Archive | fitness RSS feed for this section

Weekend Overachieving: Coconut Curry Chicken and a Record Run

8 Aug

It’s been a minute since I’ve had a happy surprise on the running front, and even longer since I made my dear husband something nutritious that he would also call delicious. Great news-I did both this weekend!

Let’s start with running- I have been doing my long runs with the Arlington Road Runners Club for the past couple of Saturdays, and it has been just the kick in the pants I need to remember that the hole is not actually that deep.

I had 90 minutes planned for the run, which probably would have been about 10 miles in the stank heat and humidity that Saturday showed up with. Around mile 6, Courtney pointed out that it was time to either take an uber home or make the decision to run the rest of the route with her… the rest of the route being ANOTHER TEN miles. Previous to that morning, the longest I had ever run was 13.5 miles, but I was feeling great and thought to myself, “Let’s see what the ol’ girl can do” (and that’s a direct quote–things have been weird in Kef-landia lately).

Long (run) story short- I finished the route, very much thanks to the AWESOME ARRC volunteers who set up life-changing water stops at miles 7 and 11 and Courtney for being the world’s BEST run-buddy-cheerleader. I’ve been living in a world where I didn’t believe I could ever run that far and, lo and behold, I did it without even planning to. How do you like them apples?

Annoyingly, I forgot to turn my watch back on after a water fountain break and missed some mileage on my watch. Whatever.

IMG_6254

Anyway, I worked and napped and ate and Hoodwinked with SummitKef for the rest of Saturday. I woke up on Sunday ready to kick more ass. I cooked a week’s worth of food in 3 hours, a nice reversal of my usual Sunday routine, which is to eat a week’s worth of food in 3 hours.

This curry chicken took ~20 to put together, made enough for him to eat all week, and got big thumbs up from MrKef. It is based off a Whole30 recipe, but I had to punch up the spice for my audience.

FullSizeRender

Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 medium potatoes, rinsed and chopped (sweet potatoes if you’d like!)
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 1-2 TBS hot sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes, fire roasted
  • 1/3 c coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lime, sliced

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add curry powder and cook another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and hot sauce. Stir well, and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer contents of pan into blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and coconut milk and blend again.
  3. Arrange chicken and potatoes in a casserole dish, Pyrex pan, or any high-rimmed oven-safe dish. Pour the curry sauce over the chicken and potatoes, and distribute so everything is covered. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Sweat Box DC Review

4 May

sweat

If you’re into fitness/working out in DC and the internet algorithms have been doing their job, you have probably been inundated with Sweat Box ads across every social media platform on God’s green earth. Never one to miss a new workout, I signed up for the first class on the opening day  to see what this was all about.

Like a lot of boutique fitness studios, most of Sweat Box’s hype is self-driven. The instructors are called “Bosses,” there are all kinds of complicated lighting schemes in the studio, and the front desk staff wishes you a haughty “good luck” as you enter the studio. None of this is too surprising, though–  the studio is an offshoot of Vida, the fashion show masquerading as a gym with memberships ranging from $94-$129 per month. Whatever.

Anyway, the check in area doubles as the locker room (protip: they’re the ones you can set your own code to, so need to bring your own lock), but do know that there’s no actual changing area except the single spa bathroom, so come ready or early. It also gets a bit crowded between classes when one group is coming and the other is going–so if, like me, you are not into any scene where Lulu-clad fitness freaks stand around sizing one another up, just come dressed in your clothes with 3 minutes to spare and head right into the studio. Yes, you know what I’m talking about:

tumblr_lamkw1MMcN1qb9tnr

ANYWAY. The workout itself is similar to interval training and is set up similar to an Elevate or Barry’s, but, instead of separating the class into separate cardio and strength groups, you have your own little station that has a TRX setup, a set of dumb bells, and an awesome stationary bike. The class consists of three strength circuits alternated with ~5 minutes of work/recovery on the bike. The bike was really the interesting/novel part of the the whole thing– you answer a series of questions on the bike computer to get your Functional Threshold Wattage (FTW), and then the computer lights up in either blue, green, yellow, or red to indicate the “zone” you’re working in relative to that FTW.  Again- I am not that into gimmicks/gadgets, but I actually found this to be super helpful in maximizing those short spins and kept me working hard better than the usual 1-10 scale of spin classes. It was also REALLY accurate… when my instructor–err, Boss– said that, “By the end of class, Red should feel like you’ll die if you do more than 30 seconds,” he was spot on.

