RECREATION Feed

Combines yoga, hula hooping

hula catch

Vanessa Hazzard-Tillman teaches hula hooping in East Falls, entertains at parties and at the Public Eye: Artists Animals July 4th Vegan Potluck picnic in Harper’s Meadow in Chestnut Hill, she showed off some of her stuff.  A former clown and currently involved with the vibrant Philadelphia circus arts community, Hazzard-Tillman is also a massage therapist and yoga instructor.

She especially likes to combine yoga and hooping. While being distracted by her young son, Phoenix, she nevertheless managed to twirl a hoop smoothly around one rotating foot in the air while switching from one yoga pose lying on the ground on her side to an inverted pose.

Hooping is good for muscle toning, she explains while demonstrating some “off-body” exercises that can be easier than “on-body” exercises.

Hazzard-Tillman often studies online videos and is now training to do fire hooping.

The circus community likes to give back, she says, introducing one of her ambitions. In addition to being President of the United States and a rock star according to her online profile, she hopes to successfully audition with a troupe that instructs youngsters in circus arts in one of the refugee camps in northern Thailand. The two-month program in which the children learn juggling, clowning, poi spinning, silks and hooping culminates with the refugee children mounting their own performance.

Hazzard-Tillman makes her own hoops out of black polyethylene tubing, covers them fun tape like Batman or Hello Kitty themed patterns and also sells them online through Amazon and her own website nirvanalandessentials.com where she also sells jewelry, gemstones and African soap.

Her business card also lists her profession as “Reiki Master/Teacher.” Had my interview with her continued further, I definitely would have asked how she manages to juggle it all!

Watch video here.

See other photos here.

Pick your own berries

Picking strawberries

The “locally” grown strawberries that are now showing up at Chestnut Hill groceries can be yours for the picking at farms in Montgomery and Bucks Counties and in New Jersey in nearby Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. A comprehensive guide can be found at as http://www.pickyourown.org Bill Roach’s family has a tradition of picking fruits and vegetables every year.  They got a start this past holiday  weekend at Rowand’s Farm in Glassboro, New Jersey. The large strawberry patch, laid out in neat long raised beds, were flush with heavy, red, ripe berries when we arrived but a short hour later families like ours had harvested all but the unripe pink and white berries. The Roaches move from farm to farm in the area and will also be picking cherries, blueberries, raspberries and more as those crops come in. Watch video here.


Lead keeper welcomes giraffes

Lead keeper welcomes giraffes

Two bull giraffes, 3-year-old Dhoruba and 10-month-old Jukuu, are making their official debut this Memorial Day weekend at the Elmwood Park Zoo, according to the Lansdale Reporter. They are on loan to the zoo through October.

According to lead keeper Stephanie Stadnik, the giraffes may represent a shift from the zoo’s tradition of exhibiting only animals native to North and South America. Giraffes, although not “super endangered” are very popular with zoo visitors in general, she says, and drawing them in gives Elmwood the opportunity to introduce visitors to overlooked native animals, some of whom can be found in our own back yards. Stadnik points out that through breeding in captivity, the black-footed ferret population has rebounded into the thousands from what was thought near extinction. Conservation efforts have similarly benefited eagles and alligators.Among our native species, wolves are some that Stadnik hopes visitors will take the time to appreciate and shed notions of the “big bad wolf.”

At the time of this interview in late April, construction of an enclosure was underway. Stairs and an elevated platform could be seen where the giraffes can be fed “browse”, small branches with tree leaves, as they would eat in their native African habitat.

From experience working with giraffes at the St. Louis Zoo yet reluctant to badmouth any animal, Stadnik relayed her impression that there is not so much going on in their heads. By contrast, with squirrel monkeys, she immediately senses the way things click with them. To round out her description, she did her giraffe “impersonation.”

On June 15th, the Zoo will host “KUWAKARIBISHA TWIGA”, a “Welcome Giraffes Beast of a Feast” fundraising event featuring R&B singer Barbara Mills. Attendees will get to feed the giraffes and feed on, uh, barbecue.

Watch video interview here.


Catching rainbow trout with granddad

Trout fishing the Wissahickon

A few days after the start of the Pennsylvania trout season on March 30th, Naiyfuz Smith shows off the rainbow trout he caught in the Wissahickon Creek with his grandfather Whitney, who, when he’s not out fishing, comes to the park three days a week to run. “I use this place like crazy. I love this place. It’s like you don’t even know you’re in the city when you’re out here.” Watch video interview here.


