Now That New York Fashion Week Is Over… The Detox Diaries, Part 1

Fashion week isn’t all the glitz and glamour Instagram would have you believe. After over a week of an exhausting schedule of shows, presentations, and (required) parties, followed by late nights of writing about it all, hoping my sentences were coherent, I realized that only one thing could follow NYFW. And for me, it was not LFW (though, kudos to all the editors across the pond for your stamina). It’s time to detox.

Step 1: SPIN

Detox unofficially began on Thursday night when I finally made it back to SoulCycle. I’d been resorting to awkward tweets about how much I missed spinning, and sweating it out was a wonderful $34 gift-to-self.

Step 2: YOGA (in cute clothes)

I’ve wanted to attend a Wanderlust yoga festival for years (fashion people and wellness are like PB Almond Butter + J) so when Wanderlust 108 in Prospect Park was announced a few months ago, I jumped at the chance to go.

It wasn’t the sunny-yoga-in-the-park I’d hoped for, but my friend and I did our best–even if our best was sitting on Manduka yoga mats (the best in the ‘biz) and eating protein bars. In the spirit of Fashion Week, I intentionally picked chic workout clothes (and we’re not talking Lululemon). Detoxing means a lot of sweating it out–(or at least, it will). And for this occasion, I picked a very chic (IMHO) get-up of mesh-accented Alala gear.

I’m detoxing, I can do what I want.

photo 2

Step 3: CLEANSE

The next step of a detox, naturally, is to cleanse. So that’s what I did today. I liked to imagine the toxins leaving my body as little cartoon bubbles saying things like “this one is made from the rarest Japanese silk” and “this one will retail for $3000,” making room for filling my body instead with chia seeds and kale.

Sure, fashion people tend towards the healthy side, but during FW one’s food choices are determined by two simple factors: time, and proximity. For me this meant large amounts of yummy Sugarfina champagne gummy bears, some very ill-advised Seamless orders, and (thankfully) as much Smartwater from the tents as I could stuff in my bag. My meals were irregular at best and nonexistent at worst. My nutritionist said things like: “We’ll work on this when you return to a normal schedule.”

I’ve never been the girl to hit 7 p.m. and flippantly say, “I forgot to eat today!” and as such my grab-and-go picks are often craving-prompted. So, for me, wanting to cleanse did not mean wanting to starve. I turned to a recent discovery, LuliTonix by Lianna Sugarman who creates the best blends, not juices, and cleanses in this already green juice heavy town.

lulitonix

I’ve done one other straight juice cleanse from a popular juice chain which shall go unnamed. I finished by juice #5 and wound up eating a three-course dinner. I’m happy to say today was not like that! It’s now 9 p.m. as I write  and I have only had liquids today! Unlike the green juices denounced by many nutritionists, LuliTonix is blended and not cold-pressed, allowing for satiating fibers to stay in tact. The email prepping me for the arrival of the cleanse read: “This is NOT a cleanse during which you will feel lethargic…Our blends are designed with amazing ingredients that work synergistically to rebuild and nourish as they cleans. You will have plenty of energy, and will be supplied with everything your body needs to be the badass you are. So sure–CrossFit, Barry’s Bootcamp, Back-to Back Soul Survivor rides. Knock yourself out! Or just rest. That’s good too.”

This is just day one! More to come on detoxing–cleansing your body, (tired feet, muscles, and more), your mind after having no time to think about much besides trend forecasts, and more.

 

Relaxing and Recharging at The Ranch at Live Oak

It’s like a Lululemon hallucination. The lobby at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica is filled with fabulously fit kale fanatics. Everyone is chatting excitedly with introductions and anticipation. We are all here for a weeklong mental health, nutrition and weight loss retreat located at The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu; a heavenly locale nestled within acres of hiking trails and mountaintops. For the past month, we’ve been instructed to wean off sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods in preparation for the program: a total detox of mind and body. Most of us listened; some of us, ahem, did not.

On just two hours of sleep, I curse myself for being talked into sharing that bottle of wine last night with some Parisian bon vivant I met on OKCupid. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

The point of the program is to not only heal your body from daily toxins, but also to give your mind a rest by detaching from the rest of the world. Goodbye tweets, tags, texts, status updates. Hello nature, fresh air, and deep breathing.

We pile into a car that transports us to the mountains above the beaches of Malibu. The type-As seem nice enough. Everyone sips from water bottles; I hide my Splenda-sweetened Earl Grey under the seat. Upon arrival, we are weighed, measured head-to-toe (even our wrists!), and given some nuts and dates to snack on––with the understanding that today is the only time we’ll have the freedom to eat as many as we want­.

The rest of a day is a bit of a blur. Mark, the seemingly (and later confirmed to be) wonderful program director, leads a short hike, gives a tour of the property, and explains to us about the ranch’s values. “We are here for you!” he says. “All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other, and let us do the rest. All decisions will be made. You will learn to trust, to let go, to live in the moment.”

We share individual goals for the week while enjoying an amazing dinner of fresh salad­––from the on-site organic garden, where most ingredients for the week will come from––and a mouth-watering squash dish.

After falling asleep after dinner (around 8 PM, I think), I wake to the sound of soft chimes outside my cottage door. The room is simple yet luxurious, bed cozy and surroundings silent. A follow-up wake up message comes through on the walkie-talkie (we’re told to have this on us at all times throughout our stay) announcing our morning stretch class in fifteen minutes.

After class and a breakfast of house-made granola with almond milk, we head out to our first four-hour hike of the week. Yikes. As we climb, our guides remind us through our walkie’s, “water, water, water!” We walk, sip, pee, pant, sip, pant, try to talk, and pee some more.

Back at the ranch, we have an amazing carrot curry soup––I don’t know how the chef does it. Glorious naptime follows, and afterwards we head into our afternoon workout classes (TRX, weights, then yoga) and a daily afternoon massage. Surprisingly, I’m not at all hungry and I feel good. The new environment and friends are energizing.

The following days will follow much of the same pattern: rise at 5:30 AM, an hour of stretch class, breakfast, four-hour hike, lunch, hour-long nap, two or three daily workout classes, afternoon massage, dinner, sleep.

On Tuesday, we get six almonds during our hike. Exciting! I’m grateful for this snack as I woke up feeling a bit weak, which is apparently normal. We’re told that during the first 24-48 hours of this kind of detox, our bodies are likely to respond in weird ways. Some people apparently puke. Others feel spaced. It’s completely normal for fingers to swell and tingle. Dizziness is expected.

I gain most strength back by the afternoon, especially after my session with a massage therapist/healer. When he asks how I am pre-massage, everything pours out. I’m emotional, fuzzyheaded, and unsteady feeling. He listens whole-heartedly as I purge through my life history and some personal challenges. This is so much more than a massage. With this stranger’s love and support behind me, I walk out of the session feeling whole again. Better than I have in a long time. I don’t know what just happened but I’ll take it.

Wednesday comes around and I wake up so sore. Getting out of bed is a struggle, let alone stretch class. And the hike! Clean mountain air and some self-meditative talk help get me through. I repeat over and over a mantra the masseuse helped me create yesterday having to do with being strong and powerful. And I practice gratitude. How lucky am I to have a whole week to devote to me, myself and I.

I wonder if the French gentleman has emailed me. What are my friends doing back home? Top news stories? Re-focus, Fiona. Here and now. Just be.

Thursday’s hike is the hardest. My limbs are still sore and the hiking routine feels even more intense now. Another four hours. “Put one foot in front of the other, that’s all you have to do” rings in my head. I can do this. I will do this. I did it.

Friday is our last full day of the boot camp routine. It’s been as challenging as it has been invigorating. The inspiring folks who run the Ranch have made it exciting and have taken us in with open arms. You can literally say anything––and we have. By now, our group has bonded over bathroom talk, boyfriend problems and business ventures. There are no boundaries.

We all glow as a group. Our skin is clearer, eyes are brighter and heads happier. Not only do we look better, we all feel a huge sense of accomplishment. This was not easy.

By Saturday, our journey here has come to an end. We get weighed and measured; some of us lose anywhere from one to eight pounds!  We are told that the real measure of success weight-wise is the amount of inches we lose. At 12 inches lost, mostly around my torso, I’m a happy rancher.

We say our goodbyes. Sharing in this experience has not only brought a group of strangers together in the most intimate way, but has also powerfully transformed us as individuals. Some of us pledge to continue the gluten-free, dairy-free, alcohol-free, sugar-free, fun-free eating plan. The Ranch made it simple for us in that regard with such outstanding and fresh food.

Back at the Fairmont, surrounded by life’s temptations, I vow to drink more water, reduce my processed food intake, meditate daily for five minutes and, most importantly, live more mindfully.  I walk a block to a spin class at SoulCycle in Santa Monica. I pedal, close my eyes and think of the mountains.

Photo by Stephen Busken

Russell Brand Ruins Yoga For Everyone

There are two things I don’t particularly care for: yoga and Russell Brand. You can imagine how I’d feel if those two things were combined. I would like none of that, thank you very much! But here’s what I’m missing from the most L.A. yoga class ever: Russell Brand staged a walkout at the Golden Bridge yoga studio. And yes, Demi Moore did participate. 

It all started because Brand was upset that his yoga teacher and BFF, Tej Kaur Kalsa, wanted out of her yoga-teaching contract. Golden Bridge just wouldn’t budge! So, naturally, Brand insisted that everyone leave the class in protest.

