Spacing Out

headspace_meditation_app_image2Being the kind of person who’s often on the go, mind a-buzz with things that must get done, scrolling through my phone as I wait for the subway, or wait for anything, I realize that I’m not so good at stillness. Listening to this recent NPR piece about how our minds need time to be bored and wander, I was reminded once again that in order to keep myself from spacing out when I need to be focused, I can space out on purpose with Headspace.

I’ve been using Headspace for about 6 months (both the app and website), and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that with just 10-20 minutes of guided meditation, I can feel a huge difference in my anxiety levels and focus.

andy headspaceFounded by the British former Buddhist monk, Andy Puddicombe, Headspace takes the new-agey, hard-to-grasp idea of “Meditation” with a capital M to a more accessible, tech-friendly, everyday place. Andy uses simple, bubbly cartoon videos to illustrate metaphors for how to shift our attention. For example, in one he compares our thoughts to traffic on the road and suggests that rather than chase after the cars or ride along with them, we could sit on the side of the road and watch them. These metaphors along with his no-pressure approach and soothing voice help ease the listener to shift perspective. Almost like magic some space is created between our attention and our thoughts: headspace!

I try to get some headspace everyday, but it actually happens 2-3 days a week, and on those days that I can’t make it to a class, I try to spend some extra time with my Headspace app. There are even some exercises you can do while commuting (not driving!), walking, running, or eating. There are also 3-minute S.O.S meditations that are perfect for when you’re about to blow your top. As I get older, and especially as a parent with less and less time to myself, I am embracing the chances I get to space out, to exercise my mind as well as my body.

headspace get some

Checkin’-in: 10 days out of 100

I’m ten days into my 100 days of classes.

The good news: I’ve lost 3 pounds! (Wasn’t even my main goal.) I’m also sleeping better (according to my FitBit I’m averaging 8 hours a night). I feel more energetic and happy. It’s sometimes hard to squeeze in the classes, but mostly I find that I’m using my time more efficiently. That said, I think it’s a pace that I won’t be able to continue after the intial 100 days.

The bad news: I have shin splints. I’m not sure how I got them, but probably it was sprinting in my EVF 360 class because I’m not that used to running fast. Then again, it could be a lot of walking around in my snow boots. Either way, they hurt like an explicative. I’m icing my shin as I write. And from what I can see on-line, there’s not much I can do except avoid running for a while. No Barry’s Bootcamp next week.

Here’s a list of the classes I’ve taken so far (almost all through Class Pass) with a quick overview of my thoughts:

1. Cyc Fitness Indoor Cycling Class with Lauren, non-ClassPass price: $25

Located at the Astor Place David Barton Gym, this was my favorite of all the cycling classes I’ve tried so far. It was a thorough workout, fun music, awesome space, and nice amenities.

2. Gyrotonics at the Living Room SoHo with Paula, non-ClassPass price: $35

Meh. Too much strange equipment for my liking, but probably great for people with injuries, or a day when you feel the need to work on your posture.

3. Barry’s Bootcamp Abs, Chest and Back with Alycia, non-ClassPass price: $34

Not for beginners, this is a super intense workout that includes both cardio and strength. They push you hard, and the instructors do very little explaining, correcting or coddling, and the classes are big. But the space and the music are great; the workout feels very efficient. (Just go at your own pace!)

4. Exhale Spa Power Yoga with Lauren, non-ClassPass price: $26

Very solid yoga class with a fun, engaging instructor. Super posh place. I’d go back, but so far my favorite yoga place in NYC is Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness.

5. Harlem Yoga Studio Family Yoga with Rena, non-ClassPass price: $5 w/coupon for 1st class, then $14

Fun kids class; clean inviting space. I’m going back this Sunday to do adult yoga and paying for my son to go to the drop-off kids yoga.

6. RIP Ride at Revolve with Jonathan, non-ClassPass price: $29 

Basic ride with good music and clip-in shoes ($2 rental). I liked that there were 2 upper body segments and the ride was a full hour. Otherwise, it wasn’t as impressive as places like Peloton, FlyWheel, Monster, and Cyc.

7. EVF 360 at EVF Performance with Farouk, non-ClassPass price: $20 first visit, then $35.

I really love this gym, or box as the regulars probably call it since they do a lot of Cross-Fit. Very positive vibe and personal feeling. The workouts feel intense, efficient, but also safe. One of my all time favs.

