Burn Baby Burn

barre_workoutWhat woman doesn’t covet sinewy arms, a high and tight derrière, lean legs and a regal posture? In search of this dancer’s shape, many of us are becoming regulars at the barre…the ballet barre, that is. Over the last few months, I’ve become obsessed with Barre Fitness! Hello, new favourite workout! After suffering a running injury earlier this year, it was the perfect way to strengthen my body and get back into action.

Barre classes are a breath of fresh air for fitness fanatics who are sick of traditional workouts, exercise newbies who prefer low-impact activity, yoga- or Pilates-lovers looking to mix it up, or ex-dancers who’d rather die than go for a run.

These classes take you through a series of exercise moves designed to target certain muscle groups with laser-like precision. Arms, abs, glutes and thighs all get special attention. Rather than big, sweeping movements, you’ll do tiny maneuvers that you’ll repeat so many times your muscles will shake and burn. (Nobody’s kidding when they use the term barre burn!) Simple, but deadly. The repetitive movements fatigue the muscles, which forces them to adapt -building new muscle fibers and getting stronger. Depending on the day, you can step it up and really sweat it out with Cardio or Power Barre, sneak in a quickie with an Xpress Barre class, or take the more traditional Classic or Barre Fitness classes.

Photos: Barre Fitness North Shore

On first impression upon arriving at the North Shore Barre Fitness studio,  I was stunned by the beautiful space- bamboo floors; big, bright windows; and floor-to-ceiling mirrors; a gorgeous locker room with showers and towel service; everything about it feels airy and relaxing. And what I’ve come to love about the studio over the months I’ve been attending classes is that it gives me an outlet for stress and bad days. It’s a place to feel comfortable, in my element, at home. Not only is the owner, Norrie  Zaplatynsky friendly and fabulous, her entire staff is absolutely wonderful too. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a phenomenal group of ladies who attend class there, making the environment a truly welcoming one.

Live nearby and curious to try out a class? Buy the new client special and get two weeks of unlimited classes for just $40. Trust me, you’ll want to be a regular at the barre.

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Purity You Can Taste

I drink a lot of water.  Lately, I’ve been drinking my fair share of  smartwater.

Who would have ever thought that there could be a healthier drink than water? Vapor distilled and enhanced with the essential nutrients potassium, magnesium and calcium, smartwater also has added electrolytes. This means it feels like you’re drinking regular bottled water but you’re actually getting the added benefits of  those electrolytes, which help prevent dehydration, without the added load of sugar and calories that come along with sports drinks like Gatorade.

I really do love the taste and the extra benefits of smartwater, and I mean, I’m one of those picky water drinkers who doesn’t think all water is created equal. Sometimes it  just don’t taste good to me.  I’m a water snob, if you will. It’s not as if I stock my fridge with smartwater bottles.  I do keep a jug of tap water with lemons in it in my fridge at all times. When I’m on the run though,  smartwater does it for me.

If there is one thing that really sold me on the powers of smartwater, though? I have to be honest- it was Aniston. Let’s face it, anything that’s good enough for Jennifer Aniston to put in her ripped, well toned body is good enough for me. It must be the water and not the two hours of yoga that she does a day, right? Maybe drinking it will give me abs like hers? I mean, look at her. Doesn’t she make you want to reach for a smartwater? Oh, the power of advertising is an incredible thing. Well played, smartwater. Well played.

Voluptuous Delights

Photo: Sermulher

Sophie Dahl, one of the most glorious women on the planet, shares delicious secrets from her slinky kitchen, funny stories and favourite recipes in a beautifully illustrated hardback:

Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights: The Art Of Eating A Little Of What You Fancy

As somebody with a pretty rocky relationship with food, (and who is by no means a cook) I really appreciate Miss Dahl’s honesty (and fantastic suggestions). Her book, full of delectable recipes for each season, photographed to magical perfection and accompanied by her positively Mitford-esque writing voice and a luscious abundant take on food. Sophie also writes about her battle with weight and her body. Flirting with every food fad from Atkins to raw food over the years, she has had both misadventures and victories in her quest to have a sound healthy relationship with food. She writes about the how press never understood that her weight ballooned during her modeling years not because she was a compulsive over-eater or a “fatty,” but because she felt the pressure of a hardened industry where she did not fit in. She ate for comfort, she ate for sadness, she ate because she felt the expectations of everyone telling her ‘you are an inspiration for everyone normal and large’, she ate because it seemed like she had to be big, otherwise what the hell was she doing in this glamourous world? Then she discusses how later, after she lost the weight, she had to deal with people all over the world commenting on her shape. People were telling her that she had sold out, that she had lost her confidence, that she was much better and more authentic when she was full- figured. Sophie’s frank analysis of her body throughout her life shows considerable and commendable hindsight. She writes with such poignancy and pathos, I felt very sympathetic. I could also relate.

“I have been as round as a Rubens and as skinny as a twig,” she writes in the introduction. Ultimately, her book is less about food and more about eating, if that makes any sense. The happy medium where she finds herself now, slim and fit, leaves her in a healthy position- which is where this book is coming from.

