workout

How to Train for Triathlon Swimming In a Small Pool

As someone who enjoys training for the occasional triathlon - I do not swim nearly as regularly as I should.

There are a number of reasons for this - but the biggest reason is that I am quite possibly the slowest swimmer on the planet. I like to refer to myself as the sea-sloth. Would swimming more regularly help me gain some speed? Novel concept!

Anyway - when I do go for a swim - it sometimes helps if I have a workout written out (and stored in a plastic bag so it doesn't become an illegible pile of mush - made that mistake once or twice). 

However - all of the swim workouts I find online are written for and by people who swim in normal sized pools - not people who live in Manhattan are are stuck swimming in 15 and 17 yard pools that are the aquatic equivalent of a hamster wheel. 

I've added a section to my main navigation bar that will take you to some swim workouts I've used that are great for my fellow small-pool-swimmers.

Please keep in mind that I am incredibly unqualified to give any sort of swimming advice.

Sincerely, 
Sea Sloth

Triathlon Training in a Small Pool

Hotel Gym Workouts - Bench Burner

As someone who travels 5-6 months out of the year for work,  I've seen the full spectrum of hotel gyms. 

I've been in a 6x6 room with just a treadmill and elliptical and I've also been in massive fitness centers with rowers, pools, medicine balls, spin bikes, sliders and resistance bands. 

Is it frustrating to be trapped at a hotel with a shitty gym for 2 weeks? Absolutely. But it's also a fun challenge to come up with creative workouts that use minimal equipment in unconventional ways. 

I'm lucky that I have some great friends/coworkers and when we join our fitness minds together, we can come up with some killer workouts! 

Now I actually look forward to developing these workouts. I write them up the night before so that I don't have to think about anything in the morning. Just need to get up and get it done. 

Here's one that Sabrina and I collaborated on in Annapolis - using just a bench for a total body workout! You don't even need weights to get in a major sweat - but there's always the option to add dumbbells if you want to many of these exercises.

Hotel Gym Bench Workout
  1. Hands Elevated Mountain Climbers (example)
  2. Hands Elevated Push-Up (example)
  3. Shoulders Elevated Hamstring Walk (example
  4. Feet Elevated Donkey Kick (example)
  5. Plyo Pushup to Plank Transfer (example)
  6. Hands Elevated Burpee (example)
  7. Bench Squat Sit Jumps (example)
  8. Split Squats (example) *add a hop at the top if you're feeling crazy (example)!
  9. Feet Elevated Push-Up (example)
  10. Feet Elevated Mountain Climbers (example)
  11. Step Ups (example
  12. Tricep Dips (example) *IT ME!
  13. Reverse Crunch (example)

There are a number of ways to structure the workout. Personally, I did each exercise for 10 reps and went through the circuit 4X. You could also do: 

Exercise #1 for :30, Rest :10 - Repeat 4X
Exercise #2 for :30, Rest :10 - Repeat 4X
Etc. through Exercise #13

Or: 

Exercise #1 for :30, Rest :10  
Exercise #2 for :30, Rest :10
Exercise #3 for :30, Rest :10
All the way through Exercise #13, then repeat 4X 

The options are endless! 

The hope is that one day I'll figure out how to photograph/film these workouts so that I don't have to use examples from the most random sources on the internet! But until then...this is the best I can do. 

If you want some more difficult bench exercises - watch this video from Men's Health that showcases 57 bench exercises! A lot of them are in this workout - but there are also a number that I was a little intimidated to attempt. 

What's your favorite exercise using the bench? Let me know in the comments!

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Let's Catch Up! 10 Things I'm Loving

Once upon a time I wrote mainly about running and workout classes and restaurant reviews. Lately, all I've done is write about my travels - running isn't a thing I've done much for the past year+  

It's a touchy subject. 

But how about something new? How about a "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" post? Also known as "Loving Lately," or "Fave Finds." Call it what you will - I'm just going to ramble about a bunch of things I've been feelin' these days and catching you back up with my real-life here in NYC (as opposed to work-life and travel-life!) 

Bloggers Favorite Things

1. Books

I've read some DAMN GOOD books lately.

The Fiddler In The Subway by Gene Weingarten

One of my neighbors put a bunch of old books they were getting rid of in our lobby and I randomly scooped this one up. It was one of the best things I've ever read.

The book is a collection of feature stories written by Washington Post journalist Gene Weingarten. The subjects are all over the map - but each story is brilliantly written, insightful, creative, clever, moving. I cannot explain how incredible Gene Weingarten's writing is. 

As a journalism undergrad, I'm disappointed I was never made to read this book because I honestly think that it would be convinced me to continue down the path towards becoming a writer. 

Please pick up this book! It's great because you can just read one story at a time - not too much comittment! 

There’s one last truth that I don’t tell them, because it’s needlessly disturbing and would serve no pragmatic purpose. I’ll say it now, just once, and be done with it. A real writer is someone for whom writing is a terrible ordeal.  That is because he knows, deep down, with an awful clarity, that there are limitless ways to fill a page with words, and that he will never, ever, do it perfectly. On some level, that knowledge haunts him all the time. He will always be juggling words in his head, trying to get them closer to a tantalizing, unreachable ideal. 

It’s a torment you can’t escape. It will reach even into the comfort of a drunken sleep, and it will shake you awake, and send you, heart pumping, to an an empty piece of paper. 

If you have that, you can be a good writing. Congratulations, I guess. 
— The Fiddler In The Subway, Gene Weingarten

Beartown 

Beartown: A Novel
By Fredrik Backman

When I was younger, you couldn't find me without a book. I brought books out to family dinners - sat in a booth at a noisy restaurant and just kept on reading. 

Nowadays, there's not as much time for uninterrupted, full-on face-in-a-book reading. But with Beartown - I found that 12 year old ability of mine to shut out the world and travel into the story. 

I read for an entire flight and an entire Sunday afternoon because I just couldn't put the book down. 

From the author of A Man Named Ove - Beartown is incredibly timely and is also about hockey and Sweden - two things that you could say are somewhat pertinent to my life. Backman's ability to describe human nature and to create characters that really come to life are what made this book so compelling. 

If you've read it - comment who your favorite character was! I want to discuss! 

