Gear up to give back – Sleigh Ride 2014

By Falon Sweeney

santaDuring the holiday season, it’s almost just as easy to forget about the duty we have to give back to our community as it is to “let ourselves go”. We often let the idea that we need to give the perfect gift, throw the perfect holiday party, or see every single in-law or high school friend, throw us off track into Grinch territory. But in reality, these ideas don’t really matter all that much. They don’t matter at all, really. Sure, we all want to be thoughtful and to make sure every thing is just right - from decorations, gift wrapping, and Christmas Day dinner. But what if we took all the energy we spend on trying to make things perfect on being thoughtful while actually making a difference in someone’s life. Instead of soaking up the compliments on your exquisite gift wrapping skills or how well you can wrap lights around a tree, what if you put the same energy towards giving to others who might not have any presents underneath their tree? I know, I know, this just screams the age-old Christmas adage’tis better to give than to receive. But despite its tired corniness, it remains true.

Making someone’s day, week, and in so many cases, year, is much more rewarding than spending hundreds of dollars on decorations and gifts that get packed away in the attic or stuffed in a closet after the snow melts. So this holiday season – even if you plan on hosting a holiday party or getting your S/O the BEST gift ever – I challenge you to give back. Whether you buy someone on the street a hot meal, volunteer at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or donate to a cause you believe in, it all counts. Not only will it make things easier on someone else, but it will get you to exercise the empathy and compassion that often go missing during the holiday season.

122210_toys_for_tots_bannerAt The Handle Bar, we believe so strongly in giving back to our community, as it is you – yes, each and every one of you – that keeps our wheels spinning. We would be nothing without our network of amazing riders. So spread the love and good energy! And if you’re strapped for time or energy this holiday season, join us for our Sleigh Ride on Thursday December 18th, where you can get your giving – and your sweat! – in, all at once. In the spirit of holiday giving, we encourage riders to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the event as a donation to Toys for Tots, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program that collects and distributes toys as holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community. In exchange for their generosity, The Handle Bar will gift riders with a $25.00 gift card to the studio, which can be used for a future class.

The Sleigh  Ride will be lead by Cara Tramontozzi, a huge believer in giving back to the community and a huge believer in the Toys for Tots program. “Toys for Tots represents the truth that every child is cared for… and so awesome!  These children need the hope and happiness for a brighter future— and the gestures behind toys for tots can help build this.  So, its not just the gift that is important, but this power of kindness… and sending the love to all these kiddo’s during this crazy holiday season!  To take part in this Sleigh Ride is a Christmas STEAL (stealing in a good way I suppose!),” says Cara.

Immediately following the Sleigh Ride, riders will be treated to a DAVIDsTEA sampling bar, where they can try exclusive teas from the brand’s holiday 2014 collection, like the Sugar Plum Forest, a hydrating Rooibos and Sleigh Ride, an herbal medley featuring apple, candied papaya, hibiscus blossoms and more. A tea guide will be on hand to teach riders how to properly steep loose leaf tea and share coupons that can be redeemed at a one of DAVIDsTEA’s Boston-area locations.

In the spirit of giving, see you in the saddle!

6 Reasons you need The Handle Bar this holiday season

 

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Are you frazzled yet? Are you running around like crazy? Are you dragging at the end of each day? Is working out at the bottom of your to do list and the first thing that gets scrapped? I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed this time of year, and even easier to let your workouts slip, but if you’re anything like me you need The Handle Bar more than ever during the holidays. Why you ask? Well here are a few quick reasons.

Some much needed me time. ​​​​​​​​​
December is jam packed for most of us. Family gatherings, office holiday parties, friend gift swaps, and general forced merriment, it can feel like almost every minute of our “free time” is spoken for. What’s a gal (or guy) to do? Sign up for a few classes right now, right this very minute. Now you have some scheduled me time, and the perfect excuse to decline the next stupid ugly sweater invite you get. “Sorry, I can’t, I have class.”

