Walking from place to place is pretty dull. How do I get around more like a happy-go-lucky eight-year-old?
Though you probably haven’t tried it since your hopscotching days, skipping is actually an excellent cardio workout. And—like many things we inexplicably stop doing once we reach a certain age (building sand castles, flying kites, pretending that cardboard boxes are time machines)—it’s really fun.
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But wouldn’t I look like a big old weirdo skipping down the sidewalk alone?
You don’t have to—skippers travel in packs. At least they do in Michelle Joni’s Skipping Club, a free weekly meet-up for the frolic-inclined that’s been in existence since February. “It makes you physically happy,” says group founder Michelle Joni Lapidos. “It literally lifts you up and makes you feel lighter inside.” Equipped with a brightly colored wig and a teddy-bear speaker blasting Hot Chip and Yolanda Be Cool, she leads a roughly mile-long excursion every Thursday afternoon that includes about half an hour of skipping. The location and theme (usually in Manhattan) change each week.
A theme, huh?
That’s right. Each outing, which includes a few pit stops along the way, is centered on a topic of the week (the Occupy movement, the Beatles, Valentine’s Day); attendees are encouraged to wear an on-theme outfit. A recent Midtown East edition, United We Skip, passed the U.N. Headquarters, included a tour of the “Edo Pop” exhibit at the Japan Society, and ended with sake and tuna rolls at Sushi Time. The next get-together, on Thursday 16, will take attendees on a tour of Lower East Side boutiques.
I don’t think I ever did distance on the playground—do I have to prep for this?
Not really. You’ll definitely work up a sweat, but compared to, say, running, it’s a pretty low-impact form of exercise. Lapidos, who has asthma, says it’s a solid alternative for those who can’t jog for extended periods—and it allegedly burns twice as many calories as walking. Jaunts include frequent stops for stretching—as well as pep talks, improv games and dance intervals to break the ice and keep spirits high.
So this is about more than just skipping.
For Lapidos, skipping is one piece of her open, upbeat approach to life: “When you skip down the street, you are different. When you smile, you stand out. People will smile, and they’ll remember you.” As an exercise guru, this positivity-focused pied piper isn’t for everyone, but if you like your workout with a sugar rush, Skipping Club might be just your speed.
Michelle Joni’s Skipping Club meets every Thursday at 2pm; R.S.V.P. at facebook.com/michellejonisskippingclub. Free.
M Shanghai Bistro & Garden
Brooklynites don’t need to trek to Chinatown to find good Shanghainese food—just head to Williamsburg to dine at M Shanghai Bistro & Garden. Plop down at one of the tables with communal seating and go to town on the menu of dim sum favorites. Think hot and sour soup ($8), scallion pancakes ($7), the juicy pork buns also known as xiao long bao ($9 for six) and ma-pao tofu ($11.50). Vegetarians will be happy to hear that M Shanghai Bistro offers both a vegan and vegetarian version of their menu to make ordering sans meat that much easier. Wash down all the steamed dumplings and spicy stir-fried vegetables with big pots of oolong, chrysanthemum or green tea ($5 each). An extended happy hour—from noon to 4pm, then again from 5pm to 7pm—makes it absurdly easy to take advantage of $5 beer and wine deals.
Venue says: “It is that time of year to enjoy a steamer of Juicy Pork Buns and a freshly made Hot and Sour soup!”