Fabulous at 50!

Worked on opening my hip flexors in runner's lunge during hot yoga.

Worked on opening my hip flexors in runner’s lunge during hot yoga.

It’s a bit of a misleading title (I’ve got a couple of decades to go), but I wanted to celebrate my 50th blog post.

I haven’t written in here as much as I originally planned. When I first started, I was all gung ho about blogging, but now I’ve come to see this as a mix of a personal reflection of my fitness journey and a chance to share about my varied exercise experiences to help others looking for some local reviews/promotions.

The FANTASTIC news is I have worked my way back up to a regular 3-4x week workout by attending a handful of classes regularly through the Leisure Guide and Yoga Public, so my exploring (a key part of this original blog) has gone down a notch.

Not to fear, as I felt inspired to post after venturing out into my new ‘hood to check out Images Fitness for Women located in sunny St. James. They are (still) offering a sweet deal on Groupon that I snapped up for hot yoga–$49 for 10 classes!

I participated in my first class one week ago exactly, and have been back once already! Monday night’s class was called “26 in 60.” When I asked the front desk gal, she said it was like a Bikram style class. “Oh no,” I remember thinking in my head. My least favourite form next to Ashtanga.

Luckily, it was not the drill-Sargent military-style Bikram class I had experienced before at other studios. In fact, I quite liked it! It wasn’t intimidating, the studio was hot but not so roasting that I was dripping sweat on my mat every two seconds, and the teacher was in there flowing/working on poses with the class. It was an 8:30 pm class, so it wasn’t too vigorous either, with lots of time for relaxation at the end. I slept like a baby that night.

I’ve returned for a hot flow class, which was your standard hot yoga class. The teacher, again, was great at getting in there to flow and then pausing to demonstrate more complicated poses.

That all being said, Images isn’t fancy pants. I’m not sure what’s up with the ice cold change rooms that require a portable heater, although it is nice to cool down in there after a hot class! You get what you pay for, which is a semi-decent studio (it’s got mirrors, which I like sometimes to check on form), some props and solid teachers. You need to bring your own mat, or I believe they charge a $3 rental fee for a mat, which seems a bit steep in my opinion. I’d recommend the class for the beginner to mid-level yogi, but the hardcore ones would probably prefer a more “serious” studio I imagine.

Like another hot yoga studio I’ve been to, this one uses a kettle to steam up the room, which I always find humourous. This one wasn’t nearly as blistering hot though, thank god. If my experience continues to be positive, I’ll probably buy a drop-in pass for some yoga classes since it is close to home (I love walking to and from yoga classes like I used to when I lived in Crescentwood!) and the prices are wallet friendly. I think a regular drop-in yoga pass lets you try non-hot classes too. Regular class passes are $60 for five, 10 for $110 and 20 for $180–a bargain considering I pay $170 for 10 at Yoga Public (but it’s such a great studio, so I consider it a little splurge for my health!)

So I’m curious friends, have you been to Image Fitness Center for Women? What’s your favourite place in the city for hot yoga?

 

Tip-top shape

coreMy arms are burning.

Yes, I know I disappeared again. The good news is (as you can guess by the above statement) I’ve been keeping up with regular workouts usually one or two times a week. This week I had three solid ones and as a result, I can barely lift my arms up without feeling sore. Since the new year, I’ve bumped up my body bar weight to 12 lbs, am trying power moves during the aerobics, and can literally feel myself getting stronger in the core area the more I go. It’s an amazing feeling and I hope you’re all on track with your own personal fitness goals! Did I mention I only have 34 days until my wedding? Yes, the pressure is on to be in tip top shape!

I’ve been mainly sticking to 30/20/10 classes through the Leisure Guide and the odd yoga class at Yoga Public. I’ve also been dropping in at Total Body Conditioning (TBC) classes through the Leisure Guide, but it has been hard on Thursdays with all the wedding planning appointments that seem to crop up on that day of the week. TBC are the classes I should be attending the most since they focus on building strength, which is probably my weakest area (although my flexibility stinks too). The class is an hour, where you’ll work with weights, a step, dynabands, body bars and your own body weight to tone those muscles (and leave you sore the next day!)

