How I Hydrate

**Written August 26th, 2018**

 

**I mention a few products in this post but am not sponsored by any of them. I’ll link each one at the end!**
I’ve never had the greatest skin.
In fact, my skin has always been difficult. For years, my normal baseline state was at least one or two breakouts at all times.
When I began cleaning up my diet a year and a half ago, I saw pretty evident changes in my skin. For me, removing dairy products not only helped my digestion but immensely helped my skin.
But that didn’t last very long.
At this point, I had tried what I thought had been everything. I wasn’t eating dairy, I was using top-notch skincare products, taking vitamins, exfoliating once a week, etc. I grew extremely frustrated. What was left? What expensive miracle product would I need to purchase to answer my problems once and for all?
It turns out, I didn’t need a miracle product at all. It wasn’t even expensive…because it was free.
I can’t believe I had gone so long focusing on my diet while neglecting my waterintake. In hindsight I understand the two to go hand-in-hand. A few months ago I dramatically upped my water intake. I’d read dozens of articles on skincare (all of which noted hydration was important), but I had always thought I was drinking a good amount of water and therefore dismissed it completely.
When I actually took the time to evaluate my water intake, I realized I wasn’t drinking nearly as much as I should have been. I tucked away my 18 oz. water bottle in the back of my kitchen cabinet and ordered a 40 oz. one instead.
Carrying around this massive water bottle has changed everything for me. While it’s bulky and can actually get heavy when completely filled, it’s well worth the investment. I now make it a goal to drink 3-4 full water bottles each day. This usually puts me between 120-160 oz each day. It sounds like an absolute TON but for me, this works!
I love this water bottle because it’s perfect for my on-the-go lifestyle. During the school year I’m on campus most of the day and prefer not to use the school’s water fountains (they’re not filtered). I fill up a giant bottle and it lasts me until I can get home again to refill!
It’s been about three months of consistently drinking this much water and my skin has been FEELING it. I used to get extremely red and break out by my chin and on my temples. This summer my skin has truly cleared up. Of course I still break out on occasion but that tends to be either around my period (hi hormones!) or if I eat foods my body isn’t used to on a daily basis (which is well worth a breakout or two!).
While more water is great, the quality of the water you’re drinking is also crucial to your overall health. For over a year now I’ve been using a portable water filter to filter the water I drink every day. At home and at school I have a huge glass jug that I fill with tap water and drop a filter into. I usually let this container filter overnight (or at least 2-3 hours if I refill it during the day). If I’m away from home and don’t have access to this filtered water supply, I just take the pod in my water bottle. That way, I can fill up using any water and it will filter it just the same! Investing in these portable filters has changed everything for me. When I drink filtered water, not only can I taste the difference, I also feel more energized and alert.  May sound like a stretch, but this is what I’ve personally found!
Along with my improved skin condition, my energy levels are not only higher but more consistent. I don’t find I have an afternoon crash on the days that I’m drinking more water. Staying hydrated, especially in the hour right before a workout, keeps me energized and prepared to move.
This all being said, what is my advice when it comes to hydration? Here’s a quick run-down:
  • Invest in a large reusable water bottle.Having a large water bottle on hand at all times has given me the incentive of drinking more water throughout the day. Personally I set some goals for myself (such as finishing an entire bottle before 11 AM, finishing one by the end of my workout, etc). I honestly feel accomplished every time I finish a bottle!
  • Invest in portable water filters.Drinking filtered water is like eating organic foods in that the quality of the product really can influence the benefit you reap from it. Unlike organic foods, however, a portable filter is less pricey in the long run! I change mine every 3-4 months. Tap water can potentially contain pollutants and metals (such as arsenic and aluminum- this one has been linked with skin problems). That’s not to say all tap water is completely tainted. You can get your water tested at Home Depot by getting a testing kit and sending in a sample!
  • Include hydrating foods in your diet.Fruit tends to be shamed to an extent in the health and wellness Instagram space, but if it works for you and your body, go for it! My favorites are cantaloupe and strawberries. Snacking on these is not only tasty but also super hydrating! Same goes for veggies (cucumbers and celery are two favorites).
  • Drink more green juice. It’s funny, I didn’t actually start drinking green juice until early this summer. I was pretty sick and couldn’t taste/smell anything for days because I was so congested. I figured it was the perfect time to get into the habit of juicing because I wouldn’t die from the taste. Turns out I kept it up after I got better and I (surprisingly) really enjoyed it! I’ve made my own juice in my VitaMix (I don’t have a juicer) but sometimes I’ll treat myself to a green juice at my local natural foods market. My go-to is usually a combination of celery, parsley, lemon, apple, and cucumber. Super hydrating and my skin and body always feel great after!
The list is short and sweet because staying hydrated isn’t too hard if you’re conscious of your efforts! It’s so easy forget your water bottle at home, to resort to unfiltered tap water, or to forget to drink especially when you’re not thirsty. If you push yourself to go one step further, to be mindful of the practice of drinking more water, you’ll find that it will become second nature. I’ll drink to that!
Products mentioned:

 

Tips for Better Writing

**Written August 3rd, 2018**

 

  To my fellow writers and aspiring writers alike, here are a couple of tips that I’ve found to improve my writing! I’m not a professional by any means, but as a dedicated student to the craft, I believe I’ve learned a thing or two…
1. Say less with more.
            When I was young, I thought that good writing meant long illustrious sentences that danced across multiple pages, strung together with outlandish words that communicated an unattainable level of intelligence. It took me a long time to realize that writing is not solely a showcase of knowledge. A good writer does more with less. The more elaborate words tossed in, the less room there is for the writer to craft their skill. Wordiness cripples creativity. Pieces read smoothly when the syntax is varied. (Syntax = sentence structure). Long descriptive sentences that are broken up with short fleeting thoughts. Thoughts broken up into two sentences. Depending on the nature of your piece, a list may work, ordering things so that one spills over into the next, connected by not binding. I encourage you to play around with condensing your writing. Just because a sentence is long and flooded with SAT vocab doesn’t mean it reads well. Less is more. When I’m writing, I pretend that I can’t go over a certain word count. It forces me to choose my words carefully, what do I want the reader to take away? At what point are there too many words? When do they lose their power? It’s a fine line to walk. Practice helps greatly. Stopping to read your work out loud is useful because you can hear when your sentences are distracting rather than captivating.
2. Read far, and deep, and often.
            Reading and writing go hand in hand. Writers grow through other writers. Being a strong writer begins with being a conscious reader. So often we read and just look for a thrilling plot. Recently I read a book where there isn’t much of a plot at all. However, it was one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Why? The writing. It was lyrical, and dreamy, and painted images with words as paint. The main character struggled with mental illness, and since the story was told through first-person, the reader only understood the world around her from this altered perspective. It was genius. The author never drew attention to this, but as a conscious reader I knew to take everything the narrator says with a grain of salt. This is why the writing was captivating. It challenged my view of other characters, my understandings of them laced with skepticism.
            I say read far, and by this I mean far across various genres and topics. I say read deep, and by this I mean in between the lines, searching for more, carefully taking in all elements of the writing, not just what is spelled out for you on the page. Often, well, that’s self-explanatory. The more you read, the more you expose yourself to new craft, new ways of thinking, new vocabulary. Reading is the absolute best way to cultivate new vocabulary. Especially if you read a book or piece outside of your comfort zone! If we stick to the same genres or types of books, we shelter ourselves. A non-fiction novel on serial killers reads quite differently than a fiction novel about a romance.
3. Write in your head.
            I do this all day, every day. I’ve fallen into the habit of shaping my thoughts into a narrative. You’re stuck with your thoughts with no escape, so you may as well enjoy them as a thrilling read. Sometimes I’ll go out of my way to put myself in an environment that makes me think out-of-the-ordinary thoughts. For example, I’ll walk to the subway ten minutes away from my office instead of the one 200 feet from the entrance. That way, I can people watch. I can gather material. I can experience more of the world. More often than not, we write what we know. The more you know, the more expansive your writing can be. When I can’t physically be writing, I do it in my head to save for later. The more you write, the easier this becomes. At this point it’s my default state. Every thought can be shaped into a line in a bigger piece, and from these scraps of fleeting thoughts I constantly pull inspiration.
4. Share your work with others.
            If you want your writing to improve, you can’t hide it. Having others read your work provides you with a new perspective. Outside readers can point out things that you didn’t even acknowledge, things that slide under your radar because they’re habit to you. Additionally, outside readers are great for pointing out when something doesn’t make sense. Let’s say you’re writing about an experience you had. Intuitively you know all of the details, which may cause you to leave some out because to you, they’re obvious. Someone who wasn’t there may not be able to grasp the full telling because they can’t make the same connections.
5. Stay mindful of your audience.
            Remember who you’re writing for. Being aware of the reader can shape how you write completely. The tone you use, the language you opt for, the topics you discuss. Being able to find a voice in any given situation is challenging. My advice on this is to stay confident in the work you put out. Readers love a confident voice. If you assert your ideas with pride and show that you can stand on your own, you’ve already captivated your audience.
6. Nothing is off limits.
            When you censor your writing, you prevent any growth that can be made through it. When I was recovering from my eating disorder, I found great peace in sharing my struggles through words. Speaking failed me, for some time. I couldn’t talk about my pain with anybody. My parents would visit me every night in the hospital but I couldn’t bring myself to have a conversation with them about my progress. Instead, I prepared a daily journal entry which they sat by my bedside and read each night. Through words on a page, I was able to find a voice that was able to say things that felt terribly uncomfortable out loud. Saying “I’m afraid of a piece of toast” to someone’s face is intimidating. Writing it on a page, outlining the immense fear and crippling anxiety that come with it, crafting an emotion-ridden image…it’s different. I would write and write and write each time I was overloaded with emotion. Later I could reflect back on my words and grow through them.
            If I had let my fear of being judged stop me from writing about my eating disorder, I would have never found the courage to overcome it. Sharing my struggles held me accountable. I began my Instagram and blog as spaces to connect with people in the same boat I found myself in. Writing connects us. Being vulnerable and open has greatly improved the quality of my writing.
Did I miss any helpful tips? I’m always looking to improve my craft. Reach out via Instagram DM or email if you have any thoughts or questions! Sending love xxx

