Yet Another Fitness Adventure!

Guess what I tried? Stand Up Paddleboarding!

If you are wondering what we are all looking at, the instructor is in the middle giving a safety lesson. Yay paddleboards!

If you are wondering what we are all looking at, the instructor is in the middle giving a safety lesson. Yay paddleboards!

Yep, it was another adventure! My boxing/fitness studio offered the class. The owner said that in summer fewer people go to the gym, so the studio offers some speciality programs to keep people motivated. Sometimes it’s high intensity classes in the studio and sometimes it’s one-off classes like this.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. The studio emailed us about the class back in June. At that time I assumed that by late July it would be hot. You know, the way late summer usually is. However, this has been a particularly cool summer here in the Midwest. How cool? Well, that morning when I got up, it was 58 degrees. We also had a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms that night. On top of weather concerns, I had “first class” jitters. You know what I mean – those silly butterflies that say things like:

  • You are going to fall in the lake many, many times, and unlike when you fail at other things, everyone will be staring at you.
  • You do not have balance. You do not know what you are doing. Why are you taking this class?
  • You do not know how to dress for this. The email said to bring layers… but you are on a board on a lake, what does that even mean???
  • It is going to storm.
  • The lake will be cold.
  • You will fall in, then lightening will strike your head.

(Okay, maybe I wasn’t really worried about that last one.)

But you know… I had said I would go. Plus there was a nonrefundable equipment rental fee. And the thunderstorm warnings were moved until later that night. So, I packed a bag with everything I could think of (two towels, water bottle, sweatshirt, spare shoes, etc.) and after work, headed to the lake.

I didn’t need worry. Standup Paddleboards are a lot more stable than they look. In fact, the only time I got wet was carrying my board out of the water to the shore. I never fell in, and even if I had, everyone was super supportive of the folks that took a swim. As one gal said, “Once you fall in, it stops being scary. What’s going to happen? I’ll get more wet?”

This class was awesome on a number of levels. First of all, one of my goals with fitness is to try everything. I am so, so new at all this. I hated sports as a kid and for most of my life, I was not athletic. I’m still learning what I like, and what I don’t. I figure that the best way to learn that is just to try everything. That’s also why I took Pilates the other day – it’s all about new experiences.

I’m trying to be anti-fragile. Nerd Fitness has a great article about that here: Becoming Antifragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos. If I am going to make fitness a way of life, I don’t want to be locked into anything. I know myself, I can become obsessed. Then, if something goes wrong, I have a tendency to drop it like a hot potato. I don’t want that to derail me. Having a huge list of things that help me keep active that I love is much better than being obsessed with just one thing.

Another great thing? I got out on a new lake! This particular lake is really close to my house, but I have never had the opportunity to get out on it. We didn’t go all that far around, but even still I got to see the lake in a whole new way. I love that.

To my surprise, I was fairly decent at it. For most of my life I’ve been the slow one, the uncoordinated one, the one who didn’t understand the rules, the one who sat on the sidelines. Being picked last for kickball – after the kid with the leg braces – can be really hard on your kiddo self esteem. As an adult, I don’t mind it as much. I’m much better at accepting that I have a higher learning curve when it comes to physical fitness than others. I spent most of my life in my head, wrapped up in books and art, this fitness thing is all new to me. I can accept that and be comfortable with the notion that I can get better with practice. However, in this SUP class, I felt like I held my own. I wasn’t in the front of the pack, but I also wasn’t in the back. I’d say, front of the middle. At the end when we held a relay race, I did my part and felt great about it (there were some who were too scared to try.)

Which brings up another thing – I did it! Like I said, I was nervous about it, but I did it. (And I would go again in a heartbeat.) All this fitness stuff has given me a confidence in myself that I’ve never had before. I always knew I could trust my brain to get me through most situations, but I have never had that kind of faith in my body. SUP requires your whole body – from toes to head – and I felt good about it.

When I called Julian after the class he answered the phone with, “Hello Adventurer!” It was the best thing he could have said.

