San Francisco painter Sophie Leininger recently debuted her new collection of hand drawn and designed yoga mats. Combining her affinity for painting and practicing yoga, Ms. Leininger found the perfect new project; Magic Carpet Yoga Mats. Each mat design is hand drawn, and are sustainably printed in California using only non-toxic, phthalate-free materials. Leininger believes that “Performing yoga postures on a beautiful mat enhances the yoga experience by connecting the pleasures of the heart to the movement of the body,” and I couldn’t agree more. These beauties put my decomposing Lululemon mat to shame- I know what’s on the top of my Christmas list this year! To purchase via her website click here.
The decadent holiday season can have you packing on the pounds in no time. Don't wait for the new year to hit the gym with these challenging workout—many of which are offering awesome introductory deals—and keep your mind, body, and spirit focused and fit!
Click studios to see schedules, pricing, and more:
The Bhaktishop- One week unlimited yoga for $20.
Barre3- Ballet bar meets yoga/pilates: Three classes for $30.
Portland Adventure Bootcamp for Women- 3 days a week/month for $239, prices vary according to package.
Portland Thai Boxing- Kick some ass with Muay Thai, CSW, Kali, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu style classes offered daily.
YoYoYogi- New student special 12 classes in 30 days for $38.
I've never gone snow skiing in my entire life. And frankly the one time I attempted water skiing was not encouraging. However over the years I've been had an increasing number of friends expound on the virtues of mellower snow sports like snowshoeing and cross country skiing—which, as was just being stressed to me over drinks last night at the Rum Club, is both extremely thigh toning and totally doable with a to-go jug of whiskey in hand. I guess I could get down with that.
For the less faint of heart, of course, there's snowboarding, and just in time for the season a new local start-up, Homeschool Snowboarding, has its outerwear on the market for the first time. If I'm in the snow trying to/not to break my neck, I'm going to care foremost about being warm and comfortable, and Homeschool addresses the need for functionality by working with tech fabric company Cocona (out of Boulder), which claims to have produced a product that wicks moisture from skin 50% faster than competing technical fabrics.
As for how they look, the majority of the designs are straightforward, which I like, though there is one crazy pattern available. Simple pants:
I don’t know about you guys, but for me summer is ubiquitous with BBQ’s, beers, and lounging in the sun. September is right around the corner, and it’s about time to get those skinny jeans back on. Beat the bloat with Boot(y) Camp. A weeklong, early morning, ass-kickin’ workout that combines yoga, running, and circuit training to get you sweating off those extra lb’s. Camp starts September 19th and runs through the 23rd, space is limited and at only $48 it is sure to fill up fast. Register here now!
Looking for a last minute decompression getaway? Find inner balance and get those yoga arms you’ve been lusting after with The Bhaktishop's retreat this to Opal Creek. They ship out tomorrow through the rest of the weekend, but spots are still available. Suitable for all levels, this yoga workshop takes place in the breathtaking ancient rainforest. The retreat aims to strengthen the mind and body in the serenity of nature while exploring Hatha, Vinyasa, and Restorative styles of yoga. For more information and to register click here.
In town, The Bhaktishop is also offerieng a free event this Friday from 7:30-9 pm called "Nourishing the Body and Mind: A Non-diet Approach to Food, Weight, and Health."
Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD and Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC from Be Nourished will discuss how an enjoyable relationship with food happens naturally when the focus is more on nurturing the body and mind and less on dieting.
The Bhaktishop is located 2500 SE 26th Ave at the corner of SE Division.
Summer is coming right up, got your bikini bod on the brain? Fulcrum Fitness Fitcamp is a challenging boot camp style workout that is designed just for women. Aimed to tone and sculpt muscles, this intense workout will have you sweating. Held five days a week at Portland’s most beautiful parks, Fitcamp will get your bum ready for the beach in a hurry.
Portland Fitcamp is a fitness program that includes top notch guided workouts, nutritional coaching and motivational training designed to get you in the best shape of your life, in the shortest, safest possible time regardless of your current fitness level.
