Like many of you, I worry about my ass. Especially during the winter months and especially, especially during the holidays. Duh. I mean for one thing it's too dark to go running before work, and too dark to go running after work too, which forces one to spend more time and money on the inside of a gym.
I have a place I'm happy with, but I never turn down the opportunity to try something new, and it's hard to believe that something like ClassPass hasn't already happened. It just launched in Portland, and it's essentially the gym equivalent of being able to pick your own cable channels. Basically you pay a monthly fee of $99, which yes, is more than your average 24-Hour subscription, but not that much more than what you frequently pay to be a regular at some of the nicer private yoga studios and CrossFit whatnots around town, and it gets you unlimited classes per month. But rather than having to commit to one style of exercise instruction, a ClassPass membership allows you to visit any of the participating gyms/studios in your city.
Unsurprisingly, the Portland options lean heavily yogic at the moment, but there are also dance studios, strength training, Pilates, Barre, and cycling. It's pretty awesome: When you're dealing with almost 30 studios' schedules, there's a class time for just about anyone's day, and the only real rule is that you have to mix it up—you can't visit the same place more than three times a month. I assume that more places will join if the program picks up speed, but if you simply must go to CrossFit eight times a month, say, you might want to hold out for another studio (or two) of that kind to sign up. However if whoring around to different yoga classes is your thing, you're pretty much good to go right now.
I guess you can blame "bikini season" for the rash of unusual workout options coursing through the intertubes this week? Next up: David Lynch Yoga. This one is a benefit for the David Lynch Foundation, through which he spreads the gospel of transcendental meditation, particularly to at-risk populations like inner-city kids, veterans, and refugees. For just a $15 suggestion donation, Nick Mattos of the Art of Movement studio is leading a 90-minute all-levels class guided by a soundtrack referencing Lynch's oeuvre on Sunday, July 20. In the meantime, meditate on the lovely fluttering motion Lynch makes with his hand while explaining "wakefulness."
We have word of an interesting exhibit to visit this first Thursday at the Art Institute's Steven Goldman Gallery. From the description it sounds like a unique approach to a gallery opening and show: Art through photography, experience, well being, and it may inspire the hunger in not only your belly but also your health.
Combining food, culture, and wellness, Ayurveda is a comprehensive medical system indigenous to India. With a focus on the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—Ayurveda is gaining awareness and popularity among health and wellness consumers outside of its native region as people seek complementary and alternative solutions to health concerns that are often inadequately addressed by Western healthcare.
This exhibit provides a glimpse of the sabbatical fieldwork of Culinary instructor Eric Wynkoop, conducted in Spring Term 2014, in India. In continuation of his studies of Ayurveda, Wynkoop investigated the social context of Ayurveda in Mumbai, where he focused his attention on cooking and consumer attitudes, and studied with Ayurvedic doctors in Jaipur.
Sometimes Portland can't resist walking headfirst into its own adorkable stereotypes, and thus we have such occurrences as this collaborative bowtie design by PINO in honor of the impending 12th annual Filmed by Bike festival:
The idea is that you wear this silk twill guy to the opening night party (the festival runs April 19-22 at the Clinton St) or any of the other satellite events, like a "Bikes in the Night Sky" storytelling night and bike bingo at Radio Room. As for the films themselves, there are 45 films from 14 countries, including the feature-length CICLO from Mexico City (brush up on your Spanish for the duration of the trailer, though I'm sure they are planning to show the subtitled version of the full length):
More info on the festivities here.
There are a ton of opinions on what's best for you, and no shortage of people eager to tell you what to do in regards to your eating habits. And while I love a good debate, it's ultimately nobody's goddamn business but your own how you decide to keep your own house, as it were. So if where you stand on the spectrum of bullshit-to-swear-by-it in regards to raw foodism and cleansing puts you in a place to consider making a change for spring, here's an opportunity to gather information from two sources in the field:
Seed and Thistle Apothecary and Eatin' Alive are hosting "Shedding the Winter Stagnation" this month, with hands-on education about seasonal foods, cleanse/detox de-mystifiction (I'm getting the vibe that they are in favor of less extreme approaches), and raw foods. It's happening Saturday, March 29 at Tabor Space (5441 SE Belmont), 1-4 pm, $35 (registration available at either web site linked above).
