Tag Archives: texas

Pink Gloves

Standard

cover-boxing-e1467353363120-1010x365

Originally written for and published by TLM 🙂

I absolutely love the idea of a) a female-only boxing class and b) supporting an amazing cause while I work out.Pink Gloves Boxing (PGB) on Burnet in Austin combines those two awesome things (and yes, the gloves are really pink). Pink Gloves offers a tier program, drop-in classes, personal training, and private classes — with a percentage of all proceeds going to breast cancer research. Their website boasts about the 3 F’s: fitness, fun, and female empowerment!

Brenda Hull, owner of PGB Austin, got her start in boxing by branching off from her normal fitness routines to try something new.

It can be intense on the first visit, but by the end you will want your own gear. Courtesy photo
It can be intense on the first visit, but by the end you will want your own gear. Courtesy photo.

“I have always been into fitness and working out. after working with a personal trainer for many years I needed something different,” Hull explained. “I found PGB and  took some classes and fell in love with boxing, then the gym closed and didn’t find any other boxing classes i enjoyed. A few years after that I was searching for fitness jobs and certifications and found an AD for Pink Gloves and how they would be in Austin for a training camp. I signed up and after a few meetings with PGB central I bought the license and opened Pink gloves Boxing Austin in 2013.”

Since its doors opened in 2013, PGB Austin has been met with eager Austinites wanting to give it a try, but sorry fellas — this one’s for the women.

“Women have mostly had positive experiences at PGB,” Hull said. “One member recently stated, ‘I was so very pleased with PGB class tonight! I am hooked! Can’t wait to go back! It’s such an inviting group.’ Many women have met their best friends, who later became their bridesmaids, at Pink Gloves Austin. That is our goal — to create a positive, comfortable environment that you spend with family! I have gotten several request from men, especially the PGB husbands and kids. We are working on something for men and the kids of our Austin community.”

Don’t be afraid to give this gym a try. You’re walking into a welcoming environment, not the gladiator area. There won’t be any fists flying at your face, but you will get a workout.

They really seem to be building a positive bond in the gym. Courtesy photo
They really seem to be building a positive bond in the gym. Courtesy photo.

“We like to make everyone feel welcome so the trainers and members will introduce themselves and help you check in and get your hands wrapped,” Hull explained. “What has naturally happened is that a member will take the first-timer and go over what the class looks like and gives them a tour of our small space. Once class begins, a group warm-up begins where I tell my trainers to take this time to let your members know who you are. After warm-up, trainers go over each station and the punches and combinations are taught. Class begins and goes by WAY too fast! Class ends with abs circle. There is a question of the day that members answer and give the group an ab workout or stretch. This is the time where we hear from the members and gives them the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit more.

They also host an annual “Punch-a-Thon” benefiting Seton Breast Cancer Center. The Punch-a-Thon is not an actual fight (they say their real fight is against breast cancer), but rather, each team has to punch heavy bags for a certain amount of time. For every five dollars donated to your team, you have to punch for one minute.

If you’re looking for a new workout routine—something to spice things up a bit, get you in shape, and meet friends—Pink Gloves is for you! Give it a try—all levels are welcome (you do NOT need to know a single thing about boxing, I promise). Plus, there’s a killer Groupon deal right now—five classes for only $39! Get to punchin’ Austin ladies.

Advertisements

Brass Ovaries

Standard

brass ovaries courtesy2

Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

Does your exercise regime need some spice? Treadmills can get really boring, elliptical machines can only do so much, and the same old same old gym scene can become monotonous. Brass Ovaries off East Manor in Austin is definitely NOT your run-of-the-mill workout. From “Twerk Fit” to “Pole Dancing 101,” your body won’t know what to think. You’ll reach muscles you didn’t even know you had. Plus, you’ll step out of your comfort zone, which is always a fun challenge!

The staff at Brass Ovaries really know their stuff. Courtesy photo
The staff at Brass Ovaries really know their stuff. Courtesy photo

“Brass Ovaries is a multi-functional aerial arts studio. We have been established for 9 years and have paved the way for every studio throughout Texas,” Bras Ovaries owner Haley proclaimed. “We are open to women, men, and trans-identified persons, no matter your age, shape, size, or fitness levels.”