Fitcamp is suitable for all fitness levels and ages, to register today click here.
Join Yoga Pearl this Saturday, March 26th for a Power Vinyasa class benefitting the Mercy Corps Japan relief fund. Mercy Corps is working to help survivors of Japan's earthquake and your donation will be used to meet immediate and longer-term needs of earthquake survivors.This class will focus on Pose of the Dancer, a challenging balance pose named after Nataraj, the dancing form of Shiva. Dancer’s pose symbolizes cosmic energy representing five actions- creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion. This dynamic pose will open your heart, and help create new energy while letting go of stagnant feelings. Yoga has become a true sanctuary for my mind and body, teaching me patience, balance, and most importantly appreciation for others and myself.
As one of my favorite teachers Shaney often says,
”Go out into the world and do well, but more importantly go out into the world and do good.”
Class Donation- $15
Class begins promptly at 4:30
Yoga Pearl is located at 925 NW Davis Street
If you're smart, you didn't even consider working out on the first, since back when you were still bad in 2010 you gave yourself a nasty hangover. But by now you should be making it stick, like all the other people hitting the gym and raising the humidity levels in Bikram classes all over the city. If you're still looking for a point of entry, The Bhaktishop is offering some great deals. In fact, they've actually lowered their prices for the new year, in addition to their usual three classes per week that are either free or by donation (sorry to blow a hole in your "but I'm broke" excuse). I also went to check out the newish Green Microgym on Belmont. Northeast residents might be familiar with the Alberta location, and the concept. The gym offers all your standard cardio, weight, and resistance training equipment (they're also beginning to offer classes, like a small yoga class and an upcoming spin class, in addition to acting as a location for personal trainers and their clients), but with an innovative twist. The use of the cardio machines generate electricity, helping to lower the amount of the energy consumed by the gym, and keep everyone's costs down.
For most of us New Year's Eve is a debaucherous blur of sequins and champagne, but if you want to start 2011 off with a glow, the Bhaktishop is once again encouraging you to join them: "New Years anywhere but the Shop in Oregon: Freezing cold, concrete, chapped lips, totally boring, no cabs, bad parties, and unmet expectations. New Years with us doing yoga: Warm, love-filled, celebratory, heart-in-the-right-place, tasty snacks, stretchy, intentional, extra-chanty and with mega- surpassed expectations. Bring on 2011 with us in an asana party at 9pm tag-team taught by Lisa Mae and Diana (register now, this will fill up!) until 10:30pm, followed by a little merriment and bubbly drinks and snacks (you know we throw down good snacks...) Then, snuggle in with us for some kirtan at 11pm with the Mala gang, chanting sweetly into 2011 with intention and grace. All for you!" That's right, all for you, you goody little two-shoes. Er, shoeless, um...
If the holiday season is all about finding a balance between its joys and stresses, don't overlook your health in the equation. While the summertime makes it easy for evening jogs and bike commuting, when it is perpetually dark and wet it forces you inside, and this time of year there are likely rich foods and booze inside. Personally I despise going to a gym. I can run for miles outside lost in my own head, but put me on a treadmill and every minute is an eternity. So whenever I can afford to I sign up for classes. Bikram is a mainstay, but variety is good for your body and your boredom, so I think it's best to mix it up. Luckily fitness experts are on it this time of year with extra incentives to keep yourself on track and sample a variety of routines. I'll try to feature some of the more interesting deals along with the litany of champagne-soaked shopping to-dos, and hopefully achieve that balance. First up: Ecdysiast is extending a killer offer with a 25% discount on all class packages through the end of December, so an eight-week course that normally goes for $250 is whittled down to $188, and the one-time taster class is $15 as opposed to $20. If you've never tried the pole dancing thing, it will probably surprise you by being less hokey and more focused on the athleticism and grace it takes to accomplish this form of dance, which is much harder than it looks.
