Kowalski for School Board in LVUSD

I have worked hard to support Las Virgenes Unified School District as a parent, a volunteer, and an employee. That’s why I support Kiyomi Kowalski for School Board.

kowalski for school board and kidsKiyomi Kowalski and her two sons

Our family moved to Agoura Hills in 2010, intent on enrolling our older son, who was about to enter Kindergarten, at Mariposa School of Global Education. Because of the wait list and the way the timing worked out, he ended up at Yerba Buena Elementary School, as did his little brother. We were all happy there. Eventually I got involved in the school’s Parent Faculty Association, serving as its president for two years.

 

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Posing with the new PTA president. Look how happy I am to be handing off the title! #PTAmom

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I love this school district and the community that has grown up around it. It’s hard to go anywhere in Calabasas, Agoura, or Westlake without running into a parent or a child we know from school or sports. We feel at home here. Las Virgenes Unified School District is our home. Because I feel so strongly about this great district, I have supported it with my time, my skills, and my money.

That’s why I am supporting and endorsing Kiyomi Kowalski for School Board in the election on November 6.

kowalski for school board insta frame

While I recognize that the current board members have been part of the evolution of LVUSD’s ability to offer robust, safe, and engaging educational opportunities for our children, I believe it’s time for adding “a bit of the new school to the old school.” She will bring a much-needed fresh perspective to the great responsibility of making high-level decisions for the entire district. These decisions affect the curriculum, the staffing, the well-being of teachers, the way the district spends vast amounts of money, and so much more. Kowalski is one of us: a parent, a professional, a passionate advocate for education. She also has rich experience as a lawyer who advocates for the underserved, and as a Marine who served our country.

kowalski for school board marine

I began my life of service 21 years ago today by stepping on the yellow foot prints at Parris Island for Marine Corps boot camp. I continue to serve our community and I’m excited to serve our children on the Las Virgenes School Board. Vote Kiyomi Kowalski for school board in 2018 and let’s bring a bit of new school to the old school!

I urge you to meet Kiyomi. You will find her to be warm, empathetic, interested, and caring. You will witness her infectious passion and her ability to speak with wisdom and information about the issues that affect our students and community. Read about her goals for the school district. She’s well-informed and equipped to make tough decisions.

You know how hard I’ve worked to support Las Virgenes Unified School District. Join me by voting for Kiyomi Kowalski for School Board on November 6.

For more information, to meet with Kiyomi, and to support her campaign, visit KowalskiForSchoolBoard.com.
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P.S. I take it for granted that people know how the LVUSD school board is elected, appoints a superintendent, and votes on big issues for the district. But I realize that most parents and voters don’t really pay attention to these things. If you have any questions about how it works, and want to know so you can make your own informed decision about how to vote, send me an email at kim@agourahillsmom.com, and we’ll chat. 

Dig Cycle Is the New Spin Class in Town

Dig Cycle & Strength was one of the first businesses to open in the brand new shopping center at the north end of Las Virgenes Road. Locals who like a good exercise class should appreciate Dig Cycle’s cheerful atmosphere, varied workout menu, and its big parking lot.

Dig Cycle lobby

Dig Cycle opened last year, adding another spin studio to the local area (others I’ve tried are Soulcycle and Cycle Bar). For me the location is pretty convenient, and the class schedule has many sessions that fit my own. I tried out two different instructors, and found the class as high energy and tough as the other studios. What Dig Cycle offers that the others don’t though, is an additional gym space with strength and conditioning options. You can take classes that incorporate those into your workout. For my feature, I only tried cycling.

Dig Cycle gym

Dig Cycle bikes

By now the gym is getting more popular and as I strapped my shoes on for a recent class taught by instructor Lauren, I noticed many other participants greeting each other by name and getting ready together. It was clear that they had met each other at this gym, which is a nice place to find a supportive community. Lauren’s class that evening was titled “Dig50,” listed as the gym’s signature 50-minute ride. Lauren guided us through intervals of speed cycling, simulated hills, some movement, and hand weights. The bikes at Dig have little screens that show you your RPMs, and Lauren shouted out goal RPM ranges for each of the different intervals. If you could sustain the target ranges during the specified time periods, you’d be hitting what she set as a goal for you.

Dig Cycle play

Dig Cycle nice

Well.

At my first Dig Cycle class several months ago, I felt strong enough to think I could hit those goals with an instructor named Tina. I only learned lately that Tina is considered a particularly challenging instructor. At the time though, I pushed myself so hard I thought I was going to pass out, throw up, or both. To be fair, I think that every time I exercise, so it’s not her fault at all.

The point is, I learned my lesson that day, and in giving Dig Cycle another chance I made a pledge to myself that I would take it easier this time. So in Lauren’s recent class, I did. I tried to hit the RPM goals and turn up the resistance when she ordered us to, and I succeeded most of the time. But when I felt myself being pushed too far, I backed off, turned down the resistance, and slowed down so that I could make it through the whole 50 minutes feeling good.

It worked. I was able to work up a sweat, enjoy the music and Lauren’s banter, and feel good at the end of the class while still feeling like I got a serious workout. The next time I go back will be even better. I will go back. My body is worth it.

Dig Cycle & Strength
5727 Las Virgenes Rd. (3.42 mi)
Calabasas, California 91302
digcycle.com
Classes are $22 each or available by membership or volume discount.

I took two complimentary classes at Dig Cycle to facilitate this feature. Opinions and elevated heart rate are my own.

Soulcycle Is Here! Calabasas and Westlake

Soulcycle has arrived in The Bubble – two new locations in Calabasas and Westlake Village allow you to “tap it back” and sweat your bottom off.

