Spinning Playlist – November 20, 2014

Happy Thursday everybody…

So, here’s the deal: after teaching a shortened class of one last night, I’ve decided to use the same playlist (at a different gym…I should be able to do this anyway) tonight. That said, check out yesterday if you want to know what we rode to tonight 🙂

Also, just a reminder: next Thursday is Thanksgiving. There will be two morning classes at each of the Virginia Xsport locations (I don’t believe cycle is one of them in Alrxandria), however, no other classes throughout the day. You should be eating turkey at our normal class time! I am still teaching next Tuesday and Wednesday (and subbing a bonus pilates class at Sport&Health at 7:30 p.m. Monday), so hope to see you and burn a few more cals in advance of the big Thanksgiving dinners!

Spinning Playlist – November 12, 2014

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope your week is off to a great start. Here’s tonight’s Spinning Playlist, fresh out of the studio:

Warm-up
Mr. Brightside – The Killers

Building Block #1
When I Grow Up – Pussycat Dolls
Red Lights – Tiesto
Forever – Chris Brown
Funhouse – Pink

Building Block #2
I Write Sins Not Tragedies – Panic at the Disco
Take Me on the Floor – The Veronicas
Blame – Calvin Harris ft. John Newman
Break the Fall – Laura Welsh
Hard – Rihanna ft. Young Jeezy

Building Block #3
Lucky Strike – Maroon 5
Break Free – Ariana Grande
How I Feel – Flo Rida
Hideaway – Kiesza
Chandelier – Sia

Cooldown
All of Me – John Legend
XO – Beyonce

Thanks for a great class tonight! It’s supposed to get chilly tomorrow (the return of the Polar Vortex. Awesome. Er…no), so try to stay warm!

Spinning Playlist – October 30, 2014

Happy Thursday everyone! Thanks for joining me on this last Thursday before Halloween … I like to think that we put a dent in extra calories you’ll likely pull out of a trick or treat bag tomorrow 🙂

Here’s tonight’s playlist, straight off of the bike:

Warm-up
Night is Young – Nelly Furtado

Building Block #1
Dirty Little Secret – All-American Rejects
Who’s That Chick – Rhianna ft. David Guetta
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
Sing – Ed Sheeran
Inside of You – Hoobastank

Building Block #2
Hold it Against Me – Britney Spears
I Write Sins Not Tragedies – Panic at the Disco
Blame – Calvin Harris ft. John Newman
Poker Face – Lady Gaga
Stronger – Kanye West

Building Block #3
Burnin’ Up – Jessie J ft. 2 Chainz
Delirious (Boneless) – Steve Aoki, Chris Lake and Tujamo
Night of Your Life – David Guetta ft. Jennifer Hudson
Centuries – Fall Out Boy

Cooldown
Let it Go – James Bay
It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday – Jason Mraz

Have a great weekend everyone! I’m out of town next Wednesday and Thursday, but you can catch me at my regular time at XSport Alexandria on Tuesday at 6 p.m. … and I’m subbing next Saturday at 8:30 a.m., too!

I’m Back…

Hi friends … I know, I know. It’s been a long time. To say that the summer (okay, and I guess I have to say fall since we are more than a month in now)  was pretty busy. I assure you, I’ve been teaching, I’ve been training, I’ve been working, I’ve been enjoying life … but I think it’s pretty obvious what I haven’t been doing.

But I’m back. I know that before my short (okay, let’s be honest, it’s been like 4 months) hiatus I promised to be better about blogging. Clearly, I did not follow through. So I’m only going to promise that I’m going to try.

So, what have I been up to since (gulp) June? Quite a lot, to be honest. Sometimes I start to wonder how I have time to sleep, let alone breathe. I’m still teaching regularly, but my schedule has changed a bit (we’ll get to that). In July, I spent the annual week at the beach with the family. In August/September, I had the pleasure of attending my girl Emily’s wedding (my first trip to New Hampshire), and the boy and I returned to Hawaii (six days for me … a month for him). I got to the pool whenever I could on the weekends. Football season started, so I’m spending a lot of time watching ESPN (yes, often on the treadmill or elliptical).

As I mentioned, my teaching schedule has changed pretty dramatically in the last couple months. I first cut back on my Sunday classes, and eventually just gave them up all together. I loved teaching them, and I’d been on Sundays for what seems like forever … but at this point in my life, I knew that the only way I was going to get the balance that I really needed into my life was to actually have real weekends. So I cut back (just in time for the boy to start what I can only call insane amounts several weeks at a time of work travel … which is finally close to winding down). In September, I made another change – giving up my Piloxing class on Wednesday nights. I haven’t had the time to put into the prep that I really needed to give the class my all, and I was offered a cycle class at Sport&Health around the same time (and after a year of subbing and turning down my group fitness director – because I was already teaching on the nights she could offer me a permanent class). I decided that it was a good move – and a good change – for me at this point. I was proud to turn the class over to my girl Kim, who had worked hard training with me throughout most of the previous year. I’m sure she’s doing great … I mean, she did train with me and all 😉 So  yes, I’m teaching a ton of cycle now (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). But I’ve never made it a secret that cycle is my favorite class to teach (and pretty easy to prep for).

