From the Archives- “Dear New Girl in Class”

Most people assume that January is the busiest month at the gym.  It’s true there’s a surge in new memberships, but it’s actually springtime that my group fitness class numbers see a significant increase.  I have a few theories about why, but I think the main reason there’s a gap is it can be intimidating to take a new fitness class, especially if you perceive yourself to be out of shape or uncoordinated.  I get it.  In fact, my first strength training class happened when I was training to be the instructor.  This column from 2012 is addressed to others like me who are afraid they can’t keep up, will look foolish, or fail in a group class setting.  I do my best to make everyone feel comfortable and capable, but getting people through the door the first time is the biggest challenge of all.  Maybe, just maybe, I can assuage some of those fear in this piece.  Read on.

 

Dear new girl in the back row in class today,

I noticed you. I know you were hoping to blend into the background. I know you picked today to try my strength training class because it was so crowded you figured I wouldn’t see you, but I did. Actually, I’ve been watching you for the last week as you passed by the window, checking out what was going on in the group exercise room from the corner of your eye. I could tell you were curious. I could also tell you were unsure.

You’re unsure if you belong at the gym. A stranger in a strange land. The equipment is unfamiliar. The trainer lingo a foreign language. You had no idea there were so many ways to squat. On your right there’s a guy in the corner doing pull-ups with an oversized chain draped around his neck. Yes, a chain. On your left is Jillian Michaels flicking ropes like they were licorice. (Actually, this woman makes Jillian look out of shape.)

You’re unsure if you are physically capable of what everyone else is making look so effortless. Why are you the only one breathing heavy? Why are you the only one whose face is beat red and slick with sweat? How is it possible to run with full makeup looking beautiful in Lululemon tops worthy of wearing out in everyday public life? You’re feeling self conscious about your shape and your state of physical well-being. You feel as if every eye in the gym is on you wondering the same thing. You imagine you hear the whisperings. “What is she doing here?” “What does she think she can actually do?” “Thank goodness that’s not me.”

Continue reading “From the Archives- “Dear New Girl in Class””

Moving with Intention

Despite the title my editors gave this article, it’s not about fighting boredom while exercising.  This is about moving with a purpose.  It’s about NOT going through the motions.  It’s about setting specific long and short-term goals.  It’s about identifying what you want out of your workout and lifting, running, cycling in a way to make that happen.  We all fall into a rut, but if we really want the most out of ourselves, we must move with intention.

Click the link below to read on.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865678437/How-to-fight-workout-boredom.html

Sharing Time: Group Fitness Etiquette

Instead of pulling something from the archives, today I’m sharing an article that was sent to me last week.  As a fitness instructor, my job and my goal is to help members make the most of their time for the 60 minutes I have them in the room. Those 60 minutes take hours of work.  Behind every cycle class I teach is an hour scouring for new music, designing drills around the music, creating a ride that is enhanced by the music.  There are hours of reading up on the latest findings in fitness, especially in regards to form and performance.  There are days of training and re-training, certifying and re-certifying.  In other words, I work hard to give you my best for that one short hour.  I come prepared to teach.  I want you to come prepared to work.  Group fitness is successful when we work together.  That’s the whole point.  The tips in this article don’t just apply to cycle class.  They work in kickboxing, yoga, Bodypump, pilates, and so on.

I don’t post this to shame anyone into better behavior.  These are reminders for all of us.  I’ve been guilty of talking during a class, so this is as much for me as it is for everyone else.

Click on the link below to read more.

http://www.rodalewellness.com/weight-loss/20-unspoken-rules-of-indoor-cycling

Pennies in the Bucket

Life is made of a series of small decisions.  There’s a lot to celebrate in that statement.  Change can be difficult and overwhelming when we focus on the big picture.  But when we break up our goals into smaller steps, suddenly that giant elephant on your plate is devoured (or chips, or cookies- insert preferred snack food here).  The point is if we want change to happen, we have to make it happen.  It doesn’t have to happen in a day.  In fact, slower change is typically more permanent change.  Our family has a “Fun Bucket”.  In this bucket is where we collect our loose coins.  Before a big vacation we typically take it to the bank to cash it in for bills.  It’s amazing to me how much we accumulate throughout the year.  It’s not unusual to save in the hundreds.  The best part it we don’t even notice the impact.  Tell me to put $100 aside, I feel that.  Tell me to put $1 a day aside for 100 days, I barely notice that dollar missing from my wallet.

