Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bikram Yoga: What you (really) need to know

For my final #NewYearNewYou post on fitness classes, I have decided to highlight Bikram Yoga because no time like the present to support sexual assault perpetrators it's one fitness scheme that I found myself returning to recently (ya know, "shedding for the wedding" and what not). Sadly, Bikram Choudhury, the creator of the practice, didn't respond to my email requesting an interview - hard to track down a man who fled from the US with pending criminal charges. While I don't support his weekend dalliances, I do appreciate his yoga, and because I didn't try too hard to get a professional/certified Bikram yogi to answer my questions, this post will solely include my amateurish thoughts on said yoga - no need to thank me. 

At the very least you know my answers will be wholly honest unlike Steph's and Pistol's which both required extensive edits and clarification.

What can I expect when trying Bikram Yoga for the first time?
Sweat. So much sweat. A class consists of 24 postures and two breathing exercises. The first posture after opening breathing requires you to hold your arms over your head for approximately 300 minutes, like you're training on the rings for the Olympics sans the obligatory performance-enhancing drugs. This is the posture Choudhury decided to start with. Essentially, you're provided a warm welcome, if a warm welcome is taken quite literally and means your body is melting in the 100+-degree room within the first ten minutes. They tell you before class begins that you are not to leave the room for the full 90-minutes, and after the first posture you've already concluded that this was the worst decision of your life (worse than your "Hillary 45" tattoo). For the next 80 minutes, your body's typical 60% water makeup is successfully reduced to .60%. Seems doable right?

What are the common myths about Bikram Yoga?
Many assume that because the room is heated in a Bikram class, it's similar to other hot yoga practices. This is not the case. Bikram is masochistic hot yoga. If you're familiar with the strenuous Child's Pose, it doesn't matter because there is never a Child's Pose sanctioned in this series. The only livable moments in the class exist during Shavasana - when you literally lie on the ground immobile for 20 seconds at a time. Hold on to those 20 seconds as long as you possibly can.

Do I need to have an athletic background to try Bikram Yoga?
Nope, just an internal hatred for yourself. 

Does Bikram Yoga help me lose weight quickly?
If "quickly" is the operative word, then, no. If it helped me lose weight quickly, I wouldn't be on the auto-renewal program hoping for something to figure itself out by June. I know, I know - weight loss is blah-percent based on diet. Whatever - at least class is 90 minutes and I am forced to fast for all 90 of them. That being said, when I finished a 30-day challenge (completing 30 classes in 30 days #HumbleBrag), I did lose some weight - enough that I didn't mind being in a bathing suit on a small Caribbean island where I knew no one and would never see these no ones ever again.

If I decide to try Bikram Yoga, when can I expect to look like you?
Day one, if you eat enough. It helps if you peaked in high school and enjoy drinking your feelings away daily caloric intake at the bar. I'm the kind of #FitChick that needs a jumping jack to achieve thigh gap. So, if you're thigh-gapping feet together, I hate you because I ain't you you're way ahead of the curve.

I sold you on Bikram Yoga, didn't I? I wonder if my yoga studio offers a referral program? 

Please bear in mind, I am fairly lazy and the only reason I tried Bikram in the first place was due to the fact that everyone in the room is aggressively sweating as opposed to just me. My Bikram sweat level easily rivals my mid-summer subway sweat. So, if you're into that sort of thing - try a Bikram class!


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How to Correctly Respond to a Craigslist Personal Ad: UPDATE

Back in 2013, when I was making all of the exciting mistakes as a single, I responded to many a viral Craigslist personal ad that two brothers posted in search of wedding dates. I shared my response on this blog (found here), and Good Morning America happened upon it and subsequently interviewed me for a Saturday morning segment. Unfortunately, they lost the battle of booking the Stangle brothers to Matt Lauer at Today (can't say I blame them - it was Matt Lauer).