One of the more appealing ideas that's been batted around as a possible use for the empty Washington High School (currently readying to open its doors this week as the late-night venue for TBA) is to turn it into a community center, with a pool and fitness facilities. But until a big, affordable fitness option that isn't something like this moves into Southeast Portland, little local options are cropping up to take in the slack. The next one on the horizon is the Green Microgym, which plans to open its doors on November 1st at 828 SE 34th Ave, Studio B. One advantage it has is a unique "Burn & Earn" program, which "rewards members accruing 10 total hours of cardio exercise on their grid-tied, electricity-generating equipment with a $10 gift certificate to a participating local business of their choice OR a 50% shopping spree at the Adidas Village store in North Portland." Hm, tempting. You may be familiar with the Green's style, in which the workout machines generate their own electricity, if you've ever visited the NE Alberta location, a sensibility that will no doubt be a hit in its new neighborhood. It's fall after all, time to go back to school/work/the gym with new resolve.
24-Hour Fitness is terrible place. All those sweaty people, stuck indoors, doing the same exercises over and over and over… Sure, maybe it’s fine if you’re the one doing them. Satisfying, relaxing even. But for the people walking by the glass windows of those endorphin gas stations, my god are they depressing.
Newly opened Fulcrum Fitness (3934 NE MLK) has tinted windows and zero treadmills. It's owned by a former bodybuilder, David Levy, but the lighting is soft, his clothes are not tight, and I had to explain to him about Jock Jams. Weightlifting is only part of what happens here.
At Fulcrum Fitness, there are no “machines.” The space is basically a big, matted, room with special equipment lining the walls. There are free weights, stuff you’d see at a pilates studio (bouncy balls, foam rollers, etc.), and an apparatus for doing pull-ups (with some giant rubber bands to help the less butch work up to a chin-clearing lift). There’s also usual weight equipment, like kettleballs, a Russian invention that both looks and feels Russian (see below).
After my first class, I didn't walk out of Fulcrum Fitness drenched in sweat, but I was sore the next day. The core of the workout is dynamic strength training, with active warmups and some straight cardio (e.g. stairs) at the end. Most of the classes on the website are just listed as “Fulcrum,” but owner, head instructor, and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) Levy mixes up the activities, tools, and target muscles each time.
The goal is to build on natural movements that you’ll incorporate into everyday activities, and build strength the way your body was meant to allocate it (i.e. no enormous biceps). Each class has options built into it. You can use heavier weights, more repetitions and longer rests between sets if you want to bulk up, or fewer rests and lighter weights if you’re looking for more toning and cardio.
For people (like me) who like a good cardio workout a few times a week, this isn’t going to replace that endorphin fix. But it will build strength, prevent injury, and help ease kinks and strains from the workouts you've already been doing. If I am going to spend money on fitness classes, I want to be getting something from them that I can’t get outside at a track or on a bike, and I feel that Fulcrum does offer this.
Read on for more quick facts (cost, M/F Ratio, etc.) about Fulcrum and info on the Grand Opening Party tonight.
Registration for the first triathlon of the season starts Monday. This year, they've expanded the event, but in past years, registration has begun and been over, pretty much instantly. So get over there at 8am Monday morning, and cure your hangover by signing up. Love this logo, incidentally:
Sprint triathlons are a great way to get into the sport, and to set yourself a goal for April. If you're just starting to train now, for example, there's no reason you shouldn't reasonably expect to finish the course in a good time in two months. It's a 500 yard swim (that's 10 laps in a 25 yard pool), a 12 mile bike that's mostly flat, followed by a 3.1 mile run, followed by eating, followed by sleeping and feeling smug. Honestly, the best thing about triathlons is how much you get to eat afterwards:
If you do succumb and sign up, shoot me an email. There's a few of us thinking of going up there and we can probably figure out a car share. We'll also be doing a couple of mocks before the season starts, so that you can get your confidence up before race day.
The Mountain Hardware store downtown (722 SW Taylor Street) will host a running clinic on Saturday, February 6th at 9 am. I know it’s early for a Saturday, but training is not about excuses. Learn how to prepare for 8k, 15k, and marathon-length courses from two certified coaches, DeeAnn Dougherty and Katie Hunter (check out their bios here). These short-haired firecrackers have dozens of years and thousands of miles of experience transmitting their perkiness to your quadriceps.
