Category Archives: Fitness

Hers: Exercise Gets You On The News

Some of you may have read Greg’s post a few days ago about the KOGA workout.   I think his focus was on how much his ass hurt the next day, so I’ll give a little bit of background about one of the best ways I’ve found to break a sweat, and how it got me on the local news.

The KOGA workout was created by Jon Koga, a personal trainer and fitness guru out of Long Island, NY.   It combines high-intensity cardio kickboxing with yoga poses, resulting in an ass-kicking a la Walker Texas Ranger, Yogi division.   Jon’s passion is infectious, and after one class, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be signing up for another.   You can also be certain that your muscles will be shaking and you’ll be sweating like a beast.

I found KOGA about 6 years ago, while living back home on Long Island after college.   I was a devoted attendee in the weekly classes and, as always, a fan of exercise that doesn’t actually FEEL like exercise.   KOGA was a great way to alleviate stress, burn calories, and, as a kicker, my abs weren’t looking too bad.  I was hooked.

Unfortunately, after moving to NYC for work, I was unable to find a gym that offered the cardio-beating I loved.   I settled for the occasional Spin class and spent the rest of the time staring at the clock on the elliptical, wishing the time away. It wasn’t until this past August that I noticed a flyer for a KOGA demonstration at a local Summer Streets event.  I made plans to attend the class, hopeful, but not terribly optimistic.  Could it be?

IT WAS!

I’ve since reconnected with Jon Koga and his team, feeding my addiction as often as I can at gyms around the metro area.   I am also making the jump and getting certified to teach in November.   When Jon called me a few weeks ago and asked me to attend a taping for the local NYC news, I was glad to help spread the word.  KOGA is slowly making it’s way through the Tri-State area, and with any luck, it will end up in gyms near YOU very soon!

If you have any questions about getting your butt kicked or how to get involved, please email me at venusandmarsbars@gmail.com!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Reviews

Hers: A Sorry Attempt

I wanted to write something clever and interesting tonight, something that will make you keep coming back to this blog.  I wanted to be witty and entertaining and intelligent and original.  I also do not want Greg to yell at me in the morning because I said I was going to write and then fell asleep watching “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”  This happens more than I would like to admit.

Here’s the deal: my brain is fried, and my body is soon to follow.  So, in lieu of a nonsensical post about nothing at all, I will leave you with a picture that makes me happy.

Liz Padilla Memorial 5K

Liz Padilla Memorial 5K

This is my “official” race photo from my 5K a few weeks ago.  I received it in my email this morning, and it was a nice reminder on an otherwise dreary Monday.  I like that I am smiling like a lunatic, mostly because I am glad that I can stop running, but also because Greg, my sister, and my friend Lindsay are a few feet away and cheering for me.  My form is probably all wrong, and I’d like to shave a minute off my time at the next race, but I still really like this picture.  Look, Ma, I did it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Thoughts

His: Do I Look Like A Grunter?

Weird title huh?  I know, but I thought I would do my best Tarantino impression and start with the end and fill in the gaps as we go.  And I just shot Marvin in the face!

That Is A Tasty Burger.

That Is A Tasty Burger.

Anyway, it started over a year ago when we joined a local gym in our neighborhood.  The standard health reasons for joining you can probably assume, but the ACTUAL reason that we chose the one that we did (and we still belong) is because there is free parking.  The redeeming qualities of the gym (which will remain nameless) end there.  And for what we get, the $63 a month that we pay really seems like extortion. Come on! A buddy of mine goes to an NYC rec center and pays $75 a year.  Granted, he has to stay alert at all times and there is a high stabbing rate, but I think I could handle it.  I used to watch OZ.

In My Head, This Is The Rec Center

In My Head, This Is The Rec Center

And I understand that places like Equinox and NYSC are even more, but you probably get what you pay for.  What we get is an unfriendly staff, really shitty Queens electro Euro-trash pop music and headphone connections that never work for their four televisions.  What are we?  Amish?  And seriously, is it me or shouldn’t the staff at a FITNESS CENTER look like they use the equipment every once in a while?  Honestly, I think ten percent of the workforce has ever worked out.  Even when one of them does, you wish they hadn’t.  Like the one time the manager’s vajay jay was quite visible due to her unflattering and unnecessarily short shorts.

