Barre3.

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Barre3 has come to Newtown! Today was opening day, and to celebrate and engage the community, they are offering free classes all week. You know I was all over that 😉 I had done a few sessions through a free online trial, and had liked them well enough, but ultimately yoga and running took precedence. I am not a huge fan of at-home workouts, either. I have the NYC Ballet DVDs, and pop them on every once in a while. I also do yoga at home every day, but that has more to do with spirituality than athletics. In general, I really prefer to trail run or workout in a studio, so I was excited to check out the Barre3 space and get going with my first class!

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As far as the space goes, the facilities are functional and inviting. There are two studios lined with mirrors and barres, and both can hold up to twenty-two people at a time. Our morning class was totally full, but it didn’t feel cramped or uncomfortable. The studio provides weights, balls, mats and towels free of charge, as well as lockers for personal items.

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It’s actually a really convenient system- any locker with a key in the lock is available. You lock your stuff up, and take the key with you into the studio. Then, when you’re finished, you leave the key back in the lock for the next person. Simple!

The real selling point here is the availability of childcare. For $5 a child, you can drop the wee wots off in the supervised play area while you’re in class- which is exactly what I did. It is fully stocked with all manner of toys and games, and Jack was running in to check it all out before the entrance door was even closed behind us. Once Carolyn realized that all the toys were there to be played with, she joined him. I filled out paperwork and signed new student forms with both hands free- what a blessing! The woman running the childcare facilities was lovely and reassuring. I walked into the studio without a second thought, and didn’t feel any worry for either of them until class let out.

When I picked the kids up, they told me that Carolyn had been fussing and crying a little, but they had rocked and bounced her and she had settled down right away. This is probably the most influential aspect in my attending classes here- I can go and get a workout in any time I want, without having to search around for a babysitter or drive 25 minutes to the YMCA. I wouldn’t say I’ll be there five days a week, but it’s a great option to have, and the kids will get used to it the more we go.

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So…how did I do?

Honestly, within the first ten minutes of class, I was questioning my sanity. Some of the poses and movements were incredibly challenging. Barre3 is a ballet-yoga-pilates hybrid, set to a beat (often current top radio hits), and designed as a 60-minute core workout using a ballet barre, weights, a ball, a mat, and tiny little movements in your muscles. It was intense, but I surprised myself. The workout left me shaking, but also feeling really good about my body and its abilities. My legs were burning the entire time, indicating that I was working my muscles and building strength.

The most difficult thing for me was actually the setup of the class- there is an instructor moving around the room demonstrating the poses and movements, but I felt like I was constantly craning my neck to try and find her when I wasn’t sure what we were doing. Also, she wears a headset and guides the class through the speakers. I totally understand the logic behind this, and I’m sure it’s common in classes like this, but I am so conditioned to the “yoga” approach- quiet, and very internally focused. I found the loud-ish music and the disembodied voice of the instructor disorienting, but I also recognize that most people find that approach energizing and motivating. It wasn’t something I could do regularly and enjoy, the same way I enjoy yoga, but then again yoga is deeply spiritual, whereas barre is pure athletics.

However…one of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a runner, aside from the necessity to properly stretch, is the benefit of strength training and core building exercises. Your legs can only take you so far, and after that you will rely on your core strength to push yourself to your limit (and beyond!). By itself, I probably wouldn’t be a regular at the barre, but I know that as a runner, I stand to benefit from it. I have four more free classes this week, and then I’ll be there once or twice a week. They do teacher training at this location, and trainee classes are free to the community. You can sign up online- I’ve been checking periodically, and registering as they come up 🙂

Of course, no grand opening would be complete without goodie bags for new members!

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Reusable tote with the Barre3 logo, water, a Kind bar, a bracelet, and a complementary class card to give to a friend! Any takers??

In all, I am so glad I went and checked it out, and I AM looking forward to my upcoming classes. All of this core work is going a long way to making me stronger and more focused, both in my running and my yoga practice. To anyone wondering if Barre is for them, I highly recommend you try it out- it’s a great way to work your body out and build core strength. If any of my friends are interested in going, don’t be shy, let me know and I’ll gladly join you!

And now, I’m going to lay down with my legs against the wall….

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Notes from the Week(end).

