Archives for category: exercise

img_4025Two summers ago, we met a funny, smart, beautiful woman named Mara Altman, who said she was writing a book about women’s bodies in general and her body in particular. She wanted to see what our events were like in preparation for writing the chapter about breasts. We were delighted to have her join us.

img_3582Now, after a gestation period that would do an elephant proud, Mara has published that book: GROSS ANATOMY, subtitled “Dispatches From the Front (and Back).” And sure enough, it has a chapter about breasts, and the baring thereof in public, focused on a topless bicycle tour we did in downtown Manhattan. It is thoughtful, eye-opening, and laugh-out-loud funny, and we commend both it and the rest of the book to your attention.

img_3587“When I’d thought about participating,” Mara writes, “the possible pitfalls had seemed huge. What if I changed careers? Say someday I want to be a politician. I’m running on a ticket of universal health care and weekly pizza parties for all, but then, during opposition research, a picture of my bare tits bobbling above a bicycle is revealed. I am no longer fit to serve. Keeping fabric less than a millimeter thick between your body and the world somehow preserves your integrity and makes you honorable, respectable, and capable of deep thoughts. Taking that little swatch of material away makes you a hussy.”

img_3607But of course she goes ahead and joins us anyway. “We rode through Battery Park and stopped in view of the Statue of Liberty, where one of the girls — one of the ones who had breasts that I wouldn’t mind having (it was something about the perkiness, the lightheartedness of the pair, like they were tulips reaching for the light in the sky) — read Emma Lazarus’s sonnet ‘The New Colossus.’ ”

img_3683“We made a quick stop at the New York Stock Exchange, which was filled with men in suits, but what really stood out were the many tourists aiming their cameras at us. Our meaningful movement, to them, was merely a stunt to document on their Instagram feed.”

img_3701img_3694“I saw interest, shock, disdain, adoration, and curiosity on the faces that flashed past. Many, hordes in fact, turned their phones toward us and began recording. I got it; usually, viewing this kind of stuff costs money and endless viruses on one’s computer. I tried to be chill…But every time a camera pointed in our direction, one of the girls, the one who had grandiose breasts, large and pillowlike, the type I’d decided would be perfect to rest my face in for a quick respite from the world, would yell, ‘Fuck you, you have to ask!’…I didn’t share her sentiment. Going outside topless would be like going out with a pair of parrots chanting ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie’ while fornicating on your shoulder, and expecting witnesses not to snap a picture. It wasn’t realistic.”

IMG_4092She writes about the experience of shopping for a sandwich in a shop whose staff isn’t receptive; she writes about eating lunch in the park, with a break for kickball with some kids.

img_3827IMG_3955img_3891Finally when a brief rain shower breaks out, she has an epiphany: “As little droplets pinged pleasingly all over my body, I finally realized an interesting change — my breasts, in that moment , weren’t for anyone but me. I hadn’t really dwelled on it before, but since my beginning, my breasts have always been for someone else. When I was a teenager, I wanted my breasts to grow so I’d be attractive to boys. When my breasts turned out small, I felt it was my duty to warn boys before they went under my half-filled bra cups so they wouldn’t be disappointed by what they found. For doctors, my breasts were something that could potentially turn lethal. For the babies I may have one day, they would be a source of food…Being topless is always a stop on the way to somewhere else — to a shower, to a breast exam, to sex — but it is rarely the destination in and of itself. By exposing my breasts to everything and everyone in one of the largest cities in this nation, paradoxically I finally got a taste of what it was like to relish them for myself.”

IMG_4055We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Hell, we couldn’t have said it half as well.

Check out what else this eloquent topless bicyclist has to say  here — and let us be the first to say this: Mara Altman for President in 2020.

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IMG_5748Everyone’s afraid of something. For some of us it’s spiders, enclosed spaces, heights. For others it’s being naked in public. Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you we spent an afternoon in an enclosed space with spiders — that’s a post for another afternoon. (Or never.) But we did have a chance recently to tackle the other two.

IMG_5818IMG_5564Does two or three feet off the ground count as “heights”? Well, it kind of does when you’re being hoisted up and then balanced on a friend’s legs. It’s an exhilarating feeling, but also kind of terrifying, and we got to experience it when one of our members who’s an acroyoga instructor led us in an acro class on a lawn in Washington Square Park.

IMG_5638IMG_5896And does just having no shirt on count as being naked in public? Well, it kind of does when you’re not used to it. So one of our instructors — who had no issue being hoisted and balanced, or even being spun like a beachball while being rotated between another acro pro’s legs — wore discreet pieces of flesh-colored tape rather than go bare-breasted.

IMG_5506Will the second time be easier for all of us? No doubt. Nothing feels quite as scary as the first time you try something new. But kudos to everyone who demonstrated bravery and curiosity the first time out. We had a great time.

IMG_5827IMG_5767There was even some throwing and catching involved, for the very bravest among us.

IMG_5868IMG_5870And one important lesson: you don’t have to be the very bravest. Even if you come to one of our events, you don’t have to do anything you’re not ready to do. Some of us sat out the acroyoga this time, and that was fine.

IMG_5211Some weren’t ready for the toplessness, and that was fine too. You’re welcome either way. Just send email to us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. If you’re female or a female-bodied person, we’ll find an event for you, whether you’re facing your fears or utterly fearless. (Or like most of us, somewhere in between.)

Won’t you come fly with us?

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IMG_7435Around the start of the year, a trainer in New York made headlines when he announced that he’d be offering nude workout classes in his fitness studio. Naturally we contacted him and asked if we could try one of his classes — we’re always looking for new and interesting things to do in the nude! But the response we got was noncommittal and he managed to duck actually scheduling a session with us for the longest time. Then when he finally did schedule one — through some British PR firm, oddly — they cancelled on us at the eleventh hour.

IMG_7741Sadly, our guess is that the whole announcement was just a publicity stunt — we can find no evidence that he’s ever actually gone through with these classes (there don’t seem to be any reviews online, for instance, and no articles covering anything but the initial announcement, and no mention of these classes on his website, nor any mention on his Facebook page after the January press blitz).

But even if this particular trainer was just trying to get attention, that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t a good one.

IMG_7416IMG_7423After all, who wouldn’t prefer to work out in the nude if it were an option? No annoying seam pressing into your tailbone during stretches; no sweat collecting in your workout gear; no difficulty seeing the alignment of muscles so you can check your form. Sure, there are some exercises you wouldn’t want to do naked — jumping rope comes to mind — but there are plenty more that you would.

IMG_8199So we decided to take the idea and run with it. One of our members is a personal trainer, and she stepped in to lead the class; and in place of a gym, we booked the terrific little exercise studio we’ve used in the past for naked yoga. That, plus invitations extended to half a dozen of the most open-minded fitness buffs we know, and we were ready for our inaugural workout.

IMG_7223IMG_7324IMG_7343And it was wonderful — everything we could’ve wished. One of our participants (pictured above) had this to say about it: “What made this nude fitness class so refreshing and beautiful was that everyone participating shared the same mindset that nudity doesn’t need to be sexual. I worried much less about what I look like than I do just going to a regular gym. I was able to focus more on my form because I could clearly see what the instructor’s body was doing and see and feel my own body better. Plus, it’s very convenient to not have to bring workout clothes with you!”

IMG_7479We kicked things off with squats and pushups —

IMG_7457— then moved on to lunges and work with resistance bands —

IMG_7526IMG_7586IMG_7653— ab work and balance poses —

IMG_7642IMG_7705— some extra work for thighs and glutes —

IMG_7965IMG_8021— all interspersed with rest breaks in child’s pose, stretches, and the occasional dance interlude.

IMG_8182IMG_7608We all emerged from the session energized, if a tiny bit sore (only in the best way, of course), and determined to do it again soon.

Only next time? We want to do it outdoors on a warm day in the middle of Central Park. (Don’t worry, we’ll bring g-strings to keep it all legal.)

IMG_7685IMG_7549IMG_7513Would you like to join us? Drop us email at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. We’ll gladly welcome any open-minded, body-positive women in the New York area.

IMG_7718Hell, we’ll even welcome Harry Hanson, if he wants some pointers on what this whole nude workout thing is all about.

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IMG_6531For our second annual private lesson with the incomparable Willow of Naked In Motion (purveyors of nude yoga to New York, Boston, and Parts Unknown), we decided to turn the lights down low and practice our asanas to the illumination of a dozen flickering candles.

IMG_6516IMG_6513cIMG_6524This was a boon for the room’s tranquility; less so for the event’s photography. (We did try taking a photo or two with the flash turned on, but that shattered the serenity and we quickly turned it off again. The only bright sparks we displayed from then on were the divine internal variety. Namaste.)

IMG_6508This lesson combined yoga and a bit of pilates, with some extra attention given to pelvic floor muscles and other areas of interest to participants.

IMG_6533IMG_6532After the lesson, we found repose in child’s pose…

IMG_6514…as well as strawberries and Oreos. Ancient, meet modern.

IMG_6470Then it was time to head out into the cold once more.

IMG_6479But we headed out more centered, more relaxed, and in better shape. What more could you ask of an evening’s recreation?

Our thanks to Willow, who was patient, encouraging, and supportive and reminded us that it’s good both to push our bodies and to enjoy them. She helped us do both, and we left with big smiles on our faces.

If you get a chance to participate in a session with Willow, we give it our highest recommendation.

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IMG_0352Most of our trips to the park are characterized by an extreme lack of physical exercise. Oh, we have some fit people in the group — some very fit people, in fact. Our pole dancing adventure revealed that. But fitness isn’t what we do when we get together.

But when we saw Tim here, working out with a TRX rig in the park we’d chosen as the site for our latest exercise in courageous sloth…

IMG_0416…we had to give it a try ourselves.

