Monthly Archives: March 2011

Freestylin’

Tahoe: Take two. Last weekend we headed back to Northstar for the Oakley Progression Sessions. We would be joining about 50 other women, plus a few Olympic snowboarders and skiers, to progress our “skills” on the mountain. Seeing as how our “skills” were quite limited, we figured that this wouldn’t be such a difficult task. But little did we know, we’d actually be freestyle skiing, rather than just going down the slopes the same old fashioned way we’d finally (sort of) gotten used to. Ha!

The Progression Session is a two-day, on-snow camp for female riders who are looking to take their freestyle skills to the next level. Oakley sets up customized, private terrain parks in different locations (this year the Sessions were held at Loon Mountain, NH, Canyons, UT, Winter Park, CO and Northstar, Tahoe), complete with boxes, jumps, half-pipes, rails and moguls, so women can build skills without being intimidated by other people on the mountain. There are usually about 40 snowboarders and 10 skiers who are divided into groups based on skill level and what they wish to accomplish over the weekend. Each group is headed up by a professional snowboarder or skier who is there to teach a few of her favorite tricks. The coaches at our camp included Gretchen Bleiler, Dominique Vallee and Kristi Leskinen.

On day one we headed to the park with Kristi and learned how to slide down a box sideways on skis. Seriously. Who are we?!

Everyone gathered by the box. You feel like you've got the whole mountain to yourselves when you're in the terrain park, which is pretty incredible.

Our coach Kristi demos how to slide down the box (without hurting yourself:))

Everyone was so supportive and encouraged each other to grow as skiers and snowboarders. Whenever you did something positive, your teammates would click their ski poles together, as if giving you a powder-appropriate round of applause. While we were proud of our side slide down a box, a lot of the girls learned how to do 180s, jump through moguls and ride the half-pipe by weekend’s end. It was awesome to see people accomplish new goals in such a short period of time.

Off the mountain, there were yoga classes each morning, group lunches and apres-ski happy hours. You also got to design your own pair of Oakley goggles (sweet!) and received a cute gym bag filled with all kinds of fun stuff (a yoga mat, hat, gloves, sunglasses, etc.).

The Progression Sessions have ended for this season, but for $250 (includes two-day lift tickets, one-on-one sessions, discounted lodging, and everything else mentioned above), we might have to sign up for one next year. Plus, Oakley is also working on creating Progression Sessions for other sports, such as surfing and cycling, so stay tuned for more info on those.

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Natural Remedy

If you’ve ever been to the Gellert Baths in Budapest, you may have noticed that it’s not your typical spa crowd. That’s because, unlike spas in the states, which tend to cater to an elite crowd, the baths in Hungary are for everyone. In fact, many of the people who use them are there because their doctors have prescribed spa time. (Not a bad prescription, right?) The idea is that a lot of common ailments don’t necessarily need drugs. Sometimes something as simple as physical activity and good old-fashioned relaxing can do the trick.

Well, it looks like the same idea might finally be catching on in the U.S., thanks to a new program called Park Prescriptions. Launched by The Institute at the Golden Gate in Sausalito, CA, the program’s goal is to help tackle major health problems like obesity and diabetes by getting doctors to prescribe time in National Parks.

We love the thinking behind this. No diets, no weird surgeries, no scary pills—just plain old exercise in the great outdoors. One insurance company in California (SeeChange Health Insurance) has already started to reimburse patients for entry fees to 278 state parks. With any luck, more will jump on the bandwagon soon, and prescriptions to National Parks will become as common in the U.S. as prescriptions for spa time is in Hungary. Here’s hoping!

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One Track Mind

It’s official: We love the track. After years of running repeats on the treadmill at our gym (logic: we could set the pace and there wasn’t a super-safe alternative near our apartment), we’re sooooo happy to now have a solid track nearby (on 33rd & Powell, in Portland) that we can visit any time of day.

