How Yoga Changes Your Body – From Day 1

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do enough yoga. Sure, I’ve gone through my phases, and I LOVE the way I feel after a good class. But finding time in my schedule (and a class up to my standard!) can be a challenge.

I came across this great info graphic from the Huffington Post recently, and had to share. Proof that you don’t have to be a seasoned yogi to start enjoying the benefits – because they start day one. Enjoy … and go find a class today!

yoga infographic

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving everyone! I wanted to write a quick little post about a few of the things that I am thankful for this year – one of them being you, my faithful readers 🙂 I would have never thought, when my girl Helen encouraged me to start a blog back in February 2012 that it would end up where it is today. I’ve been so fortunate to “meet” some amazing people, to share my stories, offer motivation, and combine two things that have been an important part of my adult life: fitness and writing. It’s been almost two years for this little blog that could, and if you’d asked me if I would have ever thought that I’d get more than 1,300 people liking what I had to say enough to click “follow,” I would have said no. I love that I’ve been able to communicate with you through your comments, and through Facebook and Twitter. For your support, I am truly grateful.

So … what else is on the list this year? I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to share what I love in person, too. I’ve developed a pretty strong following at XSport throughout the last three and a half years, and I love that these girls and guys give me the amazing opportunity to really be my best self for five (or more) hours each week. Yes, many of them think I’m crazy when I’m singing, or dancing around the room, or,  yes, playing “Tiger Rag” and doing cadence calls when I teach class on game day, but they keep coming back for more. And as a person who, though it may not look it (especially when I’m doing all these crazy things), feels like I’m constantly being judged or rejected, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that you don’t just come to the gym for a workout – you come to see me. Many of you have become my friends throughout our time together, and I’m better having you in my life.

On that note, I’m also thankful that I was able to start subbing at a second gym this year, too! I didn’t realize until probably about a year ago that I lived directly across the street from a Sport&Health. But I’m glad I finally opened my eyes. The team over there is incredible, and the opportunities for growth and education have been amazing. It’s through my new-ish relationship with this club that I was able to attend the DCAC Conference over the summer, and to earn a second cycling certification (and at no cost!) – which are GREAT things for me, as I’m constantly on the hunt for something new.

But there are a few things I’m thankful outside of the blog and the studio, as well. I started a new “real” (and yeah, not quite as fun) job back in September, and it has been good for me. I’d grown stagnant in what I’d been doing previously, and as I’ve already mentioned, growth is important to me. I’m fortunate in the fact that guy I work directly with is great – and it helps that he’s a big runner, so he doesn’t think I’m crazy when I get into my fitness talk. Even more so, I’m fortunate to be bringing home a significantly bigger paycheck! Only downside to this one? The government shutdown cost me the time off I would have needed for the holidays. I picked Christmas over Thanksgiving, so I’m spending my first Thanksgiving ever away from my family this year. I didn’t expect it to bother me too much, but I have to admit … it hit me today that I am pretty bummed.

Which brings me one of the biggest ones: I’m thankful for my friends and family. I have a lot of great people in my life – people who have been there through the good times and the bad times. They’ve been there when I needed motivation to find what truly makes me happy, and to cheer me up when I was down (trust me … Helen, if you’re reading this … you’ve been my savior more times than I can count. I knew I’d miss you when we stopped spending 40+ hours a week sitting two feet away from each other, but I didn’t realize I’d miss you this much). I’ve been so fortunate to have great groups of friends throughout my lifetime, and I wish every day we all were closer together (is this a good time to bring up the Medina girls trip we’ve been talking about for, oh, 7 or 8 years now)? You’ve all helped shape me into who I am today. Though, honestly … many of you are probably still wondering how I got to be obsessed with fitness and football.

That said … thanks again to everyone who has been a big part of my life throughout the last year (or longer). Try to enjoy your Thanksgiving, cherish your family time (I wish I could be with mine), and please … don’t be afraid to eat a little pie (one slice won’t kill you. But don’t eat the whole thing, because you will hate yourself on Monday).

Foam Roller … Friend or Foe?

I think it’s both. I have been curious about foam rollers for a while now, but I’ve never really taken the time to actually use one until recently. A few weeks back, one of my Piloxing girls invited me to join her on her training session, which ended with some foam rolling. During which I discovered that, apparently, my body is one big, giant adhesion. Yes, friends, I am quite possibly an even bigger mess than I initially thought.

That said, I decided that I’m going to start trying to fit a little rolling into my life. On Thursday, I stuck around for a bit after my cycle class – nothing too crazy, maybe 10 minutes – to work out some of the knots in my thighs. It hurt. It hurt good. But it was nothing compared to yesterday’s “rolling session,” if you will.