It might seem like training to run for distances ending in -thon requires an obvious combination of will-power and practice for longer and longer amounts of time. Not so! There's a pretty cool science to rest and recovery intervals, engineering your heart rate to get the most impact out of the least amount of cardiovascular torture. I don't really understand it, but I don't question it either.
You will pick up tips on 1. Running techniques (left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right…and the lesser known paradiddle hop) 2. Performance Enhancement (which has nothing to do with herbal supplements), and 3. Goal Setting (go faster).
After a Q & A, session the coaches will lead a three mile run in two pace groups for s l o w and fast runners. The clinic is free, and there will be prizes and snacks and drinks. Don't miss this opportunity to talk conditioning, racing, and the shorts, oh, the shorts!
I usually think of gadgets like this as being one more thing along with keys and phones to accidentally leave at home, but the Fitbit actually looks pretty neat. And it uses Wii technology? That's just cute.
The Fitbit accurately tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. The Fitbit contains a 3D motion sensor like the one found in the Nintendo Wii. The Fitbit tracks your motion in three dimensions and converts this into useful information about your daily activities.
You can wear the Fitbit on your waist, in your pocket or on undergarments. At night, you can wear the Fitbit clipped to the included wristband in order to track your sleep. Anytime you walk by the included wireless base station, data from your Fitbit is silently uploaded in the background to Fitbit.com
Okay that last part is kinda creepy, but overall this looks like a rad update on the pedometer—I don't use one but the people I know who do are obsessed, such as Mercury copy editor Courtney Ferguson, who compares stats with her friends and says she has "shaken it once or twice to make it more accurate for when I walk naked from the bathroom to my closet." This gadget claims to be a much more accurate and dynamic pedometer (one bummer is that it doesn't do well with things like cycling, so you have to plug that info into your online tracking data manually—boo!), but it's the sleep tracking that seems to be the real novelty here:
When you get into bed, you slide the Fitbit Tracker onto a wristband that is provided with the Tracker. As you fall in and out of sleep, the Fitbit tracks the movements that your body makes and can tell you how long it took you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up throughout the night and the actual time you were asleep vs the time you were in bed.
Hopefully you're getting some time off in the next week and a half. The Mercury is closing for a week (although you will magically not be deprived of your weekly edition) and I plan to use the downtime to, among other things, sink my teeth into my latest fitness obsession, Bikram. Luckily the Bikram obsession is powerful enough for most people that all except for Christmas day there are classes being held at my studio (I'm planning to do a Christmas morning run). In general I really enjoy opportunities that are social and celebrational that aren't always about stuffing your face. And I know it's not even past Christmas and therefore perhaps too soon to talk about New Years, but in the off-chance you've yet to make plans, you should know there is at least one healthy option out there. The Bhaktishop is offering an asana class from 9-10:30 pm ($13), to be followed by a midnight kirtan (call-and-response chanting). Usually people's new years resolutions don't exactly kick in at midnight, but rather sometime the following, deeply hungover afternoon, or even get pushed back to the 2nd—especially if they are of the fitness variety. I'd like to say I have plans to get a jump like this, to be ringing in the new year with a healthful, meditative exercise, but I don't. I'll be drunk. Maybe next year.
Just about perfectly timed with the final snuffing out of summer came the end of my experience with the Recess boot camp program. When I began, I was already a runner and a fair weather bike commuter, and I'm conscientious about what I eat, so there wasn't an enormous change in my weight over the course of the program (although I bested myself in all categories of strength testing). Aside from introducing me to a variety of instructors—one of the most recommendable things about the program is how good it is at keeping things interesting and varied—for everything from Pilates and yoga to hoop dancing (none of which is very boot camp-y, granted) to mixed martial arts and resistance training. It was a great excuse to be outside and since it ended I've found myself extra motivated to not just work out but to vary what I do and to make time for less cardio-heavy activities without feeling like it doesn't count because I didn't end up soaked in sweat. It's also been a tad lonely suddenly not seeing the people I was working out with three days a week. But one of the many perks of the Recess program is that it loads you down with coupons for free classes at a variety of fitness centers around town, so hopefully we'll bump into each other again soon. It's all about keeping this momentum going—til next year.
