Tag 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?


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!

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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).



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!

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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.

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Hers: Off The Pot

Have you ever heard that expression to…you know…or get off the pot?  (It’s early in the blog, so we’ll keep things PG for now.)  Well, after months (years) of talking about it, I am finally up and running.  Literally.  I just signed up for my first 5K.

Now, a little bit of back story about my relationship with running is necessary.  Generally, I equate it with pain, exhaustion, and my list of Things-I-Don’t-Do-Unless-Forced-By-The-Hand-Of-God.  Running, to me, is best saved for when you are being chased by something scary, or maybe if there is an ice cream truck in the far distance.   Running is not for fun.

Fun?  No.

Fun? No.

My battle with running is nothing new.  I joined the track and field team in middle school, but only because my father said I had to go out for a sport, and track seemed to be something I could pick up more easily than softball or lacrosse.  After all, I already knew how to walk, and 12 or 13 years of practice had really sharpened those skills.  How hard could picking up the pace be?

As it turns out, not so hard.  I ran the mile during meets, and I regularly finished in the top 3 or so, with times of around 6:45.  The problem is….I HATED IT.  It wasn’t the exercise—dancing for years kept me in great shape, and I’ve never been good at sitting still for very long.  It was just boring. I am not one to be alone with my thoughts, and plodding along around a track (before the birth of the iPod) was torturous.  The development of plantar fascitiis in both my feet during the second season on the team proved to be a blessing.  If I wanted to save my dancing feet, the running shoes would have to go out the window.  Sayonara, suckers.

Since then, I’ve picked up running here and there, usually when I was too poor to pay for a gym membership, or if I was looking to lose a few pounds.  Still, I’ve never stuck with it longer than a few weeks.  All those years of dancing have taken a toll on my body, and my poor, arthritic joints are usually screaming “What the hell did we do to deserve this?!?!?” among other expletives, after the first mile.  Now, running is not just boring, but HARD.  I stick with non-impact cardio at the gym, plus my usually active lifestyle, and it’s kept me in good shape.  Still, after watching Greg run a marathon and reading about all the fantastic women in the blog world who could run circles around me, I’ve decided the buck stops here.  I am tired of being a spectator.  I am going to become a runner.  And stick with it.  And maybe like it.

With Greg after the Long Island Marathon

With Greg after the Long Island Marathon

So that brings us to the present.  Along with my friend and fellow pot-sitter Lindsay, I’ve signed up for the Liz Padilla Memorial 5K in Brooklyn on October 4th.  Lindsay and I have been talking about running together since the Super Bowl, and 8 months down the road, it’s time we started.  I’m using the Couch to 5K training plan, but starting with Week 4, because regularly pushing myself on the eliptical and stepper have strengthened my endurance more than I thought.  I bought new shoes, I updated the iPod (note to 12-year-old me: You had NO IDEA what you were missing!), and I printed out a pretty calendar with my running workouts.  I’ve got a new attitude, a race partner, a blog to hold me accountable, and a big bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol.  I can DO this.

Clearly, this is not me.  Yet.

However, if you find a crumpled, cursing pile of bones on the side of the road in Queens, please pick me up and bring me home.  And remind me to get back out there tomorrow.

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