February Challenges

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Sorry, it has taken me a couple of weeks to post this but it’s been a very busy month. I have enjoyed doing little mini-challenges vs a big full-year project. Here is what I’m working on this month:

1. Workout Schedule: Find a fitness routine that works for my lifestyle which can be tricky. I don’t have a typical routine from week to week as far as my schedule goals so finding the right plan for me can be a challenge.

2. Update Wardrobe: I need new clothes that I feel good in and that reflects my personality and lifestyle.

3. Read 4 Books by Black Authors: Since it is Black History Month I wanted to work on my reading challenge for the year by focusing on books by Black writers.

4. Create a Budget for the Year: I wanted to create a budget and savings goals for this year.

5. Self Care Routine: I wanted to find a way to give myself a little more love and care and make that part of each week.

I’ll be sharing more specifics on these goals in future posts.

Class Pass

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I mentioned that I recently rejoined ClassPass which allows members to take classes at a variety of gyms and studios throughout the city. I had been a member in 2015 and ClassPass was different then. You had access to as many classes as you wanted in a month and could visit any one studio up to three times.  I did it for about six months and left when the prices were going to be raised again. At one point it was $99 for the unlimited plan and I believe it rose to $199 eventually. I left to join a gym that I found through ClassPass. I decided not to renew there because as I mentioned I’m not great about going to the gym just to use the equipment and the classes I was most interested in happened to fall on evenings when I had other commitments or during work hours. 

ClassPass has changed and now charges based on how many classes you want to take each month and there are options to add on gym time if you do like to go for some solo workouts. I’m doing the five class a month plan which is great for me. It forces me to take one class a month and I found a particular studio I enjoy that sells a la cart classes so my plan is to take a class there once a week for my cardio and use my ClassPass membership to take some more toning classes and try new workouts. My first dabble with ClassPass is how I got into Yoga which is primarily an at home practice for me now, however, I do occasionally take some classes with instructors I enjoy.

What ClassPass has really done for me is taught me what I like and don’t like in a fitness class. I found that activity wise I enjoy Yoga, Barre, and Dance classes. I don’t really like high-intensity classes or spinning, but I did enjoy water cycling. I also like body positive studios where everyone feels welcome and the instructors are fun and attentive to everyone. I’m including some of the studios I’ve enjoyed the most below so if you live in NYC or are ever visiting and want to take a class this may be helpful. Most of these centers sell one off classes or day passes so you don’t have to be a member to try it out.

Dance 

Blood Sweat and Tease: They offer really fun cardio and burlesque dance classes.

Broadway Bodies: They offer dance classes to songs from Broadway musicals and pop music. I’m obsessed with their Broadway Cardio class and that is the other weekly course I’m currently taking.

Toning

The Lab: Their bounce class shakes pilates up by having a portion of the class take place on trampolines.

Nalini Method: Intense Barre

Yoga 

Abhaya Yoga: Some of their classes feature live music.  Plus you have beautiful views of the city from Brooklyn Bridge Park during your practice.

BeFit NYC: This studio offers dance, yoga, and other classes. I like their late evening classes which are a great way to destress.

Naam Yoga: Most of their classes are Restorative Yoga which is more about releasing stress than sweating. My personal favorite is aromatherapy yoga which is a class where the instructor exposes you to a different essential oil each week.

Upper West Side Yoga: Great Vinyasa classes for all levels. My only complaint is sometimes the classes can be too crowded but the instructors are great. If you’re able to go during an off time when people are typically at work you’ll probably enjoy it more.

West End Health and Fitness: This is a full-service gym but I love their Yoga classes which are Hatha and Vinyasa Flow.

Other  

Aqua Studio: I’m not a fan of spinning classes but I loved this one. The bikes are in the water which sounds weird but is gentle on your joints and you realize when you get out of the pool what I good work out you got from the natural resistance caused by water.

Grassroots Fitness: A mix of toning and cardio in intervals. You rotate stations in a small class. I like their classes because I tend to be turned off by intense classes that last for more than 45 minutes but this30-minuteminute class and it goes by fast.