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Apparently I’ve been under a rock for a very long time, or at least successfully avoiding spin classes at all costs, because when Molly led me into my first Soulcycle class (indeed, my first ever spin class, period), she warned me that it would be “dark and loud,” but that still wasn’t enough to lessen the shock. Since I was late, I entered the class after any chance of being eased into it gently, after the warm-up, and right in the middle of the instructor’s ramp up to full speed. Basically, I was walking into a nightclub at full pulse, but the people were all dancing on stationary bikes, and there was no chance of a cocktail to take the edge off.

soulcycle entrance

Image courtesy of Soulcycle

The Obsession

Turns out, about a trillion people are completely obsessed with Soulcycle, a specially-designed indoor cycling class set in a candlelit room and led by “rockstar instructors” who shout commands and affirming mantras throughout the 45-minute workout. The music is loud, and mostly full of driving beats to accompany your pounding feet. The first studio opened in New York in 2005, and the craze has grown throughout the country. Once a studio gains a foothold in a community, you have to pounce on the computer or the smartphone app to get a spot in the most popular instructors’ classes. (Apparently at Calabasas it’s Franz, who I am told is just like the name sounds.)

soulcycle calabasas franz

You can reserve the exact bike you want

I didn’t know about the obsession before I took my first class, which is good because I might have been more intimidated than I already was, considering I’m out of shape (always) and I abhor cardio workouts, preferring nice happy yoga and hiking. But like I’ve said before, I am always up for trying something new, especially when invited by the happiest fitness staff on earth.

Although I plunged into the experience mid-class, I managed to follow along well. Well, just okay, but I didn’t vomit or pass out or fall off the bike, which I consider a win. And you can’t really fall off the bike, because you’re clipped in on special shoes. So I would have just sort of slumped over onto the woman next to me. The bikes are very close together.

The people in this class were all invited to brunch nearby at The Six, a Calabasas restaurant that serves up delicious brunchy salads and flatbreads, even a vegan version of the delectable goat cheese avocado flatbread – both were amazing, as was the company. That’s where I learned about how popular SoulCycle is in general, and how great it’s doing in Calabasas.

Soulcycle Calabasas app

Soulcycle Calabasas’s Alyssa demonstrates how to reserve a bike using the mobile app

The Workout

Next up, I tried out the Westlake Village studio, which is new in the plaza where Le Pain Quotidien, Pitfire Pizza, and CorePower Yoga are (Lots of fitness and food options in that plaza!) at Townsgate and Westlake Boulevard. This location seems a little bigger, but maybe that’s because I got there early for a change, and I was able to check out the place and ease into the experience with my guest Michelle.

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USB charger port inside the free locker!

We were fitted with fancy clippy shoes, led to our bikes (you actually reserve a specific bike), and shown how to clip in and adjust the resistance on the bike. The resistance wheel plays an important role in the class: the instructor will often command you to “add another turn!” and “come on, Westlake, give yourself one more turn!” increasing the difficulty of your pedaling as she urges you to “pump it faster!”

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Locker hallway outside the studio, where you wait for the previous class to end

The bulk of a SoulCycle class goes on much in this way, and a lot of it is in the dark, until the music builds to a crescendo and the lights flash and illuminate some of the room, especially the instructor so you can see what she is doing. You’re either standing up pumping the pedals as hard as you can, or sitting in the seat and doing pushups on the handlebars, or pumping little hand weights along to the music. Cool down stretches are done right there on the bike, too.

soulcycle class

Image courtesy of Soulcycle

The Verdict

Bottom line: I loved it. Have you ever heard me say that about cardio workouts? (Spoiler: no, no you haven’t.) Despite the fact that my heart was pounding and my face was bright red (but nobody could see me so who cares?), I enjoyed the music, the life-affirming script, the fact that I was actually able to pump it for like 5 seconds at a time before giving up and resting in the seat instead of barfing (but I couldn’t actually tap it back yet, because my back is still healing from a recent tweaking).

I was able to keep up, but with lots of resting, and I learned something I will share with you: if you’re totally pumping the pedals and you need to stop, it’s NOT like riding a street bike where you can just coast. If you stop, your feet will keep going with the bike because your shoes are clipped in! So you have to slow down gradually.

After each class, I was pumped up. Yes, I got sore, especially where I sit on the bike seat, because it’s been a while since I regularly biked. But it was good sore otherwise.

The Community

If you’re the kind of person who’s always looking for a new workout, I recommend trying SoulCycle. One great side-effect of the weird obsession people get about it is the sense of community.

soulcycle etiquette

The rules

I guess it’s the way I imagine CrossFit and other branded exercise phenomena to be: full of people who are obsessed with their workout because it makes them feel so good and gives them a sense of accomplishment. At my first class I ran into my friend Julee, and I didn’t realize she was in the class because it was dark. She was so excited to tell me all about her love of the spin studio because she finds great joy in riding. If that’s what SoulCycle can give you, why not join that community?

SoulCycle Calabasas
23500 Park Sorrento
Calabasas, CA 91302
Parking is underground around the back of the building – just keep right. Yes, it’s really there.

SoulCycle Westlake Village
966 S. Westlake Blvd.
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Enter from Townsgate as if you’re going to Le Pain Quotidien. It’s on the right near Pitfire.

First class is $20 and includes shoes, after that they’re $30 each plus $3 for shoe rental. Discounts apply to bulk class packages. Once you buy a class, you can reserve your bike.

I attended the classes as a guest of SoulCycle – all opinions are my own.