Monday, September 26, 2011

Try New Things - Class #4 - Warm Yoga

This class was supposed to be Hot Yoga, but the heaters in the yoga room were on the fritz.  So, we convened in one of the regular exercise studios with the heat turned up.  This provided a warm class (no pulled muscles) but not a hot class (no sweating).  I learned after class that the format of this class is similar to that of a Bikram class, in which you do a set of 26 poses (same poses every week) in a 95-108 degree room separated by rests between poses. 

I really dreaded this class because yoga is just not my thing.  I failed miserably at the class I took with the kickboxing ladies.  I would lie in corpse pose (savasana) and think "wow, I am not burning any calories here" or "how much longer?" or "what do I need to do at work tomorrow" or "maybe I can poke Michelle with my big toe".  Luckily, Mila and Elena (who are good at yoga and way bendier than me) agreed to meet me and Natalie told me what to do in the class. 

I arrived ridiculously early, procured and sanitized a mat, picked up towels, a block and strap and brought iced water with me.  As we went through the poses, the instructor told us to look ourselves in the eyes in the mirror, so it felt like cheating to watch what she was doing to emulate the poses (I still did it).  This class had the soothing music and dim lights, but it lacked a lot of the hippy-dippy stuff that intimidates or irritates some people about yoga.  After I worked through my desire for incense, deep thoughts and encouragement, I realized that if you just want to stretch your body without a lot of fluff, this is the perfect class.  Now, if you could eliminate some of the savasanas (boring!), it would be only an hour and perfect!

Interestingly, I really enjoyed the distractions of the karate class next door (they were breaking boards!) and when one of the other students' teenaged kids were dancing outside the door impatient for her to leave.  On the other hand, as I was struggling to turn my body around for yet another savasana (I am still ridiculously sore in my calves, core and triceps from Total Conditioning on Saturday), I had the nicest thought about the crisp, delicious apple that I had for snack before class.  It was nice to just think about that instead of being embarrassed at how un-bendy I am or how much struggle it took me to get into and out of the savasanas.

So, I give the class a thumbs up, despite the fact that it did not go according to plan and that I still suck at yoga.  It helped me stretch when and parts of my body that I otherwise would not have stretched and that is a good thing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Try New Things - Class #3 - Total Conditioning

Well, as I type this, my arms are still wet-noodley from this morning's Total Conditioning Class.  It totally kicked my ass.

Total Conditioning is a lot like what I imagine Cross-Fit to be: intervals of strength training (weights), followed by more reps with a bit of cardio or cross-functionality (adding legs while lifting with arms, for example), followed by hard cardio (zone 4 or 5).  Go to the next interval and repeat that process for a full hour.

Before class, I met a nice man who showed me how to set-up my area and advised me to start easy with the weights.  He was really helpful and even checked in after class to see how I did.  LifeTime should buy him a coffee because he was an excellent ambassador.  He needn't have worried about me heeding the weight warning!  I selected the lightest weights (green, which are actually 3lbs and not 1lb like I thought and blue 8lbs that I didn't even touch).  I did go up one level on the bar to the yellow 15lb bar, which was OK.  I selected a red stretch band - huge mistake.  Midway through the first set (not the progression to add cardio), I had to drop it and go without.  My swim muscles are fine, but the rest of my upper body is still downright wimpy.  Seriously.  I had the lowest weights of any person in the class, even the grammies!

As with last week's Strike class, our instructor started early and we warmed up fast. I had tried out the '"floating" elliptical machine on the cardio floor to warm-up for 10 minutes, so I was fine with the fast warm-up.  Apparently, this is what everyone does, because I recognized a lot of the people in the class from the machines around me.  Quickly I realized that wearing my Vibrams had been a mistake.  While they were perfect for Strictly Strength (the instructor even wore them), I found them terrible for the cardio portions of Total Conditioning.  I gazed longingly at the cushy Brooks on the lady and man beside me while I changed some of my cardio to low-impact when my feet started complaining.  If you can run in your Vibrams, though, you could definitely do Total Conditioning in them.  I would have preferred a securely-laced running shoe or flat.

