Who raised the bar in May? Nancy Drinan!

As an active member of our #HBFam, Nancy inspires so many riders with your kindness, passion for riding and her smile. She truly epitomizes the Handle Bar spirit, community and is a staple in the Southie studio. Everyday (yes everyday!), Nancy comes in with such a brilliant smile and great attitude, you just know she Nancy is truly happy to be in the studio. We are just so happy to award you Rider of the Month! Congrats Nancy!

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Nancy in her element at the Handle Bar in South Boston.

1. Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your journey been like with spinning?

I began spinning about 15 years ago when it was still are relatively new fitness activity.  Actually, I was not much attracted to it, but I was “forced” into the studio because we had a lost a few our aerobics teachers at the same facility and I was tired of dealing with cancellations.  The first time I sat in the saddle, I knew it was for me.  I never looked back and have been spinning nearly every day since then.

2. Tell us an unknown fact about yourself.

Though I have lived in South Boston for more years than some of our Handlebar riders have been alive (22 years), I was actually born and raised on the South Shore.  I’ve been in Southie for so long though, I am almost considered a “native.” Believe me, this is high praise!

3. What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio? Besides cycling, what other activities do you do to keep fit?

Prior to joining the studio, I was spinning at my local community center.  Now I tell my friends, “I am going down to the Handlebar to do the real spin class!” 🙂  Actually, I am a bit of a fitness “nut.”  I am blessed to enjoy just about everything.  I still do a lot of cross-training  at my local community center (Curley Recreation Center on Day Blvd.).  I do step aerobics, kick-boxing, and interval training with weights. I love it all!

4. What other communities are you a part of in Boston? Social groups, volunteering, athletics, hobbies?

I am so busy with my job as a medical editor/science writer for Children’s Hospital that I don’t volunteer as much as I should.  I am not much of a “joiner,” but I am very involved in my parish, Gate of Heaven in Southie, and I am a daily communicant at St. Anthony’s Shrine at Downtown Crossing.  You know, I make a mad dash for the train after the 6 AM spin class just so I can must make the 7 AM mass!  I tell everyone one that spin and daily mass are my “bookends” for a balanced, joyful life.  Take care of body, mind and soul!

5. What goals has The Handle Bar helped you achieve?

Well, the instruction is at such a high level–far greater than what I was accustomed to–that I have become stronger, fitter, and more familiar with the top tunes!  I am a bit of a dunce when it comes to “pop culture” so you young people educate me daily. Thank you!

6. What’s your favorite way to end a long week?

The 5:45 PM spin class with Sarah C. at the Handlebar, of course, followed by my fish dinner and a glass of Chardonnay.

7. What words do you live by?

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12)”

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Nancy has even made an appearance on our HBSnapchat @handlebarsnap; She is the best! 

#HBSummerShare 2015: Commit to a Summer Worth Sharing

by amy frankenthaler

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Have you signed up for #HBSummershare yet? If Not Now? When? #HBSummerShare starts June 1st, you have only a couple more days to take advantage of this fantastic deal: $400 for 10 weeks of UNLIMITED riding. How will you #raisethebar this summer?

We were able to reach out to four of our awesome HBriders that both won #HBSummerShare last summer Alisun Kovach, Dayna Isley, Becky Anzalone and Nicole Castillo. Thanks again ladies for sharing your experiences with us, we love our #HBFam! We had them reflect on their experience last summer with HBSummerShare:

 

1)What inspired you to sign up for #HBSummerShare last summer?

Becky Anzalone: I signed up #HBSummerShare last summer as a way to hold me accountable for my workout routine. I find it hard in the summer months to keep up with a consistent routine with the lure of outdoor patio drinking.  I already found myself spinning a few nights a week so it made sense (as well as the cost-savings of being able to have an unlimited pass to spin classes).

Nicole Castillo:I was training for a half-marathon, and I wanted to step up my game. Spinning made a huge difference, because I am able to achieve a much harder cardio doing it than running. Also, the competition was just so fun! And pretty much I’ll do anything for free swag. 🙂

Alisun Kovach: I never participated in any kind of challenge before, I thought the #HBSummerShare sounded really fun, and seemed like a great way to prioritize working out during the summer. Plus the potential to win a free month of unlimited riding and a free shirt had me sold!

Dayna Isley: I ran my first half marathon in May last year. Running, as it turns out, is not my favorite. I needed a change, and #HBSummerShare seemed like a good challenge.

