Happy Monday! I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing like kickin’ off the week with a fantastic workout.
That’s exactly what I did this morning when I trekked down to Union Square for an 8 a.m. spin class at SoulCycle.
I met up with my friend Jenna bright and early to get our sweat on. She loves SoulCycle and I enjoyed it when I went for a class last summer, so I figured I’d pair up with her for my next few sessions. I got some gift certificates for the studio, so I’m putting them to good use! Plus, I need to get as many free workouts as I can…I simply can’t afford a gym membership right now.
Anyway, it felt great to do something other than running! I’ve always loved spinning, but haven’t been able to take a class since I graduated from college back in May. I love that SoulCycle turns off the lights and the whole class is lighted only by candle light. My instructor, Clare, had the perfect amount of intensity, encouragement and mental grit pulsating through the room and I really pushed myself to the limit.
Everything about this class was great. The upper body exercises we incorporated into a few songs, the music itself, the energy in the room and the level to which I pushed myself. It was all phenomenal. I felt like I was letting go of all of the stress I had been dealing with and just focused on the burn in my muscles, the sweat dripping down my face and the force of my legs pushing the wheel round and round. It was cathartic.
Whoever thinks spinning is just a workout is crazy.
Or maybe I am. I’m not sure which one is right, but I’m going to say the former.
Regardless, I felt amazing after the workout. I forgot to take a picture, but I’ll be sure to include some sweaty goodness for you tomorrow.
However, I did remember to take a picture after I was dressed for work. I get ready so much faster when I don’t have my computer distracting me.
This is new dress numero uno! I’m in love with it and got it at H&M for only $34.95!
How was your Monday? How do you feel about spinning?
Earlier this week, I let Bob Harper kick my booty into high-gear with his intense fitness DVD from the Inside Out Method series. I did the 30-minute “Bob’s Workout” routine on Wednesday, was ridiculously sore on Thursday, and popped the DVD in once more this afternoon.
I can already tell I’m going to be sore again tomorrow.
Despite being distracted by his ridiculously good looks, I was able to focus on the workout for the entire 30 minutes. The DVD is split up into two workouts, so you can choose to do one of his two workouts, both lasting 30 minutes, or combine them for an insane 60-minute workout. If you’re not at an advanced fitness level, I don’t recommend jumping to the 60-minute workout right away. Ease into it slowly so that you’re comfortable with the progress your body makes.
One of the best parts of this DVD is the fact that you don’t stop moving. Bob constantly has you pushing for a full 30 minutes, working through a variety of total body exercises that keep your heart rate up to burn a maximum amount of calories. He had me doing things like:
- T-Stand Push-ups
- Alternating Lunge Jumps
And more. The exercises alternated from lower to upper body, and during each move he reminded me to keep a tight core to really get those abs burning. By the time I was halfway done, I was dripping with sweat. When the full 30 minutes were over, I felt like I was going to drop to the floor. That’s exactly the kind of workout I crave
For the first workout, Bob also made sure that each exercise could be done with light weights or no weights at all. I currently don’t have a pair of dumbbells at my house and when I first popped in the disc I was nervous that I wouldn’t get an adequate workout. I was wrong. Each move can be done without a weight, but then just add in the dumbbell for some extra oomph. Believe me, you’ll still get a workout without the weights as long as you practice good form and don’t let yourself be lazy.
As for the second workout, I wouldn’t recommend doing it unless you have weights. There are a lot of strength training moves that require the use of a dumbbell. Because I don’t have any, I’m sticking to the first workout for now. Once I get a pair I’ll throw myself through that workout and be sure to report back to y’all!
The only other thing I’ll say about this DVD is how real it is. Bob made a very wise decision when creating this DVD (or whoever made the decision) because he didn’t have the fitness model be all cute, smiley and full of makeup. This girl went through the brutal workout, was dripping in sweat and grunting the entire time. You saw her struggle, falter in some of her movements and breathe nice and heavy. I think that’s a fantastic quality to incorporate into a workout DVD because it’s real! No girl goes through a workout, especially one like this, and smiles silently the whole way through as if she’s experiencing no pain. So I give major kudos to Bob and his DVD-making team on this one.
