30 Lessons to Learn by Age 30

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now” (Paulo Coelho).

As I approach my 30th birthday and reflect over the past decade of my life, I conclude that the biggest lesson I’ve learned this past year is this:

It is possible to coast through life and not have control of anything that happens to you.Click To Tweet

Of course, I arrived at this big lesson out of fear of turning 30.

It is easy to become a passive bystander waiting on the sidelines; waiting for a big break, for something to change, for things to get better. On the flip side, it is also possible to take an active role in your life and reach for the things you want. It is ultimately one’s choice. It is fitting that I learned this lesson this past year since I scrambled to squeeze in or start achieving more of my life goals into this decade before approaching a new era.

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Walk the Plank

plank

There are many stories I can tell that support the existence of a little known theory: If you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere. The City made me find my inner strength, which I continue to cultivate on a daily basis. This can happen while I’m racing to catch the crosstown bus, running down the stairs at the sound of a subway car approaching, heavy lifting due to moving from apartment to apartment, or walking home carrying (way more than I thought I could handle) Trader Joe’s grocery bags. Since this is my daily life, I can say I am walking the plank all day er’day and therefore it if important for me to know how to do the plank exercise correctly.

moving-plank

The Plank Pose

We’ve all heard about the plank and how it’s the way our body is supposed to be aligned all the time. While in it, we’re in an isometric hold that we strive to commit to muscle memory so we can then get to feel standing plank energy while performing mundane tasks, not to mention ALL EXERCISES. FYI, it is called an isometric hold since we are contracting our core muscles without causing any joint movement. Here, we support our body weight on our forearms, hands, and toes.

The standing plank energy carries us throughout the day and ultimately leads to better posture.Click To Tweet

The plank has appeared in all types of classes, from “new fitness crazes” like Zumba, barre, and TRX, to strength training, bootcamp classes, weightlifting, even back in my jazz dance and ballet classes. More importantly, as a fitness class progresses, teachers remind us to remember the plank and have that same “plank like” energy while doing other types of movements. In barre, for example, we do many variations of planks and when we transition to the thigh strengthening series, the teacher reminds us of the plank exercises and that we should pull our abdominal muscles in the same way. So, it’s incredibly important to know how to do a plank correctly. It not only affects ALL exercises, but how we walk, stand, and run after that freakin’ crosstown bus.  Read on for some tips on the infamous plank.

The standing plank is hard. Although there are many variations that make a plank even more challenging, holding a plank is challenging in and of itself. It reminds us of the power of isometric holds. It’s amazing how not moving can require so much effort, strength, correct alignment, and therefore many things to remember.

The Plank Cliff Notes:

  • Forearm plank set-up: Elbows under shoulders, arms parallel & shoulder width apart, palms flat
  • In a forearm plank, weight should be on the forearms while keeping the hands light. This is accomplished by forearms pressing away the floor.
  • In a straight-arm plank, weight should be on the hands which are actively pressing down and pushing away the floor.
  • Shoulders should be pressed down away from the ears at all times.
  • Important to know that the cervical spine should be in a straight line. This means the neck should be elongated. If doing a forearm plank, gaze should be slightly in front of hands. If doing a straight-arm plank, gaze should be down, but chin slightly lifted.
  • Helpful to think that energy is emanating from the top of the head and out of the heels.
  • The whole body should be in a straight line from head to heels.
  • There should be the sensation that the inner thighs are rolling inwards and towards one another to engage the thighs.
  • Engage the abdominals by pulling in. Create an abdominal lock: breathing without moving the abdominals.
  • The seat should be engaged which makes it neither hiked up nor sagging down. Helpful to think that it should be in a straight line behind the shoulders.
  • There are many variations on the plank: jumping jacks, leg raises, hip raises, side plank, side plank crunches. The most important lesson is to keep the core engaged AT ALL TIMES! Strength is held at the core.
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A Little Bit of Soul with Friends

SoulCycle
“At SoulCycle we believe that fitness can be joyful. We climb, we jog, we sprint, we dance, we set our intention, and we break through boundaries.”

A little recommendation for people that THINK they don’t like to exercise- try a SoulCycle class with your best friends. I got invited to a very special birthday celebration at SoulCycle this past Sunday. At first, when I received the invitation from my lifelong friend to celebrate her birthday at a 10:45am class at SoulCycle followed by brunch, I thought “do I have to?” followed by “Can’t I just join brunch?” Usually, I strictly reserve Sundays for physical and mental recovery, sleeping in, eating burgers or BBQ, and binge watching Netflix. Safe to say, I’ve never exercised on Sundays. However, in the end, I decided to suck it up and join my friend for her whole birthday package. Boy was I in for a big surprise.

SoulCycle

The Class

This was my second time at SoulCycle and I remember not being that impressed the first time. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, but there was too much hype built around it. I have been to multiple cycling studios in the city and they all have a lot of similarities. However, this past experience at SoulCycle was unlike any other. Of course it had something to do with my six friends that were along for the ride, and I will have to go another time to give the studio a fair review. This post has to do with the big rewards of taking a class with a group of friends and doing something different on Sundays.

The plan was simple, reserve bikes close to one another, take Becca’s class, and go to a much deserved brunch. I arrived at the Noho location and began to feel pumped as I spotted my friends and heard the pulsing music from the studio. We reserved a few bikes close to one another which allowed us to high-five each other after finishing a particularly tough section. This type of energy cannot be fueled by music or a particularly motivational teacher. This “high” I experienced was caused by taking a fitness class with lifelong friends. The class was tough and energetic, and I could feel all of us feeding off each other’s energy.  I felt a rush of gratitude for these girls as I looked at them striving to finish the class strong.

Time to reflect on life’s many blessings

Towards the end of class, we had one song that was just for us, without guidance, in the dark, pedaling to our own rhythm and towards our own destination. It was perfect. After intense sections with a lot of choreography, a ton of motivational phrases, and changes between light and dark lighting within the room, this section served as a reflection on what we had just accomplished. For me, it went much further than that. It was a moment of gratitude for being in New York at that period in time, along with childhood friends and being able to share moments like this one. You see, it is no coincidence that these six girls all come from Tijuana, Mexico. I’ve known them for the majority of my life. The birthday girl, I’ve known since elementary school. Hence, it was pretty cool to have that time (while pedaling and listening to very cool music in the dark) to reflect on life and its many blessings. So a huge shout-out to these girls that mean the world to me.

Cake at SoulCycle

Before the final stretch, SoulCycle employees came into the room with an Insomnia cookie cake and balloon. We all sang happy birthday. It is an understatement to say it was pretty special. After class, we all got ready together while catching up and then we headed to brunch. We were all starving by then and the celebration continued…

I highly encourage everyone to get a group of friends together, sign up for a SoulCycle class, and enjoy Brunch afterwards. I guarantee it will turn out to be a very special day!

 

SoulCycle

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