Exciting News! I’m a “Very Inspiring Blogger” Recipient!

Woke up on this HOT Saturday morning to some great news … Lisa at She’s Losing It! nominated me for the Very Inspirational Blogger Award! (Check out her blog here)   What that means is I have to: Display the … Continue reading

The Best Way to Start Your Week: A Love Letter to My Sunday Morning Spinning Class

This Sunday marks somewhat of an end of an era for me. I’ve been teaching a Sunday morning indoor cycling class at XSport Fitness in Alexandria since the summer of 2010 – it started as a class I participated in, which then convinced me to become a Spinning instructor – and it was also the first class I ever team taught, eventually becoming the very first cycling class I could call my own.

It’s been quite a journey. Like every format I’ve ever taught, I spent those first couple of classes still kind of trying to figure it out (any instructor who will tell you otherwise is either an enigma, or lying). Before too long, I truly found my style – those of you who have checked out my playlists know I organize my classes into 3 “building blocks,” which typically start relatively tame, and four to five songs later, straddle the line somewhere between brutal and miserable. But nothing was truly as amazing as when I realized that I had built a core group of awesome people who joined me every Sunday morning.

When I was asked to change my Sunday schedule, I didn’t think too much about it, but once I had committed to the move (yes, I’m still teaching a Sunday double, but moving cycle to Thursday nights at 5:45 … you didn’t think you’d get rid of me that easy, did you?), it sunk in: I was giving up my very first cycling class. So much has happened on those Sunday mornings. It was actually a Sunday morning when I was taking a class, shortly after my certification class, and before I was officially on the schedule, that I taught my very first song (I vividly remember the morning Dylan looked at me, and told me to pull my bike out and teach a song – Usher’s “OMG.” So yeah, if you’ve been wondering where my style of harder than necessary meets somewhat crazy comes from, you can thank Dylan). I’ve seen people succeed in their fitness journeys – some go from “uh, I have no idea how to set this bike up” to Spinning junkies. In many ways, I think I’ve grown, too – not only as a cycling instructor, but as a person.

As today’s headline suggests, I view this is somewhat of a love letter to my Sunday morning Spinning class. Whether they realize it or not, they have meant the world to me. They stuck by me in the beginning, and didn’t run away when I determined my style to be “kinda evil.” They kept joining me, even when I’m sure some of them were a little tired of weeks filled with Katy Perry and David Guetta and “Moves Like Jagger.” Heck … they even started requesting, and getting excited, on weeks we would end with Sting (“Desert Rose.” It’s like yoga on a bike. It’s an incredible way to end a class – four minute climb, all about clearing your mind, thinking about what you’ve accomplished throughout class and getting your week off to a great start. You bet that’s the last song on tomorrow’s playlist).

So, to my Sunday morning cyclists: you have been my savior. Your energy was infectious on the mornings I was exhausted (because a few of those Sundays, I was teaching on maybe four hours of sleep). Your questions and suggestions pushed me to become a better, more knowledgeable instructor. Your kindness and your dedication always put a smile on my face, even on days I was feeling sad or lonely or hurt (my smile may hide it, but there have been more than a few). You’ve been my inspiration, you’ve been my therapy, and yes, you’ve been my reason to get out of bed early on Sunday mornings. For that, I’m forever grateful.

That said, I want to end the same way I do every class I teach: thank you so much for joining me, because I truly do appreciate it. Though we will no longer be spending our Sunday mornings together (unless you decide to swap cycle for Piloxing, starting July 22 at 9:30 a.m. … or take up Pilates, which moves to 10:30 a.m. starting July 8 … or you want to start cycling at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday nights … hint, hint), you will always have a special place in my heart.

New XSport Alexandria Group Fitness Schedule Starts Monday!

Hi all – just a heads up for my Alexandria XSport Fitness group exercisers! New schedules kick off on Monday, July 2, and run through the end of September. (You can check out the schedule in its entirety here.)