Have you tried this DVD, or any from the Inside Out Method series? What did you think? What are some of your favorite at-home discs?
I have completed all of my long runs!
According to my training plan, I complete a long run every Saturday, starting at five miles and tacking on a mile about every week. This Saturday I ran my final long run of 11 miles before my half-marathon — it’s less than two weeks away!
The major downside of training during winter while living in Oswego is the inability to run much outside. The harsh winter winds and freezing temperatures don’t allow for a safe (or successful) long run. I tried it a few times, but didn’t run as far or as well as I would’ve liked to because I was constantly avoiding snow piles and ice patches.
As a result, most of my training was spent indoors on the treadmill. While it’s definitely much better than nothing, running on the treadmill is nothing like hitting the pavement outdoors. I knew it would be an adjustment, but I didn’t realize how much until I started running outside while on vacation in Key West. It took me a few miles to hit my usual pace and the wind was definitely a factor I didn’t have to focus on before.
I knew I would have to complete at least one long run outside so that I wasn’t completely unprepared on race day. Well, I’m glad that I had to do 11 miles while I was at home because I don’t think I could have gone somewhere else for better preparation. Oppenheim, do you realize how many hills you have?!
For your entertainment, below are some of the thoughts that ran through my head after each mile marker.
Miles 1 & 2: Easy peasy. Keep this up and you’ll be golden.
Mile 3: Wow, after only a few hills, this mile is almost completely downhill. Lovin’ it.
At this point I turned around and headed back toward my house to hit another route after six miles.
Mile 4: Oh yeah, if it’s all downhill one way, it’s all uphill the other way. Holy crap, my legs are burning.
Mile 5: Whyyy is it still uphill? And where did this wind come from? Worst. Mile. Ever.
Mile 6: Phew, this is mostly straightaways and downhill. Wow, my legs feel good.
This is where I turned down another route to get some more scenery in. It’s also where I hit my stride and my breathing completely became second nature. I’ve heard about “hitting your stride” before, but it’s never happened to me before. Post about that to come soon!
Mile 7 & 8: I can’t wait to blog about this. My legs feel awesome. Man, I can’t wait for dinner tonight.
Here I look up and see nothing but a long, winding incline.
Mile 9: Crap. Oh, crap. Why do I keep finding mile-long hills. Why does Oppenheim have so many hills? And why are there so many dogs out without leashes?!
I turned around and headed back for home.
Mile 10: Only two more miles left. Just keep running, just keep running (said in Dory’s voice from “Finding Nemo”).
Mile 11: Final mile. Push, Samantha. I can’t wait for some food after this. Mmmm, foooooood.
I finished in 1:49:46, which is basically exactly on target for the pace I want to maintain on race day. My goal is simply to finish the race, but ideally I would like to finish within 2:30:00. If I keep up this pace of about 10 minutes per mile, I’ll definitely be able to accomplish it.
There was still one mile left until I got home, so I used it as a cool-down and walked the whole way back. I thought about running part of it, but my right hip really started bothering me so I nixed that idea. No point in overexerting myself and putting myself at risk for injury so close to the race!
So what have I learned about completing long runs?
- Take it one mile at a time. If things get really hard, focus on one step at a time. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Tackling 11 miles is a lot more feasible to me mentally when I only try to do a mile at a time.
- Relax. When the going gets tough, a lot of people tense up naturally. Do your best to keep your shoulders relaxed and your hands loose.
- Make sure you swing your arms back and forth. This sounds simple, but females naturally tend to swing their arms across their bodies without even realizing it. This forces your body to work harder, tuckering you out sooner.
- Regulate your breathing. For me, my breath feels most natural when I take two breaths in, then two breaths out. Try to maintain a regular pattern to help your body relax into a groove.
- Distract yourself. Whether it’s with music, a running partner, or other things that you have to get done, sometimes it’s best to focus on anything but what you’re actually doing. I like to zone out to music or random thoughts so I’m not focusing on the pain in my legs.
What lessons have you learned from long runs, or exercising in general? Do you prefer the treadmills or the great outdoors?
Although I eat rather healthy, I must admit that I don’t exactly know what I should be doing to fuel my body for such a big race. I know that plenty of protein is great post-workout and carb-loading is best the night before a big workout, but I don’t know a lot of the nitty gritty stuff.
I’ve been perusing multiple magazines and websites in order to change this predicament and have found a ton of great recipes to try! I was so excited to get started that I even offered to cook dinner for Dustin and I Friday night (This may not seem like a big deal, but I rarely put on the chef hat).
To start my cooking expedition, I made FITNESS magazine’s tarragon chicken with a few alterations. First, I cut the ingredients in half because the recipe is for four servings and Dustin and I only need two (Well, Dustin usually needs another but he opted for just one this time around). We both don’t like mustard either, so we opted out the Dijon mustard. Finally, we substituted thyme for tarragon because I already had some thyme in my cupboard and the recipe said it works just as well.
Dustin was nervous about cooking the chicken, but my good ole’ working days at Friendly’s (don’t judge) left me feeling confident as I tossed the two seasoned chicken breasts into canola oil.
After 35 minutes, I served up a yummy chicken entrée with cooked shallots on top, then piled on mixed veggies.
So maybe this isn’t a meal I would think of specifically for working out, but it was pretty darn good!
This morning I headed to the gym for my second long run, ready to log six miles on the treadmill because the frigid temps and heavy snowfall aren’t convincing me to head outside just yet. I knew I was going to need something a little more than water, so I picked up one of these babies to test out.
The berry-flavored gel drink tasted great and really helped me breeze through the first few miles of my run. This is the first of the G series I’ve tried from Gatorade, but I’m definitely going to try out more!
Afterward, I chowed down on a delicious grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich — a gooey mess to treat my taste buds while giving my body some much-needed protein. I was craving more peanut butter though, so I chopped up celery sticks and topped them with the treat, just like mom used to do when I was a kid.
Anyone have some good recipes to fuel a workout? Any fun Valentine’s Day dates?
The more I tell people that I’m training for a half-marathon, the more often this question arises: “Why do you want to run a half-marathon?”
I’ve been thinking a lot about this question, trying to come up with an answer better than, “just ’cause.” In the end, I’ve come up with five reasons. From least important to most:
5. I want a rockin’ body on my last spring break trip. (Helloooo, Los Angeles!)
4. I want to be in the best shape of my life.
3. I’ve always wanted to be a long-distance runner, but naturally have a knack for speed races.
2. I want to come back from my knee injury and blood disorder diagnosis.
1. I want to please my mother.
I’m taking advanced nonfiction writing this semester and my professor asked us why we do things a certain way. At one point, we talked about completing assignments at the last minute and she asked if we would still do things so late if we hadn’t always gotten good grades. Essentially, she wanted us to examine the motivation behind our actions. I realized that the grades mattered to me, but mostly because they mattered to my mom. Good grades = a good job = a good life. I started asking myself this question in other areas of my life and realized I came to the same answer.
I want to please my mother.
My mom is one of the smartest women I’ve known. She taught me how to be determined and motivated just by watching how she handles herself. And I’ve learned from her mistakes, which is critical when raising a daughter. After all, what mom wants her daughter to repeat the same mistakes she made?
My mom is also incredibly strong. She was diagnosed with bladder cancer a few years ago, even though she didn’t have the classic symptoms associated with the disease. But after a hellish fight, my mom sent cancer packing and now works with the American Cancer Society to help find a cure. Cancer could have ruined her life, but instead it ended up being a blessing in disguise. Her diagnosis lit a huge passion for fighting cancer in both of us and we now work together to fight for a world with more birthdays.
But where does fitness come into all of this? For the last two years I’ve been a personal trainer at my campus fitness centers and am studying to get my national certification. My mom has a science-heavy background and there’s a science behind fitness, which gives us another thing to talk about and work on together. You never know how much time you’re going to have with your family, so my interest in fitness lets me bond with my mom in unique ways.
Plus, I just want to come home exclaiming, “I ran a half-marathon!” and have my mother be proud of me. As far as I know, nobody else in my family has done this before and I want my mom to enjoy my accomplishment. As I’m sure any child can attest to, there’s nothing quite like seeing pride in a parent’s eyes.