Nothing's better for 200- to 800-meter repeats than this guy

You will probably get bored running laps at the same pace for more than 20 minutes (or is that just us?), so if you’ve got a steady-paced run in your schedule, this is not your best bet. But if you’ve got some speedwork in your routine, head to the closest track and lap it out.

Need help finding one? Visit the Road Runners Club of America, search for track clubs in your area (or the area where you’ll be traveling), and then see if the local club’s site lists track locations. If not, email them for a few recommendations. Chances are, you’ll get some great feedback. You can also ask other runners for advice about where they go for repeats on MapMyRun.

At the track but not sure what to do now? Here are a few of our favorite lap-worthy workouts. These are designed to improve your cardio capacity, your speed and your overall running efficiency. Hint: each lap at a standard track is 400-meters.

  • 10- to 20-minute warm-up + 6 x 800m @5K pace, with 1.5-minute recovery between each + 10-minute cool-down
  • 10-minute warm-up + 1600m @10K pace, with 1-minute recovery between each + 10-minute cool-down
  • 10- to 20-minute warm-up + 1200m @goal race pace (GRP), 1000m @GRP, 800m @GRP, 600m @GRP and 400m @GRP, with 200m recovery between each + 10-minute cool-down
  • 10- to 20-minute warm-up + 10 x 400m @GRP, with 400m recovery between each + 10-minute cool-down

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A Super-Healthy Party Spread

When it comes to eating, parties are a lot like vacations. Even the healthiest among us suddenly become junk-food hounds, skipping right past the fruit platter to get to the fried chicken, reaching over the carrot sticks to get to the creamy cheese-y dip.

In the spirit of celebration, we’ve always just rolled with it—after all, a few greasy chicken wings aren’t going to kill you, right? But this weekend we were inspired by the spectacular baby shower Beth’s sister, Meaghan, threw for her. Taking inspiration from Beth’s pregnancy cravings (avocados and all things citrus), Meaghan, their mom, and a few friends put together a spread that was so delicious, no one even noticed it was also healthy. There was citrus-marinated shrimp, scrumptious guacamole, an incredible bean dip and a fruit salsa to go with blue-corn tortilla chips, and grilled chicken with fancy rice wrapped in banana leaves. Yum!

We thought about posting each and every recipe here but that seemed a little excessive, so we’re going with the shrimp. It’s crazy-simple to prepare, makes a perfect finger food for parties, and is super-versatile (we can’t wait to try it in salads, tacos, and on top of angel hair pasta).

Ok, so photographing food—particularly shrimp, for some reason—is tricky. This picture doesn't do this dish justice at all!

Citrus Marinated Shrimp Cocktail

1 cup orange juice

1 cup fresh lemon juice

¾ cup ketchup (go with an organic version—too many of the big-name brands have high-fructose corn syrup)

1/3 cup vodka

¼ tsp hot pepper sauce—a little more if you like an extra kick

¼ cup olive oil

1 ½ lbs cooked, peeled large shrimp

1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 ¾ cups) I used much less because the onion was so strong!

1 cup finely chopped cilantro

Combine juices, ketchup, vodka and hot pepper sauce in large bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Add shrimp, onion and cilantro and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 6 hours. Drain before serving.

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Filed under Food, Fun, Recipes

Happy Feet

It’s rare that you put shoes on your feet that are so insanely comfortable that you never want to take them off. But we just did. We recently became friends with the people over at Simple, and the other day they sent us a pair of their Flippee Microperf sandals to test out. Hellllooooo, happy feet! We seriously have not spent more than a few minutes without these cuties on since they arrived (inside the apartment anyway—it’s still too cold out for flip flops. Sigh.). In fact, we got back from an 18-mile run a little while ago, and all we could think about was kicking off our sneaks, and slipping on our sandals.

