I Tried It: A 20-Year-Old Guy’s Very First Yoga Class

“Just relax your leg!” the doctor said with a smirk while shaking my suspended limb back and forth. “My leg is relaxed, it just refuses to bend!” I responded with a hint of frustration and embarrassment in my voice.

I was 13 years old when my pediatrician sent me to St. Christopher’s Hospital to get tested for scoliosis. This was probably my fourth visit in as many years. He was hell-bent in his belief my spine was developing a curve and every visit I feared I’d actually be diagnosed this time. Little did I know I was about to become a medical enigma for a completely different reason.

Part of the test, for reasons unknown to me, involved checking the flexibility of my hamstrings. The doctor’s assistant was the first to take on the challenge of pushing my leg to my chest. I just laid on the examination table watching this poor lady attempt to find a trace of flexibility in my leg. The assistant, after laughing with my mom about the situation – which definitely made me feel normal — left to grab the orthopedic doctor. His efforts were also wasted. After pushing and pulling my leg like a stick shift, the resistance left him stunned. While the test for scoliosis came back negative, I left St. Christopher’s scarred with the memory of the wrestling match between my legs and their staff.

Clearly, flexibility and my name have no business being in the same sentence. But as the intern for Be Well Philly, I felt it was my duty to experience yoga for myself. Plus, I love a challenge and I’m no stranger to making a fool of myself. So when my editor suggested I try a class at CorePower Yoga on Walnut Street, I accepted with enthusiasm but feared the worst. Surely enough, my fears came true. And then some. Read more »

I Tried Acupuncture for the First Time — And I Can’t Wait to Go Back

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Photo via Facebook.

Growing up, I always had a book in my hand. In middle school, I read “A Mango Shaped Space,” by Wendy Mass, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. It was about a girl named Mia who saw shapes and colors for every word and sound she heard. Her senses were basically a jumbled mess. I found it weirdly fascinating! She frequently went to get acupuncture therapy and, although I read it so long ago, I’ll never forget how much she loved it and always looked forward to her next appointment. There are tons of other books and articles about acupuncture out there, but something about this one stuck me.

Since about seventh grade I’ve wanted to try acupuncture myself. But despite rave reviews, the fear of getting needles stabbed into my flesh always held me back from giving it a go. When I heard that Open City Healing Arts was having an Acupuncture Wellness Hour last Tuesday night, I decided what the heck? It’s time to stop being a chicken and try this. For real. Read more »

I Tried It: The Awesome (and Insane) Hot Barre Class at City Fitness

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Shutterstock

When I tell you that there was not a minute — not a single minute — during the new hourlong hot barre class at City Fitness’ recently opened Old City location that I was not wishing I would have a full-blown asthma attack just so I would have a legitimate reason to dash out the door (because so hot! And so hard!), I am not exaggerating. That said, after the class, I felt like a warrior princess who’d gone to battle (somewhere very, very warm) and made it out alive. In other words, I felt like a beast. And, in my book, that’s a pretty great review of a fitness class.

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I Tried It: Stiletto Fit Pole Dancing, A Workout in Six-Inch Heels

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Shutterstock

I don’t know what I was expecting when I stepped off the trolley in West Philly onto a deserted stretch of Lancaster Avenue on Monday morning, gym bag in hand. But a fuchsia pole dance studio barely a stone’s throw away from a liquor store definitely wasn’t it. I was headed to Stiletto Fit at A Sensual You, a class all about toning your butt, legs and abs, done entirely in sky-high heels. To say I was unprepared is a gross understatement.

From the second I walked in, it was clear that I was completely out of place. In fact, the first words out of my mouth were, “Don’t worry, you can totally laugh at me.” And believe me, these ladies should have. The uniform of choice was booty shorts and strappy platform stilettos that would impress stilt walkers and strippers alike. I had on leggings and heels I bought on sale in high school. To make matters worse, there was only one other student in the class, so there was no hiding in the back. I felt like a walking—no, a stumbling, disaster, and the class hadn’t even begun. Read more »

I Tried It: Aerial Yoga Foundations at Kaya Aerial Yoga

That's me, hanging with Research Editor Malcolm Burnley. Pun completely intended.

That’s me, hanging with Research Editor Malcolm Burnley. Pun completely intended.

Let me just start off by saying that I am petrified of heights. Like, “why-did-you-pick-me-up-two-inches-off-the-ground-put-me-back-right-now” kind of petrified. It’s not that I don’t like being in the air — I was a gymnast as a child and a dancer for most of my life. It’s just that I’ve had a few very jarring experiences while trusting other people to keep me from falling. From my spot allowing me to completely wipe out during my first-ever back handspring, to getting dropped in every trust exercise I’ve ever done, to falling flat on my face in my very brief experience with partner ballet dancing, I’m more than a little traumatized.

Gravity hurts, people. So when it comes to getting airborne, I’m more apt to trust myself to jump, leap, and lift myself up there (and safely back down) than I am another person, and most certainly an aerial yoga hammock. If someone had told me last week that I would be hanging upside down in a giant piece of silk suspended from the ceiling at Kaya Aerial Yoga, I would have laughed in their face. But I did it, and here’s the best part: I never wanted to stop. Read more »

I Tried It: SUP Yoga on the Schuylkill River

SUP Yoga on the Schuylkill

SUP Yoga on the Schuylkill

I don’t like water sports. Not one bit. I developed this distaste circa age five when, during my weekly YMCA swim lesson, we learned how to put our heads underwater without holding our noses. Or rather, the rest of the class learned how to put their heads underwater without holding their noses. I, meanwhile, clung to my nose with my thumb and forefinger like it was the last Starburst on Earth—five-year olds really love Starbursts. Then, after class, I promptly informed my mother I would be taking up gymnastics.

In the nearly 20 years since that swim lesson, my relationship with water really hasn’t come very far. Proof: last summer I posted an Instagram shot of myself jumping off of cliff (it was more like a semi-large rock, but “cliff” sounds better) into the ocean and my friend commented, “Excuse me, are you holding your nose?” I never responded, but the answer was yes.

And sure, I can swim. But I only do so if I absolutely have to. Which is never. So imagine my surprise when I found a water sport that I actually really enjoy doing—a water sport that requires no goggles, no bathing suit and, most importantly, no nose-holding. This magical water sport is known as Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga, or SUP Yoga for short, and last week I took my very first class. Spoiler alert: it was freakin’ awesome.

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I Tried It: Beginner’s Belly Dancing at Studio 1831

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Shutterstock

I’ll let you guys in on a little secret: I regularly convince myself that I am totally capable of doing things that I don’t actually know how to do. Sometimes it’s great for conquering fears and pushing my own limits, but other times it sets me up for complete and total failure. Belly dancing, I learned, falls squarely into the second category.

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I Tried It: 3 Fitness Apps for My Apple TV

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Shutterstock

My crack-like addiction to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman enticed me to buy an Apple TV earlier this year. But once I blew through all five seasons of Breaking Bad, I wondered, Could I get a decent at-home workout with help from my Apple TV? Turns out, yes—if you know where to look.

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