Following the buzz the Stangles created, ABC refused to be outdone and put together a meet-and-greet cocktail party for women interested in being chosen as their dates. At this point, I was Facebook friendly with Mike and Dave and they told me to come to the event to continue the humorous banter we had been engaging in. My friend and I attended the event at the Upper West Side's Empire Hotel - we threw on skinny jeans, reasonably fashionable blouses, and heels - we had no idea what we were in for.

The scene resembled a low-budget version of The Bachelor, though instead of Chris Harrison, we got Juju Chang (not to be confused with Julie Chen, you racist). The other girls in attendance seemingly came directly from blowout appointments and the Bloomingdales formalwear section (I'm pretty sure I saw a few "they'll never notice if I tuck in the tag - I can return it tomorrow" dresses). These girls were serious...about their potential TV fame, not so much about acting as a date to a random wedding. I was there for the free drinks, which, of course, turned out not to be free - need I reiterate the "low-budget" description of the scene.

With camera crews in tow, my girl, Ju, asked each set of girls (it was a requirement to come in twos) upstairs to film various clips. They filmed us "walking into the party," and performed on-camera interviews. My friend and I, having not received the semi-formal attire prerequisite, filmed our entrance sequences in various states of disarray including, but not limited to, piggyback rides, cartwheels, kick-lines, and amateur break dancing. Did I mention we showed up to the event intoxicated? After forcing us to stop they got the right entrance clip for us, they ushered us over to the corner where Juju was being powdered. I assumed we'd be getting our makeup done as well, so I walked up to the gathered group, closed my eyes and stuck out my predominant chin. Juju considered quitting the field of journalism altogether feigned laughter upon seeing me, and I shrugged off my mistake using my iPhone as mirror to apply my free-from-my-dentist bootleg Chapstick. I was ready for my closeup.

Juju asked my friend and me a series of questions, all of which escape me with the exception of one. She inquired, "What did you do to prepare to meet Mike and Dave and potentially become their wedding dates?" She was clearly mocking our lack of formalwear, but her sly affront didn't phase us for a moment. I told her that I baby-powdered my hair and popped in a mint (though I didn't specify where I popped the mint). My friend's response, however, took the cake. She nonchalantly told Juju, in front of a recording camera, on footage that ABC will forever have access to, "Well, I was at this guy's house last night and only heard about this today - I didn't have time to go home, so I just turned my underwear inside-out. Luckily, I had already waxed earlier this week." Yes, these are the friends I keep - amazing like-minded individuals.

Long story a bit longer, if a bell didn't go off when I mentioned the Stangle brothers' first names in the last paragraph - their viral Craigslist post scored them a movie deal. Yes, the film Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is based on the Craigslist boys. Let's just say, had either one resembled Zac Efron, I wouldn't be marrying Steven in a few short months.
ABC's meet-and-greet never aired - I assume God had answered my mother's (and Juju's) prayers on that one, and Steven and I started dating shortly after. Now I have a forever wedding date and I am encouraged to stay away from Craigslist personal ads.

Friday, January 20, 2017

CrossFit: What you (really) need to know

In further support of your wasted New Year's resolution efforts, I was able to get cult CrossFit coach and fitness model, Pistol Pete, to detail the concerning exciting world of CrossFit for us. As with my previous post about barre class, I have provided the certified advice and made unavoidable revisions to better reflect my experience when attempting a CrossFit WOD (workout of the day, for those who don't interact with cult enthusiasts CrossFitters)

What can I expect when trying CrossFit for the first time?
I won't sugar coat it, it will probably suck; you might will vomit, and you will definitely think about doing terrible things to whoever recommended it to you, if only you were capable of moving your limbs after the workout. There will be a lot of sweat and a few many tears, but hopefully not too much blood (spoiler alert: bleeding either during or following your workout is expected - yes, in your stool). What's more sickening, you’ll probably want to come back the next day and do it all over again have destroyed your body so greatly that you now require intravenous fluids to keep you alive - talk about a great diet!

