Tag Archives: Zumba

My First Zumba Party

22 Feb

Happy Friday!!! I’m currently holding a massive cup of tea to warm my frozen hands – the weather here in D.C. is no joke this week! It has actually been painful just being outside. Where are you spring?

Zumba with Vida

Last weekend, I got to participate in my very first Zumba dance party at U Street Music Hall. The event was sponsored by Vida Fitness and featured their uber talented Zumba instructors.

zumbavidaSince my only exposure to Zumba has been through classes at the gym, I had no idea what a full out dance party was going to hold. Luckily I had my gym buddy and workout partner Allison to help navigate the scene.

IMG_2051[1]The event took place at the U Street Music Hall. While the venue is known for hosting some awesome shows and famous performers, it’s actually very inconspicuous. Were it not for the iPhone, we definitely would have missed it. As we were walking towards the venue, a woman stopped and asked us how to get there as well, so we were not alone!

IMG_2049[1]There was a stage for the instructors and the rest of the room was set up for dancers, with a DJ in the back. They had designed a custom playlist just for the event and it featured lots of Latin music, with a side of hip hop. Since Allison and I felt like total noobs, we dropped our stuff off and creeped on the other people at the event -naturally. It was clear that many, if not most, of the attendees were regular Zumba-ers at Vida, an observation that was made apparent after the music started and a majority of the dancers knew the routines to all the dances.

Since I’ve attended Zumba regularly at my gym, I knew a lot of the steps, but it was hard to see the instructors (we were near the back) and I was definitely lost during some of the songs with more complex choreography. I have to hand it to the instructors: they had enough energy to power the room! There were almost ten instructors, so they would take turns coming down to the floor and dancing with us while the others danced on-stage. It was fun to see the different flavors each instructor brought to the dances.

Funny story, an Egyptian song came on that I totally knew all the words to! It was hilarious. The belly dance choreography was probably the only part I could execute with some grace.

There were a couple of brief intermissions (with an open bar, to boot!) but for the most part, it was an all-out dance party. Some people took it more seriously than others – I mostly focused on bopping around and making sure I got some movement in, even when I didn’t know the steps. The girl next to me knew every single song and totally put me to shame.

By the time I was ready to leave, the part was starting to wind down and become more casual – the instructors hopped off the stage and formed a big circle with all the dancers with people taking turns going in the middle. I was not about to publicize my lack of moves, but people were obviously having a good time.

My thoughts? I just loved the fact that people have been able to find a form of exercise that they love. I think it’s the best when exercise doesn’t feel like a chore and I think Zumba fits that description for a lot of people. Personally, if I’m going to dance then it’s going to be out with my friends or in my towel after getting out of the shower. I have a pretty good sense of rhythm and I love to get my dance on, but I start to lose interest when specific choreography is involved.

Could I see myself going to another Zumba party? Maybe. If they had a more interesting playlist. I would have preferred a little more variety in the music as all the songs kind of started sounding the same after awhile. A little Top 40 or old school pop would have been a nice surprise. I could totally see myself shaking my booty to a little Spice Girls.

Have you ever been to a Zumba party or other large group workout? What did you think?

I want to thank Vida Fitness for inviting me to their party. My entrance fee was complimentary, but I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions in this post are 100% mine.




In Real Life

28 Nov

I decided to switch things up this morning and walk to work! Normally I take the bus (and in rare cases, the Metro), but today was so beautiful and Google Maps said it would take 45 minutes, so I decided to give it a go. I made sure to bundle up before I left the house because last night was unbelievably cold – chattering teeth and purple nail beds definitely made an appearance. Armed with a hat, scarf, and gloves, plus leggings underneath my pants, I headed out. Luckily for me, the 2.5 mile walk to work is completely downhill and I made it there in 40 minutes – about the same time it takes me when I’m on public transportation. New goal: walk to work when the weather is nice and only take the bus/Metro in inclement weather. The walk definitely energized me and I came into the office feeling much cheerier than I usually do at 8:30 in the morning.

Speaking of morning, I have been waking up about 10 minutes before my alarm every day this week. This has given me a few extra minutes in the morning to read the New York Times on my phone while sipping a gigantic mug of tea. This morning, it was accompanied by some maple walnut oatmeal.

