Checking out the new Planet Fitness Medford

Ugh… we just got 18 more inches of snow on top of 23 inches of snow with little chance of weather going above freezing any time soon.  Needless to  say, running outside is probably going to be out of the picture for quite a while.  And while I love beyond love my gym, but it’s sadly in Boston and chances are pretty minimal of me making it there on weekends. At the same time, Tony been looking for a new gym as well so I went with him to scoop out with the new Planet Fitness had to offer.

Another lifetime ago, I used to live near a planet fitness that opened up in porter square. It was nice for about half a year, before it turned into disrepair and I think is now shut down.  Since the Medford location is brand new, we decided to join.  He got the black card membership that’s $20 a month plus a hidden annual fee of $39 plus who knows what taxes a year. We decided to do that one, versus the regular $10 a month. The fancier membership allows you A. visit any club and B. bring a buddy called Liana to a club. Since I probably wouldn’t ever go on my own (I prefer working out near my work versus near my home), it seemed like a great chance for me to still have opportunities to go to the gym with Tony on weekends.

The location is pretty clean and nice. We went on a Saturday early afternoon and the location was probably about 30% full. Not too bad for a cold winter stay. The walk in areas were fairly slick looking. I tried to take pictures where I could. I didn’t want to photograph random people and weird them out, so I skipped photos on some areas.

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Clean and minimal carpeting!

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The locker room is a little industrial designed but I liked it. Only thing I noticed was that there are only 4 shower stalls in the locker room.  The other thing that I quickly released was for $10 a month, you don’t get a towel service so I think most people just take their stinky butts back to their car and shower at home. So maybe 4 shower stalls is not an issue here.

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Cardio.. cardio.. cardio… I asked the membership girl that gave me a tour, how many treadmills are in the gym.  She wasn’t sure, but told me they have over 100 cardio machines, with no wait time, sign on sheets, or time limits at peak time.

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I tested the treadmill out on an 8 mile run and am sad to report that like most gyms, the treadmills reset at 60 minutes. WHY!!! Some of us got long running to dooo.  Otherwise, while I am not a fan of so much purple, the machine was sturdy and incline seemed pretty well matched p. Only thing I wasn’t sue if they have or if I missed is one of those quick drop speeds where say you want to drop down to a walking pace (4MPH) quickly, I had to press the speed down.  The other thing, unless fancier gyms, the treadmills don’t have TVs, but instead have a plug that you can use to listen to one of the 8 TVs or so up at the front. Since I watch mostly shows from my own cell phone it wasn’t an issue. And they do have wi-fi but I had trouble getting a steady streaming space so I switched to data.

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One thing I noticed that compared to my personal gym, they have a ton of machines, I didn’t get a close look to tell if they’re just repeats of the same machine, or they’re all different. From what I could see, there was no shortage of weight machines to exercise whatever you want. I believe they have free weights too, but I’m not sure how well the space available is if the gym is packed.

They also have an ab section with ab machines and a stretching area. Although, I have to confess, I thought the stretching, mat area was kinda tiny, about 8 people max, but I’m not sure how many PF members actually use that area as it was empty when I went post run.

Additionally they have a 30 minute workout, that features a circuit with weight machines and some steps to integrate cardio. Tony liked it, but he skipped the steps.

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One thing I didn’t really care was the tanning area available for black card members.  They have rooms with standing and laying tanning beds.  Muscles sexy, skin cancer? Not so much… but to each its own.

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Tony completed his workout with one of these water massage beds something or other. People look pretty cozy on it.

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I personally preferred to end my day with one of these massage chairs instead.  The back massage felt really nice!

Overall, not a bad option if you’re close by and want a place for indoor cardio from the 10 feet of snow we’re slowly collecting. I’m still sticking to healthworks as I love everything about it, but being able to be Tony’s guest on weekends will still be useful.

