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Friday, December 30, 2011

Kayla in the 'Burbs: Part one- Gym shopping

How to Gym Shop

I am currently home, in the burbs, for my month long winter break. It's funny, after an exhausting semester at college, I didn't want to come home and sleep until noon every day.
No, I decided to join a gym. well actually another gym.
While it sounds like I have gym ADD, since this is my 4th gym in a year, I learn a little bit more about what I want from a gym, and how it fits into my schedule.

I joined David Barton Gym in Manhattan by accident. My friend and I went in for a tour and were very easily distracted by the pretty lights and club-like feeling. We joined on the spot in May 2010 and froze our memberships until we came back to the city for school in September.
Sadly my friend got mono and never went to the gym, but I tried out everything at this strange strange gym that felt more like a gay club than a place to work out.
I got really into pilates during fall semester. My schedule that semester at college allowed for me to take pilates 3 mornings a week, and I was obsessed. I mixed it in with a bit of cardio here and there.
Spring semester I was back to being a super stressed out drama major and needed my work out to be pounding and stress relieving. I liked to feel badass with all the macho men taking weight training classes like "six pack attack". I also remembered how much I loved dancing for fun in a cardio dance class. I grew to dislike the one dance class offered there though because it felt competitive and show-offy. I get enough of that at theater school. I also have always hated doing hip-hop dances.

During the summer I was home in Westchester and decided to join New York Sports Club. It was conveniently located near the day camp I worked at and near where I got my afternoon starbucks refueling. It was perfect post-camp to take total body conditioning classes at night. This was also where I forced myself to like running and "trained" for my 5k at the end of summer. I went from hating running the mile in high school, to jogging 3.1 miles in yankee stadium at the end of summer.


Back in Manhattan, I was getting sick and tired of the gimmick and attitude at David Barton. While the facility is gorgeous, clean and uncrowded, I disliked the mentality of the clients and workers there. I felt like people treated me like shit and looked down on me, even though I am young and physically fit. Its a pretentious gym. They changed the schedule around so I couldn't take classes with my favorite trainer, and that was the last straw for me.

So I joined Crunch Gym, which has been a great fit for me. As a female obsessed with fitness classes, this is the place to go. there's every kind of class from yoga, spinning, weight training and dancing, offered at all times of the day. The trainers are more down to earth and  "real people", unlike the body builder men at David Barton. I have loved trying out every single class, and taking classes at multiple locations in the city. I do not regret joining this gym. While its more crowded and less glamorous than my previous membership at David Barton, there are significantly more classes being offered that are appealing to me and the clientele and workers are lovely. As a 21 year old female, this is a good work out environment for me, and I look forward to going to various crunch locations and know I will always leave content with the classes I took.

and now, I am home for the holidays, and want to keep up my fitness level.
I shopped around gyms in Northern Westchester, already missing being in manhattan and having 2 crunch gyms 2 blocks away from my apartment.
I decided on Club Fit, while the farther away and more expensive than my previous time at NYSC, it fits what I need for this break. NYSC was great for after camp, offering night classes and convenience to cram into my busy summer schedule of work and hanging out with friends after work.
This break however I was interesting in classes and when I could take them. Instead of working at camp all day and hitting the gym at night, I wanted to work out in the late morning, early afternoon and have the rest of the day to see friends and do whatever I needed to do.
After all my other gym experiences (and also my experience working out at the gym facilities NYU offers me) I have learned that I love work out classes. I recently learned that I love zumba, and I now know that it is a good idea to balance cardio with strength training and mix in some yoga (even though I hate yoga).
while comparing schedules at all the nearby gyms I realized Club Fit was the obvious choice for right now. They offer lots of zumba classes with different teachers, even aqua zumba, and other unique classes for strength training, yoga and spinning during the hours I am looking to work out. and this gym came with the added bonus that my best friend is already a member and looking to work out at the same times I am.

I am very happy with my decision to join Club Fit while I'm home. It has been so much fun to work out with my friends in the morning, and have the whole day to hang out after. and i get to take zumba every day.

