Maintaining cardiovascular health, one asana at a time.

Apparently all one has to do is write about the possible return of Hammerpants in order to witness for oneself the return of Hammerpants. This morning as I was leaving the yoga studio, a young man popped in, holding a skateboard, and wearing wildly-patterned Hammerpants. There you have it, people, proof that truly, everything old is new again. And also that we never learn from our mistakes. For the record, he seemed like a very nice young man, Hammerpants notwithstanding. Don’t judge a book by its cover, etcetera.

But who am I to talk fashion! Look what I bought:


So pink!

To you, they might just be bright pink running shoes, but to me, they are a symbol of a new era. I last bought running shoes approximately fifteen years ago, and my last cardiovascular workout was approximately ten years ago. I used to be quite devoted to aerobics and spin classes – remember step aerobics? – but then when I was pregnant with Mark I was too worried to continue with them. We bought an elliptical trainer for the basement, and I did use it post-partum to help lose some weight. I got pregnant with Jake when Mark wasn’t quite nine months old, and the workouts stopped soon after. Once Jake was born and I had a colicky baby and a one year old, exercise was pretty much the last thing on my mind. I was lucky to remember to eat anything at all, and pushing a double stroller on snowy sidewalks was enough of a workout, thank you very much.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and I started practicing yoga. Eventually I did a closet purge and my running shoes that had been gathering dust for years went into the donation bin. My husband, however, has been telling me for the past SEVERAL YEARS that he is concerned I do not get enough cardiovascular workouts. The conversations go like this:

Mr: I’m worried you don’t get enough cardio.

Me: I exercise a lot! I do yoga every day!

Mr: That’s not cardio.

*Digression: this isn’t really true, as anyone who has practiced Ashtanga yoga knows. One word: vinyasa. Also, one cannot go into kapotasana without getting the old heart thumping, am I right, fellow Ashtangis? And yet, we’ve had this same exact conversation so many times that I have given up trying to convince my husband that yoga is good for the heart and cardiovascular system.*


It’s impossible to do this without getting all sweaty and increasing your heart rate: therefore, it is a cardiovascular workout. Will someone please convince my husband?


Me: Well, I walk the dog every day. For at least half an hour. That is cardio.

Mr: Maybe it’s cardio if you’re seventy. I don’t think that’s enough for you. You wear heels when you walk! That’s not a workout.

Me: I only wear one inch heels.

Lather, rinse, repeat this same exact conversation for at least the past five years. Maybe more, I’ve blocked it out. Anyway, last week I realized that my husband worries about me and my heart health, and really, would it be so bad to squeeze one or two turns on the elliptical trainer per week? It certainly wouldn’t hurt. In any case, I needed shoes, and so I bought the above-shown hot pink runners. Then, I got so excited about my pretty new shoes that I briefly entertained the notion of going to spin classes. Those were fun, way back in the late nineties/ early 2000’s. Loud music, group energy – sounds great to me!

I started looking into nearby classes and became immediately discouraged for the following reasons: a) all the classes seem to require special cycling shoes, so I wouldn’t get to wear my pretty pink shoes anyway, b) special cycle shoes are available for rental but wearing shoes that have had someone else’s sweaty feet in them seems gross to me – there’s a reason I don’t like bowling, c) a 45-minute class would take ninety minutes once I factor in travel and sign-in time, d) we have a home gym in our basement for that exact reason – extreme convenience. What is more convenient than one’s own basement?

I did realize something strange when I was looking at one website. It was for a Spin and Hot Yoga Studio, and putting aside my general distaste for hot yoga, I read the “New Student Etiquette” for both spin and yoga classes. It was fairly straightforward – no heavy perfumes, no smelling of alcohol or cigarettes, which is completely reasonable given the sweaty gross atmosphere of a hot yoga class. I would imagine being next to someone stinking of White Diamonds or smoke would be pretty gross in a hot-as-hell room. Then I came across the following rule:

Practicing in your underwear will not be permitted.

I thought about this for a long time. Is this a problem in hot yoga classes? Is this an actual issue that needs to be addressed? I have been practicing yoga at my beloved studio for seven and a half years, and not once have I seen a person practicing in their underwear. Not once. I had visions of very sweaty people in giant granny panties, or maybe a thong. Does this happen? I don’t know. Perhaps they mean sports-bra-like tops? A lot of sweet young things wear those with cute little booty shorts, but I wouldn’t classify that as underwear. It’s a mystery.

Anyway, I concluded that for my little workouts I would be content with our home gym, and Saturday I did actually exercise. I did some interval training that I remembered from lo, so many years ago, and it felt pretty good. I blasted some great 80s music and sang along breathlessly, which made Mark quit his Skylanders game and creep upstairs quietly. Call me! On the line, call me any, any time. Call me!

I told my husband the RPM’s I maintained and the levels I kept with, and he was actually impressed, which just goes to show that Ashtanga yoga and dog walking are actually great at keeping one in cardiovascular shape. I guess I’ll still do a workout once or twice a week, though, because I can’t let such cute shoes go to waste!


  1. You are so bendy! I want to be able to do that one day!!

  2. Okay, you definitely need a tutu (pink of course) for your workouts! That should stop your husband in his tracks. Underwear at yoga, nope can’t say I ever saw that when I went to hot yoga (i loved it), but those sports bras, there were many.

  3. Good for you! It’s kind of sweet that Mark is thinking about your heart. 🙂 He *loves* you and you need your heart.

    However, he should *totally* attend one of your Yoga classes because OH MY SWEET HOLY MOTHER OF ASHTANGA! HARD!!!

    It’s definitely a workout. They ad the word “flow” to a hot yoga class and I hear “death”. Seriously. There is one teeny section of flow in the Hot Yoga classes I am tiptoeing into and it immediately puts me into a panic. ‘Maybe today *is* the day I die in a class.. maybe I can just try and stay in Child’s Pose and avoid eye contact for the next 5 minutes.. maybe I can just leave and try again another day…”

    Last week, though, I tried a “Spyin” class (Thanks to Awesome FriendLeigh!) and though it was very challenging, I could see adding it into my life because it is 30 minutes of Spin followed by 30 minutes of yin (yoga!) and the crazy cardio is so much less painful with a half an hour stretch afterwards.

    Either way, it’s good to try new things. 😀

    Go, you!

  4. Nothing wrong with pink shoes!

  5. I think you’re in spectacular shape, but sure, throw the poor guy a bone if it gets you pink running shoes. I ran a little on the treadmill the other day (a very, very little) and it was really hard and I have to be careful not to trash my knee again, but there’s something very satisfying about really high-impact exercise in small doses – I can feel how, if I could manage to do it more than three minutes once a week, my ass might eventually jiggle less while doing it.

    And I was all for that spin/yoga class Peady and Hannah were doing, but now that I know it’s call a spyin class I think it has to be stopped. Really. Just no. 🙂

  6. Love the shoes! Do not love the image of a room full of hot yogis in their knickers. Looking at the shoes again.

  7. My resting heart rate and respiratory rate are unchanged since I started doing ‘only’ yoga 1.5 years ago, compared to my old fitness plan, which was running or swimming 5-6 times/wk. I feel stronger and fitter now, and when I do something that requires fitness like going for a hike or a long bike ride, I keep up just the same as before. Conclusion: yoga is a worthy workout, cardio-wise and all-other-wise!

  8. Yes! Unfortunately people practicing hot yoga in their underwear is a thing. Here in NJ, I have a friend who teaches ashtanga but also regularly attends hot yoga classes. She reports that it is AMAZING how little clothing some people wear to the classes. Some people do wear just their underwear. The more modest wear clothes, but also cotton gloves to keep their hands from slipping off other body parts for poses where a hold is required. So, yeah, gross.

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