Not A Personal Trainer

Not A Personal Trainer

They try to compensate for their shortcomings by offering four dollar smoothies and classes like the dance class that I talked about in my last post and a boxing class taught by a guy who I’m pretty sure fought Joe Lewis (use the Google).

BULLY! BULLY? BULLY!

BULLY! BULLY? BULLY!

I know at this point, you may be thinking, “Stop whining and switch gyms then!”  Well, that’s exactly what we did.  Or at least we tried to.  As I eluded to earlier, we are still frequenting this Meat Head Mecca.  We finally concluded that free parking trumps everything.  But before we had to concede defeat, we explored our options….or option I should say.  Ally and I went to visit a new Planet Fitness (famous for its $19.95 per month policy).  It was great inside; plenty of equipment, plenty of tv’s and best of all, it was cheap.  We left, feeling excited but a little dirty like we had cheated on a lover.  The following week, we mustered up enough courage to break it off with the other gym.

We marched straight up to the counter to the most unfriendly employee they have and said, “We’d like to cancel our membership.”

“Why,” she responded arrogantly, sticking her pierced nose up at us.

“Uh, because Planet Fitness is only $20 per month and I can save $500 a year if we switch,” was my retort.

I was prepared for the worst and yet secretly hoped it would be like the episode of Friends when Chandler tries to quit his gym, but they get the super hot chick to convince him otherwise.

I Would Have Stayed if SHE Asked.  I Hate You, Tom Brady.

I Would Have Stayed if SHE Asked. I Hate You, Tom Brady.

No, not even close.  Her first response.  Her first inkling.  The thing that she thought beyond a shadow of a doubt would convince us to stay was, “You know they don’t let you grunt there.”

Insert title here.

“Uh, hold on, I have to get Jerry the manager,” she muttered.

So Jerry comes over, all smiles, ready to keep us in his Thunderdome.  Again, we tell him that we’re going to Planet Fitness.  He proceeds to assure us that we’ll be back and that several members previously switched to Planet Fitness but ultimately ended up back there.  He finally agreed to let us go.  We were free at last, free at last.  No longer did we have to deal with this place and awful members who stare at their abs in the mirror (a daily occurrence).

But alas, like those dysfunctional relationships that you just can’t get out of, we got back together.  We couldn’t let go of the parking.  It was like they knew something horrible about us, and in order to keep that secret, we agreed to go back to them.  And we’re still together today.  But the itch is back to switch again.  And this time, we’re staying local.  We won’t need parking because we can walk to this gym.  We would have switched earlier but it’s more expensive so we were hesitant.  But it doesn’t matter anymore, we can’t take it.  So when we break up again, you’ll hear about it.   Here we go!  Like a Band Aid!

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness

His: Confessions From An Aerobics Class

Yes, you read that title right.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I did indeed take an aerobics class with Ally.  Actually, I’ll admit that it is the second time I’ve taken a class with her at the gym.  They were two different classes, and I must admit that the latest class was one of the best workouts I’ve had (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is also up there but I had to quit after I got fired from my job).

The first one that I took with Ally was a Dance themed class about three months ago.  I know that sounds bad  BUT, in reality, I was just being a good boyfriend. She had been hounding me to take this class with her for months.  We took the class and it was not pleasant….for me at least.  But Greg, weren’t you surrounded by a bevy of beautiful, fit ladies?  Why yes I was and my girlfriend was one of them so this point was moot.  Ok, fine, I’m sure the workout was fairly intense with all the plie-ing and arabesque-ing, right?  Um, not quite.  I’m sorry to say that it was a waste of a gym night.  Ally even admitted that it was a sorry excuse for a class.

Needless to say, I didn’t take the dance class again.  Actually I had no intention of ever entering a “aerobics studio” ever again.  Turns out that I’m a huge sucker.

Ally used to take KOGA classes when she still lived on the Island several years ago. Somehow, she rediscovered this Kickboxing slash Yoga workout in Astoria Park this past Summer and hasn’t shut up about it since.  Tune in to the Dr. Oz show this Tuesday at 3pm and you’ll see a segment on KOGA.  There will also be a piece in next month’s Self Magazine, so this thing is for real.

Well, this past Saturday, she finally convinced me to take a class at a local gym.  I went thinking that it would be a cake walk.  I WAS DEAD WRONG!  I’m pretty sure that the only reason I can type this is because my fingers are the only things that can move right now.  I’m sore in places that I didn’t think you could be sore.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  I’m not talking about THERE.  Did you know that your esophagus could be sore without being sick?

