Getting Out Of My Own Way & Getting Back Into A Pool

By the time I was old enough to be at the pool by myself, I was swimming a mile a day. I LOVED being in the pool and it was always my happy place on many a military base when I was growing up. Then, everything changed. I went from looking like a little kid to having large breasted D’s in less than three months, and the young guys on the base suddenly started to treat me very differently. In my swimsuit, I suddenly felt exposed and uncomfortable, so I just stopped swimming, put on a bunch of weight, and hoped people would just stop paying attention to my body. It took me years to shake that weight hiding mentality… but the swimming avoidance has stuck around. When I was training for the NYC Triathlon a few years ago, I had to get over being in the pool but it just didn’t stick. The moment the race ended, I was back to coming up with a million reasons why I couldn’t swim. You know what that is? A whole LOT of bullshit.

Dodge YMCA pool

 

I was recently asked to be a Dare to Bare Ambassador for the Movemeant Foundation, a foundation that focuses on fostering body positivity (especially for young women) through physical activity. I am a firm believer in that for everyone but recently when I signed up for a summer membership at the YMCA which has an amazing pool, I realized I didn’t really have it for myself when it comes to swimming. I’m usually so good about not caring about being bad at something (It’s fun to learn! Getting out of your comfort zone rocks!) but not in this one thing that I used to love.

So, last week, I packed my gym bag and ONLY packed my very plain lap swimsuit, goggles and cap. There would be no back up plan “in case the pool is too busy.” I felt a little panicky about it. What if I had to circle swim? People would be so mad. I’d be too slow and they’d be pissed to have to share the lane with the fat, slow girl. Which is just silly. NO one cares, and that is just some seriously mean made-up story in my head that’s hung out there for far too long. I got there and every lane was full but I still suited up and sucked it up, it was time to stop being mean to myself in the pool. And it was fine. I shared a lane, then some came to join and we circle swam…. and no one cared. I wasn’t fast but I swam and swam and swam. And as I finished my last lap of the ½ mile swim, I let out a long breath underwater and felt like I’d reclaimed my happy space.

Each time it gets a little easier. I may be slow and out of practice but that mile of zen will happen again this summer.  But I really do have to get a cuter lap suit, I mean there is no reason to be completely stoic about not caring how I look while I swim…

 

 

 

 

FBS’s Sweaty Intel: January Edition

A few months ago, I heard a solid report that Soul Cycle had signed a lease in Brooklyn, near the Borough Hall stop in Brooklyn Heights/Downtown area.  I was pretty sure at the time that this was true, but when I saw the recent posting on Soul’s Career section looking for Front Desk peeps for “Brooklyn Heights, CT” I knew it had to be getting close. CT has no Brooklyn Heights… but BROOKLYN’S Downtown/Brooklyn Heights area is ripe for an awesome Indoor Cycling option and given the lease report, I’m now counting down the days ’till it’s officially announced. The Downtown Brooklyn area is massively lacking in fitness options and the studio that gets to this area first is going to have such a stronghold by the time ALL of the huge new buildings go up, it’ll be hard for anyone to compete. I’m not even a little surprised that Soul would see an opportunity and swoop in.

Soul Cycle Saying

 

One of my VERY favorite yoga studios – I.AM.YOU in Nolita is beginning to offer community classes (donation based) on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm. This loft-based studio is just freaking cool – athletic flow and awesome music. These classes will be taught by one of I.AM.YOU’s finishing school trainees, but knowing Lauren, she wouldn’t have anyone teach in her space that wasn’t amazing.  I’m so hitting this up.

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In classes that seem both fascinating and slightly terrifying –  STREB has started to offer German Wheel (aka the giant hamster wheel) as a weekly class. This used to only be offered as special workshop but now you have the option of dropping in – for $35. Flip, roll, swing and invert yourself inside this giant metal wheel – it encompasses all of the fun and excitement of gymnastic tumbling without the high impact. These classes are taught by Chris Delgado, a certified German wheel instructor who has over 4 years of teaching experience and STREB says it’s open to all levels from beginner to competitive level training. I’m both curious and terrified of this one…

German Wheel Chris Delgado

 

Images from Soul Cycle & I.AM.YOU and Chris Delgado‘s Facebook pages.