The perfect stress reliever.​​​​​​​​
It’s generally accepted that the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. Family, friends, shopping, all the stuff that’s supposed to be fun can drive you up the wall when you try to cram it into a three week period. If you don’t let off a little steam regularly you’re bound to explode, so let off that steam at The Handle Bar and leave class feeling like a million bucks, or at least relieved of the urge to strangle everyone.

Your first line of defense against looking like Frosty the Snowman.​
Sugar cookies, cheeseballs, gingerbread men, Christmas goose, figgy pudding – whatever the heck you eat at holiday parties – do you know where it ends up? On your bum, if you’re not careful! Classes at The Handle Bar are a great total body workout combining both cardio and strength training so it’s a great way to combat the dreaded holiday spread. Santa should have the only belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly. Get on that resolution early.​​​​​​​​​ Why wait for New Year’s to get in better shape? Start upping your fitness game at The Handle Bar now. It will only make sticking to your New Year’s Resolution easier.

Get in the holiday spirit.​​​​​​​​​​
The Handle Bar is doing some holiday themed rides, which might be just what you need if you’re feeling a little Grinchy. Keep your eyes peeled for details on the upcoming Sleigh Ride, a holiday themed ride and Toys for Tots toy drive. Get in the spirit, get in shape, and help those less fortunate, it’s a win/win/win.

Start a new tradition.​​​​​​​​​
Roughly 98.75% percent of our holiday shenanigans involve stuffing our faces, so why not start a new holiday tradition? Get together with some likeminded friends and family and take a class (or two) at The Handle Bar and follow up with a fitness themed Yankee Swap. And if you want to head to brunch after class for some face stuffing, I won’t judge you.
Do you have your own reasons for needing The Handle Bar during the holidays? Do you need to ride to keep your sanity or are you more concerned about keeping the holiday pounds at bay? Let us know!

-Heather Foley

HB 101: A new rider’s guide

By Heather Foley

_DSC1126You did it! You signed up for your first class at The Handle Bar! Whether you purchased a Black Friday package deal or have had a class sitting on your account for a few weeks and have just mustered up the courage to try it out, you just took a huge step in the right direction. You’re probably thinking, “Oh my God, what did I get myself into?” Well, don’t fear, because It’s going to be great, and it’s going to kick your butt, in the best possible way. I know starting a new fitness routine can be daunting, as most of us feel intimidated when going to a new gym, class, or studio. But we can’t let that stop us! It’s going to be tough, but I have a few tips to help you survive your first class at The Handle Bar.

Make sure your bike is set up correctly. Get to class a little early and ask the teacher to help you set up your bike. Nothing will ruin your first class like a bike that’s set with the seat too low or the handlebars too far back.

Focus on your ride. Trust me, no one in your class is looking at you. Everyone is class is way too focused on not dying on their bike to notice if you’re a beat behind or on your left oblique when you should be on your right. Just stay focused on what you’re doing.

Don’t skip out early. I know the second you get off the bike you want to run home and collapse into bed, but please don’t. Stick around and stretch yourself out. You need it and it will feel awesome. Seriously, the stretch is the best part of the class.

Dress the part. In a spin class you’re going to be standing up, sitting down, leaning over, crunching and moving more than you think you will, make sure you wear workout gear that lets you move freely and be comfortable. For example I have a few Lululemon tops I love for strength training but they creep up my back when I spin.

Don’t skimp on resistance. You might be tempted to hold back on the resistance, but listen to your instructor and add resistance as they say. You can always take a little off if you need to, but to get the most of your class you need to give 100% effort.

Your bum is gonna hurt. I’m not talking about your just glutes, but your whole entire butt. During that first class your bum is gonna hurt like you never knew it could hurt. But it will pass, I promise. It will only hurt for your first class or two, then your booty will get used to it :)

If you have any questions about how to prep for your first ride at The HB, do not hesitate to give us a call at either studio! We’re so excited you’re taking the next step of your fitness journey with us, and we can’t wait to tap it back with you! See you in the saddle!

