Fit Chic NYC’s Blog


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.



My Workout With Celeb Trainer Gunnar Peterson

He’s responsible for making some of Hollywood’s sexiest celebs like J-Lo, Matthew McConaughey and Kim Kardashian hot and sweaty – and into red carpet ready shape! And for one steamy NYC morning I had him all to myself… well almost. As one of the lucky few who won an invitation to FITNESS magazine and Silk soy milk’s tweet-up workout with trainer Gunnar Peterson, I (and about 12 other fitness enthusiasts) was put through a 10-exercise workout with one of Hollywood’s most sought after trainers.

Gunnar’s philosophy is to create an exercise program that keeps your heart rate elevated, your body guessing and builds strength. So what did we learn? Well some of the moves can be viewed HERE but the 10-exercise workout program was designed for busy people who can’t spend hours training, but want to have the body that looks like they do! Best way to do that – incorporate total body moves like a plank/push up or my favorite, the advancing side lunge with wood chop, so that you can make the most out of limited time.

Looking for some moves to include in your workout routine? Try the dumbbell squat that goes into an upright row. Always remember proper form when squatting – keep your chest up and don’t lean over your knees. Imagine that there is a string attached at your chest bone and someone is tugging it up as you squat down. Incorporate other upper body moves into the exercise by switching out the upright row for a push press or lateral shoulder raise.

While celebs may fear Gunnar’s workouts (expect to sweat!) I see why they love him! His tongue-in-cheek personality shined during the Q&A session that followed the workout. One girl who is trying to shed a few pounds asked if she should hold off on strength training (and focus on cardio) until she drops the weight? Gunnar’s response, “I see a lot of fat people on the treadmill.” Harsh? Maybe. Honest? Completely! But for those looking to lose weight, the reason why Gunnar stresses that workouts must include resistance/strength training is that it builds lean tissue which is active, and active muscles burn calories faster.

So what does Gunnar keep in his workout toolbox – the rowing machine and stairs! Simple but effective workouts. I like to use the rowing machine on Monday nights when I get to the gym after work and it’s so packed that there is a wait for any cardio machine because more often than not, the row machine is open. Gunnar suggests mixing it up when rowing by including an overhead row or underhand grip.

His other favorite – stairs! He claims they are another underused component in an exercise program, especially considering you don’t even need a gym to use them … and I agree, check out the earlier post I wrote about stair climbing as a great budget workout! Keep your heart rate up and your body challenged by speed intervals, climbing two stairs at a time or even climbing climb sideways.

And his advice if you’re in the market to hire a trainer – the best workout program is one that keeps you challenged and makes you want to come back. Being pushed to the point you want to throw up, not being able to walk the next day or hating yourself and your trainer isn’t motivation to come back for another session.

The only piece of equipment we used during our morning workout with Gunnar was a set of light dumbbells (I used 8lbs.) and a yoga mat. So even if you can’t afford a gym or trainer, Gunnar proves you can still get a body like Hollywood’s hottest celebs!



Back With My (Fitness) Ex

No no, I’m not back with an ex-boyfriend of mine, but rather my true fitness love, CrossFit. After a 6-month separation, not of mutual consent, I’m proud to say that CrossFit and I are giving it another go.

My relationship started about a year ago, Memorial Day 2008 to be exact, at CrossFit Hardcore in Boca Raton, Florida. After an intense workout, unlike anything I’ve ever tried before, I was hooked. I continued seeing him through the end of October, sometimes up  to 6 days/week. Then I moved to New York City. The relationship got a bit abusive at the end, I suffered a fractured wrist so that, coupled with the move and change in location/work, I thought it was time for a break. NOTE to new CrossFitters, the injury was my own fault – big ego mixed with poor form!

If you’re not familiar with CrossFit it’s hard to fully explain how incredible it truly is. One affiliate owner tried to tackle the concept of a CrossFit elevator pitch here. In it’s most simple form, CrossFit workouts are functional, varied and intense and scale to any ability level. They incorporate and combine kettlebell training (i.e. KB swings) with cardiovascular elements (i.e. rowing, running, jump roping), body weight/primal exercises (i.e. push ups, pull ups, squats), gymnastics moves (i.e. handstand push ups) and Olympic weightlifting (i.e. thrusters, clean and jerks) to produce a quick, varied workout that prepares your body to handle anything. Check out the main site at CrossFit.com.

But now, after a hiatus, I’m prepared to allow CrossFit back into my life. While back on Florida on vacation – sorry, for the lack of posts, I was enjoying the weather! – I stopped by my old affiliate for some workouts and realized how much I miss the feeling of utter exhaustion and pushing my body past all expectations. CrossFit has stolen my heart all over again. The addition of the late evening classes at CrossFit NYC’s Black Box location fits into my schedule and I’ll be hitting today’s WOD (workout of the day) of as many rounds of 5 thrusters/10 burpees as I can in 12 minutes.

What can I say, I think we’re meant for each other!



Relationships Make You Fat – So Date Fitness Fanatics!
May 13, 2009, 10:07 AM
Filed under: Fitness News, Fitness tips, NYC life, Workout tips | Tags: , , ,

There are two monumental points in a person’s life where he/she stereotypically gains weight: starting college (freshman 15) and being in a long-term relationship/marriage. Once together, couples have a tendency to let themselves go and weight will creep on from the constant eating out, skipping gym sessions, and for women specifically, eating more like your man. Over a few months and years the pounds can add up.

But fitness fanatics don’t worry, this does not mean you’re forever destined to be single! With each relationship you learn more about yourself: What you want from your partner, what values and lifestyle choices are important to you and ultimately what kind of person you can be happy spending your life with.

And I’ve come to develop a hypothesis (it’s not a new one but deserves some recognition!) that physically fit people are drawn to other physically fit people both mentally and physically.

Over the course of my dating history I’ve learned that I need someone who places just as high of a priority of living a healthy and fit lifestyle as I do. Since fitness is such a big part of my life, I need someone who is going to be supportive, encouraging and understanding. Plus who doesn’t want their partner looking sexy? And maybe it’s just me, but I could be sweaty and look like a hot mess, but I feel my sexiest after a rough workout!

And through my share of dating the physically active I’ve put together a list of rules for dating fitness fanatics:

1.    I enjoy going to the gym and working out. You’ll have to be okay with me wanting to go to the gym in the morning or after work (depending on the day) even if that means we have to delay a dinner date. And I have to be equally understanding of your workout/sport schedule.
2.    Since we both enjoy working out, let’s go to the gym together, but let me do my own thing when I’m there.
3.    I’m all about eating healthy but I enjoy a nice dessert or even a bowl of pasta from time to time. Don’t be so hardcore that you guilt trip me about it … I do a fine job of that myself!

I would love to know – do you find yourself attracted only to fitness fanatics?



Morning workouts – very Presidential

I’ve already told you why working out in the morning is beneficial (and ideal)!

But if you need another reason …. that’s when the Obamas squeeze in their workouts. I’ve seen it mentioned in an article on WedMD and People reported: “To squeeze working out into her packed schedule, Michelle Obama rises at 5:30 a.m. and exercises ‘pretty religiously’ with husband Barack Obama in the White House’s private gym, she tells PEOPLE.”

It’s great to see the Presidential family so committed to making fitness apart of their daily routine!



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!