Category: Staying Fit

Yoga in the Square, I Need You!

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

Last Sunday morning, a glorious “om” rang forth from hundreds of Pittsburghers, including myself. Comfortably ensconced in the warm and naturally-lit Wintergarden at PPG Place, we did a one-hour, mild-to-moderate intensity free yoga workout in the Vinyasa style. It was fantastic. And when that final om broke out, I felt relaxed and connected to the community around me–a feeling that is not easy for me to find these days.

When I first heard about Yoga in the Square, I thought I would take my kids. After all, it would be a cool experience for them. Plus, every preschooler could probably use a bit of mindfulness training-right? But as the week progressed, I decided to go by myself.

“GO!” My husband said on Sunday morning, practically pushing me out the door, “You need to do something for yourself,” he said. And he was right.

Yoga in the Square at the Wintergreen at PPG Place
Yoga in the Square at the Wintergreen at PPG Place

Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken a hard look at my life and realized something sad. I have virtually NO TIME for myself. If I’m not working on my blog, or shuttling my kids to and fro, or worrying about my husband, money, our careers, our future, then I’m sleeping. And I’m feeling stretched. Stretched thin. What makes it even sadder is that I wasn’t always this way. I used to enjoy things I did for myself. I used to think about my mental health and prioritize it. Trips to the museums, nights out with friends, date nights, workouts. I made time for it all.

I know I’m not alone here. As mothers, we put everybody’s needs above our own. And after awhile, the stress lines start to show. My experience at Yoga in the Square was about taking a step back and acknowledging that what is best for me, is best for my family, too.

I was back at the house within an hour and a half. And I jumped back into motherhood and all that comes with it. After all, it’s my life. I chose it. But I brought a fresh, new perspective to the day and that was good.

If you are so lucky to be able to get away at 10am next Sunday morning, I’ll be at Yoga in the Square. Get there early! And if you want to bring your family along, they will be welcome too!

A Family-Oriented Look at the Great Allegheny Passage Near Pittsburgh

Finding the Trailhead
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi
IMG_1438
Our bike trailer, which seconds as a double jogging stroller!

Last year, my husband and I invested in two new bicycles with an attachable kid trailer called the Kidarooz.  We did a lot of research on good bike trailers and ended up choosing this model because it actually seconds as a double jogging stroller!  We were super excited about buying these bikes because we really, REALLY want to promote an active lifestyle to our kids.  Plus, Pittsburgh has an incredible collection of biking trails that we were eager to explore.  So far, we have taken our kids on rides along both the Allegheny and the Mon Rivers and we have all really enjoyed these adventures.  For this reason, we were thrilled to learn recently about the newly-opened Great Allegheny Passage—the bike trail that connects Pittsburgh to Washington DC!

Finding the Trailhead
Finding the Trailhead

Our kids have been away for the past week, so my husband and I decided to take a test-drive on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) before introducing the little ones to it. Although we don’t intend on taking it all the way to Washington DC until the kids are older, we wanted to see if it was a feasible option for an easy morning adventure with the kids.  Plus, we wanted to evaluate the kid-friendliness, difficulty level, and the safety of the trail.

So last Sunday, we packed our bikes up and drove over to the Southside where the GAP originates.  We stopped in at OTB Bicycle Cafe for a bite to eat (amazing, amazing burgers!) and a discussion of the trail with our knowledgeable waitress.  Then we headed off toward the Hot Metal Bridge, where we easily picked up the trail along the Mon River. We took a very leisurely two-hour ride from the Southside to the Waterfront and then back again.  Here’s what we thought of the GAP near Pittsburgh for families:

View of the Mon River from the Trail
View of the Mon River from the Trail

1)  The trail is a really easy one.  Considering how hilly Pittsburgh can be, I was really surprised to find that the GAP was almost completely flat.  It was also well-paved with only a few sections of gravel.  I think it would be quite easy to pull a kid trailer on it.  Plus, I saw a lot of older kids actually riding their own bikes on it.

2)  The trail seemed safe to me.  It is a) very well-labeled b) very well-used, meaning that you probably won’t be alone on portions of it and c) it mostly stays away from car traffic.

3)  There are some really, REALLY beautiful things to see along the way.  We were able to get some killer views of the Mon River and its bridges. The trail also has many beautiful wildflowers growing alongside it.  Plus, it runs right beside train tracks and we actually saw two large trains come by during our ride.  I know my kids would have loved being that close to them!

biketrain

4)  There’s a very interesting, bike-friendly culture springing up along the trail.  For example, a lot of the restaurants in the Waterfront now have bicycle-parking right next to the trail to make it easy to stop in and get a bite to eat.  Also, we were pleased to see that Mitchell’s Fish Market even had free filtered ice water/cups outside for bicyclists.

5)  There are NO easily accessible bathrooms along the trail, so make sure to go before you leave!

6)  As every Pittsburgher should know, watch the weather!!  We were caught in a pretty miserable rainstorm and had a hard time finding shelter from it.  Although we had originally intended to take our bikes all the way to McKeesport, we ended up turning around at the Waterfront because of the rain.

Mitchell's Fish Market had water out for bicyclists!
Mitchell’s Fish Market had water out for bicyclists!

Despite the rain, we had a really great Sunday ride along this first section of the GAP and we will definitely take our kids on it, too.  The next time that we take the trail, we will probably pack a picnic with us and have snack and/or lunch overlooking the Mon River.  Then we will probably ride to the Waterfront and a) either stop at Sandcastle for a quick visit or b) explore the shopping at the Waterfront for a bit before riding back to the Southside and getting home in time for naps!  On future trips we will also hopefully get to explore even further down the trail…so stay tuned for further posts about these rides!

Anyway, if you enjoy biking with your kids, I would certainly recommend checking out the Great Allegheny Passage with them.  It is yet another amazing resource that Pittsburgh offers to its lucky residents!

Getting caught in the downpour!
Getting caught in the downpour!

Run Review: Pittsburgh’s 2013 Dirty Girl Mud Run

I'm a Dirty Girl!
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi
I'm a Dirty Girl!
I’m a Dirty Girl!

This past weekend I participated in my first-ever organized run:  The Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run and Obstacle Course.  The experience carried a lot of personal significance for me since I have never been a natural runner, but have long been a wanna-be.  Now, I can proudly say that I have completed my first run (even if it was a noncompetitive and an untimed event).

I am prone to anticipatory anxiety before big life events so I spent the 24 hours prior to the Dirty Girl googling “Dirty Girl Mud Run experiences” and pacing.  Now that I’ve completed the event, I thought I’d write a blog post for other women who might be nervous about the idea.

First off: let me be clear.  This run is noncompetitive and intended for women of all athletic abilities.  And when I say this:  I REALLY MEAN IT.  Unless you are incredibly overweight, elderly, or frail, I don’t see any reason why you can’t do this event. It is perfectly acceptable to walk the course (the majority of people actually walked) and you can skip any obstacle you want without anyone giving you a second look.  So, if you have hesitations about participating because of your perceived athletic deficiencies–PLEASE DON’T!!  You will be fine!

Athletic Preparation

I didn’t do any special preparation for this run besides my normal 30-minute evening jog and felt quite comfortable during the race.  I don’t routinely do upper-body strength training and was worried that I would find the obstacles difficult.  However, I had no problem at all with them.  You can TRULY do this course at your own pace, with your own desired level of intensity.

What to Pack

I would definitely recommend bringing a change of clothes, sandals, a towel, and a garbage bag for your muddy clothes.  Also, don’t forget to bring a photo ID so you can get a wristband/free beer after the race!

What to Wear

Apparently, I didn’t get the memo about goofy, bright pink costumes for this event.  So, let me just make it clear for you:  get yourself a hot pink running outfit, some striped knee-socks, and war paint. You will fit right in.  And make sure you wear some good, solid footwear.  The Pittsburgh course is quite hilly and the mud/water makes everything very slippery.

We're off!
We’re off!

Race Day: Check-in

The Pittsburgh race was at Fayette County Fairgrounds, which is about one hour from the Aspinwall area.  We were asked to park at a shopping mall very close to the Fairgrounds.  Schoolbuses then shuttled us to the event.  As you can imagine, my kids were psyched to ride on a schoolbus and I had the opportunity to chat with other women about the run.

The check-in process was quite easy without any lines.  We then processed over to another table where we picked up a free Dirty Girl T-shirt and a charm.  There was a HUGE line for the baggage check-in, but luckily my husband offered to hold my stuff so I could skip this part and proceed directly to the starting line.

Race Day: The Course

After a group countdown with bystander fanfare, we were off!  We came upon our first obstacle pretty quickly.  It was called “You Go Girl!” and involved high-stepping through tires that were positioned on a pink, bouncy platform.  It was a nice obstacle to start with since we didn’t get too dirty, it wasn’t that difficult, and it eased my anxiety about the intensity level of the run.  The Dirty Girl Mud Run website has a diagram of the other obstacles we faced.  However, please note:  the obstacles were not in the same order as described on their website.

Dirty Dancing obstacle
Dirty Dancing obstacle

Here are my obstacle superlatives:

My Favorite Obstacle: Dirty Dancing

Climb up an inflatable and then slide down into a huge mud pit.  Totally exhilarating and really fun!

My Hardest Obstacle:  Get a Grip

Climb up a huge rope ladder, ring the bell at the top, and then climb back down.  It wasn’t really THAT hard, but I did find turning around at the top a little tricky

Most Uncomfortable Obstacle: Utopian Tubes

Climb through tubes filled with mud and small rocks.  It’s a bit claustrophobic and the rocks were hard on my knees.

Longest Line:  H2O MG

None of the obstacles really had a line, except H2oMG.  Women enter a water-filled pool one-at-a-time and wade across to the other side.  I ended up skipping this obstacle when I heard people complaining they had been in line for over 30 minutes.

It took me about 1 hour to complete the obstacle course/run, although I think the range was about 45 minutes-2 hours depending on your pace.

The Mommy Mud Monster
The Mommy Mud Monster

Race Day: Aftermath

After the race was completed, I easily found my family near the finish line.  I had some fun horrifying my kids with my muddiness before I went to get cleaned up and changed.  The line for the clean-up area was quite long (and I heard they were just glorified hoses), so I skipped this part and sleuthed my way into finding another faucet near a barn at the fairgrounds.  I rinsed off and got changed behind some (lucky) fellow’s pickup truck before I found my family again.  We quickly got a ride back to the car on another school bus, ate some lunch in the car, and were back home by naptime.

Things I Wished I Knew Ahead of Time

1.  Don’t worry too much about your running shoes.  It has taken me years to find a good pair of running shoes and I was petrified that they would be ruined completely by the mud.  I washed them immediately when I got home and they were totally fine.

2.  Definitely participate as a team.  I registered for the run pretty late and couldn’t find any friends who could participate with me on such late notice.  I’m generally pretty independent and decided to participate alone anyway.  In retrospect, this event is way more about team camaraderie than athleticism.  I would not do this run alone again.

3.  Bring your Free Drink ticket with you on the run.  You will need it to get your free beer at the finish line.

Horrifyingly Intriguing
Horrifyingly Intriguing

4.  The event is not really kid-friendly.  There are no activities geared toward them and they were (surprisingly) totally freaked out by the mud.  I would probably not bring my kids back again.

All in all, I had a really fantastic time at the Dirty Girl Mud Run and am extremely proud of myself for completing it.  I can’t wait until next year’s event!

Disclaimer:  I was asked to participate in this event as a Blogger Ambassador.  My registration fee was waived in return for writing a blog post both before and after the event.  However, please be assured that the descriptions and opinions in this post are completely my own and have not been influenced in any way by the Dirty Girl Mud Run organization.

The Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run is Coming to the Pittsburgh Area!

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

dirtygirl3

The Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run and Obstacle Course is coming to the Pittsburgh area for the first time ever!  This womens-only event will be taking place on June 8th at the Fayette County Fairgrounds (approximately 1 hour from the city). The Dirty Girl is an untimed, noncompetitive obstacle course that includes some really fun-sounding challenges like Pretty Muddy Stuff (PMS)–a huge mud pit you have to cross, Utopian Tubes–a mud-filled tunnel you have to climb through, Dirty Dancing–a giant slide that dumps you into a mud pit, and a bunch of other ridiculous mud-related adventures.  Information on the layout of the obstacle course is located here.  I have repeatedly been assured that all obstacles are manageable and some even have varying degrees of difficulty based on your fitness level.

Registration for Pittsburgh’s upcoming event is currently $85, which includes a Dirty Girl T-shirt, a Dirty Girl charm, and one free beverage after the run.  Registration is open until the Friday before the event.  Please note: registration fees are nonrefundable, but may be transferred to another runner until the registration deadline for a $15 fee.  Also–although the Dirty Girl is a for-profit organization, a portion of the registration fees go to support breast cancer research.  And cancer survivors run free!

dirtygirl2

Now, let it be known–I’m not the kind of woman who minds getting dirty.  In fact, I kind of like it.  I garden without gloves.  I mash my meatballs up with my bare hands.  I’ve even been known to jump into natural, hazy bodies of water despite knowing there are yucky things inside.  And yet, when I first heard about the Dirty Girl Mud Run even I had my doubts.  Slopping through huge piles of mud with a bunch of other women for fun? What about my running shoes?  What if my kids see me and start crying?  What if I simply can’t do the obstacles? These were the thoughts that went through my head initially.

dirtygirl1

So…I sent some feelers out.  I started researching the event.  I started asking buddies of mine who have participated in other cities.  And I got an overwhelming vibe that this event is going to be a TON OF FUN!  Friendships will be formed.  Crazy costumes will be worn. I will get a workout and some much-needed “me” time.  And it will be incredibly liberating to get down and dirty! I can’t wait!

How I Take A Yoga Class for Virtually Nothing

Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

I have been a yoga lover for a long time.  Although I believe it is a practice better suited to being solitary, I do sometimes like to take an actual class so that I can add new poses to my repertoire. Recently, I made a very exciting find in the city.  A bona-fide, hour-long, actual yoga class, offered by a real yoga instructor, that costs whatever you want it to cost.  On Wednesday nights at 7:30 in the main room of the Union Project (at 801 N. Negley Avenue), Julie Menge offers Pay-What-You-Can Yoga.  Bring your own yoga mat and drink, and dress appropriately.

Note: I do give Julie a donation because I feel my family can afford it and I want to support this great program.  However, a really tasteful part of the whole operation is that you don’t have to hand her your own money directly.  There is a discrete donation box located in the room.  You can put whatever monetary sum you decide to give into the box without anyone ever knowing how much it was.

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