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Pushing Yourself in Your Normal Workout Routine

It might be the former athlete in me, but part of my mind games is to pretend I am in some sort of competition. I do it when I am working out alone in my home gym. I find myself pretending I have to reach a certain point by a certain time to “win.” I guess this is where I let my imagination run wild…maybe that’s why Barbies were never my thing, no competitive edge. ANYWAY…

I try hard to hit 4-5 rounds when I am doing 20 minutes AMRAP. If I get an additional one, I feel like I pushed myself enough.

sly smile; totally going to hit my goal today
sly smile; totally going to hit my goal today

Now, the dangerous thing is when I am in my Orange Theory Class. There are days when I can stay in my own head space and try to pick a calorie burn to beat. For example, I always try to get as close to 500 calories burned. Some days (like today) it just isn’t possible, because the second I lay down to do crunches my heart rate drops. The other way I push myself is picking someone in class to “beat.” I try to match reps, time, and speed. Usually this is when I end up blowing my calorie burn goal out of the water. The person has NO IDEA I am challenging her, it is my own victorious little secret.

Didn't hit 500 today; it was a weird workout day
Didn’t hit 500 today; it was a weird workout day

FlyWheel also affords me that opportunity. I worry less about turning up the resistance to the highest point in the range and more about getting my heart rate up and pushing the power level. I want my name to be in the top 5 spots, I know I will never be number 1 my little beefy legs can’t take it, but I set a goal at the beginning of class and aim to meet or beat it.

It’s those head games that keep me motivated and push me to work harder each time. Of course, every once in awhile you need to kick it up a notch…I will be letting you know what that is like with a review of the 90 minute Orange Theory class later this week.

Spinning Might Be My Third Love

It is kind of sad that in order for me to get to a spin class these days, I have to be in NYC. It’s not that Delray doesn’t have spin studios (PurCycle and Flywheel aren’t too far away), it is just that their class schedules aren’t really conducive to mine.

It is partially my doing — I prefer morning classes because I feel more in control about making them, but  there is just no reason to go to a 5:45AM spin class when you don’t need to be in an office all fancied up. At the same time, the latest evening option is at 6:30PM and THAT is only  twice week.

Since I’ve been traveling a lot in the last three months, I’ve found myself at Studio 360 at least twice a week for a spin class. I love them — it almost like they were made for fitness-obsessed travelers like me. I don’t have to worry about renting or bringing shoes, I don’t have to worry about a towel, and I don’t have to worry about a water bottle. Studio360-1

It doesn’t hurt that they are around the corner from my hotel of choice and takes me 4 minutes max to walk there, so when I am going to a 6:30AM class I am not getting up at the crack of dawn.

The bikes are also insanely easy to use. I like that instead of your standard “turn up the resistance” you have a range to work from and it shows up on your little computer on your bike. It makes it so much easier for you to go at your own pace AND still get a really good workout without feeling like you are phoning it in.

The music is good, and the instructors are insanely nice. I’ve been to a 45 minute and 30 minute class, both equally tough and with good music. The 30 minute class just never lets up, you go right from warm-up to hills and sprints and keep going. There aren’t any “active recovery” segments, it is just cardio blasting the entire time to fit everything in. For mornings that you don’t have a lot of time this is the perfect way to go. Studio-360-1024x589

They have a “Signature Series” that I am just dying to try because its 40 minutes of spin plus 20 minutes of yoga. It is the perfect combo.


Building a Complete Home Gym

This has been the longest stretch I’ve gone without belonging to a big box gym since I was a newly minted entry-level PR person barely scraping by in NYC.  Getting into a long-term relationship with a gym is almost as serious as getting into a long-term relationship with a significant other.

My gyms have always been within walking distance, had classes that fit my schedule, and had enough location options that I could avoid the crowds. So that’s what I tend to look for when committing. There just wasn’t a good option near me, so I just bought packages at local yoga studios, a spin class here and there, and made use of my tiny apartment gym. With marathon training looming, I didn’t need much. Now that time has past and I am getting bored/antsy with my workout limits. (There aren’t even two benches to do these fancy squats I want to do!)

