Review: Pittsburgh Urban Active and Recipe: Curried Squash Soup

Today I went to the gym. I go to the gym regularly: as a student I get a free gym membership to Pitt’s gym and my condo has a fitness center. Pitt has several gyms, one of which is 40,000 square feet, has everything you could want including squash courts, and I get free access to 2 pools.

Trees Pool. I get to use this beautiful baby for free because I’m a student.

Equipment at the Pete.

But the gym I went to today was not just any college gym. It is Pittsburgh’s newest, bestest, shiniest, sexiest gym: Pittsburgh Urban Active. If I have another person tell me I should join this gym I’m going to go to the gym only to get strong enough to kick everyone’s ass who told me to go to this gym.  Now I’m not a violent person and I know my friends have good intentions. I am athletic and the gym is awesome. It has a complimentary personal training session, free classes (including spinning, yoga and pilates), a pool, a track, a cardio theatre where they play movies in a dark room with cardio machines, a half dozen TRXs and a Crossfit-style jungle gym all nestled next to hundreds of cardio and strength machines (free weights, too) in thousands of square feet.  It’s in a hot new development in the cool part of town and I can get 18 months for $33/month. It also has awesome hours, free parking, and is about a mile away from my condo. Sounds pretty good, right?

Urban Active’s Pool

Top cardio area looking down on the lower cardio area and weights

So what’s the problem? Here’s the problem: It is a meat market! Oh my goodness!! (Slaps a nearby surface for effect!) If people spent as much time working out as they did checking out other people I’m pretty sure the collective fitness of the universe would increase enough to eliminate cancer and diabetes. Yesterday when I went on a tour 2 of the first 3 men I saw checked me out. Blatantly!! And it was after I had spent an hour running single track in sub-freezing temperatures. I do not look cute enough after an hour running muddy trails (or ever, really) to warrant being checked out by 66% of men. Today I went for my first day of a 7-day trial. Men checked me out, presumably because they are attracted to sweaty women in little shorts. Women checked me out, presumably because I was a threat (or, in all fairness, because they, too, are attracted to sweaty women in little shorts). But here’s the thing: it wasn’t ME they were checking out, it was everyone checking everyone else out. Women were even checking themselves out (Seriously! Three women walked up to the mirrors and started posing and admiring themselves!).  Men were also checking themselves out (based on my observations today I deduce that anyone with big muscles must acquire them by repeatedly flexing them in the mirror). Ugh.

Call me crazy (it would be warranted, I thought a 100 mile expedition through the Amazon was fun), but when I go to the gym, I want to sweat and push my body and improve myself as an athlete. I don’t want to wear makeup or do my hair or worry about my outfit matching. I don’t want to have men (and/or women) staring at me as I struggle to get the last rep in a set or as I work to hit a goal. I’m sure I could practice tuning it all out, but it’s so different from the simplicity that I love about trail running.

Not sure if I’ll join up as Urban Active’s billionth customer, but while I decide you should make this healthy and yummy Curried Squash Soup:

2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp curry powder
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb squash (I used butternut: amazing!)
14 oz. can coconut milk (use low-fat to cut down on calories and fat)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Halve squash and remove seeds and pulp. Place roast cut side down on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes or until tender.

In a large saucepan, saute the onions in butter until golden brown. Add ginger, and garlic and saute another minute. Add curry powder and stir to mix.

Add squash and chicken broth; simmer for 20 minutes.

In blender or food processor puree soup; thin with water if needed.

Return to head and add coconut milk, salt and pepper. Enjoy!