Outdoor Fitness Classes – Parker Tai Chi and Qi Gong Club

Outdoor training season is one of my favorite times of year. Navigating the weather can be a bit of an adventure here in Parker, Colorado. We get flash hailstorms all summer and it can get pretty windy at times. Which is a big reason why I’m so grateful to have a new indoor training space.

On nice days it’s amazing to train outside here. The sunsets are gorgeous and the skies are incredible. And after a long winter it feels so good to soak up the warm sunshine while exercising.

One of my local outdoor training spots is the Parker Norwell Outdoor Fitness park. Park gyms are a very cool phenomenon. I’ve seen a few of them in my travels around the country. This one was designed by the Barkholt family from Denmark:

During travels in Asia, the family experienced how the public outdoor fitness parks everywhere offer easy access to exercise, and the perfect supplement to the family’s walking and running routines.

This experience inspired the Barkholt family to develop their own unique line of outdoor fitness equipment, expressing the very best of Danish Design: quality, functionality and aesthetics.

There’s one piece of equipment that I really like – the curved pull up/stretching bars.

It’s perfect for practicing a full range of strength and flexibility exercises. A few of my favorite exercises include:

  • Hamstring Stretches
  • Flat Back Stretch
  • Hanging Spinal Stretch
  • Leg Lifts Series (for core and leg strength)
  • High Bar Stretching

These exercises are highly beneficial for all levels of experience. If there was one thing I could recommend that people do for themselves this summer it would be to train outdoors 2-3 days a week.

I’ll be co-hosting a series of small group sessions at the Norwell Park Gym and other local outdoor training spots. Contact me if you’re interested in attending a free seminar on how to do these exercises.

For more information visit the Parker Tai Chi and Qi Gong Club’s Facebook page.

 

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Hot Logic Mini

hot-logic-mini-parkDisclaimer: I am not paid to endorse the Hot Logic Mini. I am simply sharing my appreciation for the intelligent design of this product with my readers.

So I’ve never blogged about a product before, but this is one of the best things that I’ve come across in a long time. And it ties into past discussions about alchemical cooking, health, the Slow Movement, etc.

The Hot Logic Mini is a personal portable oven that uses what the company describes as a “low-slow conductive heating system.” According to their website:

The Hot Logic Mini is ideal for those of us who don’t like microwaves… busy people who don’t have time to cook… truckers / delivery drivers / travelers who don’t have a lunch room… food preppers & fitness enthusiasts… folks with food allergies or special dietary concerns who want to carry a safe, healthy, hot meal with them anywhere they go.

I can’t stand microwaves. Just the thought of ruining a good meal by wicking away all of the nutrients makes me feel pretty sad. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t like to eat out very much. I prefer to cook my own meals because I know exactly what’s going in them and how they were prepared.

When I go out into the world for work or school, microwaves tend to be the only available option. I am a firm believer in the necessity of eating hot meals. Hot food is as essential for good health as hot beverages are – especially in the colder months.

I am the kind of person who carries a toaster oven around with me. [Taoist Travel Tip: they do come in handy on the road.] But toaster ovens are bulky and can take up space, and it’s not so easy to be discreet with them. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered my new favorite thing:

The Hot Logic Mini

I just spent a month playing with my new toy. I paid $40 for it on ebay and didn’t want to take the risk of having someone steal it. So I kept it my car and used a portable jump starter with a USB outlet and a 100 watt car inverter (the Mini uses 45 watts).

I use glass pyrex containers for food storage. Glass is preferable to plastic or aluminum foil, because glass keeps the food safe from harmful chemicals that leach into the food when it’s heated. Glass is also non-porous so it doesn’t absorb food or germs.

hot-logic-mini-quicheSo what did I make? I tried a bunch of different things. Indian food packets with rice are easy and delicious. Pasta dishes reheat super well. Any kind of stew (like chicken pot pie with a mashed potato crust) is ideal.

hot-logic-mini-chicken-pot-pieI don’t recommend soups with the pyrex containers because they’re not leakproof. And spills are kind of a pain in the butt. The inner seams of the bag are not so easy to clean. But that’s really my only criticism of the Mini’s design.

hot-logic-mini-pastaMy favorite discovery was the defrosted breakfast burrito. I did heat them in the paper wrapping but they reheat really, really well that way. I could probably unwrap the burrito and put it in a glass container. But convenience won me over on busy mornings.

hot-logic-mini-breakfast-burritoAs far as heating time goes, you’ll want to turn on the Mini 60-90 minutes in advance of when you’ll be eating. The burritos dry out a bit if they’re left in any longer than that. But any dish with moisture can sustain even longer heating times. It’s kind of like a crock pot in that way…

Which brings us back to the topic of slow food and yoga. Slow cooked foods are ideal for many reasons. The longer you slow cook certain foods (such as beans) the more chi or vital life force is infused into the food. It’s kind of like adding a bottle of fuel treatment to your gas tank. Slow cooking helps you increase the power, function and mileage of your body-vehicle.

