Five Days of Class
May 27, 2011

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Hey guys!

Such a nice response to yesterday’s post—I like how much you like it when I open up! Moreover, it is amazing to me that so many of you also own my giant hot pink sweater. I almost want to keep it out of a sense of camaraderie.

Let me tell you, though: it has been mighty cathartic to donate a lot of my wool and leather. Vegans tend to have varied opinions on whether it’s better to keep the leather and wool you acquired pre-veganism (so as not to waste what’s already yours) or better to give those items away, so that you can set a positive example by wearing synthetics. Thus far I’ve done the former, if only to accommodate a tiny shopping budget, but this was really a nice excuse to weed out some things that I’m ready to let go of (makes me think of my post on having a dynamic wardrobe!)

Yesterday, I talked all about the things that are constant in my life. I forgot to mention a very crucial one: the gym. Specifically, New York Sports Club, to which I have belonged for a solid decade now. Ten years! I’ve spent about six of them at this location, on Broadway and 80th:

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I’m terribly attached to the NYSC, which is everything I want in a gym: tons of locations (so I can squeeze in a workout no matter where I am, or how busy), tons of machines, tons of classes, and a relaxed atmosphere. Some Manhattan gyms are just too she she for my taste; there are only so many women I can watch strutting around in 90$ workout pants and makeup. The uptown locations of NYSC are pretty unassuming. Sure, there are plenty of image-conscious young people, but there are also a lot of parents, grandparents, and fitness newcomers. I like the range. And I like the people.

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A view of Zabar’s from the window—could anything be more quintessentially Upper West Side?!

A year ago, I pulled a muscle in my groin, and over the course of limping and overcompensating (and possibly because the whole region was inflamed) I developed a nasty case of tendonitis in my hip. I had to switch to an almost exclusively stairmaster-based routine for three months, along with physical therapy. The plus side? Leg muscle. The downside? Boredom, and a little unwanted body commentary.

Last weekend, I pulled some groin muscles in a way that felt very reminiscent of last year, and this time, I vowed to take a break from running and stretch more, rather than allow the injury to get out of control. It worked! Today, I’m feeling almost pain free.

But I used the week not only to rest the inner thigh muscles, but also to take advantage of the NYSC’s wonderful lineup of fitness classes. Group exercise and I have a fairly antagonistic relationship (sorry, Diana!). It’s not that I don’t like the idea—it’s just that I don’t like the reality. I’m a control freak, and I don’t like being told what to do—especially when I work out. Second, I like adjusting my daily workouts to fit my mood—sometimes they’re calming and mellow, sometimes they’re intense, sometimes they’re focused, and so on—and group exercise sort of dictates the mood for me. Third, I like being able to go to the gym on impulse, and signing up for classes means having less freedom about the what and when. And since I’ve never really needed the motivation that class exercise seems to give a lot of people—I’m far from a prodigious exerciser, but I do love it, and I’m consistent—I tend to opt out.

But I can’t deny that classes force me to work muscle groups I frequently ignore, and they force me to work on strength training in general, which is an area I overlook. And tendonitis often results from weak or disproportionately worked muscle groups. So this week became my tribute to the NYSC offering of fitness classes. Every morning, I did some cardio, and every afternoon or mid-morning, I took a class. It went like this:

  • Monday: Hatha yoga
  • Tuesday: Total Body Conditioning
  • Wednesday: Pilates (mat)
  • Thursday: Power Yoga
  • Friday: Total Body Conditioning

Overall, I had a great experience with all of these classes! Power yoga made me pretty sore; yoga and I go through phases, and this has been a long dry spell. Pilates, meanwhile, was a little slow for my taste; I found myself feeling restless, and stared often at the clock. But my hatha class was lovely, and both total body conditioning classes were good in different ways: the first focused on precision and repetition, while the second focused on hybrid exercises (i.e. squats with bicep curls). All classes reminded me of how badly I need to challenge myself to focus on strength training.

Of course, I know myself, and I know it’s unlikely I’ll ever really devote a considerable amount of time to working my very modest (read: puny) muscles. In some ways, I’m cool with that: I think exercise, like food, should be a pleasure, and if something’s no fun, you should do something else. But it doesn’t hurt to challenge yourself to at least step outside of the comfort zone once in a while, and I’m so lucky to have spent ten years belonging to a gym that gives me so many options when I do feel that urge. I’ll be using the student gym at Georgetown when I get to DC, so I’m not sure what class options await, but I do know there’s a yoga studio near my apartment, which I look forward to exploring.

Speaking of comfort zones, I rarely write about fitness, so Melissa, I hope you’re proud! And if you’re a New Yorker, I really do recommend you check out NYSC as an affordable and worth-every-penny gym option.

