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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Race Recap: The New York City 10k

This past weekend I ran my 2nd 10k in 1 month. I seriously can’t believe it. I used to hate exercise, specifically running, and now I feel like I’m signing up for races left and right. I committed to this particular race, The New York City 10K, on a complete whim. Still riding the runners high off of the Run 10 Feed 10, my roommate told me she signed up for this race that was a mere 3 weeks after. Blame FOMO (fear of missing out), because I immediately felt the need to sign up. The race was held on Roosevelt Island and had a much smaller feel than the Run 10 Feed 10. While my roommate had to unfortunately miss it due to a lingering illness, I braved the chilly morning and headed out there by myself. This race went along MUCH MORE smoothly than my first 10K 3 weeks prior. If you recall, I wanted to die on at least 3 separate occasions during the Run 10 Feed 10. However, this race felt like the total and complete opposite. Here’s what went down…

I stepped off the tram that was full of a ton of other runners and wandered onto the receiving field. This particular race was not sponsored by any large company, and it didn’t have any charities associated with it either. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. I kind of like the idea of forking over a registration fee and running a race if you’re going to help a greater cause, rather than some unknown business, but I digress. I milled about for around 30 minutes as more and more people started showing up. It was SUPER cold and I had a running jacket on, and I wasn’t sure what I should do with it, because I tend to heat up. I figured I would run with it unzipped so at least the timer on my bib would technically be on the “outer most layer” aka not covered up by a running jacket. Before I knew it the race started and I was off.

Miles 1-3: I kept a steady, very slow pace (like a typical jogging pace for me) and just cruised. And cruised. And took in the different sites of NYC from the perspective of Roosevelt Island. At one point I was getting annoyed with my unzipped jacket so I put my phone in my mouth and tied it around my waist. Classy. And then I cruised some more. If you recall I was dead by mile 3 of the Run 10 Feed 10. I hit the halfway point of this race though and just kept on cruising.

Mile 4: I zoned out on mile 4. Don’t remember a thing.

Mile 5: I snapped back to reality on mile 5. This is a race – start challenging yourself! I picked up the pace and felt like I brought up my effort level from about a 75% to 90%.

Mile 6: I turned a slight corner and saw the finish line way off in the distance and I started FLYING. I don’t think I’ve ever sprinted like that before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had enough energy at the end of a run to sprint at full speed for 30 seconds or more. I flew over the finish line and felt elated! I didn’t even want to stop. I felt like I had a few miles more in me to go and I couldn’t help but smile as they handed me a HUGE medal that’s literally the size of my face. I asked a random stranger to take my picture and headed back on the tram home feeling accomplished.

Things that I had going for me for this race that really helped me compared to my first 10K:

  1. The start time. This race started at 8 as opposed to 7, which meant I was able to wake up at 6:30 and nibble on a little bit of food, as opposed to 5 AM which just feels way too early for me to even think of doing anything. I was also able to get in a little more sleep as opposed to my first 10K, where I had to be all the way across town ready to go by 6:55 AM.
  2. The weather. The temperature was about 45 degrees, which is cold, but I’ll take it any day over the hazy humid day of the Run 10 Feed 10. The air was crisp and felt good in my lungs, even though I was still kind of fighting a little cold, and overall I just felt more healthy and breathed more easily during this race.
  3. The course. This may have made some people angry, but the actual race course was kind of narrow, which caused a little bit of traffic, which helped me slow it down and pace myself with the people around me.
  4. My game plan/attitude. My goal for this race was to do the entire thing without walking, and I knew the only way I could do that was to fight the adrenaline at the start that tempts me to run like I stole something way too early out the gate. The first 3 miles I tried to keep it super slow, about 30 seconds slower than my race-pace (so about a 9:50 minute mile), and that helped me conserve my energy and not get blown out like a candle on a birthday cake too soon.

So, I think I like the way I handled this race a lot better, and it lead to a much more enjoyable experience. I am already looking forward to my next race coming up soon (who am I??).

This time kills me.
This time kills me.
I think we spotted the finish line RUNNN
I think we spotted the finish line RUNNN

race1

All smiles. No suicidal ideations.
All smiles. No suicidal ideations.



Do you have any other good racing strategies? Also can we talk about my hair and the little bubble/helmet/headband thing it has going on? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Fascinating World of Farmers’ Markets

This past week I took the day off and wandered down to the amazing Union Square Greenmarket – a large farmers’ market that offers seasonal and regional fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and baked goods from 140 vendors. This market is humongous and full of produce, and I love that I get to see what familiar foods are SUPPOSED to look like, as opposed to the uniformed, shiny, waxy looking produce that you see in supermarkets. The stuff you find at the farmers’ market is the real deal, truly dirt candy, that you can buy and eat in the way that nature intended. However, I’ll admit, the market is also brimming with foods that I have never seen before, and that I may not know what it is or how to eat it. That being said, it’s still really fun to go in and explore the different stalls and learn about different fruits and vegetables that I don’t get to see every day.