So here are my tips when gym shopping
- How far are you willing to drive, walk, travel, take the subway? If it is inconvenient to get to, will you go?
- Does the more expensive gym offer more of what you want?
- All gyms have weights and cardio machines, but are you looking for something special not offered every where? Zumba? a pool? a certain class?
- What time of day will you be working out-- do they offer classes at that time?
- Do you know people who go there and will motivate you to go?
- is there clientele similar to you with similar fitness goals? will you feel intimidated?
- are there new things to try out, like pilates or dancing, that you would never try elsewhere

Joining a gym is expensive and feels impulsive, but if you join knowing you will go and excited for the things your new membership have to offer, its well worth it.
going to the gym should be an exciting break from the rest of life, a place where stress and responsibility take a vacation. with the right gym, and right approach, it feels like that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Zuma! at last

I've been meaning to take a Zumba class since... well I joined NYSC in Westchester for the summer.
Every week I would peer in while waiting for body conditioning class. While it looked fun, I spent my summer days working as a dance counselor at a day camp. My entire day was cardio dance, jumping up and down, being a motivational dancer and encouraging kiddies to move. I was far more interested in running and weight training when I got to the gym.

I signed up to for a 1 day workshop to become a certified zumba instructor. is it silly to sign up to become a teacher in something I had never done? yeah, but hey I am a dance counselor at camp, I should love it and be good at it!

So today, was finally my day.
Working out at 10AM f is not exactly what I would want on a sunday, but I spent all of last night pumping myself up for finally taking a Zumba class.
I was a bit nervous, I have a background as a dancer with lots of years dancing but very little technique. I always feel embarrassed at these dance classes when I can't pick things up as fast as I feel I should be able to, and I look like the awkward white girl who should just stick to musical theater.

Doing Zumba at Crunch union square I still did look ridiculously white, I always sweated and had a blast. The hour long class flew by. Basically the class is non-stop dancing for the full hour, following easy to copy dance moves from the instructor, and the moves repeat throughout the songs. The music was a mix of my favorite songs from the summer (Give Me Everything Tonight, obsessed), and latin flavored music. While this isn't the music I would listen to on my ipod, I could care less and was super into perfecting each dance move. For someone uptight and incredibly stressed out, this was the perfect easy to follow exercise class that I needed in the midst of a crazy week.
The class was packed with people of all ages (as usual in life, I was probably the baby of the crew) and people who were not necessarily dancers, but loved Zumba as a form of cardio. I highly recommend that everyone tries it, its super fun, and honestly about yourself and not judging the people around you. Let yourself go wild, and sweat it out.

I'm already hooked and hope I can attend class again next weekend.

and now its the final week of fall semester, went by incredibly fast. at this time next week I will be home in Westchester.
however, before I am allowed to leave this wonderful city, I have to write an essay, have musical rehearsal every night, go to class every day and do 4 performances of our kickass musical. so close, but so far...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Love Letter for Flying Trapeze

I have tried to put into words my love for trapeze on multiple occasions. When I realized that this weird activity I did was more than a phase I even tried to make a theater piece about it.
Its nearly impossible to put into words an activity that I love so much, that has transformed my body and mind, and made my college experience what it is, but here is a lame attempt.

For starters, yes, I do trapeze.

----
I actually don't remember much about my first flying experience. I was 4 years old on vacation at Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico.
Was it love as first fall? Quite the opposite.
I was terrified as any four year old could be. You would think I was still scarred from that experience.

11 years later I decided to take the plunge again, on vacation at another club med resort.
While I was older, and a tiny bit less afraid, I was still far from comfortable, or even remotely good.




I continued to get more comfortable and a little bit less afraid of flying and flew on vacation for the rest of high school

video
My first ever catch in Cancun, senior year of high school.
---
Its hard to describe the sensation, but flying is freeing. While you are up there, you cannot think about anything except for the trick you are doing and what your body needs to do in order to execute that trick.
For a girl that spends a lot of time over thinking and analyzing, I realized that flying was a way I could be free of this overactive brain.
---
I flew at Trapeze School New York for the first time at the end of my senior year with a friend from vacation. I had just been accepted to NYU and was thrilled that I would be able to do trapeze while in college.