One of the plainest truths about both towns and individuals is that they usually don’t turn into what we tell them to be, but what they are told they are.
— Fredrik Backman, Beartown

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir 

If you don't utilize your public library's ability to lend eBooks - what are you doing?! So easy and also, free! That's how I came to find The Sound of Gravel. 

This is the story of Ruth Wariner as told by herself - about growing up poor in a polygamist family. It's a fascinating look into a culture that I knew very little about before reading the book. 

Mom couldn’t teach me that because she didn’t know herself. She couldn’t show me how to be happy, only how to barely survive.
— Ruth Wariner, The Sound of Gravel

2. Romantic Comedies

I don't watch movies, as a general rule of thumb - unless I'm on a long flight. 

But for some reason a few weeks ago, I found myself watching a different romantic comedy on Netflix every night of the week. Huh? You're all going to laugh - because I'm only about 15 years late to the party on one of them and the other two are garbage. 

Bridget Jones' Diary 

Sleeping With Other People 

Drinking Buddies 

So tell me, what's your favorite romantic comedy? 

3. Yoga 

That's right - it's happened everyone. I can officially say the words, "I like yoga!" 

WOW. It took me years and years but I've finally learned to appreciate a good, sweaty, yoga class. I've even learned how to view it as a damn good workout, not just a stretch. (Read this post from April of last year where I wondered if I was starting to like yoga!)

It's mid-March and I've been to 16+ yoga classes already this year, which is probably more than the combined number of classes I had taken in my life prior to January 1, 2018. 

CorePower Yoga

Like so many runners out there - CorePower was my gateway drug. I had taken Core Power classes in Denver and Raleigh - but it was my class in Boston with Kayla that was a game changer. The instructor was phenomenal and I took my Free Week back with me to NYC and went NUTS. I took 5 classes in 7 days!

I also tried the Yoga Sculpt class without realizing it's basically heated barre - and I liked that too! 

Y7 Studio

Y7 has an intro package that gets you 3 classes for $45 which I did when my CorePower free week was up. 

I wasn't expecting to like Y7 as much as I did - hip hop isn't exactly "me" but I loved the classes that I took. My favorite part is how the class is set up - you know what to expect and there's no opportunity for laying on the mat wondering, "are there 10 minutes left or 50? How much more do we have?" (Because let's face it, I still have that moment about halfway through each yoga class). 

At Y7, you go through 3 separate flows. For each, you go through once slow, once "one breath, one movement" and then the third time the turn the music up and let you go on your own. I loved this because it kept me super focused the entire time so that I could remember the flow - keeping myself mentally focused on yoga is a challenge and I found that this really helped me. 

Yoga Vida

Yoga Vida NYC

There are multiple Yoga Vida locations, but I took all of my free week classes at the NoHo location (no showers, which is a bummer considering this is the studio that offers heated flow!) 

All the instructors here were amazing, the space is HUGE and you can't beat a free week! Plus, they have a bunch of community classes each week that are donation based. Holla! 

Om Factory

Favorite class? The one taught by my friend Bertha! Getting to see her do her thing was so cool! But even better was the fact that she is an AWESOME instructor. 

When Abby and I requested a class with lots of hamstring stretching and an arm balance - Bertha delivered exactly that. The whole class I didn't even realize we were working towards side crow and then WA-BAM all of a sudden it all made sense. 

I'm not sure what the shift was, but I'm very glad that I've come to value more low-impact exercises like yoga and barre (and I'm trying out a Pilates class this weekend!) I've been very unkind to my body in terms of how I've exercised for the past 4 years, and I'm really digging some days without burpees and jump squats and wall balls. 

4. Live Music 

Hearing someone with an incredible voice belt out a good song is probably one of my all time favorite things. I get chills. Every time. And wish that I had been blessed with some vocal chords that can SANG. Alas, I cannot. But I have been doing lots of listening. 

Piano Bars 

My family and I recently went to Don't Tell Mama in Hell's Kitchen and though we waited over an hour to be seated, and they tried skipping over our name on the list - it ended up being such a fun night. Singing along is highly encouraged. They sing a great mix of classic, show tunes, popular songs, oldies - and the singing bar and wait staff are out of this world good - they're all definitely Broadway actors and actresses. 

My other favorite piano bar in NYC is Brandy's on the Upper East Side - both of these are really small venues with two drink minimums but every time I've gone it's been more than worth the pricey drinks. These aren't your average piano bar wannabes - they're extremely talented performers. 

If you go to Brandy's - order a Tequila Cosmo!

Rockwood Music Hall - Stage 3

I had been to Rockwood Music Hall a number of times for various concerts but none of them at Stage 3 (around the corner on Orchard Street). It was such an intimate venue - everyone gets a seat which I hadn't been expecting.

We were there to see Wakey!Wakey! aka Michael Grubbs of One Tree Hill fame. He performed an hour-long show with his piano and damn is his voice powerful. 

For a $15 ticket and a $10 glass of wine (everyone has to buy a drink - but you can get a soda or coffee) it was the perfect Friday night and I was still in bed by 10:30! 

Broadway Musicals

Always my favorite form of live music - I am of the belief that there is nothing like a Broadway musical. We recently went as a family to see the new Jimmy Buffet jukebox musical "Escape to Margaritaville."

While the production was far from artistically groundbreaking, damn was it FUN. Maybe we had a little too much fun. It seems that my "FINS TO THE LEFT, FINS TO THE RIGHT" dance moves may have interfered with some lighting. And apparently the somewhat stuffy audience wasn't on board with yelling "Salt! Salt! Salt!" during the title song. But c'est la vie - not everyone can be a Parrothead. 

My family and I thoroughly enjoyed the show - despite the incredibly forced references to song lyrics and predictable plot line. It certainly helped that our margarita cups were always filled (thanks, Dad!)

The best part was my dad finally realizing just how much he must have listened to Jimmy Buffet when we were kids - my sister and I seemed to know more words than anyone else! 

City Winery

Next up for live music is a concert this week at City Winery! We'll be seeing Joshua Radin and while I haven't been to a show at this venue yet, I have a feeling I'm going to like it. Bar stool + acoustic music + wine seems like the recipe for a wonderful Thursday night. 

