee in my apartment?! Out of the question! Besides the limited space that comes in living in a New York apartment with three other girls, I’d prefer not to have their looks of bewilderment or complaints from the downstairs apartment about constant thudding.

This isn’t an isolated occurrence either. I find myself thanking the gym G*Ds that I didn’t join the Equinox in my building when I was looking for a new gym membership because now half of my office belongs. When I workout, I workout – I use weights and I do dead lifts, dips and attempted pull-ups. I get sweaty. And I don’t want my coworkers who use the dumbbells without breaking a sweat see me in such a vulnerable state. Geez, when I picked up a kettlebell at a globo gym, a trainer came over to me to tell me how impressed he was with the weight I was using and my form… thanks, but please let me workout in peace!

In a great article on Gubernatrix, the author said, “When going all-out in an intense circuit you know you are going to look a bit crazy. This is all very well if you are surrounded by people doing the same thing. But if you are the only one, it can feel very exposed.

This also applies to any women who regularly find that they are the only female in the gym. Guys will look, they can’t help it. But it can be hard to block this out and just get on with your workout. It’s not as if we are bouncing along at 5 miles an hour on the treadmill with not a hair out of place. We’re under the bar pushing bodyweight or more and it doesn’t always look pretty!”

Amen sister!

GroupThink and Fitness Freshman

Last night a bunch of girl friends and I took a yoga class with yoga guru and all-around awesome person Tara Stiles at her Strala Yoga studio in the Flatiron district.

(If you’re an NYC yoga-lover I highly recommend taking a class with Tara. She is the resident expert and face of the Women’s Health Yoga Channel, the “Yoga Master” for Nissan’s Master the Shift program, model, and a Huffington Post blogger! Whew!)

While I had taken a class with Tara before and some of the other girls practice yoga regularly, this was three girl’s first yoga class ever!! That got me thinking – what should class newbies know?

The 5 Golden Rules for First Timers

1.    Know before you go!: Do your homework before stepping foot in the door – what class are you taking? Does the teacher have a bio listed? What equipment do you need to bring with you? Does the facility have a water fountain, etc.?

a.    Case Study A: Ride The Zone requires cycling shoes (which I don’t have) but can be rented for $3 … therefore bring cash!

b.    Case Study B: Crunch/NYSC has towels available for clients, the gym I went to in Florida, LA Fitness, does not … therefore bring your own!

2.    Arrive Early: This way you can talk to the instructor, set up any equipment (if needed) and get a spot with a clear view of the instructor. Plus it’s just plain rude to the instructor and other clients to walk into a class a minute before it begins and expect to get the individualized attention a first time needs.

a.    Case Study A: I went to a Sunday morning spin class and two minutes before class was supposed to begin a group of four spin class freshmen walk in. Class started five minutes late because the instructor had to help set up their bikes. I was not happy.

3.   Notify: Before class, let the teacher know this is your first time so he/she knows to be more informative and watch your form more carefully.

a.    Case Study A: First time trying yoga, the teacher should give you modifications for some of the more advanced movements.

b.    Case Study B: When I took one of my roommates along with me for her first spin class we had the instructor help set up her bike.

4.    Check Your Ego At The Door: Your first class is not the time to be an overachiever. Work on form and be patient. Being overzealous and overstretching your capacity will lead to injury.

a.    Case Study A: My first time in spinning class I wanted to prove I ride like a pro and increased the resistance/speed like the rest of the class. My legs hurt so much the next day I could barely walk.

b.    Case Study B: CrossFit newbie Peter (check out his awesome blog here) thought he had his form right with handstand pushups. He ended up with black eyes the next day from blood vessels popping.

5.    Ask Questions: This is for fitness freshmen and fitness aficionados alike, always ask if you’re  unsure of a movement. And as long as the class you’re taking doesn’t involve a meditative component, I think you should ask for information – what muscles does this movement make? Why is this a good exercise. Ask for correction and ask to be informed!

a.    Case Study A: I’ve been doing CrossFit on-and-off for just over a year and just this morning I was asking if my stance and grip was proper for my Sumo Deadlift High Pulls

The Ultimate Total Body Exercise – Join The Burpee Challenge

No matter how fit you think you are, allow the burpee to humble you in less than one minute.