That said … life has been crazy, and I apologize for my absence. I know I’ve said I’ll place more priority on blogging (and quite honestly, I’ve thought about it many, many times without actually taking the initiative to, you know, write a post), and I do mean it. I’m going to try my best to be back and present, friends. And if you are in the NOVA area … come take a class with me:

Tuesdays (XSport Alexandria): 6 p.m. Cycle, 7:15 p.m. Pilates

Wednesdays (Sport&Health Skyline): 6:15 p.m. Cycle

Thursdays (XSport Alexandria): 6 p.m. Cycle

…and I tend to pick up weekend classes when the boy is out of town, so I’ll keep you posted on the “bonus” classes I’ll occasionally teach.

 

Good Form: The Key to Quicker Progress

People vastly underestimate the power of good form. But it’s amazing how this one little thing can make such a big difference.

One of the most important things to focus on not only when you are new to exercise, but at any time, is the positioning of your body – what is commonly referred to as your “form.” It’s an easy way to make your workout more effective, lessen your chances of injury, and, quite honestly, keep you from looking like you don’t know what you’re doing.

I’ll admit to being a bit of a stickler for form. If you’ve ever taken a class with me, undoubtedly you’ve had to endure the repeated chorus of “use your muscle, not your momentum,” “tuck your bellybutton into your spine,” “drop your shoulders down into your back pockets,” “keep your heads up,” “make sure your arms line up with [fill in the blank],” or one of the many other form cues I have a tendency to throw out there. I can blame – and thank – a particularly fantastic trainer I worked with several years ago, who to this day I still credit for teaching me all the little form, routine and nutrition tricks that really do have a huge impact on my workouts today.

That said, here are a couple quick little fixes that can help you get the most out of your workouts, with less chance of ending up with an injury:

  • Stand up straight. It doesn’t matter if you’re lifting, running, walking, or doing something else upright. It makes me INSANE when I see someone crunched over a cardio machine (You know why it feels easier? Because it is. Don’t be lazy.) The more you focus on your posture, the better your body will feel both during and after. Remember: pick standing over seated when you can – it engages the core muscles for a little extra work.
  • Think about your joints. Keep your elbows tight to your sides for bicep curls. Focus on keeping your shoulders down and lifting with your wrists for lateral raises. And whatever you do, don’t let your shoulders creep up into your ears (it’s terrible for your neck)!
  • Be aware of your core. There’s a reason it’s called a core – it is the center of your body, the powerhouse for everything you do. A tight core means stabilized muscles … which are easier to control … which are easier to keep in good form. This is exactly why I recommend Pilates for everyone – it strengthens the core (abs, back, hips), which is only going to make it easier for you to strengthen everything else.
  • Don’t be afraid to start light. I know, women are constantly being told not to be afraid to lift heavy, and men aren’t going to be seen lifting 10 lb. weights. But it’s always best to lift a little lighter than you think you really need to if you are new to something (or trying to correct form). It’ll help you build muscle memory … meaning good form can come naturally from there on out.

Take a little time to focus on your form during your next workout. It may feel a little different at first – but that’s a good thing! And please, PLEASE … stop hanging all over those cardio machines and throwing your weights. You people make me nervous.

Adventures in Team Teaching

Tonight, I had the pleasure of team teaching Pilates with Erin at Sport and Health – Crystal Park. It was kind of a last-minute thing (just worked it out last night), and we weren’t really sure how to work it … but we ended up having a really great time!

We ended up going half and half with the class – Erin taught the first half, and I finished up the second. It was fun to actually take a class (even if it was only about 20 minutes before I took over), and it’s always great to have the opportunity to see how other instructors structure your classes, interact with participants, and call the moves. I think we both definitely picked up something new to use in each of our classes going forward.

It’s actually the second time in the last week I’ve had a chance to do some team teaching. Last Wednesday, my girl Kim (a.k.a. XSport’s newest Piloxing instructor) helped me out with a block during class. It’s interesting to see how someone else teaching the moves that you are so used to – especially since she’d taken so many classes and picked up some tips from me. She did GREAT – and I’m looking forward to letting her take the reigns when I have to travel for work in May (to the drone conference. I’m not kidding. This is my “real” work…). And I’ll attest … it’s a whole lot easier to teach an entire class when you’ve spent a little bit of time in front of a live class (versus practicing in front of a mirror, with maybe one or two recruits). It gets the jitters out, helps you relax, and maybe even start to find your own personal teaching style.

Bottom line – it’s always great to get perspective on how other instructors teach their classes, especially when they are moves that remain consistent most weeks. There are always opportunities to learn some things yourself.

Let’s Talk About Effort (a.k.a. My Thoughts on Low Resistance)

I have a confession to make: I’m that creeper next to you on the treadmill/elliptical/stepmill/bike. The one who will slyly peek over at the display on your screen. Sometimes, I’m impressed. Sometimes, I want to make sure I’m “beating” you (no, I’m not proud of this insane competitive streak). Sometimes, I’m wondering why you don’t man up and actually push yourself a little. Tonight, I felt like I was doing a lot of the latter.