So when I hit the treadmill, I run not only for myself, but for my mom too. Every bead of sweat is just one more step toward my accomplishment. So when I cross that finish line (even if I’m crawling across it), I know I’ll be proud of myself, no matter what.
School started last week and with it began Free Week — the time when the gyms I work for, Cooper and Glimmerglass Fitness Centers, offer free admission to all students, staff and faculty. Anyone can test out the classes and equipment, get their body measurements taken and speak with a personal trainer free of charge.
Sounds fabulous, right? Not if you’re a regular gym-goer. Just like most regulars hate going to the gym during January because of all the people with New Year’s resolutions, the employees and gym regulars at Cooper/Glimmerglass dread Free Week. Hundreds of people filing in and out throughout the day, body odor filling the air and so much sweat on machines it’s scary to even think about.
A co-worker of mine, Antonio Troina, decided to study those who only go to the gym during Free Week. Below are the details of his epic journey, the experiences he lived through and the emotions that ripped through him.
The vast amount of unspeakable atrocities that I have witnessed may haunt my memories for years to come. These so-called ”students” that flock into the facility are the most barbaric and ruthless batch that I have ever seen. No one is safe, not even women and children, from these migrating sloths, or as the natives call them, the free-weekers. Luckily, I have found a safe haven behind this makeshift fortress — a common desk – in Glimmerglass.
Sometimes I feel like these free-weekers have no idea that I am studying them in an attempt to comprehend their abnormal behaviors. Maybe one day I will understand what it is to attend a gym for only one week and truly feel accomplished. Until then I must keep watching, knowing that only vigorous research may uncover the mystery that shadows this land.
This is an important expedition that the world needs to know about. I will not let you down.
As the third day of my expedition unfolds, I find myself questioning the events that took place in the Glimmerglass jungle last night. After getting somewhat accustomed to the strange behaviors of the free-weekers, I decided to take my chances and see if I could cohabitate. I disguised myself in the common free-weeker garb — a cutoff shirt and worn basketball shorts – and stood nervously in the middle of the free weight floor, which happens to be the most dangerous area of Glimmerglass during this dreaded week. At first, it seemed as though I was accepted as one of these free-weekers, but disaster struck soon after.
A larger individual, commonly known as a Grunter, grabbed some free weights and began slamming the weights on the floor. I tried to communicate with the Grunter, asking him not to drop the weights for the safety of others, and instantly my cover was blown. The Grunter’s face went from dumb confusion to a deep scowl.
I quickly looked around and realized that I had managed to grab the attention of the other free-weekers during this debacle. The silent agreement swept the room and the community isolated me as “The Employee.” I needed to make an escape, and quickly. Luckily for me, I found a vacant Expresso bike and peddled my way to safety.
I might not be so fortunate next time, but I will count my blessings each day.
Truthfully speaking, the catastrophic events of day three derailed me from my overall objective. Day four was filled with quiet terror that clouded my research, keeping me away from the gym as much as possible. But day five was a new day and I couldn’t let my supporters down, so I mustered up enough courage to grab a dry pair of sneakers, trek through the mountains of snow outside and find a spot among the swarms of people.
I needed to take another approach into learning the mindsets of these free-weekers because field work clearly was not the answer. I decided to study the female free-weekers to see where this route would take me. The best way to accomplish this? Observing their frequent celebration rituals which consist of sporadic stomping and jumping. The male free-weekers, I noticed, kept their distance from the mob of participants, muttering the word “Zumba” while shaking their heads in disapproval. Zumba? Maybe this would give me the answers I have been searching for.
Stationed at a vacant desk near the ceremonial dance floor, I anxiously waited for the festivities to start. The sounds of foreign instruments began to echo through the gym and a choreographed dance occurred. The more experienced individuals were closer to the front of the floor, dancing with as much style and grace as I imagine the art of Zumba can get. The individuals dancing in the back of the room, however, looked lost and somewhat scared. Oddly enough, they seemed to be enjoying themselves despite fumbling through each song.
The strangest discovery, however, revealed itself at the end of each song: the participants briefly huddled together to tell each other about how happy they all were to be there. It happened more than 10 times in an hour! Baffling…Maybe this quick exchange of emotion is part of the ritual needed to appease the Zumba gods? My research is expanding, although I’m not sure what answers I will find.