 

Getting my #BarretoBar with ExhaleSpa & Aragosta Bistro

I have to confess, ever since I started this whole ultra running addiction, I’ve been all about running and nothing else. However, sometimes it’s nice to shake up the muscles and try something new. That’s why I got super psyched when I had the chance to try out the Barre Core Fusion class with Blog and Tweet Boston at the new Exhale Spa at the Fairmont Battery Wharf. The location was beautiful, and it’s at a spa so the locker rooms and studio are amazingly gorgeous and serene. They also offer massage, facials, nail services, and other body treatments in addition to the barre and yoga classes.

Exhale Spa Studio

How gorgeous is this studio? Those hardwood floors are gorgeous! Such a change from the gym floors and nasty carpets at most gyms.

When we first entered the studio, our instructor Meg, told us to grab some light weights, 2s or 3s. I knew right away I’m probably below average strength and went for the 1 pounders.

Barre Supplies

And I had no regrets, because by the end of class, that one pound felt like a hundred and one pounds.

But first you’re probably wondering, what is Core Fusion barre? Or maybe you’re not, but I was since I’ve never been to a barre class before.

Per the promise – Core Fusion Barre is designed to give you chiseled abs, toned legs, cut arms, and a high, lifted butt. This ballet inspired, core-centric class focuses on isolated exercises, alignment, flexibility, and posture as you work through targeted mindful muscle movements. The class lasted 60 minutes of intense It was an intense, hard, and non-stop exercising and stretching.

Our instructor Meg was incredible as she led us through a full body workout of leg lifts, planks, push ups, abs, and everything else in between for barre work, and stretching. By the end of class, I don’t think I had a muscle in my body that wasn’t shaking.

Exhale Spa Barre to Bar

I’m not lying when I confess, I was pretty sore and whiney for a few days the next week. What I really liked most about Meg is that she walked around the room and helped correct our form. I’m the world’s worst person at following directions. That’s part of the reason why I’ve never been a fan of yoga and Pilates is because I have no idea what I’m doing (case point in these photos where I don’t look like the others) and always feel like I’m doing everything wrong. Meg helped me fix my form on more than a handful of the moves.

Exhale Spa Barre to Bar 2

And not to be a total loser, but can I say what the best part of the workout was?

Exhale Shower

Like mentioned before, the classes are held at a spa vs. a gym. And although your muscles are all worked to shreds during the 60 minutes of class, you can relax in luxury afterwards. I love the rainforest showers. if I could, I would have one in my house! Also, the white tea shampoo and conditioner was great too! I usually bring my own but I felt confident in the quality of cleaning products available at Exhale.

I’m hoping to return again soon. Although I will warn you, it’s not a cheap work out. Classes cost $25 each session for 60 minutes. However, it is still more cost-effective than a trainer. They also have monthly and annual packages available on their website. And I know a certain running blogger with a birthday in November coughhintcough 😉

To reward ourselves for our hard work(out), we headed to Aragosta right next door.

Aragosta Bar and Bistro is a contemporary Italian bistro located on Boston’s Harbor Walk in the North End. I’ve actually been there and blogged about it before. Since I’ve had such a great time before, I dropped by for a drink and a few bites, even though I had an amazing KitchenSurfing dinner waiting for me at home.

Exhale Spa Drink

We started with the Deep Cleanse, a signature cocktail designed for Exhale made from cucumber, Hendricks GIN, aloe, lime juice, and simple syrup.

To go along with the drink, the Chef prepared us some tasty apps. Bruschetta, a roasted vegetable flatbread, artichoke fritters, and a meat and cheese plate. He even created some gluten-free alternatives for people in our group with allergies.

Aragosta Bistro

As you can see my photos are a little blurry. My muscles were still a little twitchy from the Barre workout! However, everything was tasty as expected!

Thank you Exhale Spa, Aragosta & BlogandTweetBoston for putting such a great event together!

Attack of the DOMS

Take a second and vote me for me for theB Team RefuelB running grant. B Based on my stalking I have about 3 people ahead of me so I could use the help!

If you haven’t noticed I’ve been fairly quiet this week. B No, I didn’t actually get a life… but I haven’t been doing much running either. B I’m trying to take it easy and relax a bit. B My next marathon is in September (if I figure out how to get myself to Canadia) and I might be eyeballing another attempt at a 50K before that (TARC Summer Classic). B However, I want the situation in Lefty to heal so I’m being gentle with it aside from the two halfsies I got going this month.

