Category Archives: Exercise

Yoga and the best shift ever

Have you seen this heartwarming video?  I myself tried to resist the repeated postings and “likes” on Facebook, but finally caved a few days ago and watched it.  I cried.  There was something so touching about Chelsea’s story – her own recovery from an eating disorder, the support she provides to her younger sibling, her daily efforts to work as a restaurant server as well as devote time to her passion and healer, yoga.  She is truly inspirational and I was thrilled to “witness” her hard work be rewarded as she was presented with a fat cash tip, a trip to Hawaii, her dream job and a new car.  Wonderful!

Chelsea Roff struck me as a survivor, a young woman who has worked to improve a life which came with an almost unfair share of challenges.  One of the ways she has changed her life has been by devoting herself to the practice of yoga.  Not content to reap the benefits of yoga without giving back, Chelsea has created a foundation to share yoga with others struggling with food issues.

Yoga as a therapeutic activity seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  Lest you think it is an opportunity not available in our area, allow me to direct your attention to some exciting local opportunities designed to provide yoga to those who may need it most – those who struggle with addiction and recovery and military veterans and their families.  These free classes are designed to bring the benefits of yoga to people who may not otherwise be exposed or involved with yoga and the rewards practice can be bring to anyone.

Check out the offerings below, share the information with anyone you know who may be interested and contact The Hot Yoga Spot with any questions.  Namaste.

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addiction

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Filed under Albany, Events, Exercise, Local, News, Recommendations, yoga

What makes a tradition?

unnamedI remember Aloysius asking me that very question a couple of years ago as the Laker guys and I started talking about revisiting Mountain Jam. Since we had all gone together the previous year, was returning to the festival for a second time, in fact, a tradition? Operating on the premise that traditions bring us closer as friends and family, we decided it was. This June, we’ll hopefully be honoring that tradition for consecutive year. Rock on.

In March 2011 I skied for the first time at Belleayre Mountain. When I say “first time” I mean, I’d never really skied before and I’d never been to Belleayre. I was participating in a winter triathlon and I only took one run down the mountain, but I remember grinning like a fool as I cautiously wove my way down the mountain. The view was gorgeous and the novelty of actually having edges on my skis gave me, a veteran cross-country skier, a new sensation. I loved it.

During the winter of 2012-13, I got back down there twice, once for Ski School with my youngest son and once just to enjoy the slopes with Aloysius. That second visit was on a beautiful late winter day in March. The skiing was great as was the novelty of enjoying a cold beer midway down the mountain in the warmth of the bright sunshine. Sublime.

Yesterday, I made my way down that way again. My map app offered a number of different routes and I chose the one which took me along local roads through Greene and Ulster counties, in no rush despite having been robbed of an hour due to daylight savings time. The drive was beautiful with a sky alternating between flurry-filled and sunny.

I pulled into the parking lot just before noon, with perfect timing to take advantage of the half-day rate of $90 for rentals and life ticket, and to meet friends who had gotten an earlier start. As has been my experience on previous visits, the staff was incredibly pleasant and helpful. I obviously don’t have a lot of experience with skiing or the skiing lifestyle, but the folks here are excellent ambassadors to a novice like me. I particularly appreciated when the young guy who fitted me for skis remarked that I “looked like an athlete.” Yes, and thank you very much for noticing, my new friend.

I got in a couple of runs on the easy trails, gradually becoming confident as the moves became more familiar, prior to meeting up with my friends. We had lunch together in the base lodge and then took one run together on a moderate trail that I remembered from prior years. Chrissy remarked that I skied with a lot of control, a fair enough observation. I have no interest in getting hurt, I just want to enjoy being outdoors – the fresh air, the mountains, the sounds of my skis cutting through the snow.  My friends left and I returned to the chairlift again and again until I was cold and ready to warm up and head north again.

