Monday, January 30, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 14

Time to cash in a pass I won to Physique 57. This studio, with locations on Spring St, the upper west side, and 57th Street, has a unique workout, with lots of squats while squeezing a ball between your legs, and exercises using a barre. There are some light hand weights used, but basically you use your body as resistance.

This is one of those deceptive classes that initially doesn't seem too difficult; half an hour in, your body is screaming in response.

Classes are quite expensive, but there is a bowl of free apples.

Kelly Ripa has gushed about Physique 57, but she is nowhere to be seen.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 13

Although I have one last day at 24 Hour Fitness, I forsake the gym and head to the park. My daughter runs with me, and we incorporate some other exercises into our run: high knees, butt kicks, and mummy walks.

We also stop at a bench for tricep dips and use a curb to do step-ups.

Prospect Park also has a fitness area, with pull up bars where you can work your whole body. The fitness area is next to the playground where my kids used to run in the sprinkler and swing. We can hear the cheerful sounds of kids playing while we grunt through our workout.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fitness Challenge: gym bag

Going to different gyms around NYC, I had to remake my gym bag into a lightweight bag that might accompany me to meetings or events throughout the day.

I was looking for make-up that would do double duty, but I found the triple duty Miracle Skin Transformer SPF20 Face. This miraculous product is a day cream, sunscreen and light foundation, all in one.

When I have a brutal workout, my face turns bright red, and stays that way for hours. I cool down, shower and still look like I just ended a marathon. With the transformer, I can carry just one product, slap on a little more eyeliner, and quickly go about my day.

Hair is another story.

Fitness Challenge: Day 12

Spin class became an addiction for me, though in god weather, nothing beats a bike ride.
But when you bike in NYC, you take your life in your hands. I try to stick to bike lanes, but even in so-called protected lanes, cabs pull over and cut you off, people open car doors, runners knock into you.

So I try spin at 24 Hour Fitness. Beside the safety factor, there is also usually inspiring music (Raise Your Glass) and heavy-duty air conditioning. This studio is meat locker room cold, but the music stinks.

The instructor is also a bit nutty, babbling about her weekend plans and how we need to step up our workout.

I find myself staring at the digital clock, counting down till the class ends.

But I burn a ton of calories.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Scotch: Crossing over to the dark side

Some things in life are absolutes: I eschew meat, despise okra, love a craft cocktail.
I always thought that tastes were pretty much set as a kid, but when I grew up, I learned to like mushrooms (important when you are a vegetarian), Brussels sprouts, salad dressing. Still hate mayonnaise and ketchup.

But even as an adult, taste evolves. I thought I didn’t like gin, but then I tasted Bombay Sapphire. Then Hendricks. Now I favor artisanal local gins: Breuckelen, Brooklyn and the gin that is required drinking for any acerbic New Yorker, Dorothy Parker American Gin.

I thought, though that I hated scotch. I avoided all ‘dark’ spirits, but then I ordered a Sixpoint Signal, a smoked IPA. The bartender remarked that I must also like single malt scotch, particularly smoky ones. I said I hated scotch and he said I was wrong.

Turns out, I hate cheap scotch. I tried a glass of Laphroaig, which was peaty, smoky and utterly delicious. It didn’t have that gut-wrenching burn of cheap scotch, but rather a warmth that spread through my body.

Guess I need to retry okra.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 11

Back to 24 Hour Fitness in Soho, where I take a boot camp. This class has us doing squat thrusts, running with our hands over our heads, sometimes with weights, (like carrying guns?) and crawling around the studio on our bellies.

Luckily, the gym is quite clean. The showers, in fact are spotless, with frosted glass doors and sparkling tile. The lockers are the kind where you don't need to schlep a lock; you enter your own 4-digit password and set the integrated lock each time.

This boot camp is an hour long. I've been taking a 45 minute boot camp, and the extra 15 minutes of non-stop rigorous exercise is both invigorating and exhausting.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fonda: Vegetarian Mexican (plus meat)

The food at Fonda is so good, I feel bad about nit-picking. The vegetarian-friendly Mexican restaurant in Park Slope has been open long enough that they should have worked out the kink.s But the service is so scatter-shot that a meal here requires patience and a good sense of humor.

Fonda is packed every time we go, and we planned ahead with a reservation the other night. Our party of 4 was crammed into a tiny table. With one chair brought in from the garden. It was freezing.

We each got a different specialty margarita – mine with blood orange, one friend with grapefruit soda, (quite delish) one a classic and my husband one with hibiscus. His took an extra 15 minutes to arrive, with no explanation.

We shared the guacamole, which comes with warm soft tortillas and chips, and extra sauce to spike it. Lovely. And they bring a bowl of spicy black beans and a bowl of rice to the table with every meal, a nice touch.