Odds and Ends of Some Writing

**Written July 27th, 2018**
I tend to see life where people are absent.
Just this afternoon I was driving down a narrow, forest-ridden winding road. With each turn came a new landscape. One bend brought a small shed, weathered with rain and snow and simply time. The next curve forced me to look across the road to a brook slithering under a wooden bridge, both coming from and leading to nowhere at all.
I steal quick glances. In this moment, they’re mine.
Today’s forecast promised grey skies.
Don’t you love when nature proves us mere guessing humans wrong?
The trees that line this road are tall, towering high above the ground and create a canopy overhead. Both sides are steep hills that become small mountains. This road a disturbance, a misfit with its home on the ground.
I glance up to the houses sitting triumphantly at the mountaintop. Pure sunshine trickles in through the cracks in the canopy, places where the trees tried and tried to reach each other but fell short. The beams of light are misshapen. Sunshine spills out where it can, maneuvering its way to the ground. On the woodchips and scattered tree branches. On the fallen logs and wild flowers and puddles of water leftover from yesterday’s storm.
It is in these moments that I see life, and I’m not sure why.
All I know is that I see, I feel, and then, I know.
There is something captivating about watching nature in an undisturbed state. The light’s ability to find its way all on its own. The way the silent hum of the engine beneath my seat falls deep into the background as I take it all in. A world on mute. I can’t hear my breath. I must be holding it, hiding it, but from what? Maybe it was taken. Nature, a thief.
I see beams, literal beams of light. They’re falling and yet they’re rising. An illusion, a comfort.
I trace the beams back to their source. Where did these pillars of magic come from? How can I see the shape of light? I feel special. Strong almost. Seeing beams is my special power. There is life in this light.
This sunshine. This light. It’s resilient, it’s present, and it’s certainly alive. It’s in this moment I long to be barefoot in the midst of it all, briefly considering pulling the car over, leaving the pieces of metal and rubber behind, chasing the swelling need to feel dirt beneath my feet.
Why is it that we don’t consider light alive?
This drive down this road was fleeting. Two minutes at most. And somehow, that was all I needed. To know.
The presence of this light was so strong. It chose its words carefully, speaking in feelings rather than words. Taking in the light as it hit the forest at every angle, in every possible area, I saw life. Undisturbed, allowed to live, to be. To not be expecting the light only to catch it radiating strongest as its heads toward sleep. Sunset.
There is no life in sight to disturb the beams. An absence of life, a void somehow filled with life itself. Life is mysterious. Where did this light come from, how will it return? Life is intoxicating. These beams, this warmth, it floods me with a rush of awe. Life is illuminating.
A winding road, a two-minute drive. Taken for granted all too often. A light show hides within the outskirts, in the places we’re not supposed to look. Eyes ahead, on the road. But brief glance to the hills, a visual climb up the mountainside. Where the people are not. That is where I see life.
Illuminating.