Commit to fit this Thanksgiving

By Falon Sweeney

TurkeyBikeIs it just me, or is the “turkey trot” – you know, the extra-long and intense workout we do on Thanksgiving morning – becoming more important than the Thanksgiving Day feast itself? Okay, okay, maybe not more important, but it certainly is becoming an integral part of the holiday for all. We plan our turkey day workouts to maximize calorie burn and minimize guilt later in the day. If you ask me, it’s kind of a no brainer.

Aside from the big feast, family, and football, Thanksgiving really is about giving thanks. We give thanks to our friends, family, and loved ones, but we often forget to be thankful for ourselves – for our healthy bodies, for showing up, for committing to our health, for life. Whether we’re happy with our physical state or are on a weight loss journey, it is crucial to recognize all that our bodies do for us.

And what better way to say thanks to our bodies than by sweating it out before the big feast? Between cooking, entertaining, and eating, Thanksgiving – and the holiday season in general – can be a time when we fall off track with our diets and exercise routines and slip into a sugar coma. Like clockwork, we wake from this coma right around January 1st. New year, new you, #amiright?

Wrong, actually. This year, I challenge you to stay on track and committed to your health and fitness, despite the temptation of the holiday season. No, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a sugar cookie or an extra helping of stuffing. It just means that you are committed to staying conscious about what you’re putting into your body and how you’re treating it. So many of us – myself included – use the season as an excuse and don’t think twice about scarfing down that 4th cookie. Because we aren’t being intentional about what we put into our bodies, we fall off track, justify, and five pounds later, we’re wondering what happened to that flat stomach we had in September.

Luckily, intention is the only thing we need to prevent the guilt, the self-deprecation, and the post-holiday blues. So, starting tomorrow, make a choice to be intentional. Get up early, stick the turkey in the oven, and hit the saddle for a 75-minute endurance ride at The HB! Then take the rest of the day in stride – remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And don’t forget to indulge in a slice of pie and that well deserved nap, come 4pm.

To top it all off, start your holiday shopping early on Black Friday at The HB. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one, a package or series of rides at The HB is the perfect way to show your commitment to health – yours and theirs! Use the code BlackFriday25 at checkout and receive 25% off those ride packages for one day only!

See you – and your loved ones – in the saddle! 

7 tweaks to make your mornings healthier

By Heather Foley

UntitledMornings are the worst. If you’re anything like me you hit snooze about a million times then grumpily roll out of bed, pour some coffee down your throat and run around like a nut. Not the best way to start your morning, now is it? One of my goals is to start my day healthier and in a better mind space. Easier said than done, but after giving it some thought I’ve come up with a few relatively painless ways to make our mornings healthier.

Get a good night’s sleep. You can’t have a good morning without a good night’s sleep, that’s just science.

Don’t hit snooze. Okay fine, hit snooze once, but hitting snooze for an hour does not help you out at all, it really just makes things worse. During that hour, you don’t get into a deep enough sleep for it to really make a difference. Plus, getting woken up so frequently causes stress to your body. So, if you go to bed feeling like you might actually need that extra hour of sleep instead of hitting the saddle at the HB, take it. But don’t make it a habit :)

Replace your first cup of coffee with hot water with lemon. Don’t worry, I’m not a monster who is going to tell you to shun coffee completely, but try replacing your first cup with hot water with lemon. Hugh Jackman swears by it and have you seen Hugh Jackman?

Drink a healthier cup of coffee. Your cup of coffee should not taste like a mug of melted coffee ice cream, it should not be a pale shade of beige. Try to wean yourself off of tons of cream and sugar. And don’t use the fake stuff. I use coconut sugar in my coffee and I either drink it black or with coconut creamer or almond milk. Baby steps.

Take a high quality multivitamin. In an ideal world we would all get all the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat, but this really isn’t an ideal world. If it was I would have Jessica Simpson’s Dukes of Hazard body.

Eat some breakfast. Duh guys, just duh.