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Biking Adventures

Pure summer, right here in this photo.

Pure summer, right here in this photo.

My little hound dog is on the mend. The meds the vet gave him help and he is a much perkier pooch. He’s still on restrictions though, so no walks for a couple weeks. I took him up to the cabin last weekend. There, I have a big open lot where I can put him out on a tie-out and he can get fresh air without a walk. It also has the advantage of not having any stairs to climb, so it was a good spot for recuperation.

In fact, it was good for both of us. The cabin is the perfect place to relax, but there are also a ton of options for outdoor activities. Maybe I can’t walk my dog on the trails, I can still bike them! I went out on the kayak several times a day and even went for a run one morning. Cabins aren’t all R&R though, they are still another house that needs maintaining. I spent a couple hours each day raking, picking up sticks and cleaning out the gutters. It might not be pretty, but it is definitely a work out!

Being able to take my bike up was glorious! It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. There is a rail trail near the cabin, which is perfect for me. It’s fairly flat, which suits my one speed cruiser to a t, and as the photo suggests… it wasn’t all about fitness! There was plenty of “life by the lake” downtime as well.

I stayed through Monday, (an early morning kayak ride is the perfect way to start a week, by the way, so much better than meetings.) With some newly acquired bike time under my belt, I decided to try something else new on Tuesday – I biked to the studio! Now, the boxing studio is not that far away, I knew I could ride there. What was holding me back was traffic. I just got my bike last summer and I haven’t really ridden a bike since I was 16. I’m still getting my feet under me. There are bike lanes part of the way, which are super nice, but still, it is a little intimidating.

That is why I did my practice run at 7:00 in the morning. There was some traffic, of course, but it was early enough that it wasn’t crazy. The ride went fine. There was only one spot that I was a little unsure about – one large intersection where the bike lanes get really confusing. Fortunately, a woman many years my senior smoked passed me and flew through it ahead of me. I got to see how she handled it. Yay for older gals on fast bikes teaching this gal on her slow bike how to ride! (In retrospect it was perfectly obvious, but for a newbie like me, it was a little intimidating. That woman passed me at the perfect time, I am very grateful to her, and I am sure she has no idea.)

Now that I have done it once, I know I could ride to the studio for a class. I’d have to pack my water bottle and boxing gloves in a backpack (I don’t have a basket for the bike yet) but it seems fairly easy. It would be nice on weekends or if I decide to swing in for the 5:30AM Monday morning class (yeah, I know) to be able to peddle over. I’m looking forward to it.

Making it Work – Roof Rack Love

Guess who bought herself a new present?roof rack

This is my new roof rack. It can hold a bike and a kayak! I can’t tell you how excited I am!

Last summer a friend gave me a bike, and while I loved riding it, it was difficult to take places without a rack. I could put it in my hatchback and leave the back open, but that just didn’t seem very safe. On top of that, there are some great riding trails up by my cabin, but if I took my bike, I couldn’t take my dog. (I am not going to attempt to transport my dog in a car with an open hatch. He’d probably be fine, but I am not taking that risk.)

Likewise, I have a kayak at my cabin. However, it’s 10 feet long – it definitely won’t fit inside my car. And while I enjoy paddling around the lake by my cabin, I’ve been itching to take it elsewhere – even just down the road a half a mile to a pretty woodland inland lake.

So, I had a bike at the house I wanted to bring to the cabin and a kayak at the cabin I wanted to bring home occasionally, and this week, I made it all possible! Hooray!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my fitness goals. I’m doing a lot of things that at first glance seem pretty different: yoga, strength training, boxing, walking, running, biking, kayaking… and so on. Really, anything that catches my eye is fair game. So, what am I trying to do?

1) I’m looking to find fitness that is fun for me. I was at boxing class the other night and chatting with an older fella that always seems to be there. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Oh, you know… I’m unmotivated. I always feel that way before class. But, (siiiighhhhh,) I make myself get out and do it…” He was the Eeyore of boxing. I thought, “What the heck? Someone actually dreads this class? This class is awesome!” Of course I realize it isn’t for everyone, but then why come? Why not do something else?

