Updates on EAB Program, Dancebody, Shoe Peace (?!), and Vacay

A few weeks back (a month and 5 days back to be precise), I had announced a lovely little plan that TCG and I had undertaken. We have voluntarily become each other’s Exercise Accountability Buddy, which means we each exercise and motivate the other to do the same by checking in with each other every time we complete a workout.

It’s been 6 full weeks of this EAB program, and I’m happy to report that it is going rather well (and hope I haven’t jinxed it with this declaration). We have managed to work out 4 times per week on average, and we consider it a big step forward considering we hadn’t been consistently this active in the past few months (YEARS). I’ve had spates of a few weeks, usually about 3-4, when I get super active, and the enthusiasm fizzles down. It’s no show for 3-4 months, and then a month of intensity. I wanted to stick to a change which becomes a much sought after “lifestyle change”. So far so good!

6 weeks back I signed up for this AMAZING dance cardio workout program called Dancebody (online streaming). 2 Signature classes in, I felt that this is basically what I’ve been looking for for AGES. It’s got variety, great music, is actually challenging and not repetitive (unlike most dance cardio videos out there), and gets fresh content every month. I have been a pretty long time subscriber of Les Mills on Demand and Physique57 but they were just not cutting it for me. They weren’t “the perfect fit”. I’ve had spates of being obsessed with both, but I guess I just tired of their format after a while.

Coming back to Dancebody, I love it! If you love dancing and high energy cardio, you have to try it. It’s FUN and challenging. The perfect combo, right?!

I did however come across a small stumbling block in my indoctrination as Dancebody Fanatic.

Shoes.

Dancebody’s dance cardio sessions involve a LOT of bouncing around and plyometrics. You need highly cushioned shoes (the kind that runners wear) for it to be a comfortable workout that doesn’t wreck your knees/ leg muscles.

The instructors all swear by Asics (Gel Nimbus especially), so like a good devotee, I too tried out Asics. However, after a couple of sessions in the Asics Gel Cumulus and half a session in Gel Nimbus, I felt like my toes were being punished for a crime they committed in a past life. It did NOT feel good. No no no no no.

I returned the Gel Nimbus (they were from Amazon) (Amazon, I LOVE you and your free 30 day return policy). I was still stuck with the Gel Cumulus because I’d bought them from an actual store (rookie mistake). From then on ensued a 4 week process of obsessively researching highly cushioned running shoes, ordering them online, trying them on for a Dancebody Signature session (you really don’t know if a pair will work until you DANCE Dancebody style in them), returning them broken hearted and looking for more.

In the meanwhile, I got the Gel Cumulus to work for Sculpt sessions and also for shorter Signature classes. The problem with these was that the toebox in the left shoe was too tight, and my little toe would be hurting like CRAZY by the end of a class. To get that shoe to “open up” a bit, I followed this Youtube video by a nice teenage kid who showed how to use socks and heat from a hair dryer to achieve this result. I’m happy to report that that method worked and now my Gel Cumulus is comfortable during Sculpts and not too bad during full Signatures!

However, through all of this, my search for a GOOD shoe FOR MY FEET continued. I tried a couple of models and sizes in Asics, Saucony (two styles including the famed Triumph ISO), Puma, I even gave Power Mello Shoes a try (too unstable to do anything but walk in). I even tried a men’s shoe in Saucony for its width, but sadly it was not to be. Finally, I ordered Brooks Glycerin 16 which was available in my size on Amazon. These shoes do not stifle my toes, they have tons of cushiony cushoin (much like the Gel Nimbus), and are soft overall and are much better suited for lateral movement than the Gel Cumulus, which quite frankly feels really stiff in comparison.

So, yes, Brooks Glycerin are perfect for my Dancebody Signature classes!

Are Brooks Glycerin my holy grail Dancebody shoes?

Yes and no.

Yes because they are perfect for me! They fit my feet well, and have the cushion I need. No because I want to leave room in there for EVEN MORE CUSHION (yes, I am aware of Hoka One One, and really badly want to try the Bondi – sadly they are not available in India yet).

Will I stop trying out shoes and researching them?

Nope! Shoe research is kind of addictive, and now I really want to try Hoka One One Bondi. I also want to try out New Balance 1080v9 just for fun. I don’t actually think New Balance will be better than Brooks, but WHO KNOWS?!

Separately, I am going on vacation next week! This is a small trip to Bhubu to chill with my family back home. I’m trying to do this thing this year that I take some time off every second month. Breaks and recharging my batteries is essential for my creativity, but I never end up taking PLANNED breaks frequently enough. I read interviews by many artists who swear by taking frequent breaks away from their studio to come back refreshed.

