Monday, January 28, 2013

Fitness Challenge: Revolve

Shake a Spandex-clad leg, Soul Cycle and Flywheel. There’s a new kid in town. Revolve, a boutique spin studio one revolution from Union Square (with a branch in DC) has a high intensity, luxe feel that will be familiar to devotees of the other high end NYC spin studios. But Revolve also has a few twists. Hardcore RIP Rides are 60 0r 75 minutes long and should leave you ripped (unless you are unprepared, in which case you might R.I.P.). For more casual cyclists, there is the Body Ride, a 45 minute class that combines cardio with strength training (think Soul or Flywheel) and the cardio only Real Ride. You can certainly take these classes if you are an experienced spinner, too, but the longer rides challenge you more.
Revolve provides free cycling shoes and has gum and hair bands sitting out. There are also towels at every bike, and both a water fountain and filtered water bottle refiller. Revolve has a unisex locker area, but there are men’s and women’s changing areas with a couple of showers and nice, soft towels. In the small class I took, the instructor called out everyone by name, a personal touch that might not happen when the class is full. But it certainly keeps you in the moment and encourages you to push harder. The Schwin bikes let you keep track of your RPMs, but not the precise resistance level. This actually favors OCD cyclists who obsessively check their levels. Here, you can rely on touch and the rhythm of the music to get your sweat on.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fitness Challenge: Flywheel Sports

High end spin studios are not all created equal. Flywheel, with 3 NYC locations, offers the same 45 minute, high intensity workout NYers crave, with a few twists. Fly free One is the free first class. With classes costing $32 (slightly cheaper if you buy a package) this is an incredible amenity. Who know if it will last, so sign up pronto. You also get free rental shoes (even with the free trial class) and free bottled water. I actually prefer to refill my own water bottle, but there was no water fountain at Flatiron studio and in a particularly nice touch, there was extra water next to the instructor, who could bring you a bottle if you ran out mid-class. Flywheel has you reserve your bike online, and sign in on a laptop when you arrive. Your cycling shoes are in the corresponding cubby below. The co-ed locker area is cramped and rather sweaty when classes change over. There are just 2 showers and 2 changing rooms, so you can expect a wait. And the showers feel a bit like being back in college, but maybe that's the point. Spin hard I loved the bikes, with the torque and rpms in LED. Flyhweel goes even one better, with a ride board where you can chart your progress and compete against classmates. Although I was one of the older riders, I held my own coming in 3rd in the class. Not really sure what that means, but it's better than coming in 45th. The staff at Flywheel was incredibly helpful; I got a brief tour, someone set up my bike, and another person came by the make sure I had everything I needed. And even after class, you could grab a free apple, use the provided dry shampoo if you didn't want to wait for a shower, or use the Bliss body products if you did. All in all a fly experience.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hair Today: Grey Tomorrow

To the indignities of aging – wrinkles, sagging breasts, memory loss, uh, wrinkles, add hair changes. Yes, of course, we all know that hair turns grey, and men lose theirs, but there are actually 7 signs of aging hair: breakage, split ends, frizziness, unruly grey, lackluster color, thin look and dryness. The craziness of grey hair is what gets me. It sticks out at odd angles to the rest of your hair, defying you, taunting you. But Pantene has a new expert collection to help women combat aging hair. These include Age Defy Shampoo and Conditioner, Age Defy Advanced Thickening Treatment, Age Defy Rejuvenating Hydration Masque, Advanced Keratin Shampoo and Conditioner, Advanced Keratin Repair and the Advanced Keratin Spilt End Fuser. I got to try some of these out at a MomTrends party where Dr. Jeni Thomas, who has a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry and is P&G’s Beauty and Grooming Principal Scientist, explained in technical and practical terms what is going on with women’s aging hair. Dr. Thomas also warned against yanking ponytails from your hair, something I do every time I finish exercising. Uh oh. Luckily the Pantene products can repair and prevent further damage.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vegetarian in Vermont: family friendly dining