In the meantime, I get to pick out a pair of new running shoes to spend my Recess-issued gift certificate to Fit Right Northwest!
Oh, they are all so ugly. You just gotta go for it.
Dear Food Diary,
This is the first time I have ever kept (or attempted to keep) a food diary. I am participating in the summer bootcamp program at Recess, though, and next weekend we have a nutrition seminar to which we are supposed to bring our food diaries. Since I am no good at counting calories (How can you ever pretend to do that accurately? That'd be a full-time job. Sure I can Google "calories + ham sandwich" and get a number, but a ham sandwich is not a ham sandwich is not a ham sandwich, you know?) and I can't bring myself to micromanage the number of servings of starches and fats and proteins and such I have at each designated feed hour, I figure the least I could do is record what I do end up putting in my mouth. I should point out that while there may be some stubbornness at play here, I would not categorize my failings in the following of the graciously personalized food guidelines I've been given as laziness or disinterest. I already give a great deal of consideration to food choices—you are not dealing with a junk food-consuming couch potato here—and adding categorical food exchanges on top of my politics is simply too much to ask of someone with my schedule.
Maybe I am obstinate in my thinking, but I feel like I make the best dietary choices I can in any given situation, although they are not solely motivated by weight management. I tend to avoid animal products when I am cooking for myself or ordering at a restaurant, and when I do eat them they are usually Michael Pollan-approved, by which I mean some combination of organic and local and free-range and naturally raised and humanely slaughtered. I'm not perfect (If I'm coming over to dinner I'm going to eat whatever you're serving, and if it's a party with free food, thanks!), but I'm already striving toward a self-imposed system that leads me to a healthy, low-fat diet that also lets me sleep at night. I'm not going to order the turkey of mysterious provenance simply to fulfill the protein requirement I have been allotted for lunch at wherever establishment I manage to get to on my way from A to Z, is what I'm saying. I'm going to buy whatever it is they're selling that's vegan, or at least vegetarian, even if that's a green salad.
And here's where you're really going to get me: I drink too much. Sorry! But even here, I make an effort. I almost always drink red wine (white wine on ice if it's too hot), which has (albeit controversial) health benefits and is as low-cal as you can get on the booze scale. It's not like I'm knocking back 800-calorie margaritas. And, yes, if I'm hanging out someplace too dive-y for wine I'll drink cheap beer. Cheap, because I don't really like beer I can taste. Beer, because I find it preferable to hard alcohol, which gets me too drunk, too fast. But those long dinner parties with lots of laughter and un-corked bottles and good times? I'm sorry, but you're not going to take that away from me.
So here is what I ate yesterday: For breakfast I had two pieces of Sasquatch toast from Trader Joe's, which is one of the most fibrous whole grain breads on the market. It's 110 calories per slice. I put crunchy peanut butter on it, popped a couple grapes in my mouth, and topped it off with about 1/2 cup of leftover succotash, which was full of beans and corn and made with olive oil, and yes, also butter. I went to the Whole Foods deli counter for lunch, where I got a small potato samosa, a medium sized container of mushroom pasta, and a small container of sesame kale (all vegan). I should also mention that I alternate drinking green tea and water all day. While I'm at it, and to preface what happened last night, I'll also mention that I rode my bike to work yesterday and then I rode it to an hour-long Recess Pilates class on the other side of town.