Maple Walnut Oatmeal

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned raw oats
  • 1.5 cups water
  • couple of tablespoons of maple syrup
  • handful of crush walnuts
  • sprinkle of chia seeds

Simple. Tasty. Works for me!

Want to know what else is simple and tasty? The lunch I made yesterday, which was leftover from dinner the night before.

Guyysssss, you have to try it! The combination of flavors just really clicks for me – it’s classically Mediterranean. I’m going to call it a Mediterranean Tuna Salad and here’s how it goes:

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

  • 1 can garbanzo beans (drained)
  • 1 can tuna (drained)
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced lengthwise and then chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions? Mix it all up. This made two servings for me and I eat a lot, so it might even work as three servings, if you supplement it with something else. It took me all of five minutes to make and works really well on its own or inside a pita or wrap. Seriously good eats.

I was still deciding on which group class I wanted to attend while walking to the gym after work. I had made up my mind to go to Spin, but I remembered that you needed to sign up for a bike beforehand and I didn’t want to be that jerk who took somebody else’s bike. Instead, I popped into the class next door which was Zumba. You might remember that I had previously talked about some of the Zumba classes no longer getting my heart rate up, so I wasn’t expecting anything particularly strenuous. Workout-wise, it would have been a better decision to go to boot camp, but a good thing did come of the class: I finally met Allison of Wicked Healthy Washingtonian in real life! I started following her blog after discovering we went to the same gym and she introduced herself to me after class. This was the first time I had met somebody I met through the blog in person and I felt like I already knew her after reading her blog over the past few weeks. Needless to say, she is as wonderful in person as she is online and it was great fun to finally meet. She’s taking her very first Body Pump class tonight and I am really excited for her because I think she’s going to love it. At least, I hope she does! I’m always trying to get more people to jump on the Pump bandwagon 🙂

The walk home from the bus last night was brutal in the cold and I needed something hot for dinner. I may have turned on the stove and warmed my hands while I was prepping for dinner. I was feeling the protein, so I did a simple scramble with three eggs, lots of frozen veggies, and a Trader Joe’s sun dried tomato and basil chicken sausage.

A little salsa on top and wrapped in a whole-wheat lavash, it was the perfect dinner to warm my insides. Especially when immediately followed by a really hot shower. Does anybody else feel tempted to shower just to warm themselves up in the winter? I am particularly bad at regulating my body temperature, so hot showers are something I eagerly anticipate in the colder months.

I hope everybody is off to a great start to their day – it is pretty incredible how much more energy I have this morning. Cheers to getting your walk on!

Food for Thought: How do you usually get to work/school? Does morning exercise make a difference in your energy level during the day?

Back on the Wagon

27 Nov

Good morning, sunshines! It’s not sunny at all over here, actually. There was a light mist when I left the house this morning, but I didn’t have to wait for the bus in the rain, thank goodness!

After all of the Thanksgiving festivities over the weekend, it felt good to get back on the healthy eating wagon. Lunch was all about plant power and I loaded my plate with an assortment of veggies, an apple, and fatayer (a Middle Eastern flatbread).

The plate looked so pretty with all the bright colors of the vegetables and filled me right up, thanks to all of the fiber. As I explained to my mom on the phone last night, my stomach was not super copacetic with all of the rich, heavy Thanksgiving dishes. After several months of clean eating, I could definitely feel the effects of the butter and starch-heavy foods I had been consuming. Don’t get me wrong, I love stuffing and mashed potatoes and all the other Thanksgiving yummies, but meal after meal of said yummies definitely took a toll on my body and I was more than ready to welcome the veggies by the end of the weekend.

I headed over to the gym right after work to get my Pump on. Now that the sun is setting so early, it is dark outside by the time I leave the office and it feels much later than it actually is. Luckily, I walk straight to the gym and don’t have any time to talk myself out of a workout. If I had some down time at home before my classes, my gym attendance would drop faster than the Hope Diamond into the ocean (I’ll never let go, Jack!).

I was pretty eager to get to class so I could get my sweat on and also to test out my new kicks!

The shoe is the Nike Dart 9 women’s shoe and there is a similar men’s counterpart, as well. It’s meant to be a cross-training shoe and designed for low mileage (20 miles a week, or so). Since I’m not a runner, I don’t have to be especially picky about my shoes and I picked these because they were lightweight, breatheable, and came in a cute color. Priorities, right?

We had a substitute Body Pump instructor in class who had only been teaching for six months or so. He was a good teacher and definitely gave a good workout, but you could tell that he hasn’t really come into his teaching “style” yet, as he felt very technical. I felt the burn on the arm sets and the triceps and biceps got quite the workout!

By the time I walked in the door to my house, I was majorly craving some protein and threw together a quick tuna and garbanzo bean wrap. Grape tomatoes and Persian cucumbers were on sale at the grocery store, so now I have way more of each than I could possibly wanted. Maybe some cucumber tzatziki sauce is in order this week?

1 can of each garbanzo beans and tuna, a Persian cucumber, a handful of sliced grape tomatoes, a slightly-larger-than-necessary piece of feta cheese, and a drizzle of EVOO later and I had a ridiculously easy salad to wrap up in a whole wheat lavash. PLUS leftovers for lunch! Love that.

This morning it was back to the yogurt bowl, BUT I mixed it up by tossing some thawed frozen berries in the mix for a pop of flavor and color.

Frozen berries are really the way to go – they’re significantly cheaper than fresh berries and they’re accessible all year round. Plus they’re so versatile! Heat them in a saucepan with some sugar and you’ve got a great berry sauce for pancakes or French toast, toss them in frozen with some yogurt and soy milk for a quick smoothie, or thaw them out and put them in your cereal.

I haven’t decided which workout I’m going to do today – I have the option of yoga, boot camp, Zumba, or Spin. I love that the gym offers so many classes for us to try, it’s impossible to get bored!

Food For Thought: What is your favorite shoe for running or cross-training? Do you use different shoes for each?

Have a wonderful day!!


None of the Above

21 Nov

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, fellow Americans! Apologies to all blog readers outside the USA – the Thanksgiving mayhem is almost over. The turkey photo above is a huuuuge blow-up that is in the front yard of one the houses I  walk past as I come home from the bus stop. They had a pretty great Halloween set-up, too. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for Christmas!

Do you remember the dilemma I faced yesterday, when I couldn’t decide between Zumba, Spin, or Boot Camp for my daily workout? I ended up choosing (d) none of the above and went to yoga instead. After this post by Allison at Wicked Healthy Washingtonian, I took a few minutes to listen to my body and decided that I needed something that would get my body moving, but was low-impact. At Body Pump on Monday, I noticed a sharp pain behind my left kneecap while I was doing the squatting and lunging sets, which had me a little worried. Between that and really tough chest and triceps sets (I increased my weight!), I really needed to just stretttttttch.

Ha! Maybe someday…


Yoga was exactly what I needed and I felt much better after leaving the studio…although the yoga studio has been temporarily moved, due to construction at my gym, so we were right next to the Spin class. Needless to say, listening to Pitbull while I’m trying to get my asanas on doesn’t put me in the most namaste of moods.

After getting home, I wandered aimlessly around the kitchen before putting together a tuna salad wrap for dinner.

I also learned that one of my roommates hates the smell of canned tuna. Interesting!

I didn’t have the most restful of sleeps and was awake half an hour before my alarm was meant to go off. That left me with a bit more time in the kitchen this morning, so I put together some pumpkin spice oatmeal for breakfast.

  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla soy milk
  • sprinkle of chia seeds
  • dash of ground cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice
  • a tablespoon or two of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin

I’m so precise.

Along with the new vanilla and cinnamon tea I picked up from Trader Joe’s, it was a cozy breakfast – perfect for pre-Thanksgiving!

Speaking of Thanksgiving meals, I came across some great blog posts this morning that I feel are great reminders of approaching how we eat during the holiday season. You might remember my brief post about it, when I was discussing the 80-20 rule of eating, but I just wanted to bring it up again, since tomorrow is the start of Holiday Meal Mode.

Lindsay of Lindsay’s List and Colleen of The Lunchbox Diaries both had some great things to say. Essentially?


Yes, now is the time when everyone puts on weight from holiday indulgences and then proceeds to diet immediately afterwards, thanks to New Year’s Resolutions.