Gotham Archery: Finding Your Inner Bad Ass

mags aiming

When I first heard that an archery range would be opening in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, I didn’t really know what to expect but I was just so curious to find out. The space is in one of the industrial spaces that still exist in Gowanus – and even though I had checked the address a million times before heading there, I was sure I must have gotten the street wrong. Until actually standing in front of Gotham Archery, there are no big signs – only a small beautiful wooden placard on a non-descript door.

Gotham Archery -sign

I haven’t shot a bow since I was a little kid and didn’t know what to expect, so decided I needed a partner in crime for this adventure. I decided Eric needed to TAKE the class too, not just take pictures and so I booked us into Gotham Archery’s introductory class – required of everyone who wants to shoot on their range.  Since we got there a little early, I got to hang out and check out the space. Gotham is a large open space with the ability to adjust how far away the targets are. For newbies like my group, that is pretty close but for the more advanced people, they could be MUCH further away. There were two guys who were shooting the length of the building but my favorite pair was the mother and son practicing together. His mom was good and he was talking about wanting to be like Katniss Everdeen and shoot a traditional bow…which I just loved. The little boy wanting to be the female hero is a win in my book.

Gotham Archery -Frank

On this rainy Saturday at 2pm, there were 14 of us in the intro class, most in pairs and then one large group of 6. We were broken up into 2 groups, our group of pairs went with Frank.  He went over the basics of stance, of lane etiquette and how to stay safe on the archery range. Then it was off to get fitted for quivers, arm guards and finally, our bows.

 

all bows

 

There are two different types– the Olympic style “Recurve” and the “Compound” bow. The tall guys in the group had to use the “Recurve” but everyone else got to choose.  Everyone chose the fancy compound bow, but just like the little boy earlier, I wanted the traditional bow. I mean, if it is good enough for Katniss and Olympians, that is the one I want.

Gotham Archery -say what

The class is filled with a huge variety of skill level… from those who’ve never picked up a bow to those who had a LOT of experience.  There were 2 guys in our group who were really experienced with shooting and were annoyed at having to listen to all of Frank’s awesome tips and guidance before actually firing an arrow but for the rest of us, it was exactly what we needed.  After a half hour of instruction and set up, we were off.

mags prep

 

For the next hour, we practiced trying to hit the bullseye. Frank said our goal was less the bullseye than to be able to group the arrows we did shoot. Eric, though, was a natural and could from the very beginning group his shots. I was bad at that part but towards the end got much more consistent! Improvement, is the goal always… but in the finally knockout round game, I was out immediately.

mags side

Best random Saturday adventure that I’ve had in a long time – I can’t wait to go back and shoot again…

But really, my favorite part of shooting at Gotham Archery? It made me feel like a total bad ass.

mags full aiming

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS

Brooklyn Bodyburn’s Second Location: The Sweaty New Fitness Destination

It’s not exactly like I’ve been avoiding going to check out Brooklyn Bodyburn but until it opened in Cobble Hill last week, I’d never made it to a class. The original studio opened in Williamsburg last year to rave reviews but it was a pain to get to from my part of Brooklyn. However, the new studio is super convenient and finally, all of my excuses for not getting my butt over to check out Tracy Carlinksy’s studio flew out of the window.

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The studio is a Lagree Fitness™studio and Tracy was quick to point out that this was NOT a Pilates class…which, I appreciated. The new Cobble Hill studio is equipped with the very latest version of the machine, the M3S, which is the newest, extra large souped-up version of the Megaformer.

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For the opening weekend, the new studio hosted a special Lululemon and friends Bodyburn class. The basics of the workout is that the movements are slow but the transitions are fast and as Tracy went over the M3S at the beginning of class, I could already tell this class was going to be a lot more challenging than I had anticipated –there were a lot of moving parts to contend with!

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I have a bunch of friends who’ve been raving about it and I finally get why. 10 minutes into this class, my muscles were shaking and I was dripping in sweat. Our crew was filled with fitness fiends – CrossFitters, Dancers, Barre addicts and Triathletes and not one of us had an easy time with this one… which was slightly comforting, considering I was dying. Tracy’s cues were spot-on and she gave a lot of hands-on corrections that were really helpful – especially for a class filled with people who had almost no experience on the Megaformers.

