Posts tagged ‘dance’

Haul you need is love

I was raised in a family that celebrated every holiday it could. I suspect that comes, in part, from the fact that Momma Buns is the queen of many things, including finding the perfect paper goods for any occasion — on sale — at Party City. As my sister and I grew up, she put that talent to the test as often as possible. I remember waking up to find that Momma Buns had decorated the kitchen with red foil hearts and made pancakes (a rare treat on a school morning). Other years, I remember her sitting with me while I scrawled my classmates’ names on Snoopy Valentine’s cards, or my whole family passing gifts wrapped in pink tissue paper around the dinner table. (As I grew older, mine was usually a romantic comedy or super-weeper newly out on video. Untamed Heart, anyone?)

So even though I know that many people think Valentine’s Day is manufactured, romantic silliness, for me, it brings to mind really great celebrations of the deep affection my family and I have for each other. So I love it. And I love you guys. In the spirit of that love-fest— even though the actual holiday was yesterday — I’m going to unabashedly share some fitness-related stuff (plus a few randoms) that makes my heart sing. Cool?

“Golden Years” by David Bowie

I first heard it in the movie A Knight’s Tale, which makes me uncool. But my adoration of choreographed dance scenes already makes me uncool, so whatever. Now, the song is on my running playlist—and it’s very useful as a workday afternoon mood-booster, too.

Love Your Muscles with Crunch

Love Your Muscles logoI joined Crunch gym just after I started my job in New York two years ago. Aside from the convenient locations (one near my job, another near my apartment) and really great classes (Marc Santa Maria’s Monday night hip-hop and Dave Norfleet’s iRide Spinning are FANTASTIC), the vibe there is a little bit funkier and more accepting than many other New York gyms I’ve visited. The gym’s motto, after all, is No Judgments. This month, they’re holding workshops and offering training specials to raise money for Augie’s Quest, a Muscular Dystrophy Association initiative to find a cure for the degenerative muscle disease ALS. This month, the gym will give Augie’s Quest $5 for every new membership and $10 for every new personal training package. “Love Your Muscles” refers to the signs they put your name on when you donate: You can choose a muscle you love — I picked the heart — and your name goes up alongside a cute cartoon drawing of that muscle. If you’re interested in more information or want to donate, go here.

Savasana

Toward the end of every yoga class, the instructor asks everyone to lay on their backs, heels together, toes flopped apart, arms by their sides, palms open. Sometimes our eyes are open; often, they’re closed. We lay in this position, known as savasana (suh-VAH-snah) or “corpse pose”, and relax everything. Sounds like sleeping, you say. It’s seriously close, but so much better. Often, the  poses right before savasana are challenging, and laying down and focusing only on breathing and relaxing seems like a reward. In Bikram yoga, sometimes the only thing that gets me through a rough class is the thought of how sweet the savasana will be at the end. I lay on my mat and think about how the ground is supporting me, holding me up, and how I don’t have to do anything except find little snarls of tension in my body and then let them go. Even if you’re not into yoga, try giving yourself a few minutes of motionless chill-out time after a tough workout sometime. It’s pretty awesome.

Puma’s Dizzy Barrel Bag

When my old gym bag bit it, I tried to make do with tote bags and backpacks and the like. No good. I resisted buying a new one because I didn’t want something huge and clunky, but I needed something big enough to fit a change of clothes, my sneakers, and toys like my interval timer, my iPod, a magazine, my weight gloves, etc. Behold, Puma’s Dizzy Barrel Bag. It’s pretty great, kind of stylish, and (right now) on sale! Gym bag woes, cured.

Puma Dizzy Barrel Bag

So cute, right?

I’d love to hear what gets your heart pumping, too. Gadgets and gear? Workouts? Instructors? Personal accomplishments? Something completely unrelated to fitness but awesome nonetheless? Tell us about it in the comments section. 

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February 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

Making my pointe

New year, new obsession: I went to see Black Swan last week, and I’m now reaching levels of interest in ballet unacceptable for a 32-year-old who can’t stand in fifth position for more than 30 seconds.

You’ve probably heard about how star Natalie Portman trained for a year, lost 20 pounds and broke a rib as she prepped for the psychological thriller about a ballerina who starts to lose her mind when she nabs the lead role in Swan Lake. Or maybe you know the mild scandal about Portman being pregnant and newly engaged to Benjamin Millepied, her partner in the film. Or maybe you’ve just been creeped out by the trailers, which are pretty damn spooky. Good reasons to go see it, all.

Me? I’m in love with the clothes. And because it’s lame to dress like a ballerina without actually being a ballerina, I’m now thinking about taking a class or two just so I can rock the look. (Note: This is probably also lame, but in a different way.) Can you blame me?

The design house Rodarte created some pieces for the film, and while I was blown away by the intricate stage costumes, I am lusting after the knitwear Portman wears during the rehearsal scenes. One arm warmer in particular, crafted in Rodarte’s signature open knit, is my favorite. (I can’t find any photos of it online, but it’s very similar in style to the scarf Portman wears throughout the flick.)

For a girl who loves dance movies, something like this is bound to happen every few years. The last time, it was Save the Last Dance, which led to weeks of baggy-pantsed, adult-ed hip-hop classes. When that went well, I convinced my friend, Heather, to sign up for six weeks of beginner ballet.

We had to wear tights. The instructor was insane. I couldn’t do anything right. I don’t even think I attended the final class. And when I texted Heather the other night, our conversation went something like this:

ME: Remind me how much I hated ballet class.

HEATH: Are you thinking about doing another one???