If you’d like some recipe ideas you’re welcome to check out my Pinterest. If you enjoyed reading this article you might also like:

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St. John USVI

Sunny and Emily St. John Yoga
March 9, 2011

Chi is my Co-Pilot

 

“A genuine smile distributes the cosmic current, Prana to every body cell. The happy man is less subject to disease, for happiness actually attracts into the body a greater supply of the Universal life energy.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

 

I’ve never seen the ocean turn purple before. The sky is a lighter shade of violet smeared with gray clouds and the final sweep of the sunset. Across the bay the islands are beginning to light up. As I’m writing this entry the color of the water changes to indigo.

I’m sitting in my friend Sunny’s apartment on St. John. It’s been almost a week since I arrived in the Virgin Islands. The energy of this place is tangible. A few hours ago I ate a bowl of potato leek soup that I helped Sunny prepare. It left me feeling totally buzzed. She asked me if I wanted to go to a party with her.

“Will there be people there who I can do Tandem yoga with?”

Probably not. So here I am, writing to you and enjoying the sunset. I have to say it’s pretty awesome here. I’ve been practicing yoga every day in Sunny’s kitchen that sits high up overlooking the water. We sit on her porch in the mornings watching the basil and tomatoes grow. Sunny tells me the names of every island in the bay. Hummingbirds and iguanas come to visit us.

I am happy… being… here.

This is the perfect place to write about chi. I’ve been working as a freelance writer on a book about health and energy practices. One of my assignments is to write about what chi (life energy) means to me.

Chi is all around me. It’s inside of me. It’s the feeling of looking at clear turquoise water. It’s the after-effects of hiking up the incredibly steep (!!!) hills. It’s in the sensations in my body when I meditate. It’s the fresh juice from Sunny’s Champion juicer, a sunset swirl of carrot, beet, apple, ginger, lemon. I feel it when I’m laughing.

The sky and the water have turned to black. In the distance the hills are glowing orange and white. The crickets are singing and the evening air is soft and inviting.

I wish I could practice yoga here with all of you.

Anna and Emily Tandem Yoga St. John

 

March 28, 2011

Reflections

 
“Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;  
It is on the hole in the center that the use of the cart hinges.
 
We make a vessel from a lump of clay;
It is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.
 
We make doors and windows for a room;
But it is these empty spaces that make the room livable.
 
Thus, while the tangible has advantages,
It is the intangible that makes it useful.”
 
– Lao Tzu, The Tao Teh Ching
 

I’m inhaling another sunset here in the City of Love. For the past month I’ve been awake at dawn almost every morning. This is what happens whenever I’m in the tropics. Before coming here I received a Reiki treatment from my friend Mandy. She predicted that this place would feel like home to me. It has in ways that I didn’t expect. St. John feels like a hybrid of Maine, Hawaii and Colorado.

It’s another world here. People drive on the left side of the road which does a number on my dyslexia. There are no fast food restaurants or strip malls. The internet is limited here so I’ve been reading a wonderful book called “The Enzyme Factor – How to Live Long and Never be Sick” by Hiromi Shinya.

Very rich food for thought.

I’ve taken to calling this trip Sunny’s Island Boot Camp Adventure. We’ve been hiking, snorkeling and stand-up paddle boarding. We practiced yoga with friends and went dancing. Every night is Friday here.

Sunny has been teaching me about the history of the island and about the slavery uprisings. One morning we hiked to a sacred pool on Reef Bay which sits below the largest waterfall on the island. On the rocks surrounding the pool are petroglyph carvings made by the Taino, the early inhabitants of St. John.

This was a place of ancestor worship. The petroglyph symbols are positioned to reflect in the water so as to represent the inter-dependency of the spiritual and physical worlds. I wanted to meditate there and will go back sometime when there are less tourists.

Three more days until my gypsy caravan moves on. I’m looking forward to coming back. There is an amazing retreat center here and a wonderful community who I would love to continue practicing with.