For some reason, I’ve been really motivated to stick around for some additional gym time following my Sunday classes. In all honesty, it’s probably because I’ve been feeling stretched a little thin lately, and after teaching two classes on Sunday morning  has been the only time I’ve been able to fit in a third lifting session during the week (I didn’t say it was sane). Yesterday, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was a little sore from my workout the day before. I was kind of tired.

Enter the foam roller. I have to say, I’m pretty sure I’m on the verge of developing a love-hate relationship with these things (my brother, Eric, an avid crossfitter and foam roller advocate, has already called dibs on a foam roller as his Christmas present to me, so I have a feeling there will be even more rolling coming). The pain of hitting a knot can be excruciating – there were definitely a few moments where I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry, scream, or keep going (a few deep breaths and a promise that I was going to make it got me through) – and my legs felt like jello for the few hours that followed – but today? They felt great. And so did the run that went farther and faster that I’d intended for it to tonight (7.08 in an hour … and if the treadmill hadn’t stopped, I probably could have kept going).

So, foam roller – friend or foe? I think it depends on if it’s during or after. But the pain has proven to be completely worth it.

You’re Never “Too Old” – Just Ask My “Zumba Cheerleader”

I’ll admit to probably calling myself “old” far too often (I mean, I am about two months shy of my 29th birthday … and yes, I mean the 5th one). To discussing with some of the ladies in my classes my theory that once you hit 30, things start hurting that never hurt before. The recovery time is not as good as it once was. Yes, I’m definitely working out a lot harder than I was at 22. But I often feel it a little longer than I did once upon a time.

But being “old” is not the purpose of today’s post: it’s actually knowing that you’re never too old.

As you know, I spend a lot of time at the gym. Some days, I think there’s a real possibility I spend more awake time there than I do at home (unfortunately, “real” work and sleep take up the bulk of the rest of my days). I’ve seen a lot of people come a long way throughout the years, but there is one person who I find more inspirational than anyone else, even a lot of the people I’d consider at least to some extent personal success stories. No, this is about someone who you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hold a little bit of a place in my heart.

I don’t know his name, but he’s easily close to my grandfather’s age. He’s taken the Zumba class before my Piloxing class for as long as I can remember … and I’ve been teaching that class for almost two years now. I lovingly refer to him as the “Zumba Cheerleader,” because his attitude, and his dedication and love for the class is infectious. He calls everyone “honey” as they leave the studio, announcing how many calories his heart rate monitor tallied during the class, wishing everyone a good night. And, in true sweet old man fashion, he’s always handing out candy on his way out the door (I kid you not, I ran into him in Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago, and the man had a piece of chocolate on him, which he tried to pawn off on me). It’s adorable.

My point? There is no such thing as “too old” to get started. It’s easier to start young, but like I’ve already said, I feel like something new on my body starts to ache every week. My Zumba Cheerleader has to be at least in his mid-70s … and he’s still shaking it with a bunch of girls who could be his granddaughters a couple times a week. I’ve also seen him on the cardio floor and in the weight room (he actually came up to me the other night and told me I was really strong – it was cute) – the man is seriously in the gym at least three or four days a week. And if he can do it, anyone can do it. You just have to find something you love and want it bad enough to make it a priority.

Spinning Playlist – November 21, 2013

Happy Thursday … one week to Turkey Day! Apologies for the delay in the playlist tonight – normally I have it ready to go right after class, but this week has been HECTIC!

But anyway, you’ve waited long enough … here’s tonight’s Spinning playlist:

Warm-up (Start Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a Scale of 10)
50 Ways to Say Goodbye – Train

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8.5)
I Believe – Timeflies
Forever Now – Ne-Yo
Telephone – Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce
E.T. – Katy Perry ft. Kanye West

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 9+)
Best I Ever Had – Gavin DeGraw
Love Drunk – Boys Like Girls
C’Mon – Ke$ha
Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
Find Your Love – Drake

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 8+)
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera
Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
I Need Your Love – Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding
Up in the Air – 30 Seconds to Mars
The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder

Say Something – A Great Big World
Bittersweet Symphony – SMASH Cast ft. Megan Hilty

Thanks for another great class tonight! Remember we are off next week for Thanksgiving, but I’ll be back and ready to go the following Thursday! Enjoy the rest of your week, and have a great Thanksgiving … remember to enjoy, but not overindulge 🙂

Tonight’s Master Class – A Little Tuesday Night Pilates Education

Tonight, I had the pleasure of taking a master class/review session with the new Mind/Body Director at Sport&Health Crystal City. It is always interesting to take a class (especially a format you’ve been teaching for years) from another pro, and tonight was no exception.