 

Plant-Based Protein: Tips and Tricks

**Written June 5th, 2018**

 

Three.

That’s how many protein bars I used to eat a day.

Three!

Two years ago, I was terribly misinformed. I didn’t challenge the information the diet industry put forward. Young and impressionable, I believed anything that a shredded spokesperson posted on their Instagram feed. So it’s not surprising that my relationship with protein has ran quite a varying course.

From what I understood, too much fat would make me fat, too many carbs would make me fat…but protein was safe. How did I know? I was mesmerised by body builders and bikini competitors, always insisting that the key to their desirable physiques was protein protein protein. Too much protein simply didn’t exist. The more, the better!

On top of adding protein powder to nearly everything, I was also eating large amounts of meat with lunch and dinner. Let’s break it down. On a daily basis, I was consuming heaping scoops of protein powder, greek yogurt, eggs, deli meat, chicken breasts, and protein bars. Most days two bars, some days three. To me, the bars were simply tasty snacks and nothing more. I never considered exactly how much protein I was eating. Not once did it cross my mind that maybe protein wasn’t as pure as the fitness gods painted it to be. It was only a matter of time before I realized that protein was more than just Quest bars that somehow tasted like a brownie but also helped me grow muscles without the fat and carbs I was taught to fear. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

Eventually I began to move away from being fitness-obsessed and dove into the world of plant-based eating. After endless amounts of research, I was finally developed a stable relationship with food. I learned that not all protein is the same; that the source matters. And the amount is not a free-for-all like I had thought.

Now that I have been (mostly) plant-based for over a year, I feel comfortable sharing my experience with this diet change. The hardest obstacle is getting enough protein, but after trial and error I’ve found what works for me!

Before, I was depending on protein bars and powders as my main sources of protein. More often than not, these products contain added sugars, sugar alcohols, artificial flavors, and animal products. I was under the impression that these other ingredients didn’t matter because all that was important was getting as much protein as possible. Clearly I was ignorant to the fact that long-term consumption of these additives on a daily basis would NOT work in my body’s favor.

Diet culture is heavily influential on today’s youth, especially those who are new to health and wellness. It’s far too easy to fall victim to the myth that people need heaping amounts of protein. There’s barely any chatter pertaining to the sources of our protein. Instead, we’re encouraged to worry solely about what protein can do for our outward appearance while neglecting its impact on our body’s functionality.

My story is just that; one personal account. I’m not here to provide nutritional advice as I’m not qualified to do so. However, sharing my experience may prove insightful for those inclined to revamp their own lifestyle decisions.

For the past year, I’ve been *mostly* plant-based. My biggest concern is finding balance, and balance is subjective. At first I tried to go vegan because I thought this was the best route for me. I barely lasted two weeks before my egg cravings went wild. Since then, I make the conscious effort to simply eat whole, real foods. Think of eating ingredients themselves, not foods with ingredient lists. Aside from eggs and salmon, everything else I eat comes from plants. These two foods are major protein sources for me, so I don’t plan on getting rid of them anytime soon!