Although, as of now, it’s also causing a bit of extra stress because as you might have experienced yourself, the week or the couple of weeks leading up to a break are quite jam packed and stressful because you’re desperately trying to meet a firm deadline. Also, I take about 2-3 days after a break to get back into the flow of things at work, so the week after a break also ends up being a bit stressful on account of lack of productivity (which makes me think, am I really benefiting from frequent breaks?). Though that’s also mostly on account of not having a firm plan on tasks to be done that first week back. Any way, we’ll see. This time I’ve prepared a firm list of tasks to be accomplished the minute I’m back in the studio/office, so that should help.

I’m also carrying another Maud Montgomery book with me for this trip – Pat of Silver Bush. Excited!!! I prevented myself from reading it in the past few weeks because I was saving it as a treat for vacay!

Will report back soon!

p.s.: Delhi has been DELIGHTFUL. The skies are gorgeously blue with puffy white clouds, tree tops sparkly clean & green, and evenings are nice and breezy up on the terrace. Is it humid? Yes. But I LOVE this version of Delhi weather, and will take the humidity any day for the lovely temps and clear air the rains bring!! Please can it stay this way?

Clean blue Delhi skies with puffy clouds. L from an Uber, R from my office window. NO FILTER!

Vilamendhoo Maldives Review & Trip Report

BO (BlogOwner, for the uninitiated) saved writing this blog post for after having returned to what she fondly refers to as the “jwaalamukhi” of Delhi. Part of the reason for doing this was to mentally revisit the loveliness of the past week once again, which was spent in utter bliss surrounded by the peaceful sights and sounds of the SEA.

Why Vilamendhoo in the Maldives?

Before we get to the actual holiday, lets first pay tribute to the AGONY of deciding which resort to pick in the Maldives. You see, there are hundreds of similar looking and sounding resorts there, most with 4.5 and above ratings on Tripadvisor. And most costing a bomb. Well, with some very thorough research, going back and forth, BO and Y decided on Vilamendhoo based on these criteria: of course has to be very highly rated on TA, with wonderful clean, crystal clear water with shallow pools & lagoons, highly rated FOOD, full board package (i.e. all meals included), infinity pool, and new-ish / recently renovated property.

Many properties belonging to Crown & Champa Resorts ticked these boxes. Vilamendhoo, Meeru and Kuredu were closely considered. Vilamendhoo picked finally because it’s the smallest of the lot, was (rightly) said to have a personal, private, and relaxed vibe, and also the newest/ most recently renovated. Veligandu is also similar to Vilamendhoo, but it did not have availability on the same dates.

How to get to Vilamendhoo, Visa for Indians, Seaplane transfer!

There’s a very convenient Air India flight from Delhi to Maldives, via Trivandrum. From Male airport, you get a stamp on your passport (for free) permitting you to stay in Maldives for up to 90 days – this was the fastest and easiest immigration process ever. You then proceed to take a seaplane to reach Vilamendhoo!

Now, every resort does not have a seaplane connection. The islands close to Male will offer a speedboat connect. The seaplane experience was expensive, but also very exciting. BO was super excited before the plane actually took off. After which she proceeded to shut her eyes and only peeped at the sea below, dotted with little specks of turquoise lagoons and centres of golden sands. It was quite terrifying to be flying in a tiny little cabin that low (below major clouds, flying through misty expanses), but also that high! (!!!!). Y on the other hand (and most others in the cabin) had a splendid time looking into the ocean and enjoying the views.

Picking a room in Vilamendhoo – North Side or South Side?

Picking the right room is pretty important at Vilamendhoo. This is because each room comes with a set of sun loungers with your own bit of private beach right in front of your room! So you want to make sure you like the area you’re in.

BO and Y had booked a Jacuzzi Beach Villa which is located on the adults only side of the island (the west end) with the infinity pool. A north facing room was requested as TripAdvisor reviewers mentioned that side being more breezy.

However, room 213, a detached villa on the south west end (right next to the infinity pool) was the allocated room. BO and Y took it with a view to examine that side and the other side, and switch later if needed. Well, BO is happy to report that 213 is the best possible location you can get on the island!! It’s super close to the water (which is true of most South side rooms), the sun beds are under the perfect little canopy of leaves, and you also get healthy doze of western facing sea breeze here. Best of everything!! The north side villas are a bit too far from the water, with a large stretch of sand between them. It’s a matter of personal preference, but BO and Y preferred the shorter walk to the water, and also the lovely calm lagoon in the south western part! If you get Room 213, keep it!

5 days in utter bliss!

BO is a planner. She keeps a proper paper planner with tasks & appointments for the week well scheduled and planned out. The planner in BO made sure that she had a nifty sheet of paper with a list of “Vacation Activities” like what to read, what to draw, topics to think about (related to work) (YES) (in all fairness, many matters require much thinking and planning, and the idle excitement of a vacation is often conducive to do much strategising and planning), photography plan for stock shoots and generally, online classes to follow along and brush up on, and many other such pointers to make sure that BO was never out of productive, but relaxing things to do on vacation.

2 hours into arrival at Vilamendhoo, and with the soothing balm of the salty air on her frayed nerves, BO was so RELAXED that she found ample ways to stay idly occupied for the next 5 days without having to refer to that list.

Days were spent reading by the sea. Read 2 books (both by Lucy Maud Montgomery). Spent a lot of time in the pool, gazing at the sunset and the purples and oranges in the sky.

BO and Y took lovely walks around the island. Early morning is the best time to do this. Watched the local black tip reef sharks and the aggressive parrot fish feed on schools of fish every morning.

Listened to the waves crashing, the winds blowing.

Splashed about (a LOT) in the shallow lagoon. BO had carried along an inflatable donut ring to float in – best decision ever. Floating about is the most fun & soothing activity. Make sure to carry water shoes. There are quite a few broken bits of corals lying about. It also rained, and BO and Y did not leave behind the opportunity to get drenched in the rain like little children.

Star gazing at night. The sky comes alive at night. BO is a worshipper of starlit skies, and it was wonderful to be able to just get lost in the stars and constellations at night.

Food

BO and Y chose the Full Board plan which included all 3 meals at Ahima Restaurant. The food was of good quality, and with enough variety so as to not get repetitive. There were enough options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians who eat only some meats (like BO). Every meal also had rice and curry options, along with many, MANY other options. Vilamendhoo will manage to please or at least pacify picky eaters.

BO came back with a halthy gain of 0.5 kg.

The All Inclusive Plus Package also included evening snacks (which are actually available all day long), and free drinks. BO & Y did cost benefit analysis and didn’t opt for this. Y ordered a few drinks separately, and BO carried munchies from home (erhm, Haldirams Khatta Meetha and Hide & Seek are the best evening snacks, ok?).

Snorkelling & the House Reef

One of the selling points of Vilamendhoo is its excellent house reef. BO is unable to personally comment on it due to (a) complete lack of interest in reefs, and (b) she did not go snorkelling.

BO and Y had planned to take the guided house reef snorkelling session arranged by the resort. When it was finally time to go, the instructor/ guide told BO that the session was not suitable for non-swimmers as they go to the edge of the reef and into the deep end; so, BO didn’t do the tour and was she super relieved!!! BO is not at all into under water things, so no harm, no foul. Y went went snorkelling and enjoyed it heaps. They saw lots of colorful fish and also a turtle. Although, he did come back with a bit of sunburn, so make sure to take a rasher vest or just wear a t-shirt while snorkelling.

Vilamendhoo also organises diving and snorkelling tours to see dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and what not.

Free Photoshoot!!!

These two photos were taken by the lovely in house photographer at Vilamendhoo.

This was the CHERRY on the pie! BO was THRILLED to find that their booking included a free 30 minute photoshoot with one print included (you have an option of purchasing any number of photos you like from your session). This was scheduled at the east end of the island and we ended up with a couple of lovely photos. Y was not pleased about having to participate in a photoshoot, but when providence gives you an unexpected FREE photoshoot, you just have to go along with it.

Vilamendhoo also has a little gift shop with some very pricy items, and a lovely lady at the checkout counter. On ascertaining our being from India, she told us that she’d been to Nainital for her honeymoon and she felt Nainital is the prettiest place on the planet (Maldives included). How cute!

Other activities & entertainment

Vilamendhoo has lots of other activities like kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boarding, sports, cruises, diving & snorkelling excursions. They give you a sheet with a schedule and list of activities at check in. Very handy. BO and Y were mostly busy doing nothing, so they didn’t participate in too many of these. There is more than enough stuff to keep you from getting bored.

Internet & TV – Connectivity

BO & Y had picked up Dhiraagu local sims from the airport which gave them fast 4G internet access all throughout. The hotel does has wifi but it was patchy at best. The room had a flat screen TV with satellite channels – Cricket World Cup updates were not missed!!

Go to Vilamendhoo!!

BO & Y highly recommend Vilamendhoo! Private, peaceful, tranquil. Had everything that one could possibly want from a chilled out, relaxing break. You can just be by yourself and nobody will disturb you.