You can also use a heart rate monitor (has to be a MyZone), though my instructor didn’t focus very much on that. There are two screens in the studio so you can keep track of it yourself, though if you are really into HR training you should pick a spot right in front of the screens because otherwise they are hard to see.

The class was tough, and the instructor Isaiah kept us on cue and upbeat. The moves were easy enough to follow and I loved that it was a focused class (shoulders/chest) rather than total body. I was tired at the end of class but not totally pooped. I found the workout tougher on strength than cardio, and would probably pair this with a run in the future.

Pros:

  • they bring you a cool towel at the end, and this is heaven
  • great strength training with great attention to working the same muscle(s) in different ways
  • good instructor (mine was Isaiah) who read the room really well and pumped us up when we needed some pep and pushed us further when we needed a kick in the pants
  • nice, spacious setup with everything you need for class in one spot
  • awesome way to mix up your workout routine

Not My Favorite:

  • kind of a scene, though this may dissipate as the novelty wears off
  • tough to see the screens where heart rate and other data is displayed
  • a lot of bells and whistles, which I know jazzes some people up but kind of turns me off… just give me the workout, man!
  • high price point ($29-$39/class, depending on number of classes purchased)– I would pay $30/class for SolidCore because it is the world’s most insane workout… this was not that, and should be priced lower accordingly.
  • no locker rooms/shower– I sort-of snuck upstairs to use the main Vida showers (which are AH-mazing, btw), but I’m not really sure I was supposed to, so plan to shower somewhere else.

Bottom Line: I’d go back if I were really in a rut or if a friend really wanted to try it out, but I don’t see this becoming part of my regular routine.

Flywheel DC Review

15 Apr
Flywheel DC review

                                                             Thanks to Washingtonian for this picture!

It is well-established that I enjoy spinning and will try almost any fitness trend (search my college newspaper’s archives for the time I tried Trapeze School if you really need some proof). So the proliferation of boutique spinning studios around DC has been like catnip for me. Since I’ve already reviewed SoulCycle and Wired Cycling, I will assume we are all savvy in the art of spin studio reviews and will keep it to bullet points.

The Good

  • Flywheel has both spinning and barre class. I only took a spin class, but I heard the barre instructor putting his class to work as I was leaving and am looking forward to trying a class there soon!
  • Get your first class of either discipline for FREE just by making an online account–and rumor has it that you can call the studio to get your first class of the other discipline free, too (though I have not yet tested this and will report back if it is untrue).
  • While we’re talking pricing, Flywheel offers a student discount that makes classes just $15 each, which is pretty much a steal for any kind of boutique fitness.
  • The studio is huge, with a stadium-style spinning setup so you can shine in the front if that’s your jam or, if you’d rather, kick butt from the back corner. The facilities are also pretty awesome- 4 big old showers in the ladies’ locker room with a hefty number of amenities- hair ties, blow dryers, spray deodorant, FULL SIZED towels… if I haven’t hooked you yet, there are also free oranges and bananas. Such a treat.