If I am going to stay active for the next 40 – 50 years, I am going to do it by finding things that are fun for me. Even running, (which is probably my least favorite of all the stuff I do,) has benefits I love. I make it even better by running in parks and beautiful places. It may not be my forte’, but I never dread it.

2) I want to be a superhero. That is the best way I have of describing it. I want a whole bag of tricks at my disposal. I want to be strong, but also able to run. I want to be able to throw a punch, and also twirl a hoop. Actually, Steve at Nerd Fitness wrote a great post that totally fits in with how I feel: Becoming AntiFragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos.

3) I’m still figuring stuff out. Up until one year ago, I would have laughed if you had told me that I’d be running or working out at fitness studio. I’m still figuring out what this new life is all about. The more things I try and say “Yes” to, the more I learn about myself. It’s a good place to be.

How to Get Better at Boxing

boxingI mentioned that I am ambivalent about hot yoga, I am not ambivalent about boxing. I love my boxing class.

This last class I had an interesting experience. It is a circuit class – they have 10 heavy bags and a maximum of 20 students. The students pair up and one takes the bag while the other does floor work. The first two times I paired up with women. The first class the instructor asked a kind woman to help me out. She would give me tips as we passed back and forth. The second time a little older gal asked if I needed a partner and I was glad to accept. I don’t think she was new, but she may have had health problems, since she did a lot of modifications on the floor work.

This time I paired up with a guy. He was fit. In fact, he looked like my idea of a boxer – powerful. He picked a much heavier bag than the ladies, which I ended up loving. A bag that doesn’t swing as easily is a lot more fun to hit. He was also a workhorse on the floor work. There were no mini breaks for this guy. Now, except for the bag choice, it shouldn’t matter who you pair up with. Even though you are “partnered” you spend the whole class with your backs to each other. One is at the bags on one side of the room, the other is on the floor facing the mirrors on the opposite side. The only time you see each other is between rounds. I say it shouldn’t matter – but it did.

When I partnered with the gal doing modifications, I took more breaks. I felt less able to complete each set. Yet, when I left that night, I knew I still had energy in the tank. I hadn’t given it my all, and isn’t that why I am there? Of course, it make sense to take breaks or do modifications if that’s what you need to do. But if I walk out of there knowing I took shortcuts when I didn’t need to, I’m just cheating myself.

When I partnered with the guy, it was different. While I couldn’t see him exactly, I could hear him pounding away at the bag. When we switched, I could sense that he kept moving through the whole round on the floor work. There were no breaks. It made me work a lot harder myself. And when we passed and he fist bumped my glove and said “way to go” I felt like a million bucks! That night when I left the studio, I was a puddle. I had given it my all – and maybe a little more.

So, I learned my lesson. When I get to class, I’m going to move to the back of the room (where the heavier bags are.) Then I am going to look for someone in better shape than I am to partner with. The harder they work, the harder I work.

Reaching Out

air conditioners The other night, a girlfriend of mine sent me a text asking if I could help her with her air conditioner. She lives just around the corner so I strolled over to give her a hand. It wasn’t bad. It was a little heavy and her basement stairs are a little awkward, but we got it up easy enough. It took a longer to perform the magic “okay just a bit to the left… no right… no, pull it back a bit, I mean, up” dance that is required to get it perfectly positioned in the window. The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes, then we spent another 10 chatting on her front porch before I walked on home.

It was nice. I felt good about being able to help and I liked getting the chance to chat a bit after. It made me think about my network. I’ve got a pretty terrific group of friends, family and loved ones. I need to reach out to them more. I’m getting better at asking for help with projects (I used to be terrible, but I’ve gotten a lot better over the years,) but I am not very good at calling up a friend to chat or asking someone over for a glass of ice tea on the porch.