IMG_0372IMG_0380Speaking of sloth (or Sloth, I guess, with the all Jesuitical implications that capital letter confers), we also shared the park with artist Alana Jade Ramnarine, who was working on one of her Seven Deadly Sins pieces, which have been cropping up around lower Manhattan. This one was Sloth.

IMG_0175IMG_0291IMG_0319Now, how being dead counts as being slothful, I don’t know — it seems like adding insult to injury to call the poor woman a sinner on top of everything else she’s suffering in that picture. But maybe it’s the man who’s being called slothful. Since he’s just standing there and all. Didn’t protect her, isn’t avenging her. Maybe? Anyway, it’s a gorgeous piece of art, and an excellent book.

IMG_0210The rest of the afternoon passed in sun-dappled splendor.

IMG_0436IMG_0234IMG_0194There’s nothing quite like coming to a little green patch in the center of a towering metropolis and undressing to lounge about in the grass.

IMG_0252IMG_0269IMG_0292IMG_0394IMG_0391If you’ve never had the pleasure yourself…the exhilaration of taking off that layer and just enjoying, in the open air, being the woman you are underneath…well, the summer’s not over yet. Write to us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and we’ll give you the chance to experience it.

If you’re thinking about it, finger hovering over the Send button…just do it.

Don’t keep us in suspense. 🙂

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IMG_9444So — before we headed through Central Park to join the annual NYC Underwear Run, we met up by the boat pond, just to relax on the grass and carry out a suitable pre-run ritual. (Otherwise known as nibbling sea salt lemon ginger cookies and reading Chinua Achebe.)

IMG_9359IMG_9663IMG_9602No major developments to report this time. It’s one of the nicest and most serene spots in Central Park, and we found we were left alone not only when enjoying the late afternoon breezes under the branches of the lawn’s great oaks (are they really oaks? we’re city girls, we don’t know from trees)

IMG_9438IMG_9439IMG_9679…but also when strolling by the pond, past unfazed fellow recreation-seekers.

IMG_9624IMG_9637IMG_9639Our reading  material included (as usual) a mix of the high and the low — the advance copies we got from Hard Case Crime of Max Allan Collins’ latest, Quarry In the Black, got a workout,

IMG_9651IMG_9737as did Stephen King and Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

IMG_9821IMG_9799And The Mating Mind got passed around a bit.

IMG_9529IMG_9510IMG_9556As we always like to see, our numbers included a mix of old-timers and first-timers.

IMG_9779IMG_9758IMG_9796If you are a curious first-timer in the making — an NY-loving, body-positive woman who knows it’s legal for women to go topless outdoors but maybe is still working up the nerve to try it for herself — we remind you that we’ve still got  a month of summer left (well, almost two months, technically; but a month of balmy August days), and we invite you to reach out to us. An email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com will get you in on the fun. The winter will be here all too soon, and with it the need to fold up the beach towels and get dressed again.

IMG_9871IMG_9867IMG_9847IMG_9851Before we enter the season of gloves and hot chocolate, before the leaves turn red and gold, while the mercury is still straining to escape its narrow glass channel…won’t you join us?

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IMG_0069There’s an event each year called the NYC Underwear Run; it’s a 1.7-mile footrace held in Central Park the Friday before the annual Triathlon wipes out all the city’s serious runners. Are we serious runners? Bite your tongue. But two of our members decided that a casual 1.7-mile jog in their underwear would be a pleasant way to spend a summer evening, and the rest of us came along to cheer them on.

IMG_0015First, we had to get to the starting line, which called for a topless walk through the park — not 1.7 miles, but a decent warm-up for the race.

IMG_9979IMG_9961IMG_9973(And a decent cool-down too, thanks to some judiciously purchased Snow Cones.)

IMG_0013IMG_0094Along the way, we got some curious looks, like this one from a man who asked “Why don’t you have shirts on?”

IMG_0009To which we answered “Why do you have a shirt on?” And explained, for the umpteenth time, the law in New York, equal rights, gender equality, etc., etc., etc.

Eventually we got to Cherry Hill and checked our runners in.

IMG_0032Interestingly, although everyone in the 500-person race was in their underwear — that’s the whole point of the event, isn’t it? — an official came over to us to say women aren’t allowed to run the race topless. That didn’t seem right to us; women have the legal right to go topless anywhere in the park that men can, and there were men all around with nothing on but tighty-whities. A discussion ensued on the finer points of the law. We would eventually have prevailed — we were right — but in the end our two runners did put sports bras on, not because they were told to, just because, well, running. Comfort. You know how it is.

But the rest of us stayed topless and enjoyed the event from the spectator area that way, and plenty of other people seemed to enjoy it as well. We posed for photos with runners,

IMG_0092and with one of New York’s OG topless celebs:

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IMG_0086And then retired to a nearby hillside to enjoy twilight in the grass. A bottle of wine might have circulated among us. (If that weren’t against park rules, we mean. It might have, but we’re quite sure it didn’t.) And then out we went to the subway, heads held high.

IMG_0027Oh, wait, we’re telling this story backwards — before heading to the race we spent a couple of hours hanging out near the miniature boat pond! But that’s a story for another post…