Each month, four new healthy ways to be happy will be added to this section. A complete list will be kept here.
- What: A 60-minute heated vinyasa flow yoga class to hip hop beats.
- Where: Multiple locations (Flatiron, Soho, Tribeca, Union Square, Upper East Side and Williamsburg). We went to the Flatiron studio, but I will try a different studio next time. Flatiron was small, crowded and required ascending a narrow staircase to get up to the 4th floor. There were no lockers — just cubbies for stuff. Other studios have showers and a larger changing area.
- Why: When I do yoga, I like to keep it moving. Vinyasa flow in a dimly lit and heated space is my favorite way to begin. As an aside, I love listening to hip hop or pop music when I workout — especially when I run (don’t judge me on the pop, please). It gets my heart rate up and takes my mind away from whatever else is going on in my life. Listening to music while I sweat has always been a no-brainer. But I’ve never paired a good beat with yoga… Enter: Y7. At Y7, the class began with calming, subdued music and a moment to access and appreciate every inch of my body. It then evolved into something a little more energetic. Hip hop beats slowly took over. As the volume went up, so did the pace of the flows. I tried to keep up, but they were a bit fast for me. That said, nobody cared (in a good way). The room was candlelit, which I loved, and there were three or four different flows that were done three times each. The first two times we all did them together. For the third flow, it was a “free flow” — basically, like the yoga equivalent of free-styling (the only kind of free-styling I should be allowed to do). I appreciated that modifications and individualizing our practice were always encouraged. The free flow allowed us to go at our own pace, hanging out in the poses that felt most comfortable (anything hip-opening for me, thank you very much), and avoiding the ones that were uncomfortable (weight bearing into my left wrist – no, gracias). That said, I prefer not to have to think when I flow, because that’s the level I’m at. But the music made it way more fun. I enjoyed the hip hop beats, but if I was just a little better at yoga I would have been able to enjoy them even more. I found I couldn’t get totally lost in the music because I was too busy trying to remember a flow and not fall over. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how the hip hop added to the yoga experience, but who cares? In the end, whatever happened in that sweaty, hip-hoppy, candlelit room was awesome. I flowed hard and I’ll try to flow even harder next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time.
- When: See class schedule via their website.
- Happiness Ranking: 8/10.
- Cost: $25 for a single class. New student special: $45 for 3 classes with mat and towels included. Must be used within 30-days.
- Link: http://www.y7-studio.com/
- What: A 30-minute workout that meets at 6:30am in different public spaces around NYC every single Monday – Friday. The Rise NYC is always completely FREE (just show up!), and someone will be there every day no matter what. Literally nothing — no rain, wind, blizzard conditions, bomb cyclones, national holidays or even subway delays will stop Risers from showing up. The result: An amazing full body workout complete with lots of high-fives (the official greeting of Risers), sore muscles, and not a moment lost from your day. If The Rise doesn’t make you love NYC (and life) a little more, you get your money back. OH wait… It is totally FREE. Nothing to lose! So do what the Risers do and… Just show up! Optional coffee and breakfast at a local coffee shop or diner follows every workout.
- Where: The Rise NYC meets in multiple locations around the city. The different locations come with slightly different workouts. But one thing is certain: every day, someone will be there. So show up, bring a friend, and get ready to sweat. Click on each day to learn more about that particular workout.
- Monday: HIIT workout in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, 6:30am.
- Tuesday: BK Body Circuit at Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, 6:30am OR Queens Warriors at MacDonald Park, Queens, 6:30am.
- Wednesday: Core Body Bootcamp in front of the New York Public Library at Bryant Park, Manhattan, 6:30am.
- Thursday: Form and Flow, at Flatiron Plaza, Manhattan, 6:30am OR King of Queens at MacDonald Park, Queens, 6:30am.
- Friday: Hills at the Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan side, 6:30am.
- NOTE: This is my favorite. If you’ve never seen the sun come up while running laps up and down the Williamsburg Bridge, you’re cheating yourself of something beautiful!
- Why: Yes, 6:30am is on the early side for most people. But let me tell you a little story. In 2015, my relationship ended and I was exhausted and burnt out from almost 5 years of intensive school to get my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. It was November, and I had never liked working out in the cold. I avoided outdoor winter workouts whenever possible. Then, a chance encounter with Dave Johnson — founder and creator of The Rise — got me curious. I was nervous to “just show up” because I didn’t know anyone else, it was really early in the morning, and I wasn’t sure what was in store physically. And then I did. On a grey Wednesday morning in November, I went to my first Rise workout in Bryant Park. To say I had fun would be an understatement. The good vibes were infectious, and I couldn’t stop smiling. Because of my schedule, I couldn’t make the other mid-week workouts, so I went to the Saturday bRUNch through TMIRCE NYC (The Rise’s sister running group — more on them another time) 3 days later. When there, I was convinced to cancel a first date I had that night and come to the annual “High Five Formal” — a big party with runners decked out in formal wear and sneakers. Between that first Rise workout on the Wednesday and that Saturday run and party, my happiness levels skyrocketed. The Rise lit something up in my soul that had been buried under hundreds of hours of lectures and exams, a broken but healing heart, and a frustrated grad student in NYC. For the first time in months, I felt like ME again. I have so much more to say about this, but basically The Rise NYC gave me back everything I felt I had lost in the months before it. As a bonus, I’ve made some amazing friends, I have been inspired to run faster and farther than ever before, and I am no longer hesitant to wake up early — even in the winter! — because I know the high fives and smiles always make the lack of sleep worth it. The Rise isn’t just a workout; it changed my world for the better. Only amazing things have come from it since. You will leave each workout feeling invigorated by the positivity of the people in the group. You will make new friends. You will get stronger. You will smile. You will laugh. You will see the sunrise over and over again. But more than anything, you will probably be a better version of you. So take it from me: Just show up. It might just change your life.
- When: 6:30am (on the dot — I recommend arriving a little earlier or you’ll miss precious minutes of the short workout) every Monday through Friday at a different location each day of the week. See above.
- Happiness Ranking: 11/10. It’s one of my favorite things of all time. The worse the weather, the bigger the smiles.
- Cost: FREE. I repeat: $0.00! Too good to be true? Nope. Just a few high fives and you’re in.
- Link: https://therisenyc.org/
- What: This is not your average treadmill workout. We did the Dash 28 workout — a 45-minute all levels welcome workout with structured intervals and runner specific strength training exercises. MHRC is an as-intense-as-you-make-it indoor running party mixed with core workout that pushes you into speed zones you’re not used to visiting (especially on a treadmill). Expect club lighting, great music and an experienced running coach guiding you through the workout.
- Where: There are two locations in NYC — NoHo and Nomad. We tried the Dash28 workout at NoHo. I had to repeat the location 10 times and still had trouble remembering which one we were going to. No-Ho is the same as No-mad, right? No no no! Very different. Make sure you get it right or you could find yourself having a stressful Uber ride across town.
- Why: You want to challenge yourself as a runner, but you’re not sure how to build a good interval workout. And maybe it just so happens to be snowing heavily, which was the case on the morning we were there. This combination of needs makes for a perfect example of when you should get to MHRC. That said, the Dash 28 is a great workout for both serious and casual runners. It gets you breathing hard and running fast no matter what your pace, experience level or goals. Each person has control over their own speed and incline. There is even a little card on the treadmill that guides you through target ranges so you have a good idea of where you want to be. I found myself pushing my pace much harder than I would if I was running solo, and definitely harder than I ever have on a treadmill. Let’s be honest: no runner likes running on a treadmill. Or so I thought. This was different. This felt more like a treadmill fiesta than a treadmill siesta (how I normally feel running on those things). The treadmills were more accommodating to my body than they normally are, and as a physical therapist, I was happy to say I felt good shock absorption and traction as I tried to keep up with the girl one treadmill ahead of me to the left (who are you, fast mystery woman?!). Dare I say this treadmill workout was… really fun? I stand by my sentiment that treadmill workouts tend to stink compared to running outside. But MHRC did the unthinkable: they made me want to get back on a treadmill… as long as its one of theirs.
- When: Check the class schedule for the weekly times at each of the two locations.
- Happiness Ranking: 9/10.
- Cost: New student special: $18. Otherwise: $32.
- Link: https://milehighrunclub.com/
- What: Hot power yoga (no tangerines). By hot, I mean up to 95-degrees, 40% humidity. You will sweat… A LOT.
- Where: Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. 225 Schermerhorn Street (between Hoyt and Bond), Brooklyn, NY, 11201.
