Category Archives: Sports & Fitness

Horsing Around in Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

One of my New Year’s resolution is to blog consistently.  Since It’s already the 20th, I’d say I haven’t started out too well, but as the saying goes, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  So I’m starting now with recent events and I’m going to slowly post my pictures from the last two years.  My trip to Italy alone is going to be a number of posts, considering how many pictures I took.

Morning fog in the mountains, Buellton

Morning fog in the mountains, Buellton

Last weekend, I drove up to Solvang, a cute Danish-styled town near Santa Barbara, for a Horsemanship class at the Monty Roberts International Learning Center.  I’ve always loved horses and wanted to learn how to ride, but for one reason or another, it never came about.  Now that I’ve decided to start riding lessons, I figured I should learn about the care of these beautiful animals but also how to handle them humanely.  Monty Roberts has been known as the original horse whisperer for years.  I remember his book coming out back in the 90s, but I never read it until I signed up for the class.  Now, with all my years of energy work, his philosophy about horses makes complete sense to me, and I wouldn’t want to be at a stable that didn’t follow his teachings.  Now I just have to find a riding instructor that follows his principles.

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

With little horse experience, it was really interesting to see how my energy affected the horses.  Animals don’t lie.  They can read your energy and can only see the truth.  Humans mostly go with the verbal cue.  Horses are the ultimate prey animal and can only read your energy.  Every single movement means something, but more importantly your energy and intention is picked up right away.

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

After watching our instructor Petra take Bugatti around the pen (and after he finally got to roll in the lovely dirt after his exercise), we were given the chance to go into the round pen and spend time moving a horse with our energy.  I would love to just spend time with a horse in the round pen learning the subtleties of the language of Equus and having a conversation with these magnificent beauties.  You learn so much about yourself and how you’re perceived.  Horses are teachers and healers and it was an honor to spend time with them.

Bugatti and Petra, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Bugatti and Petra in the Round Pen, Monty Roberts International Learning Center, Solvang

Most of my time was spent at Flag is Up Farms, but I did get into Solvang on a break to take some pictures.  The town is kind of the Disney version of a Danish town, but it’s fun to walk around for the afternoon.  There’s always the added benefit of being surrounded by vineyards and lots of vino.

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Solvang

Andersen's Pea Soup Inn, Buellton

Andersen's Pea Soup Inn, Buellton

Andersen’s Pea Soup Inn, Buellton

Flying Trapeze

If you ever walk on the Santa Monica Pier, amid the carnival rides, the bumper cars and the elephant ears, there’s a different part of the circus set up that’s there not only for the public’s enjoyment but also participation.  Trapeze School New York teaches high flying overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Some people, mostly tourists, just do one swing or maybe one class, just to say, “look what I did on my vacation,” but if you live in Los Angeles, you can really learn to fly.

I first heard about the school when they only had the New York school, which is located at Chelsea Piers.  I thought it would be fun but since I didn’t live in New York, I forgot about it.  Fast forward a couple of years and I was looking for something fun and new to do and I flashed on trapeze.  In the intervening time, the school had opened locations in Boston, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles.  I bought a package of classes and started learning this fun, but challenging art.

First off, obviously if you are scared of heights, don’t even attempt it.  You’re in a safety harness and there’s a net below you when you fall, but you’re still 60 feet in the air.  I didn’t learn that many tricks in my time there, but I got a good taste, and I have to say it’s exhilarating flying through the air, gripping a bar, changing positions and then going for the catch.  It really takes complete trust in your catcher.  He calls when you let go and if you don’t let go that instant, he won’t be able to grab your hands.  Me being a control freak (or at least a recovering one), this was a slight problem for me, but it was a good lesson in letting go, literally.

Even if you don’t want to fly yourself, you can always watch the classes.  Some days we had quite and audience of tourists watching us working.  In addition to trapeze, the school also teach silks, which you might know by Pink’s performance at the Grammys a couple of years ago or from her shows.  I didn’t try the silks, but I want to go back and take some classes.  It’s so beautiful and graceful.

So if you’ve always dreamed of joining the circus, head over to the Santa Monica Pier.  It’s definitely worth it.

 

S Factor Stripping & Pole Dancing

A number of years ago, a friend came to me all excited about a local news story about an actress who had opened up a new exercise studio giving stripper and pole dancing lessons.  My friend thought it would be fun to try it.  It was one of the best gifts I ever gave myself.

 

Sheila Kelley opened the S Factor studio after discovering how empowered she felt while taking stripping lessons for a role in a film.  Not only were the changes to her body fantastic, but she felt more powerful as a woman after learning the moves.  She started teaching friends in her pool house and very quickly needed to find space for all the people who wanted in.   The studio has expanded greatly since then and now has locations in a number of cities, as well as a series of DVDs.  You can even buy a pole to install in your home.  I miss my pole; it’s stuck in storage right now, but I’m hoping to have a place to put it up again soon.

 

I took classes at the studio for six months in 2002 and then more recently returned to take pole classes last year.  Ten years ago, I had an active dislike for my body.  I was not comfortable in my skin, with my sexuality or my sensuality.  Being a woman was uncomfortable for me.  I have to say that stripping classes made me more at ease in my body and with myself than any amount of therapy.  As women, we’re taught to suppress our sexuality and any part of our bodies that appears sexual for fear of being called a slut and a whore.  Every move in class is about embracing the curves and shapes that makes us women.  Since the classes are in very low light, there’s no one to see you; you’re in your own little world, exploring you.  People think that stripping is about pleasing a man, but for me, it’s about moving like a woman and feeling empowered in my body.  Sheila’s belief was always you’re doing it for you first, and then if you’re dancing for a man, you’re doing it to tease him.  You’re in control the whole time.

 

The classes are a mix of stripper moves, yoga and Pilates.  Classes are almost dark with music pulsing.  Only women are allowed in the classes so that everyone feels comfortable with the moves.  Men aren’t even allowed in the front door.  It’s a very safe and supportive environment.  It’s funny when they have the open houses and women bring their boyfriends and husbands to watch the show put on by the instructors.  All the women are yelling and clapping encouragement to the instructors, and the men are looking at each other wondering if this is a dream or a nightmare.  On the one hand, you’ve got a bunch of gorgeous women with unbelievable bodies doing stripper moves right in front of you.  On the other hand, your wife is sitting next to you cheering them on.  Hmmm, do I cheer them on too and risk looking like a pig?  Maybe I’ll just stay silent with a shell-shocked look on my face.

 

The first half of the class is all about strengthening and toning.  The second half is the dancing, stripping, lap dancing and pole tricks part of the class.  Pole tricks are so much fun.  Crawling up the pole, flipping upside down and then sliding down the pole is such a rush.  Plus, it builds such great muscle tone.  The classes have changed some since I took them.   I’m not sure what exactly the curriculum is now, as I only take pole classes when I go back, but I recommend S Factor to anyone.  Sometimes, I’ll be randomly talking to someone and it comes out that we’ve both taken S Factor.  It’s like an instant secret to bond over.  We know the power and confidence that comes from these amazing classes.