We were pretty slammed with activity this week, but then, I feel like I say that every week 😡 This is just an overview of the major components of our week:

1. Philly (and vegan food). Tuesday was my first visit at Temple- eek! I’m so nervous! I had to sit down with my advisor and discuss my giant course load for the Fall semester. I understand the necessity of it, that he needs to check with me and make sure I’m not totally out of my head, but on my end it gets a bit tiring. People are always telling me (and other people, for that matter) what can and can not be done, and frankly, most of the time it’s not half as difficult as they make it seem. I have a feeling this school year will be much the same- a challenge, but nothing insurmountable or unpleasant. I love what I do, and I love what I am aiming to do, and that makes everything seem like a fun and spirited dance.

I ended up grabbing dinner in the city at a veg spot I had been meaning to check out- HipCityVeg!

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It was really low-key and relaxed, although seating was limited. It wasn’t too busy, so I was able to snag a table, but I imagine it’s near-impossible when they’re slammed.

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All of their packaging is 100% compostable, which thrills me. It’s also cleverly designed- the sandwich is wrapped in a brown paper sleeve, and you just remove the front flap when you want to dig in. You can keep the sandwich in the wrapper while you eat it, which saves you from any sauces/toppings that may fall out.

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I got a deluxe veggie burger with some sort of special sauce. Delicious! I ate really early in the city and had gone for a long-ish run prior to that, so I grabbed a second sandwich for later:

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Chick’n and vegan ranch. Also delicious, and definitely worth a second visit. I’m looking forward to lunches in the city during the school year 🙂

They wrap their chocolate chip cookies in cute brown paper and tie them with string. Adorable.

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2. CSA pickup, something I look forward to every week!

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I love going to pick up all the fresh veggies and brainstorming different ways of using them, but I also love actually being at the farm. It’s so peaceful, and everyone who works there and/or has a membership is so genuine. Everyone shares this wonderful common interest- the farm, and the lifestyle and values it represents. I feel very fortunate to be a part of that community. It has transformed my weekly pickup into a really special trip.

Of course, the food is also very exciting 😉

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L to R: swiss chard, scallions, summer squash (SO MUCH SQUASH, AH!), two heads of lettuce, radicchio, two fennel bulbs, dandelion greens, sage, spicy hot oregano, chives, dill, green basil, purple basil, green beans, cucumbers (SO MANY CUCUMBERS), cabbage, and golden beets.

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Gorgeous! We have eaten everything except the fennel, cabbage, dandelion, and half of the beans. The CSA has shed light on how much produce we consume, and how quickly- a lot, and very. I’ve been juicing like a fiend lately, so a lot of the cucumbers have been swallowed by the juicer.

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I have also continued to preserve my herbs in oil and freeze them:

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It’s been wonderful to be able to take a cube of herbs and oil and toss it into a pan- so simple! We’ll be enjoying fresh herbs all winter 🙂

3. New York. I went from soaking in the gorgeous landscape at the CSA to darting through traffic on the Upper West Side. I drove Abby and Eli home on Thursday night, but my Mum took the trip with me, so it wasn’t too bad. We even got dinner at Peacefood!

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Their soy apple ginger drink is absolutely ethereal. Mum and I split the nachos to start, and we each got a rice bowl topped with roasted veggies. Kabocha squash, zucchini, and cauliflower for me (with ginger oil dressing). We also snagged some chocolate-dipped macaroons for the ride home 🙂

We got stuck in a bit of traffic coming out of the city, but it was perfect because we caught all the fireworks shows on the way home as we passed through different cities and towns. It was gorgeous, and so much more fun spending that time with my Mum. I am so grateful she took the trip with me!

4. Popsicles.

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It’s just been a thing lately. Frozen fruit + fresh juice + coconut yogurt + lime juice + ginger/cinnamon = yummy ‘sicles to keep us cool as the temperatures climb! Also, an excellent option for an after-dinner snack.

5. Princeton. One of my favorite places in the world! I am so in love. On Friday we took a trip over with Maurya and Julius- I needed to pick something up at Lulu. We got coffee at Small World and the walked around Urban Outfitters, followed by a stroll around campus. Old college campuses take my breath away- I couldn’t imagine going to school in such a beautiful place. Fingers crossed, most of my grad school apps are going to older schools with sunning campuses.

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Including Princeton! 😡

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*le sigh*

6. Gardening. I came home from L.A. to find my tomato plants weighed down with the beginnings of fruit! It always surprises me when a plant I am tending to ends up producing- earlier in the season, I tend to feel like they’re just going to fake me out. Not so! Our tomato plants seem to have more young, green tomatoes by the day 🙂 I even have different varieties!

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Beefsteak!

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Sweet cherry tomatoes.

