CLASS PASS SERIES: Megaformer Pilates…A Lesson In Discipline For Me!

Ever since I can remember, exercise for me has been about large movements. Long runs, steep hills, intense stair climbs…if it was intense, I was doing it. Of course, this meant with time, I was always overdoing it, always tired and almost always in pain.

On one of my many beach runs I had parked by this adorable workout studio tucked into the Marina. I saw a super fit instructor yelling at a group of people in a pink room full of contraptions that honestly, before I knew what they were, looked like medieval torture devices used to stretch people to death. I kept hearing people talk about how great the workout was, and when a deal came up to try a few classes, I decided to jump onboard. I cannot even begin to tell you how much that decision changed the way I look at fitness forever.

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So a little more about this place…The Studio MDR is a boutique Pilates studio with two locations. One is in Marina Del Rey a few short blocks from the water on Washington Boulevard. The second one is on the other side of Lincoln going east on Washington and is considered in Culver City.

The outside of the studio is wall to wall window, with the logo imprinted over the building, so it is not too difficult to find. The inside of the studio…what can I say? It is adorable! It is very girly and unique, filled with the latest in trendy workout gear, water bottles and toe socks (socks you wear when using the Pilates reformers). The room is saturated in bright pink, white and silver hues. They keep it super clean and smelling fresh, which is a definite bonus. The staff are very friendly and attentive. The music is always great…upbeat and fun.

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So you see, this Pilates class is not exactly traditional. This machine is what we call a Megaformer. Basically, that is a 10 foot long, 250 pound Pilates machine on steroids. So if you think Pilates classes are easy, this class will make you and ANYONE you know, think again. The workout targets many different smaller muscles from various angles. It is designed to develop core strength and muscular endurance, burning calories and working smaller muscles to fatigue with higher repetitions. Each movement lasts about 60 seconds and there are typically close to 60 movements in a class. This is a high energy class atmosphere so prepare to work and feel the burn…for days after…SERIOUSLY!!

I would recommend this workout only to people with at least a baseline level of fitness. I don’t think a fitness newbie would be quite ready for this. I would say to start out with a regular Pilates class with the regular machines first a few times.

I now see how a slower, small muscle focused workout can produce even greater results than some of the longer, faster more intense workouts. I still get very sweaty and out of breath taking this class, but don’t experience the joint and muscle pain I often do from long runs. It is a great way to switch it up and get different physical and mental results.

There is a bathroom and water fountain, but no showers. There is metered parking in front and free street parking all along Glencoe, just be sure to read the signs!

 

THE STUDIO MDR EAST

13357 W. Washington Boulevard

Venice, CA 90066

 

CLASS PASS SERIES: Cycle And Pilates In ONE Class? Why Not?

Hey there friends,

Sorry it has been awhile. I have been a little torn on whether or not to write as much here on my website, because I find more people checking out my Instagram and paying attention to pictures over the writing here…however, I do enjoy writing and perhaps it would be good to keep a balance here…right?

So I joined this crazy phenomenon known as Class Pass last month. For those of you who don’t know, Class Pass is a HUGE network of fitness studios across the country that offer their classes on an all access pass to anyone who is willing to pay 99 dollars a month for the membership. I had been hesitant, because I have my specific things I enjoy doing. However, more recently I found myself with a little more free time and a little more desire to try some of the more expensive workout programs around town. When I realized I could access these classes with Class Pass, I decided I would give it a shot for a month. Needless to say…I am hooked. I suppose if I had a rigid schedule, this sort of thing would NOT work for me, but I don’t and it does.

Anyhow, I have tried a variety of really cool classes and it would probably be helpful to the readers of my blog to hear a little more detail about some of these classes. Who knows, some of you might decide to try the pass yourselves!

This morning I took a gamble. I didn’t leave myself enough time to book one of the more popular classes I had thought about taking, so I saw there was a studio not super far from me called Elevate LA. They had a 9am class called Reform and Ride. 20 minutes on the Pilates reformer and 30 minutes on a spin bike. Sounds kinda cool, right? So I decided to book it.

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I got there in plenty of time, on a Sunday, heading down Washington Boulevard at 830am towards the ocean, you are pretty much in the clear. The studio is right off of Washington and Centinela…but make sure you note the building number. The area is known for multiple incognito buildings that look like nothing is in them…and this is one of them!

Inside, however, is another story. This boutique studio is brand new, only about 3 weeks old. The studio is clean with all new equipment and super organized. They have spin shoes for you if you do not own your own. The instructors are very friendly and are happy to help you get your bike and reformer set up before class starts.

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My class started with the pilates segment. I do think the class could be one hour instead of 50 minutes as to accommodate 30 minutes of pilates and 30 minutes of cycle, but that is the only thing I would change. The pilates moves we did were quick and tough and the cycle segment, taught by a different instructor, was fast pace, involving lots of sprints and jumps on the bike. Needless to say, I was sweating when the workout commenced.

Also noted…ample free parking in the back of the building. This may not matter on a Sunday, but during the week, it would be a must!!

STUDIO ELEVATE LA

12462 W. Washington Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90066

 

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken…Mexican Style!