Click on the link below to read about some of the pennies I’m putting in my bucket now.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865674327/Small-changes-make-a-big-difference.html?clear_cache=1

There’s No Such Thing as Perfection

 

This is a hard one to post.  I don’t like focusing on my physical appearance.  When I exercise, I do it for the feeling.  I’ve said it so often I should have shirts made, but honestly, if you feel good you look good.  Not the other way around.

That said, I am human.  I have days when I’m not thrilled with what I see.  More often I see someone who, in my eyes, is the epitome of strength and beauty and I don’t measure up.  We all do it.  I had one of these days last Wednesday.  The critic in me usually makes an appearance when I’m exhausted and struggling to keep up with the daily grind.  My husband had just left for a week-long trip to Chicago that coincided with Parent-Teacher conferences, history presentations at school, Valentine’s day, birthday parties…  you get the idea.

I’d just finished teaching a Total Body Conditioning class when a new member approached me to tell me how much she enjoyed the class.  She then apologized for not being as strong as others and hoped she could look like me one day.  Whoa!  Wait a second!  First off,  everyone is new at one point.  I needed her to know she showed strength simply by showing up to do the work. If she kept that up, she’d be stronger than she could imagine.  Second, while I was flattered, didn’t she realize my body wasn’t perfect?  Of course she did, but she didn’t dwell on the imperfections I was dwelling on.  She just saw a fit girl.  She was admiring the very body I was feeling down about in the moment.  Her words snapped me out of my funk and back to reality.

I’m not fishing for compliments and I certainly don’t want to be a whiner.  My point for writing this is to remind us (okay, mostly me) that perfection doesn’t exist.  While I was wishing to have someone else’s strength, someone was wishing to have mine.  Frankly, it’s a waste of time to pine for what someone else has.  That time is better spent improving what I have.  Accepting who we are doesn’t mean settling.  It simply means we stop wasting energy chasing someone else’s dream.  We focus on our own growth.

Too often I find myself looking at others feeling like they have it all pulled together.  Everything looks so easy to them.  They don’t have the struggles I have.  They don’t have to work hard to stay fit. But of course they do!  And of course they struggle.  Of course they don’t have it all pulled together!  But what struck me most that Wednesday is that others may be looking at me thinking I have it all together!

I’m here to tell you that, yes, some days I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  Overall I’m pleased with how I feel and how I look.  I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in running and I own the work I put into my classes.  If I expect members to show up and give me their best, I have to be willing to give my best, too.  I’m not going to shrug that off.  But there are occasions when it’s just a victory to roll out of bed and show up.

I’m posting these pics of my stomach just as an example.  It is what it is.  They’re not bad.  They’re not ideal.  They just are.  One pic is of my stomach in a normal standing state.  The other is what I see every time I’m in downward dog or tabletop position when I practice yoga.  This is a vast improvement from a few years ago when my core was much weaker, but this is where I’ve landed.  I’m putting it out there to show you that none of us is perfect.  Okay, maybe someone is, but that someone isn’t me.

When I tell people to be open to change and not to expect the changes to be the same as their neighbors’, I mean it.  And I’m usually talking to me.  My fitness journey is mine, and mine alone.  If we can learn to stop measuring our progress  by someone else’s measuring stick, we will find true freedom.  If we can see ourselves the way others see us, we will find peace.  If we can accept who we are and revel in our strengths, we will find joy.  And joy lasts longer than a six-pack.  It’s about progress, not perfection.

My Recovery Routine

 

Ali’s first downward dog.

Come to my group X classes long enough and you’ll hear me say, “What you do after a workout is just as important as what you do during.”  The older I get, the truer those words ring.  Proper recovery allows the muscles to repair stronger.  We are humans, not machines.  We need to replenish the well before we drain it again.  Physical and mental recovery from tough workouts will make us stronger in the long run, and really, that’s why we move.  We aren’t getting ourselves into shape to impress old friends at a reunion or strangers on the beach during our vacations.  We are getting in shape to improve our daily lives and increase our longevity.  Recovery is a critical part of our overall health.  Click on the link below to see what I do to recover.  Take a deep, cleansing breath and enjoy.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865672137/How-I-recover-from-a-tough-workout.html

Social Media Life Isn’t Real Life

Classic. My friend Elfi and I obviously NOT enjoying life post-race. Keeping it real. No filters.

When I was growing up, supermodels set the standard for beauty in magazines and television.  As a 5’2″ girl with no hips, it was tough to look at their tall, lanky bodies and feel like I was falling short (literally).  But I also took comfort in knowing these were paid professionals, and although their pictures were everywhere, I knew deep down they weren’t really the norm.  I didn’t actually know anyone in real life who looked like Cindy Crawford.

But today’s reality is harder to swallow.  There are still supermodels, but the images we’re inundated with most often are of our neighbors, co-workers, and classmates with their bathroom selfies posted on social media.  We look at these pictures and see ourselves.  And when one of our own transforms their body, we feel we should be doing the same or somehow we fail.  What we don’t see in many of these posts is the behind-the-scenes work it takes to get that perfect selfie.  Before we beat ourselves up for not hitting the same mark, we need to remember that social media is as real as the cover of Vogue.

If you view a post feeling feeling inspired to be your best self, that’s a good post.  But if you view a post feeling like a failure, delete it.  For some of us that may mean getting off social media completely.  I don’t think social media is all evil.  I’ve gleaned some great workout info and recipes from some incredible accounts, but even I’m susceptible to the “perfection” that comes through my feeds daily.  So I’ve made a plan to combat the negative influences of Instagram, Facebook and the like.  Click on the link below to read more.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865671196/How-I-plan-to-combat-the-distorted-body-images-on-social-media.html

From the Archives- Gimme A Break

Funny how little things change.  Six years ago I wrote about needing a break from the thing I loved most- running.  What started out as a forced recovery from injury has become a yearly tradition.  Each year during the holidays I take a break from running.  Sometimes it’s physically necessary.  Sometimes it’s mentally necessary.  It’s always a good decision.  This year I took over a month off to recover from a hysterectomy.  For the first time in almost 8 years, I have nothing planned.  No races.  No training cycles to jump into.  I’ll admit it feels freeing to do what I want.  I’ve been showing my spin bike a lot of love.  The road will be there when I’m ready, just like it was after I wrote this post.

Teaching Ali the importance of recovery. She wasn’t even two years old, but she caught on quick!

Taking a Break

Too much of a good thing can be, well, too much.

Take chocolate, for example. Most definitely a good thing, but in high doses can cause even the biggest Willy Wonka fan a stomach ache. Ask my brother.

One Easter, when we were younger and ignorant of food pyramids and nutrition labels, my brother decided that if one bite of chocolate was good, the whole basket much be sensational. Halfway home from Grandma’s house, he was singing a different tune as we made an emergency roadside pitstop. I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say that he rarely overindulged on candy after that.

I may not have a problem abstaining from baskets full of chocolate- although it is still a fantasy of mind to live in a house made of donuts- I can, and often do, overdo my running.

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Christmas Wish List

If you’re like me, your holiday shopping was done a month ago.  If you’re like my husband, you’ve only just begun.  Let me add to the gaggle of Christmas wish lists and give you a few of my wanted items for the season.  (No, this is not a way to sneakily give my family gift hints… or maybe it is.

 

Asics Kayanos-

I’ve run in these shoes since 2008.  The one time I switched, I got a nasty stress fracture.  Lesson learned.  You can find great deals previous seasons’ models right now, too.  If you live close to an Asics Factory Outlet, you can find them as cheap as $60.  Normally they run $150-180.  Worth every penny.  http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/

 

Feetures Socks

You need something to wear with these shoes and I’ve worn Feetures! almost as long as I’ve worn Asics.  With so many styles and options and with their perfect fit, you don’t need to worry about your sock slipping down or causing blisters.  https://feeturesrunning.com

 

Coast LED Headlamp 2-pack

I just bought these at Costco a few weeks ago after an old headlamp burned out.  These are super bright.  But what I love most is that they don’t have a middle strap, so if I don’t want to wear it on my head, I can wear it around my waist.  Still great visibility.  Perfect for your runner during these darker months.

