Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review- Group Power

Happy Weekend everyone!  Today, I'll be doing a review of another group exercise I do at my gym called Group Power!  Let's get right into it.

First off, the description in our program guide is "This 60-minute barbell program strengthens all your major muscles in an inspiring, motivating group environment with simple, athletic movements such as squats, lunges, presses and curls."

I don't exactly look like this when I'm curling..but you get the idea!

Let me tell you, this is one intense workout!  For the entire 60 minutes, we're constantly moving and lifting and by the end I'm a pool of sweat!  We work out all the major muscle groups - Legs, Chest, Triceps, Biceps, Glutes, Shoulders, and Core with light to moderate weights.  We also use a step to do exercises like chest presses and split squats.

For each song, we focus on one muscle group, and do a variety of exercises with lots of repetitions, set to the beat of the music.  The tempo of the exercise is constantly changing (for example, if we're doing chest presses, we might do 4 counts down, 4 counts up, then switch to 1 count down 1 count up), so you're constantly challenging your muscles!

This class is similar to a very popular workout called Les Mills Body Pump.  According to the Les Mills, Body Pump can burn up to 590 calories!

There are many benefits to a class such as Group Power or Body Pump.  There was a study done that tested the benefits and results of participants, and here is what the results showed (credit here)
Putting these results together, researchers concluded BodyPump classes were effective at increasing muscular strength and endurance and developing efficiency in movements and muscle activation.Although subjects did indicate metabolic and cardiovascular improvements, these improvements did not translate to actual aerobic fitness.Exercises involving the lower limbs were most responsible for increases in heart rate and researchers believe a program with more lower body involvement may increase the likelihood of it being beneficial for aerobic running fitness.

Basically, this a good supplement to aerobic activity (such as running or spinning), but you can't replace those activities with Body Pump.  This is the main reason why I wanted to take this class- I wanted to build some muscle in a fun, energetic class!  If you're looking for the same thing, I think this is a great cross training class.  To find a class near you, you can check out this site to find Group Power, or this site for Body Pump.

Have you ever tried Body Pump or Group Power?

What are some of your favorite group exercise classes? 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Top Five Friday #1

Happy Friday, and welcome to my very first Top Five Friday!  Today, I'll be sharing my top five races.  This was really hard to narrow down, but these races are all very diverse and were a lot of fun for me to run! (Note- click on images to view larger)

Just a Short Run
Takes place in March
Costs: $35 for 5K and 8.1 miles, $55 for half marathon and 30K

There are many races that take place at North Park, which is north of the city of Pittsburgh.  This one is one of the biggest, and one that I've run since I was much younger.  There's a race for everyone- from a 5k to a 30k!  This is a great race for those who are training for the Pittsburgh full marathon or half.  The course consists of rolling hills, but look out for the first hill, which is the biggest!  After that, you just loop around the lake from 1 to 3 times, depending on which race you're running.
5K-Half marathon course- credit to

Pittsburgh Marathon and Half
Takes place in May
Costs: $137-$147 for full, $127-$137 for half
Years 2011-2014 shirts and medals

Of course I had to include this race!  I've run the half twice and the full twice, and I love this race so much.  The crowd support is insane the entire route, and you get to run through some really interesting neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.  Each neighborhood greets you and the citizens line the streets to cheer you on, spray you with a sprinkler, give you some oranges or just play some music!  There are also lots of bands about every half mile along the course.  The only bad thing about this race is it's VERY tough.  Look at the elevations below and you'll see what I mean! Unfortunately I'll miss this year because I'll be in Europe, but I'll definitely be back next year for my fifth race!

Full Marathon course- credit
Full Marathon course- credit

Chicago Half Marathon
Takes place in September
Costs: $75-$135

If you love water like I do, this is the race for you!  This out-and-back course runs right on the Lakefront Trail and is extremely flat and fast.  This was challenging for me since I'm used to running on hills, but most runners love flat races!  The post-race party was amazing too- free beer and Chicago-style pizza!
Half marathon course - credit to
 (Note- this is an old map.  The current course is not yet available, but most likely will be similar)

Hershey Half Marathon
Takes place in October
Costs: $75-$85 for half

This is such a cool race because you get to run through Hershey Park and the town of Hershey!  It's called the Sweetest Place on Earth, and I have to agree after running this race.  There was even a Chocolate Aid Station towards the end of the race!  Another thing I really liked about this race was having markers every tenth of a mile.  Some people might not like this, but it really helped me out!  A bonus of registration is getting two tickets to visit Hershey Park in the Dark!