After Pilates, I went straight to Mary's Club to catch my friend at the tail end of her shift. I ate my dinner there, which was a vegan burrito filled with rice and beans and veggies (no gross processed fake meats or dairy products, but they also do not have whole wheat tortillas at Mary's). I also had four pints of Pabst. (They only have Merlot, and I'm sorry but the only Merlot that doesn't suck you're not going to find at Mary's.) I know that's bad, and that beer is fattening, but I was having a good time, and frankly having good times is good for your health. Also, I was in bed by 10:15 and then I woke up early and ran six miles before biking to work. That's pretty good overall, right? Doesn't that mean we're square? I think so.
PS: For breakfast today I had one piece of Sasquatch with peanut butter and a banana.
I just got back the results and personalized recommendations of my Recess fitness program's biometrics testing. The good news is that I'm already at a pretty healthy weight and body fat percentage ("I could have told you that," remarked the boyfriend), but I'm not satisfied to coast: I want to shoot for the lowest end of the spectrum of what's considered ideal for my body type. Basically that means I'm going to try to lose 10 pounds. I'm not saying I'm going to, but I'm going to try to.
Now here's the bad and inconvenient news: I don't know how to diet. I have plenty of experience restricting my diet, mind you, but in general ways, like being a vegan or fasting. But "moderation" and "portion control" are somewhere between foreign and kryptonite. I'm often on the run and eating out, I live with a ridiculously talented cook who likes to throw amazing dinner parties—one of my favorite parts of our life together—and I don't know how you can both eat unprocessed foods from the farmers' market like we're all supposed to (which usually don't come with nutritional facts) and accurately count calories at the same time. An apple is not an apple is not an apple, etc. Oh yeah, and I also really love my wine. So, I'm going to do my best to follow the obtuse dietary recommendations, which seem so disconnected from normal meals. Sample breakfast: 1 cup of soy milk, 1 tbsp of nuts, 1/2 banana, 1 slice of whole wheat bread, and 1/3 cup of cooked beans. Sounds like a runny smoothie with beans on toast to me.
One good thing is the virtually limitless allowance for vegetables, although the concept of only 1 tbsp of dressing for a salad of any magnitude is pretty rough. It would be so much easier for me to, like, not eat anything of a certain color or something. This is going to involve math.
My participation in the Recess fitness boot camp marches (get it?) on: On Saturday we did some biometrics testing, which essentially boiled down to being weighed, measure around the hips and waist, and having an electrical current run through my body to determine its percentage of fat. I haven't yet had time to fill out the questionnaire that will allow the Recess' online database to calibrate my guidelines for caloric intake, but I'm looking forward to having a personalized prescription. In the meantime, the workout sessions carry on, which thus far have all been different: yoga, pilates, and last night's... hoopdancing. (Just like in a real boot camp.)
I was not the only woman in my class who was skeptical about this activity—while some of the others murmured that they hadn't hula-hooped since childhood, I recalled that I have never been able to hula hoop. And yet, when guest instructor Meg Abernathy showed up with her "adult hoops" (wider and heavier than the ones you probably had as a kid) and gave some basic instructions I thoroughly impressed myself by being able to pick it up somewhat quickly. She ran us through a number of other tricks, from spinning the hoop over our heads, passing it around our bodies, hooping around the hips, and turning around in a circle while hooping around your waist. I should mention that this was all being done in a public and rather busy park, and yes, it felt silly. (Luckily no less than four people I know went by! Hi guys!) Random passersby sniggered. But I have to admit it was fun, and Meg was hilarious, peppering her instructions with tales of her mom, who likes to get drunk and hula hoop, mentioned a show that happened "on 4/20" with a completely straight face, and was named the 2008 Female Hooper of the Year at the Hoopie Awards (seriously), a huge deal in the hooping world, where she is better known as GroovinMeGzz.
As far as a workout goes, it was more vigorous than either the yoga or pilates classes, though we've still not done anything cardio-intensive. My waist today is sore, and we were warned we might have bruises. Hard to tell if the soreness is from the hooping motion or from banging the hoop around my body for an hour. But back to GroovinMeGzz:
Yup, just like in real boot camp.
