Ski Weekend Getaway: Part I

February 9, 2016

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Fun ski weekends away with friends make the chilly temps of winter totally worth it. Like in years past, a big group of friends and I headed 4 hours north to Vermont for a couple of days on the mountain and casual nights hanging by the fire.

While NYC has gotten a lot of snow this year, oddly Vermont hasn’t had any, which makes for iffy conditions on the mountain. Because it’s been cold, the mountains have been able to make enough snow to keep a good amount of the slopes open. And even though it was a bit icy, because of the not-so-perfect conditions, the lines were short and the mountain was wide open for us! IMG_0657

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We spent the first day at Okemo Mountain. We visit Okemo nearly every winter; it’s the perfect location for travelers coming from NYC. It’s a nice, big mountain and it’s far enough away that you feel like you’ve escaped the city, but it’s only a four hour drive. This past Saturday it was way colder than expected and I was extra thankful for the heated bubble lift. The seats are heated and a bubble comes down to protect you from the wind, so luxe.

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We stopped for lunch mid-mountain at Sugar House. If you visit, make sure to check out the heated outdoor BBQ area, such good sandwiches that are very well deserved during a ski day.FullSizeRender_4

After 4 hours on the mountain we called it quits and headed to Tom’s Loft Tavern, an apres ski must. It’s the dive bar just beyond the bottom of the mountain, the perfect spot to cool down with a beer and snack on the nachos (that are HUGE).

Making it a truly packed day, after relaxing at the house, we visited SoLo Farm & Table for a fancy group dinner.

As any skier knows, after a day this long, it was time to turn in and rest up for another full day on the mountain.FullSizeRender_2

My One More: February

February 3, 2016

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As a Premier Protein ambassador, each month I’ll be sharing my goals with you, what I’m hoping to accomplish as the extra X in my month. In January I talked about going through the Group Fitness Instructor program with AFAA. How am I doing? I’ve started the certification and am making strides to becoming certified. It’s a multi-month process so it will continue to be a part of my schedule. This month I’ll add a new goal to the mix.

For February, my goal is to better integrate stretching and yoga into my fitness routine.  Rushing to and from the gym, I often neglect a proper warm up, cool down and stretch session, even though I know these are so important to my health and wellness. Soon I’ll start training for upcoming races (more on that later) and to avoid injury along the way, stretching is a must.

As for yoga, I have a love/hate relationship with it. I know there are so many benefits and I always feel good when I take it, but it’s never a priority workout. And it should be. Benefits of yoga: improved flexibility, increased muscle strength, good for your posture, increases blood flow, drops your blood pressure, helps you focus and relaxes your system (the list goes on…). Recently I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and even a little stressed out. I’ve always prided myself on not letting things stress me out, but I’m starting to let stress get to me (for starters, how does one plan a wedding?!). I think yoga would do me some good this month.

What are your February goals? Leave a message and let me know!

Interval Training: Why Simple Is Sometimes Best

January 29, 2016

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Simple does not always mean easy, especially when it comes to fitness. Take the plank for example. It’s a very basic move, but done perfectly, is not easy at all, hold that for a while and you’re going to feel the burn. Earlier this week I checked out an interval training class at the West Side YMCA (West 63rd St & Central Park West) and while the majority of the moves were pretty simple, this class was challenging!

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Taking place in a huge gymnasium, it brought back memories (or nightmares?) from my younger athletic days when I had to run dreaded suicides (which were part of this workout too). This one-hour class showed that you don’t need complicated movements and equipment to sweat. When you get into unnecessarily complicated moves and intricate equipment you may feel overwhelmed, focused more on what the details of what you’re supposed to be doing instead of actually doing it.

Interval training, workouts where you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods, is an extremely efficient way to burn calories. If you compare interval training to a slow and steady workout, doing the same thing the entire time, interval training wins in calories burned. Interval training is efficient, burns more fat than steady workouts, doesn’t require equipment, is something you can do anywhere and revs up your metabolism.

To get the benefits of interval training, you can attend a class or create your own routine. Many ideal interval training moves are ones you already know. A few of the best from the YMCA class:

  • Suicides (start at one point and progressively run to further points, each time returning to your starting point)
  • Push Ups
  • Crab Walk (as seen in the first photo)
  • Planks
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Burpees
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Jump Squats
  • Planks

If you’re new to interval training, I recommend first checking out a class to learn the basics, like the best moves to do, how hard you should be pushing and how long your rest periods should be. And while I’m no stranger to doing workouts on my own, I always feel that I work harder when surrounded by others. Seeing them work hard makes me want to work hard too. Can’t get to a class this weekend? Check out Daily Burn’s 3 Quick HIT Workouts for Beginners. They range from 10-30 minutes, require no equipment and very little space. Thanks YMCA for reminding me that simple workouts can be the most effective!