I do have some changes coming up this next quarter, so make note! Wednesdays are staying the same, but I’m shaking up my formats and times a little – and I’ll be strictly in Alexandria (sorry, Merrifield folks!)

Here’s my teaching schedule for July 2-September 30:

Wednesdays (no change)

6 p.m. Piloxing

7:15 p.m. Pilates

Thursdays

5:45 p.m. Cycle

Sundays

9:30 a.m. Piloxing (*starting July 22)

10:30 a.m. Pilates

Just another last note: I will be teaching in the morning of July 4, as well as subbing a few classes the following week (before I go on vacation myself). Here’s when you can catch me outside of my normal schedule:

July 4 – 10 a.m. Pilates

July 7 – 9:45 a.m. Cycle (subbing for Rachel)

July 10 – 7:15 Cycle (subbing for Rachel)

Prevent 5 Common Running Injuries

I’ll admit it: I have had more than my share of overuse injuries. Looking at the last three years alone, I’ve had at least three hip flexor strains, several cases of shin splints, a stress reaction in my foot, and what I’m pretty sure may have been a stress fracture in my ankle … and that doesn’t even count the bruises (because I’m a little klutzy and tend to run into machines), the muscle pulls, and the several times my chiropractor has asked me what on earth I’ve been doing to knock my hips up to a full half an inch(!!) out of alignment.

That said, I give you this: Prevent 5 Common Running Injuries. The quick slideshow gives quick tips on how to stay healthy while avoiding the top injuries runners tend to face – achilles tendinitis, IT band syndrome, shin splints (in my experience, shoes and too much too soon tend to contribute to that one), plantar fasciitis and runner’s knee.

So read up, get adequate rest, and take precautions that will help ensure you can stay healthy. And if your weather is anything like what we’re due for here in the DC metro this weekend (we are looking at 100 degrees plus through Monday – makes me wonder if maybe it’ll even be too hot to go to the pool), STAY COOL!

On “Favorite” Machines and “My” Spot

Last night, as I made my way up to the cardio floor of my gym – Tuesday is running day – I found myself hoping it wouldn’t be a battle to get a “good” treadmill (one of the ones with the little fans built into them, hopefully with a working tv). I was in luck – my favorite treadmill at the end of the aisle was open. Or so I thought.

Just as I had settled in and was about to put my earphones in, one of the personal trainers walked over to the side of the machine. “Do you mind if we use this one? We’re working on a circuit.” In my mind: “Yes, I mind, there are at least a dozen other machines open.” Out of my mouth (along with a pained look and an eye sweep around the floor), “Uh … I guess so.” He clearly read my face, because he followed up with “This is your favorite, isn’t it?” “Yes,” I replied, pointing to the fan/vent combo directly above the machine, “that’s why.” Since I like to keep the peace, and I know there have been times my former trainers have booted someone off of something so we could use it, I moved halfway down the aisle. It was about two down from a fan, one down from a vent, and ESPN came in kinda fuzzy. But I sucked it up and did my 6.5 miles.

It got me thinking about how territorial we become about our “favorite” machines or “spots” in a class. I can tell you right now what all of mine are (as far as cardio is concerned, it’s the aforementioned end treadmill with the fan/vent combo, the end Precor elliptical in front of the window with the vent facing directly downward, and anything on the end of an aisle if I can help it; before I started teaching, in a cardio class, it was always the front row, to the left of the instructor, or in a Pilates or yoga class, front row, on the end – in fact, despite almost never having time to take classes outside of my own, I found myself in my same “regular” spot when I took a couple Piloxing classes when I was at home during the week of Christmas). And I know I’m not alone on it – in fact, I’ve gone as far as calling out regulars in my classes when they’re in a different place than their “normal” spot.

