SF Sweat Spotlight: A Unqiue Practice at Ritual Hot Yoga

February 24, 2017

Always on the fence about yoga, Ritual has made me fall in love with this hot practice.

ritual hot yoga

Music pumping. Sweat dripping. Muscles shaking. Does this sound like yoga to you? In the most traditional sense, it doesn’t, but it’s just the kind of yoga I crave, and basically the only kind of yoga I can get through mentally. Welcome to Ritual Hot Yoga, my #1 yoga spot in San Francisco.

I’ve struggled with yoga for years. I know it’s good for me, but I tend to get bored and think of all the other workouts I could be doing instead, burning way more calories in half the time. But again, yoga has its purpose. For me, I need an upbeat, fast-moving and sweaty yoga to enjoy it and feel like my time has been well-spent. And this is exactly what Ritual Hot Yoga has to offer, lucky me!

ritual hot yoga

 

Ritual Hot Yoga Class Overview

Ritual’s classes are fifty minutes and take place in a dark heated room. The classes begin with a guided meditation as you adjust to the darkness and the heat. Once meditation is over, the music takes over. I’m not talking spa sounds, I’m talking rap and hip hop. YES. If you’re not into that type of music, beware. They actually played My Neck, My Back in class last week, I kid you not.

After an introductory flow its onto an abs sequence. Some yogis may scoff at doing crunches in a yoga class but let me tell you, I LOVE this part. Next, you’re slowly taken through a flow with the teacher guiding you. After a few rounds, the teacher stops speaking and the class flows through together, moving to the beat and breath for two more rounds. I’m not an experienced yogi and I tend to forget choreography of flows very quickly, yet even I can handle the sequences because the instructors are that good.

There are a lot of things that set Ritual apart from most other yoga studios. For my New Yorkers (or former NYers living in SF, there are a lot of us), Ritual is similar to Y7. At Ritual I’m a huge fan of the music, I cannot deal with music-less yoga. In addition to your main instructor, there is an assistant walking around to help you with poses, meaning you get tons of hands-on corrections and help getting into poses. Sometimes they just come over and massage you—um amazing. You also get a cold towel placed over your eyes as well as a mini neck/head massage during the closing words. DREAMY.

The Studio Space

The studio space is really lovely at Ritual. I’ve been to some hot yoga studios that are cramped and when there are 40 sweaty people in a cramped room or lobby, ew. Not here, tons of space. The studio provides mats and towels and the mats are pre-set up so you don’t have to worry about being too close to another sweaty person (a reason why Bikram can be a really nasty experience). The studio has showers, lockers and complimentary bottled water (I know this is such a small thing, but those small details make a huge difference!).

Behind the Scenes of Ritual Hot Yoga

If you attend Ritual, you may notice that all the instructors are really into the studio, they are very present and very much representing the studio, and there’s a reason. Unlike traditional studios and gyms, the instructors are fully employed by Ritual. As employees, they are salaried, given benefits, sick days and vacation days. They are encouraged to grow with the company and make it their home.  As a fitness instructor myself, let me explain why this is such an amazing concept. Sure, not all instructors want to be a full-time instructor or associated with one studio or gym, some instructors do it on the side or like working at multiple places. But something really special happens when you are all-in on one studio.

Currently, I teach at 3 different studios. While I like the variety, it’s exhausting. I’m running from studio to studio, the policies are different at each place (like how to get a sub, how you get paid, pay structure, what’s expected of you as an instructor, language you should and shouldn’t use when teaching, etc). Because I’m a contractor at these studios it means no benefits, vacations or sick days. If I can’t teach my class, no pay for me.  I can see why teaching at one place and being fully employed by that studio is such a game changer. Not to make this about me and to complain, but it can be really challenging to have a lot expected of you from each studio you teach at, just being paid one-off per class. So as someone who has experienced the fitness world from the instructor side, I truly love what Ritual is doing. If I were a yoga instructor I’d be applying right now! But alas, I am not, so I’ll just continue being a student at the studio.

Interested in checking out Ritual Hot Yoga? Use code ANDISRITUALS! & get your first class free!

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Thank you to Ritual Hot Yoga and Lucky Collective for partnering on this post & experience!

