In 1995, I took Adele Munisteri's spinning class at the Reebok Sports Club. More...
In 1995, I took Adele Munisteri's spinning class at the Reebok Sports Club. This was perhaps my first experience with cult-like fitness classes.
I was amazed, both at how hard spinning was, and how the people responded to Adele. There was applause at the end, and a crowd three deep formed around her. "Wow," I thought, "She's their therapist."
In the following ten years, I migrated from New York City, to Boston, to Silicon Valley, and back to New York; and from one career as an MBA dot-commer, to another as a tech journalist. And, everywhere I went, I found gurus, and coaches, and trainers at the center of intense "workout" communities: Tim Sheeper's masters swimming and triathlon program in Menlo Park, CA, Gemma Schusterman's Dance Workout at Rhythm & Motion in San Francisco, Julie Kleinman's yoga classes at Yogaworks in Santa Monica, Djoniba's African Dance classes on Park Avenue South, Patricia Moreno's Inten-Sati, Calvin Wiley's Calvinography.....
Somewhere along the line I became pretty fascinated by all these scenes, not to mention the dynamics at my local gym. I had always been very into the Internets, so the natural thing to do was start a blog. At least I've got a good excuse to go to the gym. Thanks for visiting.
I Heart These...
- The Love Challenge:
- Love Belly
- Love Body
- Love Soul
- See all feats for The Love Challenge
- Social Workout Challenge: New Years Edition:
- Stand Up
- Sleep Log
- Pimp Your Bed
- Sun Salutes
- Take A Bath
- Jan Plan Plus
- Go Fish
- Home Food
- See all feats for Social Workout Challenge: New Years Edition
- Emergency Holiday Challenge:
- Family Oriented
- Reindeer Gaming
- Walking on Christmas
- See all feats for Emergency Holiday Challenge
- Eat. Sweat. Blog.:
- Caffeine free
- Brightly Colored
- Just Water
- Raw food day
- Soda Free
- Go Veggie
- See all feats for Eat. Sweat. Blog.
- Other Feats:
- Wheel Pose
- Handstand by 20
- Jump Rope - One Minute with Five Crossies
- Spot Turn
- 2009 Feats of Summer 50 Workout Challenge
- Recover from H1N1 Virus
- Commuting Meditation
- Mile Run
- Half Mile Swim
- Free Throws
- Group Fitness Class Sampler
- See all feats
A. J. Jacobs, the World's Healthiest Man, has nicely included Social Workout in his recent Esquire magazine round up of top "social fitness" sites. Cool! It's a funny, short read and includes info on the big devices (FitBit, Nike+, Withings), as well as Social Workout, Fitocracy and Stickk.
"There are many good and noble reasons to exercise. It cuts down on stress. Keeps your gut from becoming walrusesque. Helps ensure you'll stick around long enough to see your kids go to the prom. But my main motivation for exercise these days? To humiliate my friend Kevin....
David Pogue on the Times reviews the Nike FuelBand and the new-and-improved UP band by Jawbone. His verdict: FuelBand is a "one trick pony," but a pretty slick one. Up aims higher, but falls a bit short of its goals due to a few pesky design flaws. Still, he says, it's "not bad for a rubber band." Our take: The bracelet form factor has arrived, and it's a big deal. People WANT to wear things on their wrists, and the Pogue review marks an inflection point in the slow, inexorable advance of wearable computing and self-quantification. Not to be too melodramatic, or anything....
A new Harvard study of nearly 1,878 Boston area high schoolers suggests that "heavy soda drinkers were much more prone to violent behavior than other teens." Doh! Apparently the effect is similar, but possibly stronger, than that of alcohol. Got issues with your Mountain Dew? Just click through to Social Workout's battle-tested soda drinking "limit" goals....
Today's big social fitness headline: Coca-Cola forms "strategic alliance" with Danish fitness app maker Endomondo. Coke, (like Pepsi), is pushing to instill health-consciousness into its brand. Who says those Bloombergian anti-soda ads don't carry some weight? In any event, we approve of the move, which gives Coke's sports drink, Powerade, immediate daily exposure to Endo's global athlete-end users. Endomondo, clearly, gets a big marketing push. The service currently claims 12 million users, though unclear how many of those are active.
Oh to be Greek and living on the island of Ikaria, where people live to be 100, laughing, dancing, and, um, still having sex. The New York Times reports today on a study of Ikarian men between 65 and 100, noting that "80 percent of them claimed to have sex regularly, and a quarter of that self-reported group said they were doing so with “good duration” and “achievement.”
The dude in the picture is Evangelos Koutis, age 99. To paraphrase When Harry Met Sally, "I'll have what he's having."
The evidence is mounting that excessive sitting will, um, shorten your life. "Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25," reports the NY Times today, "reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes."
Put another way: "An adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV."
Ouch. And, get this, these results hold even for people who also exercise. Exercise is critical, but lot's of sitting remains dangerous even still. The good news, however, is that there is a simple solution: Get up and move around! Run, don't walk to Social Workout, and set yourself a goal: Workday stretch breaks for example, or maybe you want to track your walking minutes, miles, or steps?