While I wish I had the time and the money to get to Belleayre more frequently, I’m okay with only getting there a time or two a season.  After all, the traditions I most treasure, like Mountain Jam, are those which only occur once a year.  That being said, if anyone wants to head down there before the snow disappears for another year – hit me up.  I’m in.

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Filed under Aloysius, beauty, Exercise, friends, road trips, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter

My love affair with Winter

Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to express my adoration for Winter.  In all honesty, it’s a love I never imagined experiencing.  Winter was always the cruelest of seasons, I thought.  Endlessly long, yet filled with days which offered mere hours of daylight.  Cold in a way that kept one indoors, in isolation.  Yuck.

Our relationship was purely platonic at the start.  It was a casual thing for many years, sort of a “friends with benefits situation.”  If I had a little extra timphoto 2(4)e, I could maybe work in an hour outdoors on my cross-country skis.  Many people have a summer romance, but we had a winter fling. Winter certainly wasn’t something I was willing to build a life around. It was more a matter of convenience, a circumstance I’d be remiss to replicate in my romantic life, yet acceptable for a relationship physical in nature.

During the snowy years, we got a little more serious with each other and I found myself keeping my skis in my car “just in case.” I explored Capital Hills, familiarizing myself with the various trails, learning which spots tended to get icy and which direction to ski to witness the often stellar winter sunsets.  I bought better cold weather gear and, repulsed by the false consistency of the treadmill, committed to running outdoors year round.

Winter challenged me and I responded with enthusiasm and devotion.  Downhill skiing beckoned and I fell even deeper in love.  The combination of adrenaline, fresh air and sunshine was intoxicating.  Winter was no longer something to be survived, it became a season to savor.  I realized recently that Winter has become my favorite season and I no longer wish it away as I may have in the past.
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Sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places.  Recognizing it, and embracing it with grace, makes our time here, and our hearts, feel remarkably full.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Yaktrax and making tracks

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for those of us who like to exercise outdoors.  I mean, 5 degrees on the plus side just doesn’t beckon to me, especially when the skies are grey and the wind is kicking up.  After nearly a week without a run, I finally got out last Saturday during a break in the deep freeze.  Of course, it was kind of snowing and rather messy, but damn it the thermometer was finally in the double digits and I needed to run.

Yaktrax in the snow

I’ve enjoyed winter runs and consider a layer of ice on the sidewalk to be an added challenge, along with a bit of a core workout.  I like it.  Layering up may be time consuming, but I have the right clothes and I love the time outdoors, traveling at my own pace.  Saturday’s run required 4 layers and the addition of a new foul weather friend – Yaktrax.

I originally bought these “slip-on” grip enhancers last winter, but they languished in my running drawer until the other day.  My hesitation to use them was based on fear – I was afraid that my feet would hurt or that I would feel awkward running on these springy-things.  Fortunately, I was wrong.  Once I figured out how to put them on they felt pretty light and were actually fairly unobtrusive for the first 3-4 miles.  I had a great deal of traction and didn’t slip or slide at all while wearing them.  I began to become more aware of them during mile five, feeling some new sensations in my lower legs, which may or may not have been from the Yaktrax.  Either way,  I’ll use them again and try to remember to pair them with an outer layer with pockets leaving myself the option of taking them off, if necessary.

Sunday morning, I got an email from Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, an awesome old school ski area on the other side of the Hudson.  This place has some of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever skied on and I was thrilled to receive notice that they had 25 km of trail open.  After consulting with my runner girls, we made a plan to get ourselves to Poestenkill for a couple of hours of outdoor fun.

Beautiful!

Neither Karen or Chrissy had ever skied here before and I was so happy to share this beautiful place with them. Chrissy offered me the job of “Life Tour Guide,” a career I think I could really get down with if only it was a real option.  Although it was only about 13 degrees, there wasn’t any wind and the sun was reasonably bright.  There may have also been a sip or two of homemade limoncello that provided a nice warm glow to our afternoon.  We had a fantastic time and I hope to get out there again next weekend.  At less than $20 for a trail pass and only a slightly more than 30 minute drive from the DelSo, it’s a bargain indulgence.  Get there!