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The machine is made up of a large main platform that is spring loaded with two stationary platforms on either end to change how you balance on your weight while making the carriage move. The biggest surprise for me given my experience on the traditional Pilates Reformer, is that on the Megaformer there weren’t any moves where you are on your back – at several points during the class this was a fact that made me very sad. There were planks, pikes and pushups – sometimes with your hand on the stationary platforms, sometimes with your hands out on the moving carriage.

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The twisting pikes were my favorite – awesome and super challenging but I could see getting good at them. The series that made me want to cry, though, was the leg section in the middle. Occasionally, the lunges would be done with the front foot planted on the solid platform and the back foot pushing out the moving carriage to pulse. Then, we ran to the back of the machine so that our front foot was the one pushing out to pulse.

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In both positions, Tracy ran around grabbing our knees to make sure that they were held in the right position and didn’t launch over our toes, which would be a recipe for knee disaster. She was a stickler for form, which I love… but occasionally, as she held my knee, I really wanted to burst out crying because it was so damn hard. At one point, I had to hop off my machine and grab a towel since I thought I was going to slide off the platform because I was so very, very sweaty.  Note to self: next time, grab the towel before heading to the machine!

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The following day, sitting was comically painful. I don’t think I’ve gotten my ass handed to me that badly in a long time… I can’t wait to go back.

 

photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS

Yoga For Runners (and Non-Running Athletes) at Mala Yoga

Mala Yoga recovery-runners_calf_with-text

I am not a runner by any stretch of the imagination, but I DO have super tight hips and hamstrings so I’ve been dying to try Mala Yoga’s “Yoga for Runners” class designed by Stephanie Creaturo.

“Yoga for Runners is a class designed for runners by a lifelong runner who happens to be a yoga teacher. We strengthen muscles that runners need for stability and support, we stretch what gets tight, and learn manual release work to give our muscles and joints some relief.” The last line of the class description really got me.  It said that the class was designed for runners but any athlete was welcome!  I am pretty much always looking for yoga classes that are designed to open you up so when I read this class description, I knew I had to try it.

Mala Yoga studio

Mala Yoga is one of those studios that just shouldn’t feel as awesome as it does.  A simple one room space with very minimal decorations on the second floor of a busy Brooklyn street, it is one of the warmest, most welcoming studios I’ve ever been to. After checking in and setting up my mat, I snuck a peek at the people who looked like they came to the class alot and grabbed the same props that they had gotten. I am always excited by classes with yoga props, since I figure I need all of the help I can get! For this one, we got a tennis and golf ball, 2 blocks, 2 blankets and a strap. Before the class started, Steph made her way around the room to check in with everyone. As she stopped by my mat, I sheepishly told her I didn’t really run at all, mostly did CrossFit and Spinning but that I have a case of Planter Fasciitis. I felt a little like I had snuck into a class I didn’t belong in, but as she talked to me she rubbed my foot and told me where I should start rolling on the golf ball that I had gotten and told me that ALL athletes were welcome. Tight hips are tight hips. I immediately relaxed and was completely smitten with Steph for her openness and caring for helping everyone – even us non-runners.

mala_yoga_window

As the class started, Steph told us that this is NOT a Vinyasa class, and it so isn’t. One of my very favorite moves happened right away – rolling our calves out on a tennis ball that was placed on a block. It was ridiculously yummy. I knew from that first moment that I was in the right place. We did hip openers, side stretches, hamstring releases and as we went through, Steph would call out what different issues each pose would help with… all based on what people in the class had said were things they were dealing with. In each pose, she was also amazing about adjusting people into the right spot so that they could get the most out of the move. A good adjustment means the world and a couple of times, I almost cried with joy as she moved me gently into the right spot. The class FLEW by and honestly, by the time we hit the last pose, a shavasana twist with our legs up the wall, I was blissed out and more open then I’d been in MONTHS.

Mala Yoga-sc_tennis-ball-hip-w-text

I would recommend this class for any athlete but runners should be there EVERY single week. It was seriously heavenly and I can’t wait to go back -Steph has really created something magical…

Photos from Mala Yoga’s Blog , photos of Steph taken from a great post she wrote on restorative work you can do at home. 

Breath + The Beats: Urban Asanas’ Joyful Celebration

Urban Asana 1
Reading the description of Urban Asanas in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights‘ awesome series Breath & The Beats of the Streets reads: “Get your flow on to a live DJ, followed by drinks, snacks and friends new & old” – I knew I had to go. I’d met Jyll Hubbard-Salk, the trailblazing owner of Urban Asanas, at a few Brooklyn Lululemon events and loved her energy. I had heard amazing things about her teaching, but had just never made it to one of her classes and really, it was starting to get ridiculous.

