Exhale Core Fusion

exhale spa

I am sort of on a bar barre kick. I had taken the Bar Method classes for a 30-day spin over a year ago and absolutely loved it.  After 5 short weeks I found myself with the best toned stomach I’ve seen on my body in years and in such little time!  Not to mention the daily craving to get my legs shaking, how was that even possible? However their price + my work schedule + the times they offer classes = not worth the cost per class I could attend per week (*I had done the trial in the summer).

This past December I was itching to return to the barre, but the cost and schedule issues were still keeping be away. I decided to try out a local fitness boutique’s take on the barre instead.  I had been taking their spin classes and figured giving their barre class a try  couldn’t hurt, especially at $9 cheaper. I’ve been attending twice a week, and although Tthe classes have been challenging at times  I don’t always leave with that “I’m shaking so hard I may fall down the stairs” feeling Bar Method always left me with.

So when last weekend I found myself in Manhattan crashing at my sister’s while attending a conference, I couldn’t shake (no pun intended) the thought of dropping in on another barre class.  Aside from the glories of catching early subway rides uptown on the most bitter cold day of the year without earmuffs and wrestling to keep my eyes open in the wee hours of the morning while the rest of the city was fast asleep with brunch hours away, I managed to squeeze in one more positive into my day.  I work well for gifts.

The idea was pretty much cemented when I saw Exhale Spa was literally across the street from my conference. Done.  (It’s normal to have yoga clothes in your purse justincase, right?) I ran into the spa during my lunch break and signed up for their 4:15 class, which meant I had to duck out exactly as the conference closed for the day to haul my booty next door and get changed.

Okay, so Core Fusion Barre review here we go!

First Impressions: The ambiance is so, so chill.  While I find the Bar Method to be upscale classy, Exhale spa is upscale chic. I mean, it’s in the Gansevoort, duh. When I signed in there were two girls in front of me who shared that they had hauled ass to the studio to try to make the 4:15 class because they were both waitlisted for the 5:30.  I mean these girls are so dedicated to their Core Fusion that they ducked out of wherever they were doing to make it to the early class. Damn.

The studio was on the third floor and lined with two walls of full length windows where the barre sat. Talk about motivation, men in the office building across the street were totally just watching the class. Just. Watching. I walked into the studio of no more than 15 girls already sitting on their mats with weights at their side. I wasn’t greeted by the instructor like I have in other barre classes, so I sort had to fend for myself and find the weights, mats and a spot on the barre. When the class started the instructor did not ask if there was anyone new, so I knew I was just going to have to make do with what I knew from previous classes and hope for the best.

 

The Class: The class started with a flash and altogether felt like a whirlwind. The instructor boppeed in, microphone up SUPER high to top the super loud *motivating music. (I mean we are talking dance party in the living room because mom’s not home loud.)  I think maybe it was to mask the pain that was about to be endured. The class began with the typical arm raises and light weight lifting with high reps – on crack speed compared to the other classes I’ve taken. I mean I felt a burn in about 2-minutes and maintained that through class. Then the weights were tossed and we hit the bar for some thigh shaking and seat squeezing. Holy OW!  Insta-shakes galore for so, so many moves.  It was hell but so, so good! Before I knew it we were on the floor crunching and curling and twisting galore, with a few yoga moves thrown in for good measure. And then we were done. I felt like I had walked in, been spun around, and about faced the door. That’s how fast the class went!

Summing it up: Wow? I damn near stumbled down the subway steps and felt the burn for 2 days in my thighs. TWO DAYS!  It was incredibly fast paced compared to the other two barre studios I’ve attended which lent to tons of positives: quick poses and reps coupled with loud music made the time fly through all the pain! However that also meant that I wasn’t always sure that I was performing the move as well as I could have or that by the time I got the hang of it we were moving on.  For the hefty price of $37 per class, this certainly wouldn’t fit into my daily budget, although I’ll be sure to return the next time I’m in Manhattan and need to get my body whipped into shape fast.  I imagine that after two weeks of these classes you would find your body in very different shape! I wish they offered more boutique Exhale Spas near me so I could try their yoga classes.

