Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Morning Workout with Dan Clark, American Gladiator's Nitro

Who wants to joust? And, more importantly, where can I get those flossy red lace stockings to wear under my unitard and scrunchie socks?

You know you love it.

If you, like me, are a child of the 80s, there are certain things that will always have a special place in your heart. To namecheck a few:

Brick cell phones, the words "Show me that smile again," Reebok Pump sneakers, the promise of a hoverboard skateboard by 2015, anything that has to do with Reese's Pieces and a little something called American Gladiators.

Raise your hand if you ever stood on a couch and tried to beat your friend off an ottoman with a broomstick. I know I have.

That's why I jumped at the chance to not only interview Dan Clark, aka American Gladiator "Nitro," but to workout with him as well.

Rising before the sun, I set off this cold, quiet, foggy morning to meet Dan at the top of Runyon Canyon...

Don't expect any pictures of me in this post, I looked totally kicked to the curb. Instead, there's one of the road, all desolate and grey, as I turned toward Mulholland Drive.

For a man who made his career by donning spandex and taking down all challengers, Dan was a remarkably sweet man who ran me ragged up and down the dusty canyon, knighting me “Athena,” explaining the utility of using the Gladiator yell to push through pain during a workout; as he likes to say, “Pain is just fear leaving the body”--and apparently I have a lot of fear--, as we discuss his latest venture, the Gladiator Rock ‘n’ Run.

Mark your calendars, kids, December 4th, you too can get sweaty with an American Gladiator! If you get super lucky, maybe Malibu will show up to joust with you. That hair! That tan! Malibu gives GTL a whole new meaning. Actually, I think he was more about GTP; Gym, Tan, Perm.

After twenty pull ups, three sprints up the mountain (take that, Matterhorn!), and more squats than I care to remember, Dan and I bid each other farewell and I left feeling strong and happy, like I'd made a new friend and lived a childhood dream all at once.

It was a morning I will never forget...and my thighs won't soon forgive me for.


Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Fall Vegetables

Gladiators in Roman times might have eaten something like this, featuring Farro, an ancient grain similar to barley and brown rice.

2 cups Farro, rinsed and drained (Brown Rice can be substituted)
5 cups water
3 cups mixed Fall vegetables, peeled and diced into one inch cubes: i.e. yams, butternut squash, turnips, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, etc,
½ cup nuts, preferably a mix of hazelnuts, pinenuts and chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup mixed dried cranberries, tart cherries and golden raisins
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil (or more olive oil)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 cups arugula

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside.

While the farro is cooking, toss vegetables, nuts and thyme with olive oil and salt to taste. Arrange in a single layer and roast until tender and caramelized, about 25-35 minutes.

In a large bowl gently toss farro with roasted vegetables, dried fruit, garlic, vinegar and additional oil. Test for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

At the last minute, add arugula and serve.

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