Half marathon course and elevation-credit to

Marathon on the Mountain 
Takes place in November
Costs: $50 half marathon, $70 full marathon

This race is definitely not for the faint of heart!  This was an extremely tough and intense race.  We ran through trails, down an abandoned airport's runway, and around little lakes.  The race takes place at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, so be prepared for some tough climbs and steep downhills!  This took me back to my Cross Country days, so even though it was the toughest race I've ever run, I loved every minute of it! Note that 2014 was the first year for the race, so there may be some changes coming up this year!
Half marathon course - credit to

Linking up with ClareKatie and Heather

Have you ever run any of these races?  Let me know what you thought of them, and what your favorite race is!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Homemade Pizza and C25K

Happy Thursday everyone!  Thursday is one of my favorite days of the week.  That's usually my meeting day at work, so the day seems to go by really quickly, and then it's Friday!

For dinner on Tuesday, Dan and I made homemade pizza for the first time.  They actually turned out really well!  It was both of our first time making a pizza, so I didn't know what to expect.  It was really simple to make, and turned out delicious!  We both used Trader Joe's pizza dough, which was only $1.19 per bag.  They offer plain, whole wheat, and garlic&herb.  I also got all of my ingredients at Trader Joe's.

I made a whole wheat pizza with pesto, Manchego cheese, arugula, garlic and mushrooms:

Dan made a plain pizza with pizza sauce, Mozzarella and Manchego cheese, chicken, sausage, pepperoni and onions:

Here's the basic recipe that we followed:

1.  Let dough sit out for at least 20 minutes (the longer, the better)

2.  Prep your pizza pan/cooking sheet by drizzling a small amount of oil and spreading it around

3.  Sprinkle some flour in the bag of dough, and invert the bag to get all of the dough out

4.  Stretch and pull the dough to get it into the rough shape you want to make (we both made rectangles).  If it's a little too cold or hard to work with, let it sit out for 5 more minutes and try again.

5.  Lay the dough down in the oily pan, and finish shaping it how you'd like.  Make sure it's not too thin or too thick, and be sure to not tear any holes in the dough.  Make a crust around the pizza if you want to be fancy!

6.  Spread around some sauce on the pizza, being careful to not use too much

7.  Add your toppings!  Dan suggests adding cheese before and after the other ingredients so that it melts all over everything else.

8.  Cook at 450 for about 6-8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust isn't too soft.


The other thing I wanted to talk about today was the Couch to 5k program!  One of Dan's New Year's Resolutions was to run some 5ks with me this year.  This week, we started training using the Cool Running's 5K training schedule.  We started out with week 3, and he's been doing great so far!  The next workout (Friday) will be:

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:

  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)

I'll keep you all updated on his progress, and hopefully give some tips to new runners.  He used to hate running with a passion, but he's been really enjoying the Couch to 5K program, and actually has been excited to go out for runs.

Thanks for stopping by!  Tomorrow I'll be starting another series, called "Top 5 Friday".  I love when blogs have special posts on Fridays, so I'll be doing a different "Top 5" list each week!  Tomorrow I'll be starting out with Top 5 Races.  I'll also have some standard categories like 5 foods, 5 workouts, etc that I've seen on other blogs.  See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Reviews- Centergy

Hi everyone!  As promised, Wednesdays will be devoted to reviews- new products, new places, new classes...something new each week!  The first installment will be of an exercise class that's offered at my gym called Group Centergy.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Currently : February

Hi everyone!  Thank you all so much for checking out my blog yesterday and for leaving me comments on Facebook and here on the blog!  I'm really excited to be starting this adventure, and hope you'll all stick around and keep in touch!

One of my favorite features on blogs is when there is a survey.  It gives the reader more of a look into the person behind the blog.  It also gives me new ideas of books to read, music to listen to, or recipes to try out!  I also thought it would be a good way for you all to meet me and learn more about me.  I found this survey on Carrots N Cake...enjoy!

Current Book
I haven't actually started reading it yet, but the next book in my queue is My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni

Current Music
I recently found out that with Amazon Prime, you get Amazon Music, where you can listen to and download tons of music for free!  The app also has some great pre-made playlists, so I've been listening to those a ton.  Right now, I'm listening to "The Piano Guys and More"...great blend of classical and pop music-my favorite!

Current Guilty Pleasure
The Bachelor!  This season is absolutely insane...there's so many crazy girls.  Tara from Treble in the Kitchen posted a Bachelor Workout yesterday that I'll have to try out when I watch it on Hulu tonight!

Current Drink
Coffee!  Today I had a Krispy Kreme Smooth K-Cup.

Current Food
Tonight, Dan and I are making homemade pizza for dinner.  I've never made a pizza before, but he used to work at Pizza Hut, so hopefully he can teach me how to make a good one!  We got pizza dough from Trader Joe's and I'm going to make one with arugula, Manchego cheese and mushrooms.  Dan will go more traditional with mozzarella and pepperoni.  I'll share our creations tomorrow!