It’s okay, less time running means more time doing things like this:

Also this will be the last month you will see those floors. I know you’ll miss them. B I sold my life and dreams away and brought a house. B We’re moving in June. B Who knows maybe my blog will go from running to remodeling old Victorian homes. B Just thinking about being a home owner is making me sweat buckets.

Anyways back to the exciting world of sweating from the small stuff in life…

I was sore Monday so I took it easy with 6 miles at incline 2 on the treadmill. B My quads burned from the hills on Saturday but after a mile or 3 I loosened up and wrapped up the run in 52 minutes.

Tuesday I went for theB ellipticalB as part of my cross training plan. B 10.5 miles, an episode of Once Upon A Time and I was done.

After work since I failed to go drown (or try swimming) since joining the Y, I decided to try a class instead. B There was a 6:30 body sculpt class. B My modesty clearly has not returned since Saturday because I felt pretty cool. B I jumped, IB squatted, I lunged, I planked my little heart out and I felt so cool. B Unlike going to a class at Equinox or BSC, I was not the least fit person at the Y. B It was a nice change. B Well…

I wake up Wednesday…

Haha and no I did not create this artwork myself. B Google image brought it up when I searched for DOMS- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

Was the class hard? B No, I’d say it was more like Jillian Michael workout video at level 1 with only working one muscle group. B Jillian usually matches an arm workout with a leg one while the class at the Y did one at a time. B Seeing as how I do neither on my own, I think the class setting will help me get some muscle composition back from the 2 years I lost afterB quittingB Boston Sports Clubs gyms.

Wednesday… since the DOMS was not in full attack I wanted to run; however, my treadmill was taken so I used the elliptical for my usual RUNCH… without the run. B Ellipto-unch? Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. B It’s okay, I wanted to watch desperate housewivesB anyways.

Now its Thursday… I had my closing on the house so no time for a RUNCH…. however, when I got home I looked at the weather and I just couldn’t turn back and watch TV… before I knew it I was in a sports bra, running shirt, running skirt and my Asics with a bottle full of water and Nuun. B I wanted to run 10 miles… but I learned what the D in DOMS is. B Delayed.. meaning not today, not tomorrow but sometime like 36 hours… yea… remember those squats? B Remember those sumos? B You thought you were the shizzle? B Guess what? B Those legs are not moving… It hurts to walk… let along run.

So I didn’t make it 10 miles, I did finish 6 very slow ones. B Average pace was a 9:25 mile. B I think the first 2 were at a 10 minute pace. B Nonetheless I feel happy. B I brought a house today and I got my run in.

BTone Fitness – SPX Review

Now when you see this what comes to mind?

No Tony and I did not join some S&M club… The girls I work with and I decided to try something new for a workout. B We wereB intrigued, confused, scared and excited as we kept hearing about thisB PilatesB type of workout. B Well we finally got our schedules in check and made our appointment at BTone Fitness. B Making a 6:30 class took more planning than it looks since each class only has 11 people.

What is BTone we wondered? B Even upon getting there, I still had no clue so I did some research on their site. B It usesB Lagree Fitnessb” which is an innovative workout specifically designed to “strengthen, tighten, and tone the body quickly and safely. This workout is largely based on the holistic principles of Pilates, but also emphasizes the strength training and cardio elements not inherent to Pilates to achieve muscle definition faster than traditional Pilates and/or weight training alone.”

Not bad promises for just 45 minutes of my time. B Yoga takes over 90 minutes for these kind of promised results so I figured it was worth a shot. B After all, time is money and at $30 per class this was some pricey time.

Basically for the next 45 minutes I attempted to incorporate the “key principles of core stability and blending them with the fusion of muscle dynamics.” When you do things correctly, it should look like this:

This photo was taken from their website and let me tell you, I did not look like that for a second. B Majority of my 45 minutes was spent praying that I would not fall. B In fact I was wondering why they didn’t make me sign a waiver!