- Why: On a cooler-than-normal October evening I entered the tiny, unexpectedly fresh space secretly looking for tangerines. I found none. It smelled of eucalyptus and rain. Within 5 minutes of arriving I had checked-in, bought a boxed Just Water ($2) and found myself a patch of floor, which I had hoped would hide me and my tight hamstrings but ended up being front row and center (classic mistake). Five minutes into the class I forgot to care. I was more concerned with making sure I wasn’t the only one who had completely sweat through everything I was wearing after one round of down-dog. (For the record: I was not alone.) There I stayed, on my tropical towel island, shvitzing my soul out in a grey, no-fuss room heated to between 80 and 95-degrees. There’s something oddly cleansing about sweating — I mean really sweating. It’s a warm, delightful way to release all the stuff from my day that I didn’t know I needed to release. I will crave this toasty workout as the temperatures drop outside. The class was well-paced, with modifications to suit all levels. I left feeling challenged, but not beat up. Sweaty, but not disgusting. Between the space, the steamy temperature, the music and the friendly staff at Tangerine Yoga, I know I’ll be going back for more.
- When: Click here for a complete Class Schedule.
- Happiness Ranking: 7/10.
- Cost: $22 per class, $36 for first 3 classes (expires in 30 days) if you’re a new student. Mats and towels are complementary (and well cleaned).
- Link: http://tangerinehotpoweryoga.com
- What: A bootcamp-style HIIT workout with an emphasis on teamwork and functional strength. Inspired by the creators of the Tough Mudder obstacle course races, the only obstacle in this class is yourself. You’ll be happy to know that the Tough Mudder Boot Camp class takes place indoors, with no mud or live electric wires in sight.
- Where: Multiple locations — to be announced in 2018 via the Tough Mudder Bootcamp website. Stay tuned to Ola for updates on locations as they open.
- Why: You will sweat and you will have fun doing it — what more could one ask for in a workout? The class takes place in a large gym, with multiple exercise stations set up around the room. You will not have to crawl through barbed wire or trek through mud (but you will have stronger muscles if you decide to sign up for a Tough Mudder race). There are two activities at each station so that you can complete one while your partner completes the other. I went from doing planks to driving a 20lb sled down a straightaway, hoping to catch my breath after hopping off a rowing machine and before thrusting a large sandbag over my head at other stations. All the while, I found myself yelling words of encouragement to my partner and having impromptu dance parties during the brief rest/recovery breaks. The people at Tough Mudder are serious about fitness, but they’re also serious about not taking themselves too seriously — which I like. This combo makes for an excellent total body workout that will hit every muscle and leave you sweating, burning and panting in all the right ways.
- When: Multiple locations will open in 2018. Stay tuned!
- Happiness Ranking: 9/10.
- Cost: TBD.
- Link: http://bootcamp.toughmudder.com
- What: A meditation to the sound of the Gong.
- Where: Golden Bridge Yoga, 253 Centre Street, NY, NY 10013
- Why: Cleansing, calming, rejuvenating. “The sensation of floating, of energy moving through your body, tingling, temperature changes, sonic skin massage, and being transported to another time and place. These are some of the possible side effects of a gong sound bath.” — Golden Bridge Yoga
- Happiness Ranking: 10/10 (EXTREMELY HAPPY)
- Link: http://www.goldenbridgeyoga.com/
The Brew Hop 5k at Randall’s Island (Saturday, October 21st)
- What: A 5k through fall foliage on Randall’s Island that ends with >15 local craft breweries, lawn games, live music and food vendors.
- Where: 20 Randall’s Island Park, New York, NY, 10035 (exact route not yet posted on Brew Hop website)
- Why: Why not?! Running is fun. It’s also good for you. Running with friends is more fun. Running with friends and strangers and then getting to drink beer afterwards is fun x3. And the leaves will be changing so you won’t want to miss that.
- When: Saturday, October 21st, 2017. Race starts at 12pm, registration is a 10am. Party goes until 4pm.
- Happiness Ranking: 10/10. A super experienced runner friend (Ironman, triathlete, running coach and marathoner) who runs all-of-the-things said that this is one of her all-time favorite races.
- Link: Sign up here (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-brew-hop-5k-craft-beer-fest-2017-tickets-35598392751?aff=erelexpmlt), and use the code BrewHopNYC for $10 off!