Guys? It’s going to be okay! Eating a slice (or two) of pumpkin pie isn’t going to ruin your life. Dipping a candy cane into some spiced cider while you’re at home for the holidays is not going to derail your fitness regime. The time between now and New Year’s Day is a time to be thankful, to spend quality time with loved ones, and to realize that it’s okay to indulge and then get right back on the healthy eating wagon. I, for one, am not going to skimp on stuffing just because it’s not the best decision for my fitness goals. How many times do I eat stuffing outside of Thanksgiving dinner? A whopping ZERO times.

What Lindsay called “fake eating” in her post, is an insult to all that I believe holidays stand for: being grateful for what you have. In this case, good food and loving family/friends. I thought these words she wrote were particularly poignant:

“From 1998-2004 or so, I would “fake eat” at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’d follow all of those rules I listed above and make up some of my own.  Pushing food around on my plate to make it seem like I ate.  Spitting food out into napkins, hoping no one would notice.  And if I’m being perfectly honest, a couple of those dark years, I’m sure I went upstairs and purged that meal.  The meal my mama worked so hard to cook.


Dude.  What the heck!

It’s unacceptable behavior.  And it directly opposes the very thought of Thanksgiving.  We’re supposed to be THANKFUL for this food that we’ve been blessed with.  Thankful for the hands that prepared the meal.  Thankful that we can break bread together.”

So. PLEASE enjoy yourselves tomorrow, this weekend, next month. Don’t eat a whole plate of cookies, but don’t beat yourself up for eating one or two or three. Eat the mashed potatoes and the pecan pie and the yummy bread rolls that come right out of the oven. You’ve got January through October to eat clean. Enjoying special holidays with loved ones? That is healthy living.

I wish you all a most wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. If you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, too!


Worth It?

20 Nov

Hi all! Sorry for the super late post – it has been a madhouse over in my corner of the office as I try to get the monthly journal out before Thanksgiving. Luckily, it’s at the printer and I am on my lunch break so I have a short amount of time to check in and say hello!

I woke up this morning and my tummy was feeling less than stellar. I thought it might have been due to the fact that I ate a whole spaghetti  squash last night. I usually cut it in half length-wise and save half of it, but I was ravenous and ate the whole thing in one sitting, underneath some marinara sauce and grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano.

My poor tummy. As a result, I really wasn’t feeling breakfast this morning, but I had a smoothie just so I could get my metabolism up and running.

In the mixer:

  • Handful of frozen berries (from the big bags you get at Costco)
  • Half a cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • A cup or so of vanilla soy milk to get things nice and smooth

I took a long time to drink it, but it ended up tiding me over until lunch! I still wasn’t too hungry when lunchtime rolled around, so I nibbled on the rice and tofu veggie stir fry I had made over the weekend.

Pardon the messy desk, it’s deadline time! I also tried to drink some Sprite to ease my tummy, but it’s unfinished and I’m still not feeling too hot. What gives, body? I’m hope that it will calm down in the next couple of hours so I can make it to the gym. I still haven’t decided which class I’m going to, since Spin, Boot Camp, and Zumba are all at the same time. Hurray for variety!

Speaking of lunches, I got together with a classmate from college  yesterday and we had lunch together. We went over to Chop’t, which is a salad bar that takes all of the ingredients you want in a salad, chops them to bits using a couple of knives, and gives it to you in a massive to-go container.

In my salad, I chose arugula as my base, with cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, avocado, and hard boiled eggs “chop’t” in.  They also put a slice of pita bread on the side! I thoroughly enjoyed my salad- it was delicious and filling. My one qualm is that I spent almost $10 on something I could just as easily make myself. Is it worth it to buy a salad when you go out to eat? I always try to choose something I would never make myself, so it feels like a special treat.

Okay, it’s time to put the nose back to the grindstone and crank this journal out! The more I get done today, the less stressful tomorrow will be. I hope everybody is enjoying their day and getting all their Thanksgiving preparations together (if applicable!). I can’t wait to scan the blogosphere and see pictures of all the delicious pictures people have posted of their meals.

Food For Thought: How do you feel about ordering something at a restaurant that could easily be made at home? What’s your favorite special meal to order when you are out to dinner?






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