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Roma:

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Our first eggplant blossom:

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Red cabbage, coming along nicely:

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Jack’s mint! 🙂 Still going strong!

IMG_3424I am planning to write a post summarizing my experience with my potted garden, but I’m going to wait until I have actual product to taste test and show to you 🙂 I am looking forward to next year, when I’ll have time to plot out a raised-bed garden in the yard, but this has been a great trial and preparation period. I can’t stress the difference it has made in my general attitude- helping a plant to grow and flourish, and seeing (and enjoying!) the product of its work is a great way to add a little magic to your day.

7. Nails! Emily has been staying with us for the summer, and she loves to paint nails, so I have been enjoying some gorgeous manicures 🙂 We even got Carolyn in on the action!

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8. Exercise (particularly running and yoga)! I ran a 5k over the weekend (and Jack ran his first race!), and I have three more coming up in the next three weeks (Peace and Love Bug Run, Color Run, and Running the Yards). It’s all in preparation for the Philly Rock and Roll Half, and it’s been hugely motivating to have actual races to run during my training. Saturday was brutal, but I was glad to have done it, and even more proud of Jack.

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Honestly, the best part of racing, besides crossing the finish line, is pinning my bib up on my cork board. I love looking at all of them and thinking back to the awesome races I’ve run- it’s great motivation to keep going!

I have been incorporating a lot of exercise into our routine- more than we ever have, I think. At it’s core, it’s an effort to spend as much time outside as possible. The benefits of sunshine and fresh air are tragically underestimated.

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We’ve been aiming for a walk a day, mostly into town or on the Tyler nature trail. I run four days a week, cross train for two, and I do yoga every single day. I can’t find the words to describe the benefits of daily yoga practice- of the best things I’ve ever done in my life, maintaining a daily practice and spiritual study is definitely in the top three. It’s also something I enjoy sharing with Jack and Carolyn (and everyone else in my family, apparently!)

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I actually ordered a new yoga mat last week. My original mat was from Lululemon, and while the color was pretty and it looked cute, it was definitely not my ideal mat- way too short, and incredibly thin. I bought it at a time when I was just getting into yoga, and was therefore less concerned about function. Lululemon is definitely top-notch for athletic wear and accessories like bags and scarves, but they are NOT a mat company. Now that I practice regularly, I really needed a mat that I felt comfortable on and could trust- enter the Manduka Pro in Black Magic.

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The Rolls Royce of yoga mats- this thing was made for asanas. I bought it in the extra length- seventeen inches longer than a standard yoga mat, and two inches wider. No more flying off my mat trying to get into down dog! It is also 1/4″ thick, which makes a world of difference when you’re holding a difficult pose for minutes at a time.

Here is my Lulu mat laid over the Manduka:

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Big difference, literally, and it matters. Having more room on my mat gives me more room in my mind to focus on my practice and trust that when I’m moving around, the mat will be there when I need it to support me.

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Manduka also sent me a free yoga towel to try out- don’t mind if I do!

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It’s standard size, but it doesn’t matter too much since I don’t use it every time I practice. Since I had the mat and the towel, and it was about 100 degrees outside, I figured hot yoga was in order. I went for a quick (and sweaty!) hike, and then rolled out my mat for some sun salutations:

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soaked. The towel worked wonders, though, absorbing any and all moisture while providing great traction. I also tested both of them out in the studio last night, with similarly satisfying results. The Pro mat is huge, especially in a room full of standard mats, but I could care less. I am so sold. I also have one of Manduka’s travel mats coming my way, so I’m anxious to try that out. It’s super lightweight at around 2 pounds, so it’s a great on-the-go option. The Pro is perfect in every way, but it weighs SEVEN pounds, which is a lot for a mat. However, I have a great bag with a comfortable shoulder strap, I don’t have to lug it around too much, and I’m used to hauling two children around. I’m trying to think of it as a boost of strength training 😉

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Last bit of exciting news relating to health and wellness: we have a Barre3 opening in Newtown! They’re offering free classes all week, but the most exciting part is….THEY OFFER CHILDCARE!!!! I am so, so excited. I managed to get in on a few classes this week, so I’ll be sure to report back and review. I’m sure it’s going to be great. Newtown is turning into such a healthy and progressive little town. All we need now is a Lulu and a Trader Joe’s! 😀

I’m off to get some yoga in before the kids wake up, followed by lunch and a walk through Tyler- here’s hoping the weather holds up! It was brutal being stuck inside last week, I’m not sure I’m up for it again! 😡

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Namaste!