The Common Ground Café, in Brattleboro, Vermont, was a Mecca for vegetarians. On any trip to Vermont, whether for skiing or biking, we detoured slightly off I-91 for interesting soups and sandwiches. Sadly, The Common Ground closed, but vegetarians can still eat well in the Green State.
For breakfast, The Hatchery, in Ludlow, has a vegan tofu scramble with avocado and salsa, that fuels you for the day’s activities. The Hatchery is only open for breakfast and lunch; lunch vegetarian choices include a grilled vegetable sandwich with spinach, mushrooms and feta, a tofu wrap with cilantro pesto and the ‘asparagui,’ with grilled asparagus, cheddar cheese, arugula and roasted peppers. On our recent family ski trip to Okemo, we had planned to have dinner one night at Harry’s Café, about 5 miles down the road from the resort. Unfortunately, we didn’t make reservations in advance and couldn’t get a table until 8:30. So this vegetarian-friendly restaurant, with a Thai night on Thursdays (and a few Thai items on the regular menu) will have to wait for another trip. Fortunately, Ludlow, a quintessential New England ski town, has other vegetarian and family friendly choices. The Cool Moose Café bills itself as a steakhouse, but t has great veggie burgers. The Bleu Moose & shrooms burger (also available in beef or chicken) has bleu cheese and mushrooms, and the tasty jacked up Philly burger includes jack cheese and cooked peppers and onions. Both are “2 napkin’ meals. There are several fish entrees, a roasted Portobello entrée and a hearty salad with local goat cheese, good greens and cranberries. Kid meals include a smaller burger, pizza and salad. Cool Moose also has a large selection of local craft beers. Coleman Brook Tavern, in the Jackson Gore Inn, is a farm to table restaurant with a few vegetarian choices. The pappardelle was loaded with fennel, roasted peppers and white beans in a wild mushroom broth. There is a filling roasted beet salad with Vermont chevre and pumpkin seeds, a Portobello strudel that works as a light appetizer and a delicious baked cheese stuffed with maple pumpkin butter and ginger-butternut squash. There’s an extensive and quite pricey wine list, great martinis and lots of single malt scotch to sip. Best of all, when you stay at the Inn, you can simply take the elevator to your room.

Fitness Challenge: Cross Country Skiing

There are hardy souls who run year round, and fair weather outdoor enthusiasts, like me, who only want to ride a bicycle when it's between 60 and 70 degrees. But cross country skiing is a whole different animal. For one thing, you warm up really quickly, particularly in southern Vermont in January. For another, you get that runner's high, a blissful, peaceful feeling when you schuss along a mountain stream or through a forest. We enjoyed just such a scenario at the Okemo Valley Nordic Center at Okemo Mountain Resort. The cross country skiing takes place at the Golf Club, with 22 km of tracked and skate-groomed terrain. My children, dedicated down hill skiers, scoff at cross country skiing, finding amusement in the intermediate and expert terrain. But the hills are real, and the level of fitness required no joke. And like biking, you end up skiing, constantly using your legs, for hours on end. No standing around on lift lines or just engaging your core while you slalom down the mountain.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fitness Challenge: Okemo Mountain Resort

A gym at a ski resort may seem superfluous, but it actually comes in quite handy.
When we arrived at Okemo Mountain Resort, after a 5 hour drive, it was too late to ski, but just in time to use the spacious fitness center. We stayed at the Jackson Gore Inn, which requires an outdoor sprint of 20 yards to the Spring House. There, we found a fitness studio, (Zumba and yoga classes are $10) a racquetball court, and a gym with cardio machines, free weights, stability balls and a bosu ball. The cardio machines don't have their own screens; there are 2 large TVS, and music playing. But there are a variety of treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals to get your heart pumping. There are also mats, perfect for stretching sore muscles after a day on the slopes.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fitness Challenge: JCC in Manhattan

The JCC on the Upper West Side has facilities for the whole family, from a nursery school to programs for seniors. While this all in one approach can sometimes shortchange areas, the fitness center is state of the art. There is a huge pool, two gyms, and classes galore. About the only negative is the slow elevator, so if you use the locker rooms, on the 5th floor, you might need to run up and down the stairs. But think of it as the start of your aerobic workout. The locker rooms are spotless and loaded with thick, soft towels, lotions and soaps, and cotton balls and Q-tips (though why do you have to ask for a tampon?). I took a spin class, which comes with free cycling shoes, and nice bikes where you can keep track of your calories and RPMs. There are also classes in yoga, martial arts, strength and conditioning and Zumba. Pre and post natal classes, teen fitness classes and senior classes address the needs of the whole family: a rooftop playground helps kids keep active.