- What: Think of The Run Studio as a yoga class designed specifically with the needs (and aches and pains) of runners in mind. The instructors take you through a series of yoga-based poses and exercises that target muscle groups and skills that every runner could work on. With fall racing season in full-swing, this is just the type of class your body needs — you just don’t know it yet. They also lead group training runs in Prospect Park tailored to your skill level and running goals.
- Where: “Yoga for Runners” classes take place at Mala Yoga, 162 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11201.
- Why: In my experience, I am a better runner when I do yoga. My body feels more grounded and my hips and feet feel stronger and more stable. Call it a coincidence, or maybe The Run Studio is onto something. As a physical therapist, I can say with confidence that becoming a better runner is not all about stretching. Thankfully, The Run Studio works on other incredibly important elements of running, such as soft tissue release, core and glute strength, and single leg balance. I would absolutely send my patients here. You’ll leave The Run Studio feeling looser, stronger and more knowledgeable about your body. Bonus: You’ll learn new and creative ways to use a number of standard yoga props. My favorite trick: learning how to make a “wobble board” out of two yoga blocks and a blanket. Mind blown.
- When: Yoga for Runners Classes (all levels) are on: Sunday at 2pm, Monday at 7:35pm, Thursday at 7:35pm, and Friday at 12:30pm.
- Happiness Ranking: 8/10
- Link: https://www.therunstudio.com/
- Cost: $15 for a 1-hr class
Cider Week in NYC (October 20-29)
- What: A week to celebrate fall, leaves changing, and apples — the fruit of the season — in one of it’s most delicious forms: hard cider.
- Where: All over the city! Just check the official Cider Week website for specials at a location near you.
- Why: Because FALL. And — did you know cider is good for you? By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the many benefits of apple cider vinegar (thanks to phenolics, flavonoids and carotenoids in the fruit’s phytochemical makeup). But blah blah blah… What about hard cider?! Hard cider is still made from apples, and — like apples — it is loaded with both vitamin C and antioxidants. In fact, there are more antioxidants in cider than in green tea! Cider comes in many different varieties, just like New Yorkers. It can be sweet, sour, dry, sparkling, or even a combo of the above. In case you’re in denial (like me) that it’s fall in the city, look around. The leaves are changing and the apple orchards are far away, so celebrate like a true New Yorker: by going to a nearby bar and drinking something seasonal and delicious instead of touching a tree (awe, sad — we love trees, too!). But remember: cider is only healthy if you drink it in moderation. A whole bunch of calories come with the alcohol.
- When: October 20-29, 2017.
- Happiness Ranking: Like most things, it all depends on how much you drink and who you’re with, but let’s say 7/10.
- Link: http://ciderweeknyc.com/
NYC Marathon — Cheer Squad
- What: The 2017 TCS NYC Marathon is the largest marathon in the world. Last year, there were over 50,000 finishers, but there were even more people cheering them on. This Marathon is 26.2 miles of smiles, high fives, sweat and determination long, but it’s thousands of personal journeys deep.
- Where: You can cheer pretty much anywhere along the course. This includes Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan — pick your borough! I will be cheering with the TMIRCE NYC Cheer Squad at Mile 9 along Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn (more about TMIRCE another time). The exact cheer squad location will be posted via @followtheola on Instagram. You are welcome to join us if you’re just looking for a friendly crew to cheer with and have some free high fives to distribute. Here’s the Marathon course map.
- Why: What happens on Marathon Sunday in NYC is nothing short of amazing. It’s not just thousands of people running 26.2 miles (which is pretty incredible — let us not forget). It’s thousands of people cheering on complete strangers from all over the world. Marathon Sunday brings out the best of New York, the best of New Yorkers and the best of humanity. And trust me — everyone feels it. Whatever your reason for being there, the good vibes are contagious. So if you’re running, we’ll be there cheering you on. And if you’re not running, join me and thousands of other people by giving those runners everything they need to prove to themselves and to us that anything is possible if we set our minds to it. Supporting others is what it’s all about. And on Marathon Sunday, the world is the way I always want it to be. So, join me and thousands of others and be a part of it.
- When: Sunday, November 5th, 2017. Different start times for different folks. But it starts early in the morning and lasts deep into the afternoon.
- Happiness Ranking: 11/10. I think anything I do that makes me cry happy tears gets an 11.
- Cost: FREE! But you may lose your voice…
- Link: https://www.tcsnycmarathon.org/