Take a few minutes to focus your positive energy. I don’t want to sound all hippy trippy, but take a few minutes to sit in the quiet and meditate, focus your energy, visualize, do some affirmations, whatever you want to call it, just take a couple minutes to put some good vibes out there. And no, hitting snooze eight times and having a nice half dream does not count.

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel healthier already. Have a tip for healthier mornings? Let us know in the comments!

More than a moustache

movemberWho would have ever thought that a moustache, a pink ribbon, or a bucket of ice would become symbols for causes so much greater than themselves? Once everyday objects, these symbols have helped spread awareness for some of the most pressing health challenges and diseases faced worldwide. Ever since Movember began in Australia in 2003, growing a moustache has become so much more than a facial hair feat. It represents over $559 million dollars raised in awareness and prevention of prostate cancer and four million “Mo Bros” (the guys that grow moustaches during November) that have used their moustaches to start a conversation about prostate cancer and men’s health.

As The HB community, we are huge supporters of Movember. We believe that all it takes is a conversation to  get our riders, friends, husbands, and fathers thinking about their health – in terms of more than just a calorie burn. Many of our riders, family members, and friends have been affected by prostate cancer. That’s why this Wednesday, November 19, The HB is hosting a charity ride to raise money and awareness for the Movember cause (5:45pm in Fenway with Lena and 7pm in Southie with Rachel). All proceeds from the ride will go to research and prevention of diseases that impact men specifically. Riding unlimited? Don’t fret – we’ll still donate the discounted cost of your ride ($10), but we highly encourage you to give more. We’ll have a live DJ ride, a photobooth, moustache props, Georgetown Cupcakes, and a pop-up shop from oOo Tie, a Boston-based bow tie company, selling their bow ties for 20% off.

For our oOo Tie rep, Eric Stout, who will be manning the bow tie booth on Wednesday, the Movember cause hits close to home. A two-time testicular cancer survivor, Eric is an organizer and member of the local BellissiMo team, whose goal is to raise $150,000 in support of the cause this Movember. Eric is now cancer-free, but retrospectively, wishes he would have gotten checked out sooner. He uses Movember as an opportunity to encourage young men to take charge of their health and move more.

So guys, if you’ve been hesitant to give The HB a shot for fear of indoor cycling being “just a girl thing,” our Movember ride is a perfect opportunity for you to show off your ‘stache and raise awareness for your fellow Mo bros. Sign up here!

We’ll see you – and your ‘stache – in the saddle on Wednesday!

oOoTie and Movember: Give a gift that gives back

Next Wednesday, both Fenway and South Boston Handle Bar locations are hosting a charity ride benefitting The Movember Foundation. All proceeds from the class will support research for illnesses that impact men specifically – prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and heart disease among others.

We’ll be hosting a kick-ass ride lead by a live DJ, with high energy and intensity and to the sound of all male artists. Along with the ride, Boston based bow tie company, oOoTie, will be hosting a pop-up shop dedicated to The Handle Bar riders. They’ll be selling their ties at 20% off for the Handle Bar community and featuring designs like their ‘Boston Strong’ tie and the ever-so-fitting bike-printed bow tie!

The ties make for a great holiday gift for a special man in your life (guys, feel free to treat yourself) – and we’ll be offering complimentary gift wrapping for anyone who purchases.

Support The Movember Foundation by rocking out this Wednesday, and get a head start on a super sleek holiday gift by oOoTie!

bike tie

 

Drink your greens

greensSo this green juice thing has kind of exploded over the past few years, I mean who saw that coming, right? Certainly not me. If five years ago you told me people would be lining up to pay $10 a glass for liquefied spinach and apples I would have thought you were crazy. Actually even today I think it’s crazy because spinach is not that expensive. I know not everyone has a super fancy, high powered, cold press juicing system and luckily you don’t need one to drink your veggies. You are going to need a decent blender though, and they’re available in every price range if you don’t have one already. If you do have your blender ready to go what are you waiting for? Oh, you need some recipes? Well here you go:

Super Greens

1 cup each kale (ribs and stems removed) and spinach

1 pear

1 banana (preferably frozen)

1 ½ cup cold almond milk

Blend kale, spinach, and almond milk. Add banana and pear and blend.