I used to depend heavily on meat as my protein source. Sandwiches overflowing with deli turkey, huge stir fry dishes with two chicken breasts, you get the picture. Now that these aren’t options, I’m left to seek out plant-based sources of protein. Some of my favorites include:

  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Lentils (steamed, cooked)
  • Lentil or chickpea pasta
  • Hemp hearts
  • Quinoa
  • Black beans
  • Vegan protein powder (Nuzest is the only one I use! Discount code: “healthful_radiance” to save!)
  • Chia seeds
  • Nuts! (Nearly everything I eat is nut-based)
  • Almond milk greek yogurt (Kite Hill brand)

After removing animal products from my diet, and specifically changing all of my protein sources, I’ve noticed significant increases in my energy and mood. It’s hard to pinpoint one specific cause for one effect, especially since a lifestyle is made of many influential aspects, but I do feel that my protein sources and intake has contributed to these benefits. I feel stronger and more energized. I’m also not eating nearly as much protein as I had in the past. Less is more in this case! What’s hard is finding the perfect balance. Once I decreased the amount of protein I was having, I began to feel better overall. Naturally, I took this and ran with it. I thought this meant that cutting my protein down even further was the way to go.

No enough protein is just as bad too much protein. How did I know I wasn’t getting enough? Everyone’s body is different, but for me I experienced:

  • Low energy
  • Bad mood swings
  • Waking up lightheaded
  • Headaches

When these symptoms began to arise, I knew what to do: amp the protein up! I did this slowly and incrementally which helped me find a balance that left my body and mind at peace.

Life is all about getting to know yourself, and this is a process that’s constantly in flux. Everyday is another chance to learn. I often get asked exactly how much protein I eat in a day. My past with numbers has led me to choose not to know. I have spent years trapped between ranges of grams far too low, far from healthy. I’ve found my greatest success in listening to my body as opposed to a recommended value. However, I do recognize that for some people having a range or a set number is the best way to reach their goals and feel their best. All bodies are different. I can’t speak to any other body aside from my own. All I can do is provide my experience and hope it sheds some light on someone else’s situation. I’m not a professional, or even a student of nutrition (hopefully one day!) so I’m not comfortable giving direct advice or numbers.

If that’s the case, what do I want you to walk away with? This: you are not the next person. What works for them may not work for you. In all areas of life, trial and error are crucial. Nothing is fixed, permanent. Be willing to test new waters, new habits, new experiences. When it comes to health and wellness, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We hear about “superfoods” all of the time, but not every single one works for every single person.

For example, you probably noticed that “collagen” isn’t listed on here. Why? It’s not because it’s an animal product (as you already know I’m very flexible about that). Instead, I don’t use it because I’ve tried it in the past and it simply doesn’t work in sync with my own body. After using collagen for about two months, I was experiencing extreme bloat and my digestion was off. I used up my supply, let it run out and didn’t restock. When I stopped adding collagen to my smoothies/drinks/etc., these symptoms were alleviated. This process of experimentation was so important for me. At first I felt guilty that this magic health wonder wasn’t working for me. I felt bad. I suddenly wasn’t healthy. But then I realized: I’m healthy for listening to my body and removing what was hurting it, not because I wasn’t conforming to the wellness world’s ways.

If collagen works for you, go for it! If you’re not sure, try it out. You are in control of your own wellbeing, to a greater extent than we tend to believe. I encourage you to experiment in a safe and fun way. Make sure you’re eating enough! Other than that, it’s free from here. The best part about food is that we need it all day, every day, for our entire lives…so you might as well have fun with it!

What’s the Word #3: Anxiety

**Written May 5th, 2018**

When I was a sophomore in high school, not only was I dying from an eating disorder, I was also diagnosed with social anxiety and major depression. Quite the intro to this post, I know.  Following this diagnosis, I was put on Lexapro, a medication used to treat both anxiety and depression. This was a decision that my parents and I finally came to after grappling with it for months. I was originally resistant to the concept of medication. I didn’t like the thought that a tiny little pill would mess with my brain chemistry. I thought it was a hoax. A money making scheme. A waste of time. I thought it meant I was weak, that I was incapable of picking myself up and dusting myself off. But then I reached rock bottom. I couldn’t make it through the morning without crying at least three times. I was missing school to hide at home. I couldn’t function. I felt defeated. I didn’t know where else to turn. So I finally agreed.

