Think outside the box of chocolates, or have some really good ones suggested below!

Valentines Day is fast approaching and if you’re left with what to do here are a couple of suggestions ..

1.
“Sex On The Table”
Location:
247 Smith Street, Brooklyn NY11231
http://www.cheffedny.com/home/sexonthetable
On Saturday, February 14th 2015 @ 7pm

Although Steep at $175 per person
Valentine’s Day “Foodporn” makes it one of my top picks..—

One of the coolest things I found was a company called “Sex On The Table” They offer regularly scheduled aphrodisiac cooking classes as well as the most awesome valentines day inspired dinner.

Their advert states…
Forget the white tablecloths and red roses. This Valentine’s Day, experience ripped denim and studded red leather jackets with a seductively charged menu to match.
We call it Foodporn. With David Bowie and Depeche Mode as our inspiration, we summon the dazzling and sultry veneer of the glam age.
At his latest restaurant venture in Brooklyn, Michelin-starred and all around sexy European ChefFed will team up with amateur Iggy Pop reincarnation and Momofuku alumni Chef Brendan Costello to get down and dirty with 6 courses of bacon, bourbon, kumquats, and hay.
Release your inner hot tramp when we take V-Day to a whole new level. Celebrate love with the gritty eroticism of the 80s and come join us for a once-in-a-lifetime event that has never been done before.
Never has V-Day been cool. We thought it was about time.

I would LOVE to go, if any of you single fellas are up for Foodporn let me know! ;)

2.
Romance Under The Stars
Location:
Cullman Hall of the Universe and Hayden Planetarium Space Theater
 (Enter at 81st Street)
Tickets:
$125 per person Times: 6 and 9:30 pm

*Another favorite find.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a unique NYC experience only at the Hayden Planetarium! Join us for a cocktail hour, complete with open bar, champagne, and hors d’oeuvres, along with the music of the Josh Rutner Quartet. Then join Hayden presenters Lydia Maria Petrosino and Ted Williams in the planetarium for a view of the night sky. Sit back and enjoy some of the greatest romance stories from the ancient celestial past.

*This awesome event looks like it is already sold out, but there always tickets the night of because people cannot make it for one reason or another.. I would definitely try.

3.
Valentine’s Day Cocktail class at Apothe’ke  2 p.m. and 5 p.m.; 9 Doyers St., nr. Bowery; 212-406-0400; $125

Sure, it’s fun to drink cocktails, but you know what else is fun? Learning exactly what goes into them. At this hands-on class at the renowned apothecary-themed mixology den, you’ll learn about aphrodisiacs and the “sexiest cocktails imaginable,” while leaving with the skills to make three to four drinks on your own. What you do with this knowledge is up to you.
* Valentines Day doesn’t not have not to be expensive, just a little thought, effort, and creativity is all that is required. Everyone I know loves to receive something that has been handmade because it’s been infused and inspired with intention and love.

4.
A great idea is a Valentines Date Night jar
Find a nice glass jar with a lid, even decorate a coffee can or a Chinese take out delivery container, get creative!

Fill the jar and have each little paper inside the jar contains a date idea. Each month pick one out and you have four weeks to make sure to set aside an evening to do whatever is on the card. Have fun with it!

Oh.. And here are the chocolates that I mentioned earlier… If you’re going to indulge, this is it!!

5.
Valentine’s Day Gifts from Leonidas Belgian Chocolates
Located at – 485 Madison Avenue, New York, NY
http://www.leonidas-chocolate.com/valentines-day.html

You can never go wrong with chocolate from Leonidas Belgian Chocolates.
If you’ve never had a piece of chocolate from here you are in for a treat.. Seriously!!

6. Get you and your loved one a Class Package at Plank!!
(For after the chocolate) ;)

But whether you are coupled or flying solo remember,
“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.”
Happy Valentines Day!!

Essential Oils – Natures powerful Anti-viral weapons 

When the Cold bites, when the flu stings! 

unnamed

So why does the flu virus and infection spread primarily in winter months?
The answer has to do with the virus itself. Cool weather makes us more vulnerable to cold and flu because the virus is more stable and stays in the air longer when air is cold and dry. It is also possible that because when days are shorter we make less vitamin D which causes a diminished immune response.

Many of my friends and even siblings go for their annual flu shot, personally I’ve never been keen on it. Instead I choose to arm myself with natural defenses. These are my tried and true natural methods of supporting my immune system during flu season.