---
it took me until the end of freshmen year at NYU to return, but once I did I was hooked. I went back the next day, and signed up for a 10 week intensive in the fall.
---
That first 10 week intensive set in stone my love for trapeze, and introduced me to my best friend Samantha.
during that fall semester I looked forward to every Thursday, learning a new trick, jumping a little bit higher, and learning how to let go.
Its amazing, really, but I find that the critiques I get at theater school about not being able to let go and being tense directly correlates with what happens while flying.
---
At the end of that 10 week intensive I had fallen in love with the throbbing hand pain, the chalk and the adrenaline rush so continued to fly weekly.
I began to gain strength-- mentally i had a new sense of what I was capable of as a person, and physically, well my arms and back didn't look to bad either.
---

I signed up for more 10 week intensives, and began to meet more and more people, in love with the adrenaline rush. Since arriving at college I have felt out of place, but here I found my clique. Although I am the baby of the Thursday group (I have been a devoted thursday flyer now for over two years), age doesn't matter. job doesn't matter, background doesn't matter. Its about coming together and seeing what we can do. These people are amazing and inspiring
---
Thursday is still my favorite night of the week, and when I don't get to fly my week doesn't feel complete. The group has expanded, and all of us have progressed immensely in our skills. We have theme nights where I get to finally live out my college dream of theme parties.
While my college experience at NYU has been less than typical, because I decided to attend this university in manhattan I have been able to pursue my love of flying. 

video

At trapeze school new york I have found a safe haven where nothing can harm me. No matter how stressed I am, everything is better when I'm covered in chalk.
I am so grateful I decided to come to this college where I can fly weekly.

--
My hands may be permanently calloused, my wrist destroyed, and I fractured my pinky on a catcher once, but I freaken love trapeze and i love these people.


So i encourage everyone to face their fears and take the plunge. 
there is nothing more freeing than the sensation of flying.
(and the back muscles rock too)

and unlike in life, there will always be someone there to catch you when you fall. if not, there's always a safety net (my carrie bradshaw moment...)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

hot yoga, by accident, and by procrastination.

Its finals season here at NYU...
I love procrastinating by working out-- it is both terrible and wonderful at the same time. Instead of anxiously sitting on facebook thinking about that essay I need to start writing, I put that anxious energy into working out. Its far more productive in the end and when I come back to the work I feel more relaxed.



In the midsts of all this end of year craziness, I promised myself I would work out today to make up for being lazy all weekend with the boy, and not having time yesterday. Despite knowing I had to work on my essay and memorize a monologue and 2 songs for class, going to the gym is also important.

I've been craving yoga for some odd reason... and I don't really like yoga. I always tell myself I like yoga, but then end up going and silently whining to myself all class while my wrists feel like they are going to snap.
But I do like the "yoga-high" i get, and despite wanting to cry during the class, I always leave feeling refreshed and energized. This is exactly what I need right now.
... and it also helps that my package from lululemon arrived today with beautiful new yoga tops.

I decided to try out "Enlightened Yoga" at crunch.
After feeling a bit queazy and dehydrated all day, I wanted to do something that would leave me energized and ready to do a marathon of essay writing in the library, so spinning and weights were out of the question.

Turns out, enlightened yoga is a hot yoga class. I've been meaning to try hot yoga, but have shied away for fear that I will die during the class. Well, there was no turning back

The 90 minute class felt intimidating at first, I was drenched with sweat and my usual wrist problems were horrendous early on.
 My mind did its usual "oh my god I hate yoga, why do I come back dance" for a decent amount of the class.
But then it stopped.
And my body started feeling good. and the oppressive heat started reminding me of vacations in Mexico, and why I applied to almost all warm weather schools for college.

By the end of the 90 minutes I felt accomplished, relaxed and energized. My joints felt amazing, and I was honestly proud of myself for literally enduring the heat instead of giving up mid class. I firmly believe in mind over matter, and the fact that I told myself all class with every breath that I was energizing myself, I was in fact energizing myself.

 While yoga may never be my true love, I think everyone can benefit from what it has to offer. As far as hot yoga goes, I enjoyed it more than I expected to and plan on returning. I'm shocked how great I still feel, almost 6 hours later. I came home and was able to focus on memorizing, and even started writing my final paper in the library after that (with no caffeine, something rare for me)


So I encourage all stressed out college kids to procrastinate with me. even if its for only 30 minutes go on the tread mill, walk around the city, take a yoga class. Do something physical for yourself in the midst of the stress and craziness to alleviate the anxiety.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Super Easy Pumpkin Bread

Although I have a fear of cooking, I am far more confident in my baking ability.
Pumpkin bread is one of my favorite things-- it takes will power to stop myself from getting a slice when I go to starbucks every morning.