I've been waiting ever so patiently since I caught wind this past summer of Carson Footwear, a start-up based in Milwaukie (our Milwaukie) that's in the development phase of producing running shoes right here. The company's Everett Carson just wrote to let me know that they are about five weeks from launching their first shoe, the "10/10 Carbon Neutral." Of it, Carson says, "It is made from materials all sourced in the USA, stitched and assembled in our Milwaukie shop, [and] I'm very happy with the results the new state of the art foam sole materials have produced." And! They are currently searching for wear testers:
I am looking for some help with the final development and need some runners to help me do some wear testing. Test runners should wear a men's size 10.5-11 and prefer a minimal type shoe. These shoes are 10 mm off the ground under the toe and 10 mm off at the heel. If you are interested in testing please send me an email at email@example.com. Please include the following info (you must be at least 18 years of age): Contact Info; Type of shoes you currently run in; weekly miles; type of running most preferred (trail, road). Let's see if we can destroy these things.
I am like eight sizes too small for this, but if you qualify you should do it just to make me die of jelz. Here's hoping that by the time I'm due to replace my current runners—the saddest shoe purchase of the year—there'll be a homegrown and built Carson waiting for me. Devastatingly photos are not yet available but I'll sure post 'em when they are.
You know that old January feeling: “I’m going to get in shape,” “I’m going to be way more awesome at working out and eating healthy!” Well, that usually lasts a few weeks for me and then I fall off the fitness wagon and back on the red wine and cheese caravan. Enter Bar Method class.
Loads of my skinny blonde friends all attend ballet bar-type classes and look amazing. They are like a little army of bar class advocates. Ok, I tell myself, I can do this. I sign up for my first class at The Bar Method Portland down in the Pearl. I arrive nice and early to fill out my new student forms and take a peek around. I see all different ages of ladies, some super fit and young, others older hot Pearl moms, and a few girls who look sort of like me (read: newbie).
Everyone is friendly enough as we settle into the carpeted exercise room. There are big mirrors to the front of the studio, and ballet bars around the perimeter of the room. Oh, you also must wear socks. The regulars are rocking their specialty Bar Method toe socks. Before we get going I’m instructed to grab some weights and a small ball. The super perky instructor comes over and gets my name, along with the other new girls before class begins. Then BAM! on with the headset and she’s nicely shouting out instructions. We’ve got Ludacris and other early '00s rap blaring in the background as we get our warm up going.
What happens next is kind of a blur. My body hurts, I keep laughing because the teacher repeatedly calls out my name (ON THE HEADSET) and being like “Kayla! Tuck! Tuck!” It feels a bit awkward to be called out in front of everyone but hey, roll with what you got. As I’m trying to tuck, another instructor comes out and “spots” me while I’m doing some tortuous ab exercise. The hands-on approach is nice for some people, but I was a bit turned off by all of the extra attention and verbal corrections over the loudspeaker. The environment feels really high stress and competitive. We go on doing various arm, leg, and ab moves for what feels like hours. Lots of small movements repeated over and over until you are shaking from pain and cannot go on. This is also a sign of how out of shape I am, as some girls look graceful as they breeze on through the motions.
By the end of class my whole body felt like jello, so it was certainly effective. I haven’t been back, and I probably won’t. I’m more into power Vinyasa classes. Bar Method is also on the expensive side, with a monthly unlimited membership putting you back $175. For that kinda dough I’d rather buy shoes and drinks. (This is why I will not likely reach my goal weight anytime soon.)
Uh, it's January so you may have noticed a little self-improvement happening around here (what do you mean "no"???). For one thing, this year the Merc decided to try out a little thing called "fitness"—heard of it? And thus, the first ever Fitness Issue came to pass.