January 26, 2013 at 9:44 pm Leave a comment

Tofu Tuesday.

IMG_2850True to my word I was up late last night cooking up Terry Hope Romero’s Savory Baked Tofu.  I had grabbed a block of super firm tofu to try at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and this recipe specifically recommended it – score! I pressed the tofu for about 20-minutes before slicing it up and baking.  Holy moly, the smells radiating from that oven at 10 pm were enough to make me try a bite before bed. And then I tried another bite.  And another. Until I had eaten a whole slice.

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The tofu was perfectly golden on each side with a slightest amount of crisp.  The flavors somehow transcended past the outer layer (maybe that’s what baking for 40 minutes does) – but I was surprised since I hadn’t marinated for more than 5-minutes before popping in the oven. I was able to slice easily through it like a block of cheese.  This is easily, hands down my new favorite tofu recipe.  It’s versatile and delicious, thank you Vegan Eat World you rocked my world!

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Yum! I can say that’s probably as much food experimenting as I’ll be doing for the week. But between the success with the soup, cookies and tofu I’m pretty satisfied with getting out of my food rut so far.  Although the cookies were totally unnecessary and I’m making D take them to work tomorrow. Now excuse me while I put on my sweatpants and get cozy with my guilty pleasure, The Lying Game and silently pray away the pending snow and ice.

Have any tried and true tofu recipes to share? I’m opening to trying some more!

January 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

Manic Monday

photo(7)   It’s that Monday.  The one where you wake up an hour earlier than your typical alarm and walk a few blocks into town to pick up a rental car for the week and the rental car guy shows up 5 minutes late and you feel weird about driving a car that isn’t a hatchback that has all sorts of futuristic controls that were not around in your old vehicle. And then there was work.

So in lieu  of making the 6:15 Barre class, I settled for the seventh episode of Downton Abbey on the couch and staring at chocolate chip cookie pictures on Pinterest.  Did I mention that D started school again tonight? There’s that too.

I literally pulled apart the cabinet like a madwoman and was experiencing levels of anxiety abnormal for most when they realize they don’t have a pinch of brown sugar anywhere to be seen.

And then an unlikely box of pillsbury chocolate peppermint cookies appeared behind some pancake mix and I had a vision.  Of tossing out peppermint crunch and tossing in some chocolate chips and smashing up some white chocolate chunks.  Top it all off with a sprinkle of sea salt and I am playing keep away.

I looove when something lackluster gets punched up and awesome-fied.  Aka me watching the Bachelor instead of the Biggest Loser to support Sweet Tater Blog. The show just isn’t my thing, however the mid-episode revelation hopefully means that 1) Mondays are rededicated to Jillian Michaels and 2) Caturday will return.

Happy Monday to me?

January 14, 2013 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

Souper Sunday.

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I’ve sort of kicked off 2013 on a soup… kick. Last week I delved into Vegan Appetite and absolutely devoured the Arabian Lentil & Rice Soup for lunch all week.  I failed to grab a picture before I tupperwared it for the week, so just trust me on that one.  *Note to self: I think I’ve finally pinpointed that a key ingredient for soup success = basmati rice. Just, yes.

So this week I was easily entranced by Leanne’s vegan cream of mushroom soup.  Now, be forewarned that as a rule I do not like mushrooms.  But last year I took a leap of faith when a co-worker made the PPK’s seitan porcini stew and the smell nearly made me grab a fork and join her in sharing her leftovers for lunch.  Consider me a changed woman (and that recipe the best damn stew I’ve had in the past 6 meat-free years).