What I’ve found though is that my area isn’t really catering to a young professional….more like someone who has retired or can do a 9AM class, which makes it really hard. Who can make a 9:15 cycle class? I mean come on!

There are gyms that are just equipment and therefore much cheaper, but I would have to drive 15 minutes to get there. GASP, 15 minutes you say, but it is on the highway and can get really backed up. Also, it is AT the mall…that’s just like tempting you way too much.

Unfortunately it just isn’t feasible to join a spin studio, a yoga studio, AND a gym to gain access to all the equipment. It really isn’t even feasible to join even two of those.

So, instead I am thinking of building out my home gym a bit more. We already have a few essentials (TRX; varied dumbells, jump rope, glides, resistance bands, pull-up bar); plus a ridiculous amount of DVDs (thanks, friends)…so now I need to figure out what else is needed. My running list is below, but would love some other must haves.

1. Medicine Ball — for slamming and ab work

Medicine Ball

2. Plyo-Box — one of the most versatile tools you can have in your home gym…you can jump, squat, bench dip, and step ups.

3. Barbell & Weight Plates — deadlifts and weighted squats are much easier to complete with a barbell

4. Bosu Ball — another all purpose tool


5. Heavier Kettlebells — right now we only have 3lbs and 5lbs…we need some heavier ones to do more workouts (Again Faster has some relatively inexpensive options)

6. Adjustable Step — different from the plyo box, but something I can also lay on and step on k2-_d6fea17a-f47a-4d04-90be-134fa2052189.v1


Workout Review: PurCycle

When you think of boutique cycle studios you usually only hear about FlyWheel or SoulCycle. For people who aren’t spin aficionados they can be incredibly intimidating and overwhelming.

That’s not the case with PurCycle in Delray Beach. The best way to describe PurCycle is a Mom & Pop studio — and I don’t mean that in a bad way — just don’t expect to walk in to an expansive studio with bells and whistles. (Truth: I tried calling before I went the first time and both times got an automated recording that just looped.)

I wasn’t completely wowed when I walked in. I had to tell the owners that I was new and needed a tour or at least an explanation. The website said they use a Performance IQ heart rate monitoring system, but this wasn’t explained to me at all. This also isn’t a studio that requires spin shoes…that’s nice a plus for someone who isn’t sure they are going to get really into spinning.524529_262285090619153_1244077301_n

The actual spin studio is simple. There is a TV screen at one end of the room for the heart rate monitors (only two people in my class were actually using it) and the bikes circle the instructor. 1909187_267531066761222_1012292191_o

I took a Pur[Power] class with Jenny.  As described it was a HIIT class, and honestly it was. We got our heart rates up and they really didn’t come down. The music was really motivating, and Jenny was a great instructor. You could tell her regulars really enjoyed her, as there was heckling from the group. It was a really good class, and I felt like I worked hard and earned my relaxing pool day.10503405_10105358178169811_1546546397_o

They have a few other classes — a Pur[Energy], Pur[Endurance], and Pur[Cycle]. All are 60 minutes and range from focusing on heart rate to hills and sprints. A description of the classes can be found here.

The packages are cheaper than say Flywheel, but there doesn’t appear to be an unlimited option.  I might try one of the other classes at some point during marathon cross training time, but I am not rushing back.




A Change in Weather Will Do You Good

Things have been pretty hectic around the Cohen-Landsman household. Lots of traveling and move prepping. This past weekend, I headed down to South Florida for apartment hunting and given the ridiculousness that is Winter 2014 a much needed weekend of warmth.

With the I’m focusing on simple short 4 mile runs right now. I am not timing myself or even thinking about pace. The whole goal is to just get out there and get back into running shape. Especially since I have to make that final decision on whether I will run the New York City Marathon in 15 days. I am still leaning toward a “yes” I just wish I could find some decent races to run during training season. We can’t do the Tower of Terror 10 Miler this year since it falls on Yom Kippur.  traveling, I had been pretty sluggish and tired, but  that high 70s/low 80s sunny weather  jump started my endorphins. “VITAMIN D I MISSED THEE!”

invincible Seriously, my body was practically itching for a run outside, and when I finally hit the pavement I started questioning why I had taken a break from running. Of course, come mid-summer when it is so humid outside that I can’t step outside without breaking into a sweat I will probably change my tune, but right now I will relish it.