Seriously, I hurt badly right now but I’m happy about it.  It’s always a good pain when you know you worked your ass off the day before.  And I would go back again and again and again regardless of the fact that the only other Y chromosome in the room belonged to the instructor.  John Koga’s passionate if cheesy instruction (think Billy Blanks if he was from Long Island) motivated me to the brink of exhaustion, but I didn’t quit, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I got home, drank a protein shake and swallowed four spirolina pills (yes I’m still taking them…update later).

So fellas, if your girl is trying to convince you to join her at a class at the gym, don’t scoff at the idea so quickly.  Give it a chance because you never know how hard it may be.  I took the chance and had a lot of fun and had a great workout.

1 Comment

Filed under Fitness

His: Find Your Motivation

So one might assume that, because we are bloggers and give our opinions on many different things to many different people, we are narcissistic and take ourselves very seriously.  While Ally is quite the opposite, in my case, you’re probably right.  I don’t at all mean that I don’t care about anyone else or that I look at myself in the mirror all the time because, in all reality, it’s only some of the time.  JOKING!

Oh, hello, are you looking at me?

Oh, hello, are you looking at me?

I know, I know, I just posted about how getting fit is good for your mind.  But seriously…I’d be lying to myself and to you if I didn’t say that being fit can be just as much about health as it is about looking awesome. And I’m here to tell you that it’s OK.

Of course, I’m not recommending going crazy about it.  There are more important things in life, and being obsessed with being healthy doesn’t make you healthy. But, if you’re single and trying to impress a new mate (yes, I said mate), or if  you’re in a steady relationship and want to keep up appearances, it’s ok to use that as motivation.  I exercise and try to eat right because I want to feel good and like what I see in the mirror, but I also want Ally to like what she sees.  Physical attraction is part of what makes a relationship work, and these chiseled features don’t come without a little sweat, you know? (Again, I kid!)

Like Adonis, I am.

Like Adonis, I am.

Relationships are a lot like exercising.  You’ve got to give a little to get a little, if you know what I mean. And if you can’t get up off the couch yourself, then you’ve got to find something (or someone) that will make you do it.

FIND YOUR MOTIVATION!  Maybe, for you, it’s watching “The Biggest Loser,”  which we just started doing.  You might tape a picture of David Beckham to the fridge to remind yourself to watch it with the beer.  Work out with a friend or significant other and remember that you’re doing something good for your body and for theirs.  Don’t use Madonna as a role model….she’s GROSS.

I have creepy Man-Arms.

I have creepy Man-Arms.

I’ll say it again….I don’t take myself too seriously (most of the time).  BUT, I do take being healthy and staying fit seriously, and I think you should too.  You’ll feel good about yourself, and the benefits go way beyond.  Motivation doesn’t always have to be something deep and full of meaning.  So long as you’re being smart and not taking it to extremes, it’s ok to be a little full of yourself.  You’re working hard, and there’s no shame in taking a look in the mirror and humming “I’m Too Sexy.”  If it gets you off your ass, then just do it. (Hi, Nike!  Please send me stuff!)

How do you stay motivated?  Let me know!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Food, Thoughts

Hers: A Real Runner

Look at this:

Blog 296

I ran so far today that my toe started bleeding.  I am a real runner!

Now, this isn’t to say I am a FAST runner, or a GOOD runner, or even a slightly-above-average runner.  But I ran 2 miles tonight, without stopping, without pain, and I felt like I could keep going.  I am doing it!

I won’t be winning races any time soon, but I am starting to think I might actually complete one.

Who knew?

3 Comments

Filed under Fitness, Running

Hers: 2 Steps Forward, 1000 Steps Up

Oh. God. My. Ass. Hurts.  No, it’s not from falling down a hill on my rollerblades (been there, done that), or from a failed attempt at flopping on the couch (also been done).  It’s from this:

Ouch.

Ouch.

We’ll backtrack a little bit.  Greg’s parents own a summer house in Hesston, Pennsylvania.  If you’re looking at a map and stick your finger right in the middle of Pennsylvania, and then you sneeze and your finger shifts about an inch south, you’re there.  It’s a little piece of heaven that we normally frequent a few times a year (it’s a 5 hour trip from NYC), and it is the ONLY destination for Labor Day weekend.  A few days on the boat, a good campfire in the backyard, and lots of fresh air is the perfect way to refresh and energize at the end of a long summer.