We spent about 15 minutes working our core with crunches and different plank-like exercises. B The next 15 minutes we did leg things that were probably equivalent of leg press type machines. B We wrapped it up with arms that I will probably be feeling soon. B Overall I don’t think this reformer machine provided anything special that some free weights or a giant ball can’t do. B My otherB critiqueB was the way the class was taught there was no adjustment for individual level of fitness. B Our instructor only explained each move once which left me scrambling trying to figure out where to put which limb where without falling over. B She did instruct us which resistance level to use for each move. B However, she didn’t give a range. B Had I been more experienced I would have used a level lower resistance for arms (I’m weak) and a level higher resistance for legs; however, no such option was explained.

BTone FitnessB B is one of two only SPX studios offered in New England. B The studio is located in Boston’s Back Bay and its super easy to get to by the T. B The first class is only $5 and is totally worth trying out. B After that each class is $30 which to me seems a little overpriced.

Weekend Recap – or just Saturday since Sunday I just ran, a lot

YouB guessedB it, aside from myB Long Run on Sunday, I went to go see the Hunger Games on Saturday. B The theatre near my house has this awesome directors’ hall where for 2-3 extra bucks you get to select your seat in advance. B No only that, the seats are those fancy recliner chairs. B Almost as good as being in your own house!

No need to show up early, or stand in the ticket line, no teenagers and college drunks to battle for a seat. B There are some perks to not living in downtown Boston anymore!B In the movie theater they also have this swanky bar which we didn’t stop since we got to theB theaterB at 9:20 and the movie time was 9:15 (I start to skip half the previews). B I have to confess, when they showed the preview for theB TitanicB I teared, especially at the part where the ship is sinking and they show that old couple cuddling (just writing this makes my tear ducts wake up). B I asked Tony if he would see it with me, he said “Absolutely not.”

Overall, I think I enjoyed the Hunger Games but it’s hard to tell since movies never compare much to how awesome books are. B I also wasn’t a fan of how the movie replicated some themes and direction fromB Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, particularly the white suited peace keepers… B Not every futuristic movie needs to look like it was directed in Epcot in the 60s/70s.

Regardless, I’m still team Gail; Peeta is just too emo for my taste =)

Before the movies, I decided it was a good idea to eat my own weight in Indian Buffet. B Well Tony convinced me we should get Indian and that the buffet is moreB economicalB then me ordering a regular portion and just having leftovers.

And yes since it was buffet, I went up THREE times. B Luckily, the other two plates were vegetarian only so I didn’t feel completely like I was going to implode for too long. B I’m actually slightlyB surprisedB I didn’t pay a price on my 27 miler on Sunday. B Maybe my stomach is growing stronger just my legs are.

On Saturday before I stuff myself silly with curry; I kept busy. B In the morning I stopped by theB Multisport World Conference & ExpoB that was happening in Cambridge. B Overall, I was a bit boredB by the expo and ended up not even attending any of the seminars. B I haven’t reached the Triathlon phase ofB exerciseB addiction yet and everything there was too geared towards triathlon vs. just running. B I was really hoping to see some cute running tanks and skirts. B Instead I was met with wet-suits that I have no desire to wear, try, or buy unless I’m scuba-diving; in which case I rather rent and not deal with having to carry it on international flights. B The hoards of hippie 10 year olds with their Cambridge parents didn’t help my headache mood.

On the bright side since I was one of the first 1,000 registrants I walked out with a swag bag. B Aside from a crap-load of wasted trees in advertisements ofB triathlonsB hours and miles away (no I am not traveling to Montana from Boston to do a triathlon). I did walk out with some good things. B The main being some samples fromB Hammer NutritionB which includes a gel and a powder mix. B I’m excited to try them out after hearing some good things about them on myB Marathon Training Academy Podcast. B I also made it out with as many Vita Coconut Water Cartons as my paper bag can carry. B Hey those babies cost $2.50 a pop here at the store and we’re in a recession you know; B so I take what I can get for free ;). B I too, wanna be cool andB electrolytedB like the stars.

Dear companies; please give me free stuff; in return I will pose happily with your product. XoXo Liana.