The Workout

  • Unlike most other spinning classes, which are based on perceived effort (your own scale of 1-10), Flywheel works with “torq.” The instructor will say that torq should be at 25 and RPMs should be around 65 (or whatever). I found these to be mostly appropriate for me, but had to add some resistance on hills. It was both freeing and frustrating to have all these measurements on my bike’s unit whose indication I didn’t really know–on one hand I appreciated having to rely on feel to decide if I was working “hard enough,” but on the other hand, if you’re going to give me torq and power measurements I’d just as soon have watts, MPH, and distance. But I guess that’s a personal thing.
  • I took a class with Rebecca, who had a rocking playlist and was equal parts coach and cheerleader. No distracting choreography (just one or two songs with jumps or tapbacks), and not a lot of the sort of fake self-esteem stuff I find unsettling at SoulCyle.
  • Flywheel is similar to SoulCycle in that it touts itself as a “full body” workout because of some high-rep low-weight upperbody work in the middle of class. I was not particularly impressed by the one song of arms we did, but that may be an instructor preference.

The Verdict

  • I enjoyed my class and got a good workout. I really prefer a 60-minute (or more) spin class, and so the 45 minutes left me wanting a bit more… but that is what it is. Similar to SoulCycle, this is a good place to get an in-and-out workout, but I don’t see it becoming a weekly thing for me.
  • These fancy spinning studios are really worth it for the playlists- Rebecca kept us rocking and rolling and I should really bring my phone to Shazam songs from now on.
  • If you care to measure your performance and/or compete against complete strangers, Flywheel may be your new favorite place–after each class you get an email with your “performance data” that you can compare to yourself and, apparently, the rest of the city.

Elevate Interval Fitness Review

4 Mar

elevateOur tour of DC’s cross training opportunities continues today with a visit to Elevate Interval Fitness. I dropped in for a free introductory class on a cold, snowy Thursday, and here’s the bottom line: the folks at Elevate will warm you up and work you out. Quickly.

Elevate was founded by David Magida, who is a super Spartan racer (aka: a bad mamma jamma). The concept is simple: combine cardio and strength training to create a series of high-impact circuits, measure your effort with heart rate monitors, and watch the sweat pour off. The 55-minute classes are split into cardio and strength portions (though you’re doing both pretty much the whole time), and half the class starts out on a treadmill or rower while the other half works through the strength skill of the week and a circuit on the floor. Screens around the room display your heart rate and calorie burn, and awesome music keeps the time flying by. If you’ve been to a Barry’s, it’s similar in structure but has none of the BS.

I took a class with Eric, who was equal parts motivator and instructor without a bunch of disingenuous perk–in other words: we were there at 730 am to put in some work, and he was ready to get us there. He acclimated first timers to the class structure quickly and got us moving right away. I started with cardio on the rowers, and we did 12-minutes of rounds of 300M row at all-out pace, 12 standing dumbbell rows, and 12 tricep dips, adding 25M of rowing to each round. Then we headed over to the treadmill, where we ran at a sub-5k pace for 80 seconds at increasing inclines of 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0 and recovered for 20 seconds. Finally, we did some speed work with the treadmill at 6.0 on dynamic mode (you are powering the belt, not the engine).

Oh, and that was only first half the class.

The second half was strength, where the skill of the week was kettle bells. We did three different circuits:

  • 14 kettlebell swims/sphinx push up/windshield wiper planks
  • Turkish get ups with TRX strap/kettlebell thrusters/speed skater jumps
  • squat jumps, reverse flys, burpees (ascending rep rounds: 4, 8, 12, 16, 12, 8, 4)

If that doesn’t mean a lot to you, my apologies, but know this: it was a tough enough series that the thought of writing more about it exhausts me all over again!

Some other awesome things to consider about Elevate:

    • after the class, you get an email which analyzes your heart rate information– this is an amazing feature that will really rock your socks if you’re someone who loves data
    • it’s in a brand-spanking new space with a big studio and ample locker area, plus 3 big single-person bathroom/showers

pricing

    is legit: free intro class, and packages that come out to $15/class (8 classes/month) or $18/class (15-class pack). The drop-in fee is a hefty $25–a tough pill for this nurse to swallow–but those packages are definitely deals.Generous cancellation policy: just call ahead and they won’t charge you for the class!

Eric and Elevate definitely get two big thumbs up from me, and I’m looking forward to going back again soon.

%d bloggers like this: