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Is fitness an appreciated or offensive Christmas gift??

December 9th, 2013 1 Comment

BLAST900 interval training


Unfortunately, over the years this has become a loaded question.  If you buy a gym membership or gift card for someone, you believe you’re giving a thoughtful gift because you’re considering their well-being, financial situation, and what they like to do.  Unless the later is not true, in which case you’re perceived as saying they need to get in shape.  And even if they do, and have outwardly stated they WANT TO, you’re still the bad guy.

“Not so fast!” as Lee Corso would say.

Think about it as giving someone a massage or a day at the spa: you’re giving them something they usually wouldn’t splurge on for themselves.  “Exercise” can be the same way.

To give fitness as a true GIFT, in other words as a luxury  and not as necessity, ask yourself these questions about your friend/family/signifigant other. We’ll call this person Alex to make things easier.

1.  What kind of physical activaty does Alex like to do?

If Alex doesn’t go to the gym, there are probably  more reasons other than time and money at play.  If Alex actually enjoyed it, s/he’d figure out a way to go.  So, what does Alex really like to do?  Tennis, yoga, group activities, basketball, surfing, skiing, racquetball, weight training?  Unfortunately I’m going to have to take golf out of this equation because it fails to get your heart rate up.

2.  Where can Alex do this?

Find a private studio, instructor, or group that specializes in the activity.  Tap into the luxury of the activity.  So you purchase hours with a trainer, not just a gym membership.  You get a package at a yoga, pilates, or spinning studio.  Find a tennis pro near Alex’s home or office.

Now the gift is truly a treat!

If Alex wants to be active but he hates the gym, your thoughtful gift of an activity s/he actually enjoys doing can serve as the gateway to getting Alex back in action!

Here are a list of studios I love in major cities:

Los Angeles

New York




Kind of a short list, but that’s where I rock out in town.



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Eat, drink, and be Mary in Atlanta: a solid guide to Buckhead

October 4th, 2013 No Comments

leaves turning in autumn - atlanta, ga


Before my friend Becky went to Atlanta for work this week, she asked me for recommendations of places to eat, drink, and be…well, Mary, while in Buckhead.  My response: of course I can whip up a list for you!  Find it below pretty much cut and pasted from the email I sent her.

A day later it hit me it’s Autumn in Atlanta right now.  My favorite time of year there.  The heat has subsided; the kids are back in school; and the city is painted in red, orange, and yellow.  The trees above line my old street…Seems like a world away now.

Mostly I miss my girls: Susan, Libby, Renee, Margaret Ellen, Prentiss, Erin, and Missi.  A big hug to y’all.

My favorite places to sit at the bar and eat dinner:

— Cibo e Beve: This was my local hangout. Casual and fun Italian.  Tell Justin the bartender I say hello.
Local Three:  Farm to table.  Considered one of the best restaurants in ATL.
— Seven Lamps:  In the Shops Around Lenox.  Same chef as One Midtown Kitchen. Has a late night menu.
Bones: Best steak in ATL, older crowd, great wine by the glass.
— Houston’s on Peachtree or the one near Lenox Mall. always fun people sitting at the bar.
LPC: Upscale Italian and worth the $$.
10 Degrees South: go for the good time, not necessarily the food, sit on the back patio
St. Regis Bar: just drinks, quite a scene
Tin Lizzy’s: on Roswell and Piedmont: great chips and salsa, good mexican, super casual
— Aria:  for a nicer dining experience.
— Canoe: a Buckhead classic when you want to sit outside and just relax by the creek

During the day:

Cafe Jonah:  casual and healthy, cute cafe in an old house.
Dtox Juice : fresh juices. the kale salad and green smoothie is to die for.  Tell the owner Shannon I sent you!
Cafe at Pharr: quick and easy. get the chicken salad.
Super Jenny: best turkey chili EVER! you might have to wait in a line for it.
— Anis: if you’re looking for wine at lunch :)
Blue Moon Pizza: fresh, quick, and easy. you can order small pies or even by the slice.
— Farm Burger:  best burger in my opinion. they have turkey and veggie as well, soooo good.
Arden’s Garden – juice and salads to go.  kale Salad is amazing.

If you’re willing to go downtown:

— JCT Kitchen or Bar: a solid choice for great food and people
Bacchanalia: the best restaurant in ATL, hands down, Italian will blow your mind)
One Midtown Kitchen: Another ATL classic. one of the first farm-to-table spots.
Barcelona:  One of my favorite places for a fun dinner. great crowd! awesome food and wine.
— Lureupscale and trendy seafood in a lovely space.
— Ecco: only go and sit at the bar or outside.
Empire State South: farm to table, one of the best of ATL.  Known for it’s cocktails as well.

In Decatur:

No. 246 (my fave) or Iberian Pig for dinner.

Other stuff you need to know:

 BLAST900 – Tell Missi you’re a friend of Mary Rambin, she’ll squeal :) Give her a big hug for me and then get ready for the workout OF YOUR LIFE!
— Chastain park, 3 miles around, a beautiful way to end the day
Atlanta Hot Yoga:  If you dare, go to one of Jason or Octavia’s power classes!
— Mani/Pedi: Trina Nails – call ahead for Tracy.  Tell Tracy and Trish I say hi.


**Please note I haven’t been in ATL for a while and new places open up monthly.  For a current Top 10 list, go here.

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Lazy day hotel room workout

May 20th, 2013 1 Comment

Mary Rambin hotel workout

On the road, unless I can find a good studio nearby or the hotel gym is well-equipped, I usually decide to take a couple days off to let my body rest. Recovery is an important part of building strength.

On the other hand, we’ve already discussed that even in foreign countries, we still have TONS of fitness options at our disposal. Sometimes am just flat out lazy. I’ll try to make excuses as to why I can skip it. I think most of us fall into this camp.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I post about vacation workouts when summer rolls around. Traveling for work or other obligations makes exercising a different story. You know you shouldn’t detract from your normal regimen/level of intensity. And still, motivation is the hardest part about the whole endeavor.

Such was the case on my recent quick trip to Louisville. The gym at the hotel was awesome, but I didn’t have a lot of time to exercise…I wasn’t in the mood….but I knew if I got my blood pumping I would feel better. (The previous day’s activities needed purging if you know what I mean.) So I went back to the blog and found this video to get me started. No excuses, I just did what Richard told me to do. (I miss BLAST900 so much!

**Click here to watch a video on how to train your body to do pushups NOT on your knees.

Once I got going, I kept thinking of exercises to add in: tricep dips, a variety of crunches, hip raises, etc.

Before I knew it, I had completed 20 minutes of exercising AND felt a hell of a lot better (as expected).

A few other options to get you going:

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Taking the “work” out of working out

May 13th, 2013 No Comments

Mary Rambin and Cederick

When I know I’m coming back to Houston, the first person I call aside from my parents is Cederick, my trainer.  He’s not just my trainer, he’s a light in my day and a huge source of positive energy for me.  He’s seen me at my worst, destroyed in tears, and I still show up for him, without shame, because I know that not only will the workout be good for me, but being in his presence and hearing his nuggets of wisdom will be even more beneficial than getting my heart rate up.

I tell people this ALL the time, but the message never became clear to me until I was doing this exercise with him the other day.  While I do these pull downs, he stands behind me so I can rest my head on his stomach as he keeps his fingers on my lats to help me focus. My thought was that even though the exercise was a struggle, it was pleasure not pain or “work.”

You all ask me CONSTANTLY, how do I stay motivated to exercise regularly.  Cederick is one of my many answers.  And man, in Houston was he hard to find.  Like most of my favorites, he was referred to me by a friend.  BLAST900, JoyYoga, Level10, and SoulCycle are more favorites that were referrals actually. If I don’t have a recommendation, I don’t seek out, I HUNT DOWN workouts I enjoy so I want to go do them.  I don’t just join the gym next to my house, I commute if I have to.  If I’m stuck and I need to exercise in a way that’s not fun for me (like Zone 3 days on the treadmill), I find a way to entertain myself (Nashville Star on my iPad).

So this week, I encourage you to take an assessment of how much you actually like the exercises you do.  That could mean individual movements, entire days, classes, studios, trainers, whatever.  If you feel yourself cringe at any point, drop that exercise and HUNT DOWN a seemingly-enjoyable replacement.

It took me years to find my routines.  Mostly because I move around so much.  But you should be able to find activities that fill both your exercise and entertainment buckets all at one time.

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My workout regimen is based on location, location, location.

April 15th, 2013 6 Comments

Mary Rambin exercise 2013

@JaclynDayBlog tweet

As a matter of fact I have!  But that could have been 3 years ago…after so many years of blogging I lose track :)

If you’ve been following me through those years, you know I’ve moved a handful of times – New York, LA, Houston, Mexico, Atlanta.  As much as I would like to take my workout with me as I bounce around, I can’t because of the facilities and studios specific to each city.   In some ways that’s good so I don’t get burned out and my body doesn’t become accustomed to a routine.  As we all know, one of the most important parts of changing our bodies and getting stronger is challenging your body.

The basis of my workout is always the same:  cardio, weights/strength, aerobic/zone 3 heart rate/fat burning days, yoga.  How I accomplish those things is based on where I am and my heart rate goal for the day (cardio = zone 4-5 for 1 hour, fat burn = zone 3 1 hour).  Here is an approximate breakdown of what I do where.  If you click the links, you’ll get more details on what my workouts entail.

New York

  • SoulCycle – 3 days a week = cardio
  • Blink/Equinox – 2 days a week = weights + zone 3
  • Yoga – 1 day a week (haven’t found a studio here yet)

To answer Jaclyn’s question, SoulCycle isn’t enough FOR ME because it misses 2 major muscle groups (chest and back) during the arm segment and doesn’t allow for building muscle with heavy weights.  However, the arm section is amazing to tone your shoulders, biceps, and triceps.

Los Angeles

  • SoulCycle – 2 days a week= cardio
  • Runyon Canyon – 2 days a week = 1 day cardio, 1 day zone 3
  • Equinox – weights or group fitness classes (they have THE BEST!), 1 day yoga

**I still haven’t figured out my scheduling of these yet.




  • My beach workouts – 3 days a week = 1 day cardio, 2 day zone 3
  • Gym – 2-3 days a week = weights + cardio
  • P90x – weights, resistance bands, 1 days a week = weights
  • Yoga DVD (haven’t found a favorite yet)


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5 Tips for sugar detox – my article in JEZEBEL!

March 3rd, 2013 No Comments

Sugar article JEZEBEL March 2013

Click the image to enlarge!

After a 3 day juice cleanse, eating vegan 2 days before and after, and abstaining from bread, dairy, coffee, and sweets for the duration, I feel great! Apples taste as sweet a cake now.

I’m going to ride the clean eating, nothing processed, sugar-free wave a long as I can. Cutting out dairy is hard because I rely on yogurt for protein often….and I miss the taste of a cappuccino but thankfully not the caffeine. It was a pleasant surprise to discover I’m not addicted to caffeine. I will admit I splurged on wedding cake last night and it was DELICIOUS, but I don’t feel like I need more. The only thing processed I’ll ingest is in my wine glass. Unfortunately white wine tastes too sweet so I opt for red, a healthier choice anyway. A this point, one glass is enough to get me tipsy so I’ll be a cheap date for a while.

After practicing what I preach in the article regarding water, I’m also fully hydrated for the first time in my life. I can’t say it makes me feel any different overall, but the water is very filling and surprisingly satisfying after a meal.

More on the cleanse, sugar, and my new coffee substitute when I return.

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So many reasons NOT to “save up” and starve for a special dinner

February 14th, 2013 1 Comment


I myself have said and hear from others countless times, “I’m not eating so I can go out to [fill in indulgent restaurant here] tonight.”  Well, even though it sounds good and the numbers even out, famine now doesn’t mean you can or should feast later for several reasons:

  1. By not keeping your metabolism in motion, you slow it down.  “Going long periods of time without eating, you will start to produce cortisol which will cause you to store everything from that meal as fat so it’s better to keep your metabolism revved up so that you will metabolize that meal more efficiently,” says Hilary King.
  2. Your blood sugar will drop drastically and you’re not going to feel good or act appropriately.  Your productivity will suffer as well.
  3. If you’re hungry all day, you’re more likely to eat even MORE at dinner.

So how can you help yourself if you want to indulge???  My nutritionist Hilary King has some suggestions for you!

  1. Exercise regularly at least an hour a day to keep your metabolism in high gear.
  2. Eat complete meals of lean protein, complex carbs, and good fats so you’re satisfied without snacking.
  3. Have a healthy snack (veggies, nuts) before you go out to dinner so you don’t blow your meal on bread.
  4. Cheat on salty and fatty foods instead of sweets.  The more sweets you eat, the more you will crave them.
  5. Choose a protein you’ll enjoy and limit the bad side dishes to just a couple bites.
  6. Eat some veggies (NOT STARCH) with dinner to slow down the absorption of alcohol and sugar into your blood stream.
  7. Opt for red wine or clear alcohols without juice mixers as your beverage.

Basically, if you maintain a healthy and balanced diet, train your body to burn fat, and limit simple sugars, you can splurge without starving yourself or feeling guilty.


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There are many benefits to exercising while you’re pregnant.

January 21st, 2013 No Comments


Every time I go to BLAST I see at least one expecting mommy killing it in class. My mom played tennis until two days before I was born! So I know it’s safe, but I didn’t realize exercise has the ability to combat many issues you might encounter when you’re pregnant.

According BabyCenter.com:

Exercise does wonders during pregnancy. It boosts mood, improves sleep, and reduces pregnancy aches and pains. It also prepares you for childbirth by strengthening muscles and building endurance, and makes it much easier to get back in shape after your baby’s born.

The ideal workout gets your heart pumping, keeps you limber, manages weight gain, and prepares your muscles without causing undue physical stress for you or the baby.”

The article goes on to list the best kinds of exercises for pregnant women:

  • Cardiovascular work
  • Swimming
  • Low-impact Aerobics
  • Weight training
  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Dancing

You knock out 4 out of 7 in one BLAST class or a group fitness weight-lifting class. Most gyms even offer special pregnancy classes so everyone is going at the same pace. You’ll see from that list, that walking or yoga is not enough, you should get your heart rate up.

That being said, you need to be safe. FamilyCenter.com recommends you obstain from contact and high-impact activities and take EXTRA time to warm up. Bouncing and jumping is not a good idea either. So just take it easy and stick to you usual intensity or a little less. If you keep both feet on the ground, you should be ok.


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