I really enjoyed the progression format of the class and the way you could do the low-impact, medium or hard-core versions of each exercise.  The class was all over the map on the variations, so I didn't feel self-conscious about modifying when I needed to do it.  I don't think the guy next to me was ever doing the same exercise as the instructor!  And the cardio was hella-fun.  I channeled my college step-classes and middle-impacted when my feet didn't want to do the high-impact stuff.  At one point, we did squat-thrusts, then had the option to (a) step up on the step, (b) jump with both feet onto the step, or (c) jump over the step.  At another point we did three two-footed forward jumps in a row, then spun around and jumped back to repeat.  It was awesome.  I was dripping sweat at the end of every cardio interval and it usually took me the whole first lifting set to recover.

Total Conditioning was fabulous.  It allowed me to bring it the way Strike did, but because the lifting was more controlled than my crazy punching, I don't appear to have hurt myself as badly.  I will try it again with shoes next time!  Thumbs Up!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Try New Things - Class #2 - Strictly Strength

Today's class was Strictly Strength with Wendy.  I have never done a strength class, so I had no idea what to expect but was pleasantly surprised.

I have not yet regained a full range of motion after Saturday's Strike! beat-down, but I gave Strictly Strength a try anyway.  To prepare, you set-up a step like in step class, lay out a mat, gather two sets of hand-weights (heavy and light) and a weight bar.  I picked the lightest weights possible (green 1lb and blue 2 or 4lb hand weights and my pal the 6lb pink bar) and set-up my area just like my friend Carolyn did.  Carolyn picked WAY heavier weights than I did.  My ego wanted to get bigger weights (some of the other class members had 9lb weights and a 15lb bar!), but I knew it was better to start low than have to swap out in the middle or drop the weights entirely.

We did a little warm-up, then two rounds of shoulders, chest, lunges, squats, calves, biceps, and triceps.  Last, we did glutes, abs, core and back.  I missed the last bit of this and the stretching because it was 6:15 and I had to leave, which is too bad because I am really good at the core.  However, I was able to do the whole workout, except for a few reps of the lunges and squats when my glutes and quads burst into flames.  Apparently, the exercises that you do in each workout change every time because Wendy mentioned that there would be no pushups today.  The music was good and my only criticism was that I had a hard time following the number of reps.  I think I will get better at this with some practice.

I would definitely do this class again, but I think I might run a few miles first to warm-up and after to cool-down because (a) I am addicted to cardio and (b) I am not young or flexible enough to jump right into the warm-up.

As of today, I hereby change the rating scale to thumbs-up v. thumbs-down instead of N out of 10 because the numbers are very likely to be very Steph-o-centric.  The overall quality of a class should not be evaluated on my foibles.  Other folks may just not like to punch or value the sweating as much as I do.  : )

So, Strictly Strength gets a thumbs-up!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Try New Things Offseason Challenge - Class #1 - Strike!

Climb every mountain

or just try every class at LifeTime Fitness!

Now that my triathlon offseason is here, I was thinking about what I could do to keep in shape and avoid the post-race lbs I put on last year.  So, I was thinking, maybe I could just try out all of the classes at my gym.  The gym has classes all day, every day and I have never tried any of them except for spin.

Class #1 - Strike!

So, this morning, I found a buddy and we gave Strike! a try.  It is basically an aerobic kickboxing class merged in intervals with a strength class.  You select a weighted bar and in between sets of kickboxing you do sets of lifting or sparring moves with it.  The kickboxing took me right back to the classes Corinne, Michelle, Katie and I used to take at Kim Brothers and LA Fitness ten years ago.  SO. MUCH. FUN!

We did lots of punching (which I love), lunges, squats, and cardio.  I picked the lightest bar (pink, of course) and was still dripping sweat for the whole class.  Some of the other ladies had really heavy bars, but I don't think I could have done the whole class with a heavier bar.  The instructor started early and appeared as if she would have kept going if not for the hard stop at 10am.  She gave good directions and played music with a good beat. 

