Monthly Archives: January 2011

IT’S NOT FITNESS. IT’S LIFE

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Their motto: It’s not fitness. It’s life. I think they could have come up with something less obvious because really interval training, spin classes and a weights room is in fact “fitness” and surely everything is “life”. Regardless of this weak mantra, Equinox gym is easily the most luxurious gym I have ever seen. Seducing the potential client with a welcoming Juice Bar, the overpriced clothes shop containing deliciously stylish gym attire from the likes of Lululemon Athletica and other brands that the student in me can only dream about. These are the brands for when I grow up.

The reason I am unashamedly advertising Equinox gym is that I am now in week 3 of my life in NYC and I have come to the conclusion that it being utterly bitterly cold outside I need a plan of action to stay fit and motivate myself to do so. Last week I did attempt to hustle along those lines in my apartment’s gymnasium but with only 2 treadmills, 2 skier things, 2 bikes and a plentiful selection of weights my heart was not in it. Where was the marine-type shouting down at me to work harder and keep pushing? He wasn’t there. I know alas right? Poor squidgy me. OK so you get it I need help. And fortunately/unfortunately for me “The NYC gym” by Gotham magazine and voted “Best gym in America” by Fitness magazine sits right opposite my ride home. 63rd and Lex (I abbreviate everything now) is the location of the F train subway AND the Equinox “no racquet sports” fitness emporium.

So what can I tell you it seems to be the most expensive gym on the planet. Not even attempting to compete with its rivals. Just leaving them in its wealthy-person-only wake. Am I that wealthy person? I don’t think I can be since I still consider myself to be a student despite now finally having positive money in my bank account. I think the transition to adulthood and the idea of a disposable income will take time. But I don’t have time since my once tight butt cheeks are starting to flab. There is an emergency chub brewing.

Enter Idea Number 1. Attempt to get a free weekly trial at the “Gym of all gyms” (I said that), in an effort to infiltrate the super rich world and convince myself I can be a grown up with an adult gym membership. An extension of my idea sees me journeying around the island (Manhattan not Roosevelt) trialling all the lovely gyms, sampling their endless bum toning classes and possibly even purchasing some snuggly legging wear to accompany my unsustainable but cost-effective fitness (no wait LIFE) regime. So I thought where better to start than at the Gym Master that is Equinox. They have such classes as “Fit, Fierce and Fabulous” (the sequel to “Red Carpet Ready“), “The Skinny Jeans Workout” (registered trademark of course) and “Training C.A.M.P” (with none other than the NFL athlete Curtis Williams?).

And Dan (the Membership Advisor) was so kind as to welcome me last Friday evening to join him on a private tour and a complimentary workout. How kind. However, my expectations were not at all met. I was anticipating a hard sell. Some free classes, a full unadulterated tour of the facility pointing out everything, including the sophisticated light fittings, able to sense your desire for light, and your preferred intensity, and accommodating you accordingly. No such luck. We sat in his glass office in the lobby while I attempted to extract information out of him. I LOVE the arrogance of it. This MUST BE the GREATEST gym known to the human race. No sales pitch required? Even in the U.S of A? I’m in.

Although I would like a free week trial just for freebies sake. No free week? Only 3 days? When do I want to start? Tomorrow, yes it’s Saturday tomorrow. I definitely don’t want my job to get in the way of my FREE classes.

I spend a nervous evening and a restless sleep eager to achieve my goal of 5 classes per day over the weekend and one class at least on Monday evening after work. Saturday morning arrives and my body is buzzing to get on with it and not waste my fitness marathon opportunity.

I had planned a spin class followed by an abdominals workout in the Main Studio to be followed by “Ultimate Workout” –

The ultimate cardio and strength interval workout designed to work every inch of your body and maximize your post workout caloric expenditure”

Then after showering and utilising the lovely selection of warm free towels, shampoos and looking longingly at the razors (having no unruly hair to attend to) I would tootle off to work, go home for a little rest and subway it back (only one stop) to enjoy? “Fit, Fierce and Fabulous” and another 30 min abdominals sesh.

Problem. I have barely done a minute of high intensity exercise in the last 3 weeks so my body, the temple that it just quite isn’t, is not at all prepared for what I have planned. But I have no time to train for this I must trust my muscle memory and hope for the best. Yes body you have done something this insane before. And you WILL do it again. Well nearly. I made it to abdominals but after an initial 5 minute plank I knew I the end was nigh!

This military-type man was what I had been looking for after all? A shouting highly muscled individual who can clearly hold the plank position for an infinite length of time and who laughs in the face of a 200 full sit ups with the hindrance of a medicine ball. (I definitely should not have been so selfless when I offered the final “light” medicine ball to my neighbour. For the benefit of my fellow woman. Ouch.)

