Life’s Been Crazy … Here’s What I’ve Been Up To!

It’s been a crazy busy last week, so I apologize for the lack of posts with substance as of late! Here’s a little run-down of the insanity that has been my life during this last week(ish) of May:

Golf Lessons.
My dad has been trying to turn me into a golfer for several years now, and after he dragged me to the driving range during a trip to Florida last month (and sent me a check with a note to “go take golf lessons”), I figured I guess it was time. Last Friday, I spent an hour with a pro, who assured me that, as a naturally athletic person, I would pick it up pretty quickly (muscle memory and all).There was definitely a huge difference from the beginning of the lesson until the end – just like anything else, the form is really the biggest factor. So, yeah, dad may have been right. Golf’s not so bad. My second lesson is this Friday. Though I still don’t anticipate rivaling Tiger Woods any time soon.

Virginia Beach.
A certain someone and I decided to spend a couple days in Virginia Beach over the long weekend, and it was WONDERFUL. The weather was perfect – sunny and warm, but not too hot. We took a few nice strolls along the boardwalk, spent several hours lounging by the pool on Sunday (I tanned, he … may still be hurting), and ate some awesome seafood. It was a relatively quick trip – in Saturday evening, out around noon Monday – but based on our crazy schedules as of late, it was nice to just escape, relax and actually have some time together for the first time in a couple weeks. And really … it may not be the nicest beach I’ve ever been to, but there is something about a beach that just takes those shoulders down an inch or two the moment you can smell the salt in the air.

Golf Tournament.
It’s TODAY! This is one of the most fun days for my full-time job. We’re headed to the golf course for the 7th annual Chenega Invitational, benefitting Azalea Charities’ Aid for Wounded Warriors. It’s a great cause, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous (albeit very hot, at a predicted 93 degrees … yikes), and our golfers always have a great time. This will be the fourth tournament I’ve been a part of (I’m assigned to working the putting contest), and we’re anticipating another great tournament! (This also means no Spinning playlist tonight, as I’ll likely still be at the course about the time my class is supposed to get rolling … but I have great faith that my sub, Sarah, will take care of y’all).

Pool’s Open.
This one technically isn’t something I’ve been able to take advantage of just yet, but I’m looking forward to it this weekend! If there is one vice I’ll cop to, it’s spending probably a little too much time in the sun. But it’s also one of the few places I actually let myself relax, so I’m giving myself a pass (and hey, as I’ve gotten older, I have finally started being consistent with my sunscreen usage).

Spinning Playlist – May 23, 2013

Happy Thursday everyone! We’re going to make it to the long Memorial Day weekend … just gotta get through one more day.

Here’s what we rode to in tonight’s Spinning class:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a Scale of 10)
New York, New York – Ryan Adams

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)
Untouched – The Veronicas
Closer – Tegan and Sara
Keeps Getting Better – Christina Aguilera
Stronger – Kanye West

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 4, Build to 9+)
Endorphins – Sub Focus ft. Alex Clare
I Can Only Imagine – David Guetta ft. Chris Brown and Lil Wayne
Numb – Usher
Come to Me – Diddy ft. Nicole Scherzinger
Let it Rock – Kevin Rudolph ft. Lil Wayne

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8)
Ocean Avenue – Yellowcard
If We Ever Meet Again – Timbaland ft. Katy Perry
So What – Pink
Don’t Cha – Pussycat Dolls ft. Busta Rhymes

Cooldown
Read All About It (Pt. III) – Emeli Sande
Wide Awake – Katy Perry

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, and try to remember what it’s really about (not just the unofficial start of summer) – those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure our country’s safety. Just a head’s up, too: my full time job hosts a golf tournament every year, benefitting Azalea Charities’ Aid for Wounded Warriors, and it’s next Thursday … meaning I will not be here to ride with you next week. I’m leaving you in Sarah’s capable hands, and I’ll look forward to seeing you the following Thursday (if not sooner).

Add Variety to Your Routine with Group Fitness Classes

Group fitness classes are a great way to break up your regular routine, try something new and get the physical and mental benefits of a good workout in a group setting. With the number of options that are out there – and the increasing number of class types and studios popping up all over the place, you really are only limited by the amount of time you have to commit to classes throughout the week.

There are three different types of classes you can find in most health clubs and gyms, as well as boutique studios:

  • Cardiovascular Fitness: Spinning, Step, Kickboxing (BodyCombat, TurboKick, Tae Bo), Cardio Dance (Hip Hop, Body Jam, Zumba)
  • Total Body Conditioning: Boot camp, Sculpting (BodyPump), TRX, Aqua, Barre
  • Mind/Body Based: Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Fusion Classes (PiYo, BodyFlow, Yogilates, etc.)

Here are a few tips to get you started, once you have committed to trying something new or adding a group class to your workout schedule:

  • As with any workout routine, always consult a physician prior to beginning a new fitness program.
  • Start slow and allow for recovery days – you don’t want to overdo it and end up injured as a result of overtraining.
  • Wear proper attire based on activity, and keep in mind that specific classes may require certain types of clothing (such as cycling shorts or fitted tanks).
  • Monitor your heart rate and perceived exertion throughout class, making sure that you’re pushing yourself hard enough to get the benefits, but not so hard that you end up burnt out halfway through class.
  • Bring water and a towel – many classes will get your heart pumping, which means you’re sweating. You’ll want to rehydrate throughout class, and if you’re like me, you’ll need a towel so you’re not swimming in a puddle of your own sweat.
  • Find something you like – and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I always love when people come up to me after class to ask questions or provide suggestions. The bottom line is, it’s your class – and a good instructor should want to give you the kind of class you deserve!

With summer now underway, studios are probably a little less packed than at the beginning of the year, meaning that now is a good time to try something new and maybe even get a good deal on class packages at specialized studios. The best thing you can do for your workout routine is mix things up a little bit … and group fitness classes are a great option to help you do just that.

Finally, and most importantly … HAVE FUN! That’s really what it’s all about – finding something you enjoy and people you’ll look forward to seeing each week.

 

 

Want to Get Stronger Faster? You Have to Let Go.

There is a topic that I know I’ve discussed on more than one occasion, but as often as I continue to see it, I can’t help but feel it’s necessary to bring up once again.

I had an obligation to attend to this afternoon, so I took the day off of work. This meant I had the opportunity to get to the gym early – and see an entirely different set of people. One thing continues to remain the same, regardless of the time of day and the number of people in the gym … there is always someone clinging to a machine for dear life.

This morning, as I was getting in my hour on the ArcTrainer, I couldn’t help but notice the girl on the treadmill in front of me. Let me preface this by mentioning that some of the treadmills actually have a message that scrolls across them which states something along these lines: “holding on to machine is not recommended at speeds over 4 mph.” What was this girl doing? Holding on to the machine. Running.

Here’s the issue: not only is it not only unsafe to hold on to the machine higher than a certain speed, but it’s also counterproductive. Many people assume that they are better off holding on to the machine if it allows them to move a little faster. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to get more work out of your cardio this way … in fact, you’re actually going to burn less calories and engage fewer muscles than you would at a slower speed without clinging to the machine. Additionally, holding on to the machine also takes any core work out of the equation, because you no longer need your core muscles to act as stabilizers for the rest of your body.

Bottom line? Watch your posture, slow it down and let go of the handles. Not only will you end up burning more calories, you’ll also engage more muscles, growing stronger in the process.

The Benefits of Running

I’ve posted a few times in the last couple weeks about the weather finally getting warm enough to run outside. There is something so relaxing about just losing yourself in your thoughts as you settle into a good running rhythm. But there is more to love about running.

