Tag Archives: working out

Yoga — LA Style

10 Oct
Image courtesy of Flicker user  istolethetv

Image courtesy of Flicker user istolethetv.

Until I moved to LA, my only experience with yoga took place at free classes that came with my LA Fitness membership in Pittsburgh. Why won’t lie — after a few classes I found myself to be pretty good. It’s probably worth mentioning that many of my classmates were overweight, middle-aged women, who probably used their gym membership for nothing beyond slow strolls on the treadmill. Whatever. Even with my (truthfully) sub-par yoga skills I was able to rock it out in free Pittsburgh yoga.

Fast forward to LA. I spent the first month we lived here whining that I wished the many trendy little studios in our neighborhood weren’t so pricey, while secretly scared to go anyway. Then my birthday rolls around and my husband presents me with a certificate for a month of free yoga at one of said trendy studios. Game on.

Yoga in LA

I won’t lie, I was pretty nervous for my first LA yoga class. I got dressed up in my finest yoga sweats, put some makeup on and headed out to meet the yogis of LaLa land.

The studio I go to is very LA. There’s a crazy expensive, yet totally cute, boutique in the reception room, then a couple of yoga studios off to the side. So far so good.

I walked into my “beginners yoga” class and it was H-O-T. I’m now three classes in and this is always the case, so I’m not sure if a hot yoga class goes on before mine, or if it’s just a way to weed out the weak. My second observation was the large amount of men in the class. In Pittsburgh, there were sometimes one or two super buff guys in class who were clearly shopping for women. Not the case in LA. These dudes were here for some serious planking — yoga style.

My first class started out with a loud “Oooommm.” I’m not going to lie, I found this odd. Even stranger when the class ended with one as well.

Thankfully, the rest of the class was pretty standard. No weird LA stuff. Actually I was pretty pleased that most of the poses were relatively simple. I went home and told my husband it was too easy and he suggested I go to the next level class. I considered it, then laughed. I’d rather excel in a beginners class, than risk being a dunce in a more advanced class any day. So judge me. Ooooommmm.

 

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For a Good Time, Take Your Workout Plans Outdoors

22 Jul

When the weather is nice, you want to be outdoors, right? If your response is not a big, loud YES!!, you have issues. There’s nothing like enjoying fantastic cardio workouts under the bright sun and clear skies of the great outdoors. Not only are you getting a great physical workout, it’s also fantastic for the mind.

I don’t know about you, but but my normal workout plans involve hopping up on the cardio equipment and quickly turning on the television. While I’m deeply grateful and a large fan of the built-in televisions on the cardio equipment in our gym, sometimes it’s nice to have a change of scenery when working out. And no, I don’t just mean channel flipping until I find a new show to watch. I mean giving the gym a break for the day and partaking in some outdoor cardio workouts.

The great outdoors of the Hollywood Hills.

My kind of nature, “the great outdoors”, a.k.a. the Hollywood Hills.

Now that we live in LA, my husband and I have no excuse not to fit some outdoor exercise into our workout plans. We both work from home, so there’s really no reason not to bust out of the office (okay, fine, our one-bedroom apartment) and get some fresh air. Running, biking, or even going out for a leisurely stroll, are all great ways to enjoy the great outdoors of sunny LA and burn some calories at the same time.

Last weekend we took a trip to Runyon Canyon, in the beautiful Hollywood Hills. Now that is my kind of park! Sweeping views of the entire city, under the watchful eye of the famous Hollywood sign, is the true definition of the “great” outdoors. At least in LA.

We had such a great time exploring Runyon Canyon! We went during the afternoon, when the sun was beating down at its hardest, so we just took our time walking around and exploring the area. Not the most challenging of our cardio workouts, but definitely one of the most fun! We’ll  be back again for sure, probably for a morning run next time.

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The Hollywood Sign — so fun to go for a walk and see this!

Finding ways go about achieving your workout plans in a fun, scenic area makes exercising much more enjoyable! When you’re exploring somewhere new, or visiting an old favorite spot, you’re much more focused on where you are and how much you’re loving it, than your sore legs and massive desire to finish your workout as quickly as possible.

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View of LA from Runyon Canyon

A Few of My Favorite Tone It Up Fitness Videos

15 Jul

Greetings from sunny Los Angeles! I’ve been living here for nearly two weeks now. Such a fun city! My husband and I have been having the best time exploring and getting to know the area.

I’m currently working as a freelance writer, so I can pretty much do what I want all day. No complaints about that! One thing I’ve been doing a lot more of is exercising. Our new apartment building has a gym that’s about 25 steps away from our little one-bedroom abode, which is a-m-a-z-i-n-g! Instead of just doing cardio and a few fitness videos here and there I’ve been adding these toning exercises to my regular workouts.

I love Tone It Up. They have the best fitness videos! They’re challenging, but not so much that you get discouraged and give up mid-workout, because you can’t keep up. These exercises are fun and you really feel them the next day, so they’re obvious doing some great work!

Here are three of my current favorite Tone It Up workout routines. Try them to get tightened up for those bikinis, strapless dresses, and short shorts!

