The Local Tourist: NOHO

With the season calm and the streets free of too many visitors, it's about that time for a new 'Local Tourist' post. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend the night out in Noho, first catching a show at The Public Theatre and then dining out at trend-lover's hot spot, ACME. Check out the review below!

The Public Theatre "Here Lies Love"

Did you know that David Byrne from Talking Heads and Fatboy Slim collaborated on an album-turned-play about former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos? Yeah, me neither. While I can't claim to be a complete die-hard fan, I must say that I have never heard a Talking Heads song I didn't like. They're one of those bands that come on and I think to myself: why don't I listen to this more regularly? Needless to say, I was excited to see the show. The verdict? Catchy, edgy and undeniably unique.

The first 10 minutes or so admittedly feel a bit contrived, but perhaps that's more of an issue of suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience member than a responsibility of the cast. Once you emotionally delve into the immersive nature of the production, it is a consuming experience in the best way possible. We were gifted with seats overlooking the show below which, to me, was the way to go. I've done General Admission immersive theatre before at Fuerza Bruta and - again, for me, it detracts from the experience because you can't fully allow yourself to enjoy the show when you're constantly being prodded around and told where to stand (Plus, Fuerza Bruta makes your neck hurt). Unless we're talking Sleep No More where the audience has legitimate free reign of the place, I'm just not a personal fan of on-the-floor immersion.

In sum, Here Lies Love is an emotional performance that takes the audience on an informative and intentional escapade of rock-worthy song and dance. 

ACME

Located a convenient two blocks away, ACME is a trendy foodie's paradise. The atmosphere has a chic warmth to it and the service was welcoming. The crispy salmon skin and the foie gras small plates do a terrific job delivering savory flavor, as does the richly satisfying mushroom risotto. Whether ACME shines brighter on its plates or in its glasses is a tough call, though. Their carefully crafted cocktails feel just as much like a work of art as the food does. From the Bourbon Smash to my Salted-caramel Bourbon Hot Chocolate, every sip and bite felt like a true treat. 

While Here Lies Love is no longer running (at least, for the time being) you can always check out The Public Theater's schedule for the latest shows. And in case you're interested, it looks like ACME's already got their Valentine's Day menu up ;).

Source: http://nycprowler.com/prowler/wp-content/u...

5 Ways to Cure the Winter Blues

I love living in the Northeast. I would never give up the changing of the seasons. However, I’ve always had a strange romance with winter – I think the cold builds character, encourages introspectiveness and fosters a sense of anticipation and appreciation for what’s to come with warmer days. But it also… well, it also can kinda suck. As someone who is often strongly influenced by her surroundings, the weather plays a big role in my life. I may not fully suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but too many consecutive gray days and I definitely start getting weird. And I don’t think I’m alone, here.

Luckily, this whole “shitty weather = shitty mood” phenomenon is a known thing and there’s a lot of research on it. Below, I’ve taken a few tried and true methodologies and turned them into specific tips on how to legitimately cure those winter blues!

Have some tricks of your own? Share them in the comments below! 

1.       Get Silly

I was recently walking down the street and saw this little kid jamming the f-ck out.  I mean, his mother had him by one hand, sure – but the rest of his body was like an out-of-tune-yet-somehow-rhythmic machine. Best of all, you could tell he was nothing short of ecstatic about it. Do you remember what that was like? Just being totally PSYCHED over the smallest thing and immediately expressing it? It was awesome. Weird, yes. But also awesome. So while I obviously can’t recommend you go full-child in public, I do recommend you do a little dancing every day. Doing the dishes? Why not work in a little ‘robot’? Can’t get out of bed in the morning? Audible to the worm. Just lighten up, work a little silliness into your everyday, and get movin’! 

2.       Let there be light!

You know what’s a bummer? Darkness. And in the winter, we tend to get a surplus of it. Unfortunately, many of us spend most of our waking, daylight hours behind a computer screen, away from any semblance of the sun. However, simply rolling up your bedroom blinds can be an easy way to bring a little happiness into your day, first thing. Allowing as much natural light into our space as possible has also proven to help us sleep more in tune with our circadian rhythms, thus maximizing our energy. If you’re still down in the dumps, look into light box therapy, which the NIH recommends for those affected by SAD. 

3.       Take a break, go for a stroll…

Countless studies have shown that intermittent exercise breaks from work improve mood. Personally, I would advise everyone workout in some capacity at least 3-4 times a week. But even if you don’t hit the gym daily, just going for a simple 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break can improve your mood. Now, I KNOW you’ve seen this tip on other “how to not be miserable” lists, but have you actually tried it? Or, more likely, do you just sit at your computer and google something innocuous to pass the time in between doing actual work? That’s what I thought. If you genuinely try giving this a shot, I guarantee you’ll reap some benefits.

4.       CALL YA MOTHA

This woman gifted you with LIFE… so you should probably give her a ring every now and then. But really, talking with anyone who is a close family member or friend is a natural way to raise dopamine and serotonin levels. Hearing the voice of a loved one, if only briefly, can pull us out of our own heads for just enough time to provide some much needed perspective.

5.       Go ahead, have a drink…

But with someone. Even though hibernating for 48 hours every weekend in the winter seems like the right thing to do, being (selectively) social is still important. So, go out for a drink with friends! And newsflash: said drink doesn’t have to be alcohol-based. I'll defer to Tasting Table's divine list of Dryuary Mocktails to steer you in the right direction. Mocktails like the carefully crafted French Lemonade from Narcissa or Grace Street's sweet-potato take on the traditional Hot Toddy will have you sipping and satisfied, sans any of the booze. Of course, there's always hot chocolate as well!

Source: http://wallpaperswide.com/winter_morning_l...

Riding the Subway: DOs and DONTs

Oh the New York City subway...

DON’T get on the empty cart when every other cart is full. It’s not a gift. It’s a trap.

DO hold your breath and shut your mouth if you happen to be on the smelly cart. Everyone knows it’s rough on there and no one needs to hear you complain about it.  Switch at the next stop and be grateful that you have a shower to go home to.

DON’T pre-walk. There’s always somebody on a packed train who feels the need to alert everyone that she’s “getting off at this stop and so please if you could excuse me I’d like to annoyingly wiggle my way to the door while the train is still moving, thank you.” Look, lady, have you ever seen someone get stuck on the train? I didn’t think so. Wait your turn.

DO help tourists get to where they’re going. We were all city first-timers at some point.

DON’T be the reason the doors keep opening. Squeezing onto a sardine-packed happy hour train so poorly that your butt/bag is blocking the doorway is not only uncomfortable but totally unnecessary. This is New York, not D.C.. Another train will be here within 5 minutes.

DO feel okay about picking up your phone for a quick “hey I’m underground – call you right back.” Less than 5 seconds on the phone = no harm, no foul.

DON’T feel okay beginning a full conversation and then yelling “Hello!? Hello are you there? Oh shit, I lost him” into the phone when you inevitably lose service. No sympathy.

DO give up your seat for the elderly, pregnant women and people traveling with small children. Even if you aren’t sure they’d want it, it’s never wrong to at least offer.

DON’T put your purse or belongings on the seat next to you when the train is crowded. If they can’t fit on your lap and you’re grossed out by the floor, welp, you should’ve got an uber, bitch.

DO keep the conversation to a minimum volume. It's great that you don't mind sharing every juicy moment from the night before with your friends, but everyone and their mother (or, in many cases, their child) do not need to be made privy to such details.

DON’T put your make-up on. Everyone is getting second-hand anxiety waiting for you to poke your eye out when the train inevitably stops short. Spackle at home, ladies.

DO use HopStop for navigation, because duh.

DON’T count on it for precise timing, though.

And finally...

DO slide your subway card swiftly through the turnstile. C'mon. We know you can do it.

 

CrossFit: What It's Really Like

Oh, CrossFit. Who doesn't have an opinion about it? By now, we've all seen enough 'personal best' Facebook statuses to know that the acronym "WOD" stands for "Workout Of the Day." We've also all likely seen at least one status lambasting the program followed by a string of comments so vitriol-fueled it makes us think "this is definitely not a thread I'm getting involved in." After all, the good people of Facebook do not play when it comes to their fitness talk. 

Moral of the story? CrossFit is popular, regardless of which way you view it. And it's not going anywhere any time soon. So, in order to provide a fuller picture, naturally I had to go check it out myself. 

While home for Christmas break recently, I decided to visit our local CrossFit gym with my friend Erica for a trial (again, this is my previously-introduced friend, better known as "Quik Chek Chick." I shouldn't have to tell you this.) After a wild, Asian-driver-induced detour, Erica and I made it Ocean CrossFit with a few minutes to spare before class. We strolled in, lattes in tow, looking super hard. Time to get swoll.

Since we were newcomers, Ryan (one of the owners) stuck with us the entire class, helping us with various technique modifications and assuring us that if we were to actually sign-on full time, there would be an "on-ramp" program that helped us learn every move and feel comfortable according to our own strengths, injuries etc. Um, really? To me, this indicated a high sense of quality.

I mean, I've taken yoga, pilates, boot-camp, spin classes - you name it - and never have I been individually walked through an entire class let alone a full program in the interest of safety and precision. And if you think that's because those classes are less injury-prone, you're kidding yourself. You know how the saying goes: big tree-pose fall hard.

Anyway.

The class was broken into three parts: a warm-up, a technique/skill, and then the WOD. For the warm-up we did a few sets of burpees and thrusters. For the technique, we did this thing called a "power snatch" which admittedly sounds like the name of a demon vagina, but don't worry. It's not. Then, for the WOD, we did "Fran" which consists of 3 sets of 21-15-9 reps of thrusters and pull ups. Since it's difficult to explain, I'll just show you the video of me crushing it at the last CrossFit games in '12. My hair was shorter at the time.

It's important to note that Fran does NOT have to look like that in real life. Erica, myself (and many other folks at the gym) took a series of breaks during the first set of 21 thrusters. As for the pull-ups, we both did different modified versions.

The verdict? CrossFit was a challenging, full-body workout that, if anything, parallels a bootcamp class, only with some more weightlifting and an emphasis on athletic precision. The people are NOT exclusive meatheads, as often rumored. In fact, they were super friendly and welcoming (we even did a mini icebreaker at the beginning - how fun is that?!). And as someone who has been exercising regularly since middle school, this is something I am psyched to get more into.

So, basically, look out for WOD Facebook statuses coming to a feed near you...

For the full lowdown, take a quick look at my Q&A with Ocean Crossfit owner Ryan Sherman below!

1.      People have a lot of opinions when it comes to CrossFit. What would you say the biggest misconception people have is? 

The biggest misconception about CrossFit is that people get hurt doing it. The problem is that there’s definitely poor coaching going on at some CrossFit gyms – but that isn’t the norm. I like to describe CrossFit gyms like restaurants. While there are many out there, some are of much higher quality than others. Our gym is a higher quality gym. We have experienced coaches who know what they’re doing and we pride ourselves on putting our athletes through an intensive program. This ensures every member properly learns the movements and techniques and can address any pre-existing injuries. That’s what you need in any gym, but especially a CrossFit one.

2. On that note... what are the top 3 most important things a newcomer should look for in a CrossFit Gym?

1. Coaching. 2. Facility (equipment, cleanliness, space) 3. Community. 

 3. So, can you do a crossfit workout from home? 

The reason you need a gym is because you have expertscoaching you. Coaches, similar to other trainers, can help scale workouts, and teach strategy, technique, etc. Another reason would be the top-notch equipment.  For instance, our gym is outfitted with the same type of equipment that you would find in Ohio State’s Football Facility. You can’t get that at home or even at your standard gym facility.

4.      I’ve been hearing about this “CrossFit Lite” thing – can you explain? 

CrossFit Lite is a high energy 45-minute class, similar to boot camp. It's perfect if you're looking for a non-stop, action-packed workout, without the heavy weightlifting. Each class is different and can include activities like running, body weight movements, kettlebells, wall balls, or box jumps. Each class is coached by one of top notch coaches. 

5.      And just for fun, what’s your favorite CrossFit Workout? 

“KELLY”. 

5 Rounds for Time:                                             

400m Run

30 box Jumps (24”)

30 Wall Ball Shots (#20)

Source: www.crossfit19north.com

5 Tips for Small Kitchen Cooking

As any New Yorker knows, a large and well-equipped kitchen is hard to come by, especially when you’re 20-something and half-broke. Not to worry, though, with a little bit of planning and a healthy dose of resourcefulness, you can happily cook and clean in (almost) any space. I've learned this since moving into my micro-studio this past year and wanted to share a few of my favorite tips and tricks!

MY MICRO KITCHEN!

MY MICRO KITCHEN!

1. Choose Your Kitchen Tools Wisely

Basically, bring the crockpot, but nix the juicer. Where space is limited, prioritization is key. When I first moved into the city, I brought my massive Breville Juicer with me, hence this 3-day juice cleanse I embarked on. I only ever used it that one time, though. Why? Because you can buy a fresh-pressed juice in NYC on every other block for around five bucks. So, after year 1, I took that baby home to Mom & Dad because it simply wasn’t worth all the space it took up. The crockpot, on the other hand, is the perfect NYC cooking machine. It contains 3 pieces which makes for easy cooking and quick clean-up. If you’re pressed for space, just compare. Like, do you really need that ice-cream maker or would that shelf space perhaps better serve a toaster oven?

Anddd just a few of the many, fancy appliances I do NOT have.

Anddd just a few of the many, fancy appliances I do NOT have.

2. Always Make Semi-homemade Dishes

This is actually a great tip for anyone, small kitchen or not. When you cook semi-homemade, there’s simply less prep to worry about and it usually ends up being easier on your budget, too. For instance, I love sautéing a hefty portion of Trader Joe’s fresh pre-cut/washed kale and sliced mushrooms in a pan with some fresh garlic and oil and then adding a bag of TJ’s frozen mushroom risotto on top of it all. If I’m extra hungry, I’ll get a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken as well (nomz). This all takes maybe 15 minutes to prep, cook and plate and it tastes incredibly delicious and refreshing because of the fresh vegetables. Best of all, at the end of the meal, I only have one pan, a stirrer, and a cutting board to clean up. Why break out 5 different measuring cups and a fire up a slew of burners when you can do it all quicker and cheaper?

       3. Add Counter Space Creatively

I was floored when I walked into my current studio for the first time. The kitchen was comprised of a sink and cabinetry, a real refrigerator with a microwave on top, a (working) oven and a gas-burning stove! Who knew a micro studio could fit so much!? It may sound ridiculous, but studio kitchens in NYC often lack at least one of the aforementioned appliances. Needless to say, I was as happy as could be. After I moved in and the enamor wore off, though, I realized that, DUH, I didn’t have a single bit of counter space. Since I spend too much time watching HGTV, I knew I could manage an affordable solution, no illegal renovations necessary. As with most obstacles in life, a little creativity goes a long way! See below's before & after:

4. Invest in Rubber Gloves & Paper Products

If you live in Manhattan in a walk-up, there’s a strong chance you don’t have a dishwasher. Newsflash: this is O.K. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cook, it just means you should act like an adult and clean up after yourself.  I know, I know; it’s a novel idea. But rubber gloves will help! Wearing rubber gloves while cleaning dishes means you don’t have to touch any mushy food in the sink (that always grosses me out) and your hands won’t smell like said sink afterward. Most importantly, you can clean your dishes properly since you can wash with scalding hot water without burning yourself. Of course, having paper plates & cups on hand is also helpful for those times when you’re in a rush, having a snack or just trying to veg out and avoid any cleaning whatsoever. 

I think they call this "Kitchen chic."

I think they call this "Kitchen chic."

5. Grocery Shop Frequently

There are a few reasons I suggest this. First, if you have roommates, you don’t want to be hogging the fridge and freezer with all your bulk items. That’s just rude. Even if you live alone, though, it’s still probably best to shop once a week. Assuming you have a healthy diet (or at least want to have one), you will be buying lots of fresh fruit and veggies and you don’t want them hanging around too long and going bad. Even bread and sandwich meats don’t have a very long shelf life. And, who hasn’t “forgotten” about that half-eaten pad thai in the back of the fridge before since it was hidden from sight? Too much uneaten food equates to wasted money and a stinky fridge. And when you live in a small space, a stinky fridge can mean a stinky apartment. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Hope this helps! Have more ideas to add? Comment below!

The Local Tourist: Central Park

All too often I hear people say that they "could never live in New York because there are no trees" and this sentiment just kills me. True, New York is a metropolis and not a rural paradise of rolling hills. So, not every neighborhood has a park and tree-lined streets. However, living on the Upper West Side, I honestly enjoy more greenery and have more interaction with the outdoors here than I ever have elsewhere. 

How could that be, you ask? A large part of that answer is, of course, Central Park.

In the mornings, I walk alongside the park to work. On weekends, I have jogged through its trails, ambled around its lakes, picnicked near the baseball fields, watched concerts at Summer Stage and attended Global Citizens Festival on the Great Lawn. So, when people talk about Central Park, particularly regarding its massive size, I've always felt fairly in-the-know about it. 

That is, until recently. 

The Tourist: Central Park

I usually stroll in from the west side of the park, but recently approached via the very common 6th Ave./Central Park South entrance.  While the terrain was somewhat unfamiliar to me, I figured I’d get my bearings soon enough. After all, the lower part of the park is certainly more occupied and mapped out. However, after a few hundred yards, I began to pass unseen statutes, curious buildings and small ponds. I saw volleyball courts and gigantic boulders seemingly spring out of nowhere and even spotted an elevated carousel-like house built for chess playing. I became smitten with each and every new trail, view and landmark in my path, and it was then that I realized how little I had actually seen of the park the past few years. It truly is huge.

So huge, in fact, that for time-conscious visitors, I would definitely recommend having a plan or destination as opposed to just walking around it aimlessly, since that could easily take up your entire day.

Most notable picks for:

Family-friendly activities: The Central Park Zoo

A  Romantic Date: Kayak, A Guided Walking Tour

Friends: Summer Stage, The Met (Upper East), American Museum of Natural History (Upper West)

The Local: Loeb Boathouse

First off, let’s get something straight: the Loeb Boathouse is no grand secret. It is, however, an absolute gem that remains in certain ways undiscovered. True to my spoiled nature of good luck, I had the opportunity to have dinner there just last week and I would recommend it to anyone. The boathouse simply has that “thing” that people talk about when they speak of the magic that is Manhattan. Set off significantly from the streets but with the backdrop of the city over the water and trees, the atmosphere is both calming and splendid. At one table, a group of women celebrated another’s birthday – standard. At the bar, a local read a book while sipping her drink. Bartenders and managers softly flitted to and fro, greeting her only in the way a regular can be greeted, with a relaxed rhythm and commentary on recent conversations. The lofted ceilings and white pillars overlook a peaceful pond, lined with wooden boats and an authentically Venetian gondolier. Oh, and the food, drinks and service are, without hesitation, superb.

The boathouse, all things considered, is special. It is certainly crafted to attract tourists, but it has a natural way of fitting in comfortably well with the locals, too.  It feels like the subtle-yet-magnificent place one goes to hit pause on life – just for a moment – and to soak in all that is wonderful in the world. 

The Weekend Getaway: Asbury Park, NJ

So. I’m obsessed with the actual “Jersey Shore” and I have a past of being very outspoken about it. Personally, I find this to be completely normal. Not only is Jersey a lovely, dynamic place, but it’s also where I’m from. And, aren’t most people proud of where they’re from?