My carnivore friend got the short ribs special, which she loved. I had a mushroom and hominy soup special, along with fish tacos. Perfect. Our other friend got the shrimp and scallop enchiladas, in a hazelnut mole sauce. I’ve had this before and it’s hearty and delicious.

My husband got the shrimp with spicy green rice. Very nice, but again, it came 15 minutes after the rest of the food. With no explanation.

And in our second round of drinks, one drink was again forgotten.

Maybe because our table was so small they thought we were a party of 3?

Fitness Challenge: Day 10

The thing about a 40 mile bike ride - on a folding bike - is that you don't want to get back on a bike the next day. We had planned to ride from Northampton to Amherst, MA, on a rail trail, an easy 20 mile round trip.

But after riding an extra mountainous, extremely hot 30 miles, we don't want to sit on those uncomfortable bike seats again.

And the temperature is still hovering near 100.

We opt, instead, to hike on trails near Smith College.

It's still hot. But we are rewarded at the end with great vegetarian food.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 9

Our 20 or so mile bike ride turns into a 45 or 50 mile trudge, when we ride folding bikes through the Vermont and New Hampshire mountains.

We are visiting camp, and our route takes us from the other side of the mountain. To an unmarked road that we miss, and ride 5 or so miles past. Once in town, we get directions back and someone notes that the sign fell down years ago.

There is a hand-lettered sign, on the ground, that we couldn't see as we sped by.

Going back, no excuse, we just get lost. And run out of water.

Still a heat alert. After an hour or overheated riding, we are back where we started. Then we have another 10 miles to ride.

Our post-ride Smuttynose is possibly the best beer ever.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's winter: flu time!

New Yorkers love to complain -it's too hot, it's too cold, there's too much snow, not enough.

This winter is no exception. We have had an unusually mild winter - except for a freak Halloween snow squally. But now it's cold and I can't stop sneezing.

I did get my flu shot. The CDC recommends the shot for pretty much everyone, but when the person next to you on the subway coughs in your face, your vaccine may seem futile.

I won't resort to wearing a face mask, but I will breathe through my scarf and cross my sanitized fingers that the shot will protect me.

Fitness Challenge: Day 8

In a heat wave, exercising outside can be challenging. It is going to be over 100 today, and we are heading up to visit our youngest daughter at camp in New Hampshire. There is a heat alert there, too.

So before we leave, I take a quick trip back to the 24 Hour Fitness gym, where I can lift weights in air conditioning. We are planning a 30 mile bike ride in the mountains tomorrow and I figure I don't need any aerobic workout.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 7

One week in and I figure I need to check out a full service gym. I go to 24 Hour Fitness in Soho with a one week pass.

The gym is huge, with 3 floors, but, oddly, only one water fountain, on the third floor. Maybe they want you to buy the bottled water on the first floor?

Towels are soft and thick and all the equipment is new & shiny.

I take a boot camp class, which has us crawling across the floor, panting form squat thrusts and dripping with sweat. It's great.

Very clean locker rooms, though the TV playing there kind of disturbs me. I prefer mindless chatter in the locker room.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 6

I am almost a week in without a 'home' gym and I decide to take advantage of a coupon I got on the way to the Park Slope Food Coop; a free guest pass to S Clubs, on the corner.

This was another club 25 years ago, and I was a member. It is certainly spiffed up since then, but still a cramped basement space. I do my normal routine, 45 minutes on an elliptical machine, followed by 30 minutes of weights.

It's nice to have a body bar for dead lifts and a bosu ball for core work, but this subterranean gym certainly does not make me long for a gym membership.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 5

Stolen bikes don't stop the fitness obsessed. My stolen bike was my folding bike, a bike I got so I could ride in a skirt. I still have my mountain bike, which my husband can ride (it's a man's bike) so I borrow my neighbor's bicycle and we ride 38 miles (round trip) to the beach.

We also sign up for the NY Century Bike Tour in September, an annual bike ride around the city that we've done in the past with our kids. There is a family friendly 35 mile option, and realistic 55 and 75 mile rides. The 100 mile ride just starts too early.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 4

New York City throws in a roadblock to the fitness quest. We live near the controversial new two-way bike lane, which I support. I like to ride the Prospect Park bike lane to show my support.

So, before riding our bikes to meet friends at the High Line, my husband and I ride the new bike lane to the farmer's market. Then we stop at home for bananas and lock our bikes outside. When we return, 10 minutes later, our bikes are gone.

Our Kryponite lock lies sliced in our front garden.