I bought a Groupon to Brass Ovaries recently, mainly to defy my lame gym routine. Burlesque class was my favorite—kind of like a dance class (with a little more ooh-la-la). It was a blast—awesome instructor, fun music, and I left feeling sexy and empowered (I entered the room feeling nervous and embarrassed).

Pole class may have been difficult, but the results of persistence cant be argued. Courtesy photo
Pole class may have been difficult, but the results of persistence cant be argued. Courtesy photo

I hated Pole…but honestly, it was just because I have zero upper body strength. Seriously. I don’t think I could’ve lifted my body gracefully onto that pole if my life had depended on it. I was sore from trying though—don’t knock it ‘til you try it! It was an intense workout—I think it’d be fun to do with a group of girlfriends.

“We offer a wide range of services that include a world class training facility and staff, party planning, dance instruction, educational center, and a talented aerial performance group,” Haley explained. “We have an abundance of male students here at the studio. None of our classes are gender specific.”

All of the classes at Brass Ovaries are relatively small, which is great if you’re like me and need to watch or mimic the instructor 24/7. They offer such a wide variety of classes—there’s even aerial, yoga, belly dancing, and hoop!

It was a blast to get to workout with some of these fierce ladies. Courtesy photo
It was a blast to get to workout with some of these fierce ladies. Courtesy photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To describe Brass Ovaries in 4 words….’Stop signs fear me,’” Haley touted. “Something like pole can be very scary to beginners. Sometimes people talk themselves out of it. They tend to say things like ‘I am not fit or sensual or skinny enough.’ These are just stop signs that people put up for themselves. Brass Ovaries helps by destroying those stop signs. Pole is an equal opportunity butt kicker. ‘Stop signs fear me,’ of course, does not pertain to the pole. Stop signs get in the way of individual goals, dreams, and desires. But with a set of ‘brass ovaries’, one should blast those stop signs right out of their way and proceed with extreme confidence.”

Give it a shot—especially if you’re feeling apprehensive at the very thought (that was me too). I promise you’ll love the change in pace. If, for no other reason, sign up for a class just because of their name…Brass Ovaries. Love it. Don’t we all have a pair of those, ladies?

Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival

Standard

arden-myrin2-e1461553727346-1010x365

Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

This past rainy week in Austin served up some of the most amazing comedic performances—were you able to catch a show? If not, make sure you get a ticket (or fan badge) next year—you won’t be sorry. Four days, ten venues, and over 90 performers—wow.

Headlining this week at the Paramount Theatre was Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Anjelah Johnson, Kevin Smith, and David Cross. The big-timers sold out pretty quickly but were still a steal at about $40 per ticket on average.

I was more interested in the smaller venues—I wanted to sit as close as possible to the laugh-creators and honestly, I’ve found that less-advertised performances are usually the most amazing experiences. That definitely proved to be true.

First up was Stars in Bars at Antone’s Nightclub on East 6th Street. Local comedian Matt Bearden hosted, and the night started off strong with Martha Kelly, also Austin-based, who’s known for the FX show “Baskets.” Her dark, hilarious anecdotes about her beloved cats passing away were perfect.

Jon Rudnitsky, who’s new to the SNL cast, added not one, but two “dance routines” to his stand-up. If you love Chipotle, you’ll love his burrito-maker moves. Another SNL cast member, Colin Jost, wasn’t on the original line-up, but decided to make a guest appearance I guess! His and Jon’s eight to ten minutes were way too short for me, but I’m not 100% sure if that’s because they were terrific (they were) or if they were both drop dead gorgeous. Something to consider.

Brendan Walsh, Greg Liedtke, and Dana Gould added their own quirky witticisms—the entire night was honestly a blur of sidesplitting laughter, including the closing act, The Sklar Brothers (Wild Hogs, Entourage—trust me, you know these hysterical twins).

But the person who absolutely killed it? Arden Mylin, known for her many panelist contributions to the Chelsea Lately roundtable. She SLAYED (and I would usually never use that word, because it reminds me of the students I teach, but it works here). I especially loved when she called out the obnoxious couple in front of me (who sits in the first row if they’re going to loudly talk the whole time?) and lamented about wearing Spanx. Then she commented on my Instagram post. Then she quoted my tweet. Ok, I’ll stop gushing now.

Next was the Goddamn Comedy Jam at The Parish on Dirty 6th, a place I tend to avoid, but I’m glad I didn’t that night! Josh Adam Meyers hosted, and might I add, made his entrance by grabbing a man in the front row and kissing him, rocking out with the two “roadies” (whose job all night was just to jam out and get the crowd pumped),  and forcing another man in the third row to admit what race he hated the most. Quite the first three minutes.

Goddamn Comedy Jam is all about mixing comedy with music—which is genius, especially since this is the Live Music Capital of the World. Each comedian has to perform their stand-up and then perform a song of their choosing! Such an amazing idea. Joe DeRosa sang the hell out of a Queen song and Janeane Garofalo went with The Monkees—both were more than “funny”  beforehand as well of course.

Matteo Lane stole the show for me—his jests about being gay, Italian-Mexican, and single in New York were hilarious. Plus, he sang Whitney…in the original key!

Brad Williams was the headliner for a reason—he absolutely won me over (I stereotypically thought at first that all his jokes were going to be about being a little person…I know, I’m the worst). You may know him from Comedy Central, but now I’ll forever know him as astounding an entire venue with his sex advice and Kid Rock performance. After Williams’ killer version of “Bawitdaba,” Meyers made all the comics come back on stage to do a final performance together—“Hey Jude.”

As you can see by my overflowing enthusiasm about this past week, Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival is something you simply can’t miss next year. I’ll be smiling about these shows for weeks to come.

Cantine

Standard

12244747_478690185644552_9117594352592383409_o.png

Originally written for and posted by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

Cantine Italian Café and Bar: The Upscale Side of Pasta

By Alysha Kaye Mendez

 

I don’t know if you fellow Austinites have noticed, but there aren’t very many solid Italian places here in the capital city. Pizza, sure. But I’m talkin’ homemade risotto, handcrafted bucatini, perfected spaghetti…you get the idea.

Cantine Italian Café and Bar, fairly new to the South Lamar main strip, is that missing element. Although the menu is small, each plate tastes like your long-lost grandmother from Tuscany whipped it up especially for you—slaved over the stove for hours, in fact, concocting each noodle to absolute excellence.

With the deliciousness comes a bit of a price tag—Cantine is definitely going for the upscale, fine-dining look. The wine list is extensive, the wait staff is super formal (in a polite, elegant way), and the décor is chic, modernly minimalistic. However, I was there on a Monday, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mondays are Happy Hour all day! Hooray!

We started off with fried goat cheese—they were so different, really unusual and tasty. They were served with red onion jam and honey. The calamari was standard, but the sauce they serve with it, mojo picon, was not—it was a bit too spicy for me. Amazingly, the chef prepared a simple red dipping sauce for me upon request—much better in my opinion.

Then the main courses—spaghetti carbanara and bucatini amatriciana (added sausage to this one). Both dishes were mouth-watering in appearance. The presentation is lovely and your taste buds will agree with your eyes—YUM! I can’t stress enough how much care every item seemed to have taken—every bite tasted equal to the last in flawlessness.

My only complaint? You have to request and buy your own bread. Call me cheap, call me an Olive Garden girl, but you shouldn’t have to pay for tortillas at a Mexican restaurant or bread at an Italian restaurant…am I right? That being said, the olive sourdough with whipped lardo was suberb.

We topped off the fancy late-night stop with dessert—polenta cake with vanilla custard, Amarena cherries, and cherry coulis! So, so, so good—but we couldn’t even finish it since we’d already stuffed ourselves with various forms of divine carbs.

Set a date night or girls’ night out soon—Cantine is wonderful. It’s location is fantastic as well—afterwards, you can walk to Alamo Drafthouse for a movie or Barlata for a drink.

VOX Table

Standard

vox-tongue-and-cheek-buns-courtesy-e1455339131754-1010x365

Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

Looking for a new twist on date night? Obviously, Alamo Drafthouse is a perfect movie spot, but have you seen the snazzy restaurant and bar across from the theater? VOX is lit up at night, quite beautifully, but is barely visible during the day—hidden underneath swanky apartments and overshadowed by Highball and Drafthouse. You can easily walk by the entrance and not realize it, which honestly, is part of the draw.

Once inside, however, VOX is anything but bashful. Modern black and white décor mesh well with a tangle of artistic lighting, a bright area to view the chefs hard at work, and a fully stocked bar.

The wine, cocktail, and beer menu is vast—get ready to spend some time on that. Or, if you’re like me, give up and order a glass of Riesling like you always do when confronted with novel-sized drink lists.

Dinner is the real treat—there’s something for every palette, separated into these categories: provisions (cheeses and breads), leaves + roots, fins + shells, hooves, and feathers + beaks. Plus dessert, of course. Lunch is “TBD” on their website, so right now, they are strictly a dinner (and brunch on the weekends) spot. I really enjoyed how they divided the entrees—we tasted a plate from almost every section!

It has to be said that VOX doesn’t just look upscale—it definitely is upscale, price-wise. Plates are small and shareable, but not cheap, much like the close-by Odd Duck. Everything was delectable though, and immediately made the dollar sign not matter much (or maybe that was the wine).

We started with the wood-fired oysters, which were insanely tasty, topped with pancetta, garlic butter, and an herb crumble. Then, we ordered the grilled quail with mushroom bread pudding, which was also delicious, but paled in comparison to the poutine (crispy potatoes with gravy, cheese curds, and pig head terrine) that was next. Although at this point, we were stuffed, the “tongue + cheek buns” called to us, closing out the night. They are basically fancy barbaqoa-stuffed rolls and they are phenomenal. We couldn’t finish the third, and vowed to take it home for breakfast the next day—we had big plans for topping it with a fried egg. I will definitely be back one day soon to try the calamari noodles.

If you are a foodie, if you are in Austin, if you have some time to kill before your Drafthouse showing, if you need a chic night out—VOX Table is for you.  Happy wining and dining!

 

 

About the author: Alysha Kaye is a high school English teacher in Kyle, TX and recent author—her debut novel The Waiting Room is available on Amazon and at BookPeople. When she’s not wrangling 9th graders, she’s blogging, reading, or exploring Austin.

For more, follow her on Twitter @alyshakaye7 or check out her website: http://www.alyshakaye.com

Marfa, Texas!

Standard

prada

Originally published as an article for Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

This is what I knew about Marfa, TX: They have a Prada store in the middle of the desert that’s not an actual store, but rather, art. It sounded downright ridiculous to me.

This is what I now know about Marfa, TX: That Prada store in the middle of the desert may sound ridiculous, but it’s pretty cool. I mean, it’s still ridiculous and I’m not hipster enough to really “get” why it’s ART…but it’s cool too see, sitting there in the middle of nowhere, black widow spiders crawling amongst the designer shoes.

Marfa is one of those bizarre little towns (Texas has so many) that you just can’t help but add to your bucket list for no apparent reason. I knew a little bit more about Marfa than just the Prada store—I’ve heard it called “the art mecca of Texas” a few times, I knew there were a couple big music festivals hosted there, I knew there were teepees to stay in, and I knew Beyonce herself took a road trip there—that was enough for me. I had to go!