*This post is in partnership with the YMCA. All opinions are my own. In this partnership I’m going to check out additional Y locations and classes, stay tuned to hear more.

 

A Blizzardy Proposal in Central Park

January 27, 2016

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A really great part about having a blog is that I can share stories with you, but also that I can remember them in the future. Not that I’d ever forget this one, but I’m eager to write it down while the details are fresh. This past Saturday, in the middle of a blizzard, Matt (or as you may know him, MM) and I got engaged!

It’s not a shock we got engaged, but the timing of when he did it was a huge surprise. There were little things that should have signaled to me that something was going on (like Matt, why are you wearing your nicest coat in a blizzard), but nope, I was completely oblivious.

On Saturday morning Matt told me we had plans to bring Ollie to Central Park to play in the snow with our friends & their dog. Even though it was a blizzard, this outing was not out of the norm. On our walk there, I kept stopping to take pictures of Ollie in the snow and he was moving pretty slowly with how heavy it was coming down, but somehow Matt stayed very calm (even though he was on a schedule!) and eventually we made it to Central Park.

If you’re familiar with the park, we entered at West 72nd street and took a left into a cute little area where I often take Ollie on walks. We passed a guitar player and I actually said out loud, “that guy is crazy,” but I still had no idea what was going on! We were somewhat close to Strawberry Fields where musicians are always hanging about so I figured this was just another crazy New Yorker, playing guitar in a blizzard, no big deal. We walked past him and then Matt said wait, let’s go back. When I turned around, that’s when I saw the photographer that had been following us (so many bonus points to future Instagram Husband MM for getting a professional photographer to capture this!) and then finally it clicked what was happening.

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Snow Proposal

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Matt (a former college acapella singer<–embarrassing video of MM from college for your listening pleasure), sang part of Marry Me by Train, got down on one knee and proposed. Of course I immediately said yes! The moment was perfect. After we scooted out of snowy Central Park, our celebrations were on hold due to the weather and most of NYC shutting down, but it was still perfect!

After calling family and friends, I ran across the street for a manicure (thank goodness some places stayed open during the storm! how could I not have been better prepared?) and the celebrations have continued.

While I assume most of your blizzard experiences weren’t quite as eventful as mine, I hope you enjoyed the snowy weekend!

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As part of the new Shapin Up site, the focus is still an overlay of health and fitness, but I’ll give you a glimpse into other parts of my life, and that may include some wedding details along the way. Enjoy!

 

Welcome to the new Shapin Up!

January 25, 2016

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Hey friends, what a weekend! I have so much to share from the blizzard of 2016. I’m going to kick it off with the launch of the new ShapinUp.com. This project has been a long time coming and I am beyond thrilled with all of the changes as my little blog grows and evolves. As I begin life in the new Shapin Up, I hope that you’ll cut me a little slack as some things may be a bit glitchy. Thanks in advance for sticking with me!

To give you a mini tour, I’ve been working hard to categorize all of my previous posts (talk about tedious), so that you can navigate by theme up top: fitness (workouts, fit gear, race details, etc), food (recipes, restaurant reviews), travel (tips, recaps, places to stay), and lifestyle (everything else!).

Like what you see? Let me know below, and if you come across any issues, feel free to tell me about those as well. I’m excited to continue to share a piece of my life with you on this blog and want to say THANK YOU just for being here and reading this!

As for the other things to share from this weekend, check back later this week for more exciting news!

 

Cardio & Strength: Why You Need Both

January 25, 2016

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There’s been an ongoing debate for years: what’s better for you, cardio or strength training? The answer depends on what type of results you’re looking for. If you’re strictly trying to lose lbs or sweat out last nights margarita, I’d suggest cardio, but if you’re looking to build muscle and tone, strength training is a must. Really though, you need to do both. One won’t cut it without the other, plus by making your workout routine varied, you won’t get bored.

While cardio burns more calories per minute, strength training builds muscle and with increased muscle, you burn more calories throughout the day, well after you put down the weights.

I tend to go through very cardio-focused phases, especially when I’m training for a race or happen to load my schedule with too many spin classes. I’ve been trying to be more conscious of this and infusing my workouts with strength training. Doing weights on my own, I lose interest in about 10 minutes. To combat this, I’ve been seeking out classes that combine cardio and strength training. With winter in full effect and no races coming up that I need to train for, I’m taking advantage and trying different fitness classes across the city.

