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Precision versus Speed?

I just came back from Crossfit where, as usual, we had an intense workout: 8 rounds of 20 second intervals(with a 20 second rest in between each exercise) of: Deadlift high pulls, Push-ups and v-ups (teasers by Pilates terminology). Doesn’t sound like much but I was grunting and swearing up a storm. During my rest intervals, I was observing the other Crossfitters especially the really strong power boys. I realize that Crossfit tends to choose power and speed over technique and precision where Pilates emphasizes just the opposite. Is it better to choose one over the other? I don’t honestly know. Because I teach Pilates, the technique choice makes more sense to me in the long run.

During the push-up sequence, I was really paying attention to my technique because when I was working with my trainer at Athletic Engineering, we discovered that the lower fibers of my right Serratus anterior (kind of the armpit muscle) are not engaging which makes my right shoulder ‘wing out’ and have started causing some impingement problems. So I was really getting to full extension on my pushups and really focusing on my armpit area. It made the work so much harder and I think once I get over being sore in the next few days, it will make my shoulders function so much better.

Clearly, power and speed and precision and technique are all critical. My hypothesis is that by doing both Pilates and Crossfit and Yoga and Functional training, I will continue to work on my body in all of the ways necessary to keep me healthy and functional and strong and flexible as I age. ‘Cause I ain’t getting any younger!

Workout Myth #1- Recovery time?

It’s Friday and I woke up feeling pretty good. I usually am a little muscle sore from my various workouts and it feels good – makes me feel alive and like I am working towards something. Yesterday ended up being a 3 workout day: 2 Pilates workouts and a Crossfit workout.

Now I know a bunch of people get alarmed when you tell them you workout everyday and more than an hour a day. That doesn’t make sense to me. Any Olympic athlete, gymnast, ballet dancer or any professional athlete didn’t get to where they are on one hour a day 5 days a week. They push themselves. Even Madonna or an actor training for a physical role will workout like crazy to get ready.

But don’t you need a day to recover? My response is: If your legs or arms or glutes are fried then yes you need some time to recover but that is just logical and listening to your body. Abs can be cranked on every day because there is so much blood running through them to help with recovery.

So some days I wake up and discover that my hamstrings or glutes or arms are super sore so I give them some time to recover. I also try to get a little extra sleep to help with that process. And then I go at it again. And again, and again.

Today will probably be a no workout day unless I run the stairs because I am going to the ballet tonight to see those athletes work their bodies in amazing ways. BTW, it’s Midsummer Night’s Dream

Grape Cake, Really!

One of my clients had a bunch of grapes leftover when her granddaughter was visiting and gave them to me. I had the perfect use for them. Grape cake. I had made this cake once before for a small supper club when the theme was French. It sounds odd but the cake tastes really great. the grapes soften and taste a little bit like cherries. It’s not too sweet (unless you serve it with a bunch of whipped cream) and is pretty fast and easy to make. Here’s the recipe:

Gâteau de BeaumesdeVenise aux Raisins (BeaumesdeVenise Cake with Grapes)

This is a recipe from the Bon Appétit Provence special edition. It is a very happy dessert. The grapes sink into the batter while it cooks. BeaumesdeVenise is a town in the Vaucluse that produces Muscat wine. I have used domestic Muscat which is actually a nice, fruity dessert wine.

  1. Olive oil
  2. 1-1/2 cups flour
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  7. 6 T + 2 T butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  8. 3 tablespoons olive oil, not just vegetable oil.
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  11. 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  12. 1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup BeaumesdeVenise or other Muscat wine
  13. 1-1/2 cups red seedless grapes

Preheat the oven to 400°. Brush a 10 inch diameter springform pan with olive oil. Line the bottom with parchment and brush the parchment with olive oil. (using the cooking spray works just fine) Sift the flour and the next 3 ingredients into a bowl. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and 3 tablespoons of oil in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, both peels, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with wine in 3 additions each, whisking just until smooth after each addition. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Smooth the top and sprinkle the grapes over the batter. Bake the cake until the top is set, about 20 minutes. Dot the top of the cake with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over top. Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 20 more minutes. cool in pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Release the pan sides and serve warm or at room temperature.

The last time I made it, I increased the zest by double which was great as well as used way more grapes (I had all those grapes to use up). I packed the top with as many grapes as would fit. The other thing was I didn’t have any muscat wine on hand so I used a combination of alcohol: grand marnier, crown royal, white wine and water. It still tasted great although a little boozy because of the higher alcohol content of the Grand Marnier and the Crown Royal. The grand marnier had the sweetness for the muscat. So i think any sweet fortified wine would probably work that didn’t have too much alcohol in it. I haven’t tried it with a non alcohol fruit juice so don’t know how that would be but I am sure some tart fruit juice would work – maybe a combo of orange and apple?