City Walking: Favorite Podcasts & Sneakers

February 23, 2017

Walking

I walk a lot in San Francisco. Like a lot a lot. I’m typically around 20k steps a day (thanks Fitbit for the accountability). Sure, maybe I should learn how to use public transportation, but when walking is possible, that’s the mode I’ll always opt for. It may be the New Yorker in me; NYC is the absolute best place to walk. You can walk for blocks and blocks and never get bored. I’ll admit, it’s not quite as good in SF. I walk to most of the classes I teach, the distance from my apartment ranges from a 10 minute walk to a 30 minute walk, plus I typically walk Ollie 3-4 times a day. The scenery isn’t quite as entertaining as NYC, but at least the route is hill-free from my neighborhood.

With so much walking, my first priority is safety. In NYC there were always people around. No matter what time of day or night, it always felt pretty safe because you were never alone. Here, not so much. It’s definitely an adjustment from the always bustling NYC life. In SF even as early as 8pm, I sometimes feel unsafe as I’ll be the only one in sight–creepy, right? On the plus side, the weather is almost always perfect for walking and you can easily go on beautiful seaside walks. When I’m walking in daylight or am surrounded by people and feeling safe, I’ll listen to podcasts to keep me entertained. Looking to add some pods your commute? Read on.

 

My Favorite Podcasts for Walking

Bitch Sesh: A Real Housewives Breakdown: Casey Wilson & Danielle Schneider basically talk shit about the real housewives of all cities for an hour, throwing in occasional commentary on Vanderpump and Southern Charm. This a podcast that awkwardly has me laughing out loud when walking alone. If you are a Bravo fan who isn’t listening to this podcast yet, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life (dramatic, but true).

Channel 33: Bachelor Party: This is a recap postcast of The Bachelor or Bachelorette. Are you sensing a theme? I watch trashy TV then I listen to people talk about it…judge me if you must. The host Juliet has former and current bachelor stars as guests and basically says all the things I’m thinking while watching the show.

The Balanced Blonde: Soul on Fire: Jordan Younger of TheBalancedBlonde.com hosts this weekly podcast interviewing other bloggers and social folks you probably follow, learning about their passions and what sets their souls on fire. I love this podcast because I always feel inspired after listening. Plus, she interviews all of my faves from the internet (@RachLMansfield, @ShutTheKaleUp, @IAmEmilyNolan, etc) and I learn way more about them than what you see via Instagram.

Dear Sugar: Wild author Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, both former “Dear Sugar” advice column writers host this podcast going deep on reader advice questions. Their advice is insightful and even if you can’t relate to all podcasts, some will definitely strike a cord. Be warned, this podcast is way deeper than my housewives and bachelor podcasts 😉

Who Weekly: Another light topic! Hosts Bobby and Lindsay talk about “celebrities” you sort of know, but not really. They are known as the “whos” of the celeb world, versus the “thems” the people who are very famous and well known. If you’re into obscure celeb news, you may find this one amusing.

OMFG: Hosts Emily and Deanna invite “youths” to the show to interview them about what’s cool and hip with the kids (teens and early 20s). If you’re like me and in your early 30s and slowly but surely losing touch with what the kids are up to, this is a fun listen.

 

Comfortable + Cute Sneakers for Walking

And while I’m staying entertained, I need to stay comfortable. With so much walking, supportive shoes are important, but I also want them to look cute. These are the best for achieving both:

Sneaker Walking Tips

Nike Tanjun ($64.99) / NB x J.Crew 711V2 ($79.99) / New Balance for J.Crew 620 ($80) / Adidas Adizero Boston 6 ($120) / Nike Flynit Lunarepic Low Flyknit ($200) / Nike Juvenate ($85)

I opt for mostly neutral colors, knowing it will match my clothing. With the exception of the gold New Balance sneakers, these are all walking and gym-appropriate. The Nike Flyknits are super lightweight and perfect if you’ll be storing them in your bag later.

With so much walking, even with six regular podcasts, I often run out of things to listen to. What are your favorite podcasts that I should add to my lineup?

 

 

Travel Guide: How to be (Kinda Sorta) Healthy in Vegas

February 21, 2017

Is it possible to be healthy while in Vegas? Yes! Well, at least healthy-ish.

Healthy Vegas

I know, Vegas is not a place of health and wellness. But even if you want to go wild, you can still do it without feeling like total garbage after the weekend is over. Trust me, it’s possible!

A couple of weeks ago, a group of girlfriends and I headed to Vegas to see Britney Spears. What a show! I mean she wasn’t even trying to pretend she was actually singing, but that’s not what we were there for. It was so fun dancing and singing in our seats to the pop songs we grew up on. No matter what that girl goes through, I love her. If you’re going to the show, I highly recommend watching old Britney music videos while you get ready. Such a fun blast from the past (and quite interesting watching her evolution over the years).