Honeydew For You

½ English cucumber, peeled and chopped

½ honeydew melon, peeled and chopped

1 cup cold light apple juice

Juice of 1 lime

A few mint leaves

Blend all ingredients.

The Cold Kicker

1 cup ice

1 banana, the riper the better

½ cup frozen pineapple

2 cups kale (ribs and stems removed)

Blend all ingredients.

Islands in the Green

1 cup coconut water

1 cup spinach

1 cup frozen pineapple

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Blend spinach and coconut water, until smooth, add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth again.

The Sinus Clearer

1 cup cold water

1 cup spinach

1 cup pineapple

1 jalapeno (2 if you like it spicier) seeds and membrane removed

A few ice cubes

Blend all ingredients.

Ginger Apple Snap

1 granny smith apple, chopped                 

1 cup spinach

1 piece of ginger, peeled

1 cup cold almond milk

A few ice cubes

Blend all ingredients.

A few notes, feel free to add some yogurt to any of the recipes if you’re looking to bulk them up a bit (take them from more of a juice to a smoothie) and if you need to sweeten them up feel free to add more fruit or a touch of honey. Once you starting drinking your veggies regularly, you’ll be able to play with the ratios and increase the greens, but do it slowly.

So are you ready to crank up the blender? Of course you are! Do you have a favorite green smoothie or juice recipe? Share it in the comments!

-Heather Foley

Welcome, Heather!

We are SO excited to announce Raising The Bar’s first ever guest blogger, Heather Foley, of Glamourous Baggage. Heather frequents The HB, but has been looking for a way to step up her fitness game. This can be tough, especially as winter slowly creeps in. Although sneaking a few 60 degree days in every now and again, winter will soon be here to stay. But with Heather’s relatable humor and motivation, you will be off the couch and into the saddle in no time, no matter the weather.
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Photo courtesy of Deb McCarthy, another HB regular.

A few weeks ago over at my blog Glamorous Baggage, I talked about how my waistline has kind of gotten away from me over the past year. I talked about my waning motivation and needing to get my fitness mojo back. Next thing you know, I’m chatting with Jess from The Handle Bar about doing some health and fitness blogging for her. BOOM. Sometimes the universe gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. For me, there’s no bigger motivation to get back at it than doing some fitness blogging, since I can’t really write about it unless I do it. Now I don’t know what motivates you, but consider just reading this post a sign from the universe to kick your fitness up a notch, and believe me, The Handle Bar is the place to push yourself. Still not convinced you might need to join me in taking fitness more seriously? Well, here are a few signs you might (definitely) need to meet me at The HB:

Your favorite oversized sweatshirt is now tighter than a Kardashian bandage dress.

The last time you worked out consistently, Step Aerobics was the next big thing.

You were all excited to bust out the over the knee boots you bought last year only to find they don’t even go over your calves.

You get out of breath watching The Biggest Loser.

For all the ladies – your boobs look amazing. Every cloud has a silver lining.

You’ve eaten more than one sub in the past week. Seriously, who eats subs on the reg? Well, besides you.

You found a loose Nerd in your bathrobe pocket and you ate it, without thinking twice.

You watch My 600 Pound Life and whenever someone orders three cheeseburgers, 2 orders of chicken nuggets, and a small fry you think “What’s wrong with them? Why did they order a small?”

Do any of these sound familiar? Of course they do – you love subs! If at any point while reading this you though for even half a second that maybe you kinda sorta need to step up your game, I can pretty much guarantee you that yes, yes you do need to put a little more effort into your fitness. But that is OK! You need to step it up. I need to step it up. We all need to step it up. So what are we waiting for? Let’s step it up already! I’ll be posting here regularly, so suit up (in your workout clothes, not an actual suit) and join me, figuratively here and literally at The Handle Bar.

-Heather Foley