Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 82

One of the things that can drive an eco-conscious person crazy is the amount of energy wasted at a gym. People take handfuls of towels, leave machines and televisions on, and exercise in overlit studios.

At Blink Fitness, (one Manhattan location, and several others around NYC and the NY region) the emphasis is on going green. There are no towels, no energy hog saunas or steam rooms, and energy star rated equipment.

Lighting is low, but if you exercise during the day at the NoHo location, the large windows flood the gym with light.

The state of the art equipment includes plenty of free weights and machines. You can plug into a cardio machine and watch one of the big screen TVs or use a machine with an individual screen; motivational sayings on the walls include reminders to turn off the TV when you are done.

Blink is also a budget conscious gym, yet the low monthly fees belie the clean, spacious gym. One thing is missing: classes.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Family Fun: Orlando

Whether your family has little or big kid, teens or grown ups, you can find plenty of ways to spend your family vacation in Orlando.

Although the theme parks are expensive, hotel deals in Orlando are relatively easy to find. If you stay on site at a theme park, you get perks like a line-skipping pass at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida or special hours at Walt Disney World Resort.

Some Orlando Family Hotels offer free breakfast, or kids eat free specials, along with discounted theme park tickets.

Whether you are a foodie, picky eater or vegetarian, you can eat feel in Orlando. Top restaurants in Orlando include sushi, Italian and Thai restaurants.

Fitness Challenge: Day 82

My fitness plan for Martha’s Vineyard was to run and bike daily, but Mother Nature had other ideas. It poured one day, so we headed over to the Vineyard Tennis Center, Workout and Spa in Vineyard Haven.

There were lots of small rooms her, one filled with cardio machines, (with their own televisions) one with free weights and another with weight machines.

A lounge overlooking the indoor tennis courts also had cardio machines so you could watch the action below while you exercised.
I spent most of my time in the personal trainer room, open to anyone, where the bosu balls were. I also took the cardio combo class, a high energy, easy to follow cardio workout.
he gym had soft towels, clean locker rooms and a very mellow feel.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spain Vacation

Whether you are looking for an active family vacation, a sightseeing tour or a relaxing beach vacation – or all 3 – Spain is the place.

Spaniards also enjoy a healthy sports culture. Soccer rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona and native tennis player Rafael Nadal have elevated the status of Spanish spectator sports.

Since the Spanish weather
can usually be counted on to be sunny and dry, one way to see the countryside is by a cycling tour. Keep in mind that summer is very hot though; you might want to avoid summer for the most active vacations.

But if you are traveling to Spain in summer, the Spanish weather is conducive to hitting the beach. And if you are in Barcelona, you can get a dose of culture and sand.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 81

It is easy to stay fit on a beach vacation. Just walking on the sand is more difficult than a regular walk, and if you run on the beach, you work even harder.

If, like me, you don't swim, you can run in the waves, rent a kayak or bike. Or all of the above.

We biked a lot around Martha's Vineyard, to justify the bike schlep. We have to put a bike rack on our rental car, and pay extra for bikes on the ferry, all to enjoy the flat, paved Martha's Vineyard bike paths.

It was worth it.

The wide paths can easily accommodate 3 across, so if you are riding with your family, you can stay together - and let someone going the other way pass.

Drivers on the island were almost universally respectful. Only one driver, on a cell phone, pulled out without looking to cross the path. But there was plenty of room and we felt very safe.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 80

Tucked away on an industrial stretch of Bergen Street in Brooklyn, Studio Maya radiates a calm that belies its settings. You enter through a dusty hall into an oasis of calm, with highly polished wood floors, fresh flowers and brand new equipment, from pristine mats to bosu balls, the basis of many classes.

But alas, no air conditioning. Looking to escape the heat of NYC's extended heat save, I dripped on those mats, even though the classes had no cardio elements.

Studio Maya offers classes designed for women, including ones that target the core and butt, men's core classes, yoga, Zumba and Capoeira.

There are few amenities; a changing area behind a curtain, reusable water bottles and small towels, but the personal attention in the classes gives you an efficient work out.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Hair Boot Camp

There are many legitimate reasons for not exercising and one of them is that it truly messes up your hair. Swimming, even with a bathing cap, is the ultimate assault, but the dirt sweat (and tears) can’t be good, either.

So I was happy to try out Keranique’s new 8 Day Intensive Scalp Treatment. The serum, designed for women, specifically addresses seasonal and stress related hair thinning, but even if your hair isn’t thinning, the resulting thick, healthy hair is good for anyone.