2)Describe your experience. What was the best part about #HBSummerShare last year?

Becky Anzalone:I am so glad I participated last year! One of my good friends also did it with me, so we could both motivate each other and use it as an excuse to see each other more often.  I also loved having the board up on display – talk about accountability! It was also a great way to see how you were stacking up versus other riders. The competitive element was really motivating! I also really enjoyed the social media aspect and tagging my instagram pics and tweets with the #HBsummershare.  It’s a great way to stay connected with other HB riders/instructors.

Nicole Castillo: It was incredible! A friend (Valerie Abeille) and I did it — she was at Fenway and I was at Southie and we could watch each others’ progress on the leaderboard. It was hard at times to stick with it because I would “fall behind” when I went on vacation. But, knowing I had a goal to reach, got me to hit spin at times when I normally would just skip it… like before I got on the airplane for a summer vacation, or early in the morning after a late night out.

Alisun Kovach: Participating in the #HBSummerShare was awesome. Since I was at the studio so much, I got to meet a lot of new people and was able to get to know the girls who work there too (love them all!). I also loved that you got points not only for going to classes, but also for posting on instagram (truth be told, I didn’t have an insta account until the challenge started, and now I can’t get enough of it). It was fun walking around and finding random things that would remind you of the HB, and therefore remind you to get your butt to class, and like I said, prioritize working out, even when all you really wanted to do was lay at the beach all day.

Dayna Isley: I had been spinning some at the Handle Bar in Southie since it opened, but #HBSummerShare really kicked things up. I learned that I could spin a lot–even in the morning!–and really love it.  By the end of summer, I could even make it through both sets of arms in Elise’s hour of power Saturday classes. I felt stronger and had fun in the process.

3) Are you signed up for #HBSummerShare this summer? If so, what are you looking forward to most?

Becky Anzalone: I signed up for my second #HBsummershare for this summer and I can’t wait until it starts.  I am excited to have an unlimited pass to ride all summer long and stay motivated by all the amazing riders at the Handle Bar  (I have a couple friends who I plan on riding with this summer as well!). I’ve tried other spin studios over the years across the city, but the sense of community at Handle Bar, is part of what keeps me coming back.  #HBSummerShare is a prime example of why I love spinning at the Handle Bar.

Nicole Castillo: I’m not… because I have the VIP membership… or I totally would! I am still going to hashtag and post. The Handlebar ladies of twitter are already in full force. I’m excited to join them. I’m at @niccastillo1017 I’m all about the social media engagement. Last year, I did a top 10 things I learned from #HBSummerShare. Let’s see what I come up with this year. 🙂

Alisun Kovach: I haven’t decided if I’m singing up yet, but I would really like to win a beach towel, so I probably will!

Dayna Isley: I signed up for #HBSummerShare again because it was so motivating and fun last year. Because I like spin, I know I’ll stick with it; and if I ever feel like slacking, the challenge will keep me motivated. It’s also a great deal when you break it down. Bring on June 1!

An Instagram posted by Becky last summer for #HBSummerShare. A great example of the hashtag social media challenge in action.

An Instagram posted by Becky last summer for #HBSummerShare. A great example of the hashtag social media challenge in action.


If you still aren’t convinced, we’ve put together a list of the top reasons to participate in #HBSummerShare.

Top Five Reasons to Join #HBSummerShare 2015:

  1. Stay in Shape and Motivated all Summer long with a Steal of a Deal                       Each studio will track those participating in the riding competition. It’s officially bikini season, we have to keep that beach body we worked so hard to get! Can’t give up now, keep that beach body all summer long with #HBSummerShare. Ten weeks of unlimited riding for just $400 lets you stay in shape and save for those amazing summer adventures.
  2. #HBFam + #HBCommunity Support (Forever and Always <3)                                Join the #HBFam this summer not only in the saddle, but whereever your summer adventures take you! Simply, by tagging #HBSummerShare in a Facebook post, Instagram or tweet, your #HBFam will be right there with you. We, also, encourage you to make some new #HBSummerShare 2015 friends and meet up both on AND off the saddle. This is strongly encouraged in any and all challenges this summer..after all…“You CAN Spin With Us” 🙂
  3. Adjusted Summer Schedule- Just for YOU                                                         We know you’re busy, its summer, its warm…you want to be on the beach. We have tailored our weekend schedules to accommodate just that. Please take a look at your home studio’s schedules because weekend times have been added and changed for the summer effective this weekend. All the more reason to squeeze in a ride or two with your unlimited #HBSummerShare package.
  4. Prizes (Who doesn’t like prizes?)                                                                          We like prizes! If you participate in the riding competition and ride 45 times in 10 weeks…that’s just 4-5 times per week…you win a beautiful #HBSummerShare 2015 beach towel. Think of all those at the beach or pool envious of that gorgeous towel you EARNED. The top four rides will win FURTHER unlimited riding packages.                                                                              If you participate in the hashtag/social media competition, you have a chance to win a prize EVERY week of the competition. Each week, our favorite hashtagged post will be announced and the winner will receive a gift from 1 of our favorite local spots. The sponsor and prize will be announced at the start of each week, and to get you started  – here’s what we have for our first 4 weeks of the competition:

    Week 1 Prize: Handle Bar embroidered Backpack or duffle (of your choice)

    Week 2 Prize: A tasty gift from a tasty place! $50 to Tasty Burger

    Week 3 Prize: Feeling feisty? Post to win $50 to Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar in Southie!

    Week 4 Prize:  A Perky Gift from our new Fenway neighbor! Pavement Coffee $50 gift card

                                     More prizes to be released next week!

  5. Competition                                                                                                                                             Challenge your friends, family, neighbors, mailman, new and old HB friends and more importantly YOURSELF to ride more, ride stronger, ride proud. Share the link to this blog with anyone you want to see sitting on that saddle next to you.                                                                                                                           This is your summer, your time to shine, to kick ass, so take charge! The summer of you is waiting…so grab a #HBSummershare package and watch yourself transform in just 10 weeks. The challenge starts June 1st, so act fast.

Click here to purchase your #HBSummerShare 2015 purchase.

Once the #HBSummerShare kicks off on June 1st, we’ll be following your progress riding AND sharing your Instagrams/tweets to keep you motivated and on track all summer long. Be sure to tag #HBSummerShare in your posts!

Tweet at us when and why you chose to sign up for #HBSummerShare to @The_Handle_Bar for twitter AND instagram!  Doing the #HBSummerShare for the second year in a row? We want to hear from you too, share your experiences just like Alisun, Dayna, Becky and Nicole. We may just share some on and before the #HBSummerShare kickoff June 1st.

As always, see you in the saddle!

The new LEADERBOOK for #HBSummerShare2015! Keep track of your progress and competition!

The new LEADERBOOK for #HBSummerShare 2015! Keep track of your progress and competition!

Resolution reflections: 10 days in

Welcome 2015, and welcome sub-zero temps. The New Year is in full swing, and so is winter – whether we like it or not. Hopefully, by now your so-called “holiday hangover” has worn off and you’re back into your regular (or newly-resolved!) routine. For so many of us, the first week of January is an opportunity to begin anew and leave the past in the past. For others of us, it’s just one of the 52 weeks in a year – and a cold one, at that. So whether you’ve revamped your lifestyle and routine, made a small resolution, totally given up on your resolution, or made no resolution at all, let it be enough. Resolve to be happy with wherever you are today, and the rest will fall into place.

20150109-104548.jpgDuring this time of year, especially, it is easy to get caught up with all the “what-ifs” and the “shoulds,” and to forget about where we are in the present moment. We tend to commit to unrealistic resolutions like “workout every single day,” “go gluten-free,” or “lose 15 pounds”. Sure, these are all very ambitious resolutions, and for those who are able to stick with them, I commend you. But for those of us who find it difficult to juggle such large-scale changes with our families, work, school, and social lives, it’s time to give ourselves a break and opt for something a little more realistic that has the potential to have an even greater positive effect. When we think large-scale about what we can do to improve ourselves and our lives, it becomes easy to forget our strengths and the achievements we’ve made thus far. That, I believe, is why New Years Resolutions have such a fleeting legacy. We get so worried about sticking to some change we promised ourselves we’d make (…post New Years Day brunch, that is) that we forget to take into account whether it’s actually making us happy at the end of the day, or if it’s just one more thing to tack onto our already unending to-do lists.

That’s why I am such a staunch supporter of making small, achievable changes that leave us ultimately happier and able to better enjoy our lives. So whether it’s committing to three HB rides per week, flossing daily, drinking more water, or calling Mom more often – whatever it is – it is enough to make a positive change in your life, based on the sole fact that you decide it will. We think that self-betterment and finding “true happiness” comes from sweeping, unrealistic lifestyle changes, when really, all it takes is a little logical reasoning to figure out exactly what kind of small change you need to make. And good news, people, these changes can be made any day – no matter January 1st or July 1st.

So, if you’ve already broken your New Years Resolution or never even got around to making one, I challenge you to use today as an opportunity to make one small change that will leave you fulfilled at the end of the day. Reflect on all the good that already exists in your life and see what little thing you can either add or take away to leave you feeling even a little more satisfied when your head hits the pillow tonight.

We’ll see you in the saddle, HBers! Stay warm!

How NOT to get an F in Fitness

The college student’s guide to staying fit from the first day of class to finals

By Falon Sweeney

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Jess, Cara, and their fellow NFA alumnae

Last week at The HB, we hosted a special ride for any local Norwich Free Academy (NFA) alumnae, taught by NFA grad herself, Cara Tramontozzi. We also hosted a ride for Northeastern University’s dance group, Kinematix, taught by Cara as well. It was amazing to see so many students and grads staying fit during college and beyond. 

As a senior, I feel like I’ve almost mastered the feat of staying healthy in college, with a few slip-ups along the way. I’ve done everything I set out to do when I started as a freshman – go abroad, play club lacrosse, go on service trips, rush a sorority, work a part-time job, stay on top of my studies, and make lifelong friends. But each of these accomplishments have come with their own challenges, especially when trying to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle. From “drunchies,” post lax game meals, and spontaneous wine nights to living in a foreign country, I’ve found that it’s challenging – but very possible – to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. I figured out my way of staying healthy, but I am intrigued as to how our instructors at The HB stayed fit despite all the challenges and temptations college has to offer. Here’s what they had to say:

Many of you were high school athletes. How did you handle the transition from tough practices 5x per week to having to schedule your own workouts?

Eve: It was a really hard transition not having the discipline of having to go to practice – but I quickly realized that NOT working out in some fashion left me feeling really crummy and actually made me more fatigued.

Jess: I took it easy for a while! I had worked so hard for so long that my first semester at college was a lot of elliptical and easy, short workouts. As I started missing the sweat, I discovered group fitness and fell in love with spinning, bootcamp, pilates, etc. 

Rachel: I played both club and school soccer during high school, so it was definitely a big change for me to go from a regimented team sport schedule to DIY fitness. I would say the biggest thing I missed was the team atmosphere – which is why I love getting to know students and my fellow instructors at the Handle Bar. We’re like one big team (cue sitcom audience “awwww!”).

Sarah: I was a college athlete as well. After practicing twice a day for 9 months out of the year for 8+ years I took an entire year off when I graduated. No gym, no working out, nothing. I was completely burnt out. I started doing yoga to help my body and mind heal. Once I started feeling better, I transitioned into my dynamic workouts like boxer conditioning classes and indoor cycling. The trick I think is to find something you actually enjoy doing again. High and college sports at a very high level tend to feel like a job or a chore and you lose sight of why you fell in love with the sport in the first place. Find something that makes you feel good 🙂 

Why is it important to continue to be fit while at college?

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Cara and NU’s dance group, Kinematix

Eve: Working out actually boosted my energy levels on a daily basis, I noticed that if I worked out in the evening I would have a lot more energy to go to the library and study vs just laying in my dorm all day. It also kept me from getting to stressed out – especially during finals week a good sweat made all the difference! 

Jess: You’ll likely have more free time in college than post college so take advantage! Break up the studying with a quick zumba class, or start off a day of exams with a nice run. Use your time wisely in college to create habits for life. 

Rachel: Stress relief is the biggest benefit, I think – it’s so important for students (or anyone!) to find an outlet where they can truly tune out of the rest of their day and focus on their physical and mental wellbeings.

Cara: College is all work hard, play hard.  And when your college schedule is class, study, socialize, repeat… its nice to have fitness as that constant control and health feel!!  Working out is also a natural high/energy boost and I think in turn effects how well the mind works (for me at least!). 

Sarah: It’s important to get into a routine, especially with a heavy course load. I found that being a college athlete helped me be a better student. There wasn’t any extra time to waste. 

Any tips on how to avoid the dreaded Freshman 15?