Tone It Up Holiday Hottie Video

If you’re looking for full-body workout routines that you’ll feel the next day (and probably even the day after) this is it! Not only is this video fun, it’s also nice to literally feel the burn and know  you’ve really gotten a great workout in a short period of time.

Love Your Arms Routine with Karena!

I’ve been neglecting my arms for awhile and it totally shows. I hated going to the weight area at my old gym in Pittsburgh, due to the hoards of sweaty Yinzers causing major overcrowding issues. Thankfully our new apartment gym has a beautifully undercrowded weight room, in addition to the cardio area, so I’ve decided to get back to work on my less-than-sexy limbs. I love this Tone It Up video! I started out using 5lb weights on all exercises and quickly graduated to 8lb-ers on everything but the “Swaying Angel.” I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I am a beast!

itty bitty BIKINI! Tone up the love handles workout

Short and sweet workout routines that get the job done in a timely manner are my favorites, and this totally fits the bill! This workout is fantastic for many reasons. Best of all because it’s a five-minute workout that you actually feel the next day! I do it in hotel rooms, on days I don’t have time to work out, after pigging out when I’m feeling like a big cow, and when none of the former reasons apply, I do it just because I love it.

Karena and Katrina of Tone It Up make sure each of their workouts come with a downloadable printable that you can take to the gym with you, which is fantastic! I have these on my phone, because I always forget a move or two, so this way there’s no excuse not to do the full video in its entirety!

Eating Healthy and Exercising On-the-Go

10 Jun

It’s not always convenient to fit eating healthy and exercising into your day. Especially when you’re traveling or just really busy. When you’re short on time (and exhausted) it can be tempting to skip the gym and head to one of the closest fast food restaurants in the area for a quick and easy meal. Admittedly, sometimes this is the best option in a bind, but make a habit of it and your waistline is going to expand. And fast.

Personally, I’ve been pretty busy lately. We’ve been out-of-town the past three weekends, in addition to preparing for a cross-country move. A bit overwhelming at times! I can more than relate to just how difficult it can be to find the time to fit exercising into an already packed schedule. And to work up the energy to make a healthy lunch and dinner.

Here’s a few tips to keep eating healthy and exercising, even when it’s a whole lot easier not to:

  • Schedule Your Workouts: At the beginning of the week take note of the days you’re free to workout at your normal time. If your availability doesn’t equal an adequate amount of exercising time for the week, get creative! If you normally workout in the evenings, wake up early and go for a morning run. It’ll be rough rousing yourself out of bed early, but trust me, you won’t regret it.

  • Work Exercise Into Your Day: If crafty scheduling still isn’t cutting it to get your normal workouts in, you can always find fun little alternative ways to fit exercise into your day. Last weekend my husband and I were in NYC and instead of working out in the gym, we went for a bike ride around the perimeter of Central Park. So fun! I also love to go outside for lunchtime walks. Sure, it’s not the greatest calorie burner ever, but it’s something. And it pulls me away from the glare of my computer screen for awhile. Total bonus!

I hadn't been on a bike since I was about 11 or 12. The first few minutes of the ride were interesting, the rest were fun!

Biking in Central Park was  a great way to get our daily exercise in.

  • Prepare Healthy Food in Advance: Sometimes you really won’t have time to cook dinner or pack a healthy lunch for work. Combat this problem with a little advance planning. If you know you have a crazy week ahead of you, spend an hour on Sunday making dinner for the week, putting individual portions in freezable containers. Quick, easy, and healthy!

It can be tempting to opt for fast food restaurants and declare an exercising ban when you’re really super busy, but well, just don’t. Healthy food doesn’t typically come from restaurants where employees wear funny little hats. Eating healthy and working out shouldn’t be an option, it should be your way of life!

Back in the Saddle — My Return to Yoga Classes

27 May

My gym offers free yoga classes a few times a week. Once upon a time I used to go to these yoga classes all the time. I’m not going to lie, I loved bragging that “it’s yoga night,” or “I’m sooo sore from yoga.”

I suspect that most of the classes are structured primarily as a yoga for beginners group, but some of the instructors show us moves that are definitely not meant for yoga newbies. Some of the more “strict” instructors also like to correct you when you’re not doing the yoga poses correctly. I’m not a fan of being manhandled by strangers, so I quickly learned to avoid those classes. And then I just quit going to yoga classes altogether.

Fast forward about a year and a half to last week. My husband and I are getting ready to move to Los Angeles in a few weeks, where according to urban legend, everyone does yoga and drinks kale juice all day. Rightfully, these people are lean, toned, and look fabulous while prancing on the beach.This is a far cry from Pittsburgh where the average person’s idea of exercise is lifting an IC Light back and forth from the table to their mouth, while watching actual athletes from one of the city’s sports teams run around a field, hockey rink, or whatever.

I need to perfect my yoga poses before moving to LA.

I need to perfect my yoga poses before moving to LA.