So fun!

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, friends, running, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Y, we’re breaking up

image: healthyalbany.org

For more than 10 years, we’ve been an item.  I’ve used 4 of your facilities in the Capital District, but my usual spot was the Greenbush branch.  There had been a time when I frequented the Bethlehem location in the mornings, but since you cancelled the two classes for which I was willing to wake early, I haven’t really gone there anymore.

I’ve seen both of these spaces grow in the past decade, expanding square footage and offerings, and I’ve grown, as well.  I explored step classes, spinning and sculpting and was once even content to run on the treadmills I sometimes had to wait in line to use.  I’ve been challenged physically and inspired by the instructors in the classes which I have taken, and truly feel that I learned a lot about form and specific muscle groups, but…

Y, you’ve been replaced by a new passion.  Y now means Yoga for me and I must follow my bliss.  While family membership to the YMCA may be a good value if the family actually goes, my attending one class a week, and sometimes bringing my little guy to Prime Time, does not justify the investment.  Particularly, when you consider that I’ve also been stepping out and spending money taking yoga classes at The Hot Yoga Spot.

February will be my last month being yours, but I intend to continue doing weights once (or twice!) a week at home, using some of the many moves I’ve learned from you over the years.  I’ll need to pick up another set of slightly heavier weights, but I am confident I am ready to move on.  We can still be friends, right?

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Filed under Exercise, family, Local

Metaphors for life and random confessions

image: timesunion.com

aka – thoughts from a run

  • The sidewalks were slick tonight with ice and nuisance snow.  Not quite enough to shovel, but too much to ignore.
  • Life can be a slippery path at times, but like the ice, it was just a caution – not a discouragement. Forge ahead.  It’s the right direction.
  • I love my body! It is fit and strong and healthy.  It indulges me when I sandwich a 60 minute hot barre yoga class between two days and a combined 11+ miles of running.
  • I don’t always want to run, but I am always glad that I did.
  • I can’t be the only one who pushes those I love away at times, right? I think it’s only to feel the sensation of having them reach for you again.
  • You love who you love.
  • If I didn’t run, I would never have time to think.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, love, musings, Observations, Random, running, snow, winter

Another squirrel story!

S6After my previous post, in which I confessed to holding a grudge against some  squirrels, you might be surprised to learn that I spent some time last weekend running a trail race called the Squirrelly Six.  All I can say is this: I mentally made it a grey squirrel rather than the despised red squirrel which caused poor Miss Suzy so much anguish.  Enough about my childhood issues – let me tell you about a great race!

The Squirrelly Six is one of two races run concurrently each fall up at Thacher Park.  The race I ran, as you might guess, is 6 miles of beautiful, challenging trail running.  The other race, perhaps one day in my future, is a ½ marathon known as the Hairy Gorilla.  The races begin together and then split near the finish for the S6 and I hear that the hardest part of the race comes in the first half.  Since I didn’t run the entire course I can’t confirm that, but I can say that there were a couple of intense hills that were kind of ass-kicking.  Or, on a more positive note, ass-firming.

Before and after the race, I shot photos for the TU and it was one of the easiest gigs ever.  The morning began sunny and the crowd was spirited and fun.  The race is extremely well organized and there was a pervasive mood of fun and humor.  It seemed to me that this particular group of runners truly knows how to have a good time and I didn’t feel the intense competition that I sometimes find intimidating.

Since my very first time running trails, I have been smitten with the experience.  The soft earth underfoot, the smells of leaves and dirt, the lighting…it is very much an activity which captures almost all the senses.  Speaking of senses, the aromas from the spread of food in the nearby pavilion were tantalizing!  Next year, I think I’ll attempt the Gorilla and reward my efforts with something from the plentiful buffet.

See you again in 2014, S6/HG!

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Filed under Events, Exercise, friends, Local, running, SEEN, upstate New York