Pass the Happy with ClassPass

Lately I’ve been living in a constant state of soreness, and I honestly find it amazing. Now that the weather is colder, it’s difficult to go outside and run. Interestingly, I’ve been taking (most of) my workouts indoors, and have been travelling all around the city with ClassPass. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned ClassPass before, but let me tell you a little bit more about it and why it is awesome.

ClassPass is basically a monthly gym membership, except there’s no central location, and it’s for people who love workout classes. I’ve belonged to several gyms in the past, and I found that I really only go for the classes. I need someone else to be constantly telling me what to do, challenge my body, and make my workouts interesting. I can’t just go to a gym and run aimlessly on an elliptical. Even if I do hop on a treadmill or elliptical machine, I always have to pick a pre-entered program that’s constantly switching up my speed or elevation.

But I digress. ClassPass partners with hundreds of boutique gyms and fitness studios throughout NYC (they’re quickly expanding to many other cities), and allows you to sign up for trendy, challenging, and fun classes for $99/month. I joined back in August and can honestly say it has changed my life for good. It’s addicting to scroll through the countless classes that are offered, and it’s always exciting to show up to a new studio or class without knowing what to expect. Several of my friends and coworkers are also on ClassPass, and it’s fun to catch up and bond by going to a class together. That being said, I was looking at my information on ClassPass and realized that I’m about to attend my 50TH CLASS!! I feel like I never stick with a fitness regimen for this long. The classes I take on ClassPass are so diverse that I feel as though my body, and my mind, just never get bored.

If you’re curious as to what type of classes they have to offer, a few my favorites include:

YOGA:

1. Om Factory

  • I take the aerial yoga class, just because it’s so different, and makes me feel like a graceful circus freak. Plus, the upper body strength needed to hold you up on that fabric is insane, and I’m honestly sore for days after this one.

2. Yoga Vida

  • This is just a really pretty studio (I’ve only been to the Union Square one), and their Vinyasa flow classes are held in a large lofty room.  They are usually heavily attended, but the atmosphere is friendly and I have yet to have a teacher who I didn’t immediately love.

3. Hot Yoga at New York Yoga

  • I really like how they offer the 60 minute class, because to be perfectly honest, I can’t stand to be in that room for more than an hour. I also landed my first headstand here without the wall, so this place holds a soft spot in my heart.

4. Exhale (Upper East Side Location)

  • This is technically a spa? I’m pretty sure, and while I haven’t actually gone here for any facials or massages, the locker rooms are to die for, and the yoga and barre classes aren’t too shabby either. I go here when I want to feel pampered and get relaxed.

SPINNING:

1. Flywheel

  • I really love any class offered by Flywheel. This place does not need an explanation and the dietitian in me loves that they offer free fruit (along with free spinning shoes, water bottles, and towels). I’m SO happy ClassPass gives me access to all their studios in the city.

2. Peloton Cycle

  • This place blows me away, it’s SO NICE. The 45 minute Live DJ Rides on Fridays are the absolute best way to kick off your weekend; they’re like a dance party that also happens to torch calories, win/win.

3. SWERVE Fitness

  • SWERVE is another gorgeous spin studio, but their classes are unique in that they split the room up into teams and are competition-focused, which pushes me to go harder.

MISCELLANEOUS:

1. Chaise Fitness

  • This class is an infusion of pilates, ballet, and I honestly don’t even know what else, with the utilization of an overhead bungee system. All I know is that it’s challenging and a constant arm workout, but it’s super fun and the classes fly by.

2. CityRow

  • CityRow offers group rowing classes where half the time is spent doing drills on a rowing machine, and the other half is on a mat working with weights. It reminds me of a spin class because they blast fun and motivating music, but it’s honestly much harder. I love.

3. Throwback Fitness

  • Throwback Fitness is just plain fun. They incorporate games that are reminiscent of recess in middle school, except are more challenging. You get a real sense of camaraderie in this studio and everyone seems to become friends by the end.