Amber described her style as contemporary Pilates – mostly the same exercises as “traditional” Pilates, but a lot less structured. I liked it! It was fun not knowing what was coming next (because, let’s be honest … I’ve had some of my regulars look at me like I’m doing something wrong if I throw something out of the ordinary in every once in a while) – and still knowing how the exercise was meant to be performed. I also liked having the opportunity to pick up a few new cues. It’s always interesting to hear the way other instructors describe a particular exercise or motion, because there really are so many different ways to describe a movement – and so often one cue will click with someone better than another. I think there may be a few new options coming to my classes this week!

If there is one thing that really helps a good instructor become a better instructor, it is getting exposed to different instructors and classes. I really enjoyed the follow-up conversation during the class, because I was reminded of a few details that I had forgotten throughout the years, and it was nice to take time to connect with some of the other instructors. We have another master class coming up next month, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. Amber was great!


Spinning Playlist – November 14, 2013

Happy Thursday everyone – and HAPPY GAME DAY to my Tiger fans (tonight is our second Thursday night game this year, and I have to be honest … I can’t stand them).

Here’s tonight’s Spinning playlist, fresh off the bike:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a scale of 10)
Mr. Brightside – The Killers

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)
Starstrukk – 3oh!3 ft. Katy Perry
Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
Glowing – Nikki Williams
Inside of You – Hoobastank

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)
Endorphins – Sub Focus ft. Alex Clare
I Believe – Timeflies
Drinking from the Bottle – Calvin Harris ft. Tinie Tempah
Blackout – Breathe Carolina
Uprising – Muse

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 7+)
Work Work – Britney Spears
Clarity – Zedd ft. Foxes
Still Into You – Paramore
Desert Rose – Sting

Marry Me – Jason DeRulo
I Choose You – Sara Bareilles

Have a great weekend everyone! Now hurry up and get home, cause kickoff is at 7:30, and you don’t want to miss the team run down the hill!

Apparently I Lived at the Gym this Weekend…

I have a confession to make: I MAY have spent close to eight hours in the gym between yesterday and today. No, it was not some kind of seminar or certification … it was literally classes, workouts and a couple unexpected things that popped up. Not that I’m complaining – I love being in the gym. But I know many of you are reading this wondering, what on EARTH can you possibly spend that much time doing?!?

Sunday mornings, I teach class from 9:30-11:45, and I always try to get there by 9:00 at the latest – just so I have a little time for a 15-20 minute warm-up on my own before class starts (you know, get those endorphins flowing so I’m at my crazy best by the time class kicks off). I’ve been stretched a little thin these last several weeks – I normally teach five classes a week, and during the last three weeks, it’s been more like eight – so I have to fit my weight workouts in when I can. Regardless of how much I’m teaching, I still try to get a good three weight workouts in a week – and with a GORGEOUS dress hanging in my closet, waiting to be worn this weekend (I was invited to the Marine Corps Ball), I have no interest in giving up a weight workout for lack of time. So post-class Sunday it was.

This morning, I had planned to meet one of my Piloxing girls, Kim, at 10:30 to run through some choreography and give her some tips as she prepares to audition to join our XSport Group Exercise staff (YAY!!). So what do I do? Show up at 9:30 (knowing we are planning on running choreography until noon), run 5k and get a little weight work in. Choreography practice went pretty well, and at the end, Kim invited me to join her for her noon training session. Since she invited, I was glad to join in on a little further torture. At about 1:15 (and nearly 1650 calories later), I was finally on  my way home. Totally worth it. No matter how hard of a workout I plan for myself, I always learn something new and push even harder when I have a trainer in my face. And lesson of the day? I really need to figure out the best way to use a foam roller, because HOLY CRAP. Apparently my IT band is insanely tight. And sadly, the one part of my body I thought was probably the tightest (my hamstrings – they’ve just felt locked up lately, and no matter how much I stretch, it seems to do nothing) was the one body part that didn’t cause me to need peeled off of the ceiling.

Here’s the thing: I had not planned to spend this much time working out this weekend (oh, yeah, I taught a class at Sport&Health on Saturday, too, so add in another hour of cardio and a light leg workout, and you have another two and a half hours to my clearly gym-centric long weekend). But the thing is … I know it’s an illness, but I loved every minute of it. I think it’s amazing how quickly the time can pass when you’re doing something you love (okay, not going to lie, the foam roller felt like it was never going to end. And I’m pretty sure the effects of it will hit me tomorrow more so than they already have). I may be pushing hard, and I may be truly working, but whether I’m teaching a class, or running, or lifting, or anything else physical that I decide to torture myself with, I love every single second of it. It’s not work. In fact, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.