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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back on the wagon

For the past year, life has been hectic at it's best and down right insane at it's worst. Between looking for and ultimately buying our first house and then the death of my father, I've spent the last year feeling like I'm barely eeking by. Something had to give and unfortunately that was eating well and working out - two things that likely would have helped me feel more centered with everything. No use in beating myself up over the past, but I have made a concerted effort since June to really step it up. To start eating better and to recommit myself to the gym. Over the past few weeks, the changes are starting to pay off. The scale is moving in the right direction and I'm feeling stronger and healthier. It's all good stuff.


I was really sad to leave my old gym last year when we moved. It was the first time I had been a gym member where I really enjoyed the facility, the instructors and the classes. One of my favorite instructors, whom I now consider a friend, knew that I was looking for a gym with good classes and gave me the names of two places to try. One of which, was a brand new facility, not yet open that was run by a friend of hers. Hmmm. In my experience, good instructors tend to know other good instructors, so I swung by to check it out. I actually signed up that day, months before the club was even open. I just had a good feeling about. Best thing I could have done.


Now that I got that off my chest, let me explain. It's a brand new facility, privately owned by a very cool husband and wife team, has a full schedule of amazing fitness classes, fabulous instructors and a friendly group of members to boot. While I miss one instructor in particular from my old gym, I'm so much happier with this new place. I was going a couple times a week for the first half of the year (again, was still trying to get myself back in check), over the past couple of months, I've really stepped it up. I'm there 5 days a week and can truly say I drive out there with a smile on my face each night.

I have a small group of instructors that I truly adore and that make that 1-2 hours at the gym a real pleasure. In becoming a real 'gym rat' I've also found a group of other members that are on a similar schedule and we have become friendly with one another - chatting before and after class and keeping tabs on how the others are doing. There was one week in there that I was gone on vacation and not only did the other members ask where I had been when I returned, but the owner of the gym even sent me a message on FB asking if I was alright. It's evolved from just a fitness thing to a social outing - something that I feel keeps me motivated to get my butt there even when I'm tired or would rather go home. Whoever said peer pressure died in high school obviously isn't a member of a gym like this. ;)

In addition to all of this, I've come to realize that I really admire and respect the wife owner of the gym. I think it's rare at this stage in life to find other women that you can look to as a role model, but this woman more than fits the bill. She is a wife, mother and small business owner and appears to be doing it all with aplomb. She is extremely outgoing and always has a kind word and a smile for everyone. You can tell she loves what she does and I think it really influences the vibe of the gym. I feel lucky to have met her and to be able to take her classes several times a week.

On the fitness side of things, all the time I'm putting in is really paying off. I'm getting so much stronger and have more energy during the day. I'm sleeping better at night and waking up easier in the morning. All things that would have been quite useful earlier this year, but I'm just grateful for them now.

I'm reluctant to post the gym name here (though it wouldn't be all that difficult to figure it out), but if you're at all interested in this place, email me. It's really such a motivating and uplifting place, something that I don't think you'd say about most gyms out there.


In addition to the crazy exercise schedule, I'm also back on my cooking kick, which I know is also working to help me get my weight back where I want it. The great thing - my healthy meals are yummy and interesting and are far from resembling rabbit food. Take a look:

Chicken Shawarma
Greek Steak Pitas
Cedar Plank Salmon
Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos

See why I miss when I have the time to cook - because then I get to eat yummy stuff like the above and I know it's not hell on my health. Yay! :P

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SYTYCD - Week 6

Almost caught up! Last week saw everyone breaking from their original partners and forming new couples. As always, some people soared and others fell a bit short.

Evan and Kayla - Tony Meredith Viennese Waltz: Shortest guy, tallest girl and a ballroom piece. I mean, it's kind of funny. I thought the shoe solution was great - I especially like the jeweled fake "T-strap" they attached to Kayla's dance paws. <3 As for the routine itself, I thought it was danced well, but the song and movement was way too fast for a Viennese Waltz. It felt rushed and kind of all over the place. Not the dancers fault though. I was also pleased to see the lifts go so well. Solid performance.

Ade and Janette - NapTab Hip Hop: Great song, cute concept. Ade rocked it out, but I thought Janette fell quite short. Her movement felt forced and didn't flow nearly as well as it should have. I give her credit though for really going for it. Just okay for me.