On Saturday I also finished reading Girl Who Played with Fire. B

I made a 2012 resolution that I would read one book a month. B Audio books and magazines don’t count. B Since Saturday was March 31st, I pretty much had to meet that goal . B While reading it, I might have eaten half a bag of honey pretzels. B They say TV makes you eat mindlessly, those people clearly haven’t gotten engrossed in a book lately.

Similar, to Girl with Dragon Tattoo, not much happens in the book until the last 200 pages (out of 600+) and although I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as the first one in the trilogy, I would still recommend reading it. B It’s perfect for loud crowded train rides to help you drown out the masses in a different role. B I’m also enjoy the subtle or not so subtle gender issue theme presented in the book series. B I am now on a search for Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.B I’ll pay the man who sells random books on steps of Cambridge City Hall a visit one Sunday. B That’s where I found this book, so hopefully he’ll have the third book in his piles as well.

Have you read anything fun lately? B Have you read any of the books int he Girl with Dragon Tattoo series? B I’m slightly excited for the second movie. B I just googled images and I can’t wait!

 

Home for my three B’s – boys, blogs, and beer

I was suppose to do a 12 miler post work, I changed, got on the treadmill and my heart felt heavy.B I decided to step off… this was not a day to test my limits.B A recovery run would not suffice when it was my whole body.B I was hanging on the cusp of over-training.B This has partially to do with my long run being on Sunday and losing Sunday as my rest day. Post-work errands on my low key run days did not help with the rest catch up this week. I started seeing all the symptoms.

  • Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy – Trying to balance marathon season and the tax deadline gets stressful… I should just relax and focus on my one time a week long run. I should accept that April will just never be my month for PR (nor October); however, there’s still 10 other months!
  • Pain in muscles and joints – my neck and arms feel stiff, probably my desk set-up isn’t helping, I should clean up my clutter
  • Insomnia – This is a biggie, I keep waking up every 2-3 hours and giving up on sleep after 6 hours.B Very unlike me since I can sleep away a solid 8 hours on a good night.
  • Decreased appetite – I just haven’t been hungry, but I force myself to eat thinking that would give me more energy to train.B I need to realize I need more rest not calories.
  • Lack of ability to concentrate as well as reduced power of differentiation and correction, this might be partially to do with my task list growing so I can’t give the same amount of time to everything that needs to be done.

So instead, I let my heart rest, and I might have picked up something something on my way home:

Yesterday after work I chopped half my hair off:

I initially was going to cut only 2 inches off but I felt so free and light that I just went for all 5 inches of chopping. Yes the guestroom aka my dressing room is a mess, and I should Windex up that mirror.

I still felt like a stranger to myself with the new hair length…. Yup bathroom photo for the win, co-workers walking in on you while you take a photo of yourself with your cellphone in the bathroom = brownie points.

On the bright side, I actually did feel good enough for my lunch 5.6 mile run. Incline 3 and under 49 minutes.B Maybe that’s where my 12 miler energy went?

Best part? Goodbye Blow out, hello this mess:

I have just enough time to run, shower, change during lunch… good thing I don’t do silly things like wear make-up or style my hair.

Most inspiring was this little blurb in Runner’s World.B Maybe it’s just my over-training/PMS moods talking but reading that made me tear with inspiration!

Most amazing eat this week was this molasses ginger cookie from Flour Bakery at the South End.

And just because I’ve been keeping track of every run so far, here’s my run from yesterday at incline 2.

Funny of the week… Have you read the Hunger Games?B I have and I loved it.B Well I lied a bit, I listened to the audio book on my runs, on my walks, on the commute, while cleaning, while eating and before I knew it I have gone through the trilogy in a week and did not know what to do with myself.B So if you had a mini crack addiction to the Hunger Games, you might enjoy this:

I’ve been a busy girl.B Yesterday I finally

How to recover from a 20 miler

First ice, ice your knee because you know those hills did some damage

Second steal a nice warm slice of pizza from your wonderful boyfriend’s plate

Go cool of and run 2 more miles on your ghetto old treadmill where the belt might snap at any moment

Forth beg your boyfriend to leave you another slice of his steak pizza(he cut up his leftover steak and onions and added it to some frozen tomato pizza we got)

ImageShower – eat that slice — drink drink drink (water of course) — get dressed and snack some more.B Eat lots of chocolate covered acai berries.

