The Health Behind Spa Days

At this point during the year, a lot of students and professionals yearn for some sort of excuse to just kick back and take a break from the swamp of work piled up around them.

Treat yourself!

Treat yourself at Hotel Palomar’s Repose.

The vision of the spa atmosphere might seem extravagant to some — candles, aromatherapy, oil massages? Who really needs all that?

But the truth is, there are health benefits behind that luxurious visit to the day spa. Everybody needs a break, and a spa day is the ideal way to spend your day off.

So, how exactly do spa treatments benefit your health? Well, the explanation is actually quite predictable.

Many of the massage options at day spas release knots in your back that can worsen your posture and soothe sore muscles and inflamed joints by targeting areas that are tight or swollen. Additionally, services like bath soaks, mani-pedis, facials and other skin services can alleviate a lot of stress and tension that is built up throughout the school or work day.

It ultimately boils down to the “power of touch.” It’s been proven by multiple psychologists that being touched is essential to our sanity! Being touched releases endorphins which ultimately make you feel happy.

The following locations are full-functioning spas that include facials, wax options, makeup application, hair design and mani-pedi stations.

The Roose Parlour and Spa: Nestled in the historic district of downtown Phoenix at 918 N. Sixth St., this location is known for its charming, friendly staff and hip feel.

Repose Spa and Salon: Tucked inside CityScape between Washington and Jefferson streets and First Avenue and First Street, this location is affiliated with the Hotel Palomar and is known for its upscale, unique lay out.

Inner Radiance Spa: Though it’s not downtown, this spa at 4503 N. 32nd St is close to the esteemed Biltmore Hotel. This location is known for using all organic products and specializes in skin care.

Downtown Salon Phoenix: At 101 E. Monroe St., this location mainly caters to hair care but also offers massage, nail, and skin services.

The Spa at Pilgrim: Again, a bit outside downtown, but right off Jefferson Street, this spa at 1401 E. Jefferson St. focuses on massages, including Swedish and hot stone massages. But for “total indulgence,” the Caribbean Therapy Total Indulgence package is a must. It’s comprised of a bath soak, body scrub and body cleanser all done in flower water with candles.

As you can see, there are some pretty nifty places downtown or nearby where you can really treat yourself after a long day. So do it! The next time you’re extremely stressed out or just need a breather from whatever is going on, go to the spa! You won’t regret it.

Not only will you have the ability to completely unwind, you’ll also benefit your physical and mental health through various spa treatments. It really is a win-win situation. An investment in your comfort is an investment in your health. Don’t delay!

Fall is Here!

All over the country, leaves are turning from green to orange, temperatures are dropping, boots are rocking the runway, the flu shot is available everywhere and the holiday season is upon us. Fall is here!

If you think morning runs are limited to open skies, you're wrong. Run next to skyscrapers and get on a whole new level.

If you think morning runs are limited to open skies, you’re wrong. Run next to skyscrapers and get on a whole new level.

What are you doing to gear up for fall? The activities you can do downtown now that it isn’t a scorching 105 degrees outside are infinite. Go outside! Explore your options!

Here are some ideas of ways to stay active and explore this fall:

  • Healthy Picnic in Civic Space Park: Here’s an idea — actually go to Civic Space Park with your gym buddies, and chow down on some healthy sandwiches and fresh veggies after that morning workout. I mean, what’s there to lose?
  • Morning Run Around Downtown: Instead of painstakingly forcing yourself out of bed and onto an elliptical somewhere, put on those running shoes and trek around downtown Phoenix before 8 a.m. You won’t regret it.
  • Phoenix Public Market: Walk to get your groceries! Go to the Phoenix Public Market instead of driving to your local grocery store. The walk to and from the market will do you good, and you’ll have locally grown, healthy food in your pantry.
  • First Fridays: No longer does makeup have to run on the first Friday of the month. It’s officially fall, and the sweat glands that ruin your makeup job are inactive upon stepping outside of air conditioning! Take advantage of the exercise you can get from all the walking around while you’re not collapsing onto the sidewalk from the heat.
  • Shopping: When I go to the mall, the two places I spend the most time at are Urban Outfitters and Charming Charlie. So if you’re like me, don’t drive to some crowded mall! Walk to CityScape, shop ‘till you drop, and walk back to your abode. You’ll get cute clothes and you’ll feel even cuter in them with the added bit of exercise. Also, use those walking shoes to explore a few local shops downtown, like some of the vintage stores recently featured in Downtown Devil’s A Tailored Place.

Seriously though, now that it has cooled off, you have no excuse! Staying active and healthy is so much easier. Going to an indoor gym is no longer your only way to work out. Switch it up. Go for a long bike ride, walk to breakfast with a friend or do my favorite and go for that early morning run with the skyscrapers towering over you. Take advantage of this cool weather before the heat is upon us again!

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex: A Diamond in the Rough

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex that just opened on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus has done nothing but ‘wow’ Downtown students who were relying on the YMCA previously.

Night swim, anyone?

Night swim, anyone?

While the downtown YMCA was a pretty good place to work out, it definitely doesn’t compare to the new SDFC in terms of enhancing the relationship students have with the greater ASU community.

Not only does the new center have four floors full of equipment and fitness class rooms, it also has a rooftop pool that overlooks the greater downtown area. If the rooftop pool doesn’t cut it, I don’t know what does!

The first floor of the facility is home to an array of workout machinery, including but not limited to elliptical trainers, treadmills and other core-enhancing machines. The second through fourth floors house various fitness classrooms, multipurpose rooms and even a track.

While the amount of workout equipment is nice and all, I’m more of a fitness class junkie. Whether it’s Zumba or yoga, fitness classes appeal to me a lot more than treadmills or ellipticals do. So, if you’re like me, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex has just what you need! You can start off by doing a little cardio on the machines on the first floor and then make your way upstairs to one of the many fitness courses offered.

Generally speaking, there are three different types of fitness courses available: strength classes, cardio classes and yoga classes.

The best way to get in shape and do so with the most variability in workout style is to go for the strength/cardio combination classes. This category includes “Power Hour,” “Insane Intervals,” “Total Body Blast” and “Mix.” Each of these classes are high-intensity total-body workouts.

If you’re looking for just strength training, the classes offered are “Totally Toned,” “Raise the Bar” and “Awesome Abs.” Strength training is good if you’re already in shape and you just want definition.

Cardio classes are best for people who want to lose those extra pounds and get back into shape. The classes offered in this category are “Zumba,” “Cycle, Rise and Ride” and “Total Knock Out.”

My personal favorite fitness class — after kickboxing, that is — is yoga! The yoga classes offered are “Flow Yoga, Sunrise Yoga,” “Gentle Yoga” and “Power Yoga.” These yoga classes will help calibrate your body in physical and spiritual terms.

But, of course, we can’t forget the highlight of the fitness center — the rooftop pool! I don’t know what it is about rooftop pools that gets me. Whether it’s the elusive party scene that normally takes place around rooftop pools or it’s just the ability to see huge skyscrapers on either side of you as you backstroke down the length of the pool, having a pool on a roof in downtown is a very cool thing, and the complex deserves a standing ovation for such a brilliant setup.

With such a wide variety of fitness options and placement in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex truly is a diamond in the rough that all ASU students should visit. With the multitude of fitness courses, the high volume of workout equipment, the track and the pool, this fitness center offers one of the most well-rounded workout routines a downtown Phoenician could ask for.

Let’s talk about CrossFit

We all have that friend: The CrossFit-obsessed one who jumps on any opportunity to talk about CrossFit. The one who tells you that “it’s not a workout, it’s a lifestyle.” The friend who Instagrams photos and hashtags Tweets with things like  #WOD and #levelup and hasn’t touched a cupcake in months. Today I am that friend. Well, kind of. I still eat cupcakes. But let it be known that I love CrossFit.

Photo via Evie Carpenter

Photo via Evie Carpenter

We should have known this was going to happen. I like running and competitive sports. I like having a coach. I like being able to fit a workout into my schedule and still have time to do homework and watch re-runs of 30 Rock. And most of all, I like seeing results out of a workout program.

What is CrossFit?

It’s a lifestyle, ok? In a more simplistic sense, it’s a workout that incorporates high-intensity training with cardio, strength, agility and speed into one amazing program. The idea is to avoid repetition in your workout so you’re always developing, advancing further and getting better.This is where the crossover falls into every aspect of your life.

CrossFit is about accepting life’s challenges and meeting them head-on. It’s about fueling your body with food and avoiding temptations (one cupcake every once in a while never hurt anyone) and respecting yourself. It’s about taking care of yourself and performing at your best.

Finding the right gym

The right gym makes all the difference in a workout. Whether it’s a yoga studio, a boxing gym or the YMCA, you need to find what is best for you. When you walk in, you should feel inspired. You should feel welcome. And you should feel at home and hopefully want to come back.

Photo taken by yours truly.

Photo taken by yours truly.

When I walked into Core CrossFit on 7th Street, I knew there was something different about it. People came up to introduce themselves and shake your hand. If you’ve ever been to a gym, you know this is a rare thing and it honestly threw me off guard. They were smiling. Good music was playing. People genuinely looked like they were having a good time. And I felt welcome. I was intimidated by the obvious intensity of the workout, but I felt comfortable.

Inchworms. You'll learn to love them. Photo via Evie Carpenter

Inchworms. You’ll learn to love them. Photo via Evie Carpenter

My experience

Through my first class, the coaching staff was more than helpful and understanding of my newbie status. They took the time to help me learn the form and grasp the concept of the workout and why we were doing the workout.

Clearly I'm not a fitness model... yet. Photo via Evie Carpenter

Clearly I’m not a fitness model… yet. Photo via Evie Carpenter

Don’t let me forget the best part of it all: Student Discounts. They’ve created an ASU Student Discount that is half the price of a regular membership and designed to work around ASU class schedules.

Check out their ASU ONLY event on the April 5 during First Friday.

Check out their ASU ONLY event on April 5 during First Friday.