In it you'll find something you might not expect: good, common sense. No really, check, like, here and maybe here. It's in there, I swear. There's also lots of fun ideas to get your sweat on, like relatively unironic Jazzercise and Zumba classes, professional ideas for rigging up your own DIY boot camp for free, and trampolines! Plus if you don't actually like to feel your own sweat, there's aqua aerobics and a handy list of places to swim in Portland year round. Last but certainly not least is the soul-searching, bowel-emptying journey of a dude who thinks juice cleanses are "a sham," but tried one anyway because he's a champ. A champ who is not shy about sharing the disruptions of his poop-cycle with the world.
And, they're all accompanied by the hyperrealistic drawings of Joseph Harmon!
Get ready to sweat for a cause. Luke Jude, owner of Sweet Momentum Fitness, recently announced the launch of Project 41, a monthly donation-only workout dedicated to raising funds for Camp Aranu’tiq, a camp for transgender youth.
Often excluded or inaccurately placed within traditional summer camps, Camp Aranu'tiq provides a therapeutic space where transgender youth can participate in camp activities, leadership workshops, and family camps.
Jude has been through a gender transition himself and understands "how isolating the experience can be." Thus, Project 41 aims to give people an opportunity to make a difference, and to provide a unique exercise experience that puts people in touch with their bodies.
Jude also wants to call awareness to the staggeringly high suicide rates among transgender youth and directly combat these statistics through Project 41. Camp Aranu'tiq provides an excellent resource for transgender youth and 100 percent of proceeds from Jude's workouts will go toward scholarships for future campers. The camp states, "We never want to turn anyone away based on finances. Every $600 we receive through Project 41 will allow us to serve another camper, let them know they're not alone, and give them a lifetime of friends and memories."
This support alone can truly be life-saving. You can show your support by showing up for Project 41's first workout, which will be held from 12:00-1:00 PM on Saturday, February 22, at the Red Rose Ballroom on Alberta. Participation is donation based and individuals of all ability levels are encouraged to participate.
So get moving.
Tomorrow afternoon starting at 1 at the Portland area's hardest-core gym*, the Warrior Room, there will be beer flowing, food vending, and a bunch of tough broads arm wrasslin' for charity. If you live anywhere near Milwaukie, you should know about this place. Did I mention it's hard core? It's kettle bell oriented, Tabata-informed circuit training in a funny, supportive, wallet-friendly, and pretty freaking festive atmosphere—how many gyms have you attended that have a beer tap? Cuz this one does. I wish I lived closer, because I haven't gone nearly enough to feel prepared for tomorrow's "Honey Badgers & Cobras" all-female arm wrestling tournament, being held to benefit Northwest Housing Alternatives.
I'll be among the women competing in tomorrow's all-female tournament—who also include apparel designers Alicia Wood and Michelle Lesniak, and radio personality Daria, and while I'm fairly certain I'll have my ass beat, I'll be a totally good sport about it, and a little training from trophy-holding arm wrestling champion Wm Steven Humphrey has hopefully ensured that I won't completely embarrass myself. But no matter: it's all in good fun, and this is a work-hard, play-hard kind of crowd. A mere five bucks gets you in to spectate, there will be a full bar, a beer garden, and impromptu $1 throwdowns. What else are you gonna do, mow your lawn? Nope.
*I have not tried them all, but I've tried a lot, and the WR wipes me out as much as my first 90-minute round of boxing training, which is to say you'll be feeling it for a week.
Down in Milwaukie—before you get to the traffic-clogging McLoughlin closure—the Warrior Room gym is gearing up for their first-ever female arm wrestling charity event, titled Honey Badgers and Cobras (if you're tall you're a cobra, and if you're "small and mighty" you're a honey badger) on September 14. A benefit for Northwest Housing Alternatives, they're still looking for participants, and have added some arm-intensive classes to their schedule to help competitors get ready.
They've also recruited some familiar faces in the fashion community to compete—there's me, Alicia Wood of Ms. Wood, writer and hairstylist Mandy Zelinka, and most recently they roped in reigning Project Runway hometown champ Michelle Lesniak. I'm honestly going to get creamed at this thing (I can't make it down to Milwaukie too often, but when I do I get my ass kicked and the whole "Warrior" thing in the name suddenly seems very literal), but there will be beer flowing and plenty of food vendors, and general admission is just five bucks ($15 if you want to join the tournament). There will also be $1 impromptu throw downs after the official wrasslin' in case you get competitive after downing a few.