I ate, I drank, I partied, I even ate at Eggslut at 3am (#noregrets). But you know what? I felt pretty good throughout the weekend and when I got home, I didn’t feel like I lost sight of my wellness habits.

The good news about trips to Vegas is they shouldn’t be long. So even if you do go completely overboard, it’s not that big of a deal since it’s a short trip. And if you’re planning to go to Vegas for more than two nights, I highly suggest you rethink your plans, after two nights you will be ready to get the hell out of there.

So how does one stay sort of healthy while in Vegas? Here’s how:

Wake Up and Sweat a Little

Mornings in Vegas are typically a leisurely event. There isn’t too much to do besides eat, drink and party in Vegas, so use that slow morning to sweat a little. We stayed at The Cosmopolitan and the hotel had a great gym. Two of the other girls and I spent about 45 minutes at the gym running intervals on the treadmill and doing weight circuits on the floor. It can be tough to tackle a hotel gym workout, especially if you are a group-fitness fan. Go in with a plan so you enter the gym with a focus. Do a little online research if you can’t come up with a plan on your own (Popsugar Fitness is a great resource). Here’s an example of a hotel gym-friendly workout from PBFingers.com: Orangethoery Fitness-Inspired At-Home Workout.

 

Master the Buffet

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Buffet’s get a pretty bad rap, but they aren’t all so horrible for you. Our hotel stay came with free breakfast at the buffet–we weren’t going to turn that down. Fortunately, I tackled the buffet like a pro so I didn’t leave in pain and misery (been known to do that before!). Browse before you fill your plate so you can see what items you really want. If you start loading up your plate before seeing all the options, you’re going to waste valuable stomach space on things you don’t actually want. The good thing about buffets is you can take a tiny taste of things that you really want, instead of a huge helping. Take just a bite-sized portion of decadent items-you can experience them, without going overboard. For the items you just can’t say no to (like vanilla french toast or bread pudding, yum), grab one portion for the table to share. Everyone gets a bite, no one has to loosen their belt (I mean obviously we were all wearing leggings, but if we were wearing belts, ya know).

 

Shots Shot Shot Shots

A wellness blogger telling you to take shots? Yea, I am. If you’re looking to get a little loose, minus the calorie bomb, just take a shot. Ok, you’re not into shots? My get-drunk drink of choice is vodka, soda water, splash of pineapple juice and a lime. Vodka sodas are a little too boring for me, but that splash of pineapple juice makes a huge flavor difference and only adds a few calories to the drink.

 

Hydrate

We should all hydrate whether we’re in Vegas or not, but make water an even bigger priority in Vegas. Drink a huge glass when you wake up, throughout the day, and extra important–before you fall asleep after a big night out. It makes a difference.

 

Seek Healthy Options

Vegas

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Even in Vegas, there are healthy choices to keep you feeling a-ok. Check out The Juice Standard at The Cosmopolitan, Pressed Juicery at The Aria or these other healthy spots nearby. Vegas has tons of amazing dining options so I suggest 1-2 unhealthy meals while balancing it out with a few healthier snacks/meals in between.

 

Start Fresh

vegas flight

The flight home means time to get back on track

The day you’re scheduled to leave Vegas (which hopefully is first thing in the morning, because as I said, you’re going to want to get out of there), make it a healthy day, back to your normal habits. Instead of waking up and grabbing a greasy breakfast, start your day with a juice or another healthy option. This will get you right back on track, not wasting another day on unhealthy choices. It’s fine to forget healthy habits while on vacation (especially in Vegas!) but don’t let those poor choices bleed into a new week.

With all that being said, have fun in Vegas! Don’t worry too much about healthy habits, just get out and have a good time. If you don’t mind feeling like crap after a weekend bender, ignore my advice. But if you’re looking for a tiny bit of balance while still having a good time, try these tips. Oh, and book your tickets to Britney. Promise you won’t regret it.

 

Hi from Cabo! + Seeking Balance on Vacation

February 16, 2017

Saying hi to my friends from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!

Cabo

Checking in from a bit of a posting hiatus to say hey from my family vacation! We’re spending a week in Cabo and damn, this place is gorgeous. So far, the getaway has been a mix of different ways to relax and unwind: sleeping in, working out, dining on fresh seafood and staying hydrated via frozen cocktails.