 

I think it’s important for me to be as transparent as possible on this platform. No need to hide anything. This is my story, and I’m here to share it with you all.

Let the word vomit begin.

  • First of all, I’d like to clear up a common myth. You do not need to be FORMALLY DIAGNOSEDfor your struggle to be validated. Whether that be an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, etc., what you’re going through is no LESSserious because a doctor didn’t acknowledge it. Far too often I’ll get a DM where the sender struggles with an eating disorder but “hasn’t been diagnosed”, so they conclude that it’s “not that serious”. This is an incredibly dangerous misconception and the stigma around diagnoses needs to be addressed. If you are struggling with an issue that is impairing your ability to lead a healthy and happy life, that is MORE THAN ENOUGH to get help for it. The situation should not have to get “bad enough” for someone to notice it and give it a name. You do NOT NEED TO BE EXTERNALLY VALIDATEDfor anything, ever.
  • This is not a proven fact or statistic but rather my personal opinion based on experience, but eating disorders tend to be COMORBID(meaning that there is a presence of additional disorders with a primary one). For me, my battle with anorexia left me craving isolation and the dark recess of my empty bedroom. I avoided socializing in fear of having to eat with others, and eventually this tendency led me to develop anxiety in the presence of other people. Totally not ideal for a student at a high school with nearly 4,000 students. I remember going to school everyday and feeling like I was suffocating in the hallway. I would take longer routes to class to avoid running into someone I knew. I hid in the bathroom between classes and during lunch. I wore hats and hoods to avoid being talked to. My anxiety made me want to disappear.
  • Let’s return to my experience with medication. There is a stigma around medicalizing mental health. I’m guilty of it too; thinking that someone who takes “happy pills” is weak, helpless. But being on the other side, I have a totally new perspective and appreciation for this option. Today, I’m passionate about holistic healing and Ayurvedic practices. I prefer herbal remedies over antibiotics, that kind of thing. But when I was fifteen, withering away, skin and bones, struggling to even hold my head up…the circumstances were different. I simply didn’t have the luxury to pursue any other course. Medication stabilized me. I started off with a relatively low dosage and worked my way up. The first couple of weeks I remember feeling a lot more at ease in the face of situations that would normally drive me wild (my eating disorder had this rule that I HADto wait exactly five minutes between bites of a meal…a couple of weeks on the medication and I remember feeling less anxious about breaking that rule). I’d say around two months I began to feel unmotivated to do anything, and sometimes nauseous. I can’t speak to why this was, but I remember crying to my mom that I had so much to worry about (SATs, AP courses, pre-college program applications) yet could not find an ounce of drive within me. It was as if I were dragging through the days. After about six months on a decent dosage, my doctor and I agreed that I could begin lowering my dosage. I found Lexapro to help ease my anxiety but it amplified my depressive nature. EVERYBODY IS DIFFERENT.I don’t regret taking this medication one bit. I believe that it created a stable foundation for me to begin challenging the debilitating fears that allowed my eating disorder to thrive. Once I was able to start knocking these down, coupled with coming off of the medication, I began to focus more on my depression. Story for another post. Overall, I was on Lexapro from the end of my sophomore year right up until the month before I left for college. The last two years the dosage was extremely low and I was only taking it every other day. It’s so important to carefully and slowly wean off of medication. Brain chemistry is serious!
  • During my sophomore year of high school, I kept a diary in the Notes app of my iPhone, constantly journaling all of my irrational worries and anxieties. I found this to be a source of comfort and a space to release my pent-up worries. I’d write all throughout the day. In bed each night I’d read through the day’s log. Seeing my irrational fears in words helped me realize they were just that-IRRATIONAL.
  • A lot of what made me anxious was related directly to my eating disorder and fears I had about food, my body, and exercise. That being said, they were pretty irrational and simply WILD. If I didn’t do 200 crunches each morning before school, the anxiety would eat me alive, insisting that I would “get fat” and “lose my progress”. What helped me overcome these fears was VOCALIZINGthem out loud. I remember the first time I did this. I stood in the mirror, took a deep breath, and said, “If I don’t do 200 crunches before school, I’m going to get fat”. Just HEARINGthat, seeing the words leave my mouth…I realized how absurd it was. It made me realize that if I ever heard someone else say it, I’d go crazy. I’d insist it wasn’t true. But why would it be different for me? This conclusion allowed me to work through similar bouts of anxiety as well.
  • My biggest tip for dealing with anxious situations is to be mindful of rationality. I can’t stress this enough. Are you anxious because going to a family party means having to take a day off from the gym? Sit with the discomfort. Why are you anxious about skipping? Is it because you think something catastrophic will happen if you were to give your body rest? Will you really feel happier after another workout over a day spent making memories with loved ones? Are your fears rational? Anxiety, at least from my experience, is based heavily on fears generated by irrational thoughts. Taking the time to recognize what is worth fear and what is not can make all of the difference.

