Thursday, August 16, 2012

Assembling a Proform Elliptical

After much back and forth with Groupon, I finally received an enormous box containing the parts of my very own elliptical machine!  Read my initial post about my new elliptical here!  To summarize, Groupon ran a deal for a Proform elliptical for a ridiculously cheap price.  I purchased it.  I waited two weeks, and the tracking information was never supplied, so I contacted Groupon's customer service.  Groupon's customer service told me that my order had been unilaterally cancelled by them, to which I protested heavily, but they just refunded my money.  I still protested, because I didn't want my money, I wanted the product that I purchased!  After many emails and phone calls, some of which even involved Proform directly, Groupon did the right thing and sent my elliptical.  It arrived via a special delivery truck last Friday afternoon.

Below is our story of assembling the elliptical!

Although the assembly directions showed all of the pieces in the below photo as separate pieces that needed to be put together, they came out of the box already assembled.  Three cheers!  We first had to attach the front and back stabilizing legs to the unit.  A seemingly easy task, yet it took a lot of muscle on the part of my husband to accomplish, because the screws were rather stubborn.

The next step was to attach the front pole and the base's top cover.  This step required two people, because the crucial wires had to be threaded up the front pole to be later attached to the console.  Then, with wires dangling precariously from the top, with fingers crossed that the wires did not adhere to that pesky thing called gravity and slip back down the pole, I held the front pole as my husband attached the pole to the base and locked the base's top cover to the base.

Below is another view of the front pole with the wires ready to be attached to the console.

We then started the attachment process with the pedals.  They "slid" onto a knob which attached to the wheel.  It sounds simple, but this was no easy "slide."  It was yet another step where my husband was throwing his entire body weight into pushing against pieces to make them lock into place.  I would have absolutely been unable to this on my own.

More steps completed!  The arms attached to both the front pole and the pedals.  We had to "generously" spread grease on the points of attachment so they would slide easily when used (they do squeak slightly now that the entire elliptical is assembled, so we may not have used enough, but if the squeak gets too bad I am sure we can buy grease cheaply at the Home Depot).  And, of course, screw it all together.  We also attached the console.  The elliptical runs off of 4 D batteries (which cost about $7 at our local drugstore), and are hidden under the back cover of the console.  We then attached the wires from the front pole to the console, and slid the console over the front pole and screwed it on.  It worked immediately, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

The finished product!

From start to finish, it took us about 4 hours, but this included breaks (we were tracking my sister's Ironman progress that afternoon).  The manual estimated 2.5 hours.  This was definitely a two-person project, and one of these people preferably should be able to hold up heavy objects for extended periods of time!

We have placed the elliptical in an empty space between the bed and the window and air conditioner.  When not in use, we leave it close to the window so no one accidentally bumps into it.  It easily slides, so we move it on an angle when we want to use it so we have a view of the television.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Sister Is An Ironman!

My little (yet significantly taller and stronger!) sister just completed her first Ironman race this past weekend in New York City.  Her blog post is here, and I highly suggest you take the time to read it!

(My sister, Silver, during her bike portion of the Ironman!  photo credit)

She starting racing by 7am on Saturday morning, and my husband and I tracked her progress online all day.  Her swim time was fast... so fast, that we called my parents, who woke up before 4am to watch the entire event, to make sure the computer results were actually accurate.  Her swim time was only 3 minutes behind the man that won the entire race!

We then tracked her bike progress (they updated every few miles with her time) and when she was about halfway through her marathon (you know, because who doesn't like to cap a 2.4 mile swim and a 100+ mile bike ride with a marathon?) we hopped on the subway to head to the finish line in Manhattan.  Somehow, we managed to find my parents and my sister's boyfriend in the stands near the finish line and cheered for her as she crossed the finish line, over 13 hours after she began racing!

It was absolutely amazing to watch.  I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this must have been for my sister.  It was a feat of strength, endurance, and willpower, and our whole family will forever be proud of her!

Yin Yoga on Bodyrock

I haven't feature a Bodyrock video in a few weeks, I believe, because there are only so many HIIT video links I am going to post to in a week, but the site recently posted a great yoga video!

The "Good Time Flow - Yin Yoga Practice" video is an ample 30 minutes long (most Bodyrock workouts are around 10-15 minutes at most) and is a welcome change from the strenuous HIIT workouts that are full of squats, burpees, and mountain climbers!  The instructor walks you through every single move with simple instructions and shows you what to do.  She also offer suggestions, such as when to use a pillow to protect your knees or when a move might be good for someone with, say, back pain.

There is not much to say about the workout... just give it a try!  I highly recommend it for those that are used to higher-intensity workouts and are looking to change it up a bit, or even for those that like to work out at a lower intensity level all the time.  Just because someone is lower in intensity doesn't mean it is not challenging!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Seeking to Halt Oily Skin Post-Workout?

Let me introduce you to one of my most effective skin tips -- Mario Badescu's Drying Mask.

(link to product)

I am not sure how many women outside of New York City are familiar with Mario Badescu, either the no-frill spa or the reasonably priced beauty products (which are usually available for purchase now in Ulta stores in addition to the Mario Badescu website).

