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Gym Belle  - noun  one who enjoys pull-ups, push-ups, lifting things up/putting 'em down, PRs of all kinds, racing, jumping, spinning, daring and blogging re same (more here)


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Nancy with Iceland Annie

It wasn't until day four of my Iceland vacation that I made it to CrossFit Reykjavik for the first time.  I was in total CrossFit withdrawal... and hoping to catch a glimpse of two-time CrossFit Games champion Annie Thorisdottir

I walked in the door - and there she was.  She was coaching.  Now, I'm not usually the type to get starstruck, and I really wanted to play it cool, but this was HUGE.  I was ecstatic.  I had this silly grin on my face that I could not for the life of me tone down.  I had been at a Reebok party in NYC maybe a year and a half earlier that she and a few other elite athletes attended, but I had chickened out of saying hello in that setting and totally regretted it later.  

Annie made me feel right at home.  She told me to throw my stuff in the locker room.  She would put me through a warm-up, check out my overhead squat and then I'd do Nancy (5 rounds of a 400m run and 15 overhead squats at 65# for women).  It was Sunday, so there was a very relaxed schedule and no formal class times.

I was pumped and also really nervous.  I really didn't want to make an ass of myself in front of Iceland Annie.

When I first got there, a few people were finishing up the WOD, but no one else was warming up.  I had Annie's undivided attention.  (EEEE!)  She watched me squat, first with a PVC, then with the bar, and then she started adding weight.  At the risk of sounding mathematically challenged, between the kilograms and my performance anxiety, I truly had no clue how much weight I was using.  Had I been at home at CrossFit Metropolis, I would have done the WOD Rx'd, but I didn't know what Annie would select for me and clearly I was going to defer to her judgement.  

I was beyond psyched to have Annie to myself for the warmup - she touched my shoulders!- but also relieved that by the time I was ready to start the WOD, two other people were, too.  Nancy alone would be brutal.  Annie counted down 3, 2, 1, go, and I went after it.  

As I got back from the first sprint, I eyed the plates on the bar and figured that since I was using give or take 50#, I'd snatch the bar up overhead.  For the first two rounds, I was on fire.  By round three, I had to break up the squats, and while I was able to snatch the bar up for the first set, I wound up cleaning the second (and on the last round, the second and third).  I wound up finishing at 21:23... way past my goal time.  I was too jazzed about the whole experience to care too much, though.  

And then Annie congratulated me on doing the WOD Rx'd.  I re-checked my math, and she was right.  I'd used just over 66#.  That made my day.  And I knew what I had to do.  "I know this is super cheesy," I said, "but could I get a picture with you?"

I went back to CrossFit Reykjavik three more times that week.  My drop-in experiences were great, but I never saw Annie again.  I couldn't have asked for a better Iceland Annie encounter, though, and I will remember this WOD for the rest of my life.

-Gym Belle-


The Bear Crawl Race

Monday brought not one but two of the phone calls you never want to get.  On Tuesday, we buried my grandfather.  On Wednesday, my great aunt.  And though neither loss was unexpected, each is wrenching and grievous.  To lose both of them at once defies description.

When I woke up Thursday morning, I did not feel like going to the gym.  I went anyway.  As we started warming up, I wasn't myself.  I couldn't get into it and was questioning my decision to go.  I was too sad and too exhausted from being sad.  When we finished our leg swings, Coach B had us do slow a slow bear crawl down the length of the gym.  

And then he made it a race.

I'm not a particularly competitive person, but when I think I can win something, I fight - even if it's just the warmup.  The bear crawl is not the most dignified exercise.   I imagine that a 34 year old woman trotting on all fours down and back across the gym with her butt up in the air is pretty funny looking.  It's a ridiculous thing to be good at, but I am. 

Whatever was going on in my head stopped when Coach B said go.  I was totally focused, completely present.  The whole race must have taken less than two minutes, but for that time I was in the moment.  All of my thoughts were about maintaining my lead and not slowing down.  I won my heat, and then I beat the guy who won the second heat.  

There's no way to make it better - my grandfather and great aunt are gone.  But the bear crawl race reminded me of one of the many reasons that I am grateful for CrossFit.  When the clock starts and someone yells 3, 2, 1 go, the world really can melt away.  That's a good thing on the best of days, and some days it's just invaluable.

-Gym Belle-




A Matter of Health: A New Healthy Supermarket on the UES

Monday night at Remorca Studio, I overheard one of my fellow yoga classmates discussing his plans to check out "the new supermarket."  Naturally, I was curious.  As it turned out, A Matter of Health, a cute little health food store on 77th, had opened a supermarket-sized location on 72nd and 1st.  Tonight, I went to check it out. 

"Health" is a pretty meaningless word these days, so I wasn't sure what to expect and I tried not to get my hopes up.  You enter the store in the produce section.  It's all organic.  I'm pretty excited about having a nice selection of organic fruits and veggies so close by.  There are also some prepared foods, but few seemed paleo-friendly, so I picked up some peppers and spinach and kept moving.  Behind the produce section and the juice bar, you can either head left into the supplement/beauty side, or right into the supermarket.  


I did the supplement side first.  If you're into organic lip balm (I am), aluminum-free deoderant (yes, please) and things of that nature, you'll have fun here.  There's also a nice selection of fish oil, probiotics, protein powder, aloe etc.  They cater to every gimmick and every neurosis, so you may have to wade through things to find the products you're into.  The huge selection of vegan products - protein, sports gels, electrolyte mixes - stood out to me.  I had never seen that before.

On the supermarket side, they had a lot of what you'd expect.  There were lots of drinks, a large election of Applegate Farm products, and tons of supposedly healthy snack foods and chips.  I imagine that vegetarians would have a lot of fun here.  Soy was everywhere I turned.  

If you're the type to pour over ingredients - or the type who thinks ingredients is a dirty word - you'll find yourself in good company.  

I have to admit, I was hoping against hope that they'd have a nice butcher counter with lots of good grass-fed options.  No luck there, but they do have some grass-fed beef in the freezer section.  It's something.

I spent a small fortune buying up things that caught my eye.  My top 5 finds were:

  1. Kombucha.  Kombucha is everywhere - but this cost me well over a dollar less than the bodega by me charges.  (And, yes, I know it's not paleo, but since I take so much antibiotics, it's a somewhat necessary evil now and again.)  
  2. Organic Pickled Ginger Carrots.  They had a really nice selection of naturally fermented/raw foods (pickles, beets, kimchi, etc.).
  3. Organic Grass-Fed Whey Protein.  I care what my food ate.  Also - the "no" list is amazing: no gluten, no soy, no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors, no GMO ingredients of fillers, no added hormones and no high fructose corn syrup.  Let's hope this doesn't taste like chalk!  
  4. Buddha Cups.  These pricey wonders are raw organic dark chocolate almond butter cups.  Diary free. Gluten free. Soy free.  And they're made in Brooklyn.
  5. Organic Grass-Fed Heavy Cream.  Not so uncommon - but it makes me happy.   

Happy shopping!

-Gym Belle-

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