Back to the soup. I felt like I could smell it through her pictures so I was easily convinced to give it a go.  The recipe is so, so, so easy and quick to throw together.  It’s thick yet light, meaning it doesn’t make me feel all heavy like a traditional lentil soup or a cream based recipe would.  The mushroom flavor is subtle and the cauliflower is reminiscent of a potato soup. Lovely.

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Tips that I learned after I poorly estimated portions: 1 cauliflower = approximately 4 cups of florets and 1 10 oz container of sliced mushrooms = approximately 3 cups diced. Whew.

This seems like a good time put in my Season 2 Episode 6 thoughts on Downton Abbey as I play catchup: Edith is such a fool!

Happy Golden Globes Day (aka watch the red carpet then switch to GIRLS)!

January 13, 2013 at 7:49 pm Leave a comment

2013 return to food.

ImageWe’re 6 days into the new year and I can’t seem to let go of poor holiday eating habits. At all.  And then Terry Hope Romero’s new book caught my attention and I’ve been devouring it with my eyes, Vegan Eats World is a gorgeous book and I find myself anxious to plunge into the recipes.

 

And then I remembered I have yet to make a single recipe from Isa Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction and starting to feel equal parts shame and excitement.  It’s time for me to get back on the vegan recipe train.

Other resources to kickstart eating healthy:

January 6, 2013 at 7:47 am Leave a comment

Think About It Thursday: All the Single Ladies

 Sex & the City brought it into the mainstream years ago with women over 30 battling through the tenacious dating scene and living their lives as “Just Me” (as Carrie once eloquently put it). I mean, you have to give it to the girl – she once registered herself for a missing pair of high end shoes after tallying up the amount of money spent on gifts for a married friend whose home she lost them in (i.e.: bridal shower, wedding, children’s births and birthdays).  I totally get it.  The scales are unbalanced monetarily in terms of output for single ladies versus married ladies.  And that’s not the only thing. Sometimes coupled and married folk feel it’s their job to remind you that you are single and you better get moving on it. Which begs the question   whose business is it if you are single? And moreover, at what point do you reach your breaking point when dealing with unfair social questioning by family and friends?

Melanie Notkin explores this topic with firsthand experience in her article Childless So Far: Why I choose Love Over Motherhood. She points out that most women over 30 who are single did not expect to be here (hello! please take this point home mothers, grandmothers and aunts of single girls) and that – shocker – they would love to have a family but don’t.  So each time someone sticks their foot far into their mouth to dig out the details on when a single gal is planning on snagging a groom and popping out babies – please understand they are rubbing the salt deeper into the Captain Obvious wound. 

This unfair social questioning can be found in couples as well, married or not.  D and I have lived together for a long time, happily unmarried.  Every now and then I have to field the “are you planning on having children?” question.  Of course, to me, the obvious answer is always yes.  Just not yet.  I particularly am enjoying finally being able to spend my hard earned money on me!  And all that hard earned money – it comes from working a lot of hours, something I don’t plan to do when I have kids.  So for the time being I’m riding the train, but who are you to ask? I even had a client (whose child I provide therapy for) remind me that “time is ticking” and that “I better get moving”.  I thankfully know enough to not be mortified. The comments bewildered me.  What gives you the right?

Jennifer Aniston has long held the throne for receiving unfair publicity for being over 30, single and unmarried. She also has had the sheer pleasure of being reminded of that weekly on magazine covers, blogs and gossip shows.  But girlfriend kept her head high,  did things that made her happy (holla yoga!) and found her happiness and partner in time.

Taking her lead, most single girls I know are busy using their independence cultivating who they are.  Working hard and using their free time to do things that make them happy on a daily basis.  And I think it’s wonderful and fabulous and probably why so many divorces emerge from young weddings – couples haven’t had this time to embrace themselves and spend time alone figuring out what makes them happy and what is important to them.