Eve: Snacking! I realized that if I brought healthy snacks with me to class it would keep me from binge eating pizza at the dining hall later since I wasnt that hungry! 

Jess: Watch out for the Fro-Yo! The ice cream and many other delights in the Caf are serve yourself, and help yourself. The portion sizes can be out of control. Try and curb the amount you put on your plate… and don’t waste food by loading up even though you know you can’t eat it all.

Rachel: Oh, boy… One thing I would say to students is please please please​ don’t go on a “beer diet” – aka sacrifice nutrition throughout the day to counteract calories from drinking. This is no bueno. Your bodies and your brains need food!

Sarah: Lay off the booze during the week. 

Cara: Dont worry about the Freshman 15.  Just stay active, and enjoy!!  

As college students, we often are forced to prioritize two out of three pillars of our lives – school work, social life, health (nutrition/sleep/fitness). Is there any way to strike a balance between all three?

Jess: For me it was staying busy. I’m most efficient when I have a full schedule. So I got a part time waitressing job which forced me to get my school work done during the day instead of at night. To clear my head and stay energized I used the gym. I never have had a problem making time for my social life:) In college there was always time for a party!

Eve: It is all about time management! You need to figure out a schedule and routine that works for you and stick to it! That can be hard to figure out when so much stuff is going on around you – but what really helped me was a planner and routine! 

Rachel: I always tried to pull double duty and make my other activities social when possible, to avoid FOMO (note that FOMO did not exist in the early ’00s). Study with a friend, cook a big healthy meal with roommates, and grab an indoor cycling class with your BFFs (hint hint!).

Cara: There is an absolute balance for the party/study/fitness routine.  I would force myself out on a run on those hungover mornings to “sweat it out” and start the day fresh with whatever needed to be done before the next party. haha!  Also, hiting the gym or a fitness class following an exam was always an awesome release for my exam mood mind.  That full body cleanse through sweating is the best!  

Did you work out solo or with a buddy during college?

Jess: Both. I was friends with the NU rowing team and I used to try and hang with them in the gym when I was feeling ambitious. I’d get tips on weight lifting routines and circuit training. Then of course there were the times when I just wanted my earbuds and alone time. 

Eve: Mostly with a friend! A lot of times me and friends would make gym dates as a place to catch up. It’s a lot harder to bail on the gym if you know someone else will be there waiting for you/

Sarah: I was a coxswain in college so I didn’t get much of my working out done on the water unlike my rowers. So while I had practice twice a day with my team, I still had to get my own workout in too. This usually happened by myself which was totally fine. It was the only hour of the day I got to myself sometimes. 

Rachel: We definitely had gym and running dates. I went to school in a very small town, which was wonderful, but we definitely didn’t have the amazing fitness options that we do in Boston. I’d like to think my friends and I would have taken full advantage!

Many college students figure that 20 minutes on the elliptical 3x per week will keep us in shape. Do you agree or disagree? 

Jess: If you’re looking to change your body, strengthen your mind, and find new challenges then you need to mix it up. The elliptical rarely provides the intense cardio workout of a spin class, and not incorporating any weights (even light weights) will leave you ‘skinny fat’ – my favorite term for thin people with no muscle tone. 

Eve: Unfortunately that is COMPLETELY FALSE AND YOU WILL GET FAT! college students also often times figure that working out one body part once will amount to anything. Thats why its really important to get full body workouts (like at the Handle Bar) where you work your arms, abs, and legs. Full body workouts are the most effective over all in my opinion. 

Sarah: If that’s all you got time for it’s better than nothing. But I’m a huge fan of weight training, especially for girls! It’s also great to try and find a class or regime that combines cardio AND weight training, just like we do at The Handle Bar! 

Rachel: ​This is what I call the “better than nothing” workout – and I was definitely this girl at times. I personally find that group fitness settings give me more accountability and I am 100x more likely to push myself – and have more fun!

Cara: I fell into the elliptical routine in college because I saw all the “thin and cute” upper class girls doing it… but really saw and FELT the best results from other forms of exercise that worked for me— running, spinning, even zumba!  Something to make that heart rate and body feel something different each week.

Once you got the whole fitness thing figured out and worked into your schedule, how did you deal with the lack of a kitchen and the overabundance of dining hall food that so many of us face?

Jess: It is difficult to use self control in an all-you-can-eat setting. I began switching my meal plan around so that I could buy healthy takeout options or cook for myself instead of eating every meal in the dining hall. That allowed me to control and monitor my intake much better. 

Eve: Snacking throughout the day keeps you fuller so you won’t go crazy with the make your own cupcake station. Also drinking LOTS of water – drinking water itself will fill you up so if you down a bottle of water before going to the dining hall you are a lot less hungry and won’t eat as much! 

Sarah: I would say this is much easier once you live off campus or have an apartment with your own kitchen. Preparing your own meals is the way to go. 

Cara: I could never figure out the whole food thing in college.  I was a victim of the dining hall, the late night pizza, kegs of beer, and pints of Ben and Jerrys…  but really just tried to keep it in moderation (sometimes more than others). You cant say no all together!!

How did fitness keep your stress at bay during those long semesters?

Jess: Its hard to think about an exam or homework when your sprinting uphill and jumping around a spin bike. “Lose yourself in the music, the moment. ” – Eminem 

Eve: Exercising will naturally lighten your mood – when you are stressed and grumpy and tired, a 45 min sweat sesh has the power to completely turn around your mood and distract your mind when your body is at work. After a workout you have a fresh mind to go back to work! 

Sarah: Look at it as your escape and your reward. Finish a paper early? Awesome! Treat yourself to a class at The Handle Bar! 

A city, a studio, a community

By Falon Sweeney

There are two things in this world I enjoy more than anything else: traveling and fitness. However, the ease with which the two go together is pretty variable from place to place. Some places (mostly in the US), it’s super easy to fit in your daily sweat; and others, it can be a bit more difficult—like when I tried to go running in Ecuador and got chased by a few vicious dogs. That made me sweat. But no matter what, I try my best to stay active and explore how others incorporate fitness or just general activity into their daily lives.

In the past year I’ve had the chance to explore the fitness scepicstitchnes in Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. I can say with confidence—no matter how fit Forbes ranks us—that Boston is the most “fit” for fitness. The charisma of this city makes it so easy to be active whether you love it or you hate it. We can walk almost everywhere and have some of the most scenic running and cycling routes. We are the home of the most popular marathon in the country. But most of all, we have the best sense of community I’ve yet to come across. We are #BostonStrong and we have been for much longer than a mere four months.

Outside of New England, Bostonians have a reputation of being abrasive and unwelcoming—something about our harsh accents and great driving skills. But just like one can’t actually park his car in Harvard yard, one can’t condemn our sense of community, either. We’ve got each other’s back no matter in time of tragedy or just daily life.

Boston’s group exercise scene is a growing community within a community. It’s an awesome mix of inspiration, support, and sweat. At The Handle Bar we are constantly building our community and welcoming riders old and new to come join our party. Bring a friend, or two, or five and see what we’re all about. Whether you come for one of our Glo-cycle class (August 29!) or a casual ride during your lunch break, we can guarantee you’ll have a blast—and manage to get a great workout in.

See you in the saddle–we’ve got your back!

Who raised the bar in July?

Beatrice Rossa!

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We are so excited to recognize Beatrice’s hard work and commitment to her body, herself, and her fitness goals. When The Handle Bar opened in her building, Beatrice saw a chance to make the changes in her lifestyle she had been wanting to make for years. An on-again, off-again group fitness participant, Beatrice knew that The Handle Bar could be all that she needed to finally get motivated–and stay motivated. Since her first class at The Handle Bar, Beatrice has lost over 10 pounds, but most importantly has regained the self-confidence and energy she had as a 20-something. Congrats, Beatrice! You–and all of our riders who are achieving their fitness goals–are what keep our wheels spinning.

So, Beatrice…

Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your experience/journey been like with spinning?

Before the Handle Bar I was at my wit’s end with my increasing weight and lack of motivation to do anything about it. I had experience taking classes in the past and knew that they really helped me get fit and motivated. When I heard that the Handle Bar was opening in my neighborhood I was so excited because I knew it was exactly what I needed.

How do you fit fitness into your everyday life?

Before the Handle Bar, work took over my life and I had time for little else. But I knew that had to change if I was going to commit to getting healthy. In the beginning I tried to take the 6am classes to make it fit with my work schedule. But I am not a morning person at all and after the 3rd day in a row I realized I couldn’t keep it up. I was relieved to see that the Handle Bar has 7pm classes, which is perfect for me. I plan out my week in advance, register for classes online, and commit to leaving work in time to make it. It took about a month of figuring out what schedule works best for me, but I am proud to say that I am at the Handle bar 4-6 days a week. So glad I bought the 40 class package, totally worth it!!!