I grew up at Takanassee Beach Club in Elberon and, while Tak has since closed (#RIP), I still return each summer to spend weekends in Deal and Asbury Park with my family and friends. To me, the Jersey Shore has always just been home – a string of happy, little beaches filled with the brightest, childhood memories possible and interspersed with some of the best Italian food in the world. As I got older though, I quickly realized that – shocker, you guys – not everyone loves New Jersey! In fact, some people really hate us.

I couldn’t comprehend this at first. In college and abroad I would always be asked the staple getting-to-know-you question from various guys, “where are you from?” When responding with anything along the lines of “New Jersey” or “the Jersey Shore,” though, I received everything from laughter to hatred to the haughtiest of apologies for having come from such obvious trash.

Smooth, bros.

It seemed so utterly stupid to judge an entire state and its people off of one stereotype that, mind you, comes from people that are not even from New Jersey! More bothersome, though, was that I couldn’t fathom how someone could deem it appropriate and acceptable to bash someone’s answer to the question “Where are you from?” I mean, isn’t exercising verbal restraint regarding judging another’s home or cultural background LITERALLY RULE NUMBER ONE in having any semblance of manners?

But, alas, I digress. This post isn't for the haters, but for the lovers - and to them, I say welcome! Welcome to the Jersey Shore…the greatest country in the world. 

Where To Stay 

The Berkeley Carteret if you're looking for modern luxury. The Berkeley is a 100 year-old hotel of Victorian style and grandeur that sits atop the famed Asbury Boardwalk. It is so large and sprawling that it can comfortably host large wedding parties without interferring in your small, romantic retreat.

Tides Hotel if you're gay. And fun. Tides is plenty of both, not to mention utterly charming.

The Empress Hotel also if you're gay. However, not a requirement. The Empress has been around fo'eva, having sunk in and rose up with the tides of Asbury's economy over the years. A resort that once hosted the likes of Liza Minelli and Judy Garland and graced the cover of Springsteen's records, The Empress is as iconic and special to the town as Jersey's unspoken mascot, tillie. 

Where to Eat

Toast - for dressing up and going to a delicious brunch with friends 

Porta - for not dressing up and going to brunch for $10 bottomless mimosas. Also, for phenomenal brick oven pizza. Also, for roofies maybe. More on this later.

Frank’s Restaurant – for the most authentic porkroll egg and cheese you’ll ever have. Cash-only and I would recommend take-out.

Goldie’s – for vegan selections or something simply more on the healthy side, accompanied by gorgeous décor in the heart of the arts district.

The Sunset Landing – for feeling as if you're in Grandma's Hawaiian kitchen. A (very) small mom n’ pop place with an open kitchen and surfboards hanging from the ceiling, The Sunset Landing resides on the Asbury Park lake where you can feed the ducks while sipping carrot ginger juice.

Langosta Lounge – for seafood/sushi accompanied by live music and boardwalk seating

Cubacan -  for date night with contemporary cuban with latin fare on the hottest spot on the boardwalk. 

Where to Go Out

Watermark - for the first drink of the trip at least. This cocktail lounge is set in the heart of the boardwalk across from the aforementioned, famed Empress and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The unique cocktails are deliciously crafted by attentive staff in a relaxed, open setting with crisp white lounges and modern couches that you don't have to pay $1000 to sit on. Imagine that!

Beach Bar - for the rum buckets! A great spot to get tuned up with a big group of friends, slightly more north along the boardwalk. While there is some roof coverage, it is pretty much entirely outdoors. Anchor's Bend is right around the corner and generally has live music for a quick visit or change of scene.

Porta - for the experience. Porta is an old-warehouse-turned-gorgeous-three-space-bar with outdoor seating, high-lofted ceilings and a boom-boom-room like no other. It's drawn quite a lot of attention and criticism regarding its rowdiness which makes it, unfortunately, an attraction for fist-pumping visitors. Clearly, though, visitors aren't the only ones patronizing the bar regularly; it's a locals hang as well. Just watch your drink, as the place is rumored to be a roofies hub, and we all know there's nothing like a good 'ol roofie to spoil your day.