 Jyll Hubbard-Salk

Urban Asanas is a yoga studio dedicated to the community and is the first of its kind in the neighborhood – with the awesome mandate of “maintaining the strength and diversity of the people we serve. Our focus is on movement through music, collaboration, and heart. Urban Asanas welcomes yoga practitioners of all levels and socio-economic backgrounds.” There is seriously nothing about that that I don’t love.

Urban Asana Practice

The event, held at Jyll’s house so that we could practice outside in her stunning backyard, is just around the corner from the studio and as it turns out, it is ridiculously easy to get to. Just a few blocks off the 3 train, I made it there really quickly and ended up being one of the first people there. I must admit though, when I read the description of the evening’s event, it didn’t even occur to me that the description “from 7-9” was for the actual practice. I assumed that it would be an hour of yoga then an hour of hanging out – so when she casually mentioned that the 2 hour practice might start a couple of minutes late, I almost fell down. However, it was so beautiful outside and I was there already, so I just rolled out my mat, laid down and looked at the beautiful sky above.

Jyll's Corrections

There were 10 of us who ended up in Jyll’s backyard for the yoga portion of the evening and as soon as the class started, I knew this was going to be a kick-ass flow. Jyll is irreverent and vocal during the class, with a keen eye for what every single person is doing in each movement and how to get them deeper and more correctly into the pose. I was so thoroughly impressed with every single correction & cue – although often funny, each correction was perfect, thoughtful and helpful. She is also an amazing hands-on corrector. I love being guided into position… because really, I sometimes just don’t know where I should be moving from in yoga and having Jyll’s skilled hands guiding me into it was amazing. It was a challenging flow and the two hours actually flew by. The music was soulful and though Jyll moved us with the music in a seamless flow, a few times the music would just move people and they would start rocking out to the beat in between their Warrior poses. By the end, I was completely spent and totally blissed out.

  Urban Asana Practice 2

After class, food and sangria was brought out and more people arrived to join Jyll’s party. As the evening shifted from class to party, I looked around and marveled at the amazing, interesting and cool group of people that she had brought together. I was so grateful to be there and spent the rest of the evening just reveling at Urban Asanas’ awesome community.

It was an evening that reminded me of the reasons why I love Brooklyn.

Photos and Video by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for Fatbottomslim

Let’s Turn It Up: Lacey Stone Leads the Charge On The Brooklyn Nets’ Home Court With Nike Training Club

LStoneNTC1When I first heard about the Nike Women’s NTC event that would be taking over the Brooklyn Net’s home court at the new Barclay’s Center, I knew I had to be there. Since last year’s insanely awesome NTC event at Metlife Stadium, I’ve been on the lookout for another one of their crazy cool events. However it was the fact that Lacey Stone, former Division 1 Basketball player, current Nike Master Trainer and just all around fitness rockstar, would be leading the workout that sealed the deal. I needed to be at this event and stalked the internet for when the sign-up opened. I’ve walked by the new stadium that had been built in my neighborhood a million times but hadn’t been inside – really, could there be a better first time than from the court?

LStoneNTC9Since the Barclay’s Center is so close to my house, my friend Julia from FitJourney (who was also my partner in fitness crime for the NTC MetLife event last year) met me at my apartment for a little green juice before we headed over. Although we were a little early, we weren’t the first people there and after getting through security we went to hang out with the other earlybirds as people slowly started to arrive. It was fun to watch the awesome crew of sporty women gather and included some of my favorite people to workout with. I knew this workout was just going to be ridiculously fun. When we were finally given the go ahead, we headed down to the arena and to the VIP lounge rooms to get changed. We were handed NTC tanks and then directed to the small VIP rooms right off the court that were being used as communal dressing rooms for the event, which was sort of hysterical. When I entered my assigned room, a random girl looked at me and said “Well this is odd.” My answer: “Well yes, don’t mind me stripping in the kitchen.” I threw on my new NTC tank and headed out towards the court. As always, I want to be IN the event as long as possible; no hanging out in the lounge for me! On the court, I met up with the large, fierce crew that had gathered. We all hung out and marveled at just having the arena to ourselves.LStoneNTC5