Row House: This is a great upper body workout using row machines.

 

 

Couch 2 5K

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Running is my cardio of choice and aside from being a free workout, I find it great for clearing my head.  I used to have misconceptions that I wouldn’t ever be able to take up running because I have flat feet, I don’t have a lean figure, and I would never have the stamina for it.

In 2011 I discovered Couch to 5K (C25K) which is a free program that is designed to help someone who has never run be able to complete a 5K in 30 minutes after nine weeks. The way the program works is you do intervals of running and walking to help you build stamina. As you advance through the weeks you do more running and less walking during your workouts.  

There are a variety of apps you can download to help you with the program. Some of the apps are free, but most of the paid ones are under $4.99. I personally went with the NHS C25K podcast which is free to download. I liked the narrator’s voice and the music during the walk/run intervals. 

There were times when it was tough, but I stuck with it and now I love running. I even did the next level with is Bridge to 10K. There are additional programs for 10K to half marathon and half marathon to marathon if you have distance goals. I’d like to try the half marathon program at some point, but I don’t know if I want to go beyond that. When I feel off my routine which often happens in the winter if it gets icy or too cold. I’ll go back to the 5K or 10K programs to get back into a rhythm. 

If running is something you are thinking about trying then C25K is an accessible way to see if it’s the right sport for you.  

Mindful Monday:Unblock Yourself

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Howdy! Sorry for all the silence. I’ve been busy on the personal and professional fronts and to be honest it has caused me some writer’s block so I’ve been neglecting this blog and some other writing projects the past couple of months. At least at this point, I’m trying not to sweat not posting. Don’t get me wrong I love this blog and I love that you read it but this first and foremost is a project I do for myself. I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and at one point in the book, she makes a similar statement around hoping the reader enjoys and gets something out of the book, but that she really wrote it for herself. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time doing what others like or at least what I think they would like that doing something for myself is quite a liberating perspective.

While I’ve been blocked on this and some other writing projects that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing at all. I’ve been making notes, scribbles, and journal entries. Most of these I’ll never publish and that’s okay. These writings were about unblocking myself and finding hidden nuggets of interest.

Whether you’re a writer, an artist, a tax attorney, or have some other profession most of us suffer from some sort of block in our professional and/or personal lives at one point or another. Here’s what I’ve been up to during the past few months to get over this feeling of being stymied:

Read: If you’re stuck it can often be helpful to read or watch something inspiring. Since I’m a writer I’ve been reading several books recently on creativity and on finding one’s true passion. I mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic which is a wonderful book on the creative process and living life as a creator. I highly recommend it. I have also recently enjoyed Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and Martha Beck’s Finding Your North Star. I also reread Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. If you ignore the rest of my suggestions that’s fine but please do yourself a favor and read everything Ms. Solnit has ever written.

Get Moving: I run and do yoga which I still love. You don’t need to be a gym rat…because lord knows I’m not to get moving. I find taking a walk in the park or even just around the block when I’m strapped for time helps lift my mood and clear my head. I also recently took a Feldenkrais class. It wasn’t really about breaking a sweat. It is much less intense than yoga or pilates but it is great for learning more about your flexibility and equilibrium.

Meditate: Meditation is less about visualizations for me and more about getting my mind to quiet down. I’m lucky enough to work in an office with a weekly meditation group and one of my yoga instructors does a Yoga Nidrameditationn after her class which is a wonderful way to wind down on a weekday evening. I also listen to some guided meditations at home particularly around sleep because I’m a hyperactive sleeper and have found this to be a great tool for helping me get more shut eye. There are a lot of different apps out there on mindfulness and meditating. I personally have been using Insight Timer on iOS. It has recorded guided meditations and a timer if you’re practicing a different meditation on your own.

Journal: You don’t have to be an elegant writer to keep a journal. You actually don’t have to write period. Aside from keeping a traditional diary I also keep a visual journal. I cut out quotes and images from magazines that inspire or spark something in me and paste them into a blank book that I go back and flip through when I’m feeling stuck.

What do you do to get past blockers in your life?