Wine for A Personal Training Review

Faithful readers know that in the past couple of years I’ve fallen in love with training. I love to lift. Nearly every day, the first thing I do when I wake up – 5 a.m. on weekdays – is head to the gym. Currently that health club is Athletic Apex – New York, located in DestiNY USA in Syracuse, New York. This place is amazing but part of its draw is the specially-trained personal trainers it has on staff.

These trainers not only bring their own expertise and certifications but also are trained by Athletic Apex in something called bionetics. This allows them to custom tailor programs to individuals based on their bodies and goals. Already there have been some pretty spectacular transformations of members who worked with the trainers to assess their needs and create a fitness and nutrition program that works best for them.

Athletic Apex periodically hosts transformation challenge events where members can pay a fee to enter into six-12 week challenges where they commit to changing their body composition. The latest one is under way now and I’m a contender! I first went through a series of assessments to determine my own personal baseline. This data informed my goal, which is consistent with what it’s been thus far, to gain muscle. Along the way, to help me reach my goal more efficiently, I decided to pay for a few sessions with one of the personal trainers, Shawna Moran.

Shawna is no stranger to training. A former bikini competitor herself, she knows what it takes to build muscle. During my three sessions with her, I also discussed what my ideal macros and caloric requirements should be, and a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) assessment will soon be completed to provide even more insight into my own body’s needs.

One of the first things Shawna shared with me is a macro breakdown that had me consuming more healthy fats than carbs, which is different than the way I had been eating. At first, I questioned that because I knew I was trying to build muscle while maintaining or lowering my body fat, especially in my trunk and legs. But, Shawna knows that healthy fats stimulate muscle growth by affecting hormones in a certain way. So, I’m trying her plan! It sure is a challenge to eat fewer carbs after working so hard to eat all the carbs!

Shawna also is helping me with new workouts and approaches to the areas I most need to train – legs and trunk. I now have a new glute-focused leg workout, back workout, concentrating on traps, and next week a hamstring-focused leg workout! She also will write me a full workout to try for the next several weeks. I’ll check in with her periodically so she can see how I’m progressing.

Learning a new way to do curtsy lunges during my first personal training session with Shawna at Athletic Apex.

Working with a personal trainer is not an inexpensive proposition; it’s a huge investment of time and money. But it’s worth every bit of that investment, if you find the right trainer for you. Athletic Apex takes the guesswork out of a big part of that equation by using hard data and science to craft workout programs that get results. But, you also have to kinda like the person you train with! And I like Shawna!

She’s personable, encouraging, smart and efficient. Even on days I haven’t worked with her, I find myself working harder and using many of her techniques I have picked up from training with her. Today, for example, I did a chest workout from Lyzabeth Lopez that I’ve done dozens of times. But, I added a starter set of Smith machine bench presses and a decline bench dumbbell chest press to further focus on chest, an area where assessments have shown that I’m weak. Plus, I’m pushing myself to do one more rep when I think I can’t and concentrating on time under tension for the muscle groups in a way I wasn’t before.

Shawna is your best champion no matter where you are in your health and fitness journey. I’ve observed her working with beginners to people who are more advanced, young and old. And she’s not alone. Athletic Apex has a team of personal trainers, all specially trained and all with the same approach as Shawna. It’s a great place to consider if you’re new to lifting, looking for a new program or just want a nudge in the right direction.

I love my wine as much as I love my lifting routine, and although wine is not the best when you’re trying to stimulate muscle growth, I still reserve a day or two a week to have a glass at the end of a busy day. Last evening, we enjoyed Jargon Pinot Noir. Harbor View Wine and Liquors had it on sale buy one, get one free. It went wonderful with our homemade pizza (I love homemade better than any take-out and it’s healthier, too!).

