Far from Home & Fit!

I think that “Southern Comfort” actually exists. Every time I go home for break, my eating habits decline and I inevitably end up gaining a bit of weight. Of course, it didn’t help that I was home for 2.5 months over the holidays. My diet was doubly as bad!

Now that I’m back in Portland, I’ve been wanting to join a gym. I could take the free option and choose to run outside, but I get bored easily if I can’t change up the route or sights. If I land a job downtown, I plan to walk the 3 miles home every day to save on bus fare and act as a little boost of activity. However, that’s no replacement for a real work out!

While I was home, Mom and I went to a few Zumba classes and I really enjoyed them. Anything that feels like dancing instead of exercise is awesome in my book. I found a studio that specializes in Zumba classes in a nightclub setting! What could be more perfect?

I decided to buy the “drop in” pass valid for one class and try it out. The studio was pretty big and about 50 ladies came to the class! The instructor was Julio, a fun, flamboyant latino. All of the soccer moms had a very obvious crush on him and would cheer like teenage girls every time he did a sexy dance move. They would also run up on the stage and do the instruction along side him. It seemed very competitive and vain.

My main disappointment was the music. I know Zumba is inherently latin-inspired, but ALL of the songs were in Spanish and the dance moves were cha-cha-cha moves with complicated footwork. What I liked about the previous classes I’d attended was that they played Top 20 music and had easy to follow (but still heart pounding) moves!

The Zumba experience was great, but I was more interested in trying out my new gadget: the Polar Heart Rate Monitor! I was never a big fan of math, but I am a total control freak, so I love crunching numbers when it comes to calorie intake and energy expenditure. There are several iPhone apps that track your food and exercise based on data (age, weight, pre-determined exercise, duration) but I never trusted them. Often, I’ll go for a run but opt to do it in the style of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) where you alternate giving it 100% and then resting while walking or light jogging. This isn’t an option in the iPhone apps as they only have “Running at 4mph” and “Running at 5mph” and so forth. There is also only ONE option for Zumba. I’m positive that I do not burn the same amount of calories as an elderly woman half-heartedly doing the Zumba routine.

The Polar FT4 actually measures your heart rate and calculates the number of calories you burn in relation to your age and weight. It has a stretchy strap that you wrap around the top of your rib cage and attach a small, domino-sized device to the center. It looks a lot like Iron Man. Then, you wear the watch and you have a display of all sorts of data! You can see how many calories you’ve burned, what your current heart rate is, and how long you’ve been working out. I read several reviews online before I bought it and everyone seems to love it.

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I’ll admit, this was one of the easiest Zumba classes I’ve been to, so I am anxious to see my results when I go to one that is challenging! I just received an email from the dance studio offering a free follow up class in an effort to attract repeat business. I think I will try it again and then make my final decision. I am also very interested in joining something like 24 Hour Fitness where I would have access to all the machines, a pool, AND unlimited classes. This seems like a better deal than the dance studio. I am waiting until I land a job and figure out my schedule before I pay for something I won’t be able to commit to!

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