Look at that BUTTernut squash (I bought this at a farmers’ market almost a year ago and still find this hysterical)

So, the farmers’ market can be really great, and even though I love food and like to think I’m an adventurous eater, I tend to get very overwhelmed when I browse through the seemingly endless maze of stalls. These are my personal tips for navigating a large farmers’ market, and how to experience it in the best possible way:

1) Go in with a plan

If I go to the farmers’ market without a list, there is a 100% chance I will end up with a million things that I will never actually eat or cook, and will just sit in my refrigerator slowly rotting. Go in with a recipe or a shopping list and only buy a reasonable amount of each food (i.e. 1 bulb of garlic, 2 onions, 2 tomatoes, 1 carton of berries, 1 loaf of bread, etc. etc., etc.) so that it doesn’t spoil and you don’t waste your money. I find that the foods at the farmers’ market spoil a lot more quickly than they do when bought from the supermarket.

2) But don’t be afraid to browse

Farmers’ markets are a great way to kill some time. Look at the flowers, the weird looking plants, the freshly baked goods and jams, and wander the rows and rows of fresh produce. It’s visually pleasing and mentally relaxing.

3) Try something new

Don’t be afraid to try a vegetable, fruit, or herb that you’ve never tried before. I went with a coworker once and she bought kohlrabi – a vegetable that I have never heard of before and was too afraid to buy. We make many regrettable choices in life, and not buying that exotic kohlrabi is one of mine (am I a food geek? Yes, this last sentence absolutely proves that I am).

4) And stick to your staples.

I always buy the same produce at the grocery store: onions, carrots, celery, spinach, grape tomatoes, a few apples, bananas, and garlic. All of these are common staples at the farmers’ market, and are offered in different varieties and strains to help me switch up my daily flavors. Think orange and yellow tomatoes, different varieties of lettuce, colorful purple carrots, etc.  They’re also sold at a much cheaper price than at the supermarket. The food at the farmers’ market is likely better than organic foods and are a fraction of the price.

5) Touch everything (ew). 

Make sure what you’re buying is in good condition and ripe (or not yet ripe, depending on the food). Don’t be afraid to really feel what your food is supposed to feel like in its most natural state.

6) Wash everything (ok, good). 

I mean, just reread number 5. This one should be self-explanatory.

7) Talk to the vendors

There’s no better way to learn about about the food you eat than to talk to the source directly. Sometimes I feel that living in the middle of the city where takeout rules what’s for dinner and there’s not a tree in sight makes me feel detached from nature and wholesome foods. Interacting with who is tending to your food and getting to know more about where your food comes from gives you a deeper appreciation for what you’re eating, which in my opinion makes the whole cooking and eating experience all the richer.

So, this past weekend when I went to the market, I went in with a recipe in mind: this Butternut Squash Gruyere soup from one of my favorite food blogs: How Sweet Eats. I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it was to buy all of the ingredients (except for the butter, oil, spices, cheese, and chicken stock) from local farmers. I even think it made the soup taste more velvety, wholesome, and nourishing. So go online or to pinterest and find a recipe that looks good and go. OR, take one of your go-to dinner recipes and switch it up by buying the ingredients locally, see how the flavors change or if it makes you feel any differently!

To find a local farmers’ market near your area in the US, click here.

Check out the recipe for the soup HERE.

Note: I excluded the coconut milk to cut back the calories and used only about 2 oz of cheese as opposed to 6 oz because I honestly did not want to sit there and grate 6 oz of cheese (so time consuming!). The soup still came out absolutely wonderfully and the chickpeas on top added an awesome spicy crunch. This soup also tastes amazing when topped with walnuts and gorgonzola. Enjoy!!

Race Recap: The Women’s Health Magazine’s Run 10 Feed 10

So this weekend, I ran my first timed race! And it was a 10K! I still can’t believe it. The Run 10 Feed 10, sponsored by Women’s Health Magazine, benefits the FEEDS Projects, that provide meals to those in America who are food insecure (or who don’t know where their next meal is coming from). The entry fee alone provides 10 meals for the FEED Foundation (hence the name; Run 10 Feed 10). Being a dietitian, I’m all for feeding people! Here are my thoughts on the Women’s Health Run 10 Feed 10. I wanted to wait a little bit before writing this in order to let the entire experience digest and to gather my thoughts.