Also affectionately known as the jumping squat thrust, the prison workout or just plain workout hell, this famously miserable exercise can be considered the ultimate total body exercise that serves both strength training and cardio purposes.

How to do you do a burpee? Check out this video for a great visual:

1.    Squat and jump back into a plank position
2.    Perform a pushup with your CHEST TOUCHING THE GROUND (besides being proper form, it’ll make your life easier)
3.    Jump to squat landing on your HEELS
4.    Jump up (and if you want, clap your hands over head to ensure your getting your hands up)

What are you working? Well everything! You are firing your legs with the squat, your using your triceps and shoulders with the pushup, your abdominal is engaged helping to stabilize your plank and I promise these will have your heart pumping and leave you breathless after just a few.

Best part about burpees (said with tongue-in-cheek since there are no “best” parts about burpees)? This exercise can be performed anywhere, doesn’t require equipment and uses your own body weight. So NO EXCUSES (burpee like a champ)!

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see the reemergence of burpee popularity; it incorporates a few of the predicted 2009 fitness trends – back to basics/primal, bootcamp and budget-friendly workouts – plus they are repeat offender in CrossFit WODs (workout of the day).

So fellow fitness fanatics I invite you to join my one-minute burpee challenge. I’ve engaged in a little friendly competition with a friend where for 5 days/week we will each perform as many burpee reps as possible in ONE minute. We record our daily numbers as well as a weekly average and winner gets street cred and bragging rights.

Think you can handle one minute of burpees? Join the challenge. Post your daily one-minute burpee totals in the comment section of the daily post and see how you measure up.

Gym Superstitions

“Everyone knows that bad things happen when the plates face out. My hairdresser’s cousin knew a girl who got pregnant because her boyfriend lifted with the plates facing out. True story.”

And during yesterday’s CrossFit class the guy behind me about to squat 315lbs was suddenly yelled at to stop and re-rack. Why? The coach has a superstition and needs the white numbers facing out.

From the outside, gym superstitions sound pretty absurd, but it got me thinking… what do I do at the gym that I consider “routine” but others may see it as a bit superstitious?

I’m a lousy runner so anytime I do a decent run I automatically bless that outfit as my running outfit. I’m convinced that anytime I tackle a run I need to be dressed in my blue Nike shirt with my blue Asics sneakers to have maximum performance.

Anytime I do an isolated exercise or stretch I start with my right side of my body – never, never with my left. And if I’m on the elliptical I cover the timer with a towel and never look at it before at least 20 minutes have passed. And I have certain machines I like to use, I’ll wait for them even if others are open.

Why do fitness fanatics and athletes develop these superstitions? Quoted in the article by Ryan Clark, Richard Lustberg, a sports psychologist based in New York, said the reason for developing superstitions is simple: It’s a “coping mechanism” to deal with the pressure to succeed. “Athletes begin to believe, and want to believe, that their particular routine is enhancing their performance.”

So maybe I have a few superstitions and maybe I’m a bit delusional in my belief of my success but it’s working, so they’re staying. Melissa Byers wrote a great article about her workout oddities and if you have any weird gym-related things, add them in the comments!

Conversations Overheard at the Gym
June 11, 2009, 10:13 AM
Filed under: Overheard At The Gym | Tags: , ,

Take your headphones off and listen to the people around you – this stuff is just too good to miss!

Gym Paranoia
Coach: “No stop don’t squat that.”
…guy re-racks the weight…
Coach: “Sorry man superstition, got to have the white numbers facing out on the weights.”

Okay these conversations were overheard at the office, but they’re gym material so I’ve determined it counts.

A Workout to Workout
Male Coworker: “I’ll try that class in another two weeks or so, I got to workout and get in shape first.”
Female Coworker: “Um isn’t that the point of going to the class in the first place?”

Buns of Oatmeal
Coworker 1: “So show me how to do the squat again. I have a friend coming in town soon whose body is made out of granite.”

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