5. Rock Climbing

I've loved rock climbing for as long as I can remember - I was a total monkey as a kid. Climbing trees, climbing the rope faster than anyone else in gym class. 

I finally got myself belay certified and asked for a 10-climb pass for Christmas - so if anyone wants to go rock climbing at The Cliffs in LIC let me know!! 

The Cliffs LIC

It's such an adrenaline rush and I love the fact that by the end of a day at the climbing gym - my arms are actually shaking they're so exhausted. I still get a little nervous while belaying - the fact that I'm actually in control of someone's life is slightly terrifying - but practice makes perfect? 

6. Argan Oil & Chakra  Oil 

My moisturizing game has never been stronger thanks to these two products. 

Rituals Shanti Chakra Body Oil

My coworker bought us each a bottle of this in the Copenhagen airport after we used the tester and fell in love. 

The smell is dreamy, and putting this on after the shower makes me feel like I'm treating myself to a spa day. I'm almost out, and I can't find it online, and I'm having a slight meltdown. 

Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil

Want your hair to feel super hydrated and luscious? Use this stuff. 

I take terrible care of my hair. I get it cut about once a year. I straighten it, blow dry it, curl it - and half the time I'm showering at New York Sports Club whose shampoo I swear doesn't actually do anything.  

But ever since my mom got me a little tube of hair oil in my stocking stuffer - I've been using it non stop and I can see a huge difference in the look and feel of my hair. 

7. Doughnuts 

There was awhile there where I seemed to be on a doughnut hiatus. Thank God that ended. 

East Main & Main - Port Jefferson, New York

East Main & Main Donuts

Long Island is finally get involved in the doughnut game!

Dilla's Delights - Detroit, Michigan 

Dilla's Delights Detroit

Banana pudding cake donut, HOLLER! 

(*Adorable donut earrings from my coworker!)

Blackbird Doughnuts - Boston, Massachusetts 

blackbird.jpg

Citrus old fashioned! GET IT!!!

Kane's Donuts - Boston, Massachusetts

Kane's Donuts

This was Kayla's introduction to doughnut tasting and I was so happy that she got totally into it with me. We started with one - but that was just a lie we were telling ourselves. 

Dough - Tampa, Florida

Dough Doughnuts Tampa Bay Florida

More than anything, what I appreciated about Dough was that they gave me the opportunity to have a ridiculous doughnut photo shoot with my friends portrait mode. And the fact that their creme brulee dooughnut was ridic. 

Stuffed - New York, New York 

Stuffed Doughnut Ice Cream NYC

Ice cream + doughnut ice cream sandwiches. Yeah, I went there.

(And in the same day, after brunch, we ate a Dun-Well doughnut AND two scoops at Davey's Ice Cream. Still unsure how I have avoided diabetes thus far). 

Carlson's Donuts & Thai Kitchen

Annapolis, Maryland 

Carlson's Donuts & Thai Kitchen

Talk about strange combos - Carlson's was a MUST VISIT while I was in Annapolis. I mean, when I hear that there is a run down shop that serves doughnuts from 5 AM - 11 AM and then becomes a Thai restaurant for dinner - you couldn't keep me away. 

The best part? These doughnuts were ridiculously good. 

8. Podcasts

I didn't really expect to like podcasts, but now I listen to them almost daily during my commute. They're great on the stationary bike. And sometimes I even just lay in bed and listen to one! I sound like I'm a podcast junkie but in reality, there are really only two that I listen to at the moment, so please send your recommendations my way!

*Also very interested in any podcast that has had JK Rowling as a guest. 

Ali on the Run Show

I think Ali was made to have a podcast. She's a phenomenal host who is clearly passionate about her guests, the subjects and the project in general. 

What I love about the Ali on the Run Show is that there's a structure to it, but depending on the guest each show is obviously very unique! I absolutely love the "Sprint to the Finish" portion of the show when Ali asks each guests fun questions like "Where was your first kiss?" and "What would your last meal on earth be?" These questions really help humanize the incredible (running-related) guests that she has on the show. 

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Unlike the Ali on the Run Show - Dax Shepard's new podcast has almost no structure whatsoever yet somehow I keep finding myself listening to to 2+ hour episodes where he interviews fellow celebrities and digs into some serious topics like anxiety, depression, addiction and has really candid talks about being a celebrity and what that's like for your psyche. 

By far my favorite episode was the first one when Dax had his wife, the wonderful Kristin Bell, on as a guest. I immediately started stalking them on Instagram and it's safe to say that I would like them to adopt me into their family. 

I also love the end of each episode when their family friend/podcast fact-checker Monica Padman comes on to call-out all of Dax's erroneous statements from the show. 

9. New Workouts 

Like I said - running is still a thing that my body doesn't seem to be interested in. Actually, it seems very disinterested in it. And finally, I'm listening and I'm saying "That's cool - let's do some other stuff!" 

Normally I would write a full review for each of these classes but in an effort to make up for the past, oh, I don't know, year that I neglected to do class reviews, I'm going to keep it brief. 

Orangetheory Fitness

Orangetheory Fitness Review

I checked out two OTF classes while I was in Tampa Bay and I gotta say - I didn't like them as much as I was expecting to. 

The first time, we didn't even get heart rate monitors, which was a complete bummer (I'm a numbers girl when it comes to a workout!) and the second time, I was just very frustrated at how hard it was to get my heart rate into the "Red Zone." 

I like the concept - and I like switching stations to do both cardio and strength - but it just wasn't the "OH MY GOD AMAZING" workout that I was hoping for. 

To be fair, I may actually have been asleep for the second class as evidenced by this photo. 

Everybody Fights

Everybody Fights Boxing Review

This boxing studio, owned by George Foreman's son, started in Boston and recently opened up in NYC. 

Whenever I take a boxing class, I leave feeling like I got my ass kicked and Everybody Fights was no exception! It's a really big space that offers a bunch of different kinds of classes and I definitely wouldn't be opposed to returning! 

Curious about boxing? You can check out my reviews of some other NYC boxing studios using the links below!

Shadowbox

Rumble

Work Train Fight

Overthrow

Kings Thai Boxing

Kings Thai Boxing Review NYC

My friend Bertha is a badass babe who regularly goes to Kings Thai Boxing. 