Current Favorite Show
I'm obsessed with Netflix, and my two current shows are Friends and Friday Night Lights.  I've never seen Friends from the beginning of the series, so it's really interesting to see how the relationships form.  I wish I had a Joey in my life..he's so funny!

Friday Night Lights is also a great show, and I love any sports-themed movie or TV show.  This is right up my alley!  I love the drama, the humor and the character dynamics.

Current Needs
Warmer weather!  This morning when I woke up it was -3* out.  I just want it to be summer already!  Luckily it's going to be getting warmer (in the 40's this weekend!?)
Snowy run last week- loving the Yaktrax though!

Current Outfit
Like I said, it was FREEZING when I woke up, so today was all about comfort and warmth.  I'm wearing a red sweater, boyfriend jeans, and boots.  Here's what each piece looks like:

Current Excitement
Planning a trip to Europe!  In a few weeks I'll be headed to Palma de Mallorca, Malmo and Copenhagen.  I can't wait!
It's currently 57* in Palma..take me there now!

Thanks for stopping by again and see you tomorrow!  Wednesdays will be "Wednesday Reviews", where I will review new products I bought, my current running shoes, a new restaurant, etc.  Tomorrow I'll be talking about my Centergy class and talk about the benefits of this pilates/yoga fusion class.  Hope to see you back!

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23- Weekly Goals

Wow, two posts in one day!  Not a bad start, if I do say so myself.  On Mondays, I'll be posting my weekly plan, and wanted to get started right away.  I'll also be including my meal plan for dinners.  I'm trying to get better about planning, so this will help me out!

-rest day (I have orchestra rehearsal for a musical I'm in, so I won't be home until after 9:00!)
-leftovers for dinner

-30 minute run
-group Centergy class (I'll do a review of this on Wednesday.  This is basically a pilates/yoga fusion class.  I love it!)
-homemade pizza for dinner

-30 minute run
-chicken with Thai Peanut Sauce

-40 minute run
-group Power class (I'll do a review of this on Friday.  This is a tough class for me, but I'm trying to build more muscle!)
-BBQ Chicken sandwiches for dinner

-spin class
-leftovers for dinner

-60 minute run
-my favorite Crunchy Cocoa Chili for dinner

-free Yoga in the Square at the PPG Wintergarden!  Last summer, Lululemon brought free yoga classes every Sunday to Pittsburgh, and they had 4 weeks of classes in February.  This is the last class, so I'm going to force myself to go!
-leftovers for dinner

Hope you have a good week!  Thanks for stopping by :)

New Year, New Posts!

I finally decided today that I would start to write again!  I've been following tons of different kinds of blogs for the past few years, and have always wanted to really dive into my own blog.  For some reason, I've always talked myself out of writing.  Today, though, I told myself to just go ahead and write, and see what happens.  So, welcome to my blog (again!)

I thought it would be a good idea to start off with some goals, including my "New Year's Resolutions" and some other goals.  Here we go....

Fitness Goals:
-Run 1,000 miles in 2015.  I've always wanted to make a yearly mileage goal, so I'm going to try out 1,000!  The year is off to a bad start, mostly because of the terrible Pittsburgh weather (and I'm a wimp), but I finally started to suck it up and run outside.

-Break 2:00:00 in a half marathon race.  In training runs and in full marathons, I've broken the 2 hour mark many times, but for some reason can't do it in an actual half marathon race.  I definitely think this is achievable!  My only half marathon on the schedule this year is the Biggest Loser Half Marathon in June.

Personal Goals:
-Read one book a month.  I always loved to read, but haven't really made it a priority recently.  I bought a Kindle earlier in February, and have been reading on my bus rides to work.  In January I read Dark Places, and in February finished Unbreakable.  They were both good, easy reads, but kind of trashy novels, so I'll try to read more books of value!

-Cook a different cuisine every month.  This is definitely my favorite resolution!  In January I cooked German food, and in February I tackled Thai.  It wasn't easy (especially finding the ingredients!)  Can't wait to try out Indian next month!

German!  Potato Pancake, Cucumber Salad, Red Cabbage and Bratwurst
Thai!  Pa Nang Curry, Mango Sticky Rice, Spring Rolls and Cucumber Salad

Other Goals:
-Start blogging again!  I guess I can check this one off!  Now, hopefully I can keep it up and blog regularly.

-Train Selma to be a therapy dog.  Selma is my 3 year old lab mix that I got back in September at the Humane Society.  She's the sweetest, cutest dog and everyone thinks she would make an amazing therapy dog.  She needs to work on her "stay" and I think she would be ready to take the test!
I mean..come on!  She's adorable!

Well, I think that's a decent first post.  Some things that I'd like to write about in the future are running, product reviews, traveling posts, and more!  Hope to see you back!