Raystown Lake, Hesston, PA

Raystown Lake, Hesston, PA

Normally, we head out on Friday night, but work required me to be in Hershey, PA on Thursday, so I elected to head out to Hesston right after work on Thursday afternoon.  4 day weekend, anyone?  Excellent.  This left me with all day Friday to entertain myself before the troops arrived for Labor Day duty on Friday night.

I’ve been diligent with my 5K training plan, and woke up early on Friday to get in my run before it got too warm.  Now, in all the times I’ve been to Hesston, I never paid notice to the hills. As in, every-freaking-where you look.  My 2.5 mile tempo run turned into a hamstring-burning, sweaty-beast-forming exhaustion fest, and I was thoroughly pooped by the end.  However, after a shower and some breakfast, I got a second wind and started planning my day, post 10 am.  Enter…

And it begins...

And it begins...

…the Thousand Steps.  Located on Jack’s Mountain, just a 20 minute drive from the house, the Thousand Steps was built in 1936 to as a means of transportations for miners working high up in the quarries.  Prior to construction, miners had to zigzag their way across the mountain so as not to fall down the steep incline, then back down again at the end of the day.  (Remind me of this next time I complain about my commute.)  The steps are constructed entirely of rocks found on the mountain and placed to form “steps” that reach 800 feet at their highest elevation.  I’ve read that hiking the steps is the equivalent of a 1.5 hour strenuos workout on the stairmaster, and, never being one to turn down forms of exercise that don’t feel like exercise, I decided a hike would be a great way to spend my lonely Friday waiting for Greg and company.

Wouldn't it be great if all decisions were this well-marked?

Wouldn't it be great if all decisions were this well-marked?

I headed over to Jack’s mountain, a little nervous and extra prepared with water, a protein bar, my camera, and my phone.  As I found my way to the trail, a little voice in my head (or maybe my hamstrings?) was saying, “You dope, you already ran your little heart out this morning.  Go back to the porch swing.  Get a book and some coffee.  Forget this.”  I thought, “Shut it, voice.”  And off I went.

1,2, step...

1,2, step...

These are not your ordinary steps.  There’s no plush carpet, even footing, or banister to help keep steady.  The further you hike up the mountain, the steeper the steps get.  This is literally no walk in the park. I made sure to sip on plenty of water and planned to take breaks if needed, but I’m proud to say that I soldiered on without any stops, less a few photo-ops of the beautiful foliage.

Green like the rainforest.

Green like the rainforest.

My legs were burning and my heart was pumping, but it was SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE GYM.  I love taking advantage of challenging activites that don’t involve being chained to a cardio machine.  Elliptical machine vs. strenuous hike?  Hike always wins.  You’ll never see me whipping out my camera to snap photos of the scenery at the gym.  (Although there are some characters at our gym…save that for another post.)

Forget taking the escalator.

Forget taking the escalator.

The steps are a popular hiking trail for residents of Central Pennsylvania, and it’s easy to see why.  As I made the 45 minute trek to the top, I was struck by the beauty of my surroundings and the absolute silence. No cars, no horns, no dogs barking….short of some crickets and the occasional bird, my hike was noiseless and wonderful.  Though I’m not one for self-reflection (I’ve gotten kicked out of a yoga class for my lack of zen), I found myself thankful for my health and my body’s ability to take on this butt-kicking challenge.  Way to go, Body.  You rock.

Almost at the top.

Almost at the top.

Silly as it sounds, I’m really proud of myself for hiking those steps.  On a day where I could have easily stayed in bed until noon and loafed around the house, I got off my butt, got moving, and felt like a million bucks.

A little sweaty, but I made it.

A little sweaty, but I made it.

I can’t wait to get out there again, hopefully with Greg.  He’s never hiked the steps, and I know his Superman Running Legs will appreciate the challenge just like my Skinny Chicken Legs did.  We probably won’t make the trip until October, but it should still be perfect hiking weather, and it’s worth the wait.  This was just another reminder of why it always pays to get off your butt, get a little creative, and get moving…you might surprise yourself.

Now I have to go DOWN?

Now I have to go DOWN?

Anyway, that’s the reason I want to cry every time I sit down to pee.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness