Tuck, Roll, Tumble, Spring: When’s the last time You got up on the balance beam?

When I was younger, I used to take gymnastics two to three times a week after school.  For years 5-16 I was doing hang springs across the big blue floor matt and (of course) participating and performing in my camp GYM shows.  Floor and Beam were my favorites, I can still do a walkover (front and back) no problem, but I haven’t been inside a real gymnasium in about 11 years……Last night I went to my first gymnastics class at Clube de Regatas do Flamengo: and it was AMAZING!

First off, the place in enormous, equip with every gymnastics item you can imagine and it’s where the Olympic Gymnasts train!  People of all ages are here daily swinging from the uneven bars, and balancing on the beam.  The ages in the adult gymnastics class ranged from 16 to 74— and let me tell you, Mr.74 was doing crazy flips I have never even attempted! It was seriously impressive. There were only 5 of us in the class which was nice, and the regulars were very welcoming.  We started off slowly on the floor with forward rolls and cartwheels, then gradually moving up towards handsprings, flips etc.  Let me tell you- muscle memory is a crazy thing- I can still do some of the flips I could do when I was a child!

After floor we moved to the tumble track – for those wondering ‘what the heck is that?!’ It is a long trampoline ie track, it basically gives you the bounce and the speed you need to do some of those crazy twisted layouts. (see picture below-far right)

Then we headed over to the uneven bars, I remember hating them when I was younger, but after this class I find myself changing my tune- it was surprisingly really fun, very challenging.

I always had a thing for balance beam so I felt quite at home gracefully gliding across.  After a few warm ups we did a routine- a very ‘getting back to the basics’ routine which was a lot of fun.  In general, the movements and positions we were doing in this class felt very safe and fun to do at any age—nothing to  be nervous about.

Our last stop we had a choice between the vault or the trampoline – I opted for the trampoline — set up so that you flipped into a huge pool of sponge pillows.  The class was a blast and I can’t wait to go back!


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Buzios: Surf’s up at Geriba Beach

Because of its wide-open face to the southeast, Geribá Beach has the best surf in Búzios! The beach itself is the widest and one of the longest beach in Búzios.

Whether you prefer a short board or a  long board in the center there is constant large surf. If you didn’t pack your own board, don’t worry, you can rent a board for R$30 a day (ie $18US), they even throw in a rash guard!  If you want lessons, this is the spot to learn, great foam and only R$36 for an hour + rash guard.

There is a great lunch spot right on the beach: Fishbone located on Geriba beach is also one of the hottest nightlife places to be seen. Talk about a restaurant with a view… facing the beach or just looking around at the people around you.. all you will see is beauty:) For lunch they have great sandwiches or traditional Brazilian fair and snacks; with the alcohol always flowing. Afternoons are a lively après beach scene. Evenings feature weekly bar events including dance parties and luau-like festivities that run till the wee-hours of the morning.

I can’t wait to go back—This place is not to be missed!


Who needs to join a gym when you can work out for free?

Living in place where you are required to squeeze into a little bikini year round, there are a number of gyms to keep you in that perfect ‘CaRIOca shape”. As you have seen Body Tech is one of the nicer gyms in Leblon, and thanks to a fab corporate discount I am still enjoying my membership:) For those that don’t have access to corp rates…. besides taking long walks on the beach, there are a few other options for you to choose from.

Option 1: Get a bike (I got one too!) Not only does having a bike in Rio make it easier to get around, it is also a great work out! Check out the bike road- yes unlike NYC (sorry to bash, but I truly hate how they have set up the bike lane), as you can see it is its own separate bike area, away from cars and people.  Makes things MUCH safer for everyone.

Option 2:After running, walking or biking down the beach, stop at one of the ‘outdoor gymnasium’ overlooking the ocean!  Pull ups, sit ups, dips and more, you will always see someone working out on one of these exercise stations located all along the beaches.

Option 3: There is a park 2 blocks from my apartment that has been full of kids since I arrived so naturally I assumed it was a kids park… WRONG! To my surprise I discovered that it is really a ‘make-shift gym’.  As you can see there are elliptical’s, and other various ‘machines’ you might see at your gym.

While walking through I saw a mother and daughter on the elliptical… The mother was yelling at her daughter ‘don’t you want to fit into your birthday dress!!!’ hmm sound familiar…

As you can see, lots of different ways for people to stay in shape in Rio


Can you walk the rope?

On Sundays along the beaches in Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana in Brazil you will see all sorts of different things from yoga retreats, to live music, volley ball and more! It’s pretty awesome, they shut down the main road along the beach so people are walking, riding bikes, skateboarding, you name it and you will see it on this street.

This Sunday, walking across and doing tricks on a tightrope was all the rage!

There were about 12 different ropes set up, and each person who was walking the rope was talented, this was not your ‘beginners zone’, these guys were good!

The crowd was loving watching them do flips and turns- created quite the scene.  Check out the video:

http://www.wellcomemat.com/wm_video_1/D206CAB4E7Tightrope walking on the beach produced by Pamela Granoff on WellcomeMat


Looking for great waves, spectacular views and Rain Forest? Head to Prainha

Prainha is located between mountains just outside of Barra and is considered the best surfing spot in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Prainha means little beach and considering it is only an 800 meter long beach, its a very fitting name.

The waves are the main attraction, but along the beach will you find some people playing paddle ball and climbing on the rocks (so much fun, when the waves come crashing in you get splashed!)

Prainha is also surrounded by the vegetation of Rio de Janeiro’s Rain Forest, the “Mata Atlantica”, at Grumari’s Ambiental Protection Area. Smells so tropical and clean, its amazing to think that this is only 45 minutes from where we are living!

During weekends Prainha can get pretty crowded, but on weekdays is almost deserted.

Surfing in Grumari

First trip out of Rio! We rented a car for the weekend and headed to Grumari. Grumari is a popular surfing beach in Barra da Tijuca about 45mins west of Rio and it is absolutely beautiful!!!!  Not only a stunning surf beach with huge waves, it is part of an environmental reserve, (together with the Prainha). It is so beautiful, situated between the mountains, a pure non commercialized gorgeous beach.  There are a few kiosks, one or 2 restaurants and a few men selling food on the beach.  Besides that…. a bunch of surfers.  Of course we were there for the waves!

If you are looking at the picture above and thinking, ‘they don’t look that big’… THINK AGAIN! This beach is known for its powerful huge waves, and the surfers are incredible:

http://www.wellcomemat.com/wm_video_1/502B71E94DSurfing Grumari produced by Pamela Granoff on WellcomeMat

If you want to get out of the city for the day or are just craving the perfect swell, then head to Grumari.  


Ipanema Hippie Fair

Everywhere you go in the world you will find some form of a street fair, each unique with different items, vendors, local merchants, specialties etc…..If you are a New Yorker reading this, the first that comes to mind would be the street fairs that take over 3rd ave (and other various avenues) during the year (but you would only consider going in the spring or fall).  The Ipanema Hippie Fair has a tropical flavor to it that makes it fun to explore:

The ‘Hippie Fair’ takes place every Sunday, from 7am to 7pm (since 1968) in large square/park: Praça General Ozório Ipanema.  The outer edges of the square are lined (about 2 rows) with different vendors on each side.  Within each of these rows you will find vendors selling all sorts of things from religious or traditional Brazilian hand-made items (see below- there were a bunch of these), to

clothes/bathing suits/flip flops (think a tropical version of Florence’s San Lorenzo Square -which is actually what the entire ‘fair’ reminded me of. If you have been to Florence and know what I am talking about then you too have a ‘Ciao Bella’ t-shirt!).  As you can see below, instead of ‘Ciao Bella’ they went with Caipirinha (the drink of choice here).  For those of you questioning my fashion sense— there is a nicer, higher quality selection of clothing and bikinis (not just these t-shirts). You will also find some very nice jewelry; not just beading, there were a lot of silver/other jewelry vendors. Also— if you are looking for any leather items you will find excellent quality, stunning leather goods, belts etc (usually for around R$20 as opposed to R$200 in the stores!)

The inside of the square is full of different artists exhibiting their work. Think ‘outdoor art museum’.  Some of the pieces are absolutely magnificent.

From paintings, to sculptures there is something that everyone will appreciate.  Many of the paintings depict scenes of Brazil, Carnival, the beaches and mountains while others are more basic or simple home decor.  The miniature life like wall hangings below were probably the most creative items inside the ‘art section’ of the fair.  Hard to tell from the picture (I was sneaking the pic), but they are extremely detailed and true to the real buildings they represent.

If you are looking to find your quintessential souvenir, hunting for something small (specifically for a gift/you/your home) or just want to spend the afternoon perusing a fair full of different things, this is an excellent place to go.


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