2. The Fhitting Room

  • Oh dear this studio is tough, so sign up with a friend or two. They offer high intensity interval training classes (HIIT), which are taught by 2 instructors. The dynamic between the instructors is fun and they usually give good individualized attention. This was probably the most challenging class I’ve taken to date, and I can’t wait to go back.

3. Uplift

  • This really adorable studio is for women only, and their Strength and HIIT classes are enjoyable. I always have an empowering workout when I go here.

CLASSES I REALLY WANT TO TRY:

These are just a sampling of my favorites and the classes that are next on my list to try. You can see how you just can’t get bored. These classes are also great opportunities for cross training if you’re a runner, and in my opinion, help to make me a more well-rounded athlete.

ClassPass is also available in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Philly, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and D.C. It’s really awesome how much it has expanded since I started taking classes. Also, their customer service is wonderful, and they always run great promotions. If you think you want to sign up, I highly recommend trying it for a couple of months. Even if you don’t think it’s for you, hopefully this list can lead you to a cool new workout that you do want to try. With ClassPass, I know for a fact that I have been brought out of my comfort zone and my little fitness shell, and I’m never going back to the boring elliptical.

OMFactory Union Square
But really what’s an elliptical?

Are you on ClassPass? Do you have a favorite class that didn’t make the list? If you’re not on ClassPass, do you have another fun workout place that you go to? Sound off in the comments!

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Oats

Like avocados, oats are another amazing super food that I just can’t seem to like. OR, maybe it’s just that I’ve been eating them wrong my whole life. I’m part of the minority that loves oatmeal cookies, however I CAN’T STAND the taste or texture of oatmeal. Again, like the avocado, something about the mushiness really puts me off. Which is a shame, because oats are an amazing food that have a lot to offer.

Oats are high in soluble and insoluble fiber, which together increase satiety or fullness; reduce blood cholesterol levels; and protect against obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. One cup of oats yields a surprising amount of protein: 10g to be exact, which is a little bit more than an egg. Oats are additionally good sources of potassium, iron, and magnesium. The two most popular varieties are steel cut oats and rolled oats, or old fashioned oats. Steel cut oats are less processed, and therefore sit lower on the glycemic index (how high a person’s blood sugar spikes after consumption) than rolled oats, however both foods are otherwise nutritionally similar. I tend to buy the rolled oats, as they stay fresher longer.

And fortunately for me, there are many ways to enjoy the super nutritional benefits of oats that don’t involve mixing them with water to turn out a gooey, mushy product. For instance, they can be mixed with nut butters to make delicious, portable, and convenient energy bites, or they can be combined with a few ingredients to make a quick cookie. My favorite way to enjoy oats, however, is via smoothie. I found this recipe on Instagram (@immaeatthat – sidenote: this girl has multiple recipes that use oats, and they all look phenomenal. Check out her blog here.) and adapted it to my own tastes by adding a dash of maple syrup and using pumpkin spice instead of pure cinnamon. This smoothie is super quick, easy, satisfying, and most importantly, DELICIOUS. 

Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie

Yields: 1 smoothie, or 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 1 dash lite maple syrup
  • 1 dash pumpkin spice, or cinnamon

1. Put all of the ingredients into a blender, blend until smooth.

2. Top with cereal, additional spices, or whatever you like.

3. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts per smoothie: Calories: 275; Total fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 35 mg; Sodium: 191 mg; Total Carb: 52g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Protein: 18g

Do you have a non-conventional way to enjoy oats? Share in the comments!

Cleanse with Caution

Welcome to December, where we find ourselves on the other side of Thanksgiving and it’s officially acceptable to get excited about the holiday season. People bring in holiday treats to the office on a daily basis “just because” and it’s easy to lose sight of health and fitness goals. Our healthy habits that we’ve spent all year incorporating into our daily lives tend to unravel away as we allow ourselves to indulge in party after party, and treat after treat. Many people turn into panic mode at this time of year as they see the numbers on the scale slowly begin to creep up. A quick fix that many people turn to is the juice cleanse. Juice cleanses are often marketed as a tool to jumpstart weight loss, promote health, and rid the body of all things evil (cough sugar cookies cough).