Here's a delicious and lower-cal version of my favorite treat.
It was a huge hit with the thursday night trapeze crew, and my boyfriend approved.
And if I can successfully make it, I believe anyone can.

This recipe makes 2 loaves


Ingredients
3 1/2 cups of flour
1 Tb. baking powder
2 tsps. ground ginger
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 stick of melted butter
1/2 cup of apple sauce
1 can (16 oz) pure pumpkin

Recipe
Grease two 9x5 loaf pans
Adjust oven rack to lower- middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Mix flour, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs and sugars in a medium bowl. Whisk butter and applesauce until fully mixed in and then add pumpkin.

Beat wet ingredients into dry ingredients until smooth. Divide evenly between the two pans.

Bake for around 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let cool for a few minutes and then run a knife around the pan to loosen the bread.



Enjoy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Activities: GivTivs and making Frosted Candy Bar Stuffed Cookie Cup


Over the summer I worked at the day camp I attended as a kid in Westchester and became absolutely obsessed with my co-workers.

For Thanksgiving weekend we decided to relive the summer and spend as many hours together as possible, and of course attempt to cook something delicious.
We successfully made frosted candy bar stuffed cookied cups, which live up to every part of their name.

Recipe Courtesy of http://www.kevinandamanda.com/whatsnew/new-recipes/frosted-candy-bar-stuffed-cookie-cups.html
 and Annica's obsession with pinterest 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, 
melted and cooled


1 cup brown sugar


1/2 cup sugar


1 tablespoon vanilla extract


2 cups flour


1/2 teaspoon baking soda


2 eggs
12 mini candy bars (such as snickers, milky ways, twix)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Next add the eggs to the wet ingredients and beat well. Finally add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. 




Scoop batter into a regular-sized muffin tin, filling the cups about 1/3 full. Top with fun-sized candy bars. Scoop remaining batter on top of the candy bars, filling the cups about 2/3 full.


 Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes or until the edges just start to turn golden.


Makes 12 cookie cups.



Frosting:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened3 cups powdered sugar1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract (we used regular)
Place the butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.


Ours was a bit thin, so we added more powdered sugar
We also decided to be fancy and add crushed candies















and voila:



















A delicious, and majorly filling success. Pair this with our dinner of chinese take out, and you will have quite the food baby
The Four of Us with our beautiful cupcakes. They actually baked, I just watched and documented.


These things are absolutely delicious, but also super dense. I could barely finish one but it was soooo good.

All agreed, it was a successful weekend of GivTivs. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gym Class Review: Fly Girls @ Crunch Union Square


After a year-ish at David Barton Gym, I decided to join Crunch. Ultimately I needed a change of scenery and craved different group fitness classes

 In the future I will write more to compare my experience at the 2 different gyms, but for now, I am going to review classes I have taken at Crunch. 

Fly Girls (Crunch Gym, Union Square Location)

Quick description: cardio dance class set to 90s hip hop dances
My experience: While I have a background in dance, I am not a hip-hop dancer by any means. I was a bit apprehensive about taking a hip-hop based cardio dance class since I'm not a huge fan of that style.

During the class I couldn't help but think “I am soooo awkward and white”, however, I had a really good time dancing and enjoyed doing a style outside of my comfort zone in an environment that I am not getting graded and evaluated by teachers.

As far as a workout, I was dripping with sweat by the end of it, and my legs were incredibly sore before the warm up was over. 
The next day I wasn't really sore, but I felt great after the class, a perfect combo of having just worked out but still having enough energy to continue on with the day.
I highly recommend this class for people interested in a fun cardio dance class with hip hop songs from the 90s. You feel like you actually accomplished something by the end of class and have a nice little dance routine to show off.

Welcome!


I tend to start blogs and abandon them, but here I am again trying to start a new blog.
This will be about me, a 21 year old college student majoring in theater at New York University on the verge of graduation. I am in love with musical theater, a gym junkie and terrified of cooking.
This will be about life in the city, what to eat, where to go, what to do, etc and venturing into the real world post college.