NYC Fitness Studio Round-up

**Written April 11th, 2018**

 

I’ve been an athlete my entire life. Growing up, I played just about every sport (except basketball for some odd reason??), so my love for movement was instilled in me at a young age. Looking back, I realize how easy it was for me to slip into my orthorexic tendencies. Between my eating disorder and exercise addiction, my recovery called for prolonged exercise restriction in order to restore the lost weight. For me, this period lasted about six months. I was frustrated and anxious, but the wait was well worth it. It provoked a sense of gratitude for my body’s abilities and strength that I had never had before. Since then, I’ve focus a great amount of energy on exercise and its role in my life. Living in NYC, I have a wellness hub at my fingertips. This school year, I’ve made a point to explore all types of movement, striving for balance in my workouts. Up until this past August, I had never taken a group fitness class. Now, I take about two or three a week. I love them! There’s just something about being in a room with like-minded individuals who are just ready to w o r k. I find I can push myself to greater lengths when I’m being coached by an instructor and am fueled by the vibrant, positive energy of my teammates.

One of the most important things in life is variety. In the realm of fitness, it’s critical to vary the ways you move your body. Doing the same workout on repeat will become muscle memory. Your body won’t be excited or worked in new ways, and you’ll inevitably plateau in your wellness journey. Keep your body guessing and you’ll see results. That’s why I love switching up the studios I go to; each one challenges me and moves my body in new ways. Here’s a list of all the NYC studios I’ve been able to try this school year!

Barry’s Bootcamp:

The first time I went to Barry’s I opted for a double floor workout. You have the option of either staying on the floor the entire time or splitting your workout so you’re on the floor for half and doing treadmill work for the other half. The class is focused on different exercises using weights, resistance bands, and other equipment. Depending on the class you choose, you’ll work upper, lower, or full body. I was intimidated by the treadmill element the first class, but after leaving I regretted not doing it. Double floor was pretty repetitious (you do a circuit while the runners are running, and then they come join you for the same circuit again). The second time I went I bit the bullet and tried the treadmill, and I’m so glad I did. It was so much fun pushing myself to try a new way of moving and how it called for me to use  different muscles I don’t normally use. Love how the studio is dimly lit with red lighting (because dark lighting is my best lighting, you feel?)

Favorite Class: Chest, Back, and Abs

Rate: 8/10

Fhitting Room:

I love the structure of these workouts. You begin with a warm-up, then move through circuits. This studio really emphasizes group work and partnering, which is so much fun because you feed off of each other’s energy and hype and it’s just great. I’ve met so many awesome athletes here that pushed me to get in just one more rep. You can take class with about 20 other people or opt for the Pit option, which is a more intimate class of about 12 people. I love the Pit classes, and prefer it to the general class, but they fill up quick. I don’t find the workouts here too challenging overall, but I have had some instructors who really killed it. Depends on who you get. However, I don’t go into every single workout looking to be pushed to exhaustion. I love Fhitting Room because it always creatively moves my body, and I’ve honestly learned a lot from the instructors here!