First stop: Food Shark. A food truck serving up agua fresca and pork sandwiches. DELICOUS. But honestly, the best part wasn’t the food. The best part was the change I received: a two dollar bill and a Sacagawea coin. I needed that laugh after a 7 hour car ride. Only in Marfa.

food shark

Next up: The Chinati Foundation, a giant contemporary art museum, but definitely not your average gallery. You don’t pay a small fee and walk quietly through rooms of various masterpieces. We paid zero dollars and walked through a field to see huge cement constructions that I can only describe as…kind of eery. That particular exhibit was also going to transform into a concert venue that night (also free). Oh-so-Marfa.

art

A quick stroll through downtown was next, stopping in a couple art galleries, including Ballroom Marfa, which featured an old truck embedded with multiple species of cacti.

ballroom

We poked our heads in the town’s grocery store, The Get Go, which was like an entire farmer’s market packed into a tiny bedroom. Another store called Freda sold handcrafted jewelry and ice cream sandwiches. Marfa Book Company was a pretty neat place (as are all quirky, independent bookstores, if you ask me, so I might be a little biased). And then…honestly, that was all there was! Sure, there were a couple more tiny shops, restaurants, and museums that we passed by, but all in all, we’d seen the gist of Marfa in a couple hours, tops. A vehicle isn’t necessary at all—you can walk everywhere. I definitely suggest planning your trip to Marfa either a) around a music festival or b) with multiple other stops on the agenda.

However, the main event, for me at least, was the Prada exhibit. Or, as the artists called it, “a pop architectural land art project.” Huh? It was pretty amazing to stand in the middle of the road, not a car or other building in sight, and stare at the petite room of thousand-dollar purses. It’s hard to explain. Just go and see it for yourself!

The only Marfa to-do item that didn’t get to-done was the Marfa Lights—we would up leaving town early and therefore didn’t get a chance to see if the mysterious lights are real or just reflections of car headlights (that’s the theory floating around the interwebs). More reason to go back for another visit one day! Marfa is a sleepy town with the strangest blend of West Texas tranquility and new-age charm—it’s definitely worth the road trip.

About the author: Alysha Kaye is a high school English teacher in Kyle, TX and recent author—her debut novel The Waiting Room is available on Amazon and at BookPeople. When she’s not wrangling 9th graders, she’s blogging, reading, or exploring Austin.

For more, follow her on Twitter @alyshakaye7 or check out her website: http://www.alyshakaye.com

Big Bend: The Perfect Camping Spot!

Standard

big bend

*I originally wrote this article for Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

Hey Texans, do you need a getaway that fits your budget? Go camping! But not just any camping spot will do, right? You want something grand, something epic, somewhere that feels like you’re in a different country! Big Bend National Park is the place, trust me.

For $14 a night per vehicle, you and your friends or family can sleep amongst the most majestic stars and magnificent mountains that you’ve ever seen. I didn’t even know that mountains like that existed in Texas!

I should probably make it clear that I am NOT your typical camper. In fact, my usual outdoor preference is lying in a hammock or drinking a beer on someone’s porch. That’s what’s so great about Big Bend—there’s something for every type of camper.

There are a few different campsites, first of all, each with their different surroundings (for a desert, Big Bend is insanely diverse). We chose Chisos Basin, which is engulfed by beautiful rocky cliffs. Our little plot was complete with a covered picnic table and a bear-proof food storage box. Close by, there were very clean restrooms and a dishwashing station. No showers though, which wasn’t ideal, but it IS camping after all.

camping site

The hikes are endless—if you’re happiest when you’re exploring the outdoors, you’re going to be in heaven. There are countless trails—shaded and not, child’s play to extremely difficult, stone steps and rocky treks, flat to crazy steep—you name it. I really enjoyed the Santa Elena Canyon hike along the Rio Grande River. It felt amazing to dip our feet in the water and wave hello to Mexico. The view was gorgeous as well.

river

Not much of a backpacker? The scenic drives alone are worth the trip! I couldn’t seem to stop snapping pictures.

There are also multiple visitor centers and a large lodge if you’re having first world problems—complete with cabins, a restaurant, a gift shop, a little grocery store, and Big Bend beer!

big bend beer

And if you’ve just had enough of the great outdoors and need a little break, you can always drive an hour to Lajitas, TX to see Clay Henry, the town’s mayor and famous goat.

clay henry

Add Big Bend to your Texas road trip list—it’s fantastic year-round. Even in the summer heat, the park cools down so much at night, making for an easy slumber under the pitch-black sky.