Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

After spending all of this past Saturday morning scrambling to rent an apartment, my best friend and I decided to indulge in some home-furnishings window shopping. That’s when we discovered New York’s best-kept stress-relief secret:

Take the train to Lincoln Center’s Bed Bath and Beyond.

Ride the escalator down to the lowest level, and in front of you you’ll find three chairs with Homedic Massaging Cushions.

Air conditioning. Heated massage. FREE.

I recommend the one on the left. Press the demo button. Trust me,  it will be an effort to keep yourself from getting that “oh, oh, oh” face, a la When Harry Met Sally‘s “I’ll have what she’s having” scene.

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Nothing makes me happier than trading in the elliptical and stationary bike for my real bicycle. However, every year p1010240I need a refresher on how to best take advantage of my workouts in the great outdoors. Cycling is a great way to stay in shape because it is low-impact, high-fun, and requires a high level of physical fitness. On an average bike ride, I can easily burn 600 calories, depending on the number of hills and intervals in my bike ride. Contrary to popular belief, I find that cycling tones my legs rather than bulks them up, which I love. In order to refresh my mind on the rules of the road and the best way to gear up for a new bike season, I asked my friend, Scott, a cyclist on the MetLife pro-am team, to help me out.

CLOTHING: As a recreational cyclist, don’t feel like you have to go out and buy the fanciest gear. As long as you follow a few simple, common sense rules, you should be fine. For bottoms, choose something that fits snugly to your ankles or shorts. Spandex works well. I have a pair of padded shorts that I like to wear because I find them much more comfortable on a bumpy, long ride. On top, regular tee-shirts or long-sleeve shirts are fine, as long they’re breathable. Tank tops are less preferable because they provide less protection in case of a crash!

GEAR: This is always my question: what do I bring with me? I find that I always need a zillion things before going out on a ride, but I don’t want to weigh myself down. Stick with the essentials. You will definitely need a water bottle, and depending on the length of the ride, a light snack. I have a bike with clip-in pedals, so I wear cycling-specific shoes in order to get the most out of each rotation. Always bring your cell phone, a multitool, and maybe a portable bike pump in case of emergencies. If you’re cycling at night, wear reflective clothing and you might want to invest in front and rear blinking lights (red in the rear, white in the front).

ROAD SAFETY: Read this part carefully in order to avoid angry gestures – or worse! Cyclists should basically follow the same rules as drivers. You bike with traffic and must obey traffic signs and signals. Be sure to assert your space, especially around cabs, because you have just as much a right to be on the road as they do. Act confidently, even if you’re feeling nervous, and make eye contact with other riders and drivers to make sure they’re aware of you. Be aware that the bike lane isn’t always reserved to bicycles (although it should be). Also important: don’t ride too close to parked cars, lest you get “doored” (which is just as painful as it sounds). For more information, check out the Bicycle Habitat website.

HAND SIGNALS: Important for riding in traffic. Remember to always use your left arm.

                                   LEFT                 RIGHT                 STOP


MY MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Remember how far you’ve ridden away from your starting point; you’re going to have to bike back!

For more information on biking in New York City, check out the New York Cycling Club and Bike New York!

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Dreading the upcoming family ski trip? While the prospect of spending days with mom, dad and your littlerace1 brother on runs like EZ Street and Beginners’ Way may seem a bit dull, the Columbia Ski and Snowboard Racing Team has come up with a few tips to help you find fun on the groomers (after all, we’re mostly confined to icy/rainy east-coast skiing, so finding fun in less-than-ideal conditions is our modus operandi). You might even burn a few calories, too.

1. Skiers: learn to race carve.

What seperates you from Bode Miller? He’s edging more (and he’s 6’5). Rather than skidding through turns, try putting more and more pressure on your downhill leg/shin to feel the edge of the ski carve through your turns without breaking its grip on the snow. Once you’re comfortable with this and begin to get a feeling for the natural arc of your ski’s turn, try getting a little more speed and work on moving your body out farther from your skis as you turn. Once you’re making 60 degree angles with your body through turns, groomers with the family become decidedly more fun.

2. Find excuses to go fast.

The Chinese Downhill is one of the most sacred events in ski and snowboard racing. What’s more, anyone can do it. Round up a posse of friends, family, ski school bandits – whoever.  Start from the highest point on a run, and first one to the bottom wins. The only rule is, there are no rules – anything goes (though true Chinese Downhillers might opt for a helmet first). Event popularized by the 1980s ski/amateur porn film Hot Dog.

3. Discover new ways to go downhill.

Whether it’s strapping into your sister’s snowboard in ski boots and going for a run, or going without skis/a board at all – there’s always a new and challenging way to make it down the mountain. You don’t need to waste money on exotic rental items like ski bikes or teleboards to amuse yourself (and onlookers).