I said I would go as long as she was there to help me - and I'm so glad I did! It was definitely out of my comfort zone - I felt pretty lost most of the time - but the instructor was SO helpful and friendly and by the end of class I was a) drenched in sweat b) sore as hell and c) feeling like a total badass. 

Abby came to class too - so we got to work as partners which helped a TON. I felt less guilty every time I made a mistake holding the pads (which was very very frequently - sorry, Ab!) To be honest, remembering the sequences was harder as the person holding the pads than as the one doing the punching and kicking (at least for me). 

Can we just talk about the ~casual~ way this class ended? A ladder of DEATH, that's how. 

1 Left Kick
1 Right Kick
1 Pushups
2 Left Kicks
2 Right Kicks
2 Pushups 

Up to 10. Back down to 5. 

I have never come closer to throwing up (or collapsing during a push-up). 

Saturday's at noon Kings Thais has a Beginners Class if you feel like feelin' fierce! 

Spiderbands

Spiderbands Class Review

When I started getting targeted ads for this new fitness studio on my Instagram feed I was instantly intrigued. 

It looked so unique and mainly it just looked plain fun! Also, it seemed to be somewhat low-impact which I could use some more of! So I signed up for their intro deal (2 classes for $20!

When Bertha, Abby and I went to this class - there was only one other person there. Normally, I would think, "GREAT it's like a private class!" But instead, our instructor was super robotic and unenthusiastic the entire time. Even though we were clearly new students, and clearly the studio isn't batting people away. 

Despite that - I really did like Spiderbands just because it was so different than any other class. There's a TON you can do with these giant resistance bands which is evident when you realize they offer 6 different classes ranging from bosu ball to kickboxing to HIIT. 

We took the "Signature Spiderbands" class but I will definitely be using my second class to try something new!

Come prepared to take an epic Boomerang after class, and plan on staying a bit after to enjoy their BEAUTIFUL showers/locker rooms. 

Fithouse

I have a feeling Fit House is about to be all the rage in the NYC fitness world - especially now that ClassPass has become too expensive for a lot of people. 

The concept is pretty simple - a $99/month membership to attend classes at Fithouse studios across the city (right now, there is only one, but they plan to expand quickly to at least 3 more neighborhoods). 

While the membership doesn't gain you access to a typical gym space, it does grant you access to a bunch of different types of classes. This includes HIIT, Yoga, Strength and Barre. 

I found a discount code for a FREE two week trial when they first opened, but unfortunately, the Bowery location was pretty inconvenient for me and I only got to attend two classes. 

Pros
+Big studio with lots of equipment for different types of exercises
+Automatic lockers (no need to bring your own lock) 
+Close to subway station 

Cons
-No showers at the Bowery location (they are hoping that some of the other studios will have showers, but TBD) 
-No spin or boxing classes (personally, two of my favorite kinds of classes!) 
-The one bathroom stall is INSIDE the studio - so if you arrive before class and need to use the restroom but there's a class going on inside the studio - you can't. It's a weird set up. 

I took two of the higher intensity classes - Strength Station and Slam.  Bother were 45 minutes long. They were good - but not great. Hard, but not killer.  

The best part of Fit House was the instructor Mark - he was great!

I think as more studios open, as they hire more staff, as they add more classes, Fithouse definitely has the potential to be an affordable option for people who like to take a lot of classes as opposed to belonging to a gym. 

They're currently running a $19 deal for a 2 week trial! (Just be sure you cancel if you don't want to sign up or they'll automatically start charging you at the end of the two weeks!)

Sweat Yoga

It was sweaty, it was yoga. It was a yoga class I took before I liked yoga - so not much to say about it! 

Barry's Bootcamp

Who woulda thunk that my first Barry's Bootcamp class would actually be in SWEDEN? 

That's right. While I was in Stockholm for work, I went to a Barry's class! I ended up finding a class on the schedule that was taught in English and thank God for that. I don't know why I had been thinking it would be no problem taking the class in Swedish - I definitely would have regretted it as we did some pretty complicated moves with the stepper and resistance bands for the strength portion of the class!

Chris Mosiers' Deck A Day Challenge

This isn't new - but it's a workout that I have been LOVING and doing very frequently. Each year, Chris runs a Facebook group that challenges you to do a deck of cards workout every day from Thanksgiving to New Years' Eve. I've done it the past 3 years and at the end of it, I'm always in SUCH GOOD SHAPE. 

It's a strength workout, a cardio workout, an ab workout, and uses a lot of the exercises that I normally let fall to the wayside that are actually super important (glute bridges, donkey kicks, etc.)  

Deck A Day Workout

He keeps the group running throughout the year - so if I'm ever feeling uninspired at the gym I'll check the page! We were lucky enough to have Chris in NYC a few weeks ago and got to do the deck of the day live and in person in Central Park which was awesome :)

You can also follow along on his Instagram account.

 

10. Billie

Instagram sponsored ads are my best friend and my worst enemy. They can show me an ad enough times and I'll 100% start to think that I need it. Like that damn Quip toothbrush they keep pushing on me. 

But Billie is one that I barely even hesitated before purchasing. Essentially, it's a month subscription for new razor blades. The concept behind it is basically my internal monologue of: 

WHY IS IT SO DAMN EXPENSIVE TO BUY REPLACEMENT RAZOR BLADES AS A WOMAN? 

WHY DO I ALWAYS END UP JUST BUYING A NEW RAZOR BECAUSE IT'S HALF THE PRICE AS A PACK OF BLADES? 

SHOULD I JUST GET THESE SHITTY DISPOSABLE ONES?

I thought that maybe my whole life I was missing something - but nope, apparently the founders of Billie were on the same page. 

Razor blade prices + laziness + my travel schedule ensure that I am almost always using razor blades that are far too old and dull to effectively shave my legs. In fact, they're probably downright dangerous. 

The ratio of the amount of time I spend at a gym in shorts and how often my legs are well-shaven is not socially acceptable.

So I ordered a Billie razor in a cute coral color. It came in the mail with a super ~minimalist~ magnetic holder that takes up zero space in the shower. It came with two razor blades that are smooth and wonderful. Every 3 months I'll get 4 NEW BLADES FOR $9.80. In the mail. 