Back to my comfort zone: food. On my bucket list of NYC dining this week was Café Blossom, where I supped on Monday night. Behold, food porn:

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(Raw sweet potato rolls with jicama and avocado and almond ginger dipping sauce—my fave!)

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(Massaged kale salad with avocado—a new menu item. couldn’t have done it better.)

Kristen, I missed you!

Candle Cafe and Candle 79 give me food that I could never make at home; it’s why I love dining there. But I love Blossom because it feels as though I’m being fed food that I made in my own kitchen. And when you’re waking up tomorrow morning at 7:30 to move cities, food that feels like it came from your kitchen is very, very welcome.

Wish me luck, guys – I’ll try to have a post set up from the road, but I make no promises! If not tomorrow, I’ll see you all on Sunday, at which point I can report to you from my new home Smile

xo

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    28 Comments
  1. What a great idea to stay in shape while preventing an injury from getting worse. You are so much more motivated then me-when I sense an on-coming injury I decide that’s a sign to stop all forms of exercise. This leads to loss of routine=no more working out. Next time, I’ll try a hatha yoga class 🙂 Good luck with the move!

  2. I haven’t visited your blog in a while and am excited to learn you are moving close to my stomping ground. I am looking forward to learning about DC’s veg scene through you!

  3. I have my own weight routine so i rarely go to gym classes. Sometimes i go on my free day and its always nice to switch things up! Good luck with your move!!! After moving from New Jersey to Florida in my little honda i know what its like to have to have to go through and eliminate stuff!

  4. Ahhh, this post makes me miss my gym back in the city (I’m off in the countryside for a few months with no gym access). I’d take a gym over exercising alone any day – so much variety, so professional, and I like being surrounded by other exercisers. I was spoiled, too – the gym I used to go to had a gorgeous track for running, which I liked better than the treadmills or the sidewalk.

    I’m lukewarm on exercise classes too. I also like to control my own workout, and sometimes I get contrarian and don’t like being told what to do – that’s also my resistance to hiring a trainer, although I probably will try it eventually. I have sometimes enjoyed yoga classes though. It all depends.

  5. Finding a low key gym is important. Glad they exist in NYC. My sister goes to the YMCA in DC, several locations. Just putting it out there.

    • I think Yates (the G-Town gym) is the play only because I like rolling out of bed and going, and it’s close to my apt. But that’s a good tip — I’ll look!

  6. Good luck with the big move! I was looking up the NYSC (b/c my friend is moving to NY and is in need of some gym referrals) & noticed that the Sports Club has several locations besides NY, one of which is DC. Within DC there are 10 locations and one of those is at Georgetown apparently. You’ve probably already discovered this, but I figured I’d point it out in the chance you hadn’t. Anyways, congrats on taking this amazing step in your life! Can’t wait to read all about the new adventures as you familiarize yourself with DC!

      • I haven’t read your blog in too long! I lived in DC before moving to L.A. a little over a year ago. I was one of “those” group exercise instructors at a WSC (on D street, Capitol Hill!). I love the WSC and the Gold’s Gyms. The fitness facilities were the place I was able to connect with people, relax and get to know my neighborhood. Best of luck in the move – I can’t wait to read more of your adventures in D.C.!

  7. Good luck with the move! You are going to love DC and Georgetown. I did my undergrad there and absolutely loved it! I had a few friends that did the post-bacc pre-med year and are all at great med schools now, so you made a good decision.

    Georgetown’s gym, Yates, isn’t super luxurious or anything, but it is solid. They have a good variety of group fitness classes at all times of the day, and tons of machines and equipment. I just wouldn’t recommend going from 5-7 pm if you can help it, as there is always a huge line for every machine.

    Let me know if you have any questions about the school or the area!

  8. Best of luck with the move! New York’s loss is DC’s gain. Hope everything goes smoothly and you settle in easily and happily by Sunday! Hugs!

  9. ah, the fitness class. i used to LOATHE them, but then somehow after running became a non- or barely existent part of my life, i got into yoga, then later other “boutique” fitness classes that i’ve unfortunately (hello crazy price tag) have grown to love. i love the structure of it and am more than happy to have someone else tell me how to work out. i’m much less self-directed with workouts, so the classes work for me.

    now i’m at a place where i do want some kind of membership. it’s between gym and fancy yoga studio. i’m totally stuck!

    hope the move is going smoothly 🙂

  10. I’ve had that groin pull injury a few times myself, and have had similar compensation injuries as well, so I know how very smart you are to head the warnings early. Being stubborn is just not in our best interest in such times. Good for you for mastering the art of flexibility.

    And, gosh, I related so deepely to that body commentary post from months ago that I still think of it often.