I think that choice of wine also goes with the idea of personal training. There’s quite a bit of jargon that you end up learning as you work with the experts. From bionetics to RDLs to RMRs, the acronyms and vocabulary are a whole new world! But, it’s a world I highly recommend for anyone who wants to look and feel like a million bucks! Cheers!

Wine for a Change of Plans

I haven’t always been the best at rolling with the punches. In fact, I often would get severe anxiety whenever plans were about to change or if I had no plans or was unable to make plans. Honestly, sometimes I still do get out of sorts but not nearly as bad as it used to be. I’m not sure why I behave this way when change is in the air but I do. Since I’ve had children and several life events over which I had/have NO control, I’ve started to adapt to changeability and am a bit more able to just handle it.

This morning, for example, I arrived bright and early at my usual haunt, Athletic Apex – New York, which opens at 5 a.m. Part of the draw for me and what contributed to me changing gyms in the first place was the fact that it opened a half hour earlier than my previous gym, the Northwest YMCA in Baldwinsville, New York. In fact, typically, it appears as though Apex has been open for hours by the time I pull into the parking lot at 5 a.m. sharp. This morning, however, I noticed that all the cars in the lot had lights on and were still running. The gym was still closed.

At first, I figured it would just be a minute. I thought I saw the guy who works there just inside the doorway and figured maybe he was waiting until exactly the stroke of 5. But then I realized he was on the outside looking in, just like us. After waiting about 10 minutes I got out of the car and asked him if someone was on their way to open. He admitted he had not gotten a hold of anyone yet. In a split second decision I decided to head back out to my old haunt, the Northwest YMCA. Fortunately, we still have the family membership there due to Jon’s voice teaching and the kids’ swimming lessons.

I arrived there just as it was opening at 5:30 a.m. and realized the more things change, the more things stay the same. I recognized the same faces, said hello to some old friends, some of whom I know by name, others simply by face. I put my stuff in the same old locker number 23 and started my workout. Immediately, I noticed how busy the place was and I had to adjust which workout I was going to do to accommodate what was available. I had gotten used to my personal space at Apex! It sure was an adjustment being so close to the person next to me and having to adjust when weights were not available.

It made me appreciate my new gym that much more. I got through the workout just fine and was able to make it home and to work only about 10 minutes behind schedule. See? Change wasn’t so bad. The more I allow myself to embrace it and just go with it, the more I realize there’s no reason to be anxious. This is something I know deep down inside but still is difficult to call forward in the moment.

Tasting new wine is always fun and not at all frightening to me, despite the fact that I may be faced with wines I’ve never had before. I tend to enjoy returning to my old haunts once in a while, too. The other night, I did one of each. I tried a new Pinot Noir called Butternut, and an old standby Sauvignon Blanc from Brancott Estate. Which one did I start with that evening? The old standby. Old habits sure do die hard. Cheers!

Wine for a Fitness Challenge

With a new year comes new opportunities for those who are committing or recommitting to fitness goals. Gyms offer sales on memberships, personal training and other ancillary services to help entice those who are thinking about prioritizing exercise and health. What’s more, trainers and gyms offer challenge opportunities to keep engagement and dedication high and provide a way for people to reach their goals.

A quick scroll through the Instagram fitness stars and you’ll find lots of fitness challenges in progress from the Sweat app to Lyzabeth Lopez’ TWL program there is no shortage of competitions out there for people to take before and after pictures and show real progress with their personal goals. I’ve participated in the Hourglass Challenge a couple of times in the past but as a hard gainer, I really struggle with making visible progress in a short period of time (usually these challenges are about 12 weeks). Despite my previous experience I decided to enter a different challenge this year – one that is only six weeks! But, to me, it’s worth it.

Athletic Apex New York, a gym located in Syracuse, New York, is sponsoring a fitness challenge beginning Jan. 21 and running until early March. Despite the short time period, this challenge offers something I haven’t had an opportunity to do before. It includes full body scans at the beginning and end of the challenge so you have real, hard data to use toward meeting your goals.

