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.


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April 16, 2009, 9:29 AM
Filed under: Fitness News, Hot Off The Bench Press, Workout tips, Yoga | Tags: , , ,

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Motivation + Action = Results

Some days you’ll be pumped to go to the gym. You will pack your bag, bring it to work and eat a healthy lunch. But then you get called into a late afternoon meeting, are bombarded with emails and end up staying at the office two hours later than you planned. Out of frustration and fatigue you go straight home.

We’ve all had those days, but you have to remember that staying fit is half mental and half physical. It’s great that you’re motivated and want to workout, but until that motivation becomes action, well, it’s all talk and no results. As Vince Vaughn so eloquently put it, “Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion!” (Thanks Wedding Crashers!)

Best way to take control? Create accountability.

Be accountable to yourself:

Be accountable to others:

  • Make plans to meet a friend at a gym or sign up for a class together
  • Hire a personal trainer (with the right credentials)
  • Sign up for a set of private classes – get your money’s worth!
  • Create your own Biggest Loser-type competition with your friends or amongst your colleagues
  • If you’re in a relationship take partner classes like ballroom dancing, partner yoga

By creating accountability you’ll be more likely to stick to a fitness routine, have fun and feel better!

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.