Jason and Jeanine - Travis Walls Contemporary: I'll try to keep this short, but bear with me. I LOVED THIS!!! And for so many reasons. First, it was great to see an alumni come back and choreograph a routine for the show. Yes, we've seen it multiple times for ballroom numbers, but this is the first time we've seen it with a contemporary dancer. Second, the routine itself was fabulous. The choreography had shades of other choreographers on the show, but it's incredibly physical nature and many fresh elements made it uniquely Travis. Third, Jason and Jeanine danced the hell out of it! Not only did they nail every step, but the passion and emotion that was put into the routine bumped it to a whole other level. Easily, my favorite routine of the night.

Kupono and Randi - Tony Meredith Paso Doble: Oh my. This was just a mess. The costumes, the dancing - it was just not good. I thought the choreography was fine and the song choice very appropriate, but it wasn't executed well at all. :(

Brandon and Melissa - Tyce Diorio Broadway: Brandon is still a chameleon and Melissa is a still a delight to watch. This routine really showcased each of their talents and then blended them together in a seamless routine. Great routine from Tyce and beautifully performed by Brandon and Melissa. Two thumbs up!

Girls Group Routine - Nakul Dev Mahajan Bollywood: How fun!! I absolutely agreed with judges that everyone danced it well and no one stuck out like a sore thumb. I'm such a sucker for the Bollywood costumes as they are total eye candy. I thought everyone looked great and did the routine justice. Also, Nakul has now choreographed 4 routines for the show and they've all looked and felt different from one another and for me, have all been absolute hits. Props to him for doing such a great job!

Guys Group Routine - Jeffrey Page African: I love that we finally got an authentic African dance piece on the show. Strong, powerful and tons of fun to watch. I'm not gonna lie, I was scared for Evan, but strangely enough, he did alright. Like the girls, everyone performed well and it was a great routine. As a side note, I could listen to Jeffrey's accent all. day. long. :)

********************** Spoiler Alert *********************************

The opening group routine from Wade and Amanda Robson was so cool! I loved the colors, set design, concept... all of it! It had a bit of Kill Bill theme, you know, the scene with Lucy Lui and the Crazy 88s. Fabulous.

Bottom 4 time. Kupono and Randi didn't shock me at all, Melissa in the bottom made me sad, but I saw it coming. But, Ade?! What?! I was so confused by that. Makes no sense to me. That being said, it was obvious to me that Randi and Kupono should be the ones to go tonight. They are the weakest of the bunch at this point and as much as I've enjoyed their routines these past few weeks, it was their time to leave. It's getting so hard now, though! Depending on how they do this week, I'm concerned that Melissa and Evan are probably on the chopping block. :(

SYTYCD - Week 5

This week the group was whittled down to the Top 10!

Ade and Melissa:
Doriana Sanchez Disco - Fast, but not nearly as frantic as most of the disco numbers on the show, which I liked. They looked like they were having fun and I thought the lifts and spins were great. Solid performance.
Ron Montez Waltz - Nice and pretty, but nothing terribly memorable.

Kupono and Kayla:
Mia Michaels Contemporary - Hands down, my favorite number of the night. I had chills through the whole routine and started to tear up at the end. The emotion and strength that was shown in the routine was amazing. I love how they completely became their characters from the get-go. Just amazing!
Joey Dowling Broadway - It was okay. I'm not sure that either of them really has the personality to pull off that type of Broadway routine, one that requires a big, fun stage presence. And Joey Dowling still scares the crap out of me.

Jason and Caitlin:
Tony Meredith Foxtrot - Well, they looked beautiful, but I wasn't buying the emotion and chemistry. Nice routine, but a bit stale for me.
Mandy Moore Contemporary - Beautiful choreography, great song, but I would have preferred to see someone else dancing this routine. I just don't buy the chemistry between Caitlin and Jason, which is quite sad. As far as strict execution of moves, they did well. But, there has to be that emotional connection for a piece to really come alive and I just don't think they have it.

Phillip and Jeanine:
Youri Nelzine Russian Folkdance - Oh dear. This was just a bit of train-wreck, wasn't it? I'm guessing the producers are kicking themselves for having this on the show, especially this week. Just a rough routine all around. Moving on.
Tony Meredith Jive - Things didn't get much better with this routine. Jeanine is a spitfire and I love watching her. Phillip, though, is fading fast. So very sad.