Understanding Full Body Scans

The scans, a DEXA and a Fit Body 3D scan, will help take the guess work out of results and progress, according to the gym. The DEXAS scan, which stands for Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, assessment gives specific and reliable data so you can see how your body is responding to training and where you are gaining or losing muscle and fat. This helps focus and optimize your efforts!

Known as the most accurate body composition bio-marker in the world, according to Athletic Apex, it’s a custom calibrated machine that measures bone mineral density, as well as body mass down to the gram in each part of your body.

My results were pretty cool, if I’m being honest. The scan showed that I have 15.2 percent body fat, the rest is lean muscle. A quick Google search shows that this is in the athlete range for women, which is pretty cool since I’m not an athlete, just a fitness enthusiast. In my arms, that percentage was more pronounced; I only have less than a pound of body fat on my arms. Most of my fat is concentrated around my middle and legs, which is normal for women.

The chart above is a breakdown of my body fat versus muscle composition. It shows right down to the body part what the breakdown is. You can see my waist and hips are the leanest parts of my body, followed by my arms. My legs and trunk are the areas on which I need to work to build more muscle while minimizing fat gain.

The scan also provides a bone density assessment; in my case I’m doing well, but could be slightly better. In the color-coded chart below, you will see that the green area is the desired outcome. The manager who performed my scan, Joshua Haan, said that the best way to increase bone density is to lift heavy weights, which I will be doing! Because in order to change my body composition, I’ll need to build lots of lean muscle while minimizing fat gain. Now, that’s a challenge!

The photo above shows my bone density results, right down to body part. Overall, my bone mineral density is in the mid-high range but it ideally should be in the dark green.

In addition, I did a Fit3D scan that includes an assessment of my full body posture, from eyes and ears to feet. A posture analysis evaluates your shoulders, hips, knees and ankle positions when you are standing. It also provides posture Wellness Metrics on body shape, waist circumference, waist to hip and trunk to leg volume ratios, and more, allowing me to see whether I truly am changing my body shape from what many call a “banana” to what I’m hoping for – an hourglass!

This was a fun scan for me because up to now I’ve been measuring on my own and who knows if that’s been accurate. This validated some of my measurements but showed that I was off in other areas. For the most part, the hourglass shape I’m striving for is slowing coming through. My measurements are shown below:

Biceps (R)9.4
Biceps (L)8.9
Thigh (R)18.8
Thigh (L)18.5

What’s interesting here is that you can see where you are “uneven.” For example, I want my biceps/arms to be the same or as close as possible, similar to my thighs. So, that is something to work on. In addition, the FitScan results tell you what your body ratios are, letting you know where you need to improve. For me, I am ideal except for my trunk to leg ratio, which could be improved to move into the ideal range.

These scans will serve as a baseline for me to use with the challenge and I will do them again at the end to see how far I’ve come. In between, I will work my tail off on the areas I need to grow or diminish to create the shape and muscle I want. Along the way, I also plan to work with a personal trainer for at least three sessions to assess my form and get some pointers to help with progress.

To me, this challenge is unique because of the access to the scans, which normally can run upwards of $125. But, I’ve never had this kind of data about my body before and as a type A, detail-oriented person this will likely focus my efforts, helping me get to my goals that much faster.

I had my scans done on a Friday evening after a long week, which included the first classes of the semester. I teach public relations writing at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in addition to my full-time job as a public relations and marketing director for the Martin J. Whitman School of Management there. So, I enjoyed a glass and a half of a Cotes du Rhone aptly named 100%.

In the coming weeks, I’ll post check-ins so you can see how I’m doing on my quest to positively alter my body composition. Challenge accepted! Cheers!

Wine for Resolutions

The start of a new year means rededicating yourself to whatever dreams, goals and objectives you want to achieve. For me, a new year happens twice annually – fall, when school is back in session, and Jan. 1. This year, my New Year’s resolution is to attempt to establish realistic goals that I can reach over the course of the entire year, or at least that is my overarching commitment to myself.

