• Sarah Ballan

I order the best food. I simply do not cook. I’m not sure if it’s laziness, or maybe I just don’t know how. Not that I’m all that lazy - I teach eleven Flywheel classes a week, freelance, and babysit whenever I have a free night. I always get slightly intimidated when I go to the grocery store. I food shop when I’m hungry and end up buying a lot of items I don’t need, or sometimes an excess of one particular item. After a long day, take-out is usually the best option, and in New York City, the choices are infinite. 

 

I decided to give Blue Apron a shot because Flywheel gave me the chance. The ordering process was simple. I created an account online, then I chose my meals from a lengthy list of recipes. There are multiple categories: Signature meals, Weight Watcher meals, and Vegetarian options. Each order serves two people, but there is an option to upgrade to four servings. You can pick your meal based on cook time. If you know you won’t have a ton of time, opt for a 25-minute recipe instead of an hour-long ordeal. After scrolling through the virtual cookbook, I decided the Garlic-Caper Chicken and Curry Beef Burgers. 

 

The large cardboard box containing my two meals for two arrived on Tuesday night, which was fairly quickly since I ordered over the weekend. Shipping and processing the orders usually takes a few business days. Blue Apron does a good job of telling you exactly what day and time you should expect your delivery to arrive. If you aren’t home at delivery time on the dot, don’t worry because there’s a ton of ice in the box to keep the ingredients fresh. I did a fancy instagram-style unboxing and carefully took out the contents of the box, only to stock the items in the fridge because it looked too intimidating. Needless to say, I settled for sushi instead. 

 

The next day it was time to tackle Blue Apron. I looked carefully at the ingredients and directions I had been so quick to dismiss the night before. Each ingredient - quantity and all - was perfectly packaged, ready for immediate use. 

 

I went with the Garlic-Caper Chicken: 35-minute cook time, 580 calories. The ingredients were as follows: a small bag of orzo, one zucchini, a lemon, dried oregano, chili paste, two sizable chicken breasts, and parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. The only thing I needed on my end was a pot, a pan, and some EVOO. I had wine in my apartment, but you can opt to add a wine pairing to any blue apron recipe, if that’s your thing. 

 

The directions were clear and concise. I neatly arranged the contents on my counter and began boiling the water for the orzo. As the water boiled, I sliced my zucchini and simmered it in a pan with the pre-portioned mix of oregano, chili paste, and lemon squeeze. The aromas of edible food began to fill my kitchen and I felt accomplished.

 

From start to finish, the meal took me an hour to prepare, instead of the allotted 35 minutes.

If you are a more seasoned cook (pun intended) perhaps it would take the suggested amount of time, but just in case I would leave an extra 20 minutes or so as a cushion. 

I am by no means an experienced cook, but Blue Apron gave me a confidence boost. My instagram followers joined me on my journey and gave an overwhelmingly positive response. 

 

My friends who usually joke that I burn water seemed impressed by the aesthetic of the final Blue Apron product. Those who don’t know me as well were conned into thinking I can cook! I didn’t have a  surplus of ingredients leftover in my fridge for once! I used all of the ingredients and didn’t spend the extra time or money in the grocery store. And who knows, maybe soon I’ll be able to finish a recipe in the allotted cooking time. Verdict: I can definitely see Blue Apron in my future as a feasible dinner option. My second box arrives tonight.

 

 

 

 *Shout out to my secret weapon: my friend Jordan who did far more than me in this process. However, I'd still like to take credit for turning on my stove and not bringing home Sweetgreen or Cava again*

 

  • Sarah Ballan

Eleven times per week I am greeted by the blue doors, a trademark of sorts. * Half-way down the block on 21st street between 5th and 6th avenues, only two short blocks from the NRW and F trains, and not too far from the 23rd street stop on the 6. Prime location, just minutes from Madison Square Park. Flywheel Flatiron. The studio of all studios: OG. Flywheel Sports opened its first set of blue doors in 2010, rivaling Soul-Cycle, another indoor cycling workout, arguably its antithesis. There are countless boutique fitness studios in the NYC market, but Flywheel is supreme. Despite the steep price of $37 per class, there never seems to be a lull.  

The tech pack in the center of each bike’s handlebars is loaded with metrics: speed, torque (resistance), current (power), and total points scored. Flywheel’s fiercely competitive atmosphere is addicting. Watching your name move up the ranks on the leaderboard during class is empowering. There’s nothing like setting a new PR (personal record) or simply “beating” the person next to you. It’s more than just a workout; there’s incentive to win.