Choose your metric, and begin managing what you measure. We've got your back.
Coming to NYC today and tomorrow, the much-awaited Wired Health Conference featuring some exciting speakers taking on the theme "Living by the Numbers." Among the notables: Wired's own Quantified Self gurus, Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf, as well as Timothy Ferris, Craig Venter, and an Olympic Gold Medalist Aston Eaton. Should be good!
MedCityNews reports that spending on obesity treatments is diverging in the U.S. and Europe — this due to regulatory quirks rather than efficacy or consumer preference. Kind of disturbing, actually, to see how many "treatments" there now are for obesity, and how much we'll be spending on them in 2019. Conspicuously absent from this graph is a line item for spending on, um, "prevention."
This just in from Mark Bittman (via New Scientist magazine):
Just in case you need another reason to cut back on junk food, it now turns out that Alzheimer’s could well be a form of diet-induced diabetes. That’s the bad news. The good news is that laying off soda, doughnuts, processed meats and fries could allow you to keep your mind intact until your body fails you.
Yup, too much sugar in the diet spikes your insulin levels and hurts your brain cells. Ahem, those at risk, please proceed directly to the Social Workout healthy eating goals area....
I've been ranting about James of late. What amazes me about him is the expressiveness of his body. He can say things with little flips of shoulder or foot, that I can appreciate, but never replicate. He's fluent, I'm mute.
The beauty of the Jan. Plan is (was) that you could go to happy hour, and then still hit the gym at 8:45PM. Amazing! That's what I did (last) Thursday. I had forgotten my sneakers, so I did the elliptical in socks for 20-plus minutes, some of which involved watching The Office (subtitled). Getting off, I thought (again) that watching TV really compromises a workout.
Equinox - Soho
Got home just shy of 10PM. Lit blue Whole Foods aroma candle. Dimmed lights. Unrolled mat. There had been a few coffees, and safe to say mind and heart were spinning. Somehow sensed that I didn't need to think too far ahead in terms of what poses to do, and I didn't turn on my computer to do a download or look at sequences. This was mainly because my new laptop has none of my old downloads.
Stephanie Culen's class was crowded for Superbowl day. Mostly women. She's got a gift for the talking, steady, counting almost all the breaths, and firm. She doesn't stop the flow to do demonstrations. She did give me a good correction. It's a different style, and I like it. I'm not a fan of the demos I guess. Sometimes I suspect the teacher of showing off.
Last Saturday's intenSati class, which I'm only writing up now, deserves a full essay. It deserves an epic poem. It was the most crowded class I've ever been in -- there must have been 100 of us in the studio. My back was literally to the wall. It seemed insane, really, before class started to think we'd all be jumping and sweating in moments. But we did.
Equinox - Greenwich Avenue
Sat, 02/06/2010 (All day)
My first trip to Soul Cycle. 8:30AM class in the new Tribeca location. I've biked down there to join my friend P., editor of a certain big daily email publication, who is in turn joining her friend D. who is editor of a certain big design magazine, who happens to be there with her husband, J., editor of a top culture-and-politics website. No doubt, the Soul Cycle press department is responsible. Or it could simply be that, we're on Warren Street in Tribeca, where media power people run wild in high end fitness studios.
The late show at Virayoga with Susanna Rubin. "It's hanuman month!" she announced to us all. A month of splits and hip openers. "I guarantee you're hips will be open if you come this month." It was fun, and she told us all about Hanuman, the buff hindu monkey god of wind. He rides the wind with legs outstretched and arms raised — hence his pose.
Back with Samuel, and the class was slightly better; though still sort of repetitive. Still, I had a breakthrough afterwards. I did my normal pushups and situps, and also some squats with kettlebell, and I used the cool cable machine on the top floor. But the best was that, just after class, I went into the empty yoga room and finally taught myself the basic samba step.
Equinox - Greenwich Avenue
Tip for those desperate to escape the gym, but requiring group energy to stay motivated: Bootcamp Republic. These guys claim to be the city's "largest bootcamp company," and they're now offering a regular supply of three week camps in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey City. From the looks of their staff page, your drill seargant is likely to have done hard time at one New York gym or another, including David Barton and Equinox. Each camp includes two, hour-and-a-half classes per week, which begin either at 6 A.M. or 7 A.M. Need peer pressure to avoid the snooze button? Your "teammates" will be waiting for you at the meeting place....
We worry a little about the grab bag nature of your fellow campers, but seven out of seven Yelpers give B.R. five stars. Must be said, their website is nicely done, and we like the tongue-in-cheek name. Price is $250, but here's a coupon that gets you 76% off for the first week. Next camp starts June 22nd. Curious? Check the video after the jump, and let us know if you go....
[And now, once again, it's time for another Obscure Fitness DVD Review, with Kimberly Rae Miller. She puts her body on the line, plumbing the depths of her vast exercise video collection, so you don't have to waste your time, and your $8.99.... ~The Eds.]
Ballroom dance-based workouts are usually lame. Case in point: Dancing with the Stars-Cardio Dance. Don't get me started: Those people seem to assume you tour regularly with the Alvin Ailey company. They don't explain their moves, and you stand in your living room feeling pathetic and not sweating. So, I wasn't chomping at the bit to test Dance off the Inches: Dance it off Ballroom, but I popped it in. And, surprisingly, I liked it...a lot.
