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.



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.



Fit Fundraiser: Helping Haiti

The fitness industry has quickly rallied its support for Haiti after the devastating earthquake that hit the nation on Jan. 12th. Here are some fitness-inspired ways you can aid in disaster relief efforts.

Spinning

Join Chelsea Clinton and SoulCycle for a special 90-minute ride on Thursday, January 21st to benefit The Clinton Haiti Relief Fund. All proceeds go towards helping Haiti. Stacey Griffith and Laurie Cole will lead the evening in the new TriBeCa studio at 103 Warren Street. Activities start at 6:30pm, please RSVP to: kaili@soul-cycle.com.

PRICES:
$1,000 – Front Row & Side Pod Bikes
$500 – Second Row
$100 – All Other Bikes
* Please have payment be made via check upon arrival Thursday night. Make checks directly out to: “The Clinton Foundation” and write “Haiti Relief” in the memo section of your check

The evening will also feature a multimedia presentation of Kym Perfetto’s 2006 photo journal of the Haitian Medical Mission. The Medical Mission established mobile clinics every four months in rural areas of Haiti. In June of 2006, Kym traveled and worked with the Mission. The images in Kym’s photo journal feature colorful Haitian landscapes as well as an intimate look at the resilient rural communities there.

Yoga
Yogis for Haiti with Latham Thomas and Tigist Selam on Saturday, January 23rd from 6-8pm at the Om Factory (265 West 37th Street). Suggested donation $20.

Latham Thomas writes: Join us for an incredible evening of grounding meditation, soulful music, inspired asana and healing vibes to benefit our brothers and sisters in Haiti. This special practice will honor those who have passed away and our efforts will serve those who have survived and need our help. Latham and Tigist will guide you through a meditation and Vinyasa class with live music from Yoga Organix, Tom Rossi, and special guests. Suggested donation is $20, please feel free to give more if you would like. Thank you for your contributions and your support. (This is a Vinyasa yoga and meditation practice open to all, regardless of your level or ability.)

Proceeds will benefit the Cine-Institute and the Yele Foundation

Run
And from my friend at Fiterati, if you’re in the Los Angeles area you can join Josh Duhamel (When in Rome, Fergie’s husband) and The American Red Cross Youth Run 4 Haiti on Saturday, January 23 at 9am for a two-mile run on the beach at Santa Monica Pier. Click here for more information.

If your organization is holding a fitness-inspired fundraiser to aid in disaster relief efforts in Haiti please leave information about the event in the comments.



Oldie Yogi

Good genes aside, journalist Tom Brokaw is pushing 70 and looks incredible! Although he admitted to Conan O’Brien on Jan. 12th’s The Tonight Show that he didn’t know about “abs” before he moved to L.A. (apparently he didn’t mix with the right crowd during his early career while living in middle America) he shared his secrets to keeping healthy, trim and active at his age – bicycling and yoga.

“I like bicycling. Last year I was bicycling in the south of France and also in South Africa. I’m getting ready to go to New Zealand and Australia to do some bicycling,” Tom says. “I do workout with weights to some degree although my wife is pushing me back into yoga again. I wear a pained expression when I’m doing it.”

Yep, this nark does the downward dog, just not in a tie like Conan expected. I realize 70 isn’t that old, (you can’t blame me, the post’s title had such a fun ring to it!) but the only form of exercise my grandfather does is walking up/down the flight of stairs in his house, so it’s great to see Tom staying so active amidst his busy schedule.

How can you make Tom’s workout routine work for you? In Tom’s case, he talks about that “as you go through life you’re much more conscious of trying to stay energetic and trying to stay mentally alert” but in reality, yoga is the perfect complement for biking and cycling. Yoga guru Sadie Nardini (of NYC’s The Fierce Club) put together a great video that demonstrates stretches you should add to your routine. Yoga For Cyclers.

Namaste.



Weekend Fitness Round-Up : July 18-19

Spin, Skate and Dance Around NYC This Weekend!