 

I rush

straight to the back closet to store my stuff during the ride. The stench of bananas and feet inundate my nostrils; once revolting, it now brings relief. I’m home. I place my headset, sometimes - more often than not - wet from sweat, carefully over my head, tucking any loose strands of hair neatly behind my ears. Better to do so now because fidgeting is unprofessional.

 

I wrap

 

the wire diligently around the strap of my sports bra. I slip the black, rubber condom tightly over the mic pack and clip it onto my spandex. Time to fly.

 

I stand

at the doorway, right hand up, smile wide, and high-five each rider as they file in. My hand starts to sting, but I don’t flinch. My demeanor: Positive. Happy. Even if I’d been ghosted earlier that day by whatever douchebag guy I’d been seeing. Even if I’d just missed the cutoff number of riders for 3rd tier pay, costing me a significant decrease in my weekly salary. Even if this were my 3rd class of the day. Even if my legs felt like jello from cross-training, and I’d been up since 4:30am without proper time to rest and recover.

 

I take

a deep breath to center myself before going on the platform. I peer into the crowd and see 50 stationary bikes whirring up their single wheels. All 100 eyes on me, looking for inspiration. As the lights dim and the music blares, the hairs on my arm begin to push themselves out from the follicles; partly nerves, partly because the room is cold. I interlock eyes with my front row riders to confirm that their game faces are on. We’re all about to sweat. A lot.

 

I sip

a large gulp of water and savor the moment as the cool, crisp liquid slides down my throat. “Time to empty your minds and be present in this moment,” I instruct my class during the brief moment of calm before the fly-storm. Then my athletic prowess prevails. My voice deepens and I become an unstoppable force - like when Popeye eats his spinach. Once that timer starts, I become a coach. Time to unleash the beast.

 

I Fly.

 

 

*Note: I am also blessed to teach at NoMad, Chelsea, and Midtown East studios. Find my schedule below:

 

Monday 7:00am NoMad / 7:30pm Flatiron

Tuesday 6:30am Midtown East/ 5:15pm NoMad

Wednesday 6:30am Flatiron / 5:30pm Chelsea/ 7:30pm Flatiron

Thursday 5:15pm NoMad

Friday 6:30am Flatiron / 5:30pm Chelsea

Saturday ~Day Off~

Sunday 10:00am NoMad

 

See you on a bike :)

  • Sarah Ballan

I am a confident, sexy, funny, spunky, *single* 26 year old fitness queen living in the best city in the world - NEW YORK! I meet hundreds of new people every week through teaching group fitness at one of the top boutique studios in the country. Since I work most nights until 9pm I have found it difficult to date, but the scumbags I've been attracting (lately) seem to seep out of scrap bins on street corners. *Note: I mean no offense to many of you - not all of the guys I have met in recent years are trash, just a majority...and if I didn’t write a scathing article about something shady you did, this previous statement does not apply to you.* However, I have yet to find anyone worthy in the pile of NYC garbage. 

 

I thrive on connecting with people and have always been the life of the party. I am extremely loyal and have amazing friends, but I am missing a meaningful relationship and haven’t been with anyone seriously for years. I’ve been on countless dates with men, of different backgrounds, ranging from 25-45 years old, but I just haven’t met the right one. Sounds cliche AF, but it’s true.

 

I want to be with a man who challenges me to do better and to be the best version of me. If I were to genuinely connect to a guy - on TV, at a bar, on an app, wherever - I would be open to getting to know him better. I want nothing more than to be in a healthy, loving relationship, but I refuse to settle so until then I will remain single

 

The other week I decided to show up for an open call for ABC’s most popular franchise: ‘The Bachelor’. Hundreds of thousands of women (and men) nationwide apply - or audition - for the same role: to be a contestant on ‘The Bachelor’. I’ve been hooked on the show and been part of #bachelornation since college, a time when my sorority sisters and I would have viewing parties - deep fryer and all - in our own Bachelorette Mansion aka AXO atop of Lehigh University’s “Hill,” our Greek Row. We would look forward to those Monday night hangouts, and make brackets and predictions on who would make it to hometowns, or who would “win” a proposal at the finale. 

 

Why audition? Why not. I can talk to anyone in any situation and have zero issue putting myself out there. I would love to experience something new, meet cool people, and try to find a guy who is worth and worthy of my time. Being the Tasmanian Sarah Ballan ball of fire that I am, was, and always will be, I make for great TV, if I do say so myself. National level equals mass attention. Basic b*tch comment alert: I want to grow my following. For what, you may ask? For likes? For attention? No. I want to expand my platform. Become a celebrity trainer. I want to take my talents and opportunities to the next, national level. I want to prove to myself that I can make a difference in people’s lives on a larger scale than I do so now. I love watching my clients achieve their fitness goals and nothing would give me more pleasure than being able to do that.

 

By the time I arrived at the open call on 66th street (I got there at 5:45pm for a 6:00-9:00pm window), the line was already wrapped around the block. Some of the girls had been there since 3:00pm! I waited in line, soberly, to sign my life away in a series of personal questions and a finely printed packet of legal jargon. 

 

What on earth do you wear to a thing like this?! (To stand out, that is). I lost count of leopard midi skirts. Not shaming the leopard midis - I, too own one and love it, but the room looked like a jungle with all of that animal print. There were tons of white jeans/ cute, cleavage-y top combos and the overwhelming surplus of floral sundresses was Stepford wife-esque.

 

Everyone was in stilettos; I wore sneakers.

 

I wanted to be noticed. My outfit idea was pure genius (shoutout to my BFF, Robin). My best shot at actually being seen and showcasing what I do was to rock my brightest - and tightest - HOT PINK matching Alala set from Bandier. The perfect pair to brighten up a sweaty, summer evening and *hopefully* be picked by the producers, because isn’t that the goal? It’s a ‘reality  TV show’ and they are looking or roles to fill by hiring a cast of characters. I gave them my spin on Sporty spice. Pun intended. 

I read online somewhere that going to an open call is like going to an open bar. I thought ABC producers would provide alcohol to liquor up the people in line and scour the scene for potential media monsters. This was not the case. I did not pregame nor did I have a sip of alcohol. Some girls, however, planned ahead and were downing homemade mixed drinks.

 

One of the girls I chatted with while waiting grew up with Tyler, "the lead" on this current season, from home. Another one was friends with a few ABC employees. Do those girls have an advantage over me? Despite the hundreds - dare I say near thousands - of people that showed up, would either of my new line-friends have special treatment? So far it seems to be a crapshoot, but like everything else in today's world I'm sure there are ways to bend rules and strings to be pulled if you're in with the right people. Only time will tell...

 

After three hours of inching along a line (thank God for my Nikes!!!) and waiting in a cafeteria with bottles of Poland Spring waters and boxes of Dunkin' Donuts - an interesting choice of sponsor, I was mic’d up and put in a fold up chair. Five minutes prior to my taped interview I ate the first Boston Creme donut I have in years. I hope to god I didn’t have chocolate icing on my upper lip. 

 

The setup was as follows: several fold up chairs, the kind used at an outdoor BBQ, horrific fluorescent, standard high school cafeteria lights illuminating your imperfections, and one cameraman (or woman) per contestant. A dozen interviews were simultaneously conducted, each one of them shorter than the time it takes to recite the pledge of allegiance. 

 

I answered the questions, both written and verbal, with as much sass and witt as possible, but how do you stand out from a room overflowing with 20-somethings all going for the same spot? Getting picked for this type of performance is like winning a Golden Ticket to Wonka’s factory. 

 

“How old are you, where are you from, what’s your current relationship status, and why do you want to be on the Bachelor?”

 

Sixty seconds of short responses and I was booted from my chair and sent back into reality. Based on my borderline glow-in-the-dark outfit I see no reason why I wouldn’t be picked, but now comes the waiting game...

 

IF I get picked, will this be a good or bad career move? Would they make me the villain or the favorite: Scary Sarah or Sport, sweetheart Sarah?  Once you sign your life away the choice is no longer yours. My lawyer father most definitely would NOT approve of this situation, but truth be told I’m looking for a change. Based on my borderline glow-in-the-dark outfit I see no reason why I wouldn’t make it through the next rose-free round. 

 

In order to find fulfilment, you need to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. Try something new! I didn’t meet any guys at this audition, but I met some cool single girls who I would like to see again and go out with in the city. Ironically, if chosen, we would all be competing for the same man, but it’s always refreshing to meet other singles who are ready to mingle.

 

What did I learn from this bizarre experience? If anything, I put myself out there. I went to an open call alone and came out with a few new friends who went through a similar process. Do I want a relationship? Not necessarily, but I am open and willing to find love. I do not participate in apps, although maybe I should start, since I have heard many a success story through friends who have found partners on platforms such as Hinge and Bumble. ABC producers: if you are reading this and decide not to choose me, I do not blame you. Although I thrive on competition, I’m not sure I would find a sister-wive style strife satisfying. After all,

 

The most important love I strive for is SELF LOVE.

 

Love yourself. Love what you do. Love waking up in the morning and having the privilege to live the life that you’re living. The most important love of your life is YOU.