Sweatin’ to the Newbies

Anyone interested in getting high? High on fitness!download

(Warning: puns continue)High-Fitness-Logo-1

High Fitness classes are the latest craze in my neck of the woods. People of all ages are going gaga over this action-packed aerobics class. I hear it mentioned at the gym, see it all over Instagram hashtags #aerobicsisback, and the sweeping line to get into a class is impossible to miss (I’m talking 80-100 people waiting in line for a class on a weekday morning!).

I’ve been waiting for the right time to give this new school aerobics class a try. When my spunky, talented dance fitness instructor (apparently they don’t call it Zumba anymore?) said she was subbing a class over the weekend, I knew this was my chance.

After asking around and doing a bit of research, I learned that High Fitness is a high intensity, high energy aerobic workout incorporating simple choreography set to a variety of contemporary music. Here’s an explanation from the High Fitness pros:

The creators boast about people getting “addicted to the high,” and from what I’ve seen, that seems accurate. The Fresno Bee got wind of it last December, writing about its popularity at our local gym, GB3.

My endurance is pretty good right now from all that dance fitnessing. I thought with some slight modifications I was ready to give it a try. Bring on my new favorite workout!

My first mistake was not getting up early enough on Saturday morning and strolling in with only 5 minutes to spare. There were probably 60-plus people in the room and all the good spots were taken. I squeezed myself into a spot on the side where I could barely see the instructor or move without the fear of hitting someone. I was constantly craning my neck to see tiny Tiffany way up in the front, while myself and the other late arrivals tried to follow along smashed up against a weight rack.

Tip: There are some dance studios and “boutique” fitness studios that offer High Fitness in a smaller space i.e. smaller classes. That’s a good option if you don’t want to deal with crowds.

But that was all logistics so I tried to power through…

The music was good. A fun mix of pop and hip hop from the past couple of decades that appeals to many age groups. It’s definitely one of the most appealing elements of the class. Spice Girls, anyone?

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Photo credit: highfitness.com

Tiffany has great choreography, and her High class was no different. Moves were sassy and vibrant, working well with the music. You can get the hang of them quickly. It’s a lot less dance and more squats, burpees and jumping mixed in with a few aerobics classics. I imagine retired (or current) cheerleaders love this class. It had that peppy, athlete vibe.

I like a good pep routine but overall, I have to say I’m not down with High.

I couldn’t finish the hour. The moves were too intense and although they offer modifications, I was frustrated by the number of changes I had to make. I really wanted to love this class but found my limitations distracting. I saw people of varying ages and abilities happily modifying moves but that’s just not me.

Shining a spotlight on my inabilities takes the fun out of workouts for me. I don’t want to feel weak; I want to feel empowered.

In the end, I held strong for 40 minutes until my toes started to throb. They were operated on last summer and now a good indicator when I’ve gone too far. One thing this experience showed me was that I’ve finally learned to listen to my body. I no longer push myself through that type of pain — even when my ego is trying to convince me otherwise.

Sorry, High Fitness, I’m just not that into you.

 

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Yoga on the Cheap

Summer is in full swing and it’s been tough keeping up my regularly scheduled fitness. Between work, travel and occupying a constantly bored teen, my yoga practice has been slippin’. It’s difficult to make my favorite class on Saturdays and I can’t rationalize shelling out cash for drop-ins at local studios. I’m forced to get creative.

Enter: my quest for free yoga on YouTube.

I have been mining YouTube for fitness gems for years. DVDs get repetitive and I prefer to mix up workouts. YouTube is perfect for this. Here are some of my favorites for an inexpensive yoga fix:

Yoga with Adriene: She’s a good mix of crunchy but not too granola. Whether aim to feel energized, relieve stress, or focus on specific parts of the body, beginning and advanced yogis have many options with Adriene.

 

Tara Stiles: Tara Stiles is pretty amazing to watch. She’s tall, thin and ultra flexible — but don’t be intimidated. She has a lot of short videos for varying levels. She’s my go-to if I only have time for a 10 minute routine in the morning or before bed. She moves quickly so having some yoga knowledge under your belt helps.

Shiva Rea: These videos aren’t the highest quality but they get the job done. I like the Shiva Rea approach; it’s challenging, a little intense and well paced. She makes me feel all spiritual and s**t.

Yoga House: If you want to learn or perfect specific poses, check out Yoga House. They have a variety of short videos showing you how to get in and out out of various asanas. The video quality is good, just ignore the random passersby in the background.

 

Last but not least, my favorite cheap yoga find is at Lululemon. They offer complimentary community classes on most Sunday mornings before they open for business. It may seem odd to practice in a retail space but it’s surprisingly serene. Classes are led by different local teachers each week. It’s a great way to check out new instructors without paying for a class. I follow Lululemon on Facebook to keep track of weekly in-store events.