Looking back it feels like the whole race went by in a whirl lasting about 10 minutes, but I can’t forget about thinking, at the time, how hard it was and how much I couldn’t wait for it to be over. That being said, it was a hot, humid, and muggy morning (which is weird considering October is around the corner, and the past few weeks we’ve seen BEAUTIFUL weather). The race was slated to start at 7AM on Pier 84 on the West Side Highway. My roommate and I took a cab across town and got to the start around 6:40, while waiting in line at the bag check we met up with our other friends who were also running the race. I was a good mix of nervous and excited, and my mouth was super dry from the emotions. Thankfully we were standing by a water table, and I ended up spending a good part of the pre-race group stretch swishing water around my mouth. At about 7:15, the horn blared and everyone was off!

Mile 1: The first mile honestly flew by and was completely unmemorable. What I do remember was my GPS app saying “mile 1, average pace: blah blah blah” and thinking “OK, nice, I can speed it up a bit.”

Mile 2: Mile 2 was my fastest mile time, like, ever. I think I was a little surprised by how fast my adrenaline was carrying me. I also ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and saddled up right next to her and talked to her for a little bit, which was nice (hi Shayna!). But then I felt a little winded and had to plug back into the music and focus. Also of note, watching everyone’s pony tails swishing back and forth was making me a little dizzy – has anyone else ever experienced this during a race?

Mile 3: Oh mile 3. I think I hit the proverbial wall, which I wasn’t expecting to hit for at least another mile (yes I was expecting to hit a wall, I have such faith in myself). I felt my legs slowing down and somewhere around 3.5 miles I had to slow to a walk. I felt so winded that I just needed to catch my breath a little, and I kept thinking “oh man, there’s still SO MUCH MORE TO GO” one second, and then “come on, only 2.5 more miles, that’s nothing!” another second. I think the humidity was making me go crazy. I ended up walking for about half a song, and then a song on my playlist popped up on my shuffle that I ALWAYS sprint to, and I picked it right back up.

Mile 4: I don’t even remember what I was thinking during mile 4. I do know that I saw a water station a few yards ahead and decided to walk until I got to the water station (so that added another 30 seconds or so of walking). After I took a small sip of water and dumped the rest over my head, I started to run again and I felt like I had much better control over my breathing. I looked at a nearby street sign and saw that I was at Houston street, and that I had about 45 more city blocks to run. I could do this.

Mile 5: I ran at a much more manageable and sustainable pace for all of Mile 5 than in the first 2 miles, and didn’t feel too badly! At this point I knew there was less than 2 miles left, I just had to keep moving, focus on even breathing, relax the shoulders, and not walk. I thought the more you walk, the longer you’re going to be stuck in this stupid race, and the longer it’s going to take to get to the free food (really this was the thought running through my head for all of mile 5).

Mile 6: I swear, we passed the Mile 6 marker and EVERYONE around me picked up the pace. An inspirational song came up on my playlist and I DUG DEEP and felt my legs pick up speed, feeding off the energy from only god knows where, because I would have sworn my gas tank was completely empty at this point. This powerful sprint lasted for literally 10 seconds, and then I was like, “nope back to a nice even pace.” I saw the crowd at the end and thought I was at the finish line, but then at the last second everyone was yelling “BIG TURN! BIG TURN!” I wanted to honestly yell back “I HATE YOU!!!!!” but then I rounded the big turn and saw the finish line about 20 yards away and somehow found even more energy to make a huge final push for it.

Immediately following the race, I walked around aimlessly in a daze. I can’t even tell you what I was thinking. Then I met up with my friends who also finished, and we celebrated our hard work with a ton of free food, a free yoga mat, and a bunch of other free swag. Despite the fact that I really thought I was going to drop dead somewhere between miles 3 and 5 and that the humidity really took a toll on my breathing, I must say that basking in the satisfaction of reaching a goal erased all the negative thoughts I had during the race.

I signed up for the RUN 10 FEED 10 at the very beginning of June and always saw it as the the official end of the summer, but now that I’m on the other side of the finish line, I’ve realized that it meant a lot more than that. If someone were to tell me a year ago that I would be running 6.2 miles, I would have literally laughed in their faces. This just goes to show that with some hard work, dedication, determination, and the mental strength to dig deep within your head, you can push yourself to achieve a goal. Yes, I realize this race was only a 10K, and it’s probably not as impressive as running a half or full marathon. But to me, this was an absolutely colossal achievement. That’s what I’ve learned to love about running: everyone has their own goals and their own journeys. Running means something completely different to everyone who does it, and what you want to set out to accomplish is completely individual to your wants and desires. When you run a race, you’re not competing against other runners, but the little voice inside your head that tells you that there’s no way you can do it. And on that note, happy racing!