Looking back on 2018, I did pretty well with my resolutions. Did I reach them all? Nope. But, I did meet three of the four, with the fourth one coming in halfway! This year, I have many goals, big and small. I’m sharing them here in case they are inspirational to you, as you think about what you want to be in 2019.

  1. Become a certified personal trainer. OK, this is the biggest goal I have and one I’m calling my “stretch goal.” I really want to do this. I love working out, I love people and I love to teach. This is a way to combine all three. But, to get here, there are steps along the way. I need to complete a course successfully, but before that, I need to choose the course from the many out there. But, before that, I need to find time in my schedule to do this, both the course and then the actual training. So, this one will be a process. But, I’m committed to trying!
  2. Finish Jon’s Christmas stocking. Those who know me know that I am an occasional cross stitcher. Due to the intermittent nature of my cross stitching activity, it often takes me years to finish projects. I’m halfway through my husband’s Christmas stocking that I started a year ago. I’m going to attempt to finish it by Christmas 2019.
  3. Read 30 books. Last year, I read about 30 books, give or take but I really didn’t keep careful track so I’m not positive. It could have been more. This year, I am tracking it, listing each title in my bullet journal as I finish it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll read 40!
  4. Read the Bible. I haven’t read the Bible cover to cover since college. This year, I’m going to do it again. Each evening, I’m reading a chapter until I’m done. I’ve started with John, and will follow with the rest of the Gospels before methodically moving through all the remaining books. Chunking this goal down makes it doable!
  5. Post 24 blog posts. This is also an attainable goal. It requires me to post at least two blog posts a month and since I usually do at least three to four, I think two will be just fine! This post is one of 24!
  6. De-stress with a bath and/or massage twice a month. A friend and co-worker reminded me at the end of 2018 of the importance of self-care. I’m considering myself reminded and am committing to it in this way. Even if I only do this once a month, it’s one more time than I did it in 2018!
  7. Gain five pounds. The elusive 100-pound goal weight is in sight now that I’m nearly 96 pounds. It’s been a long time coming for this hard-gainer but I think 2019 is my year. I need to make sure I hit my macros, workout consistently and progressively and drink ALL the water.

I have seven goals, my lucky number. I wrote them in my bullet journal/planner but documenting them here is extremely therapeutic, as well, and makes them more real somehow. I’m excited to have a mix of super attainable, practical goals along with those that are a little more challenging.

Since Christmas, I’ve enjoyed 10 wines (it was my two-week vacation so I had more time to sip!). Of all the bottles we opened, the one that spoke to me most in terms of resolutions was 2015 Mystic Red from Auspicion Vineyards. I want to believe that 2019 will be an auspicious year for me and the play on words reminded me of that favorable feeling. Funny enough, that was my least favorite wine in terms of taste! That prize goes to a 2013 red blend from the Tuscany region of Italy. Bottled by Monte Antico, it’s a combination of grapes from a variety of vineyards and it’s in the true Tuscan, light-bodied red style.

Come to think of it, none of my resolutions involve wine. Might need to add a bonus goal at some point this year. I’ll keep you posted. Cheers!

Wine for Top Posts of 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, I decided to review my analytics to see which of my posts were most popular this year. By and large this year marked a turning point in the type of content I’m sharing with my followers. After sharing details about my own fitness journey, I discovered that fitness was a topic that resonated with my readers. I added more of that type of content not only on this blog, but also through Instagram, where I’ve been chronicling my daily workouts and challenges. At any rate, without further ado, below are the top 10 most popular posts of 2018 here at Wine for All Times.

10. Wine for When Dinner Cooks Itself

9. Wine for Field Hockey

8. Wine for An Instant Pot

7. Wine for A Day in the Life Fall Edition

6. Wine for a New Workout App

5. Wine for Workout Friends

4. Wine for Sharing my Workout Journey – Part 1

3. My Hard Gainer Fitness Routine

2. My Hard Gainer Meal and Supplement Plans

And the winner is…..

Wine for A New Gym Review

What do you want me to blog about in 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Happy new year, everyone!

Wine for Baking Cookies

The holidays are an extremely busy time of year for me, as they are for most. Between buying all the gifts, decorating, preparing for special Christmas Masses at church and attending all the kids’ activities, it can get downright stressful! As an Italian, I also have the tradition of baking Christmas cookies. Each year we do anywhere from six to eight to 10 different kinds, which takes hours of work. 

Last weekend, we did five of them, and when I say “we” I mean my daughter and I. My 8-year-old seems to be more engaged in helping with the baking than my 12-year-old but both do end up helping me frost and dip cookies. I don’t complain! Whatever help they can give is that much less that I need to do! This year, we made eight different kinds at about four dozen each for a total of around 400 cookies. We put them in sealed containers and freeze them all in the big freezer in the basement, removing them as we create cookie tins and trays for our friends and family.

Some of the cookies we bake are age-old recipes from my great Italian grandmother, Assunta Amore Toscano. My oldest daughter is named after here (Maria Assunta). I was really little and don’t remember much about her except going to her house for dinner sometimes. But, she left recipes for Italian Fudge and Almond Macaroons, among others. Italian Fudge are my favorite holiday cookie. They are chocolate balls dipped in chocolate frosting and they have whiskey inside so, hey, what’s not to like?

The Almond Macaroons are a tricky one to bake, at least for me. One change in an ingredient or variable in the recipe and the whole thing comes out badly. This year, unfortunately, was one of those years. I tried different almond paste and I had a tricky time measuring out the sugar (long story). The kids say they taste the same but I don’t know. Plus the consistency is a little off. Anyway, you can’t be perfect every year and there is still another week to go. Who knows? Maybe I’ll try again!

The remaining cookies we made were: Hermits, Cut-outs, Hazelnut Thumbprints, Peanut Butter Dips, Biscotti and Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip. My husband makes a few of his, as well, so we have a total of 10 or 11 different kinds in our house right now, plus any that we receive from others. It’s a sugar festival!

While baking, I try not to drink too much. It’s hard enough to keep all the balls in the air and juggle all the stuff. The mixer, oven and sink all get quite the workout as I move through all the baking. But, afterwards, as I rest my poor feet and back, I definitely enjoy a glass or two of wine. This year, my husband brought home an Old Vine Zinfandel from Bogle, a relatively easy to find vintage. I don’t normally like Zins at all but this one wasn’t terrible. I tend not to enjoy the spicy character but this one had enough fruit that it balanced out some of that peppery taste I dislike. 

The fact that it was Old Vine was appropriate given that some of the recipes are so old. I’m sure even the versions I’m baking aren’t exactly the same as what my great grandmother baked. They hardly wrote anything down! But, someone tried to write it down and I go with that plus a little of my own experience through the years guides me through to the final product.

For those who are interested, below is a recipe I’m willing to share! Happy baking and happy holidays!

Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Wine for Being Organized

Those who know me well know that I’m extremely organized. At home and at work, I’m usually the one with all her ducks in a row. I truly believe this is the only way I can juggle being a wife, mom, manager, professor, friend and colleague. Since the New Year is really right around the corner, I’m reminded that for many, it’s a time to renew commitments to being organized. For others, it’s a time to make positive changes and sometimes that means figuring out how those changes integrate into daily life. This post will lay out some of the many things I do to keep myself organized day to day.

  1. Google/Outlook Calendars – I use both. Google is my personal calendar, which I share with my husband. It’s color coded by family member to help easily see what’s what. The minute an event or deadline or appointment is set, it goes on the calendar. This way, it reduces the chances of it getting missed. Outlook is the one I use at work. I put all my meetings on it, as well as time out of the office, plus my class times are included. I am careful always to mark down my busy time so people can’t schedule meetings during those times.
  2. Daily Planner – I have a daily planner where I keep lists of all that needs to get done. There are four main sections – workouts, personal items and appointments and work task list. In 2018, I used the Catholic Daily Planner and I enjoyed the layout so much that I ordered another, larger size for 2019. Some people use bullet journals, while others just keep lists. Whatever works for you, I highly encourage. For me, the workouts help me not only keep track of the days I lift but also how much I’m lifting so I continue to progress. I don’t keep track of my nutrition here since I use MyFitnessPal for that but there’s just something about writing down the workouts! I also love the calendar feature that allows me to list all the important activities for the week. I mostly end up putting the personal stuff on there just to keep me sane on that front! I include piano, swim, cheer, field hockey, even Mass on there!
  3. Meal Planning – I do my grocery shopping every Saturday morning. Friday night or Saturday morning, I plan out dinners for the week and write down all that I need to buy. I try to go through the freezer and pantry to use what we have as much as possible but, I admit, I sometimes fall down there! But, planning it all out helps save money and time. If the recipes are online, the links go right into our shared Google Calendar, otherwise the book and page number are listed. I post the dinner menu on the fridge so everyone knows that to expect.
  4. Nighttime Routine – Every evening, I take the time to plan for the next morning. I fill my shaker bottles and set up my gym bag and clothes, set out my clothes for the next morning, get my work bag packed and set out anything else that needs to be ready to go. I make the kids lunches and put the cold stuff in the fridge for them. They assemble them on their own each morning. I lay out Christopher’s clothes for him and he dresses himself. I try to set things up so the kids can be responsible individually for their own stuff to the extent they can. Having everything ready like that is a huge help in the morning and the only way I can get out the door timely.
  5. Do things the minute you think of them or write it down – I try to just handle things as they come to me or write it down immediately so I can’t forget. If I remember I need to write a check for the piano teacher, I stop and do it, or I make a note or set an alarm. I look at mail the minute it comes in or I get home and review it. I write things down at work as I think of things I need to do.
  6. Neat and tidy – I am as neat as I can be. I have a few spots in the house that are not as neat and organized (my closet, for one), but for the most part everything has a place and I try to keep things organized. It’s helpful for me to know where things are and to be surrounding by neat rather than chaos. Sure, sometimes things get away from me but our house and my office are generally tidy with things put away or stacked neatly. Now that I have two weeks off between Christmas and New Year’s, I use the time to clean out closets and the kids’ rooms, etc. in preparation for the new year. Spring/summer is another key clean out time. Other than that, we just try to keep up throughout the year.

When I’m cleaning my house, I love to sip wine. Something easy drinking that can stand on its own works best since I am likely not also snacking or dining while cleaning! One can only multitask so much! I would recommend a fruity Cabernet, semi-dry Riesling or even a sparkly Cava or Prosecco to celebrate your newfound organization skills! Cheers!


Wine for Cheerleading

This school year has been busier than previous ones mostly because the kids have gotten more involved in extracurricular activities, such as field hockey, in addition to their regular saxophone, piano and swimming lessons. Plus, our church has been offering more activities for them so we try to get to those as much as possible. On any given week, our Google Calendar is a rainbow of color; I color code per family member to help me keep track of who is who and what is what. Jon is green, I’m red, Maria is blue, Lucia is pink and Christopher is purple, all our favorite colors, making it easy to quickly identify. The vast majority of the pink entries have to do with Lucia’s new favorite activity, cheerleading.

One day last spring, Lucia came home and said, “Mom, I want to be a cheerleader.” Just out of the blue. I asked her if her friends were doing it and she said, no. I asked her if she knew what it entailed and she said, no. So, over the summer she enrolled in a FUNdamentals cheerleading camp to see what the sport was all about. She ended up not only completing that six-week session, but also participating in a weeklong cheer camp, too. After seeing that she was enjoying it so much, I asked the gym what her options would be going forward. They suggested she join a competitive prep team. Fast forward a few months and she’s in the midst of training for her first competition with Little Winds, a mini prep team with girls ages 5 to 8.

little winds cheer team photoShe tumbles, stunts and dances. They have a routine they are working on and they spend two hours every Sunday perfecting it. A couple of weeks ago, they participated in their first exhibition and they did really well! It was their first time in front of judges and a crowd. In addition to the Sunday practice, she also has the opportunity to enroll in extra classes during the week or clinics with nationally-recognized cheer coaches, such as the one she took part in this morning to work on her tumbling skills. All in all, it’s a lot of time and resources but I can see the payoff. She’s learning to work as part of a team, meeting new friends and developing good discipline.

Come January, we’ll be starting a four-month long series of competitions and exhibitions, some as far away as Erie, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York. If she continues with the sport, she may even have the opportunity to travel to bigger U.S. cities and even Canada. Time will tell.

CNY Storm

The cheer gym she is a part of is called CNY Storm, an all-star gym with the distinction of being the first in New York State when it opened in 1996. I had done a great deal of research before deciding to enroll her here. It’s run by a mother-daughter team with a great deal of experience. I was in awe of the championship banners throughout the gym and how friendly the other cheerleaders and parents were. While it’s been a challenge learning the all-star cheerleading scene and all that is expected and all that goes on, it’s been interesting and fun! I’ve even met a few new people!

New Experiences

Developing a new hobby is a little bit like searching for that elusive amazing  wine that you haven’t experienced before. It can take time and resources to find a good one. I read Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, as well as follow hundreds of wine influencers, distributors, winemakers and enthusiasts like me. It’s the main way I learn about new wine, and hear about ones to try. Tonight, I’ll be trying a new Barolo I picked up at Maximum Wine and Liquor this morning. Plus, I’m certain there will be lots of wine when we go on those cheerleading trips next spring. The other cheer moms and I are already planning! Give “cheers” a whole new meaning!

Wine for Speedball

As many faithful readers know, I love to workout. Lifting weights is my jam. Typically, I do my own thing, waking up early and lifting weights with a little cardio thrown in. Very rarely do I participate in group fitness classes. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, but I guess it’s that I don’t enjoy them enough to adjust my schedule to attend them. Over the years, I’ve tried different classes, mostly before I had children.

Back then, I loved a good kickboxing class. In fact, I still remember the one I used to take at Gold’s Gym in Liverpool, New York. I think the instructor’s name was Meghan? She was a spitfire and I always left feeling sore and spent but really, really great!

I also took a lot of Body Pump classes which were basically weight training group classes. Then, I went through a yoga phase. But after that, nothing. It was mostly due to the fact that I could never make it to the classes due to my schedule. Then, I had children and wasn’t working out at all. Fast forward to now — I have been lifting weights for more than two years on the regular and now when I try a group fitness class, it’s super easy and not worth it at all.

For example, our local YMCA has a PiYo class, which is totally boring and not at all challenging. I pretty much wrote off group classes. But, a few weeks ago, I ran into a fellow gym goer who mentioned this Speedball Class that I had never heard of. She said it was led but an awesome instructor and that it worked muscles she never knew she had. So, this past Saturday I gave it a shot.

When I arrived at Athletic Apex just before 8 a.m., I was a bit worried. No one was there and the instructor, Tisha, said there typically are only a handful who show up. Thankfully, two others showed for a total of three in the class! I was a bit nervous with it being my first time but honestly it wasn’t too bad. There were a few moves I had trouble navigating (did I mention I have two left feet? Yeah, no Zumba for me!), but for the most part I kept up! The abs section was a burner but in a feels so good sort of way. Despite everyone saying I’d be sore for a week, I only had slightly sore glute muscles for about 24 hours or so and that was it! I’m actually thinking I might give it another go this weekend!