As Sophie writes, “we have to change our understanding of what is beautiful and what is sexy.” She says that she has seen and been that woman who is reed-thin and creamily voluptuous. The women who are truly sexy are those who eat sensibly, but don’t count calories or stuff their faces. They exercise, but in a way that they enjoy. They are not prisoners to their body”

Sexy,” Sophie writes, is inherent in a healthy appreciation for food, in having the energy to romp with your beloved, pick up your baby, cook dinner for your friends… it is feeling sated, having opinions and feeling alive.

Original, funny, quirky with a bit of whimsy, this glorious book is full of memoir, anecdote and delicious recipes, scattered with lovely Matisse-like line drawings that slope off the page. Love Sophie, love her book. I even find myself inspired to whip up some of her suggestions in my own kitchen. (Imagine that!)

Footnote:

Sophie Dahl now lives in London after an eight year sojourn in New York. Her grandfather was the late author Roald Dahl. Her first novel, Playing with the Grown-Ups, was published in 2007. She was contributing editor for Men’s Vogue for three years and now works for, amongst others, British Vogue, American Vogue, Guardian, Spectator and The Times.

Photos: BBC

UPDATED:

Miss Vancity Allie asked a great question in the comments about the recipes in the book, so I thought I’d answer right here for everybody.

Each recipe takes a few good quality ingredients and with just some simple preparation and cooking a lovely dish emerges. The recipes are mostly vegetarian, with just a few chicken and fish dishes. There are no demands for special equipment or techniques. Just assemble your ingredients and, as long as you have a basic understanding of how a kitchen works, you’ll be fine. (This is perfect for somebody like me!)

Here are a couple of the first ones that I plan to try:

Pear and Ginger Muffins

Warm Winter Vegetable Salad

And just to give you all an additional little taster, here’s an example of a possible day’s menu for each of the four seasons:

Autumn

Breakfast: Indian sweet potato pancakes

Lunch: Chicken & halloumi kebabs with chanterelles

Supper: Aubergine Parmigiana

Winter

Breakfast: Kedgeree with brown rice

Lunch: Pasta puttanesca

Supper: Monkfish with saffron sauce

Spring

Breakfast: Lemon & ricotta spelt pancakes

Lunch: Crab & fennel salad

Supper: Hortense’s fish soup

Summer

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with watercress & smoked salmon

Lunch: Fish cakes

Supper: Wild rice risotto

Oh Hi


It’s Wednesday. I’m checking in from the road. Another day closer to home. I ask myself what I want. I ask myself what I’m doing. I let my mind wander a few more miles. A little encouragement goes a long way, really.

I did something this evening after my last showing of the day that I have never done before. I had a massage therapy treatment at the spa. I swear, I haven’t been as relaxed in my entire life as I was for that hour. It was absolute bliss. I’ve always known that there are tremendous benefits to be achieved through massage therapy, it’s just not something that I’ve ever indulged in. I was so in need of a moment of relaxation tonight. It reduced my muscle tension and gave me relief from my back and hip pain. I know they tell you that therapeutic massage can enhance your overall sense of emotional and physical well-being as well as your quality of life, but I had no idea how right they were until tonight.


“I believe that reality is a sublime comedy staged for my education and amusement, and that there is a benevolent conspiracy to liberate me from my ignorance and help transform me into the unique masterpiece I was born to be.”

My horoscope told me that I should repeat that over and over again.

"Up In The Gym Just Workin’ On My Fitness"


Would you look at that sweaty glow? One very good thing about being on the road is that although the days can be very loooong, a gym is almost always just an elevator ride away- which makes getting my sweat on rather convenient. My daily escapes to the fitness centre in the hotels that I stay in while I’m away have really become what keeps me sane out here. True, it’s not always easy to fit a workout into a busy and stressful day. Often, it means waking up extra early, but there’s no doubt about it being worth it- and let me tell you, it sure helps with the stress factor.

One of my biggest inspirations to shape up recently has been stylish NonSociety babe, Mary Rambin. I discovered her blog a while back and I was instantly drawn to her fab fashion posts and of course, I could relate to her serious shoe addiction. I adored her head to toe videos. Before I knew it, I was hooked to her lifecast and began following it avidly. Not only is she a handbag designer (check out her designs here), spinning instructor (sign up for her class here), and totally awesome blogger, she’s also a seemingly down to earth and totally cool chick. Her regular posts about her workouts, and weekly tips have encouraged me to punch it up, and tone my booty too. It’s totally easy to become burned out with your workout. What I love about Mary is that she’s always suggesting new elements that you can add to your routine to have more fun and stay motivated to be active.


The fun fitness videos and sweaty self photos that she shares on her blog always make me want to lace up my Nikes and give whatever she’s trying a go. Mary says that, “Fitness is part of living a stylish lifestyle.” I couldn’t agree more. Now, I better get some shut eye so that I can wake up for my 6am workout.

Some photos courtesy of Mary Rambin

Update:
Mary reblogged my entry on her site. I’m so honoured! Look!