Disclaimer**
I am not a doctor and these ideas are not to be taken as medical advice, they are simply what works for me. I have been a New York State Licensed Massage Therapist since 1992 and an Aromatherapist

First off lets cover some basics as prevention is everything.

1. Wash your hands – we touch door knobs, subway poles, shake hands, etc. Keep your hands as germ free as possible. There are plenty of natural hand sanitizers out there.
2. Sleep – We’ve all heard it before but sleep is essential. Our bodies repair themselves when we’re at rest.
3. Eat Nourishing foods – If we want our bodies to function properly we must give it proper foods.
4. Cut out the sugar – White sugar especially compromises our immune function.

What are Essential oils?
Essential oils are the subtle, aromatic and volatile liquids extracted from the flowers, seeds, leaves, stems, bark and roots of herbs, bushes, shrubs and trees, through distillation. The essential oils are what is responsible for the plants unique aroma. There are a number of essential oils that contain anti-viral properties. But what does that actually mean? When a substance has the ability to to destroy a virus or reduce that viruses capability to multiply and reproduce it is said to be anti-viral. There are many essential oils that have this ability. For today I will recommend lavender, thyme, oregano, and roman chamomile.

If you are new to using essential oils, start slowly and remember that they are highly concentrated, and a little will go a long way. If you are using a new oil or blend for the first time, test it on a very small area first to be sure your dilution rate does not cause skin irritation. Some people test oils at the bend of the arm opposite the elbow or on the wrist. In some cases, the essential oil may be tolerated initially but can cause dermatitis reactions with subsequent use.

Lavender
Lavender has a wide usage and can heal in many ways, which might be the reason it’s the most popular amongst the essential oils. It is also one of the safest.  For cold and flu, and similar ailments it packs a powerful punch.  It is anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, helps with insomnia, stimulates the immune system, has huge respiratory benefits, works as a cough suppressant and is great for headaches, muscle aches and is a great calmative.

Thyme 
Thyme has long been known as an expectorant. It helps to clear out your lungs faster so that you feel better sooner. Thyme is an antiseptic antibacterial, and antiviral. It is one of my favorite viral blasters.
A Few Words of Caution: It is an irritant to some people, as well as a hypertensive substance that increases blood pressure, therefore it should be avoided during pregnancy and by those with elevated blood pressure. It also may cause allergic reactions in some cases. Do not use it undiluted directly on skin.

Oregano
Oregano essential oil stimulates the production and function of white blood cells, the body’s main line of defense, this boosts the immune system. The health benefits of oregano essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory,  and anti-microbial. In tests has been comparable to penicillin.  Oregano essential oil can cause irritation of the skin and mucus membrane if taken in high concentrations or dosages. Pregnant women should avoid using it.

Roman Chamomile
It’s therapeutic profile, characterized by both gentleness and effectiveness, make it useful in treating fever, inflammatory conditions such as joint (rheumatic) disorders, and for pain and swelling of the lining of the nose and mouth, sinus pain (sinusitis), and as a gentle sedative. Roman chamomile mitigates the effects of stress, nervous tension, and insomnia, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-neuralgic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and disinfectant. Roman chamomile can safely be used on children, the elderly, and animals.

How to put them to use!
Diffuser, Bath, Steam inhalation, Massage.

Diffuser
One of my favorite methods of delivery, I use mine every day.
I have whats called an Air Oil Diffusers or a nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser. They work by blasting small drops of pure essential oil with compressed air. The result is a “nebula” of pure essential oil mist that flows out of the reservoir bottle and into noses and lungs of people the room. By using this diffuser and it’s dispersing micro-fine particles that stay suspended there for several hours, It can eliminate and destroy airborne germs & bacteria. This also increases ozone and negative ions in the air, which in turn increases the body’s ability to transport oxygen into the cells, resulting in a healthier immune system and creating an unfriendly terrain for bacteria and viruses within the body.

I make a blend of about 10-20 drops of chosen oils and allow it to run. Mine has a timer function 10 minutes on then off for an hour cycle.
It is NOT necessary to dilute the oils in a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba if you’re diffusing in the air. I use mine neat (direct from the bottle).

*** VERY IMPORTANT POINT ABOUT DIFFUSING OILS:
Whatever you do, DO NOT HEAT YOUR OILS. Keep them around room temperature.
Heating the essential oils will not only ruin the therapeutic value of the oil, but it can also harm you.
Research shows that high temperatures will change the chemistry. This changed chemistry can be toxic to the human body.

Bath
The best way to use essential oils in the bath is to mix them first with salts or an emulsifier such as milk or a carrier oil such as almond or sesame. Aromatic bath salts disperse the oils safely into the water, and whole milk and almond or sesame oil emulsify the essential oil so that it disperses. Without salts or an emulsifier, drops of essential oils will float on the water and then get directly on the skin which can cause dermatoxicity, especially if the oils are of a heating nature. Oils that should be avoided in the bath included spice oils such as cinnamon oil, oregano oil, thyme oil, and tulsi; phototoxic oils such as citruses, especially bergamot oil; and those with specific irritant potential such as lemongrass oil. My recommended recipe is 6 drops of tea tree, 6 drops lavender, and 4 drops eucalyptus. (all anti-viral) Enjoy a good soak!

Massage
Probably the most popular method of aromatherapy application is massage. Blending drops of essential oil with carrier lotions (almond, cocoa butter, shea butter, etc.) can affect the body both psychologically and physiologically. The olfactory sense is triggered using essential oils during massage, and some oils are absorbed into the skin and ultimately the blood stream to produce healing effects.
Dilute 5 – 8 drops of essential oil into 2oz of your favorite carrier oil and apply on affected areas such as chest, neck, sinuses, underarms, and feet. Theses areas are great for absorption into the bloodstream.

Steam inhalation
One of the most successful means of kicking these symptoms to the curb is doing steam inhalations with anti-viral and expectorant oils.. This is amazing for sinuses and congestion. When steam and essential oils are combined they form a very potent way to help treat some ailments, especially those of the upper respiratory tract, nose and sinuses. The warmth from the steam is soothing and the moisture helps to loosen and move mucus within the sinus cavity and in your chest.

Instructions to do steam inhalation
3 drops of the essential oil that you have selected in a bowl with boiling water, (I tend to use eucalyptus) place your head about 12 inches (30 cm) above the bowl and cover your head with a towel in such a way that the sides are totally closed and you in actual form a tent over the bowl. Keep your eyes shut and breathe deeply through your nose. Breathe deeply through the nose for cold or sinus infections, or through the mouth to soothe a cough. Continue for 10–15 minutes. If you feel that the treatment is getting too much for you, raise the towel so that fresh air is brought into the area and breathe through your mouth a couple of times and then resume the treatment. Should you at any time feel uncomfortable discontinue the treatment. When using this treatment with children or elderly people make sure that they do not burn themselves by getting too close to the bowl, or that the steaming water is upset and burns result. Seriously do not use more than 3 drops, I usually will only use 2.. It is very strong.

**Those suffering from asthma should not use these oils in steam inhalation and all other individuals should consult with a medical professional prior to using essential oils to see if you are at risk of developing side effects or complications from current medication use.

In Aromatherapy the quality of oils is everything.
Medicinal aromatherapy has amazing health-supportive potential.  It can help you look and feel younger and more alive, enhancing your life and sense of well-being in many ways.  But in order for it to work, you need to use quality oils. The problem is about 98% of essential oils produced in the world today are not intended for serious aromatherapy; they’re produced for the perfume/cosmetic or food industries.  Yet, marketers will bottle these lower quality oils and sell them as aromatherapy products. If you attempt anything more than recreational aromatherapy with any of these oils, you’re likely to be very disappointed. Because a quality essential oil is so chemically complex and all of these constituents must be present in the oil in their proper ratio for the oil to have its expected effect on the body. One key to producing therapeutic-grade essential oils is to preserve as many of these aromatic compounds within the oil as possible.

Should you need assistance with your aromatherapy, whether it be obtaining reliable therapeutic grade essential oils, or a nebulizing diffuser please contact Kristen Antzoulis who will get you in touch.

Be in good health.

“Be The Present”

375178_10200192721450883_1375486771_n

December can be a mixed bag of emotion, each holiday we experience brings with it particular memories.
Normally this is not my favorite time of the year, this year however, I’ve kept busy engaging in celebrations that have really been fun and have been enjoying it with family and friends.

Some of my activities have included seeing Darlene Love’s Christmas show both as an audience member at the David Letterman show, and also at BB King Blue Club And Grill here in New York City. She’ll be doing 3 more shows at BB Kings so if you do get the chance go see this Motown legend she’s fabulous! Onto a different genre, I also got to see the “Trans Siberian Orchestra” which I’ve been wanting to see for many years now. It is a fantastic blend of Heavy Metal, Classical, and Christmas music accompanied with high energy, lasers, and lots of pyrotechnics. If you haven’t seen them ever definitely catch them next year, really good! Then last but not least what would a New York Christmas be without there being an annual trip up to Rockefeller to see the tree. New York City really knows how to do a tree.

I’m happy to have had the temperatures be more forgiving than last year, although I know some of you snow bunnies are waiting for a downfall.  We’re wrapping up 2014 which was busy and transformational for most, I hope you are able to find the good you received even if some of it might’ve been disguised.

If you recall the movie  ” It’s A Wonderful Life” the premise is based on a Guardian angel that comes and helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. Keep in mind throughout this season that you matter to someone more than you think.

Sadly a week ago I lost an amazing person that I had the privilege to call friend. She was 43, a lobbyist in Oklahoma, and a mother of 2.  Without getting into more details I’m sharing this just as a gentle reminder for you to try and remember how things can change so quickly. Find the appreciation of being in the moment, because this moment is all we really have. Don’t take any of the gifts and people in your life for granted, use this as an opportunity to really celebrate the people you love.

If things do start to get crazy take a moment to ground yourself in the here and now. Make the most of this holiday season and do your best to let go of attachment to all negative reactions, apply the same amount of power and energy to becoming the cause of change and inspiring a positive action. The best gift you can give is to be that miracle for someone else … “Be The Present”.

20141218_201827

On behalf of the entire Plank Pilates team, we with you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015!!

We appreciate all of you!

Don’t Give a Squat? Well Maybe you should!

20141211_125946

Introducing Plank “Tone it”

Created by our very own Kristen Antzoulis, Plank “Tone it” is designed to help you get accelerated results.

Whether you are looking to break a weight loss plateau, sculpt, lean out, build muscle, gain strength or stamina, or in need of just changing up your workout, Plank “Tone It” promises to deliver.
The Focus and fundamentals here is on slow controlled movements, form, isolations, and repetitions, repetitions, repetitions!
It’s the slow controlled movements specifically with repetitions that makes the muscles tired and increases the heart rate.
In conjunction with a Tower and or a Plank 360 class you are guaranteed to burn more calories and experience feeling and seeing faster results.

Some of what you will be doing includes, squats, lunges, biceps, triceps, our ever loving planking, side dips, pulses, on toe point roll downs and much much more. All this, while keeping the focus on the stabilization of the core.
As with any class, you will be concentrating on breath, making sure those shoulders are down, your ribs are knitted in and lots of concentration on the coordination of proper form, for without it we are at risk for injury.
It’s the dedication of the teachers attention to detail and personal corrections that helps you push through to the finish. It’s then you are left with a taste of satisfaction knowing you pushed yourself and completed.

It is especially true that at this time of year, it can be difficult for so many. Between the lack of light, holiday, family pressure, a year that might’ve challenged us, and the reflection of it all as we approach the ending of 2014, it becomes a good time to show the kindness to ourselves that we may find easier to give another.

One of the ways to give to yourself this gift is to keep strong and healthy.
For an hour of class time, with the help of mind over body, you are removed from it all for that hour.
The focus on having to coordinate body isolations with movement assists in helping us to push the pause button while giving us a healthy distraction to quiet the mind. The endorphins released aren’t too bad either.

Upon my first “Tone it” class I asked a woman on the mat next to me if she loved the class, her response was “I love the results!”.
After class I did experience that satisfactory tremble from muscle exhaustion and felt the burn for a couple of days. All my major and probably minor muscle groups had been worked, and I know the benefits are real. I felt them immediately.
It is not a class to be intimidated by, if I can get through it you can too. Slow controlled moments, form and repetition build nice assets! ;)

*You will have the support of the Tower, and use the Tower for much of the class, so taking and being familiar with Tower is a *Pre-requisite prior to a Plank “Tone It” class.

*Now is also the time to take advantage of the 20% off Gift cards available for purchase on Plank Pilates website.

http://www.plankpilates.com

20141211_130652-2

FALL INTO PLANK PLAYLIST

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Now that the weather is officially turning towards the lower temps, it’s especially important to keep our spirits UP!!