In other news: we did find a new apartment (thankfully) and it has several things going for it. (1) Walking distance to two grocery stores (one of which is Publix, of course) and a future Trader Joe’s — really happy about this as one of my favorite things is walking to the grocery store. (2) Walking distance to a yoga studio — literally can look out my window and see it and according to Yelp is one of the best in the area. (3) In theory I can run to the beach — this is probably my favorite aspect right now. (4) I will get to have a dedicated office space AND a room just for working out…I am so excited to build up my home gym. What are some must haves?

The only down side is that there isn’t really a good gym close by. Will have to drive just a bit to get to one, which is absolutely doable, I’m just spoiled by having lots of options all within one area. There is an Orange Theory and Flywheel pretty close too.

Planning a Fit Vacation

Beginning Tuesday we are taking our first extended vacation in two years, a trip to London and Amsterdam that we have been planning since January. Yes, I did put in my PTO in January and saved most my days off for these next two weeks. In hindsight maybe not the best idea because I am insanely burnt out, but I will just appreciate it more, right? Right.

Any way, one of my favorite things to do when exploring new cities is to run. However, the weather like it always does is calling for rain in London, and I don’t think I will be able to convince Josh to lace up for a wet, cold run around the Thames. So what else can we do?

Thankfully, Josh has really caught the fitness bug and last week started messaging me all sorts of gyms and fitness activities that are around our Shoreditch-based hotel.

Boom Cycle has caught our eye, and there is a good possibility that we will find ourselves at the studio before we go traipsing around London.

Then there is Frame, which has an interesting mix of classes to choose from, including a class called Vibe where you do exercises for a minute each on a vibrating platform. I have no idea what that means, but I want to try it so badly.

Of course, we will also be climbing the stairs at the Anne Frank House, and if weather permits riding bikes around the city in Amsterdam.

And our fall back….our handy dandy travel yoga mats from lulu will be in our suitcases with yoga downloaded onto my iPad.

Revolve Cross Cycle Challenge

Hello friends, it’s been awhile. The last few weeks have been pretty busy…I always think August is going to be slow this year it was anything but. However, since I basically shut down if I don’t exercise I did make time to attend Revolve’s Cross Cycle Challenge. I was jealous of all the people who got to do the boot camp/cycle workout, so was really happy that they were doing another one. This time it was a cycle/yoga workout.

According to Revolve they started these combo workouts to help their riders take better care of their bodies.

“When it comes to our bodies, I like to say you have to ‘shock it to rock it’.  Athletes need to change their routine to change their bodies; move in all planes of motion, challenge speed, agility, strength and flexibility…keep the body guessing.  Obviously at Revolve we believe strongly in all the rides we offer (Real, RIP, Body and Barre) but we also look to educate our riders about the importance of cross-training when looking to achieve their peak physique.  When one participates in only one form of training, in this case cycling, the body eventually plateaus.  With the addition of Cross-Cycle, I firmly believe that Revolve looks to help our riders achieve all their fitness goals.”  —  Kira Stokes, one of our Master Instructors at Revolve NYC

Honestly I don’t know many people who would be excited about an almost 2 hour workout on a Sunday night, but lucky for me Revolve has some devoted fans and I didn’t feel as crazy as I might have.

Sweaty faces and photo courtesy of Revolve
Sweaty faces and photo courtesy of Revolve

We kicked off with a Body Ride 45 minute spin class led by Angel. If you haven’t taken a class lead by Angel, you haven’t truly experienced spinning at Revolve (or possibly spinning at all). She wasn’t rated DC’s best instructor for nothing and her instructing skills were on full display. Fantastic music, incredibly motivating counts…you can’t ask for more. Her classes fill up quickly, but you should really check her out.

After class we headed to Tranquil Space for a hip opening focused practice. Prior to spinning my legs were already crying for some yoga, so I was very excited for this. I have a love/hate relationship with Tranquil Space. Mostly because it is so close and yet I never go enough.

See how desperately I needed a good stretch? I am even "pre-yogaing"
See how desperately I needed a good stretch? I am even “pre-yogaing”

Considering how exhausted my legs have been lately, this class lead by Maggie was exactly what I needed. Plus, I was completely relaxed and almost rejuvenated for the busy week that was ahead.