So the next time you’re thinking about harping on your sister or best friend who isn’t paired up like you are or haven’t had children yet, get over yourself. Realize they know where they are (think: headlines news for years per Jennifer Aniston – you think she didn’t get it?).  And maybe understand they are possibly having a bit of fun spending every penny they earn on themselves doing exactly what they want to, with no one to report to.  That’s something to be envious of.

May I also suggest… Can’t Change Someone? 5 Tips to Change How You React in case maybe this resonates a little better.

August 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment

What I Ate Wednesday: On the Road Edition

As a speech therapist there are days where I basically live out of my car, and I’m totally okay with that.  I love my car and hooked myself up with Sirius Radio so that the time spent is enjoyable, especially when sitting in traffic.  On these days, my eating is not always stellar.  And on a day like today I may prefer not share my WIAW but it’s a good reminder to plan ahead as the weeks get busy when school returns.

The morning started off slow with a deliciously strong cup of vanilla-hazelnut coffee french pressed to my heart’s delight.  Perfectly strong.

Breakfast was scrambled egg whites and goat cheese.  Once school starts in 2 weeks breakfast will be eaten on the go, so I’m savoring these time intensive breakfasts (yes, this is time intensive compared to my usual breakfasts).  I had some leftover ciabetta bread toasted with Earth Balance as well.

Meanwhile I had a surprise waiting for me in my Whole Food’s bag.  Well played Rex.

Then it was time to hit the road!  I knocked off a Vita Coco in my favorite flavor before lunch.

Lunch was un-pictured!  I actually ate a Subway veggie + cheese sandwich on wheat bread in my colleague’s passenger seat as we drove up to a teacher’s store to stock up on some essentials before the year begins.  I had a mini-bag of Stacy’s Pita Chips as well.  They can no longer be kept in my home in the large sized bag as I cannot control myself. True story.

I also ran a few errands at Target (stocked up on some SUPER adorable work pants in fun colors and a great petite fit).  I also landed one of the Orla Kiey for Method hand soaps – totally adorbs, no?

By the time I was done with errands I still had a 6:15 client to head to and was starting to feel sluggish.  Nothing a trip to Starbucks couldn’t fix!  Frappucino light for the road with a side of reality.

You see, I’ve been meaning to buy the new Fiona Apple album for a few weeks now and just haven’t gotten around to it.  Since, as I mentioned earlier, I often live in my car, I still listen to CDs.  I can’t explain why other than that I like getting something physical for my money and I like just popping a CD into the player.  I just do.  I was hoping that they’d have the album on the counter before I went in and was delighted that they did.

Except that when I handed it to the peroxide blonde tween taking my order, he confirmed “Let me get this straight, you’re buying a CD?”  I was expecting that. “Yes, and this CD.” He laughed, leaned in closer and shared that I was “the first person to buy a CD here in a very very long time”.  I could only respond with a smile and a shrug that “I guess that makes me old”.  THANKS FOR THAT!   I made sure to rip into the plastic hungrily as I waited for my frappucino (which took a little longer because he realized 5 minutes later that he forgot my order – I joked with him it was because I threw him for a loop with that whole strange “CD buying” thing). 

Onwards!

My client lasted forever and I didn’t get home until after 8, which meant it was up to D to prepare dinner that I pre-prepared (make sense?).  Wednesday nights are from here-on deemed “HELL DAY” and that means I’m allowed to eat whatever is easy and delicious for dinner.  Tonight that was homemade baked ziti (with faux-bolognese sauce) with a square of garlic bread.  No veggies. Somehow that went unprepared.

And for dessert.  On a day where I had essentially no vegetables and no fruit, I had to end on a high note.  With my favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor Oatmeal Cookie Chunk on a sugar cone.

I’m clearly winning today and will make up for that tomorrow, with lots of fruits & veggies – in my car. Help?   Best fruit/veggie suggestions for on-the-go days? I know I should stick to pre sliced fruit and make a green juice before I get out the door, but today it just wasn’t happening. Tomorrow I’ve already planned ahead for success, woohoo for me!

August 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment

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