Last year, I was introduced to Group Kick, a class at my local gym. Group Kick isn't just a kickboxing routine though, it also incorporates aspects of martial arts in a high-cardio 60-minute class. Group Kick is very exciting, it's a non-stop motion filled with jumping, kicking, and boxing.
You fight the air, so you always win!
Attendees follow along with an instructor that leads the class through routines with different songs. Some of my favorite routines are to Avril Lavigne's "What the Hell" and Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me."
For someone like me who is too impatient and uncoordinated for Zumba, Group Kick makes a better alternative. It pushes me more, and as well as my cardio improving, I feel myself getting stronger with each class; my kicks are higher, I jump with more ease, and my punches are harder. I feel more accomplished learning self-defense moves as opposed to just dance moves. It also challenges me more; I want to see myself improve with each class.
The routine begins slowly with a warm up and then gradually increases in intensity, and, with that, our heart rates increase. The intensity then slowly decreases into a cool down. The finale incorporates stretching, as well as core workouts, such as crunches and planks.
Group Kick works all muscles, even those that we tend to neglect in weight training. The punching aspects work our back, neck, and arms, while the kicking and jumping work all aspects of our legs. It also helps strengthen our core because we need to hold our bodies in certain ways throughout the routine. Group Kick strengthens while burning fat.
The classes are a very empowering experience. Group Kick gives a feeling of self control and protection by learning about boxing and martial arts moves. The instructor tells us where to kick and where to hit someone who may be out to harm you. The incorporation of cardio also adds to the experience; I feel that I can keep up a fight if I were to get into one.
My friend and I both agree, we are definitely more confidant in ourselves and our security since we started the classes.
Everyone I know who experiences Group Kick loves it. From the original three in our group that joined it, at the end of the year there were nine of us that were attending these classes. The energetic instructors, the upbeat songs, and the challenging routines get people coming back each week for more.
In America, or at least in the Northeast region from where I'm from, casual attire typically means jeans, sweatpants, or yoga pants. A business outfit consists of dress pants or a pencil skirt, blazer, blouse and heels. Club-wear usually doesn't consist of much; either a tight, short dress, or a tight, short skirt.
During my semester abroad in Italy, I realized that the Europeans have a much different view on casual and club wear (business is around the same), as well as strong opinions on how the American students dress.
Casual: Although, short-shorts are becoming increasingly popular with the young Italian crowd, during the warm months in Italy they attracted a lot of unwanted attention from the male citizens.
Yoga pants were also an object previously unseen by Europeans. My friend's German boyfriend was blown away by yoga pants; he couldn't believe the comfort of the wearer as well as the effect it has on the viewer.
Baggy sweatpants are a big no-no in Italy; they're unflattering and way too casual to be walking the streets in. My roommate once walked home from soccer in sweatpants and had half of Florence staring her down. The Italian casual look, when they do opt for being casual, consists of skinny or boot-cut jeans with a fitted tee shirt. Usually, though, they wear skirts, dresses, or nice pants topped with a blazer.
Europeans also tend to have house clothes, that no one outside of their home should see them in. The same German boyfriend was deeply offended when my friend posted pictures of him on Facebook with a white under-shirt on. He then received messages from his German friends, asking why those pictures were online.
Typically, the Italians are very well put together, even when they're in their casual attire. Personally, I, as well as the Italians, feel that if you dress well, you feel well.
In the clubs, the Italians were always able to spot the American students. I asked one male Italian on how he can spot the difference. His response, "the Americans are always naked."
The Italians dress semi-formal with tight pants and a nice shirt. The dresses they wear are always classy, and no too revealing. Italian women wear a lot of black and are ALWAYS in heels. By not being too revealing, they give off an air of mysteriousness and seduction.
As much as I love my sweatpants and utilizing the staple "little black skirt," maybe we can learn something from our European counterparts.
What do you think, should we keep our style or class it up like the Italians?
The seasons of dieting tend to go like this: Feel guilty/ crash diet from November to February. March to April consists of trying to lose winter fat for spring break. And then May-October is trying to maintain the summer body.
But let's focus on November-February; the holiday season. We already made it through Thanksgiving and Hannukah, but there's still Christmas' Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and the abundance of chocolate available for Valentine's Day (whether you're single or not- there's always chocolate there for support).
I want to talk about making peace with your body during this time. Because unless you have adapted a strict, all year round, healthy diet (in which case, good for you), many of us fall to the temptations of the holidays. I know that I personally cannot resist my mother's baking and holiday cookies.
So instead of making ourselves feel guilty about these foods that we've eaten since childhood, or attempt unhealthy crash diets in between the holidays, I think we should just accept the foods we want to eat. They come by once a year, and we might as well enjoy them.
After spending four months abroad in Italy, I've realized the importance of enjoying the food you eat; there's no reason to feel guilty about it. But the Italians also understand portion control, something we, as Americans, need to get better at.
Eat those Reindeer cookies, but don't finish the entire batch by yourself. Try the classic "eat when you're hungry, stop when you're not" approach; it'll allow you to eat your favorite foods without overindulging. This method helps prevent further weight gain, while allowing you to eat your favorite holiday treats. You can also put your leftovers in a baggie and eat it the next day.
While baking, try some healthy substitutions; egg whites instead of eggs, cooking spray as opposed to butter at the bottom of a pan and incorporate some whole wheat flour with the regular kind. There's also no reason to taste check every cookie in the batch- refrain from licking your batter bowls and having a "quick taste" of cookie dough.
Exhibit some self-control, but also feel free to eat the holiday treats. There's no reason to miss out on your favorite foods; and there's definitely no reason to feel guilty about it. Make peace with your holiday self.
Are you opening up to your favorite holiday treats this winter? What will you be eating?