Meet the Flippee, our new favorite flops

You know those egg crate foam mattresses that you can buy to make your back feel better in bed? Well, the green microperf on these shoes serves the same purpose, but for your feet. The soft divots create a massage-like effect that we can’t get enough of. We also love that, like all Simple shoes, the Flippee is made in a very environmentally friendly fashion. The totally vegan flop has a biodegradable, recycled and natural rubber outsole, an eco-approved EVA foam midsole, a water- (rather than petroleum) based construction and divots made from post-consumer recycled paper.

Smart Traveler Bonus: These are super light, so you can toss ’em in your bag and get immediate post-workout relief (or work relief or traveling relief) from the bottom, up, no matter where you are.

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Denali Dreams

One of the many things we love about living in the Pacific Northwest is easy access to so many amazingly beautiful spots. We’ve been taking full advantage of this in the past few months, with trips to Park City, Lake Tahoe, and Hawaii—just to name a few. One of the biggies on our list is Alaska. We’ve wanted to go for years, but it always seemed worlds away from New York. Now that we’re at least in the general vicinity, a visit is starting to feel a little less like a pipe dream and more like something that could actually happen in the next couple of years.

As of today, we know exactly what we want to do when, one day, we actually make it to Alaska: Hike Denali National Park. The park was already on our list of must-sees, and yes, we would have done some hiking on our own. But we just learned about three new guided hikes through the park offered by Denali Park Resorts, and they sound a whole lot cooler than anything we would have picked out of a guide book. A quick run-down of the new offerings:

  • Triple Lakes Trail, 4-miler: As you climb up the gradual but consistent slope, you get incredible views of the Nenana River and the Yanert Valley, carved out by a glacier. On the way down, you pass three alpine lakes—at which point the name of the hike makes perfect sense.
  • Triple Lakes Trail, 7.7-miler: If the 4-miler doesn’t sound challenging enough for you, try this one. It takes you onto a newly opened trail that passes through boreal forest and past those three alpine lakes. Keep your eyes out for bears and moose—wildlife sightings are par for the course here.
  • Sugarloaf Summit Adventure hike: Looking for something even tougher? This hike takes you along one of the steepest trails in the area (we’re talking a 1,600-foot vertical ascent) to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. In addition to the views of Denali, you’re likely to see at least a few Dall Sheep—they make their home up there above the treeline.

We love that these hikes give you not only an amazing way to experience the park, but also a serious workout at the same time. All three hikes are intended for experienced hikers, so if it’s been a while since you laced up those hiking boots, you might want to work in a few (or a bunch of) training treks before you sign up. See you on the trails!

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Boot it!

Tonight we got our butts kicked. Our friend Jennifer has been promoting her fabulous boot camp-style gym for months now, and we finally stepped inside, only to get our butts kicked. And our arms, and our legs, and our abs. And you know what? It felt good. Sometimes all you need is a total sweat-fest to improve your mood, boost your energy and spark some much-needed motivation. We’re also pretty sure that we burned a bunch of calories, which always makes you feel better about the world.

The first class at Fulcrum Fitness is free, and since we’d never been before, we opted to sign up for the Fundamentals class, which sets the scene for beginners. As in all of Fulcrum’s boot camp classes, this one is set up with a dynamic warm-up to start, a classic strength session, a cardio/strength conditioning session, and then a yoga-inspired stretch at the end. Each section is organized like a circuit, so you keep moving from one move to the next until time is up. We did walking planks, lunges with biceps curls, burpees with push-ups and rows and hopping pull-ups. We also got to play with kettlebells. We love those ‘lil guys, but we swung our hearts out, and now we’re tired, with no doubt that we’ll be sleeping well this evening.

So if you’re traveling somewhere and looking for similar, butt-kicking, sleep-inducing results, check out Adventure Boot Camps and see if any classes are offered near you. Or seek out a sports conditioning-style group fitness workout at a local gym. Either way, your body and mind will thank you.

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Filed under Gyms, Travel, Workouts