Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy Mother's Day Hike!

As you may have noticed, I do lots of physical activities with my mom. This past Mother's Day was no different. She wanted to go on one of her favorite hikes. In Los Angeles (and many other places), hiking offers such an affordable outdoor activity. Depending on the actual hike and your own intensity level, you can get a great workout from this nearly free activity!
Happy Mother's Day, mom! I can't believe you even got Vic out of bed for an 8:30 am hike!
To celebrate Mother's Day, we ventured on the Temescal Canyon Loop located in Temescal Gateway Park. This hike has a special significance in our family because when I went off to UCLA for college as an undergraduate, my mom and brother would drive up many Saturday mornings to pick me up, go on the hike, and treat me to lunch. While that tradition has long passed, my mom still frequents this hike with other friends and family. Over the years, we have changed our route on this hike, but the following website gives a good description of the different trailheads and trail lengths.

Based on my past experience, I recommend going early in the morning before the crowds arrive. I also prefer to hike in slightly cooler weather (less bugs); so this hike is perfect in our Southern California "winters" or super early mornings in the summer before the fog burns off. Since this hike features a waterfall, I would suggest checking it out after we've had some rain! 
Action shot!
Strength Factor
We tend to do the hike in the opposite direction of many others (we pass by the waterfall towards the beginning rather than the end of the hike). So, in the direction we hike, you will definitely feel those leg muscles burning on the way up. Even once you pass the half-way point, you're still going up an incline. 

Stamina Factor
If you're in decent shape, semi-active, or on the younger side of the spectrum, this hike shouldn't pose a threat to you in terms of stamina. We usually take about an hour and a half to do the full loop, which includes some water breaks, an apple/nut snack sesh, and time for my mom to snap some photos. As we tackle the incline, frequent conversations, and keeping a good pace, this hike does take a little bit of endurance!
The fog was making for some interesting snapshots of the views!
Check out those clouds in the background...the ocean is under there, I swear!
Stretch Factor
There is not stretching built into this hike by any means, but I always recommend some pre- and/or post-hiking stretching of the legs. I'm not up on the latest exercise research to know whether you should preference the before or after stretching, but I usually do whatever suits the crowd. If people are using the bathroom before the hike, I'll do my stretching then. If we're standing around the cars chatting at the end of the hike, I'll do some stretching then. I've also tried a "Hiking Yoga" class in Temescal where you do the hike with a group; the instructor then leads stretching before the hike as well as incorporates some basic yoga positions at various points along the hike. You can check out their classes here:

What's the deal?
Well, the hike is technically FREE! The only cost includes $7 to park in the lots closest to the trailhead. For LA $7 parking is pretty typical, and the proceeds go towards upkeep of the park. They accept cash and checks! However, there is lots of free parking available before entering the park on Sunset Blvd. if you need a cheaper option!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Need I say more? If, like me, one of your main goals while working out is to "have fun," I've got an energetic class with a spunky instructor you've just got to try! Whenever I need to just let loose or blow off some steam, I always head straight to "Amy's class" as my friends and I affectionally call it. Depending on what studio you visit her, "Amy's class" has a couple different names. She teaches these classes at the following studios:

Moore Dancing: Cardio Dance Studio
Hip Hop Follow Along

LA DanceFit
Rockin' the House

This class uses a similar follow-along format like Zumba but instead of those sexy Latin ballroom steps, Amy keeps us going with some booty shaking, grapevines, jumping, pony-ing, cartwheel-ing around the room, and some more traditional dance/jazz steps that I have no idea the names. Replace those salsa and cha-cha tunes with the greatest of girl power, 80's wedding songs, top 40 hits, and some classic rap songs....oh and who can forget the occasional head banging, arm flailing rock song she throws into the mix. From the very first minute of class, you will absolutely love Amy's positive energy and enthusiasm for motivating others to just dance freely and 100%. This class is definitely super fun to go to with a girlfriend! Here are my go-to dance buddies for Amy's class:

Sweat Factor
Amy's amazing class definitely emphasizes the cardio aspect of a workout. She keeps you moving for an hour straight full of running, jumping, and all sorts of dancing! My friends and I always get a good sweat on in this class, so be sure to bring your towel and plenty of water to re-hydrate. In lieu of a towel, I'm sure Amy would be a fan of bringing some sweet wrist or head sweatbands. 

Swag Factor
This class tops the charts on my swag factor. While there are moments of pure silliness in this class (e.g., running around the room "Phoebe-style" where it is perfectly acceptable to bust out a cartwheel or two), Amy mostly keeps us grinding, shaking that booty, thrusting our hips, or attempting some other sexy moves! Think Rihanna's "Rude Boy" or Prince's "Kiss."

Strength Factor
While this class doesn't focus on pumping iron, Amy does a great job of incorporating some isolations on certain muscle groups. She will get those legs burning using a series of squats and getting low on some dance moves. She also includes at least one song focusing exclusively on arms and another focusing on abs. I would say it's 50/50 whether I wake up sore the next day from her class. 

What's the deal?
The two studios offer Amy's class at different prices. I tend to find LA DanceFit more affordable than Moore Dancing, but both studios offer a wide selection of dance classes. Depending on where you live and what kinds of classes you prefer, you might find the best deal for you at either studio! Here's the breakdown:

Moore Dancing offers first-time clients their first class at just $5. After that, their prices are as follows: 

LA DanceFit offers first time clients their first class FREE! After that, their prices are as follows:

A penny for your thoughts...

  • What are your favorite girl power workouts? 
  • What kind of music gets you motivated to do great workout?