The treatment has a 2% Minoxidil solution that strengthens hair and stimulates the scalp.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Here come the sun

Protecting your skin against the sun, whether at home or on vacation, is easy when you have the right products

Hats off to…
Your mother was right. One of the best ways to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is to wear a hat. Instead of a ratty old baseball cap, get the Scala Sewn Ribbon Sun Hat - The Tres Jolie. This hat has SPF built into it (in addition to the sun protection any hat adds). And the hat is great for travel, too. Roll it crush it, stuff it in your beach bag – it bounces right back into shape.

Of course, where it really needs to be is right on your head.

Face off
SPF and antioxidants come together in DNA Defense SPF 30+. This rich cream both renews and protects skin, with vitamins A and E offering antioxidants and zinc oxide providing the sunscreen.

For the kids
Chemical-free Sunology All-Natural Sun Protection has a sunblock for kids that is SPF 50. The sunblock is ideal for young sensitive skin and is super concentrated, so you have to apply less – great for squirmers. The lotion comes in 3 ounce bottles so you can carry it on an airplane. The sunblock is also water resistant, so perfect for a beach vacation.

If you did not listen
If you did not wear a hat, or apply enough sunblock, you can heal damaged skin with Miracle Skin Transformer Heal Everything Balm. This soothing lotion can also alleviate irritation after shaving your legs, and moisturize while it heals. The chemical free Miracle Skin Transformer includes the new body lotion, with an SPF 20 that is ideal for everyday use. The lotion minimizes imperfections while it protects skin from more damage.

I Spy: Road Trip Games & Giveaway

If I Spy is one of your favorite road trip games, then you need to book a trip to New York. Discovery Times Square has a new immersive exhibit, SPY: The Secret World of Espionage, that is the antidote to summer boredom.

Or fall or winter – the exhibit is in NYC through March 2013.

This is where you can see both high tech spy gear, like briefcase tricked out with an infrared camera, or low tech, but unique items. Kids may be particularly intrigued by the hollowed out rat that was used in ‘ dead drops’ to exchange information. The rat’s guts were replaced with classified info, and the body was Velcro-ed back together. But cats foiled the info exchange, thinking they’d found dinner.

The exhibit has artifacts like a collapsible WWII motorbike, that parachutists could use once they hit the ground, and a spy sub, used against the Germans, that employed German engineering.

Kids and adults can channel James Bond as they negotiate a laser field. My daughter was more Mr. Magoo, but she and her friend happily tried to avoid the lasers several times.

There is also a station where you can disguise your voice.

Tickets to the exhibit are rather expensive: $27 for adults; $19.40 for kids ages 4-12. But I am giving away 2 tickets to the exhibit. Just leave a comment with your favorite road trip game.

Fitness Challenge: Day 79

Many gyms in NYC offer 45 minute boot camps. While these are a great way to stay in shape, the 45 minute classes are over before you know it.

I found a few gyms and outdoor boot camps that offered hour long classes. These were much more challenging, in addition to being, well, longer.

Now there is a new frontier. P.E.P.P.E.R. Practical Exercise Personally Planned Equals Results has 75 minute boot camps in Central Park and other NYC locations. Breaching the hour long class feels like Spinal Tap going to 11 on the volume button.

Our class, in a bucolic setting that belied the torture to come, started with light jogging - then tapping the ground, side shuffles, high knees, skipping and butt kicks.

We had stations, each with a trainer, to do bear crawls, crab walks, gorilla swings, dive bombs and hopping on one foot up a hill. We also had to partner up, running up a hill carrying someone and doing wheelbarrows. But these were not playground exercises - we kept our heart rates up and worked every muscle.

And there was no let up. Towards the end, we did duck walks (try this after an hour of cardio and strength training) followed by an endless variety of ab exercises.

The trainers were encouraging, the setting was magical and the fitness was unparalleled.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 78

The heat wave in NYC finally broke, so a run in Central Park was actually an option. But I took the high road, Core Fusion Cardio at Exhale Spa midtown, right across the street from the park.

This location serves a rather upscale clientele, and the halls were being repainted while I was there. The light, airy studio had billowing fabric covering the skylights, keeping the room cool but allowing plenty of natural light to filter in.

My husband doubts you can get a cardio work out without sneakers, but this class proves him wrong. We did plank runs, lunges with weights, side planks into downward dog, then the whole sequence again and again. There was no time to grab a sip of water, but my heart rate was up and I was dripping sweat.

Luckily, there were plenty of rain head showers, with thick towels, and cold filtered water.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 77

Over my years in Park Slope, the basement gym at the corner of Union Street and 7th Avenue has gone through many iterations. The latest is Slope Fitness, which has a guaranteed lifetime membership rate for the first new members.

While the gym is essentially the same as the previous one, it has a few nice touches. One is free coffee, an incentive for those who drag themselves to early morning workouts.

Another is an extensive class list, including a spin class that adds an abs workout, and Fight Club, combining aerobics, boxing and martial arts.

There is a free supervised play area for children while parents work out, and in the fall, there will be dance classes for children.