It’s funny to think about, though, because especially as far as classes are concerned, people get upset when someone (usually a person new to the class) takes “their” spot. I hate to admit it, but I definitely remember times in the past where I spent a class scowling at a person in “my” spot – once or twice maybe even getting a little too close (hey, if I accidently hit them, it’s their fault for taking my spot!) But really … how is a person supposed to know? It’s not like you can put a “reserved” sign in the middle of the floor – though I guess this is why people rush to a Spinning class and put down towels, then disappear for 20 minutes (in fact, my gym has a policy against this in the January/February timeframe – and with good reason). You can’t blame someone for simply claiming a space or machine that appears to be available.

So, do you have a “favorite” machine or spot in a class? And what do you think or how do you deal with it when someone pushes you out of “your” space?

Trainers’ Top Pet Peeves … And Random Trainer Musings

I came across this great article regarding Trainers’ Top Pet Peeves, and I had to read it. As a person who spends, quite honestly, more time than a normal person in a gym, I have my share of gym pet peeves (as you may have read here, or here, or here).

I find it amazing that some people actually think that doing some of these things when they are supposed to be training are okay. Seriously, you’re paying this guy or gal upwards of $50 (in many cases, WAY upwards) an hour, and you’re checking your email? Or complaining that something is hard, then wondering why your body still looks the same three months later? Here’s a tip: a good trainer wants to help you succeed. But they can’t make YOU want to succeed.

But, that said … it also goes both ways. You want to make sure that if you are going to make an investment in yourself (both from a time and monetary standpoint – keeping in mind that a full commitment does require a lifestyle change), you are working with a certified, qualified, focused individual who is committed to helping you achieve your goals, be they to lose weight, to gain weight, to tone up, to run a 10k, to make it up the stairs without feeling like you’re going to die … Everyone wants something different, so be sure that your trainer is focused on what you want – not what they think you should want (or what they are good at).

(Side note on that point – back when I first started working with a trainer, the guy was convinced that I had the right body type to be in fitness competitions. I just wanted to look good. I’m pretty sure I will NEVER take off all of the nearly 10 lbs. of muscle I put on working with him. Now, I don’t want to be a waif … but I do put on and maintain muscle fairly easily, so I worry sometimes that people think I’m scary. Point being – be clear about what you see as YOUR ideal body. Don’t just let them turn you into their little project).

Going back to my point about finding a good trainer … remember that just because they are certified, or they have X number of years of experience, that doesn’t necessarily make them the right one for you. Which brings me to my biggest pet peeve when it comes to trainers.

I’d call this the “I know you pay me more than you make in an hour, but I have better things to do with my time than watch you” trainer. I’ve seen a trainer texting while his client is doing squats with her heels off the floor, undoubtedly one wrong move from blowing out a knee. I’ve seen trainers more concerned with talking to their friends or flirting with a cute girl than watching their client’s form (and, I’ll admit, on occasion, I’m guilty of being that friend or cute girl). And every time I see something like this, I make a mental note NOT to suggest that particular trainer should someone in one of my classes ask for a trainer recommendation. Because honestly, if you are paying someone to help you reach your health and fitness goals, they should be delivering their end of the bargain (as should you).

Luckily, I was fortunate enough to work with two phenomenal trainers over a span of three years. To Steven (in Nashville) and CJ (in Merrifield): if I ever did anything dumb/annoying/questionable (and I’m sure I did): I’m sorry. But at least I always apologized when you were forced to touch my sweat. And I think you kind of liked it when I’d get mad that I couldn’t do something right the first time. And I’ll gladly credit you both for teaching me so much, and for pushing me to train as hard as I do today. You’re the best!

Finally, I have to share a story that still, a good 10 years later, still makes me laugh about when I think about trainers and their clients (though, in the situation, it really was quite uncomfortable). My senior year of college, I would go to the campus gym, which was, at the time, had been relocated to the old bookstore, since they were in the process of renovating the fitness center – word is Fike is now amazing. I graduated before they finished gutting the place. But, I digress … back to the gym in the bookstore. I worked out in the morning or early afternoon – usually after my morning classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and before my afternoon classes on Monday and Wednesday (yeah, I pretty much had the best schedule ever my senior year of college – I started at 2 p.m. on Monday and was done at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday). There was always this older lady, probably in her 60s working out with one of the trainers, and I couldn’t be near her when she was doing anything that could even be considered somewhat strenuous, because she didn’t forcefully exhale, or grunt, or yell …  no, she moaned. Like she was REALLY enjoying her workout (if you know what I  mean). I still have nightmares about it. And I feel bad for the poor lady who had to train her.

Because Muscles are Beautiful …

Great thought! Now it’s just too bad that the person who created this can’t spell “strength” … of course the editor in me saw it immediately!

Spinning Playlist – June 24, 2012

Happy Sunday! Straight from this morning’s class…

 

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a scale of 10)

Give Me Everything (Tonight) – Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer

 

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, build to 8.5-9)

Everybody Talks – Neon Trees

We Found Love – Rihanna

Funhouse – Pink

My Hero – Foo Fighters

 

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8-8.5)

Drive By – Train

Hold It Against Me – Britney Spears

Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia

The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder

Don’t Cha – Pussycat Dolls ft. Busta Rhymes

 

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 9+)

Moves Like Jagger – Maroon Five

Where Have You Been – Rihanna

DJ Got Us Falling in Love – Usher

Repeat – David Guetta ft. Jessie J

Criminal – Fiona Apple

 

Cooldown

Wide Awake – Katy Perry

The A Team – Ed Sheeran

 

On a sad note … next Sunday is my FINAL Sunday morning cycle class at XSport Alexandria. It’s been a great two years of Sunday morning cycle, and this class will always hold a place in my heart, since it’s where I got my start as a Spinning instructor. I’m taking suggestions for what you’d like to hear in this class – comment below to have your voice (and favorite song) heard!

The good news? I’m not going away. I’m moving to Thursday nights at 5:45 p.m. starting July 5 (and I’ll be stepping in for Rachel and Alissa for a few Tuesday and Saturday classes throughout July and August, too). Stay tuned for another post detailing my other schedule changes coming soon! That said … you’ll still get your weekly cycle playlists on Thursday nights/Friday mornings (and after any additional class I sub throughout the summer), starting July 5.

Athlete’s Heat Survival Guide

Here in NOVA, the temperature hit 98 degrees the last two days. Luckily, I do the majority of my exercise indoors, but for those of you who choose to go outside, here are a few tips from MSN on surviving summer heat:

Infographic: Athlete’s Heat Survival Guide | Fitbie.

It won’t be getting too much cooler any time soon, so do your best to stay cool and hydrated (outdoors and indoors, too)!

Lift Safely!

Came across a great article from Men’s Health on safe weight lifting: http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/lift-safe-way?fullpage=true

One thing many people don’t realize is just how easy it is to sustain an injury while weight lifting. Many factors play into it: lifting too quickly, incorrect form, or in some cases, exercises or machines that are just unsafe (seated pulldown behind the neck, I’m looking at you).

In addition to the suggested alternate exercises in the Men’s Health article, a few tips I would suggest:

  • Don’t try to be superhuman – lift what your body wants you to lift. 5 lb. weights does not make you weak if that’s what it takes to maintain proper form. Always choose good form over heavy weight!
  • Ask for help. If you are unsure about an exercise, don’t be afraid to ask a trainer, or the super-fit person next to you. People are willing to offer suggestions, offer a spot, or watch you perform an exercise – all you have to do is ask.
  • If you are worried about your speed, you’re probably going too fast. As far as weight lifting is concerned, it should usually take you a few seconds to perform a rep correctly. If you are moving at the speed of light, one of two things is probably happening: you are lifting too light, or your form is all wrong. Take your time!

Keep these tips in mind next time you hit the weight room – you’re more likely to stick with it if you can keep yourself injury-free!