Favorite Class: FhitPit Fhix

Rate: 8/10

Tone House:

Okay. Not to play favorites, but Tone House is my favorite. Huge shout-out to my friend Seth (@kaleforniakitchen) for recommending this death sentence to me. Tone House is a killer workout. It’s like personal training on steroids. If you can survive the warm-up, you can do anything. I’ve never been challenged so much in my life. The instructors are kick ass. The workout is the athlete’s dream. There’s speed work, agility, strength, tears…you know the deal. I’ve only ever taken the 101 intro class and have 0 plans to graduate from it. The regular class is actually for superhumans and marathoners alike, so trust me on this and embrace the 101 class. Every time I’ve hit the turf here my classes have been no larger than 8 people, and I loved it. We were constantly moving onto the next challenge, always rooting for each other, and striving to work as a unit. I’m always sore for at least five days after I leave the House. I. Love. It. My favorite workout by far. Because it’s so intense, however, I make sure to space out my visits to give me enough recovery time (once a week, but usually I go once every two weeks). Totally recommend.

Favorite Class: TH 101: Core

Rate: 10/10

Physique 57:

Physique 57 is a pilates-based studio. I’ve always been drawn to more HIIT, CrossFit training styles. My mom is a big fan of this workout (they have at-home tapes that she raves about) so I figured I’d try it out and test new waters. Honestly, it was incredibly challenging for me to just slow down. However, I liked the heightened focus on really feeling each movement and being mindful of how my body was working. I took an intro class, but I did find it to be a tad easy and not exciting enough for me personally. It was nice to take a break from my usual intensity, but I wasn’t captivated with this experience. Not for everyone, and that’s okay! Totally not discrediting how hard this workout, or pilates in general, is. It takes a great deal of strength and does help shape, tone, and sculpt your body. The instructor was wonderful, and the class was about 20 people. I didn’t have a bad experience here, I just wasn’t hooked. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking for something new though!

Favorite Class: Signature

Rate: 5/10

SLT:

First semester, I was at SLT on a weekly basis. This class is pilates revamped. You do the entire workout on a megaformer. The workout calls for a lot of resistance and strength work. The first time I walked into the studio I was intimidated; I had never encountered anything like the megaformer. However, it was an Intro class, and the instructor made sure to take the time to walk me through how the machine worked and how the class would be run. I instantly felt comfortable. I really enjoy SLT because it’s a workout I could never replicate on my own, so I definitely get my money’s worth. I haven’t been in awhile, but I’d love to get back there soon! My favorite way to switch things up by far.

Favorite Class: SLT All Levels

Rate: 8/10

SoulCycle:

Ahhh, how did this one not come up sooner? I only began riding at Soul after a friend of mine at school asked me to take a class with her. Since then, I’ve been riding weekly. Before this year, I had only cycled here and there at my home gym. Cardio isn’t my favorite, but in my effort to expand my horizons, I opened up to Soul. Yes, it’s pricey, but I think it’s well worth it. I’ve taken some classes that felt like a waste of my money. My advice is to find an instructor you love. They change everything. I take the same class on Tuesday nights after work and it’s the highlight of my day. The instructor encourages lots of resistance as opposed to choreography, which I appreciate so much. This 45-minute ride once a week has definitely improved my stamina, made me stronger, and most importantly helps me focus on de-stressing and recentering myself after a long day spent between school and the office. Even if you can’t make it a consistent thing, I encourage you to try it at least once. The overall experience is kick ass.

Favorite Class: SoulCycle

9/10

Brick NYC:

I found Brick on ClassPass. It’s a similar workout to Fhitting Room in that its HIIT workout focused that is broken up into circuits. You work with partners and groups for most of it, so I liked that element. However, even after a few classes here, I’m not hooked. The workouts are not overly challenging, and sometimes too simplistic. Some of the instructors I’ve had spend a lot of time talking and then the workouts are cut short. I’m sure I just had a few off-classes, but I don’t feel like I get my money’s worth. Many of the circuits I’ve paid to do here I could have easily done in the small living room of my apartment. Not my favorite!

Favorite Class: B l X

Rate: 5/10