What are the common myths about CrossFit?
The ladies complain CrossFit will make them big and bulky - essentially, they will look like a man, and they're right. For every girl who’s ever said that to me - I say best of luck getting there. You’re the exact girl who will never get “big and bulky,” you don’t have the work ethic; not to mention you slam skinny martinis and/or a bottle of wine every night effectively stripping you of all those gains. (I don't even know how to edit this - what are "gains?" When I work out, I'm looking for losses. The use of the word "gains" should make us all concerned and clearly justifies the ladies' concerns. Also, at least they're not fat martinis - give us some credit, Pistol. We're only on question two and things - not including my BMI - are rapidly declining.)

I also hear, "You need to already be 'fit' to do CrossFit," which is exactly why "fit" is in the name. What's the point of spending all that money and going through all of the fundamental classes Stockholm syndrome introductory juice-drinking sessions if being fit is a requirement? Hey Dumb Dumb, thats the point of CrossFit you pay us to help get you fit, by working you out so hard that you throw up everything you ever ate. Thats the point!

Do I need to have an athletic background to try CrossFit?
Not at all! Probably close to 90% of CrossFitters aren’t. Of course you do - don't embarrass yourself in front of all those former high school athletes. So bring your narp ass in here and stop making excuses. (I confirmed with Pistol that "narp" was not a typo. It stands for "non-athletic regular person," which only further supports how CrossFitters view outsiders.) 

Does CrossFit help me lose weight quickly?
Yes, absolutely YES - it also helps to put down the Doritos and stop stuffing your face with fat and sugar all day. (Looking at you, Seamless Chinese food) That being said, feel free to keep eating the junk and come on in and workout till you puke - yay bulimia-inspired fitness!  

If I decide to try CrossFit, when can I expect to look like you?
Don't hold your breath. To be completely candid, your best bet would be a time machine - that way you can confront your parents and tell them both to find other genetically superior humans to mate with. Oh, and lots and lots of steroids. Also, quit your day job.

I hope Pistol encouraged you to try CrossFit, or perhaps you only stared at his abs instead of reading the actual text (with my helpful edits). I'm pretty sure in that photo he's just wearing a shirt with all those muscles drawn in - though, if you check out his Instagram, he'd need a lot of muscle tees to keep up the charade. Regardless, go check out a CrossFit class in the new year, just don't blame me when it hurts...for days.

Are they falling or jumping? No one knows!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Barre Class: What you (really) need to know

As promised in my first post of the new year, I have some fitness tips from the experts for you attempting-a-resolution-ers (though you've probably given up by now, similar to how I gave up on sober January).

I asked certified barre (the ballet barre, not a fancy French bar serving up cocktails as I first assumed) instructor, Stephanie, to share her tips for first time barre students. Then I adjusted it to make it truthful reflect my first experience with barre. Important to note, I grew up a ballerina and that didn't gain me any points (except with my mother for the first and last time).

What can I expect when trying barre for the first time?
Barre is a ballet-inspired workout, invented by ISIS, that combines elements of dance, yoga, and pilates, and torture. Barre is typically low-impact and involves small repetitive motions that wear out (and strengthen! and sodomize!) your muscles. People often say barre gets harder the more with each passing minute you do it because it takes a few only one classes to find proper form, technique, and body alignment realize you are willingly and idiotically subjecting yourself to suffering and misery, you sadist. Most classes consist of a warm up, an arm series, leg and glute work at the barre, a core series, and a cool down, and burial.

What are the common myths about barre? 
I hear a lot of people are intimidated to try barre because they think they need to have a strong ballet background in order to be successful, and that's completely true. Growing up in a dance studio may make barre more enjoyable for you likely to stir a PTSD flare-up, but at its core, it’s a workout torment, and it really is something anyone can do if you're into pain (and not the fun pain S&M promises). That being said, I have never had a man take my class… so a “myth” with some substance behind it may be that it’s only for girls who enjoy watching other girls in shared pain - as though we won't get enough of that in Trump's America.

Do I need to have an athletic background to try barre?
Nope! Yep, because if you don't, you'll look like an uncoordinated failure among others, further supporting your rank in society. I’ve never done a sport in my life, but I love abusing my body and getting paid to abuse others. Like with any workout, if you’re just starting out with your exercise regimen (hoping it sticks this time), you may find yourself taking breaks and/or hobbling for the door during class more than other students, but with practice/continued self-harm, you will build your strength and endurance over time. Just remember, you'll never be Misty Copeland.

Does barre help me lose weight quickly?
Any form of exercise can help with weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle tapeworm and starvation. Barre is great for toning and is recommended in conjunction with cardio (running, spin, sex, etc) for clients whose goal is weight loss. As such, for quick weight loss, I would recommend forgoing the pain and remaining sedentary for optimal comfort - just nix the food!

If I decide to try barre, when can I expect to look like you? 
Well I’ve been doing barre 3x/week for about two years now…so maybe try that? Essentially, no shot.

I hope Stephanie's insights (and my necessary edits) have adequately prepared you to attempt (or completely avoid) a barre class in the new year. New Year, New YOU!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year, New You People

If my recent trip home for the holidays taught me anything, it's that I should never go home for the holidays people need to change. If my therapist taught me anything, it's that I need to change (as though that's suddenly going to make my liver function at full capacity). Seeing as I no longer have regular appointments with my therapist, I will focus on the former lesson learned.

Second only to the midnight countdown, the saying "New Year, New Me" is uttered incessantly during the welcoming of a fresh year. Seeing as I have already established my unwillingness to change the irrelevance of me changing, I humbly request that you please work on yourself which would fix my issues (apart from the daddy ones). New Year, New YOU, is all I'm asking. To help get you started, I've come up with a few suggestions:
  1. Do only what I say - no questions asked (though, I shouldn't need to specify this).
  2. Do not stand within three feet of me unless permission is granted or mandated (e.g. a police lineup).
  3. Should you be seated next to me on a flight (and I happen to be in a dreaded middle or aisle seat):
    1. Find a new seat.
    2. If A is an impossibility, do you really need to be on the flight?
    3. If the answer to B is "yes," the following apply:
      1. If I am asleep (and this should be obvious as I am a mouth breather during sleep), do not shake me awake (I'm under a blanket - makeshift or otherwise - you can't be effectively certain that you will hit my arm and not grope my breast).
      2. Do not make me get up from my seat four separate times on the flight to relieve either yourself or your dog.
      3. Do not repeatedly hit said dog (unless it attacks me or looks at me funny).
      4. Do not take your time when heading to the lavatory (e.g. do not sit in my seat while you collect yourself on departure or return).
      5. Armrests are off limits. 
  4. Do not cut me off in traffic (vehicular or pedestrian). If pedestrian, do not suddenly stop in the middle of a sidewalk or hold hands with one or more people the width of the sidewalk, blocking my passage - I will Red Rover the shit out of you and not think twice.
  5. Do not hold the train door from closing in protest of the MTA consistently causing you to be late for work (you should undoubtedly see the irony here).
  6. Do not decide to start showing up to my regularly attended fitness classes in the month of January only (see number 2).
  7. The toilet paper roll does not go under - it is ALWAYS over. Always. 
  8. Do not tell me I'm crazy - even if I'm committed.
  9. Do not talk to me (like you're my) mom.
  10. Do not look at me.
These are merely ten(ish) recommendations. I can only provide so much guidance for how you need to change for me. The rest you'll need to figure out on your own, and I hope you do so quickly. I already have to deal with enough personal anxieties and anguish, do not add to my sleepless nights.

If, for some reason, you find yourself wholly bent on changing in the New Year for yourself (*eye roll*), I will be posting some workout tips from various fitness instructors and/or athletes in the coming weeks. Their knowledge will be provided to you free of charge, but not free of my redline edits.