Speaking of those frozen cocktails, I mentioned on Instagram that I often struggle to find balance. This goes for everyday life and even more so on vacation. I love to travel and am away many weekends out of the year. If I totally lose sight of my healthy habits when traveling, I’m in trouble because all of that time adds up.

For this vacation in particular, I’m away for a full week and making it even more challenging, we’re at all-inclusive resorts. It’s not so hard to say no to a $16 margarita, but it’s real tough saying no to a free one, right? One thing I remind myself is that just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you want it. This is true of free margaritas on vacation and for free snacks or pastries in the office.

Now I’m not saying that you should say no to all the fun and deliciousness, after all, part of vacation is letting loose and enjoying yourself. But it’s important to feel good as you enjoy yourself. For me, that means being active at least a little bit each day, whether that’s a long walk on the beach or a multi-mile training run.

While on vacation, I’m brainstorming the best ways to find a healthy balance and I’m going to share more with you next week. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the beautiful views from my beach chair. Stay tuned for more soon 😉

Kitchen Upgrades: Top Items Worth the Investment

February 10, 2017

We recently did some serious kitchen upgrades and the pay-off has been huge. Read on for my favorites, especially if you’re setting up a wedding registry.

Is your kitchen full of old, cheap or hand-me-down gear and appliances? Mine certainly was, and even though I cook often, I didn’t think this was much of a problem. But then I finally upgraded (wedding registry FTW) and woah, what a new world I’m living in. Prior to upgrading, I figured that I had what I needed and it was getting the job done. Why spend all that money on more expensive and fancier versions? Well those fancier versions are more expensive for a reason; they work better, make your life easier and the food tastes better (it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not).

If you’re putting together your wedding registry or there is no wedding in sight but you want to give your kitchen an upgrade, these are the items worth investing in.

My favorite Kitchen Upgrades

Knives

kitchen upgrades

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Our knives were a mish-mash of I don’t even know what. None of them matched, they were incredibly dull and I was unaware that chopping didn’t have to be so damn hard. Prior to our new set, it was a struggle to cut through many veggies and I literally had no idea how simple it could be to cut a potato (I make sweet potato fries at least once a week). If you’re looking for a full set upgrade, I recommend the Wusthof Classic 7-piece set. If you’re not ready to splurge on a full set, get one or two new knives, the ones you use most often, and it will still have a huge impact. My absolutely favorite knife is the Kyocera 6″ Ceramic–it makes veggie chopping a breeze.

Blender

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I’d been dreaming about getting a Vitamix for years. It’s half the reason I got married..kidding (sorta). But really this is one of my favorite new appliances and the first thing I put on our registry. And actually, no one bought it for us! Fortunately, we got a few duplicate gifts, plus gifts cards and that went into buying my beloved Vitamix 750 Pro Blender. It’s an investment, but you might as well throw it on the registry because maaaaybe someone will buy it for you. It makes the smoothest smoothies, blends hot soups in mere minutes and is my trick to super simple cashew milk, which I now make weekly (sharing that recipe with you soon!). If the Vitamix is above your budget or simply not something you care about as much as me, I’ve heard great things about the Ninja blender as well ($99).

Food Processor

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Remember when you were a kid and you were helping your mom food prep using a processor that looked like this? That’s more or less what I had been working with a couple of years ago (hand-me-down from my mother-in-law, thanks Ellen!). Not only did it do a horrible job chopping, the crazy loud noise made my pup Ollie totally lose his mind. With a brand-spanking new food processor, the KitchenAid 7-Cup, you can easily whip up homemade granola, shred veggies and so much more, all super quietly (you’re welcome Ollie)!

Pots & Pans

Kitchen Upgrades

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Honestly, I’m still a little clueless as to how to properly use our new pots and pans, but I do know they are a huge improvement over the uneven, scratched and overused ones we had before. We attended a registry event at Williams-Sonoma and the guy leading it spoke so highly of the pots & pans that I immediately added them to our registry and was so thrilled when we got them. With older pots and pans of lesser quality, the surface becomes uneven, making your cooking uneven. Ok, that’s all I remember from the talk but we got the All-Clad Stainless set and it’s amazing.

Coffee Maker

Kitchen Upgrades

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If you’re a coffee addict (and who isn’t?), get yourself a serious coffee machine. Especially if you spend way too much money at Starbucks, you might as well invest in a better machine for home, in the end I’m sure you’ll save money. We opted for the Nespresso Evoluo, which does both regular coffee and espresso. No measuring required and a perfectly frothy cup of joe each time. Also no more fighting at night over who has to set up the coffee maker for the morning. And bonus, no messy coffee grinds to deal with. I’ve never been a huge Keurig fan and thought all pod coffees might be on a similar level, but Nespresso is the real deal.