I don't know why this is so exciting to me but it is. I wrote an email to all my female coworkers the day I found out about it and group texted like 20 girlfriends. 

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. 

They also have a super cool message about the "Pink Tax" which they define as - 

PINK TAX: the extra amount women are charged for certain products (*ahem* razors) or services. For no reason. Unless being female is a reason.

Word. 

So, help a sista out - if you use the link below to order your Billie razor I'll get some coupons or somethin' 

11. Gap

Bonus #11!

Not much to say on this except I have been LOVING everything from the Gap and it's getting to be a problem. 

I online shop with my Gap Cash because, "It would be a waste not to use it," and then I tell myself, "There's a Gap right near the office, just order it and it if it doesn't fit you can return it." Except can you guess how much I have ordered and decided to return? That's right, none of it. 

Gap Model

On any given day, you can find me wearing multiple items from the Gap. Most recently, I have purchased not only clothing from them but undergarments and workout clothes as well - so that my entire wardrobe is beginning to resemble the store. 

Oops. 

THAT WAS FUN! 

I feel like we're all caught up, and now I can start pushing out some new, relevant, timely posts! Thanks for stickin' around. 

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SHADOWBOX: NYC Fitness Class Review

A lean, mean boxing machine! That's what I am not...yet. 

But I have been trying to incorporate boxing into my weekly routine - it's cardio, strength, total-body, HIIT, and low impact on my legs. Did I mention it's FUN and the (good) classes tend to fly by? Half the time I'm concentrating so hard on what the punch sequence is that before I know it, class it over!

My mission to become the next Ali (who is his female counterpart?) has led me to NYSC, Tapout Fitness, Kickbox Haus, Rumble Boxing and Work Train Fight. The latest stop was Shadowbox in the Flatiron District. 

Shadowbox NYC Fitness Review

THE STUDIO 

Shadowbox Review

The inside of Shadowbox is SO pretty. Which is a little disconcerting for a place where you're supposed to be learning about boxing - a sport with a not so dainty reputation. 

But now that boxing has become a trendy fitness fad, some of the studios are big, bright and downright beautiful spaces that attract Lulu-clad ladies. I'm sure the boxing purists out there have their issues with places like Rumble and Shadowbox, but at the end of the day, it's raising awareness about the sport and I think that's a good thing! 

A recent conversation centered around the most overall athletic athletes - and we landed on boxers. That never would have been my pick before boutique-boxing became a thing! 

I digress. 

Shadowbox is a gorgeous studio with a cafe in the lobby serving turmeric lattes and coffee with MCT oil. Trendy AF. 

Shadowbox Fitness Review

There's an actual boxing ring where private sessions take place (why are boxing rings square?), both men's and women's locker rooms, and a black-lit, mirrored studio with 40 floor to ceiling punching bags ready for you to beat the crap out of. 

Shadowbox Boxing Review

The studio itself feels slightly cramped when you walk in, but once the class was underway, it wasn't so bad. 

There's a pouch at the bottom of each bag with 1 pound weights - it's also where you should store your water bottle so it's not on the floor and in your way! (And pro-tip from the nowhere-near-a-pro...your gloves go up on the top of the bag for the first part of class!) 

THE CLASS 

Shadowboxing Review

WARM UP 

The warm-up included some simple body-weight/cardio exercises like jumping jacks, butt kicks and high knees. 

SHADOWBOX 

During this portion of the class, we boxed without gloves and without the bag - like we were boxing a shadow! Get it? There was also the option to use 1 pound hand weights for this part. 

We went through the different movements - jab, cross, hooks and uppercuts and did a few different combinations adding in some bobbing and weaving (defensive moves). 

I had sucked it up and bought myself wraps ($4) when I arrived, so I was feeling pretty legit and ready to get to business. 

BOXING - 7 ROUNDS 

The majority of the class was spent going through 7 different rounds of boxing with the heavy bag - gloves on.  

Each round is between 3-5 minutes followed by ACTIVE recovery. There isn't a minute of class that you're resting. If you aren't throwing punches, you're doing burpees, lunges, mountain climbers, or some other form of sweet sweet torture. The hardest active recovery that we did, in my opinion, were the MAYWEATHER SITUPS. Good God. You're supposed to go right from a sit up to a stand-up, and even as I clung to the bag to try to heave myself up, I struggled HARD. 

How the heck does he make this look easy?? It is not, I assure you. 

WHAT I LIKED:

+Non-stop! Between ab work, cardio drills and bag-work, you're constantly moving during a class at Shadowbox. It's a total body workout for sure. 

+Compared to Rumble, Shadowbox relies entirely on body weight exercises for the "strength" component of the class. While I really liked the fact that you used weights at Rumble and it felt like real strength training, the way that Shadowbox is set up makes the transition from strength to boxing a lot smoother and quicker which keeps you on your toes. 

+I did really miss the combinations being projected on the wall like they were during class at Rumble, but our instructor did a great job of reminding us during each round of what punches we were supposed to be throwin'.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:

-The fact that the heavy-bags are floor to ceiling makes it very hard to see the instructor during class. I was constantly moving around to try to get a look at the moves she was demonstrating.  (When you sign up online, the website will show you which bags have better views and recommends them for beginners). 

-I didn't like that I'm dumb and kept one of my rings on and cut my hand open. 

THE RUNDOWN

Shadowbox NYC Review

THE STUDIO – 7

Another gorgeous studio - with lockers, locker rooms, convenient extras like hair-ties and nice products, and even a coffee shop with juices and other goodies. 

I was shocked at how few people stayed after class to shower. While the line wasn't long, the space itself was still pretty cramped as people tried to get changed and do their hair and makeup. 

CLASS SIZE - 7

The classes are pretty big - much like Rumble, if you're really looking to learn about boxing and get some one on one training, this probably isn't the best place to come (unless you're doing a one on one session in the ring!) There are 40 bags, and though it looks and feels a little cramped when you first walk in, you have plenty of room to do everything required of you in the class. 

SWEAT SCALE – 7

This class kicked my booty and I was definitely sore the next day! 

FUN FACTOR – 8

Dark room, great jams, releasing some pent up anxiety and stress by punching something. Definitely a good time!