Typically when I am going through a hard time, my default is to put my head down and power through. It sometimes causes me to isolate myself from people I care about, partly because I need all my energy to deal with the problem and partly because I’m so fragile that it’s easier to “go it alone.” One kind word and I could break down. However, what I am going through right now isn’t that severe. It’s a rough patch. It’s hitting me hard, but I know I can get through it. Reminding myself to reach out and call a friend now and again seems like good idea.

 

Photo credit: Bonnie Natko on flickr

 

Putting it all Together

spokes by ben alfordTonight I am fasting so I can get some blood work done. It’s nothing serious; when I saw my physician the other day she noticed I was overdue for a full physical. She wants to get the blood work done in anticipation for that. I spoke to one of the nurse practitioners about when I should stop in to get the blood drawn – she said I could do it any time of the day, but since it is a “first come, first served” situation, the earlier the better. She suggested getting there right at 7:00AM since the lines are lowest then. So, I’ll have a meal around 6:30 and fast for the rest of the night.

I’m not particularly worried about it, I don’t eat much at night anyway. Actually, I am glad I am having it done. It will be good to see what my health looks like now. It seems like I am focusing a lot on health right now – two different doctors this week and three fitness classes, (two boxing classes and Hot Yoga is Saturday morning.) I’m hoping I can also get in a run or a bike ride too.

Speaking of which – I stopped in at the fancy schmancy sporting goods store yesterday and inquired about a bike/kayak rack for my car. Since I have an older model car (I bought it 10 years ago this month!), they had to special order in some of the parts. It will cost far more than the cost of the kayak and the bike combined, in fact, it will be pretty much double. I’m a little freaked out about spending that much money, but it will let me take the bike up to the cabin and bring the kayak back here, giving me so much more flexibility. Since I drive a Honda, I expect I’ll have this car for another ten years, so it’s a good investment. (And most of the parts I can take to a new car when I get one, so I won’t lose that way either.) It looks like it will be a couple of weeks, but once that is done, I’ll have a lot more options. I like that.

 

Photo credit: Ben Alford on flickr

Intro To Boxing – Round 2

boxing glovesOn Sunday I took Intro to Boxing. Last week I accidentally took the standard Boxing class, thinking it was the Intro course. Because it was a very small class TI (the instructor) let me go ahead, but he strongly suggested I go back and take the Intro class. I enjoyed the standard class, but it seriously kicked my butt. This week I took the class I was supposed to take first.

It was great. We spent time on the jab, upper cut and hook, and of course, all the footwork. Half the class was air punching and working in front of the mirror to learn technique, the other half was at the bags. I loved every minute of it – even the ones where I had no idea what I was doing! In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I wish they taught Boxing in a traditional class format, where you build each week on what you’ve learned, rather than one Intro class and then dive into the regular classes. I also really liked some of the gals that took it with me. I hope I run into them again, we had a good time swearing and sweating and trying to remember to keep our shoulders loose.

My favorite part? TI taught us a combination and then put on mitts so we could actually strike his hands instead of the bag. It was a blast!

(I’ve already signed up for my next class!)

I can’t say why Boxing appeals to me so much. I don’t want it for self defense, and there are plenty of other fitness / martial arts classes out there. There is something about Boxing, though. Every time I think about it, I feel happy. …which is why I am thinking about it a lot. I had an appointment with my doctor about my depression/anxiety. She went through some questions to rule out different causes (like thyroid) that can effect people in similar ways. We talked about a variety of options, she is willing to try medication, but I said I would like to try therapy first. So, we’ll see how that goes. Until then, she gave me a thumbs up on my coping mechanisms – time with friends, time in the gardening and Boxing.

 

Photo credit: Generation Bass on flickr

I Signed Up For What?!?

Fitness classes.st Michael's

I’ve never thought of myself as a fitness class kind of gal. Art classes? Love them. College courses? You bet. Online courses in Archival Study and Genealogy? Been there, done that. But those kinds of classes are all in your head. You might be learning with others, but it’s basically a solitary experience. (As you might guess, the idea of “group work” makes my teeth curl. In my real world, hoity-toity job, we work solo, not in groups.)