The teacher is super friendly and smiley, and has admirable muscles, so I think she serves as a good inspiration for the attendees. The class is usually pretty full since she does a good job and makes it a fun, welcoming environment. Case in point: at the end of the last session she gave all participants a 30-minute workout DVD for us to work on until the next Leisure Guide sessions started.

With all the fitness activity this week it got me thinking about this neglected blog. How are your fitness goals going? Any plans to power up your workout as we head into swimsuit season? (Dun dun dun…)

Live and learn

After doing mat work, take a moment lie on your right side before pushing up into a seated/standing position.

After doing mat work, take a moment to lie on your right side before pushing up into a seated/standing position.

I’m happy to say that I’ve been doing multiple workouts each week since the new year. I didn’t make it to three last week as my 30/20/10 class was cancelled, but hey, two is till better than none!

My workouts will have to hold off until the weekend as I am currently recovering from some teeth extractions and I was told to sit on the couch and relax for the next 2-3 days–oral surgeon’s orders. Apparently if I get my heart rate up that can do something to my blood, possibly dislodging the blood clots that are oh-so-important to the healing process. So that means I have spare time to blog.

In my last few practices (and I will blog about those later–both some good and bad), I learned two new things about yoga (You really do keep learning no matter how long you have been practicing!)

1) After a savasana session, we are always told to roll on our right side. Why? I assumed it was because most people are right handed so it was easier to push up from that side of the body (silly me!) A teacher at yoga public recently solved the mystery. Our heart is on the left side of our body, so when we lie on our right, that allows the blood to flow freely down into the body from the heart.

2) Why do we lie on our side (with our right arm under head supporting it) before getting up? Again, a different instructor at Yoga Public explained that when we lie on our back during savasana or during mat work, the blood can pool up and around our heads. If we get up too quickly without letting the blood circulate, this can result in a light-headed, dizzy feeling. Lying on our side, again, helps circulate the blood evenly away from the head.

I will keep these tidbits in mind during my future workouts. I hope you were able to learn something new too! If not, thanks for reading and feel free to share any of your favourite workout tidbits.

Flipped my life right upside down

Image

Yes, you too can do an inversion during a Yoga Wall Therapy class at Yoga Public. Photo credit: Yoga Public.

Well, this week has just been gangbusters in terms of new material to write about for the blog! Now I remember why I started in the first place, to vary up my workouts (so they don’t get boring) by exploring the city. I went to four different classes this week, so I’ll space about posts about them out over the next few days.

The most recent class I took is the one I’m most excited to blog about. It was a “yoga wall therapy class” at Yoga Public. I took it over lunch hour while at work, not really knowing what to expect. I thought it might be the type of class where you use the straps on the wall to deepen a stretch.

Never in my wildest dreams did I feel like I would or could be able to do “Cirque du Soliel” type tricks. I know they aren’t actually tricks, but that’s what it felt like!

Basically you use a padded harness around your mid-section/thighs/bum (it slides around your body depending on your pose) to help you “climb” the wall, which is outfitted with several silver metal “hooks” called P1, P2, P3 etc. (the names indicate where they are on the wall.)

A lot of people in the class were new, so the instructor spent lots of time explaining the basics and did a great job demo’ing poses, explaining how to use the straps etc.

Warning to motion sensitive folks (such as myself), you spend a good chunk of this class with your head toward the ground. The teacher leads the class out of poses to offer some relief from the slightly dizzying sensation, and also provides tips on how to deal with it if is really bothering you.

There are a number of times where downward dog takes place (with heels on the wall, toes on the ground), which acts as a starting place to climb up the wall. I literally did some poses where my feet were planted on the wall and I shot out at 90 degrees, and then from there had to use my core to root up and out in cobra position. I felt like I was floating; it was so cool! At the same time, it was challenging as my feet were getting sweaty. I slipped off the wall (oops) but no harm done. I just got right back into it again.

