Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(We) Can Do Sidebends or Sit-Ups... But Please Don't Lose that BUTT!

This treadmill routine will kick your, er, ass. No sagging or flat booties for us! So even though this blog is focused primarily on fun activities outside the gym, I just had to share this gem of a routine with you!  Note that this is actually quite tough and the "fun" part of this routine is in pushing yourself. Check it out:


0-5:00 minutes:
Speed: 4 m.p.h.
Incline: 3-3.5

5:00-7:00 minutes:
            Speed: 4 m.p.h.
            Incline: 8-10

7:00-8:00 minutes:
            Speed: 4 m.p.h.
            Incline: 4-6

8:00-10:00 minutes:
            Speed: 4 m.p.h.
            Incline: 10

10:00-11:00 minutes:
            Speed: 4 m.p.h.
            Incline: 5-7

11:00- 13:00 minutes:
            Speed: 4 m.p.h.
            Incline: 12

13:00-14:00 minutes:
            Speed: 4 m.p.h.
            Incline: 10

14:00-15:00 minutes:
            Speed: 4 m.p.h.
            Incline: 12

(Cool Down)
15:00-20:00 minutes:
            Speed: 4 m.p.h.
            Incline: 2-4

I ran across this particular cardio exercise in a magazine over a year ago but it remains a tried and true favorite when I hit the gym. If you’re just getting started, definitely go for the lower incline numbers; vice-versa if you’re pretty used to working out on the treadmill. If you are really amped to push the limit on this one, try increasing the speed from 4 m.p.h. to 4.5 or higher (more power to ya! I’ll stick with 4!). At 4 m.p.h. and choosing the higher number of each "Incline" interval, I usually end up running a total of about a mile and a quarter and burning about 150 calories (depends on your weight).

Oh, and an extra little tip: For me, music makes all the difference when I’m running so make sure you’ve got an upbeat playlist ready to go when you begin!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Man in the Moon

What do an accountant, a dancer, and a non-profit worker have in common? Well, probably not that much but last week, these three were taking their very first Silks class together!

What do I mean by “silks”? Perhaps you caught a glimpse of Pink’s 2010 Grammys performance when she brought them mainstream? Or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have seen aerial ballet performed by Cirque du Soleil?

Lemmie give you an explanation of the, er, sport. (Feels silly to call it a “sport” but you definitely have to have strength and focus to do it so “sport” works for me!) Aerial silks is a combination of acrobatics and ballet in the air. A long strip of fabric is hung securely and the participant climbs up, twists around, drops down, flips, poses, and every other action you can imagine all the while securing herself to the silks using her feet, legs and arms.

I attended a Beginner’s class at NYC Trapeze School which is housed in a huge white tent on the far Westside of Midtown Manhattan. I arrived early and watched some of the other classes going on which I’ll definitely be returning to try! Trapeze, anyone?!

But back to Silks. My teacher, Suzie, introduced herself and after stretching for about 10 minutes we got started. The silk we used was a tiny bit stretchy (Suzie explained that different silks are more stretchy than others) but sturdy. Thank god. I’m not afraid of heights but looking at how high it went up (about 50 feet), you could say I was a bit nervous!

Suzie had us start off by learning to wrap our foot- key to a majority of the moves as that is the only thing securing you as you climb. We practiced this a few times- wrap and climb, wrap and climb…. We climbed pretty high and those nerves started to wash away- “Ok, I can do this!” I thought. It was actually similar to climbing a rope (remember doing that in grade school?) Once Suzie was certain we were not going to kill ourselves, she taught us how to straddle (which means you’re upside down, legs in a “V” in the air and the only thing keeping you from falling out of the silk), “Man in the Moon” (which simply consists of creating the basic foot knot and climbing several times in a row, maneuvering through the middle of the two pieces of fabric, and leaning forward). I’ll tell you, it’s not so easy but here's a picture of me managing to do this!

By the time we three students had learned these basic moves, it was time to wrap it up! Drill sergeant Suzie (I kid- she was so nice and supportive!) insisted we each do pull-ups, using the silks. We sat on the floor, legs straight out in front of us, and used the silks to pull our entire body up- WHOA! Tough but I get it- working with silk requires a lot of upper-body strength and good ol’ Suze just wanted to condition us properly. :)

So, would I do this again and what are the pros and cons?

I would absolutely love to take this class again! It was so challenging and I am certain I was the worst of us three girls but it was such a good time and I felt so strong as I pulled myself up the silks each time. Though it might not sound like we learned a lot, we stayed busy the entire hour and I felt like I got my money and time’s worth out of the experience.

