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.


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.

The Weekend I Rode My Ass Off!

If you picked up on my subliminal hints in Friday’s fitness weekend round-up post you would have noticed that I packed my weekend with spin events. Although thoroughly exhausting, I had an incredible weekend and burned some serious calories!

Saturday, May 16

rtz What: Ride The Zone‘s Soho location grand opening

This is the moving spin bike class I mentioned I took a few weeks back. I signed up for one of the free 30 minute classes being offered throughout the morning from 9am-1pm. Upon arrival, I was blown away! They had gone all out with snacks – fruit and veggie platters to the sky, Zico coconut water for hydration, bagels and muffins and more! Then there was the goody bags which had a free class voucher, t-shirt, water bottle and more Zico. Oh and did I mention the Cyko Challenge they had going on? Riders who registered and successfully completed the challenge of cycling all four hours straight (yes there were rules involved) would receive 50 free classes! There were a few empty bikes for people like myself who signed up for a class but wasn’t taking the challenge. Although I had only signed up for one class, there was a spot opened in the following class so I ended up joining the cyko challenge riders for their 3rd hour (11-12pm). Originally I wanted to take the challenge, but after only an hour I was done – taking a class on that bike is insane! I wore my heart rate monitor and I burned a whooping 650 calories in one hour. I also didn’t hydrate properly so I suffered from a dehydration headache later that evening but I’m semi in love with these classes! But what was most incredible about the event was the people taking the challenge and the cyko instructors. During my time with them they were cheering and pushing through while “motivators” were walking around the class helping replenish water and towels as well as making sure riders up’d the resistance when instructed to. The challenge riders were insane but again I experienced this group mentality that was so encouraging and so inspirational (the other time was with my first Bikram Yoga class). Besides the fact they were dripped in sweat and had quads that were screaming in pain (and still had an hour to go) they were happy and energized and it was contagious. It was almost like one of those religious epiphany‘s you hear about.

Sunday, May 17

rnbWhat: SPIN ‘N BARE, A benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

The Spin ‘N Bare event involved four individual hour long classes that participants could register for (with spin bikes set up in the hallway entrance of Hell’s Kitchen’s Club H Fitness) with each class taught by a different spin instructor. And after leaving Crunch gym in February I finally had the opportunity to take a class with my beloved spin instructor John Nobile. He even remembered me! I think he’s NYC’s best spin instructor and in my eyes, his class is worth any amount of charitable donation!  I wore my heart rate monitor again (this time I burned 500 calories in the hour) and John comes around throughout the class and checks your monitor. If you’re not in the right heart rate zone, he cranks up your resistance and makes you work harder. Charity riders also had a nice distraction. Two Broadway hunks were dancing around keeping us pumped and motivated! This event also had a nice supply of fruit and veggie refreshments and a personal guilty treat, sugar-free red bull! Club H trainers kept refreshing our water and towel supply during the ride and I’m pretty positive I overheard someone say they met their goal for the event! (Post John’s spin class everything blurs together as your try to recoup but I hope I heard right)!

All in all I had lots of free fruit, was inspired by a group of crazy “cyko-lers” and got fit for a cause. Talk about exhaustion! Plus, those were only my cardio sessions; I still went to the gym for weight training after the classes. Now I could really use a yoga class – I have the horrible tendency of scrunching up my shoulders when I ride and I’m still tense in that area now, ugh! Spinners out there, any advice?

Gym musical chairs
March 23, 2009, 12:05 PM
Filed under: Gym, NYC life | Tags: , , , , , did a survey about whether you like to “gym hop” or not …  use one-day passes and try out other facilities, classes, instructors. I was surprised that when I voted (YES!) 66 percent didn’t agree with me.

I first started gym jumping out of necessity – when I was in the process of moving to NYC, I was couch hoping and staying at different friend’s apartments but still wanted (NEEDED!) to work out. Since I wasn’t signing a membership yet, I visited different gyms close to the various apartments I was staying at and received a few day passes here and there. I’m familiar with almost every gym in the Midtown East/Murray Hill area.

