Monday, February 27, 2012

Check Your Ego at the Door

So...continuing on my quest of trying new things/workouts, Saturday I took my first step aerobics class. After a solid core workout and some swimming strength exercises I still had some time to kill before spin class began and figured I'd give it a try.  Before this class my only experience with a steps had been during some circuit training at a Planet Fitness in Texas, the basic moves of the Wii Fit, and those brutal days when my old elevator broke forcing me to trek up 4 stories.  

A quick glance around the room and a scan of the sweatsuit-clad instructor gave me the confidence that this class wouldn’t be a problem.  Surely I was as fit as or fitter than anyone else in the room; how hard could this be?  It turns out that “stepping” is pretty damn hard.  The difficulty for me came not from the physical exertion (although I’ll admit that by the end my legs did start to tire) but instead from the coordinated moves and the abbreviated commands being shouted at me.  

"B1, B1, Turn Right, Turn Left” Ok, I got this.  “V1, V2” Still with it.  “Turn step, U-Turn, Around the World” Now you lost me. 

Throughout the class I kept a close eye on the seasoned step-veterans.  Watching their feet, I attempted to mimic their steps, even throwing in an occasional arm movement to complete the rhythmic action.  While the class didn’t test my cardio (my breathing was hardly affected), I did break a good sweat and there’s no doubt it was a great leg workout.  Especially given that I donned my Vibram Fivefingers.  The class really worked my balance and stability and engaged many seldom used small muscles. I’m going to try to keep incorporating these kinds of workouts into my regimen to challenge my body and not let it get used to only doing specific actions (swimming, running, and biking).  Post-step I rode through a spin class; it was my first time in a stadium-saddled spin room which was sort of cool.  The instructor was great and I had a nice ride.  

All said, Saturday morning was filled with a good set of workouts.  I could definitely feel it in my legs throughout the day and woke up with some solid calf soreness the following morning.  Despite the aches, Sunday morning I had a beautiful accompanied run on the boardwalk in Long Beach.  I hadn’t run there before and it was a nice change to have such a relaxing run (without the constant worry of cars getting in my path).  Overlooking the flat, pristine beach, with the waves crashing against the sand, the scenery reminded me of my former home, but the typical runner’s attire and brisk cold wind made sure I knew that I’m not in Miami anymore.

A post run breakfast fueled me for the day and I spent the afternoon getting reacquainted with the routes at a nearby indoor climbing gym.  It was my second time back on the rope after a long layoff (my wife and I used to climb about 2-3 days a week) and it felt good to be back.  I’m nowhere near the climber I used to be, but even on tired legs I climbed decently.  My climbing partner was a newbie climber; it was fun to teach belaying and some basic climbing skills.  She did great as both climber and belayer.  Of course there was that first climb when I looked down from the wall to see a staffer running over to help her refine her “hand-braking” technique. 

Overall, it was a great weekend: lots of exercise, the Islanders vs. Rangers hockey game, a show in NYC with my folks and my cousin, a couple of nice meals, and a relaxing evening with a couple of beers. The wife and I polished the weekend off with one of the finest meals I’ve cooked in a long time and I baked one of the best Challah breads to come out of my oven.  Dinner was a Chinese-spiced pork tenderloin with onions and leeks served over a sunchoke puree with roasted fingerling potatoes.  The entire dish was inspired by the sunchokes which I found at the Union Square Farmers’ Market.  I should have taken a picture of the carefully arranged plates because it truly tasted as good as it looked.  As for the Challah, I made the dough in the bread machine, then braided it, let it rise again, and brushed it with egg before baking.  It came out beautiful, looking as good as one secured from a good bakery, and tasting just as sweet and eggy, with a perfect airy texture.   

Bon app├ętit. 

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