The other highlight was my first-ever inversion. I always thought I’d NEVER be able to do one (I still find regular beginner yoga classes challenging) and then the next thing you know I’ve got my bum on the wall, legs in butterfly pose and head upside down, floating above the floor. It was comfier then I imagined as I hung out there for a couple of minutes. I let gravity do its thang as it str-e-e-e-tched out my poor compressed spine (from too much desk work). The class finished with a gentle neck stretch as the harness cradled my neck and lifted it just off the ground.

Word to the wise: drink lots of water before and after this workout. I felt a bit funny for a bit in the afternoon (again, I’m motion sickness sensitive) and the water seemed to help. Also, my hands and feet go surprisingly slippery and sweaty, so I’d recommend bringing a towel.

Aside from the uniqueness of this class, here is why I got REALLY excited. After only one 45-minute session, I noticed a significant difference in not only my flexibility but particularly in my lower back. Afterward, my back felt like jelly and so loose–I could lean back so much further and with ease as I’m sure my spine was lengthened from the stretches and inversion. It was so worth the strange dizzy feeling to feel that in my back. I can definitely see myself incorporating this into my workout routine at LEAST once a month for my lower back’s sake.

It is worth the $22 drop-in fee (and I know this is a budget fitness blog, but I’m looking at it as a cheaper version of a back massage!) My fiance wants to join me in the near future. Stay tuned!

Friday night fitness

Streeeetch your worries away during a hot yin yoga class.

Streeeetch your worries away during a hot yin yoga class.

I can think of no lovelier way to end a work week with a wind-down class like yin yoga. I decided to take my first-ever yin yoga class post-work at Yoga Public, as I found I tend to prefer classes where poses are held vs. the super flow-y types where form is often sacrificed for speed/movement (I still do the latter anyway).

I was quite surprised to discover a) the class is mega popular as it was packed full when I wandered down to the 38C-heated room minutes before class started b) it’s a super slow down of your typical yoga class. As the class was only 45 minutes, it seemed to fly by super fast. Basically it was savasana, back twists, the butterfly leg pose with a neck drop, supported back bridge, another pose where sort of you sit on your knees w/toes curled under (INTENSE), then a straight knee sit followed by more savasana.

I encountered a major yoga fail moment when I kept falling asleep at the end. My body felt like jelly after being in the warm room and holding the stretches for so long…it was so nice and relaxing. It wasn’t challenging in a boot camp kick-your-ass sense, but I definitely had trouble following the breath, not falling asleep and checking my mind from wandering. I guess that’s why I need to “practice!” Bonus: I didn’t get super sweaty due to the nature of the exercise! This is the type of class I’d drop in for stress or tension relief or as a complement to my regular flexibility practice, but I couldn’t just do yin yoga alone and feel like it was enough to take care of my strength building/cardio needs.

Later in the evening I went on a skate date with my fiance to the newly expanded duck pond at Assiniboine Park. I haven’t gone since they expanded the duck pond or added the new washroom area with the cozy fireplace. While the scenery was gorgeous, I didn’t like how dark it felt while skating on the pond. I also bailed walking through the giant piles of snow leading to the rink. I think a bit of grooming in the area and some proper lighting would make it way better. The evening got me excited for a return to the River Trail at The Forks! We will definitely be hitting that up soon for some entertaining cardio exercise and pretty scenery.

Before I sign off, here’s a great article from Refinery 29 (one of my favourite websites) re: tips from fitness gurus on how to keep New Year’s resolution fitness goals.

 

Happy 2013!

They say variety is the spice of life. And while I haven’t been working out on a regular basis 3x per week, I have consistently completed at least ONE workout each week (Pretty sure I met my fitness goal for 2012 at least, yay!) and many have been activities I have not blogged about on here before (minus the not-so-exciting workouts in my dull and tiny apartment gym). It’s my fault for not posting what I’ve been doing on the blog, but with a fresh year ahead, why not start fresh with a promise to update more regularly?

On a personal note, I updated the blog headline to reflect that I am now 30 years old and still budget conscious…although I will pay for quality and convenience if that’s what is going to get me active.

Use your body weight to build muscle definition during a TRX body blast class at Yoga Public.

Use your body weight to build muscle definition during a TRX body blast class at Yoga Public.

