Posts Tagged ‘Outdoors’


This week’s cover of Time Out New York caught my eye. “Great Walks, the city’s best strolls,” it boasts.  Inside, the magazine outlines 12 NYC walking routes, that are sure to tickle your calves, your tummy (a lot of them include snack stops), and your cosmopolitan fancy.  Some of the walks include “The Romantic Walk,” “The Dude Walk,” “The Chinatown Eating Walk,” and “The Lesbian Walk.”  My personal favorite is “The Top of the Park Walk,” which begins at Central Park’s beautiful conservatory garden at 5th Avenue and 105th street.  Timeout compares Central Park’s manicured garden to the Garden of Eden.  Personally, it’s always reminded me of The Secret Garden.

conserv-gardenThe walk continues through the north side of the park and out into East Harlem, with stops for some fresh fish, fried chicken, and red velvet cupcakes. The walk ends conveniently in Morningside Heights at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Enjoy, and check out TONY for other springtime strolls in the city.

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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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I’ve noticed more runners ramping up their training now that warm weather (slowly, temperamentally) approaches. For those interested in participating in a fun, low-mileage race in April–either to stay motivated or to compete–I recommend the Thomas Labrecque “Run As One” 4-miler in Central Park (make sure to register early, as New York Road Runners has begun capping their races). I ran the race last April, and enjoyed the energy of running together with so many others on a beautiful spring morning in the park. I even ended up being offered a summer job by a runner I spoke to for a portion of the race.

If you know you can run the distance, I recommend doing some hill workouts over the next few weeks to prepare, as the course is far from flat. Don’t be discouraged, the hills are very manageable if you are prepared. To train for such a short race, I usually just tack on a hill or two to an easy run or do a few hill repeats instead of a full run–what Ed Eyestone calls a “Short Hills” workout in this article from Runner’s World.

For those who live on Barnard campus or in Columbia dorms on the west side of campus, my favorite hill to run repeats on is in Riverside Park at 96th St. Warm up on the run down there, take the path that loops around the dinosaur playground, and as you head back north, power up the hill. If you’re running repeats, simply slow down and jog back around the playground to recover before powering back up the hill.

For those living in East Campus or in Cathedral Gardens, run along the northern perimeter of Morningside Park. From the corner of 110th Street and Columbus Ave, run north up the hill to where it plateaus at 114th St, jog the flat to 122nd, and then practice running downhill as Morningside Boulevard curves back towards Amsterdam Avenue. Turn around to power back up the hill, recover, and run the downhill back to 110th and Columbus. For a longer run, you can run the entire perimeter of the park–the southern border is mostly flat. There are also plenty of hills within the park, and if you really want to feel the burn in your calves and quads, try attacking the many staircases that prove that, yes, Columbia really is in the Heights.

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About one year ago in Fitbear News, I wrote an article informing the Barnard student body about the Five Boro Bike Tour, which is fast approaching once again! Mark your calendars – Sunday, May 3rd, rain or shine, the TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour will begin at 8 AM. The Bike Tour begins just north of Battery Park, and cylists then move up through midtown, Central Park, and Harlem. Borough #2 on the tour is the Bronx, and then cyclists come back into Manhattan, go down the FDR, and cross the 59th Street Bridge into borough #3, Queens. The tour then moves on to borough #4, Brooklyn, and then finally, last but not least, to borough #5, Staten Island. There, cyclists take a break at a Festival, and then ride the last three miles to the Staten Island Ferry which brings them back into Manhattan. Don’t miss out on this awesome 42 mile ride! Click here for registration information.

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Get out of the Gym while Exploring your CIty!

Get out of the gym while exploring your city!

Sometimes a nice alternative to traditional exercise is the option of getting out into the great city and exploring. The following are a few free available walking tours in the city.  I hope you take advantage of these opportunities to explore the city while working expanding the parameters of your personal fitness.

1) There is a 34th Street historic walking tour, where you can learn about the Empire State Building, links between Andy Warhol and a Con Edison substation, and several other interesting facts about 34th street as architectural historian Francis Morrone or architect Alan Neumann leads you on the tour, which is given on Thursdays at 12:30 p.m.. The tour lasts an hour and a half, and you can meet at the Fifth Ave. entrance to the Empire State Building. For more information, call 212-719-3434 or visit www.34thstreet.org.

2) You can explore the John J. Harvey Fireboat and cruise along the New York Harbor on a boat that was launched for the first time in 1931 and was brought out of retirement in the aftermath of 9/11. For reservations and schedules, e-mail trips@fireboat.org.
3)  Battery Park City Parks Conservancy horticulturists offer walking tours of Battery Park. They will take you on a stroll through the gardens. For tour dates, you can visit  www.bpcparks.org or call 212-267-9700.

4) The Times Square walking tour is available on Fridays at noon, and lasts about one hour. The tour meets at the Times Square Visitor’s Center on 1560 Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets, and you can contact the Visitor’s Center at 212-869-1890 or visit www.timessquarenyc.org.

I hope you enjoy the opportunities that are available for you all over the city and continue to try new ways to explore and expand your own personal fitness.

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The rumor on the street on Saturday was that a nice day was coming, but it certainly did not prepare me for the beautiful weather I encountered when I walked outside on Sunday. My immediate thoughts – what can I do outside today to take advantage of this warm day? Yesterday, my answer was tennis. It was a bit ironic, though, that while playing outdoors, with no winter coat in sight, I managed to slip on ice left over from last week’s winter weather.

Today, we have the same option. It is once again uncharacteristically warm outdoors, and so we should take advantage! In an earlier Barbelle publication (back when it was Fitbear News), I wrote an article about places to ride your bike  in the city. So inspired was I by my own article that I brought my bike back to school with me, and I have since gone riding many a time. Today is a great day for a bike ride, a run outdoors, or even a stroll in the park. Make sure to walk where it’s sunny (much much warmer)!

When the nice weather is here, take advantage, and get moving outside!


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