AMENITIES – 8

There's really everything you could ask for in the locker room and studio - you can buy water bottles, wraps and rent gloves. 

COST - $$$

Standard for NYC, a class at Shadowbox costs $34 for a single class. Unfortunately, they don't have any deals for first time students. I attended for free in exchange for a review on my blog! 

BOTTOM LINE: 

Shadowbox NYC Review

My love of boxing classes continues. Shadowbox is definitely like Rumble in many ways, and doesn't provide any one on one time with the instructor. In fact, you can barely see the instructor during class. While it doesn't have some of the bells and whistles that Rumble has, I liked the fact that the second you finished on the bag, you went straight into another exercise. Despite not having weights for strength training, Shadowbox incorporates moves like lunges, push-ups and burpees that challenge you and keep your heart rate elevated the entire time. 

I also liked that Shadowbox threw in some defensive maneuvers as well. 

If you're looking for a group fitness boxing class as opposed to actual one on one boxing, I definitely recommend giving Shadowbox a try. It might now be as new and shiny as Rumble, but it's a great workout, a beautiful studio, and there's a shorter line for the shower after class ;) 

(And I've found that for one-on-one time with an instructor, regular old NYSC "Non-Contact Boxing" classes are great! WTF also included a LOT of time with the instructor!)

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Throwback Fitness Throws Down

A Mario Bros. mural covers the walls, instructors wear polos and whistles around their necks, and students store their belongings in cubbies. All signs point to middle school gym as you remember it in the 80s and 90s – but the workout you get at Throwback Fitness is much more intense than a game of middle school pickleball – and even more fun. 

Throwback Fitness Review

THE STUDIO

Throwback is a small studio within an office building. It’s lacking a proper locker room and showers if morning workouts before the office are you jam - I had to make my way over to New York Sports Club before going to the office.

That being said, the studio itself is spacious enough and jam packed with equipment like rowers, medicine balls, kettlebells and dumbbells. 

Throwback Fitness NYC Review

THE CLASS

Throwback Fitness NYC

Throwback offers two main classes - Strength/Power and Endurance/Speed. I've now taken both - and they are pretty much as their names imply. Leaving Strength/Power I felt strong and leaving Endurance/Speed I felt like I had gotten in a good cardio workout. Regardless of the particular class you pick, the workout is split into four sections – a warmup, Phys Ed, homework and recess, keeping with the theme of the studio. A little kitschy? Sure - but it works. 

Warm-Up

I've now taken three classes at Throwback Fitness and each time, class started by introducing ourselves and answering a quick question about ourselves - favorite game show (Figure It Out), Favorite Famous Animal (any monkey) and Favorite Cereal (Peanut Butter Puffins). After intros, the warm-up always incorporates exercises into some kind of game.

In Throwback Fitness Questions you had to perform 8 shoulder taps followed by 8 alternating lunges before you could ask a yes or no question to our instructor, Java, to figure out which celebrity he was thinking of.

We did this for three minutes, successfully guess Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, and Steve Harvey while continuously completing our shoulder tap and lunge reps.

In another warm-up we performed a series of exercises before being allowed to fire a foam ball at the little army men lining the top of the ceiling beam (harder than it looked). 

And in my last class, we played "Musical Medicine Ball" - traveling around the room performing high knees, butt kicks, etc. until the music stopped. The people left without a medicine ball were sent to the rowers for 100 meter row penalty before joining back into the game. 

Phys Ed

In Strength/Power, "Phys Ed" was the main strength portion of the class. We split into two groups and completed the following sets of exercises for 3.5 minutes, 4 times for a total of 14 minutes.

A
14 American KB Swings
14 Spiderman Push-Ups

B
14 Bent Rows
14 Megatrons (One handed snatch + lunge)
7 Squat Thrusts

In Endurance/Speed, the "Phys Ed" section is where you use the rower. I'm frustrated every time I row because I look over and see people rowing at a 2:15 pace and I'm struggling to hit 2:45. But it certainly provides a challenge and raises the heart rate! 

In both Endurance/Speed classes I took, the rowing portion was down with a partner. While you row, your partner completes a circuit of exercises (10 cannonball push-ups, 16 kneeling up/down squats, 20 bicycle flutterkicks). Either you row until your partner finishes the circuit or your partner repeats the circuit until you've hit a predetermined distance on the rower. 

At the end of Phys Ed, based on the number of meters rowed, a first, second and third place team is announced. 

Homework

This section is a 3-4  minute core-interlude. For example:
 
:30 Left Side Plank/:30 Left V-Ups
:30 Right Side Plank/:30 Right V-Ups
:30 Hollow Hold/:30 Tuck Ups

Another class, we did a 3 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of: 
12 Medicine ball sit-ups
12 Medicine ball roll-outs
12 Medicine ball Russian twists

Recess

The last part of class, recess, is where the group is split into two teams for a competition. In my first class, Recess was a relay race. Each time had 4 people lined up in a row, doing a different exercise. As one person finished 6 laps of a bear crawl, the group shifted to the next exercise. Each time you finished 20 reps, you grabbed a flag. The team with the most flags at the end of the 5 minutes was the winner.

1 Arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat – I couldn’t do this for my LIFE. I’m determined to work on these!
Reverse Lunge to High Knee
Sit-Ups
6 Bear Crawl Laps – These kill me every time! Why is bear crawling so hard?

Another time we played corn hole! Every time you completed 7 push-up jacks, 9 tuck ups and 11 frog jumps, you got to throw the beanbag. Let me  tell you - something about starting your day with corn hole really just sets you up for success.

Class always finished with both teams lining up and high-fiving and "good game"-ing and my first class, we also made a group Boomerang. 

After my first class I wasn't 100% sold on Throwback, but by the end of my 3 classes there, I found myself really enjoying it. 

THE INSTRUCTORS 

I took a class with each of the three main instructors - Java, Brian and Ryan and can honestly say that they were equally wonderful instructors. They were thorough but quick in their explanations of some complex exercises/games and super motivating and positive throughout class. Java may win for best class playlist though!

Throwback Fitness Review

WHAT I LIKED 

I liked that Throwback used a number of complex exercises in their classes. Instead of sticking to isolation exercises, there were tons of compound moves that targeted multiple body parts at once to make Throwback a true total body workout. 