Okay, so MOD's getting a little fitness heavy this week. Blame the weather, which makes it easy to want to concentrate on what's under your skimpy summer clothes since dressing comes so easy during these months (though they're threatening rain tomorrow for those of you lonely for your hoodies already). But yesterday evening was my first real Recess bootcamp class, and I want to thoroughly log the experience. Technically last Wednesday was the very first session, dedicated to establishing a beginning fitness level from which to measure improvement, using the old tests you remember from school: push-ups, ab curls, balancing on one lunged leg (that one's my specialty). The testing will continue on Saturday, with some of the nittier, grittier stuff I'm not as familiar with: Biometrics. How does one test one's bioimpedance value, much less improve upon it? I've no idea, and the people who measure my hip and waist girths are usually tailors. But I'm looking forward to having a full spectrum to measure success. I like hard numbers, especially when they move in my favor. In the meantime, yesterday's class was devoted to yoga, which we did on the grass at Duniway Park. I practiced yoga regularly in high school and college, though since then it's been sporadic and fickle (a Chinook Book coupon here, a random tag-along with a friend there). Still, yesterday's class was definitely beginner-friendly, and even using the most challenging modifications it was mellow. Not that I minded—outside, in the beautiful weather, after racing there on bike from a hectic office day, it was soothing and pleasant, and for sure benefited my mood if not my girths. The program is really set up to be doable for all levels of fitness, and I think the challenge for me (as someone who already runs and cycles quite a bit) is going to be remaining pro-active about making sure I'm challenged. There's no point in coasting through the process, even if I can, and after all I'm competing with myself. Next up, on Wednesday is a yoga/Pilates combo. Hopefully not in the mud...
You might remember Studio X, the super-cool, under-the-radar gym owned by Tim Irwin, which I wrote up when they offered a free fitness program for un- or under-employed Portlanders (who reportedly found great success, I might add). They're at it again, but this time they're helping out a different kind of need via workouts: dates. I know plenty of people who consider it beyond lame to hit on people at the gym, and if you agree, you should probably steer clear of Singlelicious Get Fit!, a collab between the gym and Singlelicious PDX, a new events company for "Portland's charming, witty, gorgeous singles." The six-week, Wednesday night program involves aerobic conditioning, Pilates, yoga, and even nutrition classes, which at $90 is a decent deal, especially if you get laid too, I suppose. (This could get weird.) To sign up (classes start on the 15th!), hit up the the Singlelicious web site.
Photo by Bryce Kanights
The Denim Diet is a new book from local author and TV wardrobe stylist Kami Gray (celebs she's worked with include Shannen Doherty, Jenny McCarthy, and Patty Duke), and it's really less of a "diet" than it is a guideline for people who don't like to weigh themselves (or just don't trust the scale's numbers as the best indicator). Instead, she comes at it from the oft-familiar perspective of the jeans-wearer, who knows they're in trouble when their jeans start to fit differently. Gray is a regular at Nolita, where owner Katy Kippen immediately recognized this kind of customer—one who insists they "need to lose five pounds" before buying the jeans they want, or slinks ashamedly in after outgrowing their old favorites, as anyone who's ever busted a belt loop by stubbornly wrenching on too-tight jeans could certainly relate to. After perusing some of the materials, the book is less about fussy, detailed eating rules than it is super-basic guidelines that boil down to "the list": food and habits are either on the list (surprise: hard alcohol and coffee are on it) or off of it, and while much of it is common sense (any good dieting advice usually is), it is somewhat modernized by a dual approach that is concerned with the health of the planet as well as the individual. Also, her press materials note that she has a Ph.D.—Pretty Hot in Denim (snort!).
I don't want to sound like I'm fully drinking the Kool-Aid here: I am a strong believer in weighing myself every single day (preferably at about the same time every morning, and preferably after you've, you know... pooped), eating whole foods, exercising as much as possible, drinking red wine (albeit gobs more than anyone would recommend), and then pretty much just calling it good. However, I'm prone to being distracted by the not-common-sense approach (I'm attracted to extremes), like Atkins or raw diets or repeated flogging of the Master Cleanse. Bottom line is I think it's better to listen to people who are telling you what you know is the reasonable, right thing, even if it's mostly repetitive. I think the repetition helps make it stick.