But are cleanses even that good for you? Are they even safe? Do they actually work? There’s a lot of information out there, and I looked at two different articles that promoted opposite sides of the juice cleanse. I think after reading both, the information is still just as jumbled.

The Real Reasons Juice Cleanses Can Get Your Health Back on Track

Summary Points:

  • This article was written by a doctor, so it’s probably a respectable resource.
  • Drinking juices allows the gut to rest and not work as hard, so phytonutrients can be absorbed more easily.
  • Cleanses rest the liver, which is often overloaded with toxins, so much so that it can’t keep up with how much junk we put into our body.
  • Cleanses do the thinking for us, we don’t have a choice in what to eat so it breaks the habit of making unhealthy choices.
  • Cleanses jumpstart weight loss by curbing the appetite and providing a naturally hypocaloric diet, so your body will “naturally start losing weight.”
  • Juicing ensures proper hydration, allowing metabolic and bodily functions to carry out more efficiently.

OK, OK, but what about the opposite side of juice cleansing. Why is it so polarizing and why do so many people advise against it?

4 Myths About Juice Cleansing

Summary Points:

  • Cleanses and juicing programs that last 3-5 days (the typical length) are expensive.
  • There’s no scientific evidence backing long-term health benefits claims made by juicing companies.
  • A healthy set of lungs and kidneys, as well as liver and GI tract are in a constant state of cleansing and detoxifying the body, so why do you need juice to do what your body already does naturally?
    • In regards to the “overtoxifying” point made in the previous article above, if your liver was not able to handle the overload of toxins you ingest, well, you would likely be dead by now.
  • The weight loss from juice cleanses is likely from water elimination, as the body burns through its glucose stores for energy, it pulls water out with it.
  • The lack of calories leads to irritability, shakiness, headaches, as well as constipation from a lack of fiber.
  • The “glow” many people experience from a cleanse may just be psychological.
  • The weight loss is unsustainable, rendering juice cleanses a “quick fix.”

So what’s the verdict? Both articles bring out excellent points, though on opposite sides of one another. I’m leaning clearly towards the second article, which also happens to be backed by a dietitian. I just simply don’t see how cleanses can really detoxify your body and jump start healthy weight loss.

From what I learned throughout graduate school and my dietetic internship, providing an inadequate amount of calories can put your body in starvation mode, encouraging it to hold on to as much fat as possible (your long-term energy storage) while expelling protein, causing you to lose muscle mass. Additionally, your liver and kidneys are natural detoxifying agents; providing them with easy-to digest juice is not going to lighten their workload any more. If anything an abundance of these nutrients is only going to be expelled in the urine (except for the fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K). Additionally, the juices eliminate the pulp and skins of the fruits, which contain all the fiber. The fiber slows down the absorption of the good nutrients and allows the GI tract more time to get all of those nutrients into the bloodstream. Fiber also slows down sugar absorption, so taking these juices that are naturally high in sugars while eliminating the fiber can lead to blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. Not good. This may not be the case in juices that are made mainly of vegetables (with one or two fruits to flavor it, like lemon and an apple), but still, these mainly-veggie juices may lack adequate fiber.

My personal advice: If you find that you’re slipping off track during this time of year, don’t be so hard on yourself. Allow yourself the treats and holiday cookies, just don’t go overboard. Instead of eating 5 cookies in the office, try to only eat 2. Make sure the rest of the meals you eat throughout the day are in line with your personal health goals. If you want to keep your weight down, load up on healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like you normally do. Continue to fit in exercise into your daily routine. When at a party, try to be mindful by savoring every flavor and don’t show up hungry, so you’re the one making the choices, not your grumbling stomach. If you still want to try a juice cleanse, that’s fine, just try to eat at least 1 meal per day that consists of healthy, real, non-pulverized fruits and vegetables with protein.

A cleanse is a simple fix. You’ve been doing so well all year, so why change what you’re doing now? Keep working at building up your healthy habits, because that is what’s going to give you the long-term benefits.

What are your thoughts on juice cleanses? Have you ever done one? What was your experience? Sound off in the comments!

And happy eating!!