It was really cold in Los Angeles yesterday (hey, it was in the low 50s and raining…we don’t get that a lot here!) and I was in the mood for some comfort food, as I often am when its grey out, and decided it was time to pull out the crock pot. I love the crock pot because it makes whatever I cook in it (chicken, usually) very tender and flavorful and the whole apartment smells like whatever I am cooking. I tend to use the same go-to crock pot chicken recipe. I buy a kosher organic whole roaster chicken, rub it in some spices, put a few garlic cloves in it and stick it in the crock pot with some chicken broth and some sliced up sweet potatoes, carrots and onions. While this comes out great, I really wanted to try something different.

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When I was home visiting my parents in Novato this past month, my dad and I went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch in Healdsburg. This was a very innovative, haute cuisine type place called Mateo’s Cocina Latina. One of the menu items my dad ordered as an appetizer was called sikil p’ak. At first I was a little miffed because I was hoping for the traditional and beloved chips and guacamole, but out came this creamy rich dip made of ground raw pumpkin seeds, tomatoes and spices and I was hooked.

You are probably wondering why I am bringing up that moment at lunch with my dad…well, I decided to try to re-create this “pumpkin seed salsa” as a dressing for my crock pot chicken. It turned out pretty great. I don’t recommend making this dip unless you have a food processor or a really great blender, because it is best that those pumpkin seeds are finely ground for the sauce, or else it will be too clumpy.

FUN FACT- Pumpkin seeds. They are super high in fiber (if you eat them whole, of course), protein (9 grams per ounce), iron and are also a great source of magnesium, which is a key player in energy metabolism and goes hand in hand with our friend calcium. 1/2 a cup of pumpkin seeds will provide you with around 48% of your daily magnesium needs.

Once your dish is cooked you can add anything you like to top it off. I used a cilantro based salsa and slivered green onions. You could also do pico de gallo or sliced avocado, but I like the tang the salsa gives in contrast with the more rich, nutty pumpkin seed flavor.

One other thing is that I made a fairly large batch of this recipe, because I will eat the chicken for lunch all week with either black beans or red quinoa (I also made a large batch of that and stored it in tupperware). Feel free to halve it if its just for you, or just for two people for one meal.

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken, Mexican Style!

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seasoning
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Juice of two freshly squeezed lemons
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
6 boneless skinless organic chicken breasts
Finely chopped green onion, for garnish
Salsa, optional

Directions

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until they are popping. Transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and grind. Add the cumin seasoning and set aside.

This is what ground up pumpkin seeds and cumin looks like.

This is what ground up pumpkin seeds and cumin looks like.

In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, peppercorns, oregano, salt, cinnamon, and cilantro. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer contents of the pan to a food processor or high powered blender. Add the lemon zest and juice, chicken stock, and reserved pumpkin and cumin mixture. Process until smooth.

The sauce before going through the blender! Fresh ingredients are beautiful, aren’t they?

Arrange the chicken evenly over the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork. When ready to serve, garnish with any extra cilantro, green onion, lemon zest, and salsa, if you wish.

ENJOY!

Zucchini “Pasta” With Roasted Cauliflower, Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

I recently saw a recipe in a magazine for pasta with roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower. It looked amazing, but lately I have been on a kick of NOT eating pasta. Why is this, you ask? I am NOT gluten-free, trust me. Last week I went to visit my parents in Northern California and consumed embarrassing amounts of San Francisco sourdough bread. I LOVE that bread. For me, I will eat gluten based products if it is something I LOVE. If it is something I don’t really care about, I will forgo it. I feel this way about pasta. If you can’t live without your pasta, feel free to use it in this dish, but try to use a small amount if you can. There are so many other things out there that can be used in place of pasta, especially since I discovered spaghetti squash…and then the spiralizer! Now I feel like every week I buy a few squashes and zucchinis, so I never feel the need for pasta. Okay….rant over!

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So this recipe is combining two of my favorite vegetable cooking options, spiralizing and roasting. If you don’t own a spiralizer, I do recommend purchasing one, it is extremely worth your while. They sell them at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Amazon and various other places. There is the Veggetti and the GEFU, which is the one I own. Both are hand held. There are also fancier ones, but either of those two are really all you need. The recipe below will make about 2 hefty servings, but if you want more just add more vegetables. I made this today and have enough for at least 2 more meals.

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Zucchini “Pasta” With Roasted Cauliflower, Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

2 medium size zucchini squash

5-6 garlic cloves (depends how much you like garlic!)

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into pieces

5-6 large Brussels sprouts, chopped in halves

1-2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp. lemon pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 lemon, squeezed

Directions

First, heat oven to about 450F.

Line a baking pan with foil.

Chop the carrots, brussels sprouts and cauliflower and place them on the baking pan. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and half the lemon pepper, sea salt and cumin servings. The amounts I suggest above are estimates, you can use more spices if you would like…go ahead and get creative! Put all of that in the oven for 20 minutes.

While that is in the oven, use your spiralizer and spiralize the zucchini. Chop the garlic and place the spiralized zucchini and garlic in a saute pan with the other tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of the one lemon. This is where you will add the other half of the spices- the lemon, pepper, cumin and sea salt. Saute this for about 3 minutes, then let it sit until the roasted veggies are done.

Once the roasted veggies are done, combine the two in the saute pan, stir around and add some fresh Parmesan or feta cheese if you like. I added Parmesan and it was delicious!