What goals has The Handle Bar helped you achieve?

I feel more energized, fitter, self-confident, and I lost 10 pounds!

What’s your favorite way to retox after a long week?

I have a weakness for chocolate, so I indulge once or twice a week now, rather than everyday like I used to. Good thing I know I can still give in a little and work it off at the Handle Bar 🙂

Do you have a favorite class at The Handle Bar?

My preference is the 1 hour classes on the weekends. I know that I will burn off the most calories and can still have time to enjoy my weekends.

What is your favorite music to spin to?

One of my favorite things about The Handle Bar is the awesome music and moving to the beat. I kinda feel like I’m in a club with the dim blue lights and the occasional DJ JI love to move to anything by Ke$ha or Britney.

What are your thoughts on using bike shoes? Had you ever used them prior to riding with us at The Handle Bar?

At first I thought it was a weird idea, kinda like bowling shoes. But once I tried it at the Handle Bar, I totally got it. The ride was smoother and my sense of security while standing on the pedals was so much better.  I went online and ordered myself a pair pronto.

What motivates you?

Believe it or not, it’s actually being an inspiration to others. I love telling people about how excited I am about the Handle Bar and how committed I’ve been about sticking to a schedule. There is nothing better than seeing that you can help motivate others with your actions to change their lives.

What words do you live by?

Life’s too short, so make the best of it!

Take Positivity for a Spin

I think it’s safe to say that we all want to be happy.

We all have our own idea of what happiness is and one day—if we’re not already there, of course—we’ll get there. We all have dreams and aspirations and are working hard to make them all a reality. But, sometimes we get stuck. 6cdb3c989a9e977b154fd48c031a5da0We all hit the occasional speed bump, and sometimes these setbacks can really stand in the way of our progress. What if I were to contend that the size and duration of such setbacks are products of our mindset not only in times of adversity, but at all times? Could a positive attitude make all the difference?

I say, it could. Now, this is not to say that you have to be peppy and upbeat shout-it-from-a-mountaintop positive all day, every day. It’s actually the exact opposite. It’s more about who you are on the inside, rather than the outside. It’s entirely possible to give off positive vibes without even uttering a word. You might think that you’re just not that kind of person – that it’s just not in your DNA to be happy everyday. But even the most pessimistic of us all can easily turn things around. If you train yourself daily to see the bright side, regardless of the situation—good, bad, big, or small—you will find it even easier to be happy every single day. You’ll be able to experience happiness daily. Instead of happiness serving as your ultimate goal, you’ll be able to use your happiness and positive attitude as a means to achieve whatever personal or professional goals you might have. And the best part? This happiness and positivity will shine through you onto those around you. Bettering the world begins with bettering yourself. 🙂

Handle the Heat

It’s day four of Boston’s third heat wave of the summer. And it’s only mid-July? Yikes. Just thinking about anything fitness related makes me sweat. So I could just sit here, think about working out, and then call it a day, right? Nope. Even in this oppressive heat, it’s still important to #earnyoursweat. That said, we have to be extra in-tune with our bodies before, during, and after our sweat sessions. Here are a few tips to help you beat the heat and stay fit: 

 Fuel: High temps add some serious stress to our bodies that are already working hard during a workout. That’s why it’s so important to make sure we are fueling our bodies with only food that will make us better able to work intensely in the heat. I love to cook, but when it’s hot out, the LAST thing I want to do is slave over a hot grill or stove, or dare I say, turn on the oven. So with three modes of cooking off the table, how on earth are we supposed to cook healthy food? Two words: Don’t cook.

 Feeling limited by the heat of the stove and the repetitiveness of salad after salad? Try out this Watermelon Gazpacho recipe to keep you cool and to refresh your dinner menu:

Ingredients:

6 cups seedless watermelon, cubed

2 medium cucumbers, seeded, diced

4 inner celery stalks, diced

1/2 small red onion, diced

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

1. Puree 4 of the 6 cups of watermelon in a blender

2.  Add 2 of the 6 cups of watermelon along with all other ingredients to a bowl

3. Add watermelon puree

4. Garnish with fresh mint

Serves 4

Source: The Crankin’ Kitchen

Instead of a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon, start your day with this energizing green smoothie.

