Last year I set my mind to accomplish some majorly ambitious goals.
After 2012’s challenging year — in which I ran my first half marathon, got engaged, and overcame depression — I set out to tackle 2013 with intensity and daring. I had plans to run my first marathon, clock 500 miles in a year, and expand my horizons through travel, books and movies.
However, I fell short of some of my milestones. I ran 480 miles out of a planned 500, watched 64 new movies out of 100, and came within shouting distance of my 5k goal (but again, didn’t hit it).
But I’m not upset in the least.
In terms of fitness this year, I worked harder, ran further, biked faster and trained smarter than I ever had before. Without trying to brag, I’m happy that managed to complete fourteen official races, hit several PRs, overcame an injury that sidelined me for most of the summer, and eventually crossed the finish line of my first marathon.
As the year came to a close, I realized that I needed to make peace with myself and my limitations. And I need to restore some balance.
Running is a magnificent activity, but over-reaching and over-training takes the fun out of it. At the end of the year, I could have easily reached my mileage goal but also wanted to branch out; that meant swapping a long run for a spin class with friends, or taking time to enjoy yoga again.
I needed a reminder to be kind to my body and my self, and accept that it’s ok to grow as quickly or gradually as I want.
So here’s what I have planned for this upcoming year. Goals, not resolutions. Progress, not perfection.
- Clock more miles than I did last year. That means 480+ miles of running and 250+ of biking.
- Spend a full year adhering to Mark Bittman’s “Vegan Before 6" philosophy.
- Officially PR my half marathon (reach goal: get in under 2 hours)
- Improve my design and marketing skills by practicing and taking an online course or two
- Giving another try to watching 100 new-to-me movies
- Give back to my community.
- Be more kind to myself. Stop being so critical or self-doubting.
- Be a good wife. Every day forever.
What are your goals? How are they coming along so far?
“My favorite way to spend a night is making a quick dinner, heading out for a sunset run through the city, and then straight home for a yoga session to cool down and relax before cuddling on the couch. That’s my OM: trying hard not to worry about work or chores, and just focusing on what makes my body sweat, stretch, bend and balance. And being appreciative of our home environment where I can do that.”
When my then-boyfriend lived in Queen Village, I would attend spinning classes at Sweat Fitness with friends on Saturday mornings. It’s quite a peculiar building, inside the bones of a former parking garage. I loved walking up the sharp, slick incline to get to the upstairs level, where rows of treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals face the front window (pictured above).
That same level holds a spinning room, bathrooms, a small massage parlor and an overlook to the downstairs weight room. In the first floor, you have free weights, areas for stretching and a group room for yoga instruction and other classes.
I enjoyed popping in at the QV location for classes, occasionally a session on the treadmill or elliptical. The gym has offered Groupons with great frequency over the past year and a half, so I bought one. The first time was no problem — I was able to purchase 10 gym passes, for use in any of their many locations.
One of the benefits is that there’s always a location nearby in the city, and your membership is valid at either one. I sampled Northern Liberties, and recently Old City, where I discovered the great disparity in quality depending on where you go. Northern Liberties location is small, dingy and feels a bit dirty; machines are older and the classes are few and far between. Old City has newer, cleaner equipment and facilities, with a bright and friendly staff. Queen Village is somewhere in between those two.
Above: Old City
For months, I kept seeing early morning foursquare check-ins to this place. “I’m at Fusion. Heart. Muscle. Mind.” it would say, taunting me as I struggled to crawl out of bed. Somewhere in the Gayborhood**, a horde of ambitiously fit people were already mounting stationary bikes or warming up the incline on their treadmills before I’d even managed to take off my pajama pants.
I’ve been to half a dozen classes at this studio at 12th and Sansom, which recently rebranded as Unite Fitness. Founded by (total hottie) Gavin McKay, the studio touts its philosophy of exercising the heart, muscles and mind, embracing a comprehensive fitness regimen that focuses on cardio intervals, functional strength training and yoga stretches all in one 75-minute class.
Positive messaging is all part of the brand, with additional coaching available in the form of nutrition info, personal coaching and even an intense multi-week boot camp. The classes here help motivate me during summer training, forcing me to push myself as hard as I could at each interval segment.
This week on Navel Gazing, I’m going to highlight several gyms and studios in Philadelphia and whether they’re worth your time.
We’ve all been there: a few weeks of a fitness regimen and suddenly you’re starting to get bored with the same old running routes or playing the same Zumba dvd over and over. What I’ve learned is that mixing it up is important, for your brain and your body. Using different muscle groups makes you stronger and more toned overall, while exercising your brain in different ways can lead to paths you never expected.
Maybe you’re a secret burlesque star and would never know until halfway through a dance class. Or perhaps a trip to a rock climbing gym will unlock hidden Spider-Man talents as you scale the walls with ease. You never know.
That’s why I tried out a bunch of classes and methods for you. From cheerleader-esque cardio fitness to an intimate dance class, I’ve been pretty busy lately. Every day this week will have dispatches from recent experiences, with info on expenses, cleanliness and “sore factor.”
P.S. If you own a gym and want me to check it out, or if you have suggestions for where I should sample next, let me know!!