 

Asics Softshell Jacket

I am an admitted jacket hoarder.  I have somewhere around 30, but this one has stolen my heart.  I hate the cold, but with this jacket, I really don’t mind it as much.  Fleece lining.  The sleeves are tight around the wrists to keep out the cold.  Three layers for added warmth.  Thumb holes and a longer sleeve to keep your hands extra toasty.  Tons of pockets, too.  I’m only 5’2″, so this jackets hits me below my hips, but I love that.  Keeps my bum warm!  It’s pricey at $145, but I found it at the outlet store in July and only paid $30!   http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/

 

Sweaty Bands

I love headbands.  Sweaty Bands are among the best.  My head is smaller, so headbands usually slip right off.  Not these.  And bonus for you, you can find a link on this page for a discount code.  http://www.sweatybands.com

 

Run Fast.  Eat Slow- by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

I don’t have this, but I want it.  Hint, hint.  Written by marathoner and 4-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky, this cookbook is chalk full of delicious recipes designed to help you feel and perform at your best.  Indulgent nourishment is how they describe the recipes.  I’m dying to make the bison meatballs.  The superhero muffins already have a large fan base.  I’m not a cook, but this book makes me want to be one.  Find it at any major book retailer.

 

Audible.com

The only thing I love more than running is reading.  Why not combine these passions with a subscription to Audible.com.  Subscribers can download audiobooks and listen while they run.  It’s great motivation for those days when running becomes a chore.  If I’m in the middle of a juicy novel I only allow myself to listen to while running, I’m more likely to lace up my shoes and go.  You can try Audible.com for free and get one free audiobook.  After that it’s $14.95 a month. http://www.audible.com

 

Trigger Point Foam Roller

Roll your aches and pains away with Trigger Point foam rollers.  It’s pain you enjoy.  Actually, start using these foam rollers and that pain will disappear.  Since I’ve started using mine daily, my hamstring aches have almost disappeared. https://www.tptherapy.com/product/GRID_FoamRoller

 

Epsom Salts

I used to be an ice bath believer.  But I’ve found that Epsom Salt baths feel just as invigorating.  During long, cold runs I find myself fantasizing about sinking into a warm bath with epsom salt and a good book.  The bath is often as long as the run.  Find them at any major retailer.

 

Nutzzo Seven Nut and Seed Butter

This ain’t your mama’s peanut butter.  And it’s not cheap.  It can run upwards of $12, but it’s so, so good!  And it’s the holidays, so splurge a little.  And this is a splurge you can feel good about.  Made with cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds it’s delicious and healthy.  There are a number of varieties and versions, but I have yet to find one I don’t like.  Just don’t let the family find yours.  Put it in a safe hiding spot and hoard it for yourself.  https://www.nuttzo.com

 

There you have it.  My 10 Favorite Things to give to the runner/health nut in your life.  Oh, who are we kidding.  Get these for yourself and don’t feel bad about it one bit.  Happy Holidays!

From the Archives- What Fitness Instructors Wish You Knew

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Published last January as fitness classes, predictably, filled up with unsure but eager members.  These words still apply and are a good reminder to all of us, instructors and members alike, how we all have a part in a class’s success.  Enjoy!

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I love my job as a fitness instructor. When I was younger I would get up early to watch Denise Austin “pump it up” on ESPN. Occasionally I would even do the workouts along with her. But mostly I would watch and wish my life to be like hers. She got paid to workout and once in awhile she got to work out on a Hawaiian beach. She got paid! After 25 years of envious viewing, I’m now living that dream (minus the Hawaiian beach- but I’m not dead yet).

That said, I love this time of year. It’s an opportunity for me, as resolution time rolls around once again, to show others how motivating group fitness classes can be. I realize it can be a bit intimidating for some to dive into that sea of change. Results happen best when instructors and members are on the same page. So, I wanted to share a few things fitness instructors wished their members knew, as well as a few things members wished their instructors knew to make 2016 the year good change happens.

Continue reading “From the Archives- What Fitness Instructors Wish You Knew”