Since I’ve been spending so much time waiting on queues for baguettes, I decided it’s also time to make some sort of workout—or “sport” as the French call all forms or exercise—a real priority.
Not that I haven’t been practicing yoga regularly since I arrived; it’s just that I don’t really have a routine, per se. There is one class that I take every Wednesday morning, along with a handful of others I’ll make it to schedule-depending. But as much as the 90-minute flows keep me centered and stretched, they aren’t doing enough for my heart-rate, or the bulge growing on my waist and behind my knees. That’s right, you heard it here first, people: I may soon have knighs: lack of contour between the knee and the thigh. Knighs, you see, are the new cankles.
I know what you’re thinking: You’re small, Sara. Stop it with the body dysmorphia! But, you see, that’s the thing. I am small. As in short. Unfortunately, one doesn’t grow upwards when their eating habits change slightly. Why I have yet to assimilate with the French and their not-fatness from eating baguette and cheese for dinner is beyond me. I guess at the end of the day, I’m still an American who likes to have her gateau—and eat a lot of it, too. And so, a more steady workout routine it is!
While I’d love to embrace the aqua-biking trend in Paris, which involves spinning in a pool, it’s very expensive. I did enjoy the few classes I tried, though. It’s a fun cardio workout that’s made even more enjoyable by the fact that you don’t even get your hair wet.
I also took a killer kickboxing class, but to commit to a regular workout of this type was also pricey, not to mention that the studio is located nowhere near my apartment. Plus, immediately after the intense 45-minute knockout session, I started to come down with would eventually manifest into the worst case of Bronchitus I’d ever had.
Alas, it was time to continue convincing myself that I can enjoy running. It’s free, it’s outdoors, and I could go at my own pace. (As in just call it quits whenever I want to.)
To be fair, I’d gone for runs three times so far in Paris with not-so-great results. The first time was the day before Christmas. It was cold, but sunny, so I set out from my apartment in the 9eme and ran down to the Tuilleries and then back home. It was a hefty 45-minute endeavor, which at the time I thoroughly enjoyed and felt good about. Then, two days later I came with a cold and that was that.
When I moved up to the butte, I eyed all those staircases and vowed to get all up on them…eventually. Finally, one day a few weeks ago, “eventually” came-a-calling and I put my sneakers on to start huffing and puffing up several of the staircases in the quartier.
Granted, I’ve totally been taking advantage of living in an elevator-building and have never been one for the stairmaster at the gym, but my chest was having none of it. I lasted all but 15 minutes before I thought a lung had collapsed. And no, I have not taken up the Great Parisian Art of Smoking.
Then, last week, after I awoke in the middle of the night with behind-the-knee sweat, I woke up resigned to just go for a simple run in the area. But it was boring and a bit dodgy. Dodgy as in, I was constantly dodging people on the sidewalks. After all, it’s not like I’d gotten up at the crack of dawn to do this when the streets were empty. I’m a freelancer. The fact that I was attempting to do it at all rather than, say, clean under my bed, is miraculous.
If I were really going to make this running thing a Thing, I knew I needed a park with even terrain, but I also knew I couldn’t do another run-there-and-back-but-also-actually-run-in-the-park situation. I run for 20 minutes TOTAL right now and from chez moi, most parks take 20 minutes to get to via metro. Since taking the train somewhere to exercise seems counterintuitive, not to mention I’m still grappling with the whole going-out-in-public-while-dressed-to-get-my-Jane-Fonda-on, I decided to combine my run with a bike ride.
I chose Park Monceau, a beautiful, fairly manageable swab of nature in the chic-chic 8th arrondissement as my destination since it’s fairly close by and easily accessible on two wheels. Despite having to navigate around one dicey intersection/roundabout (Place de Clichy), the route was straightforward, not to mention that the ride itself would count as part of the workout!
So, I put my I.D., some cash and my Velib card in the pocket of my Lulu’s, and my iPhone on my armband and off I went.
And can I just say, I was in heaven! You all know how much I love to ride a bike and this just felt so freeing! Of course, the “straightforward” route was also uphill big-time for a bit. But I’d much prefer to huff and puff up hills on a bike than two feet.
I made it to the park in no time. Then, I set my Nike + app to 20 minutes, tapped shuffle on my appropriately-titled “Workout” playlist (sample songs: “Run This Town” by Jay-Z and “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction), and joined the runners goin’ round and round in the seemingly made-for-joggers periphery.
I had a hard time keeping up—and not just because of my shin splints and inability to lip-sync and run at the same time. But because the park itself is so beautiful. To my left, in the center, there were blooming forsythias and magnolia bushes, and odd shaped trees of all kind, along with ponds and bridges. To my right, there were insanely beautiful mansions with magnificent windows. I didn’t want to be That Girl Who Stops Running to Take Pictures, but, well, I was. All in the name of Blog, of course.
Needless to say, I’m really excited to commit to this routine at least twice a week now that the weather’s getting warmer. A good 12-minute bike ride each way, plus a solid 20 minute run in a beautiful park, should have me looking—and, more importantly, feeling—less like a straight, shapeless baguette and more like a cute ‘n’ curvy croissant (without all that butter) in knigh no time.
It’ll have to wait two weeks, though, since I decided to run over to New York for Passover where I’ll be trading baguettes for Mom’s matzo brie, and foie gras for Grandma Shirley’s chopped liver. Yum before run, tout le monde.