Now for the cons: The biggest con is probably the price. The class itself cost $35 plus NYC Trapeze School requires a one-time application fee of $20. $55 for one hour of working out just isn’t for most of us, amIright? Luckily, it was such a great experience that I would pay the $35 again (I just don’t know how often- Maybe once/week? Once every two weeks?) The NYC Trapeze School also offers “Open Silks” hours where, for just $20/hour, you can go in and practice what you’ve already learned under the watchful eye of an instructor; that’s comparable in price to a lot of other exercise classes you can take in the city. Lastly, they offer a discount if you buy classes in bulk which is a bit easier to swallow.
The only other cons I can think of are the fact that it sort’ve hurts your skin and is extremely uncomfortable at first. I mean, you’re leaning all of your body weight onto a thin piece of fabric and, since you’re in the air, gravity is really working against you and some of the moves can be a little painful, not to mention your skin is rubbed in the same spots over and over again as you practice. Sexy, I know. Suzie assured me that yes, this is normal (and sucks) but the more you practice, the less it hurts because a) you gain strength and stop bearing all of your weight on the silks and b) you simply begin to get used to it.  I believe her because I watched her and a couple others who have clearly been practicing silks for awhile and they seemed completely fine.

I 100% recommend you try this class if you have the chance. It is definitely a workout (I was sore, especially in my upper body, for three days after my lesson… you know, the good kind of sore!) but because all of the moves are new and you’re learning (and laughing at yourself) as you go, you forget that you’re getting in a fantastic workout!

Here is a list of places that offer these classes:

- NYC/D.C./Boston/L.A./Chicago:  NYC Trapeze School
- Atlanta, GA:  SkyGym
- London: Flying Fantastic
- Houston, TX: Gyrotonic Houston

                          Let me know if you give it a go!

A Toast to YOU!

In the spirit of having fun, I want to share this amaaaaaaazing drink recipe and toast everyone for supporting this blog and an open-minded, healthy, fun lifestyle.

This little number is purrrrrr-fect for enjoying on a rooftop or pool-side during the dog days of summer- Refreshing, tasty, and just 169 calories per glass!

Cucumber- Lemonade Chiller

3 large cucumbers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus 4 sprigs for garnishing (make it look as good as it tastes!)
1 cup of water
6 ounces (3/4) gin
½ cup of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of agave syrup

1. Cut 12 thin slices of cucumber for garnish.
2. Peel and chop the rest of the cucumber, transfer to a food processor, add rosemary and puree.
3. Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl.
4. Press on the solids to extract all the yummeh juice.
5. Add water, gin, lemon juice, and agave syrup to the cucumber juice then stir until the agave is completely dissolved.
6. Divide it among four ice-filled glasses.
7. Garnish with cucumber slices and rosmary sprigs and VOILA! Heaven.


What is This "Femme FITalle" Blog All About???

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is how the saying goes and I intend to do just that! Starting today, I will no longer live in an apartment building with a gym. This is sad, sad news. However (here comes the lemonade!), I’ve decided that this situation does have a silver lining because I now have absolutely zero reasons not to try the plethora of physical activities available in this great city!

I LOVE working out. What can I say? In the past decade or so that I’ve worked out regularly, exercise has always made me happier, period. The gym has been my sanctuary during various high school trivialities, college challenges, my first job, numerous heartbreaks (whew!), and moving away from my entire support system back home. Yes, exercise is a good thing and I don’t think I need to convince any of you of that. What I want to do is introduce new ways of exercising to you and myself as well. I’m guilty of becoming a gym rat; I go to the gym, do the same basic routine every visit and call it a day. While I work out hard and generally appreciate the results of my hard labor, it does get… boring. I can’t be the only one so I figure, with this “problem” of having no home gym on my hands, I ought to make the best of it and try out alllllllllllll of those cool classes I used to hear about, consider, and pass on. There’s no time like the present, right?

In this blog, I promise to deliver informative and honest reviews of my experiences, answer any questions you have (I love feedback!), keep you alert of workout-related deals and steals in your city, and divulge some delicious and healthy recipes. I’ve already got an ever-growing list of over 50 activities I want to try out so this blog will never become stale! What I promise NOT to do is turn this into a diet/losing weight blog (I’m sure there are already plenty of those… and they’re so blah). 

LaFemmeFITalle is about trying new things, going outside your comfort zone, and having A FABULOUS TIME being active! So let’s get started, shall we?!