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even try kickboxing, too. It’s nice sometimes, as one of the trainers mentioned to me a few days later, to see how you compare to others in terms of fitness level. I feel like I was in excellent shape compared to the others in the class and judging from the fact that I was not sore all week, it wasn’t too difficult for me. It’s good for me to try something new once in a while and get out of the weightlifting rut.

What kind of wine goes with Speedball? Well, that tiny two-pound ball was quite heavy by the end of the 45-minute class! But, instead of a heavier wine, I was thinking more along the lines of something signifying a transition to other types of fitness activity. So, later that day, I tasted The Crossings’ Sauvignon Blanc at Harbor View Wine and Liquors and purchased a bottle. It was a grapefruit bomb, my favorite characteristic in a Sauvignon Blanc and very refreshing and enjoyable. If I try that kickboxing class, I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes! Cheers!


Wine for Field Hockey

This year, all three of our children attend school and are involved in activities outside the classroom. Christopher takes swimming lessons, Lucia takes piano and swimming lessons and participates on an all-star prep cheerleading team, and Maria takes piano and saxophone lessons and plays on the 7th/8th grade modified field hockey team for Liverpool Central School district.

Team sports is a new thing for me as I did not play any sports while growing up besides a short stint with summer volleyball camp in 9th grade. So, this is all new – making sure she has the right equipment for the sport and getting her picked up from games, as well as attending as many as I can. Luckily, though I never played field hockey besides in gym class, it’s relatively easy to figure out the rules. Sometimes we get a bit confused on all those whistles but for the most part, as Coach Carla Hacker told us, “it’s soccer with sticks!”

Benefits of Team Sports in Middle School

  1. Physical Fitness: Team sports are incredibly important to a young girls’ development. Physically, they’re growing like crazy during the middle school years and staying active is helpful for their growth.
  2. Mental Health: They meet and bond with other girls like them, giving them a ready-made social network. It’s hard enough entering 7th grade in our district, which brings together three large elementary schools of children who have never met before. Having a safe place where a girl knows she has friends is critical.
  3. Time Management: Middle school is a big leap from elementary school in terms of classes and homework. With so much to keep track of and new ways of learning, including practice and games is complicated, but it’s a great way to quickly learn time management. Girls have to maintain solid grades while playing and are encouraged to do homework in between school and sports.
  4. Family Bonding: We try to go to the games as a family. Siblings need to see that the family supports each other in whatever activity they are doing. It’s a great way to spend time together, too, during what can be hectic weeks. Even extended family can choose to attend the just more than an hour long games.
  5. Marketability: When it comes time for students to apply to college, having a team sport on their resume helps. It shows they are well-rounded, can function on a team and care about their well-being.

While it’s been busy and stressful at times, I’m actually sad the short two-month field hockey season draws to a close next week. While Maria will continue to play indoor once a week to keep her skills fresh, it won’t be quite the same. I am hopeful she will rejoin the team in 8th grade, continuing her momentum and further developing all the skills that team sports allow one to develop. The family and I will be watching!

rainbow over the field hockey game
Courtesy: Lauren Naum

Wine Selection: This week, one of the games was rough. It was played in 42-degree weather with driving rain, hail and wind joining the party. One of the players’ moms took a gorgeous shot of a rainbow over the field that evening but that was about the prettiest thing on the field. Those poor girls were frozen! They only played two periods instead of the three to four usual. As for the parents? We were huddled up against the shed, protected from wind, covered with blankets and wearing hats and gloves. We all really needed a hot toddy! But, instead I enjoyed a Chardonnay, Bread and Butter, from California, that evening. The classic full-bodied white grape somehow warmed my soul and was a tasty ending to a long day. Next time, maybe I’ll sneak a “water” bottle on to the sidelines with a bit of vino to keep me warm while watching the sticks fly!