Also, free classes take the sting out of buying $100 yoga pants.

Namaste.

 

 

How Joy Got Her Groove Back

 

We’re half way through the year and I have to admit, it’s been a doozie.

I came down with pneumonia in February and was hospitalized for seven days. Yes, SEVEN days for what I thought was just a bad case of the flu. When the ER doctor came in and told me I had pneumonia, I looked at him in disbelief and said, “Just a little bit of pneumonia, right?”

Nope.

It was a large mass in my lung. I was admitted, put on a ton of antibiotics and waited days for the fever to break. It turned into, what I assume in my limited knowledge, the full pneumonia experience. I lost 12 pounds in 6 days. It took weeks to gain any semblance of energy.

But this post isn’t to dwell on that low period of sickness. It’s to talk about how I got back up. I was scared to work out. I didn’t want to push my body too quickly, relapse, and end up back in the dreaded hospital.

Fast forward to June. I’m feeling back to normal and giving props to Zumba.

I am a self-proclaimed gym-class snob but I found a couple of talented Zumba teachers at my local gym. They put together a fun, fast-paced, total-body-workout that I’ve been practicing about 4 times a week. (sidenote: I was so excited to take my teenage daughter with me but after a few classes, she’s still not a fan.)

Zumba is practiced worldwide and got it’s start in Colombia in the 90s. A typical class is a series of choreographed dance routines set to a variety of music, usually with Latin movements and rhythms. The classes I enjoy are an energetic mix of hip hop, salsa, booty shaking, and a high intensity cardio workout set to a variety of music. It’s basically a dance class, which is why I love it.

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I feel like it’s gotten me back into shape faster than my usual workout routine. I have gained back most of the weight that I lost (bummer) but most of the loss was muscle anyway (double bummer) so c’est la vie.

I do have to be careful and find ways to modify around the fast movements and jumping during a typical class. I used to think I couldn’t take the class at all because it’d be too hard on my injury. I’ve found ways to change up jumps and twists here and there and I’m pretty proud (and surprised) that I can keep up. I’m able to get down and sweaty like any other person in the class!

I’m not sure how long this new fitness inspiration will last but for now, I’m just thankful I got my groove back.

A Brief Pause

I didn’t intend a two month break from the blog but life had other plans.

It started with the beginning of another school year, meaning marching band season begins, and there goes my free time. I feel each passing year moving faster and faster so I try to stay present in her life–especially transitioning into the teen years. Marching band is her thing. It’s her reason for getting out of bed every morning, excited to be at school at 7:30. I can’t miss out on that!

Real talk: being a part of her band experience takes me back to my middle and high school color guard heyday. It’s something for us to bond over and a commonality that keeps me feeling connected to her. Plus, I’m not gonna lie, I still like watching marching bands and color guards.

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In between band mom-ing and volunteering as a color guard coach, my mom was diagnosed with melanoma. It took two anxiety-ridden weeks to see how serious it was, if the PET scan was going to show signs that the cancer had spread to any lymph nodes. I took extra days off from work to spend time with her and travel with her to out-of-town appointments. This is not her first bout with cancer.

Luckily, the cancer did not spread. Now, after having a large section of her face operated on, she’s cancer free. Again.

The last two months have been a juggling act between overachieving mom and supportive daughter, leaving little time for much else. It’s funny how easily we can slip into a groove of looking out for everyone else but ourselves. Things are calming down now. I’m hoping to get back to hanging out with my husband, exercising, blogging, wearing a lot more sunscreen–maybe even putting on some lipstick.

Baby steps.

Get By With a Little Help From My Block

This weekend I made a triumphant return to yoga.

Sadly, my life has been yoga-free since the end of July. My surgeon said it’d take about two months to get back to my full vinyasa flow and suggested I settle for a “gentle” practice with no pressure on the toes. I decided to hold off altogether as that kind of yoga doesn’t appeal to me. I get bored in a slow moving yoga class.

My favorite yoga teacher, Jennifer, holds an intermediate level flow class every other Saturday at the gym. This class has been a part of my life for about 10 years. Sometimes I have trouble finding the motivation to break up my Saturday morning with a drive across town for yoga but Jennifer is such a great instructor that I never regret taking time out of my day. It’s been difficult to stay away from class so I was anxious for the weekend. I knew this was my chance to get back on the mat.

 

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Image from ReYoga

I was a compliant patient and followed doctor’s orders–no pressure on the toes. Meaning, no downward dog, no plank.

 

I really hate to participate in a class if I have to sit out for half of the poses. I wasn’t sure how to modify and still get through the entire class but I quickly realized the solution once I got there.