Hitting on that cardio+strength combo, last weekend I visited the Vanderbilt YMCA (47th & 3rd) for a spin+kettlebell ‘Bikes & Bells’ combo workout. YMCA invited me to try a few of their classes and this was my first one, also my first time inside an NYC YMCA! I had no clue they have such enormous fitness centers, extensive group fitness schedules, and nice pools (note to self during triathlon training season).

On Saturday morning I grabbed a friend to join me for Ellen’s spin+kettlebells class. The spin class lasted a solid 50 minutes and included a warm up, a lot of intervals and a cool down. The intervals were totally my style, getting us to work hard, get breathless, then ease off to catch our breath before hitting the next round. The class was road-based, no fancy push ups or rhythmic routines to it, very straightforward. For my cyclist pals, if you need an indoor workout, this one is good for training. After we cooled down from the bikes, we moved them aside and grabbed our kettlebells. The kettlebell section lasted about 20 minutes and gave us a full-body workout. I am not new to kettlebells but I learned some new moves in this class.

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I loved the combo of spin followed by weights. The spin class got my heart rate up and had me sweating and during the kettlebells I was challenged and could feel the burn (not to mention next-day soreness). Unlike spin classes that incorporate maybe a song or two of weights, this combo class left you feeling like you got in both a solid cardio workout and a solid strength workout.

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This class was extremely approachable. There were people of all ages and fitness levels participating and our instructor Ellen set up the class in such a way that no one would feel like they couldn’t do something, but for the fittest of the fit, you were challenged as well.

If you are new to spin or kettlebells (or any class really!), I can’t recommend enough that you get there a few minutes early and let the instructor know. They can help you get set up, give you an idea of what you’re in for and will make the class a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

For this combo class, wear your standard workout gear and be sure to bring both your cycling shoes (if you have them) AND sneakers. Trying to handle kettlebells in spin shoes, not a great idea.

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I know that for some new to the workout scene, speciality studios can be intimidating. The Y is an awesome place to get comfortable with fitness, you know you are in good hands. For my east-side readers, check out all of theclasses available at the Vanderbilt location (cardio & strength!); I bet you’ll be surprised at just how much they offer.

*This post is in partnership with the YMCA. All opinions are my own. In this partnership I’m going to check out additional Y locations and classes, stay tuned to hear more.

To & From the Gym Must-Haves

January 25, 2016

Gym Must Haves

[image from last winter in NYC, will this year be as bad?]

Wednesday mornings are simultaneously my hardest and my favorite morning of the work week. While I teach or workout most mornings, Wednesday’s are particularly challenging because it’s the earliest class that I teach, starting at 6:15am and it’s close enough that I can walk (1 mile to be exact), but far enough away that I need to bundle up to make it there without freezing. Funnily enough, the cycling studio is located 3 flights up at Equinox so once I get there, I immediately climb the stairs, leaving me a sweaty mess by the time I actually enter the studio. All of this happens before 6am.

Let’s back up to that 1 mile walk to the gym. Why do I walk? Public transportation is iffy at such an early hour and I can’t justify paying for a cab when I know I could walk.

To survive this walk, I’ve become a layering master.

Here are my musts for those wintery walks to and from the gym:

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Lululemon Top Knot Toque: Bonus points becuase it has a slot for your ponytail!

nicepipes Leg Warmers: I wear cropped leggings and sneakers, leaving my poor calves exposed to the elements. These leg warmers are a must for wintery fitness peeps- the only ones I’ve found that are made of sweat wicking material and because they aren’t bulky, can easily be stored in your gym bag.

Nike Element Thermal Gloves: Warm enough but sleek enough for easy movement.

Thermos Tumbler: Confession, I drink coffee on the way to class, I NEED it. And this coffee mug keeps my coffee warm for 12 hours, so when I fill it up at 5:40am, it’s still warm at 5:40pm how crazy is that?

Athleta Cozy Karma Hoodie: I opt for a turtleneck-ish layer to keep my neck warm should my scarf move a milimeter out of place (did I mention I’m a total wimp in the cold?)

Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf: An awesome infinitely scarf made of sweat-wicking material.

The key element to most of these pieces is that they are made of workout material, even if I’m not actually working out in them. The hat, scarves and leg warmers for example- I put these back on after my workout for my 1 mile walk home and I can’t be bothered to wash them every single time. Because they know how to deal with sweat, they last multiple wears.