So, here’s the thing: when it comes to a machine with adjustable resistance (ellipticals and spin bikes), I’m definitely more of a resistance girl than a speed girl. I do think speed has its place, and depending on the song I’m listening to, I appreciate a quick pace. But I love some hard, heavy hills. As I tell my Spinning classes, heavy resistance is what gives you those pretty lines in your legs. I have a preference for the Precor elliptical, which has a resistance scale of 20. I usually hover somewhere between 11 and 18, depending on which machine I’m using (and what song is playing). Which is what motivated tonight’s post.

This evening, I did a little shoulder workout, and headed upstairs for an hour on the elliptical. I’m planning on a long run tomorrow, so I figured I better go about medium effort tonight, because if the weather is nice, there is no telling how far I’ll actually go before I get bored and stop (last week it was about 9.2 miles. I set out to do 7). I situated myself in the second on three rows, just off center, and got moving. Here’s the thing … though I’m one of those weird people who actually does like cardio – I swear, we exist! – I tend to get bored pretty quickly. Even with the music pumping, and the tv on, I’m still people watching. Which usually sinks me into people judging. And by that, I mean looking at the displays of the screen next to and in front of me. And wondering what these people think they are accomplishing by keeping the resistance on the elliptical at a 5. And still moving at a slow pace.

Now, before you go judging me for … well … judging, let me admit that I don’t know everyone’s goals, or injuries, or abilities. But I’m that person sweating buckets regardless of what I’m doing. I actually had a lady ask me walking into my Spinning class (before which I for some unknown reason had an itching desire to run 5k … I said I’m not right in the head) a few weeks back if it was raining outside. It was not. I was just determined to finish my 3.1 in the 26 minutes I had before I had to open up the studio. Anyway, back to my point – if you look gorgeous when you leave the gym, you probably didn’t get much of a workout. Yes, there are a lucky few out there who don’t sweat like it’s August in Louisiana. But I’m certainly not one of them. And neither are most people.

I guess my point is just this: if you are going to take the time to go to the gym, and do something good for yourself, give yourself something to be proud of. If you can’t feel your legs working, your heart rate raising, your blood pumping, then you are likely not living up to your full potential. Here’s a fact for you: below a certain resistance, you’re not really doing the work – momentum is (this is especially true the higher up the incline on an elliptical – momentum is dragging your feet along, making it challenging to keep the leg muscles engaged – and get the benefits of the exercise).

If you’re slogging along at a resistance of 1 – yes, I saw more than on person set at 1 – you’d be better off doing something else. Anything else. You’re probably bored anyway. Challenge yourself. It is, after all, the challenge that makes you stronger – and breeds the will to work harder, to be more, to ultimately help build the body you never thought you could have.

All You Need to Know About Sports Nutrition

100300

You can see the original and find out more about Now Foods and Now Fitness here.

My Students are Becoming Instructors. I Feel Like a Proud Mama.

I know, I know. I’ve been a slacker lately (from a blog perspective). But there has been a LOT going on … and I have some exciting news to share – albeit about a week later than I really wanted to talk about it.

I’ve been teaching group fitness classes for about five years now, and it is, hands down, the most rewarding job in the world. Though it’s more of my free-time fun activity vs. my actual job (at least for now … someday …), I’ve found not only the success stories you hear, but also the relationships you build to be pretty amazing.

Which brings me to what I want to talk about today. I’ve had a few girls take the leap and attend certification classes for a number of formats throughout the years (and another one is picking up another certification soon). Let’s be honest: it’s easy to sign up for a class, but to actually take the time to practice, get an audition, rock it, and get hired by a gym? It’s a lot more difficult (and time consuming) than most people realize.

Which is why I was THRILLED to find out that last week, the first of my “babies” (yes, I’m claiming them now) did all of these things. My girl Kim has been a regular in my Piloxing classes for a while now, and took the leap of faith to get certified herself back in July. And last week, she got herself hired to sub at XSport.

Yes, there is still some work to do, and she’ll do a little team teaching and likely still practicing (and obviously, still attending classes). And the first couple classes may not be perfect (I’ll admit mine did not go as well as I would have wanted them to). But the biggest hurdles are already behind her. It takes a lot of guts to get in front of a room full of people and convince them that you’re not torturing them, you’re having fun with them. And getting a good sweat on along the way. Like anything else, once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes second nature. And as the classes pass, you’ll find what works for you, what works for the class, and how important continuing education truly is.

But I’m claiming “proud mama” (no, I do not have children, and yes, I am younger than Kim). To know that your passion has helped another person build that same kind of passion within herself? It’s incredible. And that’s what makes a great instructor: passion. Seeing Kim’s smiling face in class all these months, I know she has that passion. And I can’t wait to see her start rocking her own classes.

So, are you motivated to make it happen for yourself now? Here are a couple former posts that can get you going:

Finding a Group Fitness Mentor

How Do I Break into the Fitness Industry?