This playlist was specially designed for Plank members to keep them inspired, upbeat and bopping their way through classes and the changing season…

Happy Fall to Y’all!

The Heat- Jungle
Honor and Harmony-  G. Love & Special Sauce
Breaking Down-  Florence and The Machine
Feel You- Cedric Zeyenne Feel You
Strange Overtones- David Byrne & Brian Eno
She Moves (Far Away) [feat. Graham Candy]- Alle Farben
Hollywood (feat. Penguin Prison) [Felix da Housecat Remix]-  RAC Gildas & Jerry Kitsuné Soleil
Hold On (feat. Sampha)- SBTRKT
Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Urban Mix)- Tears for Fears
Sweet Emotion- The Kooks
Ghostwriter- RJD2
Ezra- Flume
Sweet Jane- Cowboy Junkies
Thunder Clatter- Wild Cub Youth

PLANK AT HOME

with Katy Kantner

Sometimes it’s hard to get into the studio: travel, work, travel, life…
you get the picture.
So once a month we will be showcasing one of our planktastic instructors demonstrating a fantastic exercise you can do anywhere!
Over the next few months, watch out for these helpful little clips so you can keep up you practice wherever you go..

In this month’s PLANK AT HOME, Katy is demonstrating a basic bridge exercise with a variation. This exercise is great for your spine and gluts.

Laying on your back. Feet flat. Legs inner hip distance or together. Tuck the lower back into the map and lift your hips up into a bridge. Starting at the top of the spine (middle back) and then rolling down through each vertebra until your tail bone touches and releases. Repeat 2/3 times and take and your time!!!

Variation: once hips are lifted in the bring. Bend right knee into the chest and extend the leg up to the ceiling keeping hips lifted!!! And even. Flex through the right ankle when lowering to the knee and then point and lift. Same on other side. Repeat each side three times.

****Katy teaches advanced tower at 1 pm on Saturdays and then tower at 2 pm. She is also available for private instruction.

THE PLANK PROFILES

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

With Emily Beasley

Top five things people should know about you

1. I’m Australian
Born in Melbourne, I moved to NYC over a year ago to study fashion marketing at Parsons. I’m also working in the beauty section of Harper’s Bazaar but am hoping to follow a path towards a multi brand retailer like Sephora, or Intermix, in beauty or fashion.

2. I studied photography at a college in Melbourne
I did it for two years but studying killed the joy of it for me. It helped me get on course for what I really want to do now. See above.

3. Beaches and farms were the backdrop of most of my life
So the move to NYC was a bit of a culture shock. I’m used to having somewhere to go that is an hour away where I can be in nature (especially the beach!) but there’s nowhere else in the world like NYC. And I wouldn’t change a thing! The weirdest thing is being far from my family.

4. I listen to really lame 90’s music
The other day my friends overheard what I was listening to on spotify and I was horrified. I’m a real sucker for Celine Dion. She’s a bit of a thing for me and my family. PDT. Seriously.

5. I love cooking for people
Entertaining and looking after people gives me a ton of pleasure. I get it from my grandmother who plays the “mother hen” role in my family. Bringing heaps of people together is always a recipe for a fun (and delightfully random) evening.

What brought you to Pilates?
I’m a bit on and off with it. When I first moved here (onto Rivington) I went a few times but quickly switched over to yoga. I ended up hurting my back, and my mother pushed me towards getting back to Pilates for many reasons including: superior resistance training, a focus on back health and general flexibility. I’ve been going two to three times a week in the last few months and have noticed significant changes in my body and strength.

Why Plank Pilates?
I love the small class sizes: for the price it’s super worthwhile. It’s the next best thing to doing private sessions. The instructors are attentive and really guide you. They are amazing…and I’d like to mention Kristen in particular. She’s tough but pushes you to do your best in the safest way.

Top Tips for staying slim
If you find out, let me know.
I feel like consistency is key. When I was younger I would go the extremes of starving and binging but now I practice being sesnisble: portion control and eating what I like but with moderation. Eating in season and unprocessed is a great way to start.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
It’s definitely food related, I’m a foodie but to be honest…it’s peanut butter. Anything with peanut butter, cups, with a spoon, ice cream, whatever. I’m absolutely crazy for it.
Also. Skincare. I love trying out products especially face masks. The glam glow face masks exfoliate and make your skin look radiant.

Emily has been a member at Plank Pilates since 2013.