“Russell absolutely adores Tej, and she has become something of a guru to him,” an insider tells Radar. “They are the best of friends. They meditate together, they hike, they go to vegan restaurants together, and Russell took it very personally when he found out that Tej wasn’t happy at Golden Bridge.

“Tej told Russell that she wanted to quit teaching at the studio, but claimed they wouldn’t let her out of her contract. That made him spitting mad and he vowed to take action on her behalf!”

So last Tuesday, at the start of morning class, Brand decided to fight the power and stage a mass walk out.

The source says that just as the students were getting situated on their mats, and fellow celeb Demi Moore was taking off her shoes and finding a spot on the floor, Russell marched to the front of the class, with Tej standing next to him.

“Golden Bridge is not treating my friend in a respectful manner,” Russell charged. “After years of dutiful service, they refuse to let her out of her contract. If you’d like to continue to study with her, follow me!”

An eyewitness says the crowd shifted nervously for a few seconds, wondering whether or not they were being Punk’d, but soon enough, at least half of the class, Moore included, rolled up their mats and followed Russell right out the door!

None of this sounds particularly relaxing. But can’t you just imagine how annoying it would be to have yoga with Russell Brand? Lots of farts coming from that jokester, I’m betting.

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Los Angeles Openings: ROFL Cafe, 54Twenty

Luckily for all of us, the staff of ROFL Café, the new Govind Armstrong (formerly of Post & Beam), aren’t rolling around the floor laughing, but we will say they do seem super jazzed to be there. The "Republic of Laughter" Cafe is apparently inspired by Dr. Madan Kataria, a laughing yoga guru, and the self-help author Tony "Fire-Walker" Robbins. There honestly is a certain feel-good vibe going on here, and the food is worthy of the atmosphere: beer-brined chicken, mussels and fries, Liege waffles, and Armstrong’s infamous short rib grilled cheese sandwich.

Also opening yesterday was 54Twenty, a mod-1960s diner located at 5420 Hollywood Blvd.,  that serves coffee-spiked fries, purple mashed potatoes, and brunch and lunch alllllll day long. We’re guessing that the Silver Lake and Los Feliz crowd will happily walk a few blocks for these modern twists on the BLT or the steak and eggs.

Mixing Enlightenment With Vice at Cobra Club’s Hungover Yoga

A chalkboard propped outside a corner building on Wyckoff Avenue, in Bushwick, offered Iced Coffee! and Hot Dogs!, on a hot Sunday afternoon. I was sold. Inside, Nikki Koch, one of three owners, handed me a menu and suggested a hot dog (meat or veggie) with cream cheese, McClure’s relish, and jalapeños. “Our liquor license should be here tomorrow,” she told me, and indicated that I should order by using a small pencil to tick off my choices on a paper slip. “Locally sourced comfort foods" also include soft pretzels with Cheez Whiz and vegetarian Frito pie. When Koch told me The Cobra Club is also a yoga studio, I worried I’d been ensnared by a trap set just for me.

"These are all my favorite things," I told her. "I can get everything I like here?"

"Exactly! These are all our favorite things too!"

Koch and her partners Julia Huffman and Dana Bushman are doing both aspects of the bar very well. Cocktails are subtle and fresh, made with top-shelf spirits; those hot dogs are from The Meat Hook; and no detail was overlooked when building the yoga studio. Changing rooms and lockers (a rarity in this area) line a waiting area that acts as extra soundproofing between the yoga and the drinkers. The partners turned to Indie Gogo to raise funds for the studio’s sprung floor. The original flooring was concrete, and the new floor is set in place over foam and wooden blocks for bounce that prevents injury and is usually found in professional dance studios. The goal was exceeded, and all donors were offered 150 percent of the money donated in their choice of bar tabs or yoga classes.

"This business started from the back-forward," said Koch. "The yoga came first, and the social aspect of that is really important to me. After a class, I feel like the best version of myself, and that means I want to be social. Julia and I always go out together after class and drink wine.” I am personally familiar with that technique, and challenge anything on the prescription market to compete with its stress deleting, muscle unspooling power.

When Koch took a break from the bar business for a stint with Skyn Iceland, she learned about the profound effects of stress on the aging process, and, determined to find a relaxed, happy life, she began studying to be a yoga teacher. Huffman was skeptical when Koch asked her to serve as a model student during training. "I’ll do it because I love you, but I hate yoga," Huffman said. A few months later, Huffman was so hooked that she decided to train as an instructor herself. They both believe that a healthy life includes vice; self-flagellation and guilt for imperfect choices may be worse than indulging, theorizes Koch.

Last Friday’s grand opening party, billed as a Punk Rock Sock Hop, rocked. “Everyone in this neighborhood gets excited when a new place opens,” said one guest. “Bushwick feels like a small town, so we root for people.” Not such a small town: the owners estimate six hundred people came in total throughout the night.