Pair all of the above with the warmest jacket you can find and you’re ready to battle the early morning gym commute!.

Oh and remember how I said while being difficult, Wednesday mornings are my favorite? This is because nothing beats the accomplished feeling knowing you got in really good workout so super early. I’ll typically stick around after my class to take a conditioning class (Metcon3), for a killer cardio+conditioning combo, all completed before 8am. Other days I’ll take the extra time at home to put together a hearty breakfast. Either way, by the time I hit my desk, I feel full of energy and ready to take on the day.

Brunch & Burn with Ketanga

January 25, 2016

Ketanga Brunch and Burn

Describe your perfect Saturday. Does it involve a solid workout followed by a delicious brunch with friends? For me, that’s an ideal weekend itinerary so this weekend I joined Ketanga for a Brunch & Burn event: a sweat session at Refine Method followed by a group brunch at Westville.

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We met at Refine West Village at 12:45 and went through a 50-minute HIIT workout. I’ve taken a few classes are Refine and am a fan of the style. It’s intense without being impossible and you leave feeling like you got a really good workout, yet not like you’re going to die. Since we didn’t shower before brunch, it was a perfect type of class to take for a Brunch & Burn, even though we worked hard, we weren’t disgusting at the brunch table :)

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This was my first time at the West Village Refine and it’s really nice. The studio space is clean and bright, there’s a small shower area with two showers, nice bathrooms and easy to use lockers.

After the workout we walked a few blocks to Westville. I LOVE Westville, I’ve never gotten a bad meal there. This round I got the hakshuka and a bloody mary. A perfect way to refuel after Refine.

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Going beyond the workout and meal, Ketanga brought together a great group of people! I brought one friend along and was happy to have the opportunity to meet new NYC fitness fanatics. If you’re looking to connect with new people in the city, whether you’ve lived here for years or are new to the area, this is a great introduction.

Ketanga hosts fitness retreats as well as a variety of NYC events. This event was $40 and included class at Refine Method, a cocktail at brunch, your next class free at Refine and a bonus little gift from Lole Yoga (hairbands and a coupon), you pay for the actual brunch.

Thanks Ketanga for having me and I look forward to attending future events!

*photos by me & Ketanga 

Week One of 2016: Self Care & Healthy Sleep Check In

January 8, 2016

Just one week into the new year, is it too early to check in on those resolutions? You may think so, but we need to start the year strong, right? One of my resolutions was to up my self care. This can be interpreted in a number of ways but one huge way that seriously affects your entire day and the rest of your well being is getting proper sleep.

The folks at Casper shared some simple tips for improved sleep and I immediately took notice since it’s [always] a resolution of mine. I hope that some of these solutions resonate with you and kick your year off with a solid sleep routine just as I hope they help me too!

I especially like the tip to turn in at the same time each night to regulate your circadian rhythm. I have a very hard time with this, as well as waking up at the same time each morning since some mornings I workout in the AM and others in the PM, totally throwing off a steady routine. Does anyone else have this issue? If so, please share with me how you deal with this!

I’d like to get better at my bedtime routine, prepping for bed earlier, reading in bed instead of scrolling Instagram and getting into a steady timing routine. Another thing that Casper has inspired me to do is to surround myself with better products. I was scanning their site and realize it’s about time for me to invest in a better mattress and sheets. I’ll be adding this to my 2016 to-do list.

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If better sleep is one of your resolutions, I hope this helps! If you have any good sleep tips, post them below and share the love!

My One More: January

January 4, 2016

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In December I gave you a preview of a series I’m doing as a Premier Protein ambassador. Premier Protein gives you the energy to accomplish one more X in your day and each month I’ll set a goal for My One More. It’s time for January’s goal and as we’re just entering the New Year, this one aligns with one of my resolutions: Invest In Myself.

I’ve been teaching cycling for 9 years, I’m not even sure how its possibly been that many years, but a while I’ve been wanting to expand my classes. I still love cycling and will continue to teach it, but I know that a key to overall fitness is variety and to practice what I preach, I want to teach beyond the bike.

To help reach this goal, I signed up for an online Group Fitness Instructor program through AFAA. I actually signed up for this months ago but haven’t set aside the time to complete it (or um, start it) and my goal for January is to get in gear and complete the course, taking the necessary steps to eventually teach more group fitness class formats.

What goals do you have for January? I want to hear about them–please comment below with your goal for January and I’ll send one of you a package of Premier Protein goodies to help you hit it!

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