I have several friends who love classes, but I’m a DIY loner kind of gal. That’s why I like the exercise I like – biking, kayaking, weight lifting, walking, and running. Sure you can do them with other people, but you don’t have to. (And I don’t.) When I think of fitness classes I think of activities I don’t enjoy, namely: sports. I know that isn’t true, I took yoga for a little while some odd years ago. While we were all in the same room together, we didn’t work together, and yet, I still equate fitness with high school gym classes. And I equate high school gym classes with hell.

Yet, here I am – signed up for a whole bunch of classes. Well, maybe a “whole bunch” is an exaggeration… I am signed up for 4. Four whole classes. (Which feels like a whole bunch to me!)

One of those classes is Intro to Boxing, of course. I met with a trainer at that gym yesterday. They have a deal for new customers where they will sit down with you and “help you figure out your fitness goals.” I knew what my goals were, so it turned out to be more of an informational session on the different classes: what they are, and which ones might fit my needs. It was helpful, she suggested one or two I wouldn’t have thought of taking. I am still mostly interested in their boxing classes, but I might try out some of the others too. We’ll see. Those aren’t the other classes I am signed up for though –

The other three are the fault of my sister. She wants to go to Hot Yoga. The idea of getting all hot and sweaty in a room packed with other people while trying to pull off yoga poses… it sounds terrible.

Then I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She said, “To take Hot Yoga classes with you.” I laughed. I got her makeup instead.

I asked her what my brother-in-law wanted for his birthday. She said, “For you to take a Hot Yoga class with me.” I threw something at her.

I mentioned that her anniversary was coming up. She said, “You know what would be great? Hot Yoga passes for you and I.” grrrrr…..

Then two days later there was a Groupon for Hot Yoga at the place everyone in town raves about, which is also conveniently located right by my house. And the deal? It was a really good one. $30 for 5 classes, which is a savings of $70. I sent her the email and said, “Let’s do it.”

Why did I say yes? Well, most importantly because my sister wants to hang out with me. I love her so much, but we are both busy women and I don’t get to see her as much as I would like. I look forward to any opportunity to spend time with her, even if it means sweating my butt off while doing it. And that’s the other thing – when I was heavier I hated sweating. I hated anything that made me sweat – exercise, summer, warm rooms – anything like that. It made me feel gross. Now that I am exercising, and running on hot summer days, the sweat doesn’t bother me quite as much. I also like heat more than I used to. A couple of years ago I would get out of work and climb into my black car and immediately roll all the windows down while swearing like a sailor. Now, I leave them up and think, “Actually, that feels kind of nice.” Nowadays I am chilled in air conditioning, so heat actually feels… good. That’s something I thought I would never say.

So, we poured through our schedules and class offerings and picked 3 different classes at wildly different times. Her suggestion was that we try a little of everything and see what we like, then we can pick the next two classes.

Hot Yoga. I still can’t believe I said yes.

…I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Photo credit: Charlie Dave on flickr

DOM da da da DOMS!!

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness? Yes, indeed.

Someday....

Someday….

My Boxing class did a number on my muscles. Pretty much everything between armpit to knees was sore. I say armpit deliberately – my arms, wrists and shoulders were fine. I think since I’ve been lifting some weights, I’ve been using those muscles. Everything else? Yowsa – not so much.

I took care of myself after the class, and I am glad I did. I had thought for one quick minute about walking to the gym, (it’s a 20 minute easy walk from my house,) but I didn’t know how tired I’d be afterwards – which turned out to be a good call. Not only was I a hot sweaty mess with a beet red face, I was so tired I didn’t even want to drive! I just sat in my car with the windows rolled down and sipped from my water bottle for awhile. Thank goodness I hadn’t walked!!

