Workout. Eat. Shop. Sleep.
In NEW YORK CITY.
Sounds too good to be true?
That’s exactly how I felt on the days leading to boarding that BA flight last week. My first solo holidays AK (After Kids), where I’d have 4 full days to focus exclusively on what I love to do, no compromise required. No-one shouting mummy, mummy, mummy every 3 seconds. Uninterrupted sleep. Eggs and pancakes galore. Activewear shopping. Sweat at the best workouts in town. Basically a fitster’s heaven.
I know. Too good to be true. Surely something would go wrong?
That’s how I felt when the ESTA confirmation took days to arrive (you know, that document saying you’re allowed in the US? You never know with all the travel ban malarkey these days).
That’s also how I felt when I couldn’t complete my online check in – what’s wrong with my ticket????
And it was with sheer panic that I realised a stranger had my credit cards the evening before I was supposed to leave.
“Hi, is this Catarina? I have your purse.”
Shit. He really did. I had accidentally dropped my purse on the road and this stranger found it. I almost cried of happiness when I saw him walking towards my front door the next morning to return it. Surely this was a sign that the Universe was scheming to get me on that flight after all?
NEW YORK, I’m coming to get you!
And I did. The workouts, the restaurants, the shops – it’s all here! Welcome to my New York city fitness diary, darlings.
Day 1. Soul Cycle Experience and activewear shopping
5.30 am. Awake and jet lagged. Paint nails and review coordinates for the day. Lay out cool gym kit to impress New Yorkers with my amazing sense of style.
6.57 am. Hungry. Counting the minutes until hotel breakfast starts at The Mark Hotel. Open mini bar snack drawer. Decide Kit Kat and Mars bars may not be the best way to start the day. When will hotels start upgrading their snacks, seriously???
7.15 am. Coffee. Eggs Florentine. With roast potatoes. I realised it’s a NY thing – the potatoes, I mean. More coffee. Walk to Soul Cycle Upper East Side for my 8.30 am class with Stacey.
8.10 am. Arrive at Soul Cycle to a (still) quiet studio. Convince lovely receptionist to take photos of me posing on the bike. Find out she also has a healthy food blog (@thehungrybrunettes). Bonding, bonding, bonding. Buy overpriced Soul Cycle tank top to look super cool.
8.25 am. Suddenly it’s like they’re giving away free gold bars. The studio is in a frenzy and I realise it’s because 1) Stacey’s class is the most wanted, fully booked in 15 seconds, class of the day and 2) the wait-listers are lining up for a potential available bike. Wonder how much they would pay for my spot and make mental note of potential business opportunity. Thank you M. for booking my bike!
8.30 am. Spin. Like I’ve never spinned before (and I spin a lot). The music, the lights, the energy is total awesomeness. Instructor Stacey is a DJ-meets-mentalist (with her own book coming soon) with a serious cult following – I get it. For the record, she doesn’t spin during class – her exclusive focus is on YOU. Let the other girl demonstrate (also super fit btw). Next level amazing 45 minutes cardio. No-one remembers normal.
10.30 am. Upper East Side activewear shopping tour. Focusing on the brands that either a) can only be found in the US or b) are cheaper this side of the pond.
First stop: Athleta. Mid-range quality and current styles. Loved the tops and bras.
Last stop: Bandier. Luxury multibrand activewear shop. Realise many of the brands can be found in the UK and decide I’ve bought enough activewear for one day. Notice my APL trainers are all the rage. Feel good.
7pm. Eat leftover snacks from on-board packed dinner (see What’s Inside My Healthy Long Haul Flight Carry On). Crash on hotel bed after half an hour of reality tv.
Egg count: #2
Day 2. Dreamy Ballet Beautiful and Soho wanderings
7am. Breakfast at St Ambroeus. Mushroom and courgette omelette, quinoa, roasted vine tomatoes, roast potatoes (yes, again) and avocado mash. People watching. Lots of coffee.
9.15 am. Arrive at Ballet Beautiful Upper East Side studio. I take a moment in the quiet studio to appreciate this. I fell in love with fitness when I fell in love with barre. And I fell in love with barre when I discovered Ballet Beautiful. So it’s quite out of this world to be physically here after so many online workouts over the years… but the burn is very real. The class lives up to all my expectations – including the gracious teacher and dancer Lucy and her never ending arms (and legs).
12.00 pm. Walk to Soho. Popping in and out of shops with my friend H. Locate potential nice lunch spot. Realise they’re no longer serving lunch. Officially famished and urgently needing the loo.
2.30 pm. Lunch at The Mercer Kitchen. Delicious prawns and burger. Idiot receptionists and wannabees top models whose talents are being wasted away showing us fat, food eating customers our way to the tables.
4.30 pm. Exploring Soho. Feasting the eyes in the food halls at Dean & Deluca. Checking the sales rack at local Lululemon and locate great burgundy jumper.
9.00 pm. Fall asleep after watching Married to Medicine (google it) and The Hobbit – Battle of The Five Armies.
Egg count: #4
Day 3. Cardio on the Dancefloor with Body By Simone!!!!
7.30 am. Breakfast at the hotel. Wild mushroom, kale and Parmesan frittata. Double latte.
8.40 am. Uber drops me off at 9am workout location. Realise it’s the wrong address. Frenetically wave for yellow cab.
8.56 am. Phew. Arrive at Body By Simone. Class fully booked ad studio already packed as I try to find some room.
9.00 am. Dance like in those Hollywood musicals – even if you can’t dance (me). And get a perky bottom while you’re at it. Happy vibes only!!! The dance inspired sassy workout created by celebrity trainer Simone de La Rue combines toning and fat burning choreographies that leave you feeling on the top of the world!
12.30 pm. Lunch overlooking Central Park. Eggs Florentine and apple crumble.
Egg count: #8
Day 4. American breakfast and farewell New York!
8 am. Decide not to go to Hip Hop Yoga. Go to hotel fitness centre for 10 minutes instead. This was after taking 10 minutes to decide what to wear (have I bought too much activewear?). Eat 2 bananas.
9.30 am. Latte at the hotel bar. Slightly annoyed at middle aged Brazilian woman shouting on her Face Time. Husband joins her and couple decided to sample the red wine. Maybe they’re jet lagged and feel like it’s actually dinner time?
10.30 am. Real American breakfast at Andrew’s Coffee Shop. Typical diner and I tell you: I’m going all out! Strawberry waffles, chocolate chip pancakes and cheese omelette (OMG the cheese is actually orange), with roast potatoes (obviously). I’m sharing with my friend H. but would have probably ordered the same if alone.
1.30 pm. Lunch with my friend M. Pudding is Portuguese custard tart and green tea ice cream.
4.00 pm. Stopover at EAT by Eli Zabar to buy an overpriced smoked salmon sandwich for the plane. Tip: check the price tags before deciding to go for a $20 sandwich.
4.30 pm. Sit back on my Uber on the way to JFK. That’s all folks!
Egg count: who cares?
Would you love to find out EVEN MORE about my workouts? Fret not my darlings, keep your eyes peeled on the blog for in-depth reviews of all the studios, coming soon!
New York, you were AWESOME! Top tip: do your research and make sure you book your hotel around where the great studios are. The Upper East Side is great for that and is also a fabulous base to explore the city!
What are your favourite New York fitness studios?
With love, from this side of the pond.