Archive for the ‘Exercise’ category

I love Zumba!!!

May 9, 2011

I tried Zumba for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Here’s an article I wrote about it for a local news site.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/edsonhong1/5245297550

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Some signs of spring in Somerville

May 1, 2011

People out and about

Flowers

Kids on bicycles

Gardens taking shape

Tulips

What we can learn from the French

February 25, 2011

What we can learn from the French

It’s been seven years since I last lived in France, but I picked up on a lot while I was there. Plus, I’ve visited France a few times since 2004. I know you can’t clump everyone together and say they’re all one particular way. But you can point out things you noticed about many of the people you encountered.

  • The French know how to eat healthily.

This has been written about a lot (e.g. French Women Don’t Get Fat) so I’ll stick to what I observed personally. I noticed that French people (in general):

  • Don’t snack between meals (and when they snack they just have a cookie or a few pieces of chocolate)
  • Eat big lunches and relatively small dinners (That way, they have something to look forward to during the work day AND don’t go to bed on a full stomach.)
  • Have small breakfasts with coffee (Because they have big lunches, they don’t need a huge breakfast. And, coffee helps suppress your hunger).
  • Drink water with their meals (much healthier than soda, of course)
  • Eat lots of vegetables
  • Eat a wide variety of foods (For example, they don’t just eat chicken and beef. They eat chicken, beef, ham, pork, duck, rabbit, horse, fish, bull, boar, guinea fowl, oysters, mussels, shrimp, sea urchins, etc.).
  • Finish most meals with a dairy item (yogurt or cheese) and a piece of fruit
  • Take their time eating

I think all of these habits are good for you.

  • The French exercise less than we do.

But, because they eat healthily they don’t really need to exercise. I mean, their daily activities (walking, doing chores, etc.) are enough for them to get their daily dose of movement. Maybe we should follow their lead given this recent Wall Street Journal article.

  • The French take time to cook.

Obviously, this point relates to the first point I made. But I will expand on it a little here. Most of the French people I encountered just go out to eat for special occasions. The rest of the time they make their own meals. This allows them to control what goes into their bodies, save money, and go out to nicer places when they do go out. They also have a fair amount of dinner parties; those provide a great opportunity to see their friends and share their favorite recipes.

  • The French are polite.

OK, maybe this is a real stretch. And maybe their politeness often masks their true feelings. But frequently I observed French people saying (or doing) the right thing at the right time. Say your brother-in-law just died, for example. The next time they saw you they’d start off the interaction with a “Oh, I’m so sorry about your brother.” Or when they are invited to a dinner party they bring along a gift. While these might seem like obvious things to do, I’ve noticed this type of behavior isn’t always practiced here (and yes, I’m guilty of not being polite as well).

  • The French are experts in their fields.

In France, it’s really hard to get into a particular field when your degree is in something else. So, you’re forced to find a job in your area of expertise. While this certainly limits you choices, it helps ensure you’re good at your profession (or at least better at it than your average bear). Here, you might just get a sales job because you’re deemed friendly. But you don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of how to be an effective salesperson.

  • The French are into equality.

I’ll always remember this one particular experience I had while teaching English in France. I was in a fifth-grade classroom, quizzing the children on their knowledge of animal vocabulary. One of the students– Yoan (pronounced “Yo-on”)– was answering practically every question correctly. Each time I interrogated the pupils, his arm would shoot up in the air. Sometimes no one else would raise their hand, so I had to pick him. He’d get the answer right, and I’d congratulate him.

Well the class’s main teacher (a French woman) was not a fan of Yoan’s behavior. Whereas I viewed his ability and willingness to answer the questions as a positive thing, she viewed it as a horrible thing. She started screaming at him, saying it was not his place to answer so many questions. The others deserved a chance, she said, adding that he couldn’t participate any more. While most Americans would consider her reaction unfair or harsh (I think), it actually worked. Once he stopped raising his hand, the other students began participating in the exercise.

  • The French are fashionable.

They don’t necessarily have many clothes, but they know how to pick out items that fit them right. Sometimes this means spending more money on individual garments, but overall they might even spend less than your average American.

In a future post, I will write about what the French can learn from Americans.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/kalleboo/2036413105

The gift of yoga

January 3, 2011

The yoga book and DVD I bought the other day

In college, my friend Michelle and I regularly attended yoga class. I enjoyed the relaxation it brought me, and learning how to better stretch my muscles (one of my favorite moves was the shoulder stand…try it sometime– it helps the whole body!).

After graduation I partook in a yoga class here and there, but it certainly wasn’t a regular thing. I have also, from time to time, done some yoga moves on my own. Well, I finally bought a yoga DVD and hope to do yoga more often. I think it will be a good complement to cardiovascular activity.

I tried out the DVD yesterday (it came with a book).  I really liked how the workout is divided into mini-workouts (like sun salutations, standing postures, and balances), the relaxing background music, and Gena Kenny‘s contribution to the exercises. She helps you along without annoying you (I’ve done other exercise videos where the fitness personality is overly peppy or just plain talks to much).

