Two Incredible Experiences, Back to Back: I Danced with Debbie Allen… and Spoke at the Getty Center!

May 16, 2017

What a fun couple days! On Sunday, I took a salsa dancing class from the legendary Debbie Allen. It was a blast!

Debbie Allen starred on the ’80s hit show Fame, and is currently on Grey’s Anatomy, playing Read the rest of this entry »

Richard Simmons Closed Down Slimmons on Saturday, and OF COURSE I Was There For the Tearful Final Class

November 21, 2016

It was a very emotional weekend. On Saturday, Slimmons, the Beverly Hills fitness studio founded by Richard Simmons in 1974, held its last class, and then the doors closed forever. I knew it would be a tough morning, but nothing would have kept me from coming.


I’ve shared plenty about Slimmons on this blog over the years. It holds a very special place in my heart. I started taking classes here in 2010, and have been a regular every since, even after Richard Read the rest of this entry »

Richard Simmons Hasn’t Been Seen in 18 Months… But Here’s Why I’m Still Going to Slimmons

July 14, 2015

Last Thursday night marked the first time in over a month that I took an aerobics class at Slimmons. A busy travel calendar kept me away, and I was excited to return. The Slimmons classroom has a long history, and it’s a very important place for me. And the reason why is evolving.


Richard Simmons opened the doors at Slimmons 41 years ago. He wanted to create a Read the rest of this entry »

Produce, Produce, Produce!

February 22, 2012

Yesterday, I had a fruits and veggies situation – I was running out of them. It wasn’t quite as dire for veggies, but I was precariously low on fruit. I was down to two oranges in my fruit bowl, and I picked one up yesterday and discovered this on the underside:

GROSS. I hate throwing away food, but I had no other option. That left me 1 other orange, which looks mold-free, but I will examine it thoroughly tomorrow morning before I make it part of my breakfast.

It was time to go to the store. In recent months, I’ve begun frequenting the Whole Foods in Beverly Hills. There are three or four other Whole Foods (at least) that are technically closer to my house, but this location is literally blocks from Slimmons, and I’ve gotten in the habit of stopping by after leaving Richard Simmons’ classes. And that’s what I did last night.

My produce procurement actually started at Slimmons. Before class started, my friend Joanne offered me a couple oranges from the tree in her backyard. I love backyard produce! She had brought in a big bag of oranges to share, and I got the last two (next time I’ll have to arrive earlier, I guess!):

Thanks, Joanne!

It was a fun class – my dear friend Vikki, whom I haven’t seen in forever, came for the first time and had a ball. Afterward, I threw a hoodie over my sweaty workout clothes and went to market. Curious what a Richard Simmons’ aerobics class is like? Read this recent post.

I kinda like the Beverly Hills Whole Foods. It’s not a huge store, but their produce section (my favorite section) is sizable. Plus, it’s never that crowded, and parking is a breeze (maybe because I’ve only gone on Tuesday or Thursday night around 8pm).

Sometimes I breeze through the produce section, filling my cart and moving on, and sometimes I linger and really examine the offerings. I’m not afraid to fondle the melons, stroke a banana, caress a peach, or tickle some plums. Sorry, couldn’t resist! (But please note I’m an equal opportunity molester.) Today I must have wandered around each display 2 or 3 times, because it seemed like I was in that produce section forever – and that’s a feeling that I don’t mind at all!

Here’s what I came home with:

  • Top Row: mushrooms, bananas, baby carrots, blackberries, green beans.
  • Middle Row: lettuce (more on this in tomorrow’s post), zucchini, a container of pre-cut celery, yellow cherry tomatoes, comice pears, black seedless grapes, kiwis, apples (a variety called Lady Alice, which I’ve heard of before).
  • Bottow Row: pineapple, baby bell peppers, broccoli florets.

This is where this post will sound like an informercial, because that’s not all! I also picked up a few other things, including…

Rainbow Carrots! I’ve bought them a few times before – here’s my favorite post about them – but I’ve never bought them with the greens attached. Pretty, aren’t they? They makes me want to eat them Bugs-Bunny-style, which I suppose would be pulling them out of my pocket, chewing with my mouth open, and asking “What’s up, Doc?”

I also bought…

Starfruit! It’s been nearly a year since I’ve had one of these suckers, and even though they weren’t my favorite fruit, I thought I’d give it another go.

