Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Miss Manners Goes to the Gym

Happy Hump Day! We're halfway to the weekend, ya'll!

I teach two weights classes this morning (5:30am and 9:15am), so I'm ready to tackle the day (if but just a little fatigued--my legs are already feelin' wonky after one class!).

Last night, I got home from teaching TurboKick at the gym and we took the wuppers for a walk. They're pretty furry right now, so halfway through the walk they started getting tired (it was hella humid outside). They go to the groomer on Thursday, so hopefully, a "naked squirrel"-style haircut will cool them off :)

Too many smells for them! There's a 26-mile paved trail that runs through our town and we live near it, so we walk them down that.

I came home and had a wonderfully CREATIVE dinner...

Ha! I was just talking about how my creativity is returning and I decide to have an UNcreative meal. Well, I did put some parmesean and ground pepper on the top--that's a little creative, right? (Just a side note though, that rigatoni is my fav Lean Cuisine flava--five stars for taste and it's packed with veggies!)

I was busy yesterday so I didn't get a chance to blog, but I did do a little baking. I don't know what it is about Tuesdays, but I always want to bake something heavenly. I'm a huge fan of the Food Network show, 5 Ingredient Fix with Claire Robinson (below). I dig it mostly because:

1. she's a doll (great wardrobe!),
2. the recipes are simple (5 ingredients yo!),
3. many are cheap, and
4. most are super quick.

When I saw these Millionaire's Shortbread bars, I had to make them. I had all the ingredients in the pantry, so I just threw them together.

Sweet chocolate, creamy caramel, and salty shortbread. O...M...G...

I halved the recipe (see my version below), and used 1 cup semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips that I needed to use up. In my opinion, you could use a little less chocolate (a drizzle maybe?) because the caramel layer is delicious enough itself.

As you can see from the pic, I got a little impatient and cut them before the chocolate was fully set up. Still good :)

You do have to stir the crap out of it. It takes the full 15 minutes to get the condensed milk to the right consistency and you have to keep stirring the whole time or it will burn. So worth it though, trust me! (AND, you get a mini-arm workout while stirring).

Without further ado, the recipe:

Millionaire's Shortbread


1 sticks butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for preparing pans
1 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for preparing pans
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Caramel Layer:
1 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoons butter
Chocolate Topping:

3/4 pound good-quality milk chocolate, or 1 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter an (8-inch) square nonstick pan and coat with flour, tapping off excess.
  3. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse once (I used my blender and it worked fine too!).
  4. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles peas.
  5. Press the shortbread mixture into prepared pans and bake until golden brown around the edges, about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Caramel Layer:
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the condensed milk and 2 tablespoons of butter.
  2. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously. Continue stirring over the heat until mixture becomes thick and amber in color (it will begin to pull away from the sides like caramel and will be butterscotch in color), about 15 minutes.
  3. Pour the caramel over the cooked shortbread and spread evenly using an offset spatula.
  4. Cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Topping:
  1. In a glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (or in the microwave!), melt the chocolate.
  2. Once chocolate has melted, pour it over the cooled caramel layer.
  3. Cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes, and then place in the refrigerator to cool completely, allowing chocolate to slightly harden but not get hard.
  4. Cut into 2-inch squares and enjoy, or store in an airtight container, at room temperature, or my favorite - keep in the refrigerator for a yummy sweet and cool treat!

Give yourself a treat this week! :)

In other news, so to speak, following a frustrating trip to her local gym, my sister (who I will be visiting in less than a week) requested a post on "gym etiquette." Having been around the gym block, I know how annoying rude gym-goers can be.

Here's some of my favorite "Miss Manners" tips for the gym:

From an article by Paige Waehner--I think she said it as well as I could:
  • Share. If you're doing multiple sets on a machine, it's common courtesy to let others work in during your rest periods. This may not always be practical, but offer to share whenever you can.
  • Clean up After Yourself. My biggest pet peeve is someone who walks away from a machine, leaving a slimy pool of sweat behind. Thanks! Always bring a towel with you and wipe the machines down when you're finished. Most gyms offer wipes or sprays strategically located around the gym for this purpose.
  • Leave no trace. My next biggest pet peeve is the person who leaves six million pounds on the leg press machine. I don't know, maybe I look stronger than I am. The point is, always put your weights back when you're finished.
  • Don't hog the treadmill. Many gyms have time limits on cardio machines during busy hours. There's a reason for that, and you should obey it. And no, throwing your towel over the display doesn't fool me.
  • Keep it down. Most gym-goers I know have seen That Guy. The one pumping away on the treadmill while screaming into a cell phone. Unless it's an emergency, save your chat-time for after your workouts.
  • Cover it up. I respect the confidence that allows some people to walk around the locker room naked. Know what else I respect? Seeing you wearing a towel after your shower to keep the locker room a comfortable place for everyone.
  • Use good form. Good form is different depending on what exercise you're doing but, in general, good form includes the following:
-Don't swing your weights. Unless you're doing a sports specific workout, use slow and controlled movements. If you have to heave the weight up, it's too heavy.
-Don't drop or throw the weights down. That's a great way to break a toe--yours or someone else's. If you're using a heavy weight, have a spotter nearby to help you.
-Don't lock your joints. When you get to the end of a motion--like a squat--keep your joints soft to avoid hurting yourself.
-Don't slump. Keep your abs engaged during all of your exercises and stand up straight to avoid injury and get the most out of your exercises.
-Let go of the rails. It's tempting to take your treadmill speed/incline up so high, you have to hold on for dear life. I'm not sure why that's tempting, but it apparently is since a lot of people do it. You'll get a better workout if you let your arms swing naturally. Unless you need the rails to keep your balance and stay safe, keep your speed and incline at a level where you can comfortably let go.
  • Learn how to
    use the machines properly. I've seen people doing crunches on a leg press machine. If you don't know how a machine works, either look at the diagrams on the machine or ask someone to show you how it works. Most gym-goers are happy to help.
  • Learn how to set up a good workout for your goals. Rather than just showing up at the gym and randomly picking machines, have a plan before you walk in the door. This might mean hiring a trainer or educating yourself about the basics of exercise. Or visit my Workout Center for ideas.
  • Learn how to monitor your intensity. Since I started training, I've seen more than a few people puke after working too hard on the cardio machines. Beginner's often aren't sure of how much they can handle and end up working too hard, exercising too soon after eating or exercising without having eaten at all, all of which can cause stomach problems. Educate yourself on how to monitor your intensity and the right way to begin a cardio program.
As an instructor, I would also like to add this Waehner's list for "group fitness class etiquette":
  • Be prompt. Arrive early to set up your workout materials.
  • If you're new or If you've never taken the class before, come a little early and chat with the instructor about what to expect. They are happy to help!
  • If you can't stay and need to leave early, let the instructor know before class starts. This just alerts them to the fact that you are not "walking out" on their class. That being said, unless the instructor offends you in some way, try to stay for the whole class. It's kind of rude to walk out on a class you don't like. Give the instructor/class a chance for you to like it :)
  • Don't push it. If this is the first time you've taken the class, go a little easy the first time. This will prevent injury. It's better to be safe than sorry. Always work at YOUR level, not anyone else's. You can always rock out next class!
  • If you have questions, about anything--fitness, format, form, etc.--ask the instructor after class. They like it when participants want to know more!
  • Thank your instructor. After class, thank your instructor. They love their job and also love any feedback you provide. Don't be afraid to speak up and voice whether you liked or didn't like something! It's YOUR class!
  • Smile and actively participate in class (I got this one from a group fitness instructor online forum): "It's hard to teach in front of a totally silent class. Your whoops and groans and claps and comments during class make it fun and keep the energy level high. On the other hand, if you're chatting too loudly with your neighbor, the rest of the class may not be able to hear the teacher's instruction and you won't be working to your capacity."

Just for giggles, I came across this "best of Craigslist" post on gym etiquette and "gym pet peeves." I don't agree with all of them, but I laughed pretty hard at this "gym peeve." It's funny because it's just a little true:
"People in the gym reading anything. It's a gym people, not a library. First of all, if you can actually focus on the words on a page, you're clearly not working out hard enough. Second, I don't feel like waiting for you to finish the op-ed page before I can use the treadmill."

The bottom line is that every every gym has its own etiquette policies, but we can all fitnessize in harmony if we mind our manners :) When in doubt, ask. You DO NOT look stupid asking how to do something! You look like you want to be informed!

Speaking of gym rules, this gym takes it a little too far...with a "no grunting" rule. Literally, an alarm goes off and you get kicked out! They called the police on this guy! I smell a lawsuit...What do you think?

Hope the rest of your Wednesday is WONDERFUL! Now go get your fitness on and mind your manners! :)

Q.O.D. (question of the day): What do you think of the "no grunting" rule (above video)? What other "gym etiquette" rules do you have to add to the list? Do you have a "gym peeve"--something that people do at the gym that irks you? Mine is when people don't wipe off their equipment with cleaner--Ewwww!


  1. LOL on the naked squirrel cuts. Mine had that style about 2 months ago. I get annoyed when I go to a class like spin where there are a limited number of bikes and people only stay for part of the class. Seriously - other people didn't get to do the class b/c of those few that only stayed 20 or 30 minutes using it as a warm up for another class or for weights.

  2. I think everyone needs to pass some sort of gym etiquette exam. I hate when people don't know how to act in a gym! Big pet peeve of mine.

    Although I will say I have been doing some reading on the treadmill. It works for this preggo body.

  3. One pet peeve I have is when there is a row of cardio machines that are open. So you get on to the machine and someone walks up and decides to get right next to you. WTF?! Why do they need to be right next to me when the whole row is open?

    I also hate when people make super grunty noises when lifting weights. I sometimes have to control my laughter.

    Also super smelly people who haven't worked out yet, people who fart, people who sing really loud to their music, people who don't dress for the gym (I have seen jeans, sandals, micro shorts on guys, etc).

    I think my list could go on and on. ha ha

  4. I had that Lean Cuisine the other night. I loved it! I am so trying that shortbread recipe. It looks scrumptious.

  5. @Heather--I hear ya on the quitters. It's so rude to leave a class!

    @Tina--Oh, I definitely read on the treadmill too! I thought it was funny though because I used to work at a college-student dominated gym and it would get a little ridiculous. Some students would bring ginormous textbooks to read and others would bring novels, newspapers, etc. I'm always like puh-leeze, there's no way you can hold that book while working on the elliptical! :)

    @FoodExerciseExpress--I got a giggle from your "peeves" :) Totally agree with the improper clothing one--and deodorant. Why can't some people wear deodorant in the morning?!?! :)

    @IndyGrrl--Lean Cuisine rocks my socks. Thank you for the veggie bars recipe! I will be making that one this weekend I think!

  6. My biggest gym peeve is the woman who gets on the treadmill next to me and she smells like she bathed in perfume beforehand. Gross.

  7. I love that. I totally agree. As an avid gym goer I have so many pet peeves.

  8. I hate gym, I like to be open doors. Playing sports in my view is a much better and interesting way to keep fit.