Saturday, July 18th

What: Project ALS Charity Spin Event
Where: Sportime in Amagansett, East Hampton, NY
When: 4-7pm
Why: It’s Fitness For A Cause! Workup a sweat on a two-hour outdoor spin class on the RealRyder bikes with beats from a live DJ while raising money for Project ALS. And there’s a BBQ at the end!
More info: www.ridethezone.com

What: Equinox Dance Marathon
Where: 44th Street and Lexington location
When: 10:30am-4pm
Why: It’s Fitness For A Cause! Four and a half hours of back-to-back classes like Masala Bhangra and Rockette Kickline, followed by food, drink and a special performance by some of the teachers. Proceeds will benefit Dancers Responding to AIDS.
More info: Minimum suggested donation for members is $20/class or $60/day, and $25/class or $75/day for non-members. Register at the 44th Street Location or call 212.953.9492

What: Central Park Roller Disco
Where: Enter the park at 72nd street and walking along the 72nd street transverse toward the center of the park. Follow your ears – listen for the dance music.
When: 2:30-6:30pm (weather permitting) Saturday AND Sunday
Why: The Central Park Dance Skaters Association presents roller skating at the skate circle with hypnotic beats from DJ Bennie DiConstanzo & DJ Albert Crespo (Saturday) and DJ Rob Scott (Sunday).
More info: The event is free. If you have questions or want to become a CPDSA member contact CPDSA@earthlink.net or visit their blog.

What: Stilettos and Self Defense Class
Where: Lululemon in East Hampton
When: 9-10:30am
Why: Kick off your Saturday in the Hamptons by learning how to kick a$$! In this free class you’ll learn how to master the ABC’s of self defense, tap into your inner power, make weapons out of everyday items and save your life with basic techniques – hopefully you’ll never need to use your new skill set!
More info: The class is free, RSVP to jennifer@healthandthecity.net

Sunday, July 19th

What: Summer Salutations Workshop
Where: Lululemon Union Square
When: 9:30am
Why: Join Chrissy Carter – Senior Teacher at YogaWorks – for an exploration into Sun Salutations. This workshop with dissect each posture to help you better understand proper alignment and create an easier flow – with a healthy breakfast to follow!
More info: RSVP: unionsquarenyc-store@lululemon.com



Weekend Fitness Round-Up : July 10-12

Bike and Run Your Way Around NYC This Weekend!

Friday, July 10th

What: Free Bike Fridays
Where: Governor’s Island
Why: From my brief excursion to pick up lunch I know that the sun is shining and a cool breeze is in the air! There’s no better weather than that for a leisurely NYC bike ride!
More info: click here

What: CrossFit Games 2009
Where: California (sorry!)
Why: An entire weekend of events like a 7.1km run on a steep hill, deadlifts, rowing, sandbag runs and more! I get exhausted just reading about it. Keep up to date with the competition to find the fittest athlete at http://games2009.crossfit.com/

Saturday, July 11th

What: UrbanSchleppers Bike Hunt
Where: Around NYC, Meet at 26th Street and West Side Highway in the park in front of pier 66
When: Arrive at 10:30am to register and receive clues and map. Hunt starts at 11am
Why: Fitness for a cause! Grab a partner and hunt through NYC on bike while raising money ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)! Complete as many clues as you can during the 3 hour cut-off for points and the team that reaches the finish line with the most points gathered wins!  Race ends at a pub so riders can celebrate and swap stories
More info: $20 for solo rider (get matched up) or $35 for 2 person team (deadline 7/10 online registration) or $40 (day of). Click here for more information

Sunday, May 17th

What: Yoga for Athletes with Emilie Smith
Where: Lululemon 1127 3rd Ave. at 66th St.
When: 6:30-7:30pm
Why: Explore how yoga can add to a successful training program. This workshop is designed to explore poses and techniques to help athletes and fitness enthusiasts increase their range of motion and flexibility, particularly in the hip, hamstring and shoulder area. Additionally, a focus on breathing and balancing is designed to improve concentration and mental endurance.
More info: RSVP: east66th-store@lululemon.com

What: ING New York City Marathon Long Training Run #1
Where: Central Park
When: 7am
Why: Gearing up to run a fall marathon? Practice a  long run (6-20 miles) in this “non-competitive run, featuring built-in fuel, pace-setters, and training partners” with the NYRR.
More info: click here



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