And wouldn't you know, turns out Wm Steven Humphrey is a champion arm wrestler trophy holder who took second place in the 165 lb. division, Reno Armwrestling Championships back in 1996, and he promises to teach me the trick to winning, even against those who are bigger and stronger. Or, as Rob Thompson suggests, I could simply follow this lead (anyone have a chicken I can borrow?).
In the meantime, for Milwaukie's September First Friday (the 6th), the Warrior Room is hosting RAW (Rose City Arm Wrestling), who will be giving demos and free safety courses in this most competitive of sports.
After a summer of traveling, drinking, eating, and up-all-nighters my health plan needs a massive overhaul. While visiting family in the area, I turned to fitness expert and founder of Parkside Fitness (located in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho) Kara Lemmon to get some answers.
Mercury: Summer is always the time people want to shape up! What are few tips you would advise to get rid of bloat before hitting the beach?
Kara Lemmon: Drink lots of water and practice yoga... it is such a great way to cleanse the body from the inside out.
Arms are always my biggest issue! I hate the way they look in photos. What are some of the most effective ways to beat the dreaded arm bulge?
Planks and push-ups for sure. Lots of them!
Diet plays a big role on your path to slimming down, what are a few foods to definitely avoid? What are some of the best foods to choose?
Avoid anything packaged and processed. Try to avoid white foods (flour, sugar, bread) and choose fresh fruit, veggies, and lean proteins. Also try to stay away from diet food and artificial sweeteners.
"Thinspo" and "Thinsporation" are big buzzwords at the moment, do you feel like woman put too much pressure on having the perfect body?
Yes! I am so afraid for my daughter to grow up and have to worry about being skinny. I want women to be happy with having curves and feel strong and sexy in their own skin. Skinny is not pretty. I think everyone should practice yoga, it teaches you to love yourself!
What do you think is a realistic goal for achieving a good balance between exercise, diet, and splurging?
I call it the 80/20 rule. Try to eat well and exercise 80% of the time... the other 20% you can be a little naughty!
Root Whole Body is hosting an incredible 10 day Yoga adventure to the gorgeous tropical landscapes of Thailand, and you’re invited. Feeling Eat, Pray, Love ish? This sounds like the perfect opportunity to reset your zen and see some sunshine from October 10th-November 8th. Root’s founder Pat Johnson and Monica Rudestam will guide your once-in-a-lifetime yoga filled journey. Your stay includes boutique style accommodations, cultural experiences, daily yoga/qigong, massage, acupuncture and relaxation days, select authentic Thai meals, and generous leisure time for exploration. To scope the day-to-day itinerary and view pricing click here. Space is limited, so if this sparks your interest take this chance to explore a whole new country while discovering a whole new you.
Go team Honey Badger! According to Honey Badgers & Cobras: Women’s Arm Wrestling for Charity, "If you’re tall and tough you’re a Cobra, and if you’re small and mighty, a Honey Badger." I am clearly in the latter (victorious) camp, but if you'd like to challenge me, here's your chance. The Warrior Room is probably the most fun-loving gym experience I have ever had. Heavy on kettlebells, Tabata, and interval training, its classes are taught by hilarious brother-sister team Luke and Ashley Jensen, who preach the virtues of a work hard, play hard lifestyle: They'll give you a kickass workout, and then high five you over beers—like, they actually have a beer tap at the gym.
They also make a point of keeping their classes affordable (depending on which package you sign up for it breaks down to around $8-10/class), and the formula has paid off. When I first visited they were working out of a residential garage, and they've since graduated to a spacious gym in downtown Milwaukie with a lounge (beer) area and separated office space. They're putting their good attitudes to work September 14 with Honey Badgers & Cobras: Women’s Arm Wrestling for Charity, a competition benefiting Northwest Housing Alternatives. For the month of August they're offering a "Super Sexy Arm" class that specifically targets your arm wrestling muscles, and even includes the occasional bout. Looky-loos are welcome to attend, but with a $15 entry fee, you may as well go up to bat.