Here is a great graphic from NordicTrack spelling out a few more of the great benefits that come from tying on your shoes and hitting the pavement:

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Spinning Playlist – May 16, 2013

Like I told my class last week, I am SUPER excited about tonight’s warm-up song. I stumbled upon it on some list of “the best music videos this week” about two weeks back … and was let down when I found out it wasn’t even set to be released until May 14. It’ll probably make its way into the rotation going forward, but as I tend to do … I get so excited about a new song that I just want to play it, and not knowing it well enough yet, it becomes the warm-up. So, something to look forward to. And how fitting is the title “Endorphins” for a start to a workout (sounds like time to start releasing them)?

Enough about that … on to tonight’s Spinning playlist:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a Scale of 10)
Endorphins – Sub Focus ft. Alex Clare

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8-9)
Starstrukk – 3oh!3 ft. Katy Perry
Repeat – David Guetta ft. Jessie J
Give Me More – Britney Spears
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) – Fall Out Boy

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)
Touch Me – Smash Cast ft. Katherine McPhee
Animal – Neon Trees
Clarity – Zedd ft. Foxes
Forever Now – Ne-Yo
Lighters – Bad Meets Evil

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 7+)
Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton
Wild Ones – Flo Rida ft. Sia
Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
Desert Rose – Sting

Cooldown
I Never Told You – Colbie Caillat
Stay – Rihanna

As always, let me know if you have any great new song ideas – I’m always on the hunt for some great new tunes! It looks like spring is finally – FINALLY – starting to hit us here in the DC area (at least until it’s full-on 90 degree summer in probably, oh, two weeks), so try to get out and enjoy your weekend! See you next Thursday, for our last ride before Memorial Day (as in, pre-summer, pre-beach, bikinis are coming) ride!

I’m Just a Happier Person When I Work Out.

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Many people have a hard time believing me when I say it, but the truth is, I love exercising. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – running, cycling, lifting, teaching a class – but if I’m challenged, chances are I’m pretty happy.

I have written previously about exercise as therapy, and shared a great graphic on the 12 mental benefits of exercise. I’ve shared my personal story – and that I didn’t always love fitness the way I do today.

The fact is, we all go through ups and downs in our lives. We have bad days. Bad weeks. Heck, sometimes even bad years. I know I’m probably weird, but even on the good days, I often consider my workouts to be the best part of my day. More often than I care to admit, my workouts have been my therapy, and my classes my savior.  There’s something about pushing yourself, knowing that you have complete control over just how much you can accomplish, that is hard to recreate in any other area of your life. And there really is a lot to be said for the effect of endorphins on our bodies. It’s truly addictive (why do you think I refer to running as my “gateway drug”).

I had a kind of funny conversation the other day about exercise, and not making it to the gym as much as you’d like (and trust me, in this person’s case, lack of time really is a valid excuse – he doesn’t have enough hours in the day to get a decent amount of sleep, let alone spend two hours in the gym). It’s amazing the difference you start to feel after a few days sans exercise. You’re less alert. You’re a little more stressed. Perhaps even a little more short-tempered. Maybe unmotivated, or just kind of blah. You don’t feel like you. And, quite frankly, you don’t like it.

I recently wrote a post about feeling kind of unmotivated – but trust me, this is a matter of getting out of a rut, and just needing something new to start seeing the results on my body I want to see. Though many people – I’m looking at you, resolutioners – have no problem just skipping a regularly-scheduled workout once or twice a week (though hopefully not every week), I could never see myself doing this. I still find myself struggling to say no on that rest day at the end of the week.

Why? Because it’s part of who I am. It’s what brings joy to my day, and what I love to share with those around me. And I’ve had more than one person recognize the way that my face lights up when I start to talk about fitness. It really is my passion – one I love to share with those around me, and I wish I could share more if the opportunity allowed.

That said … overall, I like to think I’m a pretty happy person. And as the picture at the top says, I’m just a happier person when I work out.