I’m also getting married this summer, which is exciting. This upcoming milestone and epic photo moment is providing me with extra motivation to get back into a 3x per week routine (at one point it used to be four times–I was pretty buff then for the petite thing I am.)

To kick things off, I spent about 45 minutes last night organizing my fitness schedule for January. I scheduled myself for a number of classes (they are my favourite as you can tell from my old blog posts) and think of them more as “appointments” that must be kept.

Last fall I signed up for 10 weeks of 1-hour long 30/20/10 classes through the Leisure Guide and only missed ONE when I was away on vacation. The time slot seemed to work with my schedule, so I’ve committed myself to another 10 weeks in winter/spring. (Expect to read more in a future post.)

In the meantime, I’m using a two-week unlimited voucher for Yoga Public. I started today with a 45-minute TRX Body Blast workout. I’ve taken TRX before elsewhere, but seem to have forgotten how to adjust all the straps properly and quickly, so I missed a few moves. Other than that I felt like it was a great, quick, full-body workout class that will definitely help with muscle definition and leave me with sore muscles tomorrow. (But the good kind of sore.)

Up next? A 45-minute hot yin class on Friday followed by a romantic skating date at The Forks or Assiniboine Park with my fiance. I’m excited to increase my workouts in the new year. And as always, keep it interesting with lots of variety, which is key to good cross-training.

So, fellow fitness fanatics, what are your fitness goals for 2013? It could be a goal to try ice skating, join a team sport or a 30-day yoga challenge–please share in the comments below!

Back with a freebie yoga update!

Various forms of hot yoga are offered Yoga Public, which opens Dec 5 downtown.

I haven’t forgotten this blog, but I’ve definitely neglected it. My excuses are: I was on holiday and then tied up with a freelance project. But I’m not doing either of those things now, so the excuses have to end. I did manage to go out rollerblading on an absolutely gorgeous night this week, but that’s about it fitness-wise for me over the past few weeks! Urgh, I don’t feel good about it at all!

Well, I’ve got to madly rush to finish up using classes in my Lifestyle Pass before it expires at the end of Oct. I’ve got a couple for Moksha, so I’ve approached a yoga buddy friend to see if she’ll hit up a class or two with me.

While I was thinking about yoga, I remembered some buzz over Yoga Public, which I’ve heard is a designer yoga studio from the brains behind the luxurious and lovely Ten Spa. So, I checked out the website and they’ve got an opening date set! Dec 5. And if you sign up for a newsletter now by clicking here (scroll down in new window), you can try out a free class. They’ve also got an intro special of two weeks worth of classes for $35. I’ll be checking that out, thanks! They seem to offer various types of hot yoga only and there are some TRX classes, which I tried a bit with some free passes awhile back.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to getting back into shape. It’s going to be painful at first since I’ve neglected it for a month now, but it’s something I need to do in order to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I say this as I’m drinking a mini can of coke by the computer and having just consumed two grilled cheese sandwiches for brunch. Hmmm.

A shopping trip to the grocery store is in order once my boyfriend returns. I’ve lined up a couple of new recipes (Jamaican Shediac Cape Curry & Pillsbury pizza dough chicken and vegetable pies) and I’m definitely going to stock up on some veggies and dip in the fridge to encourage healthy snacking. Speaking of which, I’m going to go grab some trail mix now!

I’ll update soon with more fitness deals as I find them.

 

Mark your calendars: free yoga classes start soon!

Take advantage of free yoga sessions in Memorial Park on Thursdays at noon all summer.

Starting June 2nd, downtown dwellers and workers can take advantage of a free 45 minute yoga session at Memorial Park during noon hours each and every Thursday (except for rainy days). These lovely outdoor classes are put on by the Downtown BizFort Garry Hoteland the hotly anticipated Yoga Public studio. Like I mentioned before, classes are free but donations to the instructor are welcome. Now all you need to do is remember to pack your yoga mat and gear, and you’re set! What a great way to break up the work day. See you there.

P.S. I will definitely be checking out Yoga Public when it finally does open. It’s supposed to the “Ten Spa” of Winnipeg yoga studios. Can’t wait!