The option to choose between a class geared more towards cardio or strength is something that I think more studios should implement. 

The community vibe at Throwback is great - the instructors call almost everyone by name, and as the newbie, they were very encouraging and made an effort to learn my name as well. I also loved that during the rowing portion of class, they would continually walk around the room and let you know how many meters you needed to catch up to the front of pack - it definitely kept me from phoning it in when I got tired. 

The class manages to be just the right amount of competitive. The games motivate you, but don't get so intense that anyone would feel "bad" about their performance. 

Another aspect I like is that there are challenges that go beyond the people you're in class with - there is a Throwback Fitness-wide system for earning gold stars and completing different challenges that regulars get really in to! 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE 

In my first class, my opinion of the "games" was that they were too gimmicky - but by the end of three classes I figured out that they're designed so that you can make them as intense or as laid back as you want. 

My one complaint was that the studio was SO HOT AND SWEATY. That, coupled with the lack of showers, made me feel pretty bad for the people around me on the subway to work. 

THE RUNDOWN

THE STUDIO - 6

The studio itself is fun to look around, with all the 80s posters and paraphernalia. Plus, as I mentioned, there's a ton of equipment packed into the space and a lot is possible.  

Lacking however are the additional amenities offered at many other boutique fitness studios. 

CLASS SIZE - SMALL

There's been about 10-12 people in each class I attended, which was a perfect amount. It never seemed too crowded, though 3 or 4 more people and it might have started to feel a little cramped. 

SWEAT SCALE - 7

Both Power/Strength and Endurance/Speed were pretty damn sweaty! The way these workouts are set-up, you can push it to the limit and get a killer workout, or if you're having a meh day, take it a bit slower. 

FUN FACTOR - 9

Throwback is a great time, and that's it's appeal. Not only are you getting in a great workout, but you're doing it in a fun atmosphere - led by the great instructors at Throwback. 

AMENITIES - 4

This is where Throwback falls short. 

COST - $$$

A single class at Throwback will cost you $32, which seems a little high for what it offers. I had bought a 3 for $30 package on Black Friday, and they also offer 2 classes for $19 for first-timers, which I highly recommend checking out! 

THE BOTTOM LINE

You could go to a class like Tone House or Barry's and get a KILLER workout. You could go to Mile High Run Club or Swerve and kill it at cardio. But Throwback is the option for the days you just want an all around good workout - to not kill yourself, and to thoroughly enjoy your workout! 

I'd add this to my list of "You Should Try It!" (I should actually make this list at some point...) 

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How To Stay In Shape When Traveling For Work

So you’re on the road for a week, or two – maybe even for a month. Your work hours are long, your gym is back at home along with your workout classes and normal running routes, and you’re staying in a dark, comfy hotel room. Have you tried waking up at 5:45 a.m. to work out when you’re in a pitch black hotel room?  A place normally representative of relaxing vacations? It is no easy feat, my friends.

But if you're a fitness fanatic who frequently finds themselves on the road for work, it's NOT impossible to fit workouts into your trip. And in fact, it could be a huge factor for stress relief and keeping some semblance of sanity and routine when life becomes very work-centric. 

Here's what 3 years of traveling for work have taught me about staying (somewhat) in shape on the road! 

Staying In Shape on the Road

Get It Done Early 

Whether you're typically an early morning workout person or not - when you're on the road, it's always best to get it done in the a.m. You're there for work, and things are going to come up throughout the day that may turn what was supposed to be an early shift into something much longer than intended. 

A group of coworkers may ask you to go out to dinner, and you can't say no. Your boss may give you an assignment that can't wait. And you might just be too damn tired at the end of the day. The excuses will only pile up as the day goes on - so set that alarm and get 'er done. That way, all of your focus can be on the job at hand. 

Tips for Working Out at Hotels

No Excuses 

There are going to be many, many reasons you can give yourself as to why you shouldn't work out. Even more excuses than you normally manage to come up with. While you're traveling for work there's a whole new slew of "why-nots." 

"The gym here sucks" 
"I'm going to be too tired at work if I get up now" 
"No one else works out on the road" 
"I shouldn't go for a run when I don't really know the area" 
"I can't take a class" 
"I don't have my bike" 
"I only have 20 minutes" 
"I don't want to run into co-workers" 

You need to dig deep and find a way to silence those voices in your head that are non-stop-naysayers. If you set an alarm for a morning workout, you need to dig your heels in, show some resolve, and just do the damn thing. Instead of giving voice to all those excuses in your head, I suggest: 

Remind Yourself Of Why You WANT To Workout

Remind yourself of all the reasons your alarm is going off at a somewhat ungodly hour. Don't' even let your mind go toward the excuses - immediately re-route those thoughts to remember why you set the alarm in the first place. 

Because Exercising Is YOU Time 

You're traveling for work and you're constantly surrounded by coworkers. But for those 45 blissful minutes in the hotel gym at 5:45 a.m. - you're only worried about YOU. 

Because Exercising Relieves Stress 

Work work work and no play is no good for your stress levels! Working out is a huge way to handle the stress of your job. 

Because Exercising Will Start The Day Off Right 

Starting your day with a healthy dose of endorphins ensures you won't be the grump who shows up miserable to work in the morning. 

Because It's What You Do 

When you're home you exercise, so why should things be any different when you're traveling? Traveling for work already throws many aspects of life out of wake - but it's in your power to keep exercise as a consistent part of your daily routine. Do it. 

BECAUSE YOU HAVE FITNESS GOALS 

Whatever your fitness goals may be - remind yourself of them in the morning. Maybe you're trying to achieve the elusive pull-up. Maybe you're training for your first triathlon - don't let a work trip derail your hard work and determination to achieve your goals. I trained for a marathon through multiple work trips - and while it wasn't fun to run 13.1 miles in a new city before a 12+ hour day, I was determined to run my first marathon. And I did! 

You'll Feel Better 

This is usually the first thing I tell myself. Waking up at 5:30 a.m. and trudging to the gym half asleep never feels good. But I am 100% guaranteed to feel better on the way back up to my room - and that feeling tends to stay with me throughout the day! Reminding myself of that fact is usually enough to get me up and out. 