I use several Mario Badescu products, and this drying mask is one of my post-workout favorites.  The mask is sulfur based and absolutely zaps oil... along with any pimples that are caused by greasy post-sweat skin.  After a particularly grueling workout, I relax by putting a layer of this mask on my face, then retreat back to the living room to stretch my tired muscles while it dries.  By the time I have cooled down, the drying mask is ready to be washed off, and glowing skin awaits!

This product is more expensive than drugstore products -- $18 -- but a little goes a long way, and it is still far less expensive than many department store or Sephora-sold masks.

I hope I have convinced some of you to give Mario Badescu products a try!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Quick Recap

Last week's last of posts will be followed by this week's posts, many of them!  Posts will include a recap of my younger sister's Ironman triathlon in NYC, my new elliptical (including assembly progress pictures), and several terrific online workouts!  I may also work in some other beauty and health tips as well, such as this terrific drying mask I have been using for the past few weeks.

Alas, I am off to the beach on this lovely Sunday morning... the summer will not be here forever, so best to take advantage of it!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bachelorette Beach Weekend

There were no new posts over the past few days because I was out of town at a terrific bachelorette party!  We all escaped from NYC and drove down the Jersey Shore to a small town called Ocean City, where we spent the weekend beaching, strolling the boardwalk, and eating everything from fajitas to seafood to giant frozen yogurts.  

The beach in Ocean City, NJ - packed with families, perfect weather, calm ocean waters, and a lovely boardwalk!

I will probably be doing a small workout this afternoon, but I haven't even decided what to do yet!  I am not stressing over it -- sometimes you need to just sit back, take a day or two off, and enjoy the special events in life.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Workout, August 1, 2012: Ballet

Workout: a variety of ballet and barre-fusion-esque moves

During our busy lives, we often cannot find time to workout.  Last night was such a night, but I managed to work in a workout... while on hold to various box offices buying tickets for performances for an upcoming family vacation!

I cobbled this routine together haphazardly, while my husband was either on the computer looking at seating charts for theaters or while we were on hold or talking to a representative on speakerphone.  I have a significant amount of ballet training in my background, so it only occurs to me now that I should take some photos to actually illustrate the moves for my readers.  Hindsight, you know how it goes.

Parts of this workout are also more barre-fusion style, like one might find at a studio like Pilates on Fifth or Physique 57.  I got creative as I went along!

You will need a sturdy chair with a back that somewhat resembles (loosely) a ballet barre and an exercise ball (or something else to clutch).

1) Facing and holding the chair back loosely just for balance, do 10 back kicks with each leg.  These are not giant swinging kicks, but rather slow and controlled kicks.  The goal is to control the movement both up and down without worrying about how high you can kick or how fast you can go.

2) Do a back kick with your left leg while holding the chair back loosely for balance, and pulse your leg while at the top of your kick.  Pulse 10 times.  Repeat with the right leg.

3) Do a back kick with your left leg while holding the chair back loosely for balance, and at the top of the kick bend your knee, keeping everything parallel to the ground.  Pulse 10 times.  Repeat with the right leg.

4) Standing away from the chair, position your legs in first position (see photo below).  Hold the exercise ball in front of you, and squeeze as you pulse up and down 10 times with your legs in first position.

(photo credit)
4) Standing away from the chair, position your legs in second position (see photo above).  Hold the exercise ball in front of you, and squeeze as you pulse up and down 10 times with your legs in second position.  Also try squeezing the ball and lifting it up over your head as you pulse up and down.

5) Standing away from the chair, position your legs shoulder-width apart, ready for a squat.  Hold the exercise ball over your head and squeeze, and as you squat dip the ball behind your head in order to work your triceps.  Repeat 10 times.

Repeat the above three times, or more if you prefer.

Lastly,  make sure you do some leg stretches, as you will have worked your legs on every single move.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Physique 57 DVDs: Review

Physique 57 is a terrific exercise studio that focuses on toning, strengthening and sculpting.  Not everyone lives near a location, or wants to pay the somewhat steep fees per class. 

Your solution?  Physique 57 offers workout DVDs that are absolutely effective and true to the live classes.  I own the Volume I workout (all DVDs found here), which includes the classic 57 minute full body workout, the express 30 minute full body workout and the arm and ab booster 30 minute workout.  My workout set also came with the Physique 57 exercise ball.  This set costs $59.95 plus shipping and handling.  Volume II is $10 cheaper, but doesn't include the exercise ball.  You can also buy both volumes, including the exercise ball, for $99.90 plus shipping and handling.
(photo credit)
I have used these DVDs several times and enjoy the workouts.  As mentioned in prior posts, I used to take similar barre-style classes at a different studio in NYC so I recognized many of the moves already.  The workouts on each DVD, even the 30 minute express workouts, are difficult and effective.  I definitely felt sore afterwards.  For moves that required a barre, I simply used the back of a sturdy chair dragged in front of the tv from the dining area.

I know people that use these workouts several times a week (I also know people that go to the studio several times a week for live classes).  Like everything else in life, you get out what you put in!  If you put in 100% effort and pay attention to form, despite the burn you will absolutely feel in your legs and abs, then you will benefit from these DVDs.  I incorporate these DVDs into my home workouts when I want to deviate from a straight cardio/HIIT/weights routine.

As a final note, I didn't pay the full price for these DVDs.  I bought my Volume I set on eBay, including the exercise ball, for a discount.  If you are interested in workout DVDs but you are looking to save money, I always suggest checking eBay first!