Lastly, I stumbled upon a vegetable that is so stunning that it quite literally makes me weak in the knees. I’ve seen them before, at farmers markets, but I’m pretty sure I never bought one before. Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at this:

It’s called romanesco broccoli, and I could stare at it all day. It looks like it shouldn’t belong on this planet – like aliens left it behind when they left behind E.T., or built the pyramids, or covered the planet with all those thetans. I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with it, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy looking at it. Is it not the coolest produce item you’ve ever seen?

I seriously can’t stop looking at it. I’ve opened my fridge twice in the past half hour just to stare! Once I do eat it, I’ll be sure to share the pictures with you.

And, in my next post, I’m going to be quite literally putting a new spin on salad!


Valentine’s Day at Slimmons

February 15, 2012

Wanna know what my big Valentine’s Day plans were? A fantastic workout at Slimmons! I figured it was gonna be a great day to take one of Richard Simmons’ classes – his Tuesday and Thursday evening classes are usually much less crowded than his Saturday morning ones (which regularly have well over 100 students), and, plus, it was a holiday, so hopefully, it would be even less crowded still. My reasoning was spot-on. With about 40 people there, It was the smallest class I’ve taken at Slimmons in months. Three cheers for everyone that had more romantic plans last night!

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Richard Simmons’ classes, but they’re still a major part of my exercise plan, and Richard himself continues to be a near and dear friend. I’m typically at Slimmons once or twice a week – I’ve been 9 times so far in 2012, and went 52 times in 2011. Each class follows the same basic format: 45 minutes of cardio (dance aerobics), with stretching, warm-up and cool-down built in. Richard usually varies the intensity throughout the 45 minutes, alternating more strenuous parts with easier parts. There’s always a part when everyone makes a big circle and Richard pulls students into the center to dance with him, and sometimes he’ll have us jog all around the room, or take each others’ hands for showgirl-style kicks.

After the aerobics, we grab weights from bins in the corner of the room, and Richard leads us through about 10 minutes of toning, with a focus on biceps, triceps, chest, back, and shoulders. The specific exercises don’t change from class to class, but the order and the number of reps sometimes does. Then we put the weights away, grab mats, and do 10 minutes of sit-ups and push-ups. The class ends with a 5-minute pep talk, where Richard shares some motivational words on a topic that changes with each class, although they tend to emphasize being kind to yourself, taking care of yourself, and sharing kindness and love with the rest of the world.

The whole class ends up being close to 90 minutes total, and the biggest variable in each class is Richard himself. He loves wearing costumes and building the class around a theme, whether it’s a genre of music, like Latin or Disco, or the music from a specific decade or by a specific artist. Saturdays are the big theme classes, but last night had a theme, too.  All the songs he played had the word “love” in the title, and he was dressed in thousands of red sequins, a red tutu over his trademark red dolphin shorts, and red angel wings. A picture of me and Richard after class:

A bunch of the other students were wearing red, but that thought didn’t even occur to me! Apparently by the end of class, I had a heart-shaped sweat stain on the back of my shirt, and Richard kept pointing it out to people, but I forgot to have someone take a picture.

I’m thankful I have a place like Slimmons in my life. That class – Richard’s antics, in particular – cheers me up every single time I go, and I’ve made a bunch of wonderful friendships there. I can’t walk into that room anymore without seeing smiling faces and people waving, and I have a blast catching up with my friends before and after the workout.

I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person, but I will confess, as a single guy, to feeling a bit lonely on a day that’s meant to be celebrated with a partner. Holiday or not, it’s important to have a place where you feel welcome, each and every time you visit, and that’s filled with positive energy. It certainly makes burning a few hundred calories more fun, that’s for sure!

The evening wasn’t without a few casualties, though – but I guess if you’re wearing thousands of sequins, losing a couple isn’t that big a deal:

I should’ve put those sequins on eBay, but I tossed them in the trash on the way out.

Today is a rest day. My class last night at Slimmons marked the ninth day in a row that I’ve exercised, and my body needs a day to recuperate. Then, it’s back to the gym.

Keep it up, David!

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and want to take a class at Slimmons, check out this information page on Richard’s website. It’s only $12 – the best $12 you’ll ever spend!

Slimmons Photograph

April 17, 2011

Take a look at this photo:

That’s me, Richard Simmons, and my mother!  My folks are in California this weekend, and my mom and I took Richard’s class together.  Richard loved meeting her, and introduced her to the entire class after it was over.

Read more about what’s it’s like to take Richard’s class, or click on Photo Gallery at the top of the page to see ‘Before’ and ‘Current’ pics of me with Richard.

My mom had a great time… I saw her smiling throughout the workout, and all my Slimmons friends was practically lining up to meet her.  A few folks, on separate occasions, said to my mom: “You must be so proud of your son!”

Her response?  “Yes, but I’ve always been proud of him!”

Keep it up, David!

Lunch at Spago

February 21, 2011

Man, did I have a great meal the other day.  Delicious food, wonderful company – it was a really special time.

Way back last fall, I was able to do something really nice for my friend Felise, who I’ve met and become friends with because she’s also a regular at Slimmons, and ever since then she’s wanted to return the favor by taking me out to lunch.  Well, months and months went by, and no lunch, but we finally were both free a few days ago on Saturday, after one of Richard Simmons’ classes.  So Felise took me to Spago.  Spago, in Beverly Hills, is the flagship restaurant in the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group.  It won a James Beard award a few years back, and was one of three restaurants in Los Angeles to get 2 stars in the Michelin Guide in 2008.  It appears Felise doesn’t mess around when she wants to take someone to lunch!

Here’s me and Felise at our table.  It was a great table, tucked away in the corner, so we could see most of the main dining room:

Felise, who is also trying to eat healthily, had called ahead, and asked if they had reasonably healthy menu options, and the host told her that we could basically order any food that was on the menu, but have it cooked any way that we liked.  So we started looking over the menu, but had barely started when our server returned, removed the menus from our hands (politely) and said, “you’ll have time to look at these in a few minutes – we’re going to bring some things out from the kitchen.”

A few minutes later, the amuse-bouches started arriving.  An amuse-bouche is a one-bite appetizer, which literally means, in French, ‘mouth amuser’ – that much I knew from watching umpteen seasons of Top Chef.  The definition also includes (and I just read this online) that in fine dining situations, amuse-bouches are never ordered from menus, but instead sent out as a present from the chef to his patrons.  In total, they brought us 4 amuse-bouches, and, true to tradition, they were comped on our bill at the end of the meal.

First up, a tuna tartare in some sort of sesame cracker that was formed into a cone.  If you’ve never had tartare before, it’s raw meat (usually steak or fish) that’s blended with herbs and maybe a light sauce:

It was fantastic.  Then they brought out 2 more, in rapid succession:

On the left is smoked salmon, with a little salmon roe in the center, served on a blini (a little savory pancake) with creme fraiche.  On the right is ceviche, which is a cold soup made from raw fish or seafood that is cooked only in acid (typically, lime juice).  I forgot what kind of fish was in this ceviche, but it also had a little blood orange segment in it, too.

I can tell now that I’m going to run out of ways of saying how delicious everything was at Spago, so maybe I’ll just stop trying, and tell you now, and for the last time – it’s amazing.  Wonderfully attentive service, exquisite food – if you have the chance to go to Spago, don’t pass it up!

The last amuse-bouche was bacon confit with a bechemel sauce, wrapped in pastry:

Confit is a cooking technique (and a preservation technique) where meats are slowly cooked in salted fat, and bechemel is a white sauce.

Some of the items in these dishes were certainly things that I wouldn’t eat on a regular basis, but since everything was literally one bite, I didn’t worry about calories or fat.  Not at this meal!

We were finally picking up our menus and looking again, when Felise asked our server what she recommended that was lower in fat and calories, but still flavorful, and without skipping a beat, the server responded: “We have a fantastic red snapper with asian vegetables, and we can steam the fish, steam the vegetables, serve the miso/ginger/soy glaze on the side, and bring you some steamed brown rice.”  Sounds delicious to me!  We both ordered it.  And here it is (I forgot to photograph the rice, but you know what that looks like):

The vegetables included bok choy and lotus root, which I don’t think I’ve ever tried before, and I’m telling you, I could eat this every single day with no problems at all!  The fish was delicate and flaky, the vegetables tender.

Although our server suggested ordering a fresh berry plate for dessert, we were both full and decided to pass.

Thank you again, Felise, for a terrific lunch!

Keep it up, David!


October 3, 2010

I have a new favorite stall at the Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market.  I’ve been going most Sundays since February or March to the Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market, but only discovered this booth about a month ago.  The farmer’s market takes up one long block  – with a row of stalls on each side of the street, and customers walking up and down the middle.  Here what it looks like, from one end:

About the first half of the market is straight up produce.  Then, the second half, farther away from where I park, is all prepared foods: bread, BBQ, tamales, sandwiches, gyros, and so on.  It always smells amazing, but I usually stay away just because I come for produce, and I’m not very interested in buying any of that stuff.  Last month, however, while introducing my friend Tavi to the joys of the farmer’s market, we wondered the entire length of stalls, and there, at the very far end, was the stall that I must now visit every time I’m there.  It’s the jerky stall:

The stall is run by Smokin’ Mamas Fish (visit their website here), and they make all their own jerky, and it’s all lower in sodium than store-bought jerky, and it’s fantastic.  They sell it by the ounce – 1 ounce for $2.  They have a total of 8 flavors (although I don’t think I got all 8 canisters in this photo):

They also sell delicious smoked salmon, which I’ve sampled but haven’t purchased yet.  Today, I decided to go with 1.5 ounces (cost = $3) of their Teriyaki jerky for a post-workout protein source (I had just come from a class at Slimmons).  It was So. Freakin’. Delicious.

Other than that, I mostly kept my wallet in my pocket today.  Since I cleaned up nicely at the Burbank Farmer’s Market yesterday, I didn’t have much of a shopping list, although I did pick up a huge Maui onion for $1.50.

Keep it up, David!

Sweat and Smoke, Coming Out My Pores

September 19, 2010

Woke up bright and early on Sunday morning to make it to a 9am aerobics class at Slimmons in Beverly Hills.  Richard doesn’t teach on Sundays, but Sherri, another teacher, does, and it’s a fun and long class – 90 minutes, broken up into dance/cardio, free weights, bar work (squats, leg lifts, etc.), sit-ups and ab work, and a good dose of stretching at the end.  It’s also way way way less crowded than when Richard teaches – 11 people today, versus 93 people yesterday (click here to read about that class).

I started noticing a distinct smell during class, and it was definitely more pungent when we were through, and it was instantly recognizable: it was smoke.  Coming from my pores.  The previous night, I went over to my friends Mat and Maggie’s house – they had people over, and we gathered around their new fire pit, making s’mores and drinking sangria (I had 1 glass of sangria, and 1 s’more, no chocolate).  It’s been years and years since I sat around a fire (excluding when I started those brush fires in the mountains last year… kidding, LAFD!), and I had forgotten that smoke permeates everything.  When I got home I tossed those clothes in the hamper, but I didn’t take a shower before the 9am class (why shower before going to a gym?) and, sure enough, my sweat pushed the smoke out.  I got to enjoy the campfire smell a second time.  None of the ladies in class said anything  (I was the only guy), but I wonder if they all made a mental note to not work out near me next time.

The other thing I love about Sherri’s Sunday morning class is that the Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market is literally down the street – so after class, I go to my car, pick up my wallet and a reusable tote, and head off shopping.  I brought my camera today, to snap some photos, but the batteries died the second I turned it on – oh well, next time.  Anyway – it’s a pretty sweet farmer’s market – tons of produce, flowers, potted plants, fish and meat, jams, honey, and a whole section of prepared food and restaurant counters.  Being Beverly Hills, it can be expensive – more expensive than the Burbank Farmer’s Market (another favorite) – but if you’re a smart shopper, you can navigate it without putting a huge dent in your manpurse.  Ultimately, the convenience is worth it, and on days when I’m especially groggy and tired, it’s my treat to myself for getting out of bed and making it to the 9am class.

My goal when I visit the Farmer’s Market is to buy something each time that I’ve never bought before.  Sometimes it’s things that I’ve eaten at restaurants but never prepared myself, like bok choy or turnips, and sometimes it’s things I’d never even heard of, like loquats, sunflower greens, or sprouted mung beans (the latter two have since become near staples in my diet).  Here’s the new item I bought today – any thoughts on what it is?

If you guessed Armenian Cucumber, then ding ding ding!  You win!  I bought it at the South Central Farmers stand – they sell produce and raise money for their 14-acre urban farm in the middle of a bad neighborhood in South Los Angeles, and I like supporting them.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with it (although if I were to guess, I’d say it’ll end up as part of a salad), but I’ll keep you posted on what it tastes like (although if I were to guess, I’d say it’ll up tasting like a cucumber).

Here’s my total haul:

  • ½ lb fresh figs – $2.00
  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes – $2.00
  • 3 valencia oranges – $1.00
  • 2 bell peppers (1 green, 1 green/orange)  – $1.00
  • 1 eggplant – $0.50
  • 1 Armenian cucumber  – $0.50
  • 2 Asian sweet potatoes – $0.85 (this is actually another first-time purchase – I’m quite familiar with garnet sweet potatoes, but I’ve never bought asian ones before)
  • 1 grapefruit – $0.80
  • ¼ lb sprouted mung beans & wheatberries – $2.00
  • 1 oz Beef Jerky (teriyaki flavor) –  $2.00

Total Damage:  $12.65

Keep it up, David!