*I cannot stress enough that one thing you should never use to try to get yourself to the gym are body-shaming thoughts like, "You ate out last night," or, "You're going to gain so much weight on this trip if you don't go." Trust me on this one, self-motivating reminders of why working out makes you FEEL good are 100X more effective. 

Workout Motivation

Manage Expectations 

Just because you're successful in getting yourself to the hotel gym, doesn't mean you're going to have a stellar workout. I've found that I need to manage my expectations while I'm on the road and can't expect to feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger after a workout in a gym with little more than dumbbells and an elliptical. You need to be okay with a decrease in: 

Length of Workout 

Realistically, you're going to hit the snooze button a few extra times when you're on a work trip. At least I know that I do. While I normally work out for around an hour at my home gym, I'm more than happy if I can get in a solid 30-45 minute workout on the road. 

Intensity of Workout 

Same here - my head is normally not as "in the game" for workouts when I'm on the road as they are in a group fitness class or workout in a place I'm familiar with and comfortable in. Not to mention the equipment available in a hotel gym can put a serious damper on intensity. That, paired with long hours, means I'm not dripping with sweat at the end of all my work-workouts. I usually try to get in one HIIT workout per week on the road where I am really kickin' my booty. 

Complexity of Workout

This goes back to the equipment and space that you have to work with. You're probably not going to be able to do a ton of complex exercises if all you have to work with are free weights and a treadmill. I prefer to see it as a challenge - what's the most interesting workout I can create with not a lot of options? It usually means lots of body weight exercises! (Hi, burpees - ugh). 

This is also where the Internet can come in reallllly handy. There are tons of "no equipment, small space" workouts available online. There are apartment workouts and hotel room workouts aplenty on Pinterest! Use them!

Working Out On The Road

Embrace the Space and Get Creative

That being said, some hotels have wonderful fitness facilities and you should take advantage of those when they're available! Don't just phone it in because you're in a hotel gym - use what is available to you. 

I've stayed in hotels with lap pools, tennis courts, bosu balls, spin bikes, classes, running groups, kettlebells. You just need to adapt to the tools you have available. 

Switch up the way your format your workouts - add in some tabata, choose 10 exercises and cycle through each for a minute before taking a :60 rest and repeating. There are so many different ways to assemble a challenging workout and none of them are entirely equipment dependent. 

One of my favorites is a deck of cards workout where you assign a different body weight exercise to each suit. As you go through the deck, you perform the exercise as many times as indicated by the card. There's even an app you can download so you don't need to bring 52 cards to the gym. But you could do that too, I guess! 

Working Out At Work

Keep It Fun 

The odds of you working out are already diminished. If you add to that plans for a workout that you don't love - you're setting yourself up for failure. If you love running and shoulder day, focus on those during your trip. If you really hate the stationary bike - keep that out of the mix. Crazy about planking? Give yourself something to look forward to and come up with a plank-filled workout! 

Do What You Can 

So you had to be in to work at 6:30 a.m. and there was no way you were waking up at 4:00 a.m. to workout. Don't write off the day entirely! Do your best to stay active in any way possible throughout the day. Walk as much as you can. Convince your coworkers to do some mid-day wall sits and planks! It might sound crazy, but I've done it! And I guarantee your coworkers are in the same boat and feeling pretty bad about their lack of exercise during the trip. They might be more willing than you'd think to lunge across the office or do some dips on their chairs. 

Find Someone To Hold You Accountable 

If you can find a co-worker who is just as committed to working out while traveling - that's a HUGE bonus. My friend and I try to plan our workouts together as much as we can - if we plan to meet at a certain time, you don't want to be the one that doesn't show up! 

If you're the lone crusader from your company hitting up the gym - have one of your fit-friends from home check in in the mornings. If they Snapchat you a picture of them lacing up their sneakers, it might be that extra oomph you need! 

Workout Like A Local 

Take advantage of your new location! One of my favorite things to do is visit a November Project workout if they have a tribe in the city I'm working from. I've gotten to attend workouts in Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Toronto thanks to work travel. These workouts are a huge breath of fresh air because they double as social time away from work and remind me of home. 

There's also nothing saying you need to workout in the hotel gym all the time! See if there are any nearby fitness studios where you could sign up for a class. Bonus? Many places have first time student discounts - and since you're from out of town - chances are you haven't been there before! 

I've also signed up and run a road-race while traveling for work which was a great way to experience the local running scene. 

I also highly suggest looking up the running groups and running stores in the area to see if you can find other fitness-minded people to workout with in the area. Who knows, you might even make a lifelong friend! 

Working Out On Work Trips

Be Smart 

Always, always be smart. If you're exhausted, if you're feeling injured, if you've got an 18 hour shift ahead of you - reconsider your workout. Go for a walk instead, or take all the extra sleep you can get. Being on the road is stressful. Traveling isn't great for immune system. If you're body is telling you that it needs to take it easy for the remainder of the trip - listen to it! Your gym, your fitness classes, your running group will all be there waiting for you when you return! 

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No Equipment HIIT Workout To Pack on Summer Vacation

This past week I spent 7 days nestled away at Camp Fieldstone in The Adirondacks. Despite packing my 10 lb dumbbells and knowing the effectiveness of body-weight exercises - I was a little unmotivated without a gym for the week. I woke up early every morning and entertained the eternal internal battle - get up and workout vs. click snooze. 

That is - until my aunt asked me to come up with a killer workout to start one morning off on the right foot. My wanna-be-personal-trainer was up for the challenge. I created the following NO EQUIPMENT, MINIMAL SPACE workout. 

I then proceeded to make my sister take pictures of each exercise for me ;) Thanks, Sam! 

Small Space Workout

10 Jump Up Stairs

Easy HIIT Workout

10 Dips

Easy HIIT Workout


25 Squats

HIIT Workout


25 Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers


10 Shoulders Taps Each Side

Plank Shoulder Taps


10 Push-Ups

HIIT Push-Ups


50 Toe Taps

Toe Taps HIIT

Repeat 5X

Next, we went up to the mountainous driveway and ran 7 hill repeats! 

BOOM. 

No Equipment HIIT Workout

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