Hydration: I cannot begin to stress how important it is to not only rehydrate after a sweat session, but to also pre-hydrate if you know you’re going to be working out. Thirst is your body’s way of letting you know it’s dehydrated. If you’re thirsty, I would recommend waiting a while to workout so that you can assure that you’ve properly pre-hydrated. To make sure I’m getting my daily two liters of water, I carry around a water bottle at all times. On hot days like these—especially when you’re going to be working out—you probably want to drink a bit more than what’s recommended. For women, it’s about two liters (68oz) per day, and for men three liters (101oz).

As we are big advocates of “everything in moderation,” we can absolutely sympathize with your need to retox every once and a while—especially in this crazy heat. But alcohol—just like caffeine—dehydrates you. So, if you decide to end the day with a cold one, make sure you have a glass of water or two for every alcoholic beverage you consume.

It’s definitely tough to actually want to sweat more in this heat, but we hope that you’ll still join us for a sweat session or two this week. Come in for any of our midday classes for half price on any day the temp reads higher than 90°.

Stay cool!

-Falon 

 

It Starts With Food

On Monday, I finished my first pleasure read of the summer. A great stride, if I do say so myself. Every semester I find myself needing a stronger prescription for my contacts. I blame the hundreds of pages per week I’m required to read. That’s why it’s unlikely to find me reading anything more than online health and fitness articles and the occasional Sunday Globe front page until at least midsummer. This summer, however, is a little bit different. My interest in health, nutrition, and fitness has kicked into high gear, so you can almost always find me reading up on the fitness world’s latest and greatest. So, naturally, my first pleasure read was about food and its mind-blowing impact on our health. 

Note: When I come across something I love, I talk it up. Big time. Not because I’m an aspiring saleswoman, but because I truly believe in the value of whatever it is I happen to be raving about and want the whole world to reap its benefits. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always play out like that. But, I do believe that if I talk about something enough, the right people will listen.

So, without further ado, my thoughts on It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. 

ISWF

It Starts With Food (ISWF) is exactly what I have been looking for in a health book. It explains all the trappings of healthy lifestyle (and diet) and why they matter. It debunks the motives behind trendy gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free diets, and explains why we feel the way we do when we eat certain foods—something that I’ve been struggling to grasp for a long time—in a simplified yet oh-so-scientific manner. In my humble opinion, it is a book that would do worlds of good for the hundreds of thousands of Americans suffering from lifestyle related diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and even some kinds of cancer. If you want to understand the effect of what you’re putting into your body has on your health or are just seeking some motivation, seriously, read this book. Or at least a few of the creators’ blog posts (http://whole9life.com/category/whole-30/).

The book encourages you to make lifestyle changes, rather than failing on diet after diet. It offers a solution many dietary and lifestyle issues, should you so choose to listen. The creators wrote the book in conjunction with the development of a 30-day no-cheat program that recommends no added sugars, vegetable oils, dairy, or grains. Oh, and it claims to change your life.

I know what you’re thinking—don’t all diet gimmicks make that claim? Yes, but…Whole30 is different. Just read the hundreds of success stories on their website (http://whole9life.com/category/testimonials/), and at the beginning of each chapter. Whether you lose 20 pounds or simply discover more about your body and it’s response to certain foods, it just might, in one way or another, change your life.

What it is not: An over-complicated diet book with meal plans, cheat days, and unsustainable requirements that makes promises it cannot keep.

The Best PartISWF’s authors created the Whole30 program to show you how good you are capable of feeling. The program asks that you make various dietary changes for only one month as a science experiment, if you will. If you can make it through the 30 days and want to continue with the lifestyle changes you made, hooooray! If not, that’s O.K., too. But at least you know how you could feel with a little bit of effort. Heck, you don’t even have to do the program. But at least you will be able to understand the emotional, hormonal, and immune reactions you have to certain foods.

I finished ISWF with a new understanding of why my body does what it does. Why it doesn’t shed pounds when I restrict calories and exercise like a maniac. Why I crave sugar after dinner. Just about everything except for why my eyes are blue. I embarked on my first Whole30 journey with my best friend on Monday, July 8. Four days in and we are going strong! I’m going to continue spinning at The Handle Bar and see what impact a change in my diet will have in addition to my regular exercise routine. Reading this book and starting its 30-day challenge is my own way of raising the bar. How will you raise the bar this summer?

Falon Sweeney