Mountain unicycles in hilly, rocky Wissahickon Valley

Mountain unicycle competitor

While taking a leisurely, easy bike ride along the relatively flat Forbidden Drive, my daughter and I were amazed to see a young man atop a unicycle on the opposite shore of the Wissahickon Creek, tooling up and down a hilly, narrow trail. High-schooler Peter Hildebrandt took up mountain unicycling after a knee injury ended his running career. With his high end, fat-tired, disc-brake equipped mountain unicycle, he meets regularly in the Wissahickon with other unicyle friends and enthusiasts and is preparing to compete in the 2013 North American Unicycling Convention and Championship to be held in Butler, Pennsylvania this coming July. Watch video here.


Visitors take photos of Seaside after Hurricane Sandy destruction

More than a couple months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Jersey shore in late October, a teenage girl from Toms River was making a repeat visit with friends to take another look at Seaside Park, the shore town that she would come to every day in the summer to enjoy the beach and boardwalk arcades. It was still hard for her to process all the destruction wrought by the unexpected fierce storm. Her group milled around along with a lot of other curious visitors who were taking photos from the rail of a still standing boardwalk entrance ramp of the expanse of sand where the boardwalk once stood. A lone Coca Cola arch and some battered stores and the now becalmed ocean in the distance completed the vista. The girl and her friends are hopeful that it all will be rebuilt by Memorial Day. Watch video here.


Kitesurfing rough waves

Kitesurfing rough waves

A couple guys in wetsuits were out in the surf kitesurfing on a late afternoon off the Seaside Park beach. The surf was rough and just the day before two swimmers had drowned in the vicinity.  I spoke with one as he was packing up his kite for the day.

15 knots of wind or more make for good surfing he said, so it was nice out there. They will go out in winds up to 40 knots. When the winds are stronger they use smaller sized kites.  The key to staying afloat is keeping the kite powered up all the time in the  power zone, an area of the sky, usually downwind, that has a lot of well, power in it.  You have to be able to maneuver the kite in two directions because you need to bring yourself back in. The kite gets inflated with air so if it lands in the water, it doesn’t sink. They use surfboards, sometimes, but today were using “twin tips” which can go in either direction. That way you can go right back out after coming in without having to make a turn.

The sportsmen showed great skill tacking back and forth and jumping waves. Sometimes they’d approach a wave at an angle that would launch them in the air for several seconds, sailing aloft at what appeared to be 10 to  20 feet above the surface before coming back down. Seaside Park, Island Beach, New Jersey. Watch video and interview here


Clean up your own toys! (Meet the Toydozer)

Demos toydozer

The "Toydozer" was invented by a Wyndmoor, Pa mom who modeled it after a shoebox she was using to scoop up her six-year old's Legos. It  looks like a large, plastic dustpan and comes with a scoopy thing that looks like the curved blade of a bulldozer. The idea is if it's a toy, moms will get relief because kids will use it clean up their toys themselves. In this video, Molly Ellis, co-owner of Threadwell, an embroidery shop in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, which retails the 'dozer for $18.99 in a choice of bright colors, demonstrates how it works.


Joltin' Joey Jabs

Joltin' Jabs Joey

So I’ll have her hitting uppercuts over here.  I’ll have her do a little bit on here. This is for slipping. Hand and eye coordination. Slip, slip, roll, counterpunch, OK? I’ll have her on the speed bag. [Hits the speed bag] I’ll have her hit the heavy bag. That was the uppercut bag. That’s where uppercuts and hooks go. Of course you start off with your jab.  A jab is your range finder. On here is your straight punches. You can jab right handed,  left hook and you don’t really throw uppercuts here but you can throw body shots.  Sit on your punches as you go.  And the focus mitts. She’ll have a pair of gloves on and I’ll be here. After I’ve already worked with her and showed her how to punch correctly. How to shift her weight. She has proper balance and weight distribution. And then I would just hold the punch mitts and she would punch I’d counter with some wild hooks and she’ll just roll, come back and counterpunch me.
Joey DeMalavez, Owner/Trainer, Manayunk, Philadelphia.

Watch video here