Koch and Huffman, working the room in rockabilly dresses and ponytails, were happily stunned at the turnout. Earlier that day, they covered the precious studio floor with sheets of plastic and brown paper. When "Should I Stay or Should I Go," played, the crowd started jumping and we felt the sprung wood bounce.

Patrick Allen, an art handler at the nearby Pocahontas and Zarathustra was excited to see the place come alive at night. "I would take the train an hour here every morning, even if I dind’t work in Bushwick. I love this place." He comes in every morning for coffee after his commute from Prospect Heights. 

Cans of Hell or High Watermelon beer were popular and not as sweet as I expected. The dry hint of melon was perfect for summer. Cobra Club’s signature Hangover Yoga class was scheduled for 1PM the next day, so I prepared by stepping up my order. Cocktails are all named for songs by The Misfits. The We Are 138 is made with Bulleit Bourbon, St. Germain, fresh lemon, and honey simple syrup, and it was perfect.

Hangover Yoga is a low-key, inversion-free weekend class that comes with a Bloody Mary or Mimosa. Koch arrived glowing to teach the class despite her own long night. This wasn’t Bikram; the AC kept us cool. Poses were kept close to the mats. There wasn’t any chanting or sanskrit, and yoga at Cobra is not meant as a means to an end but as a moment to enjoy. "Think of your back as pancake batter, spreading out in a skillet,” Koch instructed. And I did, while enjoying a class playlist: “Sweet Jane” by Cowboy Junkies, an acoustic, lullaby rendition of “I Want To Be Sedated,” Johnny Cash’s cover of U2’s “One Love,” and “M’Bifé”by Amadou and Miriam. But in a room of likely hungover people, this suggestion near the end seemed ominous: "Let go of the idea of controlling any part of your body, in any way at all."

After class, the bartender made one of the best Bloody Marys I’ve ever had, offering a choice of regular, spicy, or blue cheese olives. I started to ask about the recipe, but she distracted me with a tasting of Root, an old-fashioned, hard root beer by Art in the Age. It’s botanical-laden ingredient list—birch bark, smoked black tea, cinnamon, clove, anise—seemed as medicinal as the post yoga beverages offered elsewhere.

The Cobra Club’s mission—to be a community center where people get to know neighbors and make friends after class over drinks—is already falling into place. Hours after class ended, students from the hangover class, including two Manhattan yoga teachers, were still at the bar, eating and talking.

Brooklyn yogis are at least as opinionated as they are devoted. When news of Cobra Club hit the yoga blogs, some commenters were aghast. The owners expected this, but were particularly stung by one comment suggesting they might as well add a methadone clinic. But other commenters pointed out Yoga Sutra 4.1, "Psychic and spiritual powers may be inborn, or they may be gained by the use of drugs, or by incantations, or by fervour(sic), or by Meditation."

I’ll leave yoga’s history and rules to the purists. It’s hot as hell out there and I could use a Last Caress. That’s Lillet Rosé, fresh grapefruit juice, and soda.

Photograph by 3 PHOTOGRAPHERS.

Not Without My Yoga!

The New York Times has found yet another way to write about yoga (see last week’s piece ‘Chocolate and Chakras‘). This week, they break the news that people want yoga when traveling! Even if they’re staying in a chain hotel! Chekitan S. Dev, a professor of marketing at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, says “yoga is becoming a must-have amenity,” like internet access. Really now.

According to the article, Hyatts and Marriotts are featuring yoga classes on their on-demand channels, while those crazy Kimpton kids have mats and straps upon request. We’ve also encountered yoga mats awaiting us in our room at the Mandarin Oriental (leaving us to ponder if we could take it with us). Luxury hotels are also increasingly offering real live yoga classes through their spas for a fee.

I’m sure it’s all lovely and relaxing, but it sorta begs the question: if you’re really so dedicated to your yoga practice, do you really need some mediocre TV-yoga at the Hyatt to work through your sun salutations? We love yoga as much as the next bobo, but calling it a must-have amenity akin to internet access is a bit much. Unless you’re talking about a health spa or retreat, yoga goodies are just another thing for the average hotel to put on their website to get you in the door.

Yoga Gears Up

Like Smug Marrieds, Yoga People stream out of the building next door with a whiff of superiority. I observe them on my way to the store. Most are women in their snug togs, those drapey stretch pants and a rolled mat under their arms. Sometimes they drag their guy along, who look totally dragged. Nevertheless, I see them. And I see their yoga wear, which seems to be everywhere. Apparently, yoga wear is flying off the shelf, namely Lululemon Athletica. With yoga going red, J. Crew, Nike, Calvin Klein, and Victoria’s Secret are launching lines as well. You’re the man now, downward-facing dog.