In March, Shape magazine published a big "best-of" feature in which they canvassed the country's various gyms and other workout-related businesses to determine the "best" in each category. There was only one winner from Portland: Studio Blue, which was christened the best studio for "Pilates powerhouses." Naturally, I had to see what the hype was about, so I signed up to take a month of classes.
It was perfect timing, actually. At the beginning of that month I'd suddenly—and with surprising severity—injured my knee running, just as I was about swing into full-on Spring fitness mode, and I was crushed and frustrated. I tend to gravitate toward harder core sweat workouts like long-distance running, boxing, and circuit training. I like a bit of Bikram during the winter months, but in general think of Pilates and yoga as too sleepy. That said, there's a perceptible improvement in core strength whenever I do it, which makes you stronger in whatever other activities you're engaged in.
After being completely benched for a month, I started at Studio Blue, which also works quite a bit with people recovering from injuries and chronic pain stemming from imbalances in posture and alignment. The studio, on the second floor across from the Mission Theater, is well appointed with nice lighting, bright wood floors, and a cozy lobby with complimentary water, tea, and reading materials.
I started out easy, with mellow, more yoga-centric classic like Exhale Pilates, gradually working up to higher-impact courses, like a Bosu-fitness ball combo class, Pilates Sculpt, and TRX Suspension Training. I never took the same class twice, and there are still plenty of things I haven't tried, like a class devoted to rolling around on a tennis ball, squidging out all those hard-to-reach tight spots—something sports massage therapists have been telling me to do for years. They also have several levels of classes devoted to springboards, which are strictly for the healthiest of knees:
Hmmm, where do I begin… My name is Marissa and I’m a Taco Bell addict. Since moving to Portland I’ve almost completely cut fast food out of my life, but I still have moments of weakness. Usually it involves being drunk, a very nice cab driver ordering for me, willpower being lost, and Taco Bell consumed. My skin, at 32, is worse than it was when I was a teenager, and I’m shocked I’m not 200 pounds considering the amount of sugar I eat. I know that my lifestyle will catch up with me, but more importantly I had a wedding in New York to go to and I wanted to drop lbs, son! Enter KURE Juice Bar to (hopefully) save the day.
Cleanse Day One: I’m bummed that I decided to start my cleanse on Memorial Day, a day most widely celebrated by BBQ-ing and drinking. Thank god it’s raining; I spend the day blogging and watching the new Arrested Development. I’m constantly thinking about food, I think I’m hungry, I’m day dreaming about pizza, and I’m kind of bummed I’m writing about this because if I wasn’t I would’ve already cheated. I text my friend, "I’m doing a juice cleanse I’M SO HUNGRY" and she texts back to watch the documentary Hungry For Change. I take her advice and my mood is instantly lifted, I’m hopeful, I’ve realized that sugar is as bad as cocaine, I’m absolutely doing the right thing for my body, and I’m unstoppable! I finish my fifth and final juice of the day and I’m actually full! YES!
(My one cheat today: I have a soy-au-lait with a bit of sweetener in it. Even though Kure's co-owner, Nate, told me I was supposed to "pre-cleanse" before my liquid cleanse, I did not. He told me that this is the most important part of my experience, and I had good intentions to abide, but instead I drank bottomless mimosas at Club 21. What I should’ve done is cut out processed foods and eaten lots of fruits and veggies, exactly what that documentary was preaching.) Note: Coffee is not a total cheat, Nick the other owner of Kure told me they don't like it because of the acidity, but ultimately this is your cleanse, do what you think is best for you.
Day two and three after jump...
Has everybody already seen the "Rite of Spring" workout? I may never listen to the most famous passage in Stravinsky the same way again.
I look like a goddamn pig—and there's no way I'm going to the beach looking like this. That's why I'm subscribing to the hottest new fitness workout in America today, called "Prancercise: A Fitness Workout." Why? Ummmm... because this is how I already walk around town anyway?? Thank you, Joanna Rohrback—and don't miss her final words of advice at the end!
It's peak running season out there (not too cold/dark, not too hot yet), and here I am warming the bench with a stoopid knee injury. But the roster of summer fitness events is about to get started, and are a nice motivator to break out of the cold-weather coma. Here's one just for the ladies: The Dirty Girl mud run is an all-ages, all-female 5k race marked with optional obstacle courses on its route, all of which is covered in lots and lots of mud.