    All the best for a safe and stress free move, Gena! So happy to see you moving onto to a new and exciting phase of your life in DC!

    • The difference between resting like a grown up and overworking the injury like a giant baby was like night and day. So glad I learned from experience!

  11. Ohhhhh! I’ve been to New York four times since 2007(keep in mind I live in Canberra, Australia), and each time I’ve spent hours exploring Zabars and spending more money than anyone should on the chocolate there. I wonder if you were ever doing the antithesis of my activity over at the gym while I was there? 😀

  12. Best of luck in your move! I hope you find a love for DC that, while not the same as you have for NYC, will be comforting in its own way. Wishing you much success!

  13. I have to say, I belonged to NYSC for a year and a half and I really did not like it. Maybe it’s the uptown/downtown crowd difference, but a few male staff members made mildly sexual comments to me, the morning opener would sometimes be up to twenty minutes late, and machines were constantly broken for weeks or even months at a time. I’ve heard a few other people rave about it though, so I feel like it all comes down to which location you go to, and I guess I got one of the not-so-good ones! Glad you had a positive experience there, though. A gym you really love is hard to come by!

  14. Gena,
    As a long time reader and even longer dc resident, I hope you realize what you had in NYC. There are so many options there and it makes the raw/vegan lifestyle easier. I feel like in DC i really have to rely on my own kitchen to eat the food I want and that is good for me. With the exception of Juice Juice Cafe (I love) by my work, the culture of raw/vegan is small and hard to come by. I hope that you find a niche and thrive in our nations capital

  15. Sorry about the pulled groin coming in the midst of a move…ouch! And I remember that unwanted body commentary post like it was yesterday. Time.Flies.

    Sorry that you’ve been on a bit of a yoga dry spell (tsk, tsk)..kidding! But glad you got a couple nice classes in this week.

    Group exercise classes or ANY class where I can’t just wing it…I know, I am not a fan. That’s why after 12 yrs of yoga practicing and teaching, I just really dont go to too many in person classes. I just wing it, at home, do my own thing, stop when I want to stop, push when I want to and have energy, and be mellow when I don’t. I have written about my fitness evolution and journey and I love this post of yours…and you will find a new place, no doubt, that suits you to work out in, in DC. And that’s so exciting.

    Good luck with Move Day!!!!

  16. Ha! I am SO proud. And great variety of classes. yay! Blossom. My gym (NYHRC) now replaced its standard cafe with Blossom du Jour! Frank’s NYHRC has Terri organic. It’s definitely a good way to get people eating vegan–they probably don’t even know!

    Unwanted body commentary is really hard. I know that I have gained a solid 16 pounds in the last year and a half, sometimes it bothers me, sometimes it doesn’t as much. I know it’s a combination of the food choices, eating out, medications, a non-existent commute and BCP, some of which I have little control over. I like eating with freedom, and not having any kind of food obsession is something I never would have dreamed of in high school or even early college when my life revolved around calorie counting and shame in eating. At the same time, I don’t feel as comfortable in my body and since I have been so sick over the last months, I know I could be doing something better. I am finally at the point where I can cut back and “diet” without worrying about it spiraling out of control. I am definitely working on finding balance. Which can be hard to admit as a “healthy living blogger.”

    Anyways, I have had people at Frank’s gym tell me that I am significantly overweight, which was very hurtful–even if it was partially to try to sell me training sessions. Then today, I was showing a coworker a few dresses to ask her opinion about jewelry (since she has the most amazing jewelry) and she went, OMG, this is a size zero. I never thought you were a zero, I thought you were at two or four! I explained that the woman at the store told me sizes run big, but my coworker wouldn’t stop exclaiming that I looked bigger than my size. I think regardless of anyone’s relationship with food or their body, that kind of commentary is hard. I was happy to have your post to refer to as a positive message.

  17. Such a big and exciting transition for you, Gena! Good luck tomorrow; you’ll be getting beaucoups good juju from your tribe, and we all look forward to hearing from you next time, when you’re a Washingtonian! Safe travels.

    (p.s. I’m almost 2 weeks in to the Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse, and your spinach burger, nutloaf, salad dressings, etc. etc. etc. have been a godsend and a pleasure!!)

  18. Hey, good luck! Glad that you’re being so smart about the exercise thing: and I like hearing about what you do for exercise. Amen on ‘if it’s not fun, do something else;’ amen too on the belated pleasure that comes with pushing the comfort zone envelope.

    I’ve put up my ‘blogger responsibility/restricted eating post,’ with thanks to you!
    Safe travels
    love
    Ela

  19. Your post makes me sad I’m not in the city anymore! I’m thinking about you this weekend and hoping your move goes very smoothly. And I have several chunky bright-colored turtlenecks myself. Just in case.