4. Ski/ride harder

If you don’t end your day tired, you’re not working enough. It’s easy to think that a sport that relies primarily on gravity, ice and metal blades doesn’t involve much work – but you don’t have to take it easy! Intense race carving, and even just tucking down runs, can burn hundreds of calories per hour.

So, while a week in the mountains with your family might not seem ideal at first glance, you CAN make it more fun than your friends’ boring trip to DR. Alternatively, you’re invited to join the 114 members of Columbia Ski and Ride next year for another epic season – because while 1020 and the Heights get old, waking up to fresh tracks with Columbia Ski and Ride never does.

-Raph Graybill and Francesca Overwater, Co-Captains

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naked-yoga-pictureAs a disclaimer, I should admit that I am super confident-borderlining-cocky when it comes to my appearance.  Sure, I have my blah days when I feel like Mr. Snuffleupagus’ unattractive cousin (come on, don’t act like you didn’t watch Sesame Street religiously).  Most days though, I love the way I look.  Curves, extra inches, stretches of cellulite – I still think I’m smokin’.  Perhaps due to this, I’m fond of workouts that are body-conscious and fun.  Latin dancing, striptease aerobics, hula-hooping – count me in!  That’s why naked yoga in the city naturally seems like the next step.  Offered on Monday evenings from 7-8:30pm, Naked Yoga mixes groups of beginning and advanced level participants to enjoy basic hatha yoga moves.  After reading several reviews, I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the yoga-goers did not come across as exhibitionist at all.  Instead, they maintained the opinion that naked yoga isn’t simply about being naked;  it’s about being confident with your natural body and being open with yourself and others.  In fact, the creator of Naked Yoga in Union Square, Wendy Tremayne, emphasizes this openness and trust in all of her classes.      

 While I may enjoy quirky ways of getting a workout in, I’m not sure If I’m ready to bare all in front of others.  Maybe that will change, maybe it won’t.  But that’s ok.  For now, I think I’ll try it  – in the comfort and privacy of my bedroom.            

Does working up a raw sweat and meeting other like-minded people sound good to you?  Email Wendy at nakedyoga-request@gaiatreehouse.com to join a class.   Single sessions are $15, and packages of 10 run $120.  And remember, bring your own mat!

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Did you know that Columbia has an Equestrian Club? This surprises many people given Columbia’s urban setting. The most commonly asked question is “Where do you ride?”.  We train at Garret Mountain Equestrian Center, in West Paterson, NJ- only about 30 minutes from Columbia’s campus. Located on county parkland, it has many trails through the park and is a great escape from the city. The club welcomes riders of all levels. We have members who have been riding and competing their entire lives, as well as members who had never taken riding lessons before joining the club. We train in huntseat equitation, which is a style of English riding. Eligible members also compete in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. IHSA competitions have classes for all levels, from walk-trot for beginner riders, up to 3’ fences classes for the more advanced riders. Lessons are held on Tuesday through Friday mornings and also on Friday afternoons.

Riding develops both physical and mental stamina. Correct rider position is essential to being an effective rider. A rider must develop the leg, back, and core muscles needed to correctly position one’s leg on the horse and balance one’s weight. The rider uses her legs, hands, seat, back, balance and voice to control the horse. Using these aides, the rider creates forward motion and impulsion, influences the horse’s balance and bend, directs the horse, and controls the tempo and length of the horse’s stride. Working with a 1200 pounds non-human partner adds a unique aspect to riding that other sports do not have. Horses are very sensitive to their riders; they notice when they are nervous, imbalanced or not focused. As our trainer says, a horse is a good barometer of how its rider is feeling. Thus, in addition to the physical aspect of riding, the rider must be focused, aware at all times of her position and her relation to the horse and thinking ahead. Developing this relationship and synchrony with the horse is a challenging but very rewarding process.

If this intrigues you, or if you rode in the past and are now thinking about how much you miss it, you should consider joining the Equestrian Club. It is a wonderful opportunity to not only to learn to ride, but also to join a friendly group of fellow riders.  Please send me an email (lmm2178@columbia.edu) if you have any questions or want more information.


(Stay tuned for information about a trail riding event open to the Columbia community that we will be holding in the spring)

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CUDM 2002

This weekend, from noon on Saturday until 4PM on Sunday, Columbia University will hold its annual Dance Marathon.  This means that for those 28 hours, over 100 Barnard and Columbia students will be on their feet dancing the day and night and next day away in Roone Arledge Auditorium.  The cause for dancing is the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, a charity that works to end the epidemic of AIDS among children.  “It’s for the kids!” the dancers remind each other, when the going gets tough–which it does indeed.  Frequent eating, constant stretching, water, interperative dancing, and coloring books are all sources of strength for fatigued dancers.  But the greatest morale booster of all is support from the community.  So, be sure to stop by this weekend and dance!  It’s a blast, it’s a workout, and it’s for the kids!

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