So, just a 3 mile bike ride, followed by walking 10 miles with our friends.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 3

Friday July 15 is a gorgeous day, one I would ordinarily spend inside, sweating during Spin. With no gym membership, I take out my bike for a few loops of Prospect Park. I spend an hour in the gorgeous weather, working just as hard and singing Pink's "Raise Your Glass" while I cycle.

No headphones, though, since the park loop is crowded with runners, walkers, Spandex-clad cyclists and the occasional car (the loop is officially closed to cars during certain hours, but some cars always slip through.

No worries: I am alert, energized and enjoying a full cardio workout.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 2

July 14

Thursday is usually my 'light' day, when I power walk the loop in Prospect Park with a group of friends. It started out with 1; now we are up to 7 regulars, with occasional guest stars.

If I have time, I run a mile before our 4 mile power walk, and I do 30 minutes of abs after the walk, so there is no need for a gym on Thursdays.

Which is good, because my New York Sports Club has no Thursday morning classes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fitness Challenge: 100 days, 100 gyms

For 8 years, I have gone to New York Sports Club almost daily. But in July, fed up with rising prices, dirty showers (I could get that at home) and limited classes at my local gym, I bought a Fitness PassBook to get me into a variety of gyms.

I should have blogged about this while I worked out at different gyms, but I was too busy..working out. And getting to those gyms, which weren't around the corner like the Park Slope branch of New York Sports Club.

I saved money, if not time, and plowed those savings into an iPhone. Totally worth it. Plus I took a variety of classes and stayed in shape.

Day 1
July 13. Still sore from previous day's boot camp (the best class at NYSC) so went for a run in the park. As a gym member, I feel guilty not going, even if I run. But on an 80 degree day, perfect weather for a run, I feel free.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Camping to see Family

When you calculate the cost of sending your child to camp, you have to include visiting day costs. And if you send her to a camp far away, you may have to spend the night, and either fly to camp or rent a car.

We have treated our camp visits as mini-no-family vacations, but the wonderful camp where my daughter goes is near B & B’s that don’t seem worth the cost. One year we had mold in the room, and another, our friends were yelled at for coming towards the end of breakfast time (I thought that 7-9 time was a range).
o last summer, we went camping. Aside from getting a tent for camping this made our stay virtually free. We paid $15 a night for the campsite, vs $200 for a B & B.

We had a basic camping tent which kept us protected from the morning dew. We brought egg crate mattresses to keep our ancient bones from feeling every stick and we slept relatively well.

And we got to eat breakfast at the excellent café at King Arthur Flour.

Once you buy your tent for camping you can use it over and over. Will I forsake the Four Seasons for camping?

Not likely, but I can certainly see using it for a yearly budget vacation, and putting the money saved towards a nice dinner.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fiji family adventure

While you may associate Fiji all inclusive resorts with romance, you can also have an active family adventure in Fiji. Namale Resort offers Fiji vacation packages for honeymooners and well-heeled families.

Vegetarians will appreciate the emphasis on fresh produce at meals, and kids can expand their palate with foods from Fiji and the South Pacific. In addition to all meals, the all-inclusive rate also covers snacks, wine and beer and hard liquor.
Scheduled activities at Namale include snorkeling, water-skiing, kayaking, knee boarding, reef and tide pool exploring, hand line fishing, guided reef walk and scuba diving. There are two freshwater pools for swimming or relaxing.

This Fiji all inclusive resort also offers hiking, tennis, and a game room, perfect for teens, with a ten pin bowling alley, foosball, darts, table hockey, virtual golf simulator room, billiard table, board games and an arcade. Mountain biking and horseback riding are part of the all-inclusive deal; extras like scuba diving, fishing, and spa services are also not included

You can also experience Fijian life at the resort; villagers in traditional costumes perform weekly dances and local artisans bring their wares to a weekly crafts sale.

Excursions from the resort include the family friendly dolphin watch, where you can snorkel in the tropical reef.

NYC Crepes

In New York City, restaurants can pop up in the most unlikely or seemingly inhospitable places. Alleyways and tiny slivers of real estate become bustling establishments in about 100 square feet.

Such is the case at Crespella Crepe and Espresso Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which I remember as a tiny gap between a pizza parlor and a newsstand. Now it serves Stumptown coffee and a delectable array of sweet or savory crepes.

The crepes with eggs are perfect for breakfast, and the other savories make a light, inexpensive lunch or dinner. The mostly vegetarian choices include ricotta, spinach and mushroom; tomato, mozzarella and pesto; and zucchini with onions and pepper. The savory crepes are also gluten-free, made with chickpea flour.

If you have a sweet tooth, you can have nutella with banana or strawberries for lunch.
Crespella has counters along one wall and the window, so you can grab a stool, or take your crepes to go.