The yoga block was going to be my new friend.

I’ve never used a block under my foot before. I typically find it helpful to use as an extension of my arms if I don’t want to overstretch during tricky poses, like triangle and warrior 3.

During the one hour class, I was pleasantly surprised by how many poses I could still do by placing the block under my ankle. I put it in the “crook” of my ankle to elevate my foot so that my toes wouldn’t push against the ground. I used a foam block as opposed to one made out of cork. I find it a little more forgiving to the top of my foot.

Here are some of my yoga modifications:

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Child’s Pose — this is a good go-to when you want a lighter practice. Since I couldn’t physically do the downward dog, I spent a lot of time here. You can see I have the block between my shin and the top of my foot. My ankle doesn’t move so I just wedged it there to keep my toes off the ground.

 

image1Plank — I opted to do plank on my knees with the block supporting my ankle in the same fashion. I was still engaging my core and getting a good triceps workout so I didn’t feel gipped out of a calorie burn.

 

 

 

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I used the block in the same way during a series where we stood on our knees. It looked similar in table top for cat/cow or sunbird, toes barely grazing the floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the hour, I felt rusty within my yoga practice but energized by the focus it took to stay creative. I walked in discouraged by my limitation and walked out feeling proud that I found a way to get a good workout anyway. Namaslay.

 

 

(Un) Motivated Monday

When resurrecting my blog last month, I made a promise to myself to post every Monday. Today put my promise to the test. I’m just not feeling it.

Haven’t been feelin’ much lately since last week was a doozie.

I started back to work and got back into band mom mode. Jaelynn had a week of band camp (insert movie quote here) and private lessons. I got my stitches out and discussed with my easy, breezy surgeon reasons why I’m still feeling so much discomfort. Apparently my toes will start looking normal again…next year. For the time being, they look like raisin-sausages. (My daughter’s loving and accurate description.)

I also caught a cold. Needless to say, my exercising was put on the back burner, which bums me out, making it harder to stay on track. Does this cycle sound familiar to anyone?

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If so, my question to the tens of you who read my blog is: how do you stay motivated? On those days when you don’t feel like putting on those running shoes or driving to your yoga class or writing another blog post, what pushes you to do it? How do you stay inspired?

I’ve had struggles staying motivated in recent years and found articles and blogs that had a few helpful tips.

I’d love to hear tips on what you do to overcome a slump.

See you next Monday.

Around Paisley Park in a Day

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April 21, 2016 was a painful day for the millions who loved The Purple One. I was in tears at work; I’ve been a Prince fan for as long as I can remember. There was never a time I didn’t listen to his music.

As a kid, his 80s hits were the soundtrack to the dance parties I had with my cousins. As a teen, I rediscovered Purple Rain.

As an adult, I dove deeper into his archives and wondered how one man could be so talented. I caught my first Prince concert then, fueling my admiration. I love the emotional highs and sultry lows of his vocal range. His command of the stage and his dance moves were everythingHe fearlessly pushed boundaries while always keeping his focus on the music.

My focus, months after his death, was on a different type of pain.

My doctor was confident that pain from my toe surgery would subside within a week and walking wouldn’t be a problem. Taking his advice, we planned our final trip of the summer to Minnesota, 10 days after surgery.

I like my doctor but he’s a fibber.

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The constant throbbing pain and swelling I was experiencing was more than I’d anticipated. As our five-day trip to see friends and family approached, so did my reservations. I figured flying would be tricky and my limitations may put a damper on the trip for everyone.

Navigating TSA is annoying on a normal day. Throw in a leg brace and a cane and it’s nightmarish.

 

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Aside from the air travel, we had a great time. I was able to rent a wheelchair at the Minnesota History Museum, Mall of America and Valley Fair amusement park so getting around wasn’t much of a problem. My restrictions forced more down time, out of character for us, but turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

No trip is complete without a few hiccups. The most notable was getting banned from a roller coaster at Valley Fair just as we were getting on. We didn’t know my brace would be a problem until after we waited in the 30-minute line. Apparently I didn’t miss out.

This leads me to my favorite adventure: the paisley one.

There will never be another Prince. I’m still sad but was thrilled to see his studio where so much incredible music was created. Tributes from all over the world lined the surrounding fence. Everything from fan art and purple roller skates to underwear and bags of Doritos were left to honor the artist, months after his death.

Here is a taste of the memorials found at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, MN:prince 2_edited-2

 

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Our trip was a much needed escape from Fresno’s summer heat and polluted air. I couldn’t get over the blue in the Minnesota sky or the puff of its clouds. The time we spent with our family and friends was worth the inconvenience of my bum foot.