I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more. Until they decided to offer a free event on First Friday (April 5 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for ASU Downtown Students to try out CrossFit and learn how to make post-workout smoothies. I’m in heaven. RSVP to the event on Facebook.

Try out CrossFit, Devils. If you don't like it you're wrong! Just kidding. But I'm pretty sure you'll love it.

ASU all day! Photo via Evie Carpenter.

Try out CrossFit, Devils. If you don’t like it you’re wrong! Just kidding. But I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.

Breaking the habit

By now, most ASU students have heard of the smoking ban taking place next year. While many people oppose this new rule, from a health perspective, this is a huge step in the right direction.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer, heart disease, and premature and preventable death. According to the Surgeon General, one in three young adults under age 26 are smokers.

For students who smoke, going off campus is an inconvenience. For all the non-smoking students who do not want secondhand smoke, it is exactly what they have been hoping for. If you’re a smoker, consider breaking the habit before next August for a fresh start.

The red highlights on the map show the areas that will be designated as tobacco-free zones after the on-campus smoking ban goes into effect. (Courtesy of Arizona State University)

Tips to quit smoking

Before you can quit smoking, you have to make the decision to quit. You have to actively be thinking about quitting and know the reasons why you want to make the change. Follow these tips to become tobacco-free.

  • Make a plan. Decide how you’re going to limit your tobacco use and stick with it. As with anything in life, if you don’t have a plan you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Start small and be amazed with how quickly you’ll achieve success.
  • Reward yourself. When you reach your short-term goals and stick with your plan, give yourself a small gift. You deserve to treat yourself. Try to use something positive, like new running shoes or a workout shirt. Be careful with rewarding yourself with food as this can create an addiction swap.
  • Curb your cravings. If you can figure out what activity makes you crave a cigarette, you’re one step ahead of the game. Is it before a meal? After a meal? With coffee? After a class? If you know exactly when you’re going to crave the nicotine you can avoid the craving before giving in.
  • Get a quit buddy. Since most smokers are social smokers, you probably have a few friends who smoke as well. If you’re committed to quitting, do it together and help each other stay motivated.
  • Take it one day at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed with quitting. It doesn’t happen instantaneously. Take each day one at a time and appreciate every time you skip a cigarette.

Tools to help you quit 

There are plenty of programs you can use to help quit smoking. When you’re just starting to think of quitting, check out the calculators on the American Cancer Society website to find out how much you spend on cigarettes and how many cigarettes you have smoked in a given amount of time. For free quit programs, visit the Smokefree.gov website for a list of resources.

Good luck, Devils!

Exercise etiquette: Don’t be a bro

As an experienced YMCA-goer I’ve witnessed more workout faux pas than I even want to admit within the past week. Now what could be possibly causing this? Welcome back ASU. And welcome freshman. And welcome to the gym. If we all follow the rules and play nice we might just lose some weight and gain a little muscle while we’re at it. And I might not have to call you out on bad behavior. And sorry if I already have…

The Anti-Bro

I may be a girl, but I still use the weight room. And I usually head to the gym after a long day at work and don’t want to deal with any bro-nonsense. So listen to my advice.

  • Whatever team/sport/club you were the king of in high school is now irrelevant. Our gym should be filled with a collection of Sparky, maroon and gold. Nothing screams freshman more than a football practice tee cutoff. It’s not cool.
  • Actually wear gym clothes and proper shoes. I’m all for sporting a “look” and following trends, but when you come to workout in cargo shorts and Sperry’s, you’re going to get hurt. And not just by my judgmental stares. The right shoes and workout gear can make all the difference. You’re more prone to injury in unsupportive footwear as well, especially if you’re weightlifting.
  • Don’t be that group of bros. I believe in circuit training, but when you come with a group of 6 guys and you all are using the same machine, you’re not working out efficiently and you’re making me wait. Divide and conquer.
  • DO NOT EVER BE THE MIRROR-BRO. If you need to obnoxiously stare at your body while you are lifting weights and make ridiculous faces and noises, you will be exiled. It’s gym social suicide.
  • Wipe down the mats, machines and weights. Seriously. Nobody wants to end up with some crazy skin disorder as a result of your neglect.
  • Flexing with your bros is lame. Save that for your roommate. Or the hottie down the hall. I really don’t care as long as I don’t need to witness it.
  • Put weights, dirty towels, water bottles and equipment back in the right spots. Your mom isn’t here to clean up after you anymore, so do it yourself.

Tossing towels? Come on, bro.

  • Be polite to the staff, the other gym-goers and people who walk really slow down the stairs. We’re all here to improve ourselves, so take it one step further and be nicer as well.
  • Remember that you’re sharing a space with real-live people as well and not just ASU students. That includes adults and children. So the crazy story from your first bro-gathering at ASU should not be shared with the entire YMCA population. We don’t want the details!
  • Play nice with others. When it’s open gym or open swim time, think of every cliché phrase you possibly can and follow them. Treat others as you would want to be treated. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. I’ll stop there, but just know that if you don’t, you’ll be as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.

Follow these 10 simple rules and you, sir, won’t be labeled a bro.