Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fitness Challenge: the flu

When you have kids, you are prone to colds and other ailments (lice, anyone?) This time of year, I start thinking about the flu. Getting this sick poses a real workout challenge; who wants to exercise when you can barely get out of bed? So I am hedging my bets and getting my annual flu vaccine. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. The 2012-2013 flu vaccines is available now and should be To find a flu vaccination clinic go to VaccineFinder. Maybe with all the exercising and kickboxing I’ve been doing I can kick flu’s butt.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Boston Travel

Getting in a good workout when you travel is easy at the InterContinental Boston. This waterfront luxury hotel has a huge state-of-the-art fitness center with treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines, all with their own screens.
There are lots of free weights and strength machines, an indoor pool and plenty of space to stretch. Best of all, the gym is open 24 hours for guests, so if you are jet lagged and up at 3am, you can work out instead of gorging on candy. There is also a spa for those who like to relax on vacation.

Cambodian Food in Boston

Ethnic cuisine is often a great bet for vegetarians who are traveling, and Elephant Walk, with 3 Boston area restaurants, is no exception.
Elephant Walk separates out Cambodian, French and vegetarian entrees, and even has gluten-free offerings. In its prix-fixe menu, it offers to make some dishes vegan or vegetarian. We were in faux-hog heaven. Spring rolls are an excellent way for kids to eat their veggies. The spring rolls at Elephant Walk had greens, shiitake mushrooms, carrots and bean sprouts, with a peanut dipping sauce. We had 2 different vegetarian curries, one redolent of ginger; both were spicy and filled with vegetables and tofu. The restaurant also made creative cocktails, and had a local IPA from Mayflower Brewing Company on tap.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Plank Pilates

Many gyms have classes they label Pilates, but few have the Pilates set up that a boutiques gym like Plank Pilates offers. This small storefront, around the corner from the Whole Foods Bowery, has space for 5 in its personalized classes, with padded stations, springs and bars.
I tried the Plank360 class, incorporating classic Pilates 9the 'Pilates 100,' a soft ball squeezed between your thighs and resistance work using the bars and springs, with cardio bursts. Throughout the workout, we did jumping jacks, suat jumps and running step ups to get our heartbeat up - then moved into planks, push ups and crunches. The gym also has tower classes, of just Pilates. The subterranean lounge has a light well in the staircase, and organic products in the rest room. You can take a jar of cucumber and lemon infused water to hydrate during your workout, and make tea and read magazine after. The tiny gym offers a great intro to Pilates, and is an antidote to crowded NYC mega-gyms.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fitness Challenge, Day 96

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program, and many gyms around New York are affiliated with it. CrossFit718 has one hour small group training sessions, with a coach and up to 10 participants in each class. The classes, which vary each time, include short bursts of intense activity, like using a medicine ball to squat, throw and catch. Do this enough times and your quads will be screaming. At the intro class I took, we were encouraged to reach a goal, and record our times or reps. This way, you can track improvement over time. My class included a 3-5 minute run (depending on your speed) with that same medicine ball, and a punishing routine of pushups, squats and sit ups. The bare bones gym is stocked with towels and a water cooler, and you might even be offered a banana at the end of your workout. Advanced athletes can try kettle bells, Olympic lifting and endurance training.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fitness Challenge, Day 95

Yoga on the beach is a wonderful vacation treat, but if you are traveling to a city, you can find outdoor yoga when it is warm out.
In New York City, Bryant Park has outdoor yoga in late spring through summer. And Prospect Park, in Brooklyn offers yoga on summer evenings. Even better than enjoying the opportunity to exercise in a park is that these yoga classes are free. Exhale Spa in the Gansevoort Hotel recently had a free yoga day that was not quite as relaxing; we were in an outdoor plaza, surrounded by traffic, trucks unloading and tourists snapping photos. I am looking forward to my upcoming trip to Dallas, for the Family Travel Conference, where the new Klyde Warren Park will have free yoga classes by The Dallas Yoga Center. Sun salutations to the actual sun. It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fitness Challenge: Day 94

One nice thing about trying out different gyms and boutique fitness studios is that you can sample places that specialize in different types of exercise. At the large gym I formerly belonged to, yoga classes were taught to large groups and unless you were an experienced yogini, you were left in the cold. Pilates was even worse. I recently joined Whole Foods Wellness Club, which offers Pilates, yoga, Zumba and other fitness classes. Pilates is taught by an instructor from Plank Pilates Studio, which limits classes to 5. Our instructor was able to help each person frequently, making small adjustments that could be the difference between correctly exercising, say, your lower abdominals and injuring your back. The class incorporated a few yoga poses: planks, or course, plus child's pose, cobra and down dog. It was also almost an hour of core work without any neck or back strain. The boutique Plank Pilates Studio offers a relaxation lounge with scented cold or hot towels and flavored water or tea. Whole Foods doesn't have these amenities, but it does have a huge selection of healthy food for lunch after class.