8. Headspace On-line Meditation with Andy, price: Free for 10 minute meditations, $8-12/month

I cannot say enough wonderful things about this site. I have wanted to throw my iPod out the window during guided meditations I’ve tried in the past, but this one is phenomenal. I have learned to still my mind and be in the moment for up to 20 minutes at a time so far. One day I will write a full post about this.

9. Flow at Yoga Vida with Zander, non-ClassPass price: $18 (30% discount for students, teachers and seniors)

Faster paced than many open level classes I’ve experienced. I’d say it’s definitely not for beginners. In all fairness though, I was very distracted by the teacher (see post) and my own thoughts during this class. Very nice studio space.

10. Core Fusion Barre at Exhale Spa with Kevin (on UES), non-ClassPass price: $38

I plan to do more research on these Barre classes. It was definitely hard, but very different than high-intensity workouts like EVF or Barry’s Bootcamp that are designed to efficiently burn fat and grow muscle. This class felt more like Jane Fonda meets ballet and Pilates. There was a burn, but not a lot of sweat. I’m not sold on the method, but I enjoyed showering there, using the sauna, and wearing the complimentary robe and flip-flops even though I was surrounded by Uptown Abbey blue-bloods dabbing their dewey faces with handkerchiefs.

Tonight I’m icing my shins because tomorrow I’m trying out Row-House! And stay-tuned, because I hope to give this blog a bit of a face-lift over the weekend.

Confessions of a Class Skipper Part 2: Down the Rabbit Hole

An update on the class skipping situation:

As I mentioned in my first Class Skipping post, I’ve missed some ClassPass classes, and I’ve lied about it. When you log back into ClassPass after a scheduled class, a window pops up asking you to rate the class out of 5 starts or click that you missed the class. After lying twice to avoid the $20 penalty fee, I finally fessed up and clicked on the “I missed class” button just to see what would happen.

At first, nothing, but last night I got an e-mail from ClassPass that said:

Hi Karla,

According to our records, you missed the following class:

FlowCycle at FlowCycle on 01/08/2015 at 9:15 AM

This missed class is subject to a $20 late cancel fee.

As a reminder, all reservations must be canceled at least 24 hours before the class time. Reservations may be canceled directly in your ClassPass account or by emailing info@classpass.com.

We appreciate your help in canceling all future reservations before the 24 hour cut off. Doing so makes our class providers happy and gives fellow ClassPass users a chance to book the spot!

Thanks.
The ClassPass Team

p.s. We know that technology is not always perfect! If you did attend this class, please email us back to let us know and we will follow up with FlowCycle.

So I got my first $20 penalty. Now it’s up to me and my conscience as to how to deal with any future slip-ups.

Today, I missed another class, but this time I really did try to go. I genuinely couldn’t find it. Instead I found myself down the rabbit hole in one of those where-the-hell-am-I-? moments that NYC likes to throw at you every so often. These moments always seem to include a receptionist or bouncer that serves as a portal protector between you and the secret world you are entering. I was at Stepping Out Studios (“home to world champions, celebrities and you”) in search of a class called BoCo Power 45. This particular receptionist had a thick Russian accent. With a vague nod of her head, she said something about Studio C. I didn’t see any sign marked Studio C, so I went to the bathroom (located inside a studio in which several leotard-clad cabaret dancers were shimmying all over, under, and around their chairs). After changing, and watching a class of clearly professional level dancers plié en masse wearing only lacy bras and black pantyhose in the only other studio I saw, I tried again to ask where Studio C was.

“Tru dere. Second door to da right.”

Hmmm, back through the chair-dancing room, I found another door. Inside this one were heavily made-up women and men in suit vests rehearsing the tango next to a grand piano. That didn’t seem quite right either. Just before they stopped to stare at me, I slipped out and chickened out, finding my way back to the elevator.

Body Conceptions is a method founded by Mahri Relin, a former modern dancer and theater performer who was the Creative Director of FlyWheel’s Fly Barre. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect of the class because the description was vague: “Body Conceptions is a full-body lengthening and sculpting method that combines the principles of dynamic movement and muscle exhaustion.” I imagined a bit of dancing though considering the founder and that it’s located in a dance studio. I thought it would be a nice compliment to the EVF 360 class that I went back to yesterday (and was happy to have Farouk again as my trainer there!).

I promise to go back to BoCo and try again, but for today, I’m taking an on-line meditation class through Headspace instead. Hopefully that will help me work up the courage to open up more mysterious dance studio doors.