Touring cities all over the country, registration fees to participate go toward the goal of a $500,000 donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and survivors run for free. It hits Portland (well technically Canby) on Saturday June 1, with two waves of runners at 8 am and 4 pm. Don't slip, now.
Seeking an affordable, close-by Yoga studio I landed upon The People’s Yoga. With two locations, one on NE Killingsworth, and the other in SE Belmont, I was instantly drawn to the measly $8 drop in fee per class. Biking to class this morning just a few blocks up the street from my home in Northeast, I loved the clean, simple space, which filled with the most gorgeous sunlight. After exhausting nearly every introductory package at studios all over the city, I am trying to find somewhere more permanent that feels like home, and although it was only my first class I think People’s Yoga is the new jam for me. The class this morning was of the Hatha Flow variety, and the teacher Renee was graceful and thorough in guiding us through a zen, yet challenging class. Unlike some of the gym-like places I’ve been for yoga class, People’s Yoga caters to all different kinds of clientele, and is ‘less bass in your face’ pumping sweaty yoga, and more mindful movements designed to get your blood flowing. Another added bonus is if you bike to class you’ll receive a punch card that gives you your 10th class free just for biking! Check out the class schedule and all the details on pricing here. Namaste!
StudioX Fitness is celebrating 9 years of being in the fat-burning biz by offering all of it's classes for free starting today and going through Thursday. Whether you want to start getting into shape for summer or need to change up your workout routine, this is the perfect opportunity to check out this establishment, which I have heard can be pretty brutal but yields real results.
New Years, ugh! I won’t go all Jenny Craig on you, but I am definitely feeling the repercussions of a holiday season spent partying, staying up way too late, and traveling. I am totes not a “gym” person, so besides the occasional yoga class I don’t have a routine fitness plan. Enter 2013, and my pending birthday. I decided it’s now time to really get serious about not only losing weight, but feeling healthy and more balanced.
If you hate doing millions of crunches and logging hours on the elliptical here are a few fun ways to get that metabolism kickin’:
Jazzercise: Get jazzy! One of my closest friends swears by Jazzercise, saying that she not only sweats bullets, but has a lot of fun doing it. Seeing her re-enact the moves is enough to get me to tag along for a class. Check out the Jazzercise Portland website here to find pricing and the class schedule.
Volleyball, or any rec-league sport: I joined a rec-league vball team last fall and couldn’t be happier. Growing up I played competitive volleyball from the time I was 10 all the way through high school. One of the best parts of joining a rec-league team is meeting new people and getting to play a sport I love. Check out portlandvolleyball.org to find a team. Underdogportland.com also makes it super simple to create or find a team to play on for Football, Softball, Volleyball, Dodgeball, and Kickball, and there are plenty of options for all levels of athletes.
Pole Dancing Class: Although I haven’t yet tried pole dancing, I can tell you after many a visits to Sassy’s I know it would be quite the workout. Enter Ecdysiast A Pole Dance Studio. Your first class is just $20, and you get a full introduction to the exciting and elusive skill of pole dancing. Click here for more deets on how to register! I’m thinking of getting a group of girls together for a fun hour of sweatin’ and shakin’.
I thought I had exhausted all of my “new student specials” at various studios around town, so I was beyond excited to discover Root Whole Body over in my new hood. Located at 2626 NE 15th street, right off Broadway, the space is absolutely gorgeous! Two of my favorite instructors, Nikki Weaver and Shaney Aalbers, whom I took classes from back when I was at Yoga Pearl, are also teachers at Root. Needless to say, I was over the moon to hear this. Add in free tea and a sauna sesh each time you visit and I’m sold. I left my first class at Root feeling mega-zen, refreshed, and ready to take on the day. Nikki has such a calming energy, but her class leaves you nice and sweaty, no doubt about it. If you’re not into yoga, Root also offers massage therapy, facials, acupuncture, and overall wellness (naturopathic, nutrition, and detoxification.) Your first class is free, and Root offers a variety of membership programs, check it out here.