LStoneNTC6 Supporting Lacey for this event were Kym Perfetto (whose Soul Cycle classes, I’ve been told I need to take) and Deanna Jefferson an NTC trainer from DC. As soon as they were announced and started running to the stage, the crowd went nuts – we were so ready. By the time Lacey came out, the crowd had pushed close together up by the stage, hooting and clapping for her. She warned us to spread out but people didn’t really want to move. Luckily, I was surrounded by friends in almost every direction and we would just grin and work to get in sync so we didn’t land on each other. The 45-minute workout was geared towards a lot of hopping moves, lunges, fast feet and cardio bursts to mimic getting ready to play basketball. The awesome women on stage killed it with energy and Lacey kept everything moving and just FUN. Even when the music died in the middle of the workout, Lacey managed to keep things playful and going until it came back on. Seriously, my favorite part of working out with Lacey is always how solidly she kicks your ass while making it so much fun that you don’t even care that moving the next day might be challenging! By the end of the workout I was sweaty, sore and happy. The final moment though, when the stadium went green (the sign you reached your “fuel” goal on the Nike FuelBand) the stadium erupted in fireworks and the crowd went nuts! It was such an awesome celebration of leaving it all out on the court.

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That wasn’t the end though, because after the workout was done and the fireworks were over, they wheeled out racks of basketballs so that everyone on court could take a few shots from the Free Throw line. I didn’t make a single basket but it was awesome to take the shots. I hit the rim every single time – except one, when the ball was going in and someone from the other direction knocked it out. Now that is funny. I might not have an ounce of basketball prowess but I LOVED the chance to take those shots. Seriously, how often is that ever going to happen? My favorite moment though, at the very end when most people had left the court, was seeing Lacey take the ball on an NBA court and play. It is always a treat to see that kind of talent and drive up close. Watching an athlete of her caliber getting back to something they love was just awesome… the joy of the game is real and it is inspiring.

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Photos by Eric Stafford of Stafford Sports Media for Lacey Stone Fitness

Climbing really is a little bit like riding a bike…

On Sunday morning, the fella and I got up at a ridiculously early hour to go stand in a line at Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) for a membership deal. When our last membership deal ended at the beginning of the summer (a regular membership just wasn’t in the budget), we decided to take the summer off, hoping that in the Fall or Winter they might offer another deal. So, when the new “Back to School” deal popped up on Saturday, that the first 20 people in line on Sunday morning at 8am would get a 3-month membership for $125, there was no question where we would be.  We were 14th and 15th in line.

So there we were on Monday night, back at BKB, and I was squeezing my feet back into my climbing shoes. I love my sassy silver climbing shoes – they are tight but not crazy painful like all of the great climbers will tell you they need to be.  I am not nearly good enough at climbing to need technical shoes like that! The rental shoes are fine but really, you need your own pair if you fall in love with climbing. The good shoes really do make a difference.  I didn’t think twice about getting that deal – really as soon as I saw it, I was giddy about the idea of going back, though, I admit that I was worried. When we climb at BKB we always “boulder” – which basically means you are just climbing the wall without a rope harness to attach you to the wall and to a partner spotting you from the ground.  By the time we left in the beginning of June, I was up to climbing V4’s (in bouldering, a climbing grade is assigned to a route that describes the difficulty and danger of climbing the route; they start at V0 and go up from there) and working on harder and harder problems.  I was worried that I wouldn’t remember a damn thing and would never be able to get up the wall at all, that I would just be stuck clinging on for dear life, desperately trying not to fall off. I was rusty, easier problems were hard and I was slower than before, but I did remember the basics and scampered up the wall a few times. Climbing really is a little bit like riding a bike. Your body remembers even if your mind is having a little “oh hell no” moment.  It is funny though, that first night of climbing reminded me of one of the craziest parts about climbing: hours will pass without you even realizing it!

I work out a lot, at a lot of different places that I love, but really, Brooklyn Boulders is special. They have built an amazing, supportive, and fun community – filled with interesting and smart people who love to climb and will shout out encouragement while you are on the wall.  I have had some amazing conversations there, not just an amazingly fun workout.  The music is eclectic and fun, the problems hard and motivating, but really, it is the BKB-ers that make it such an amazing spot in the world!

BKB rocks.