Then when I finally moved into my first apartment there were three gyms nearby and I needed to try them all before I settled on one – the location, facilities, clientele and class instructors really make it or break it for me. I just recently moved apartments and decided to switch to a gym closer to my new apartment and now I’m a New York Sports Club member with regional access. Within the past two weeks, I’ve visited five of their different locations.

Why do I recommend gym hopping? Simple, as the saying goes, ‘you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince.’ (Note I have now referred to the gym as my second home and my boyfriend! I’m calling myself out on this!) Each gym has something different to offer and not every gym is the right fit for YOU!

  • Instructors While at my first NYC gym, Crunch, I found the most incredible spin instructor. He was passionate about his classes and really gave you a great workout, (to the point where he walked around with a flashlight and checked your heart rate monitor, if you were wearing one, to make sure you were giving it your all)! When I left Crunch because of location, I looked up what other gyms this instructor taught at because I was seriously considering choosing a gym based off him – sadly I wasn’t able to find a suitable option. But before I chose another gym, I tested a few out to see who had decent spin instructors – something that was important to me.
  • Classes Look at what time you like to workout, morning or evening, and does your gym offer the classes you like to take (spin, mat Pilates, boxing) at times you are able to attend? Or perhaps there are new classes like Urban Rebounding, or Masala Bhangara that you’ve been interested in taking, but aren’t offered at your gym.
  • Equipment Not enough cardio machines? No pool? Missing the ab machine that you swear by?
  • Clientele How crowded is the gym at the times you want to workout? What types of people go here; is it a motivating atmosphere?
  • Facilities Are there showers and lockers available? Overall cleanliness and upkeep. How important is it to you to have the gym supply you with towels?

The list could go on. So if you haven’t gym hopped recently, try it out – you might surprise yourself.

Heart rate monitors

Everyday athletes can wear bling too! Mine is pastel pink, beeps at me, and I love it dearly.

It’s a heart rate monitor and although it’s a tiny investment, it can save pounds in the long run. For those of you unfamiliar with the product, most heart rate monitors include two-pieces. The monitor/display is typically worn as a wrist watch and the transmitter component which you wear strapped just under your chest.

The formula for weight loss is simple; burn more calories than you consume and eat healthy foods. So, it makes sense that if you’re looking to lose weight you’re going to want to keep track with caloric intake and outtake (exercise). But why bother spending money on a heart rate monitor when most of the cardio machines at the gym give a caloric count right? Well, for one – most of those machines aren’t accurate, and are inconsistent with other machines of the same type. While some allow personal measurements such as age and weight to be entered, in the end, it’s still an estimate.

Hence one of the glorious features of the heart rate monitors. It’s personal, it’s yours. Enter your specific measurements and behold the wonders of an exact calculation of calories burned. For example – when I first bought my heart rate monitor (Polar F6) I tested it on the elliptical machine. The machine read that I burned about 350 calories in 30 minutes, but my heart rate monitor read only 310. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but that daily 40 calorie difference turns into a weekly difference of 280 calories. The heart rate monitor also allows me to calculate caloric burn for activities that don’t offer an estimate read such as cycling or CrossFit. I’ve never tried it, but I want to wear it for an entire day of normal activities and see what I should burn through my daily routine!

Another great feature is obviously the heart rate calculation. Whether you’re training for a specific event or just working on your cardiovascular health, you know that you need to train your body and heart to endure and recover from certain “zones.”  To determine which zone you’re working in, take your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age), and a low-intensity work out is 60-70% of your max heart rate, moderate-intensity is 70-80% and high-intensity is 80% and over. However, if you have your heart rate monitor on, your specific targets are already calculated for you and your current heart rate is prominently displayed – making interval training (work at a high intensity, recover, then repeat), a whole lot easier.

For fitness-enthusiasts, a heart rate monitor is the perfect accessory!