Johnny Mac's - for the free pizza ALL day EVERY day. Also for the "Irish Village" decor and late-nighting since it tends to stay open until 2-2:30 whereas most local bars close around 1:30 instead.


Free Yoga in Manhattan: Two Women's Tale

The thought of doing yoga in Bryant Park is a lot like the thought of going on vacation in Newark: a little confusing.

However, when I pulled a muscle on the same day my friend Steph asked me to take Bryant Park’s free yoga class with her, I figured it was a sign. After all, in the same way that a vacation is still a vacation – even if it is in Newark – yoga is still good for pulled muscles, right? 

Whatever, you know what I’m trying to say. I decided to give it a shot. Plus, did I mention it was FREE?

And in case you need some reminding, "free" usually doesn't come as a price tag descriptor in New York. With $35 spin classes and gym membership initiation fees that can top $500, working out can equate to a second rent if you're not careful. This is why I was glad to discover that the good-hearted Yogis of the world are still trying to spread their health practices to everyone, even if that means doling out sessions for free sometimes. So, before we get started on the recap of my own free yoga experience, here are a few helpful links:

If you're group-exercise averted like me, it's nice to know you don't have to commit to a series of pre-paid classes just to get your yoga fix every now and again.

So, that all being said, Thursday evening came and off to Bryant Park we went.  Strolling in a mere 10 minutes before “class” was to start, we were happily surprised to find about 40-50 perfectly placed yoga mats still available for the taking. After all, we had planned on using Steph’s paint-laden towels as our ghetto yoga mat replacements, so this was a significant upgrade.

Our next surprise came in the form of a series of cirque du soleil–esq performances put on by the Yoga Works team, otherwise known as super-in-shape-motherf*ckers-with-mindblowing-bodies. I guess it was supposed to be an inspiring way to start the class - and it was – but it also kind of felt like having your Spanish teacher look directly at you on the first day of class and ramble on in complete foreign-language mode.

Like, lo siento, prof. No hablo espanol, yet.

Anyway, after the slightly intimidating observational yoga session was over, class got going. I had been wondering how we were all going to follow along, but it proved to be a very coordinated experience. On the loud speaker, in the middle of Manhattan, an incredibly soothing voice began coaching us through each move.

Having taken yoga a handful of times previously, we didn’t have much trouble hanging in there, physically. I guess Yoga Works figures if they're leading a free class for 500+ strangers, they may as well stick to the basics (P.S. thanks for that). What we did have trouble with, though, was paying attention.

Allow me to remind you that neither Steph nor I are exactly Yogis (duh). On a good day, I have the attention span of a gnat and the energy of small chihuahua. So, between immature fits of laughter and listening to the guy next to us continuously gossip, I was having a little trouble getting into my om-zone. Then, like a namaste booby trap, Steph spotted a chick two rows ahead of us who had an AVOCADO tattooed on the inside of her arm. An AVOCADO, YOU GUYS.  Naturally, we then played an unspoken game of spot-the-avocado-tat-and-snicker for about 5 minutes or so. 

Moral Of The Story: partaking in outdoor yoga really slates the odds against you in terms of the whole attention span struggle.

Other Moral Of The Story: amidst all the joking and various distractions in the form of cell phones, avocados and  hula-hoopers on the lawn behind us (mental note: join this group next time), it’s really a good time overall. About 40 minutes into the session and sixty-seven hundred downward dogs later, my muscles were loosening a bit and I even stopped hearing the rumblings of Midtown.

Furthermore, we had originally been set on leaving at the 45-minute mark, because #letsbereal, 60 minutes is just a lot for anything. However, upon us making it to 6:45, we suddenly didn’t feel such an immediate urge to leave. Instead, we took the liberty to “freestyle” a bit, if you will, stretching more to our liking and hanging out in corpse pose for a  bit.

Feeling stretched and at ease, we picked up our belongings and then did what any relaxed New Yorker might do: went for a post workout beer!

* Free Yoga Picks were selected from Lisa's site over at Cheap in the City