Monthly Archives: July 2010

Learning Yoga with Tara Stiles

Strala Yoga Studio

Many people, myself included, take the term “group exercise class” very seriously. Meaning, I don’t go unless I have a friend tagging along. Call me crazy, but I need to have that moral support when I’m exercising in front of a group of strangers and the instructor can zero in on me at any second. I know from working at a gym that most instructors don’t judge (unless you show up to spinning class in cutoff jeans and hiking sneakers), but you never know about the other participants.

If you’re like me, then you’ll understand why I dragged my best friend, Liz, to a new yoga class when she came to visit me in NYC. After arriving at 42nd Street at 12:30a.m. on a Friday night, you’d think I’d let her snag some extra shut-eye the next day, right? Wrong. We were up bright and early to head to Tara Stiles’ Strala Yoga in NoHo.

Now, before you start thinking I’m a huge yoga guru, let me make it clear that yoga has never been on the top of my priority list (same goes for Liz). I usually forget to stretch before and after my workouts (I know it’s important; I’m getting better, I promise!), so contorting my body into various positions and holding them peacefully is not one of my strengths. But I’m here to give you the scoop, so I knew it was time to give it a shot. Not to mention I didn’t want to miss a chance to work out with one of the most prominent yoga instructors in the nation.

Although the “Strong” class is normally an hour and 15 minutes long, I was only there for 45 minutes (due to unexpected subway construction) and I still got a sweat-inducing, muscle-blasting workout. Tara took us through a variety of poses that didn’t just stretch the muscles. We did core, leg and butt exercises that really strengthened the muscles as well. By the end, my tank top was drenched with sweat.

One of many poses Stiles moves into with ease.

Tara was also extremely nice and helpful with each class participant. She corrected my form when necessary, as a good instructor should, but she didn’t point it out to the rest of the class. In the middle of a pose, she quietly walked over and adjusted my body. And to make things less embarrassing, she cracked a joke and always had a bright smile. Her husband, Michael Taylor, was also extremely welcoming. It was jaw-dropping to see him do many advanced yoga poses despite already knowing that he has studied and practiced Eastern movement and healing techniques for over two decades.

Although all these things are great, I haven’t even gotten to the best part: the price. Yoga classes in NYC are typically $20 per class and can be close to $300 a month if you’re a regular goer. But Strala Yoga offers a unique, affordable opportunity: $10 a class.

“I want to make yoga affordable for everyone so that it can be something that’s easily integrated into everyday life,” Stiles told me after class. “We make the classes enjoyable and affordable, so we always have people coming back for more.”

Sounds good to me.

This really could be the best deal around. So if you’re in NYC, pick up your yoga mat (or rent one there for $2) and head over to Strala Yoga. Look for me while you’re there — I’ll probably be the girl near the back trying to accomplish the basic Eagle Pose.

Nike Swift U-Back Bra Holds Up to the Test

It’s true, girls usually love to shop. Hand us a credit card and tell us we have free reign and you’re likely to see yourself crash into debt so fast you won’t even have time to blink. However, there’s always one thing that a girl never wants to shop for: a sports bra.

No matter how many times I try (and manufacturers try), it’s so difficult to find a sports bra that not only conforms naturally to my body, but also provides enough support for my girls. Because let’s be honest, people — it hurts when I don’t have support up there and I’m trying to work out!

Alas, Nike has come one step closer to finding the bra of perfection that will make all other bras hide on the back of the rack and cower in shame (I like to think the clothes come alive when the store closes, much like Night at the Museum). Nike spent over 15 years studying running bras because studies show that a sports bra is the most important piece of running gear to a woman. After all that time and energy, they have come out with their latest product, the Nike Swift U-Back, featuring adjustable straps and a back closure that allows you to have a customized fit.

Nike Swift U-Back Sports Bra will be available for purchase July 2010

I tested this bra vigorously over the last two weeks because I needed to be sure I really supported this product before giving it a good review. After a lot of running, stair climbing, hill climbing, various circuit training and superset strength training routines, I have decided that this bra gets four out of five stars.

The most important thing that I look for is ventilation and support, both of which I get with the Swift U-Back. The Dri-FIT mesh inserts increase ventilation in the back, as does the U shape that cancels out unnecessary clothing irritating my skin and clogging my pores. The Dri-FIT fabric also soaks up sweat in all the right places, leaving me dry and comfortable. This may not seem really important, but the last thing I want is a pool of sweat forming between my ta-tas.

The support with this bra is the best I’ve ever received. I’ve shopped a lot at Nike for my athletic apparel; the vast majority of my sports bras are Nike because to me, they provide the best support. But this support system was like no other. The back closure allows me to adjust to the specific width of my body and makes it easy to put on and take off. The Spandex allows the bra to stretch and conform to my curves for a personalized fit, as does the ergonomic seaming, which allows me to still have the appearance of breasts! Comfort and style, who knew?!

Comfort and style comes with the Swift U-Back. Buy it in stores for $50.

The one negative comment I have, and the reason it doesn’t get five out of five stars, is about the adjustable straps. I love the idea of them being adjustable so the bra can be customized to the full extent. However, I would have preferred if the straps had the slide technology that regular bras have, rather than the Velcro straps. The Velcro irritated my skin so much that I had a huge red spot on my chest by the time my workout was finished. Not exactly the most attractive image.

So there you have it, my friends. Nike Swift U-Back is definitely a keeper, and it will be available in stores for $50 by the end of July 2010. If you like Velcro, then you’ll have no problems at all. As for me, Nike, if you swap out the Velcro then my heart (and chest) is yours forever.

Check out this video where Brenda Funk-Danielson, Design Director, Global Running Apparel and Debra Talbert, Product Creation, Global Running Apparel explain the research that went into developing the Swift U-Back and another new product, the Swift X-Back.