If you're curious about Gray's approach, she's teaming with Powell's to do a reading at the downtown flagship store on Friday, 7 pm, and Nolita reps will also be on hand to collect donations of new or used (clean, though, and not thrashed) jeans in all sizes to donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters—all who donate will get a coupon good for a 20% discount on new jeans from the store. The following day, Saturday from 4-6 pm Nolita is also hosting a casual happy hour at the store with Gray, who'll have copies on the book, and the denim donations and discounts will still be in effect.
I know, I know, everyone's already heard of the Master Cleanse, and some of you may very well have tried it (inspired by Beyonce, perhaps?). I first heard of it years ago when I decided to start taking one month out of the year (February, obviously, because it's the shortest month) to switch to a raw, vegan diet--the first year I did just that, and the second year I added the Master Cleanse to the last 10 days of the month, and handily quit smoking in the process. (I didn't smoke during the first February, but I started again in March.) The 10 days I spent on the cleanse were difficult (former co-worker Chas Bowie complained that I didn't smile once for all 10 days, for example) but the results were pretty amazing. I was boxing a lot in those days, and my energy levels at the gym were through the roof. I could have punched holes through a concrete wall or carried a car on my back. It didn't hurt that it gave my skin a flattering bit of glow, either, although I was frankly too preoccupied with making extremely OCD-symptomatic food lists (grocery lists, lists of restaurants, recipes, etc) to enjoy it. Still, the benefits outweighed the challenges, and I've often thought of trying it again. In fact I have done it a few times since then, but never more than a couple of days--nowhere close to the ideal 10. (My willpower just hasn't been there for it, and my goddamn boyfriend is a master of cleanse-sabotage.) Until now. I feel like the will is there again to power through it (and I warned the BF not to get in my way this time, though we'll see how well that goes), partially after a recent massage left me completely flattened and ill-feeling from the all the churned up toxins. I do, however, want to keep a more careful stock of what's going on than I did last time. I don't like to be accused of crash dieting (and I hate that so much of the literature about the cleanse is like, "It's not the point to lose weight... but you will! (WINK!)" I just want to get rid of all these toxins so I can make room for more. And no I'm not going to post any pictures from the toilet. There are plenty of those on the internet, and frankly most of them don't match up with my experience. But I am willing to open it up to discussion, if people feel strongly in favor or against. And apologies in advance if I go a bit squiffy over the next week and a half. I'll just keep you posted.
Although plenty of people are cutting back on expenses, including gym memberships (making way for a long-overdue resurgence in home video workouts), in times of turmoil the demand for soothing practices like yoga can actually go up. So for Rebecca Higginson, the new owner of Exhale (4940 NE 16th Ave, just off Alberta), a yoga studio that also offers massage and Craniosacral therapy (think chiropractics with a lighter touch, massage without the deep tissue work, and Reiki aimed at improving the function of the central nervous system), now might be the best time to build a following. When she took over the studio in August and decided to renovate, she transformed the studio into a green sanctuary with PVC-free mats, non-VOC paint, cork walls and yoga blocks, and a carbon-neutral web site host. As it states on the (recycled paper) brochure, "Yoga is a practice that acknowledges that all life is interconnected and we must treat all living things with love and respect. Our work is to integrate this lesson into our lives, and to share it with the world. We aim to be a studio for those who want to live by the principles of yoga on and off the mat."
The studio offers a range of yoga practices, including classes in hatha, kundalini (my favorite!), yin (I've never tried this one, but Higginson described it as very mellow and refreshing, and especially good for stress), nia, and more. Best of all, the studio aims to get away from the trendy, expensive side of the yoga world, with great pricing: A dropi-in is $12, but only $10 if your walk, bike, or bus there, and the class schedule includes seven scheduled community classes per week, which are available from $5-12 sliding scale, or in class packages of 10 for $70. Best of all, when you drop into any class through the rest of the year, you get a free week of yoga. Lord knows you need it.
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