Evan and Randi:
NapTab Hip Hop - Hmmm. Well, I like the song choice and choreography, as I think it tried to play to the fact that Evan and Randi are about as far removed from being hip hop dancers as you can get. I think they danced it fairly well, but it was far from fabulous.
Pasha/Anya Samba - Oh boy. Awk-ward. This was pretty uncomfortable to watch. I was a bit surprised that they couldn't bring the sexy for this number, as they did a great job with Mia's The Butt piece earlier this season. Much as I like both of them, they're starting to fade a bit.

Brandon and Janette:
Miriam/Leonardo Argentine Tango - Holy Crap!! This was HOT!!! Brandon is a straight-up chameleon - he seamlessly becomes whatever the routine requires of him. And Janette has done a beautiful job of keeping up with him. Fabulous number!
Wade Robson Jazz - So quirky. So cool. Loved how wacky Wade can be and how Brandon and Janette really made this routine come alive. I think this is one that could have easily fallen flat had the dancers not given it their all. Obviously, this wasn't the case. One of my favorite routines of the night.

*******************Spoiler Alert**************************

Another great group routine by NappyTab. They are firing on all cylinders this season, seriously. I felt like they really wobbled back and forth between genious and What the hell were you thinking?, but this year I've really enjoyed all of their work. Two thumbs up!

I was surprised that Melissa and Ade were in the bottom, as I thought it should have been Randi and Evan instead, but the other two couples made sense to me. Jeanine still has the best solos out of all these contests, in my opinion. I think Caitlin going home made sense. As much as I think she is a beautiful dancer, she never seemed to really get it all figured out on the show. She started off so strong with Bollywood the first week, but I think she has been fading ever since. It's really too bad. For the guys, much as I love him and his crazy poppin' ways, Phillip just wasn't progressing as quickly as he should and was having more and more trouble keeping up with increasingly difficult choreography. But, I will say that I'm happy to hear both will be alternates for the tour. At least there is an upside to all of this.

One last note - I cannot tell you sad I was that they were not able to get the rights to MJ's songs to do a tribute episode. Like, so sad! Can you imagine the possiblities?! I mean, you have a group of incredibly talented choreographers on the show who really respect MJ and all he did for music and dance. You know they would have come out with both guns blazing for something like this. I'm incredibly disappointed that we won't be able to see what they would have produced. :(

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The name game

When I created this blog many months ago, I didn't know what to call it, so I opted for the title above. While I still love pink stuff (as evidenced by my closet and my craft room), it's not like I talk about it all that much here. I think it's time for a name change.

Any thoughts? I'm the least creative person when it comes to this stuff. Any and all suggestions are welcomed. :)

Do you Jukari?

I love working out. I love Cirque de Soleil. So, when the two combine for a workout created by the Cirque team - I'm so there!

One of my old dance instructors kept talking about Jukari on her Facebook updates. I eventually googled it and immediately signed up to take her class. So, what is Jukari exactly? It's a new workout created by Reebok and Cirque de Soleil for women to make working out fun. Using a trapeze-type bar, it's a one hour workout that combines cardio, strength-training, balance exercises and flexibility. It's being slowly tested in major markets around the US and of course, LA was one of the test cities. The Jukari studio has been here since early spring, but was reserved for celebrities only during the first few months. It's now open to the public and the first class is complimentary. (Click here for the schedule)

I grabbed a friend and off we went to give it a whirl. First off, Ilyse is a great instructor - fun, motivating and just a great presence in the workout room. The class itself only accomodates 6 students plus the instructor, as the equipment takes up a bit of room and you're flying all over the place during the routine.

I work out on a regular basis and I've never sweated during a class as much as I did during this hour. OMG, both my friend and I were dripping. But, it was so much fun! I will never again take for granted all the crazy stunts those Cirque performers do. We didn't even scratch the surface on the tricks they do and it was hard! The amount of upper body strength, stamina and control needed are insane. Gave me a whole new respect for those crazy Cirque kids.