The brutal weather and sleepless nights during this anomaly known as Free Week have finally paid off. Though I only did my field work at this facility, I believe that this data has shed light on the common lifestyle of gym members and mapped out a portion of the psychology behind the minds of the free-weekers. Simply put, free-weekers like to roam around aimlessly, participating in foreign rituals and taking up people’s private spaces so that they can say they fit in their fitness quota for the year. One of the few questions that rises now is, where will these nomads go? Is it possible that these free-weekers can find other gyms and pollute them with their improper gym etiquette without memberships? Unfortunately, there isn’t much that I can do other than equip others with my newfound knowledge. This has been a very dangerous task for me, one that I wouldn’t have survived without proper training. For that, I must thank Brian Wallace, the fitness centers manager. Without his extensive experiences in many fitness centers, I would not have lasted one day in this jungle.
As I sign off, I hope that my efforts will help someone in times of fear or desperation. If you ever find yourself in any sort of situation, take a deep breath, look left and right, then grab a stationary bike. No one ever uses those anyway.
-Journal entries written by Antonio Troina and edited by Samantha Shelton. All photos by Samantha Shelton.
Fellow blogger Julie, over at Peanut Butter Fingers, posted a fun survey pertaining to things you’re passionate about. I decided to answer the survey, but make mine all about fitness! Drum roll, please…
Four TV shows I watch during cardio:
- The Biggest Loser
- The Bachelor/Bachelorette
- Dancing with the Stars or America’s Best Dance Crew
- America’s Next Top Model
Four things I’m passionate about:
- Testing new workouts.
- Outdoor activities (hiking is my favorite!).
- Training and helping others reach their fitness goals.
- Fighting cancer.
Four things I’ve learned in the past:
- Don’t let the past hold you back. Who you were back then doesn’t define who you are today.
- Always be open to change. You never know what amazing things will happen.
- Communication is key. You need to know your limits and clients need to communicate with me to help me determine theirs.
- Find your reason. No matter what it is or who it is that motivates you, your passion is what’s going to push you past what you thought was possible.
Four things I’m looking forward to:
- Graduating in May and looking for jobs to moonlight as a personal trainer.
- The half-marathon I’m going to run in April.
- The triathlon I’m going to compete in this spring.
- Relay for Life at Oswego State to raise money all night to fight cancer.
Four things I love about winter:
This one’s tough for me because I’m not a huge fan of winter, but here’s what comes to mind…
- Ice skating.
- No humidity.
- Snow shoeing.
- Kisses under the mistletoe. (Did you know kissing for one minute burns 26 calories?)
It’s your turn! What fitness things are you passionate about?
As an obsessed magazine subscriber and purchaser, I constantly forage through as many as I can get my hands on to study layout, design, and of course, look for good content. While I read about 15 different titles a month, there are a few favorites that I always make sure to read cover-to-cover. Of course, they’re all health and fitness related! So, what did we learn this month? Here are three top things I picked up, one from each issue.
1. We have the right to bare arms.
If you couldn’t tell yet, I’m a huge fan of Bob Harper, a personal trainer on The Biggest Loser. I love his personality, the way he connects with clients, and the workouts are sheer torture. I have all of his latest workout DVDs and each one is a doozy. FITNESS created an awesome upper body workout from various moves on Bob’s DVDs, and many of them I never would’ve thought of doing on my own. I’ve done it myself a few times and ran my clients through it, and so far they all love it! No hiding my arms in bulky sweaters this winter!
Added bonus: FITNESS’ Karla Walsh interviewed Bob to get the scoop on his vegan lifestyle and shared healthy eating tips with us!
2. The average smoker inhales 425 cigarettes a month, according to Self.
Wow. And ew. That’s all I can really say. Luckily, Self had a lot more to say. Catherine Ryan wrote a great article that digs into a person’s “smoking personality,” gave them tips to quit, and provided some myth busters. Did you know that the average smoker spends $1,408 a year on smoking? In today’s economy, the cost of cigarettes alone should be reason enough to quit.