Possible strategic daytrip for Saturday: Cue up Dylan, and head to the Bliss Yoga Center in Woodstock, New York where Nicole Meadors is leading an intensive Pilates-and-yoga workshop. Nicole has a low-key, soothing teaching style, and she teaches a regimen that blends Pilates' core-strengthening movements with yoga asanas. All choreographed to music. The class is two-hours, and costs $35. Spend the rest of the day checking out the Bliss Center operation, an eco-friendly property created by Debi Medeski (refugee from NYC and Jivamukti-trained) in June 2001. Bliss offers classes seven days a week, and if you get to town early enough on Saturday, you could double down with Bliss' Vinyasa class in the morning.
Hello bootcamp season! Sharath and the yogis are not the only ones getting up early. Kristi Molinaro, of Equinox fame, has taken her 30/60/90 class (registered trademark! voted NY's "Best Fat Burning Class of 2008!") to the Hudson River Park and Central Park for four weeks of crack-of-dawn, outdoor ass kicking. Kristi, cheerful, blonde, smart, and muscular, has developed a large and loyal following within the Equinox system, in part, I think, because she does not coddle. "30/60/90" stands for some hybrid of interval training, and her classes are hard -- mixing cardio work, like jumps and high stepping, with strength moves, like crunches and curls and shoulder presses with small weights. Her style is no-nonsense, almost midwestern in its lack of pretension, and feels effective.
You don't need to be a member of Equinox to join her bootcamps, though you do need some discretionary income: Prices start at $45 for "drop ins," though can be as little as $29 per session if you sign on for the full ride. Details from Kristi after the jump.
We have a weakness for outer-borough spa adventures. The Russians and Koreans run this racket. Who needs to fly to remote beach, when they can simply turn left en route to La Guardia and take up residence at the Spa Castle on glittering Flushing Bay, a wonderfully awful sounding place. We hope someone will quickly visit and report back...
SPA CASTLE is the perfect combination of traditional Asian saunas and luxurious European spas. In consultation with overseas experts, we created numerous innovative spa and sauna systems never seen before in the United States...Your spa experience begins as you walk through the doors. Multiple purified air dispensers, which distribute filtered oxygen-enriched air, are installed throughout the spa....
We just want to lie on top of that yellow mushroom thing and watch the jets fly overhead.
Here's how to feel instantly rich: Pay $75 and join the New York City Parks and Recreation Centers. Yes, we've said it before, but it's such an offensively good deal we have to repeat it. For $6.25 a month, you get full access to 29 locations -- 12 in Manhattan alone -- of which nine have swimming pools. We do not suggest, as per predictable Daily News "recession" story, that you drop your regular gym membership, or yoga studio habit. (That is, unless you happen to live in Flushing with easy access to the brand new $66.3 million Flushing Meadows-Corono Park Natatorium and Ice Rink.) No, this is not a substitute for your normal gym, it's an enhancement. It's about impulse buying extremely cheap, public services.
As promised, Social Workout made the pilgrimmage to SoHo at 10 A.M. on Sunday morning to spin with Marion, much-loved founder of Zone Hampton, (recently re-branded Ride the Zone.) There was alot to check out: Marion herself (it was our first time), her new SoHo studio, the new RealRyder pivoting spin bikes, and, as it happened, Chelsea Clinton, who was there among the largely female crew of 20-30-something spandex-clad spin babes....
At 8:59 P.M., still typing feverishly at desk, I accept calmly that I have missed the gym, and even the last yoga class in town. There is a hint of relief in the acceptance. Inertia is on the move, deftly feeding me rationalizations: Just as well to eat now, and rest up. Too late to get the heart racing.... Just then, however, I recall a recent comment back-and-forth on the subject of online yoga. Eureka! Emergency Home Yoga Time! Out comes yoga mat, down go lights. Quick rearrangement of living room furniture, and lighting of incense to transform apartment from office to yoga shala, and suddenly I'm by a quiet lake in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with Adi Amar....
If you start to spin, which is like crack for cardio junkies, you'll notice there is a Great Schism. Some teachers believe that the indoor ride should simulate some outdoor reality. Others, in post-modern fashion, have long since broken with the sport of cycling, and simply teach a fitness class, in darkened room, on brutally efficient machines with heavy fly-wheels. Often, the latter group has better music. The former will occassionally go Dungeons & Dragons on you, describing the imaginary terrain you're covering in great detail.
Inside sources tell us that recently opened Prema Yoga has the nicest room in Brooklyn. It's on the second floor at the corner of Court and Carroll Streets, with great light and a beautiful mantlepiece area wherein to stash the harmonium. "It has a great feeling," says S., a local yogi who has decided she no longer needs to schlep to Park Slope Yoga Center -- except, that is, to take classes at the PSYC with Aarona. "She's the best yoga teacher I've ever had."
With this, then, we begin our hunt for the nicest studios in New York and Los Angeles. Got a candidate? Comment here or click on the tips box. Meanwhile, a bit more on Prema....