Fast forward to 4pm. I have been to work, hobbled home and now I am strewn across my bed, eyelids heavy with hours to spare before I can realistically go to sleep. I do however have 10 episodes of 30 Rock to watch. I love Alec Baldwin.

And suddenly it is Sunday morning and I am raring to go. Zumba (my first ever class and I want so desperately to love it) followed by 30/60/90 (the best class in the city- and of course the inventor has her own website). I am being less foolish today and only planning for a couple of classes with the aim of resting my weary body for the remainder of the day. So Zumba. To sum up: bum wiggling, mild gyration and toe-tapping music. I am hooked. And not too tasking either so I can definitely do the interval training torture that follows. As we warm up our 30/60/90 instructor tries to give us the general aims of the class. Interval misery interspersed with active RESTS. Note how I hear the stress on the word rest and totally disregard the word active. I am expecting rests to be shoved elegantly in between the brutal crunching of limbs as we pound the studio floor. Alas the stress was misplaced. As we hit the halfway mark of the class, and I am trying not to weep with disbelief I realise that there will be no rests, or at least not in the true, honest sense of the word. 30/60/90 ACTIVE rests are press ups, reverse curls, muscular suffering etc. etc. However, my body was informed prior to the class that it would enjoy an occasional rest and so I did not disappoint. I stopped at regular intervals to avoid making a fool of myself by requiring some sort of medical intervention. After all my insurance doesn’t kick in until Tuesday. I can’t afford to be negligent with my health.

And so as I sit on this bright Monday morning, hunched at my desk, striving to sit up straight but at the same time fighting a muscular agony that has possessed my entire body, I choose the evening class that I must attend to make maximum use of my free posh fitness (I can smile again tomorrow or in fact more realistically Thursday when the aching has passed). It will be worth it when I buy those lululemon sports leggings and strut down Lexington Avenue with those steel-like butt cheeks.

The funny thing is I am going to join the club anyway. Is it funny? I don’t know I am afraid to laugh it hurts too much. 5 minutes of plank! Who even does that!?

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Manhattan Icons

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I don’t know if I want Frank Sinatra on my wall. He is a legend, that is without question. But, when decorating my apartment with iconic posters, instead I plumped for the other classic and a smidgen more glamorous Miss Marilyn Monroe (and a yellow cab in Times Square).

Not too original I admit but those whitewashed walls in my apartment were too reminiscent of a Holiday Inn hotel room and I need to stop thinking I am on holiday!

Uptown Girl

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In the year 1983 on the date 7th November it was snowing and my mother was delighted to be off-loading her first child. It was to be a little girl.

As the car drove her to the hospital, to get this pea shelling over and done with, the UK’s number one hit was blaring out of the radio. Probably. Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” oh-oh-oh-oh-oh oh oh…. and so forth.

This Uptown Girl now wanders, fully wrapped up and expecting thermals to arrive any day now, on the Upper East Side to get to work. Some people might call that fate?

The YouTube clip. Bring back pleasant memories mum? Uptown Girl

One Day

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One Day. Mr David Nicholls

Dear Mr Nicholls,

I just wanted to say how much I loved this book. Em and Dex, Dex and Em really got me hooked. The humour, sadness and constant missed moments between them had me hanging on to every word so that on occasion I was forced to endanger my own life by walking and reading along the streets of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

I am posting it to my sister immediately who is under strict instructions to send it on to our mother as soon as she has devoured it. Keep up the good work we are eager for more.

Yours sincerely,

Beth

To Think of Time

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Settling in here takes time. I can recall settling in before, elsewhere and it took time, patience and I must be strict with myself. Rest a little. Let time be and think of time kindly. I should let myself enjoy every moment however solitary it seems right now.

Walt Whitman was not a cheerful man but he reflects on time as I do here in the city that never sleeps.

To think how much pleasure there is!
Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from poems?
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a nomination and
election? or with your wife and family?
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful maternal cares?

—These also flow onward to others—you and I flow onward,
But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them.

Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross’d you are!
To think there will still be farms, profits, crops—yet for you, of what avail?

What will be, will be well—for what is, is well,
To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well.

The sky continues beautiful,
The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure of women with men,
nor
the pleasure from poems,
The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of houses—these are
not
phantasms—they have weight, form, location;
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them phantasms,
The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,
The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and all the things of his life, are
well-consider’d.

You are not thrown to the winds—you gather certainly and safely around yourself;
Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever!

Ronda and the eagles

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I saw this photo online today and didn’t even need to check the caption. I knew where it was instantly from my past. A trip here many years ago when my sister and I were dressed in matching outfits and enjoyed making animal noises underwater in the clear blue pools of Southern Spain.

It was hot here. I have a vivid impression of exhausting heat and maybe dad was roughly applying suncream to our ears. Needless to say I have never burnt my ears so far in my lifetime.