It’s a Travel Week

I am spending the majority of my week in NYC this week. This means I can either do hotel/DVD workouts OR I can try to make it to some classes that I have been dying to try or miss desperately. Especially, since we will be there through the weekend.

  1. Uplift StudiosI am still incredibly intrigued by Uplift Studios and am thinking this might FINALLY be the week I get to try one of their classes. Right now it is looking like a 7:30am Thursday Cardio class is going to fit into my schedule best. I am a little nervous because I would need to shower there to make it to work on time, but I legitimately know that there is no way possible way I can make the 6:30am. Not after waking up super early for an SMT the day before.
  2. 305 FitnessI wanted to try this because I haven’t been to a dance class in like forever. She doesn’t know it yet, but I am going to try to convince a friend of mine to go to this class with me on Friday. Really I just want the tank top that reads “Make Sweat Pretty.
  3. Flywheel:  Don’t get me wrong, I love my spin classes here (I won’t leave you Revolve!), but I miss the little competitive spark that Flywheel has. I’ve convinced the hubby to do a 45 minute class on Saturday morning and I couldn’t be more excited.
  4. Central Park Run: I know it is going to be hot and muggy, but I love running the Reservoir and I will absolutely be doing that on Sunday morning. No questions asked (as long as it isn’t raining).

Weekend Warrior: Mind Prep for the Week

To put it in spinning terms…I’ve been on a slow steep climb up a massive mountain at work. There is a specific project that has been a year in the making and we are about to hit the peak and begin the incredibly speedy ride down.

My days have been long, and my weeks even longer. It is the payoff at the end of all of this that makes me love my job so much, but the days leading up to that payoff are torture. These past two weeks in particular have been difficult.

Difficult because I can feel my anxiety building and I know that it often manifests itself in the form of frustration. So I try to keep myself in check (lots of yogi breaths), which is exhausting.

I wouldn’t call myself a “weekend warrior” because I work out during the week, but it is on the weekends that I double time it…especially when I am trying to clear my head and prepare for the next week.

I do not own this shirt, but I want this shirt
I do not own this shirt, but I want this shirt

I kicked off my doubles on Friday with a workout with my trainer in the AM. Lots of heavy lifting and a bit of punching. Honestly, that really helped me get through my day. Punching bags are an amazing stress reliever. Then in the afternoon I did an easy yoga flow.

Saturday I met a friend for a spin class at Gold’s Ballston. I had never taken a class with this instructor and the music was perfectly suited for working through some residual frustration. After the class we had a little bitch session that made me feel 100x better and put a lot of stuff into perspective. Then since it was absolutely gorgeous the hubby and I went for a really long relaxing walk through Georgetown (we walked way up Wisconsin to get away from the crowds to make it relaxing).

Cherry Blossoms against a blue sky make everything peaceful
Cherry Blossoms against a blue sky make everything peaceful

And finally today, I went back to Down Dog…which has to be my new favorite way of clearing my head. It wasn’t until I went into savasana that I started thinking about all the crap that I had to do today. That being said when I got home (showered) and sat down at my desk to work I was able to power through with a clear head.

Exercise ADD

The other day while I was working out with my trainer, I mentioned my newest addiction to Physique 57. After a few minutes of hearing me gush about it, she said “you have exercise ADD.” I laughed saying “I just like to have options.”

Later I realized she was absolutely 100% correct. If you open my DVD drawer you will find evidence of this sickness…everything from Carmen Electra’s Fit to Strip series to the Firm. I even did the whole Billy Blanks Bootcamp movement for a time.

Evidence of my sickness

That doesn’t even count the hours I’ve spent spinning, running, cardio kickboxing, practicing yoga. I think swimming and Zumba are the only things I have never tried.

I went through a kettlebell phase, a TRX phase, an interval workout based on Katherine McPhee phase, and more.

And then when these things either don’t fit into the schedule a few weeks in a row or they get too expensive i.e.; paying extra to go to the fancy spin studios, I move on to the next thing.

I know that variety is good, but I wonder am I giving myself too many options?