Stare at your fridge and look at the three tins of leftovers you got and decide you want none of that.B Munch on some more pretzels (all the cool kids eat a pound a week) and decide you really just want salsa and cheese…. Find an excuse to eat that by making a salad (plus you’re out of Tostitos, and actual cheese) .

ImageI know, I should be a chef.B Half a cucumber, remaining portion of spring mix that may or may not be going bad, one celery stalk, half a yellow pepper, half a jar of hot salsa, 1/4 of of a plastic bottle ofB parmesan cheese with an older shelf life than your grams.

As for the actually run,… wait this took some serious MSPaint skills to put together from run keeper.B Outside world doesn’t offer a convinent summary like the treadmill does.B here are the results!

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First, I am very proud of my cut and paste skills.B As for the run recap, the first 13 miles although at a slow pace, flew by because I had my wonderful Tony with me.B This crazy boy messages me at work on Friday saying “I want to do your 20 miler with you.”B I drop my jaw in happyness and shock.B Then I realize maybe I should prevent my boyfriend from breaking his legs.B I tell him how about 13? B He’s not a regular runner, but he’s a natural runner. This crazy! boy completes 1 hour and 50 minute half marathon with only a handful of once a week runs and eating pizza. Crazy!!!!

So the first 13 miles or so were relatively slower than what I go at when I run alone, and we got lost a bit in a town over as we lost the path with a sidewalk and almost ran onto some busy roads and a highway, some that had too many traffic lights and some that had too steep of hills.B However, this allowed me to sustain my strength instead of burning out like I usually do. I finished my last 7 miles outside with some repetitive mile loops around the house.B A bit boring, but I don’t know why that seemed easier then going further out and back in.B I think I’m getting sick of my regular running path and being near home just seemed safer in case my knee started to bother me as it started acting up on mile 17.B After I came home, I stretched and decided to jog of 2 more miles to try to increase my endurance for the 26.2 and just in case run keeper GPS was off.

Lessons and Realizations

I learned a few things this run.B When you’re out running for 3 plus hours, you have some time to think.

  • Pacing yourself really works.B I kept an average of 9:12 minute miles by going slow in the first half and finishing slow.B In my past training runs I would run 8 minute miles at the start, burn out and finish my last 10 miles in 12 minute miles while being in pain.
  • I actually enjoy running without my headphones.B I love the sound of outdoors, my gasping breath and not having to hold my annoying phone.B I felt more aware than ever before of my form, my energy levels and abilities.B (Tony lost his headphones so we both ran headphones free, I ended up grabbing mine at mile 17 since I was alone and was getting bored of myself)
  • I might need to change my DC marathon goal.B My initial goal was the infamous sub – 4.B This was before I was given the amazing opportunity to run the Boston Marathon.B I’m learning from my training runs that running a full is very different than running a half and my base is just not that strong.B While I think maybe I can manage a sub-4, I’m not sure I can do it without injuring myself and needing more than a week of recovery based on my training runs.B On a normal race that would have been fine, but Boston is less an month away after that and I can’t afford more than a week of recovery.
  • New goal sub 4:30 Marathon for DC and save the sub 4 goal for a month later in Boston

That’s all, next post will be more food photos that are more exciting than my lazy bums saladsB Being valentine’s week and a three day weekend, we’ve been eating out a lot by ourselves and with friends.B I’ll have some restaurant reviews and some deets on my Valentine’s day meal as prepared by Tony.B Lots of steak and seafood be warned.

I also introduced the cat today to our ghetto treadmill that’s been gathering dust.B I stopped running on it when I started marathon training since if you run more than 2 miles on it, you severely risk loosing your life or breaking your face.B The cat understood all this and while fearful for his life, he kept sniffing and jumping back.B That was some hard work for him.B Now the boys are taking a nap.B Cat from treadmill approaching, Tony from his half marathon.B B Image