Plus, she has a cool Australian accent.

Get a taste for the video by watching this short YouTube clip:

Yes, I’m a cheapskate

September 3, 2010

I got this free t-shirt for joining Planet FitnessI joined a gym for $100 a year. Can you believe it??? That’s like $8 a month!

That gym is Planet Fitness in Porter Square in Cambridge. I had heard from friends it’s cheap to go there, so I looked up the location online. They have a very helpful webpage detailing their various membership options. How’s that for transparency?

The page also list the gym’s contact information and hours. It sounds like a no brainer, but some gyms don’t even have a website (crazy in today’s world, huh?).

You can actually sign up for a gym membership online. I entered in the appropriate information, including my credit card number, and “Voila!” I was automatically a member.

I went to the gym a few days later, and started working out. I couldn’t believe the gym’s cleanliness and attractiveness. For $8 a month, I was getting this? Had I died and gone to heaven? Something must be wrong with this scenario. Maybe there’s asbestos or something in the room and that’s why the membership is so cheap??? I have no idea!

Anyway, the gym has lots and lots of elliptical machines and treadmills, the two pieces of equipment I use the most. Each one has a television attached, with a closed caption option. It was so fun– the other day I got to watch Tyra Banks interview people about their addiction to technology, while burning calories. It was a win-win!

And then on another occasion I got to see a funny Regis and Kelly segment where Kelly (while deliberately acting like a ditz) learned how to change a tire. I wouldn’t normally watch these shows, but it’s great to have the opportunity while exercising.

I know people who pay much more money for their Boston Sports Club gym memberships. And from what I hear the Central Square location’s televisions won’t turn on without headphones plugged in. Some people don’t like working out with headphones, so that is a real drawback I feel.

Planet Fitness in Porter Square has a number of weightlifting machines, and a mat for you stretch and do sit-ups on. Unfortunately there are no classes offered, but for the price it’s understandable.

The bathrooms are nice and clean, the two rooms are quite open (not cluttered),  and I like the gym’s purple, yellow and black color scheme.

Make sure, though, if you join the gym to check your bank statement. Planet Fitness “accidentally” charged me $99 twice. No one (I talked to two different employees) actually apologized for this oversight, though they did quickly provide me with my refund.

Discovering my new neighborhood

August 30, 2010

I took a little walk around my new Somerville apartment last night.

I liked these train tracks under the bridge on Cedar Street:

I saw quite a few young people playing basketball at the corner of Cedar and Broadway streets:

I saw this Revolutionary flag at the city’s Fire Prevention Bureau:

I saw construction (seems to be happening all the time in Somerville):

I saw Lil Vinny’s Ristorante:

And then I ate there! Here’s a pic of my tomato and basil haddock with veggies and mashed potato:

The fish’s sauce was divine! I don’t exactly know what was in it (maybe some white wine?) because the menu only mentioned tomato and basil (there had to have been more). I’m so happy I have leftovers for today!

Super Fitness in Watertown doesn’t put customers first

August 27, 2010

I keep complaining about companies, but this complaint is truly merited. Up until a couple of weeks ago I belonged to the Super Fitness gym in Watertown. I decided to end my membership as I was moving to Somerville, about a 20-minute drive from the gym.

I looked at a copy of my contract to make sure I could end my membership. Turns out toward the bottom of the contract there was a note about it being for two years. The only way I could get out of the contract is if I moved something like 25 miles away, or had proof I couldn’t exercise.

Neither of these conditions applied to me, unfortunately. I was angry at myself for having signed the contract, but also at my gym for the way it had represented the contract. I remember meeting with one of the gym’s employees, and telling him I would only sign up if my membership was a month-to-month commitment. He said it was, and that whenever I wanted to end it I could with no penalty.

Well, so much for that. Looking at my contract I realized he had lied. I went to my gym to see if I could end my membership anyway. I was given a phone number, and told to call “Shelly” in Quincy. I called her, left a message. and waited. She didn’t get back to me so I left another message and sent an email detailing my situation.

She finally called me back, and said I could end my membership early for $50. Normally she’d charge $100, she said, but because I had attended the gym for so long (a year and a half) she would give me the discount. I appreciated her offer, though I was disappointed she hadn’t apologized for her colleague’s misleading words the day I signed up for the gym.

I ended up sending Shelly my $50 check. I called and emailed her numerous times to make sure she had received it. No response. I ended up confirming she’d received my check by looking at my bank account.

Shelly had told me my membership would last until the end of August, as I had paid my monthly membership fee for all of August.

I went to the gym toward the beginning of August, and my card was rejected. The girl at the counter told me my membership was over. She said I’d have to call Shelly. I called her but received no call back (surprise, surprise). It’s like as soon as she had all of my money she didn’t care about helping me anymore.

I don’t know if any of this conduct merits a Better Business Bureau complaint. But at least I can use this blog to spread the word about the gym’s practices.

It looks I’m not the only one who’s experienced their poor customer service/was lied to about what I was signing.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/34909987@N07/3265269814