My glutes are sore to the touch and I may not be able to move tomorrow, so I give this class a 10 out of 10.  I will definitely be back.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Brick the Cancer Ride Report

After the 100 Miles to Nowhere event, I swore off of events. I figured that the craziness of the ride was an indication that I was just not ready for primetime and hosting an event is a lot of work for the family, especially if I am riding in the event.
So, when Katie decided that she was going to raise money for Athletes for a Cure so she could do Ironman Wisconsin, I thought we would just donate some money. Those Athletes for Cure folks are doing such good stuff by even mentioning prostate cancer since no one seems to be able to mention a prostate without giggling – I am a sucker for them. Well, the donation turned into “let’s host a party to solicit donations for Katie.” Then Doug did the math and realized that we needed to widen the net. Couple that with the silly brick workouts we had been doing (10 mile Mountain Park bike loop + 3 mile neighborhood run loop) x 3 and voila – another event was born!

Brick the Cancer was held on Saturday, July 30 and we raised over $500 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation via cash and donations on Katie’s site. We planned to ride three circuits of the 30 mile down-to-the-river loop, alternated with running three loops of my street (3 miles with cul-de-sacs) for a total of 90 miles of riding and 9 miles of running. Doug made awesome boiled peanuts and BBQ and we got to ride bikes with a lot of neat folks.

Adam posing for Annika

Barry and his magic shoes.

The Blackmons

Brian - Mr. Speedy.  He was the only other person to ride all 100 miles of the 100 MTN

Cindi - fastest woman alive on platform pedals

Dave, my spin class buddy and superfast marathoner

Katie the Event Girl and awesome Doug, who manned the fort despite having the flu.

Doug's awesome sister Michelle, who is going to Wisconsin with us and who escorted Susan and Lynn on their ride before running with her sweet husband.

Susan and Lynn - their run plan sounds like the most fun ever.  They skip and dance and everything.

Tom.  We are going to convince him to do a triathlon one day.  He is already way faster than me on the bike.

GU donated GU Energy Gels, neat banners and schwag and allowed me to buy event-sized quantities of GU Electrolyte Brew and GU Chomps.
You'd think I would have made my artful arrangement so that you could see the labels on the GU and Chomps, but no.

Brooks Running chipped in some schwag and discounts too and everyone loved the Brooks transition zone in the driveway!

Betcha didn't know that trees and bushes make super bike stands!

Schwag box - choose your own!

My neighbors did not complain, we had a few flat tires and other than both of the crashes that I caused, no one wrecked! Katie and Greg brought their margarita machine and made alcohol-free GU Brew-a-Ritas to cool everyone off,

plus some lovely macaroni and cheese. Becky made awesome cake and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Tom made lemon cake and Karen brought peanut butter crackers to share. It was awesome.

On loop 2, we powered through the flat tire events – good practice to change them!  Then, as we climbed back from the river to the house, the sun turned into a ball of flame.   Doug had to hose Adrienne and Marlin (who, along with my buddy Larry, miraculously appear to have been immune to Annika's awesome photography skills) down to cool them off after they rolled in early after electing not to ride down Stroup Road to visit the goats with us.  Karen loves those silly goats!

This let to our newest running innovation – the hose chair. Some strategically placed holes in the chair, a cup of iced beverage and a hose = instant relief.

After the loop 2 run, Doug packed me zip-lock bags of ice to put in my shorts and all riders refilled our bike bottles with ice and the GU-a-ritas.  As we sallied forth (or ground painfully up the hill, whichever) on loop 3, we decided to do two 10 mile loops instead of a longer loop so that we could come back by the house for more ice.  It was that hot.
This proved to be a genius idea because loop 3 was blazing and miserable.  Luckily, as we came within two miles of home (I had to calculate this later because my math had escaped me by that point in the ride), the heavens opened and it began to pour with rain.  The rain was a welcome relief from the heat and oppressive humidity.  After a few minutes of wrangling, the group elected to run our remaining run loop and then reassess the weather situation.  After an uneventful and rather painful (at least for me) run or run/walk, we called it quits and tucked into the delicious BBQ, cakes and homebrew.
I am very pleased to report that Katie met her fundraising goal and that we are all looking forward to Ironman Wisconsin next week!  YES!
So, I am still pretty amateurish at the event thing, but we had a great time.  Who doesn't enjoy a yard party with a little exercise thrown in for fun?