Self also gave 10 reasons to quit, most of which I didn’t know before. If you don’t want to quit for you, do it for your favorite pets! Secondhand smoke can lead to them developing cancer. Want to have kids someday? Smokers have a greater risk for infertility. This article is full of interesting information — I immediately texted my smoker friends and told them to go buy it.
3. The average supermarket carries 46,852 items, and Women’s Health scoured the aisles to find 125 of the best packaged food for women. Now I don’t have to search through everything! I don’t know about you, but I hate the fact that grocery shopping takes me about two hours to complete whenever I’m buying a lot of stuff. There are so many labels to read and prices to compare. And I’m still a college student — I have homework to finish, meetings to attend, and work to do! Women’s Health did a great job of narrowing things down for me so I know which packages to not even give a second glance.
The categories are broken into “sweets & treats,” “breads & cereals,” ”condiments,” “pasta & rice,” “snacks, crackers & chips,” ”frozen meals,” “drinks,” “fruits & veggies,” “soups,” “dairy,” and “meat & seafood.” Phew, I think they’ve got it all covered! I’m not going to list everything they have, but let me just say, I’m glad they have Emerald’s Trail Mix – Tropical Blend and Campbell’s Select Harvest Light Italian-Style Vegetable Soup — they’re both staples in my house. Now that I have this list, I bet I’ll be able to transition my boyfriend over to some healthier meals!
Each magazine has a ton of other great articles (FITNESS’ “Power Surge,” Self‘s “Lose weight like a guy” and Women’s Health‘s “Is your health on the line?”), so make sure you go out and snag a copy!
Have you read these issues yet? What did you like about them?
“I can’t wait to get started on my workout tomorrow! I’m going to get up before work so I have time to fit everything in!”
We’ve all been there before — we have a lot of motivation late at night to start our fitness regime bright and early the next morning. But once morning rolls around, something seriously derails our efforts. Especially as college students, we often find ourselves wondering how we’re supposed to fit it into our schedules. The average college student doesn’t just go to class anymore. There’s four or five classes on the docket, one or two part-time jobs, and clubs and organizations. When it’s boiled down to what can be fit into a day’s work, physical fitness is usually the first to be crossed off the list.
Believe me though, you want to make time now that we’re moving fast into those winter months. Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly suffer less from severe colds. Don’t have time to be sick? Avoid these three habits and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier you.
1. Hitting the snooze button.
After all, what’s an extra five minutes going to do for you? It isn’t enough time for your body to fall back into an effective sleep stage, and you’re submitting yourself to unnecessary side effects because you’re interrupting sleep patterns. Those who constantly hit the snooze button can suffer from tiredness (obviously), headaches, mood swings and agitation.
Oversleeping can also mess with your metabolism. According to Health Watch Center, reaching for that small little button can lead to weight increase because you’re altering your sleep patterns, thus throwing your metabolism out of whack. So wouldn’t it be more beneficial to just hop out of bed and drag your butt to the gym? You’ll feel better later, and be glad you went. After all, how many people actually regret going to the gym?
2. Waiting until tomorrow.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” After all, doesn’t tomorrow never come? If you keep postponing your workout session, you’re going to end up kicking yourself. Remember, working out releases endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that help you de-stress and unwind. Not to mention you can snag some alone time away from all of the technological devices that consume today’s society.
Working out today will also keep you healthy — Mayo Clinic says “aerobic activity activates your immune system,” leaving you stronger and less susceptible to illness. So stop waiting and hit the ground running!
3. Skipping meals.
Skipping meals, particularly breakfast, is never a smart idea. However, most of us bolt out the door without putting anything in our stomachs, or with just a measly granola bar. Don’t get me wrong, a granola bar would be sufficient if you ate shortly after, but how many of us wait four to five hours before eating again? I know I fall victim to that sometimes.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that skipping meals also contributes to obesity.The longer you wait to eat, the more your metabolism slows down. Signals are sent to the brain, essentially stating “I’m starving, hang onto everything you can because I don’t know when I’m being fed again.” What’s the first thing the body hangs on to? Fat. So try waking up a few minutes earlier (not hitting that snooze button!) so you can fit in a healthy breakfast to kick-start your day and get your body running right.
What are some of your fitness pitfalls?