Wednesday, January 15, 2014

And right here is where you start paying...in sweat

I'm a girl that likes to eat. I'm also a girl who likes to get naked and feel really good about it.

That said, I'm a gym rat (perhaps a gerbil or small ferret). For a decade plus now, first getting my sparkle toes and jazz hands wet in the comfortable bosom of older ladies doing Jazzercise before putting on my big girl spandex pants, throwing fear and arm flab to the wind and joining a gym. Key fob and all.

That gym was Mountainside Fitness. I was one of the first to join when it was a brand spanking new club, a spa with amenities galore; WiFi, a juice bar, steam and sauna, TVs attached to otherwise boring equipment, free towels and a lack of children (bonus). Like Jamie Lee Curtis said in Trading Places, "It's cheap, it's clean and it's all mine." I fell in love with fitness. Cycling and kick boxing and Zumba and Hip Hop dancing and sculpt and total body conditioning. One day, a lovely girl with dark hair and eyes - a dead ringer for Rose McGowan - lead me in a beginners yoga class. Hoisting your ass in the air in a room full of strangers with nothing but a thin film of fabric containing your special bathing suit area is frighting at best, humbling at worst.

And it changed my life. Yoga became my therapy and my strength and my joy. I felt myself standing taller, feeling leaner, and with noticeable biceps.

After a few years, Mountainside changed hands and beget locally owned BFitness. You'd often find full teams of high schoolers on premise for special events, see peanuts from day care attempting to climb the rock wall, firefighters on all the treadmills. It was good, it was classy.

And it was recently sold. To a corporate sweat shop. Tru Fit Athletic Clubs.

The yoga schedule has disappeared quickly, week to week classes have been dropped. Staff, trainers and the amazing athletic director are gone - whether by choice, circumstance or integrity. The basketball court, once home to weekend pick up games, became a CrossFit box, it's magical ropes and tires and comically heavy things to lift chained up behind an actual metal link fence, keeping sods like me out.

Mountainside and BFitness (both incarnations) were unlike any other fitness destination in town, geared to a wide variety of members, tied to the community and a place were you could feel good in your heart and head.

Tru Fit wants to be a corporate meathead gym.

And they seem to be succeeding.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ernie's Bar & Pizza (revisited), Denver

Life is all about the ying and yang, the ping and pang. The taking the good (if not noticeably better) with some bad.

Another Sunday romp at Ernie's Pizza Bar during what turned out to be both happy AND family hour; no joke, the place was filthy with kids of the small, car seat variety. 

The good – Super efficient service.
The bad – When half the table arose to leave, while other asses remained in seats, a deft and ninja–like server quietly swooped in and removed all vestiges of food, including a not yet empty house made chip basket. Didn’t even hear him coming. Two of us remaining behind planned to finish our drinks, order a couple–few more and nosh, yet absolutely felt rushed to release the table (even though the joint was full only to half). Finished up at the bar, glasses half-full and chipless. 

The good – The parmesan-garlic wings that had lost their luster returned to hot, wet, crunchy, oily splendor. 
The bad – The cheddar cheese looking aioli as a side to the aforementioned house made chips, too spicy and Yield sign yellow. Stick with ranch. Double ranch. 

The good – A return to true Happy Hour pricing! $3.50 spicy Bloodies adorned with pepperocini, green olive and a smoky bacon chaser. $2.00 off a plethora of apps and 2–for–1 10” pizzas (chewy, bread-like crust, thick and melty cheese make them more than personal size). Some hits and misses in flavor town; the #11 (roasted eggplant, red onion,mushrooms, ricotta salata) an all–round table fave with cubed then roasted veggies plus greens not mentioned in the description; the #16 (three cheese with olive oil and garlic) a solid classic; the #12 (rock shrimp, red onion, capers, arugula, olives) tasty but a bit skimpy and missing cheese; and the #21 (clams, garlic, red chili flakes, parsley) a swing–and–a–miss, the flavors too subtle and white, like chowder (New England style) atop dough.
The bad – If you’re with a group, even when sharing food family style, request separate checks. This math genius didn’t realize until a $100+ tab the register would discount the two pizzas under $10. I blame myself.

So to you Ernie, I remain faithful if not fully monogamous, sticking it out waiting for your yang to catch up with my ying. 

postscript: Didn’t have the heart to order the calamari, still denoted in the menu as the original (and wildly superior to squid only) mixed seafood and veggie version of golden fried rock shrimp, calamari, garlic cloves, banana peppers, kalamata olives and red onions. Still a bit stung by the resistance and the refusal perhaps. Whiskey (and Wing) Wednesday may provide the liquid encouragement I need to put myself out there again.