For my engaged readers setting up a registry, I highly recommend upgrading all of these items. Now is the time to do it! Ya know, when someone else is trying to buy you gifts. If you need more registry tips, check out the events at Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel. Every so often they host special events where they let you into the store before it opens to learn about products and set up your registry. They also give you a free gift for attending and give you helpful advice to make your registry as powerful as possible (like whether to register for big sets or individual items–the answer is to do both by the way).

For those not setting up a registry, if any of these items are staples in your kitchen and aren’t up-to-speed, consider upgrading, it’s worth the money for the ease it will bring to your cooking.

What kitchen upgrades have had the best pay off for you? Share ’em below!

Share Your Failures, Share Your Successes (Oh & I’m a Trainer!)

February 8, 2017

When you struggle or don’t succeed, do you share your failures or keep them to yourself? Here’s why we should all be a little more honest whether we succeed or not.

NASM

Hey guys, guess what? I’m a personal trainer! Two weeks ago I took my NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Personal Trainer exam and when I (thankfully!) passed, I called MM to tell him the good news. And that was it. I had no one else to call and celebrate with. Why? Because I didn’t tell a single other person I was taking the exam–because I was scared I was going to fail.

Now I didn’t think anyone would judge me if I failed, but even so, I didn’t want to talk about the exam with anyone because my confidence around it was so damn low. And you know what? I didn’t want to post on here (or anywhere) that I was taking the exam because how crappy would I feel if I failed? Would I really want to share with the world that I failed an exam?

I have my own self to blame for how I felt about test prep because I put off studying until the very last minute. When you sign up for the NASM guided study you have 6 months from that date to take the exam. I thought I had more time and suddenly my 6 months was nearly up and while I had been doing my readings, I wasn’t doing much beyond that. I’d heard the exam was challenging and people spent weeks/months buckling down to learn the info.

With just about two weeks until my exam date would expire, I realized I was in trouble and started to get more focused. I read all the chapters and did all the online studies and basically failed every practice exam, knocking my confidence lower and lower. I even spent a good chunk of time figuring out what my options would be if/when I failed (how much is a re-take, when can you take it again, etc).

Then just about three days prior to the exam, the information was finally starting to click. I totally changed my outlook from “I’m definitely going to fail” to “I CAN DO THIS.” I was feeling so incredibly negative about the test and my knowledge that it made it extra hard to learn some of the concepts. When I changed my self-talk to positivity, I started to understand more and get better scores on the practice tests (ok, I was still failing, but I was getting much closer to passing).

Those final three days I crammed like crazy, spending hours each day studying, and finally was feeling pretty good about my knowledge. At this point, I knew I could pass the test, and if I didn’t, with a few more weeks of study I’d definitely be able to (but really hoped it wouldn’t come that because after researching, I learned that a re-test would cost $599. Talk about pressure!).

Ok I’ve gone off-topic. I’m going to write a whole post about my study and test experience, but this post is about something totally different. This post is about why you should share important experiences with your friends and family (& online community), whether you think you will be a success or you will hit a road bump.

Here’s why you should share your failures as well as your successes:

  • Your friends and family love and support you, but if they don’t know what you’re up against, how will they know you need their support?
  • If you open up about your struggles, it’s likely someone else has been through it. I know some friends, colleagues, and I’m sure readers have taken the NASM exam, I bet I could have gotten some really good study and test-taking tips.
  • We should all be a little more vulnerable and not be afraid to share those feelings and potential failures because people around us are also struggling and it would probably be collectively nice for us to know we aren’t alone in these feelings.
  • If you do succeed, but no one knew you were up against something challenging, how will you celebrate with anyone?? I called a few people later in the day and casually mentioned that I took and passed my NASM exam. It was pretty anti-climactic because no one knew that I had been freaking out about it for a few days. If they knew the stress and worry I was going through, it would have been far more exciting when I told people I passed!

So all of this is to say, I hope that I am strong and confident enough to share with you what I am struggling with as I’m sure you guys can lend advice and support. In exchange, I hope that you all feel comfortable sharing your struggles, so when we do hit walls, we can support each other, and when we succeed, we can celebrate together.

Ya with me on this? Cool. Oh, and if you need a personal trainer, hit me up. My cramming paid off and I actually know what I’m talking about.

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