Though I do not identify with the yinzer “couch athlete,” I decided it was time to hop back in the saddle with the yoga classes. After all, if I’m going to be a California resident, I need to brush up on my ability to bust out yoga poses in class and not look like a flaming idiot.

My Triumphant Return to Yoga Classes

I walked into my first class in a year and a half feeling excited to be at it again, but a little apprehensive. The teacher that night was someone I’ve never taken class with, and my friend who used to take classes with me has since quit going to our gym.

A few minutes into the downward dogs and forward folds though, I realized this was probably going to be pretty easy. Though I hadn’t done yoga in awhile, I had taken to doing Pilates videos at home almost daily. This turned out to be clutch.

As our hour long class went on, I was almost getting bored. Hands down this instructor was easier than some I’ve had in the past, which was kind of a good thing, but also made me wonder if it was worth going back for another class next week. Many of the people in the room seemed to be struggling with the poses, so perhaps I magically graduated from yoga for beginners?

Regardless, I was still blissfully sore the next two days, so although the yoga poses were pretty easy, they did something!

Now, should I go back next week or skip it?

Make Losing Weight a Balancing Act

13 May
Counting calories is one tiny sacrifice I'm more than willing to make to look my best while frolicking on the beaches of Santa Monica.

Counting calories is one tiny sacrifice I’m more than willing to make to look my best while frolicking on the beaches of Santa Monica.

So, I’ve been trying to lose weight. Nothing remotely substantial, just a pesky little five pounds or so. Swimsuit season is around the corner, and I’m moving to LA next month. Get it now?

As previously mentioned, I’ve been counting calories with the Lose It app for about a month now. My bathroom scale is consistently insane, and currently on my list of things to replace that I haven’t gotten around to doing yet. So you guessed it, a lack of reliable scale in my life makes it a bit difficult to know if I’m actually losing weight or not.

Then it happened — the annual worksite wellness exam, complete with a weigh-in from what I would assume is a perfectly functioning scale. The good news is I have not gained weight. The somewhat discouraging news is that I’ve only lost 1.2 pounds in the month I’ve been counting calories. At first I automatically assumed it was the scale’s problem, not mine. Then I realized how completely stupid that rationale was.

I’m very fortunate that eating healthy is something that naturally comes pretty easy to me. It’s not a struggle to choose vegetables over french fries or a salad instead of a cheeseburger. During the week I pretty much eat the exact same things everyday, never going over the 1,500 calorie per day limit (plus extra daily allowances depending on how many calories I burn exercising) that my Lose It app has set for me.

However, I’m typically not so well behaved on the weekends, which in my world is defined as Friday-Sunday. So four days a week I’m staying at or slightly under my daily calorie limit and I’m defying the rules the other three. And I wonder why I’m not not losing weight at the speed of light?!

Losing Weight Without the Sacrifices

I’ll admit it, while I typically don’t spend my weekends scarfing down french fries and raiding all-you-can-eat buffets, I do like to indulge a bit more than I do on the weekdays. I’ll have a couple glasses of wine, split a pre-dinner appetizer with my husband, and often eat a “filling” portion of self-serve frozen yogurt. I don’t feel bad about this.

Eating healthy every single day at every single meal is not only boring, it’s exhausting. You’ve got to live a little!

While I have to applaud myself for this uncharacteristically sane way of thinking, I still need to find a way to balance out my extra weekend calories. So I decided on two things — first, to exercise a bit harder. Second, to start counting calories on a weekly basis, instead of keeping it as just a daily goal. If I can manage to bank some extra calories during the week, I’ll have some extra leeway to do as I please on the weekends, and not have to wonder why I’m barely losing weight.

Thank me now, future abs!

Sunny Days and Lunchtime Walks

29 Apr
Amazingly, this pretty little park was once the home of an OccupyPittsburgh camp.

Amazingly, this pretty little park was once the home of an OccupyPittsburgh camp.

Though it currently appears to be operating on a day-by-day basis, rumor has it that springtime has arrived in Pittsburgh! I swear, it feels extra fantastic this year, after Mother Nature’s cute little torture fest over the past few weeks.

Despite the fact that I live in a city that averages about 12 sunny days per year and is perpetually freezing, I hate cold weather. So, when it’s cold outside, I only venture out into the great outdoors when I have to. No leisurely little outings necessary.

Prolonged hermiting can result in a serious case of cabin fever, so now that some gorgeous spring days are finally making it into the mix, I’m busting out of my cave every chance I can get!

Sunshine!

Sunshine!

One of my favorite times to get outside is during lunchtime. It really helps to break up the day and gives me a much needed boost of afternoon energy! Believe it or not, sitting in a cubicle, staring a computer all day can get a little monotonous…

No matter where my lunchtime walks take me, it usually results in walking over a bridge.

No matter where my lunchtime walks take me, it usually involves walking over a bridge.

Not only is taking a long lunchtime walk good for the spirit, it’s also good for your waistline. Trotting around at a moderate, comfortable pace for an hour burns 167 calories. As bikini season is supposedly right around the corner, I’m absolutely loving this as a fun little addition to my normal workout schedule!