Overall, I'd say this is an intermediate to advanced class. If you're brand new to fitness, you may be easily overwhelmed at everything. While the tasks themselves aren't terribly complicated, it was helpful to already have a foundation in body mechanics so that I knew what my body should be doing and when. That said, I'd highly recommend you all to try this out. It's really fun and so different from standard gym routines.

I'm guessing that eventually Reebok wants this to be in gyms across the country. While I'm not sure we're in the economic climate for that right now, I'd love to have this as something I could add to my gym routine now and again. So much fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

SYTYCD - Week 4

There has been a lot more going on in my world than just SYTYCD (as evidenced by this post being well over a week late), but I haven't had time to sit down and upload pics and write it all up. Soon though. Hopefully.

Brandon and Janette - Jean Marc Genereux Cha Cha: Holy smokes! Hot Hot Hot!! Spicy little number that kicked off the show on the right foot. They are such a fun couple to watch because they bring it every single week. Another routine nailed.

Kupono and Kayla - Sonya Tayeh Contemporary: I really loved this one. I thought the concept was great, the choreography was spot on and the dancing was fierce. I wasn't a huge Kupono fan at first, but I'm really coming around to him, especially being paired with Kayla. Having a stronger partner appears to be bringing out more and more from him each week. Awesome routine. And Kayla's legs are still unreal.

Evan and Randi - Joey Dowling Broadway: I know the judges poo-pooed it a bit, but I was entertained and thought they looked good. I admit that I haven't seen Sweet Charity - the inspiration for the piece - but my co-worker, who has seen it, said that the fist punches just didn't hit hard enough compared to the original. Fair enough. Joey Dowling looks like she is a great choreographer, but she sort of scared me a bit in the intro piece. Eeek!

Jason and Caitlin - Brian Friedman Pop Jazz: Alright, I'm gonna just say it, this was a hot mess. Okay, sure, Jason and Caitlin danced it alright, I guess, but the costumes and inspiration were a big Fail. If I'm being completely honest, while it was technically fine, I didn't think they brought much in the way of bringing the characters to life. Not good dude.

Phillip and Jeanine - NapTab Hip Hop: Cool concept, they danced it well, but the chain was a bit distracting. I still love their chemistry and how she really brings it every week.

Ade and Melissa - Thordal Pas de deux: Chills. It absolutely gave me chills. I'm so happy that they were able to showcase Melissa's classical training and have a dance performed en pointe during the show. Was it rigged that they got this number? I'm sure it was. But, that did nothing to diminish the beauty and feeling this routine offered. They make such a beautiful partnership and I love watching them dance together.

Vitolio and Karla - Jean Marc Genereux Quickstep: Lackluster and a bit boring. I tend to really enjoy quickstep routines, but this one did nothing for me. Every week and I keep expecting Vitolio to bust out his personality on stage and each week I'm disappointed. I think he has really stalled out in the competition. Same thing for Karla.

***********************Spoiler Alert*******************************

I was hoping for one heck of a tribute routine to MJ and well, was anyone else a bit disappointed that it wasn't more MJ? Don't get me wrong, I liked the group routine, but I was just hoping for something less subtle and more "hit you over the head, this is honoring MJ's contribution to music and dance" sorta thing. :(

Getting harder and harder to figure out the bottom three couples each week. I was shocked Caitlin and Jason weren't in the bottom, couldn't believe Kupono and Kayla were in the bottom, but thought Vitolio and Karla definitely deserved to be there.

Let's talk solos for a minute. I loved Phillip's and while it was a bit frantic, I still thought it was solid. Vitolio and Kupono were really weak. Kupono's strong performance this week and in previous weeks saved him as it should have, but he really needs to get the solo thing together. Otherwise, when they go to singles, he'll be an easy choice to leave early. It was definitely Vitolio's time to leave. Much as his story is inspirational, that passion and personality just isn't translating to the stage. Sad, but true. I wish him well.

And now the girls. Jeanine was INSANE! That might be one of the best solos ever on SYTYCD! A complete, short routine that was beautifully put together and techinally amazing. Loved it! What happened to Kayla's quirky cute solos from auditions?! I'm so confused. She has to bring that quirk factor back because that is what got her here in the first place. Karla's solo was fine, but again, a lack of spunk and fire in the past few weeks made her the obvious choice to go home tonight.

I can't believe we're already down to 12!