ME: Thinking about maybe.

HEATH: Just remember: leotards.

ME: And turnout. That sucked.

HEATH: I tell myself that no amount of ballet will make me look like Natalie Portman.

That’s true in my case, too. But in the name of shaking things up in 2011, I’ve vowed to try new things. (And old things that I think I hate, just to make sure that I really, truly hate them.) Plus, mixing up workouts keeps me interested, and possibly less injured than normal, and that’s always a good thing. But if you see me in a few weeks and I look like this…

… you may want to gently suggest that my toeshoes are laced a little too tightly.

January 5, 2011 at 4:52 pm 5 comments

Fairy Tales and Fat Jokes

Ringer and Angle

I promise, this blog isn’t going to turn into HatredForAnyoneWhoEverCalledAnyoneFatInPrint.com. But I couldn’t let Alastair Macaulay’s sour take on the New York City Ballet’s current Sugar Plum Fairy pass without opening it up for discussion.

A little background: Macaulay, a ballet critic for The New York Times, reviewed City Ballet’s current production of The Nutcracker at the end of last month. He liked it, but pointed out that Sugar Plum Fairy Jennifer Ringer “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many.” The body critique extended to Jared Angle, who dances the part of the Cavalier; Macaulay wrote, Angle “seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm.”

When readers wrote in to complain, Macaulay penned another piece defending his position. Ballet is all about bodies, he argued. If you can’t handle the scrutiny, toss your toeshoes in the trash for good.

Then, Ringer appeared on Today on Monday, talking about the controversy. The ballerina, who has previously discussed her history of anorexia and compulsive eating, handled questions gracefully.

“As a dancer, I do put myself out there to be criticized, and my body is part of my art form. At the same time, I’m not overweight. I do have, I guess, a more womanly body type than the stereotypical ballerina. But that’s one of the wonderful things about, actually, the New York City Ballet is we have every body type you can imagine. We have tall, we have petite, we have athletic, we have womanly, we have waiflike. I mean, we have every body type out there, and they can all dance like crazy, they’re all gorgeous. And I think dance should be more of a celebration of that, of seeing these beautiful women with these different bodies all dancing to this gorgeous music, and that’s what should be celebrated.”

She added that she doesn’t want an apology from Macaulay. I’d add that she shouldn’t get one; what he said, though silly, is well within his realm. Critics often write things artists don’t like, and then everyone moves on.

But I’m interested in hearing what you out there in Haul nation have to say on the matter. I’m probably a little biased. As a “bigger” group fitness instructor, I have often run into people who can’t believe that I have the physical ability to lead a class in a challenging workout. Then we spend a sweaty hour together, and minds are changed. Given my experience, it took very little time for me to wholeheartedly jete onto Team Ringer. And I’m also wondering why no one’s up in arms about the comments made about Angle, a question Macaulay also raises in his rebuttal. Is it because Angle’s a dude? Do weight cracks not matter, or are they more easily dismissed, when they’re made about men? I’m all over the place, faithful Haulers. Leave comments and give me some guidance. What say you?

What do you think?

December 15, 2010 at 1:42 am 2 comments

Try This At Home

During my attempts to straighten up my apartment at the beginning of the year, I realized that I have a heck of a lot of fitness DVDs and tapes. I also realized that I can’t remember the last time I actually did one of them. Some of the seals are still intact on the cases, indicating that though I might’ve thrown them into my shopping cart during a post-holiday-eating guiltfest best-intentions impulse at Target, they never actually made it into the player. For the ones that had been used, I couldn’t even recall whether I’d liked them or not.

So in the name of resourcefulness, re-committing to goals and the recession, I’ll be your fitness guinea pig. Every week, I’ll do one of the workouts from my stash and then tell you what I think. If you’ve done that particular DVD/tape before and have some input, I’d love to hear it in the comments section. And then I’ll let you know what workout I’ll do in the following week, so you can join me in a virtual class if you like. We’ll save money. We’ll be productive. Most importantly, we’ll try these things in the privacy of our own homes where no one can gawk.

First up, Prevention Fitness Systems’ Dance Yourself Thin with Marie Forleo

Format: Warm-up, isolations, 30 minutes of cardio dance and a cool-down

Instructor annoyance level: Very low. Forleo isn’t too perky or chirpy, and her breakdowns of the steps are pretty easy to follow if you’ve ever taken any kind of choreographed class. (If you haven’t, there’ll be a bit of a learning curve.) I kept staring at her abs, though. They’re very nice. If I had abs like that, I would probably bare my midriff to anyone who passed by. “Here’s your mail, ma’am.” “Why thanks! Look at my abs!” or “How would you like your coffee?” “Skim and Splenda, and take a look at these abs!” But I digress…

Sweat factor: Low. I was warm and slightly glistening during the two dance segments, but nowhere near as sweaty as I get during my regular workout. The steps were fun, particularly in the Afro-Latin segment. Lots of big arm swoops, hip rolls and tush pops —  my default club moves. I didn’t feel silly until the reggae-funk segment, where my white-girl coordination made it hard to get up the proper Rasta swagger, but I kept at it anyway.

Worth it?: Dance Yourself Thin is a perfectly lovely way to spend  half an hour, but like most dance dvds, it’s difficult to sustain an increased heart rate throughout. If you want to try out a few moves before making your Zumba class debut, though, this may be the disc for you. And if I were going for a real burn, I might use it as an extended warm-up for a toning workout

Next week’s workout: Fat-Blasting Yoga: 21 Days To A Yoga Body with Denise Austin

January 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm 1 comment


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