When I finally got home, I took a long shower and then put on some of my favorite summer comfy clothes. I had tons of yard work I wanted to do, but instead I made some great food and relaxed the rest of the day with a good book. I made sure I drank a lot of water throughout the day and even went to bed at a pretty reasonable time.

Every muscle that you use to do a squat? Sore. Inner thighs, glutes, and abs? Sore. Sore. Sore. It’s okay though. It feels like my body just took a highlighter and circled all the parts of me I haven’t been working or stretching enough. As long as I keep moving, (walking the dog, doing things around the house,) I feel pretty good. It’s only when I sit for extended periods that I stiffen up a bit. Unfortunately I have a desk job, so Monday was a little rough.

Will I go back? Of course. I am already signed up the Intro to Boxing Class (the one I should have taken first) for next Sunday!

I can’t wait!

Photo credit: Rikard Elofsson on flickr

First Boxing Class!

gloves

These beauties are all mine.

“So, where are your gloves?” Bob, the friendly older gent sitting next to me on the concrete step asked. “Are they in your purse?”

“Noooooooo….” I said cautiously, “I thought this was the beginner’s class. Online it said you could borrow gloves for the first class.”

Bob and Carmen looked at each other. The three of us were sitting outside the gym waiting for the instructor. Bob slowly shook his head, and this is how I found out I had made a mistake. I thought Beginning Boxing was taught every Sunday. Nope. It is taught every other Sunday; this was a regular class. Bob looked me over, “You look like you are pretty fit. I am sure you will be fine.” Carmen looked like she had her doubts.

Then Joe walked up. I actually know Joe – he was on a freelance job I worked last summer. We reintroduced ourselves. As he shook hands with the others, I looked him over. Joe has huge shoulders and is built like a policeman, or a firefighter. I suddenly had the feeling that this was not going to be an easy class.

Then Joe and Carmen started talking about the instructor. (Hereafter known as: TI) “Hey,” she said, “you didn’t come out for his fight.” Joe shrugged and said something about getting busy and losing track of time. “He won,” she said, “but I think TI took it easy on the guy. They had a practice bout last week and he broke the guy’s nose. I think he felt bad.” Before I had a chance to think about that, TI appeared. He was a fairly normal fit looking guy. (I later found out he is a machine.) He waved and ushered us in.

I quickly went over and explained the situation. “Have you taken boxing before?” I shook my head. He explained that I really should take the Intro class first, so if I wanted to come back… I felt panicky. I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Maybe he saw something in my eyes, “Or you can give this a try and do what you can. It’s a small enough class that it would be okay. Normally this class is packed, but since it is Father’s Day, we’re pretty light.” I agreed, and he handed me a package of wrist wraps and some gloves. The wraps I would have to buy, the gloves I could borrow. TI quickly wrapped my wrists, explaining what he was doing while the rest of the class got ready.

The class was a mix of men and women. They were a motley group, some looked like they worked out a lot, others not as much. I had somehow gotten the impression that this type of boxing would be mostly women, probably because the two people I knew took it were women and from some disparaging comments made by a MMA fighter I talked to last fall. I like coed groups – they don’t trigger high school flashbacks like all-women groups do. Some in this group looked really tough, and I liked that too. I’d like to look like that myself someday.

Then we went and got the jump ropes… Let me just say right now, this class was far, far harder than I had imagined. We did circuits – one minute of floor work followed by one minute at the bag. The boxing portions were okay. I mainly focused on how to hold my body, how to do each move and remembering the sequences. I didn’t worry about how hard I hit or how fast. (A guy next to me was fairly slow but he hit the bag with a staggering amount of power. I did my best to ignore him.) The floor work though… Lord, the floor work.

Carmen ended up being my partner. While she was at the bag, I was on the floor and then we’d switch. In between she’d give me little bits of advice whenever she could, but before long we were both just panting and nodding to each other as we passed. TI would do a sequence at the bag and then hop down on the floor to show us what to do there. Each time I felt my face move into an expression of “You want me to do what??” A couple times Carmen caught it and laughed. But when it was my turn I gamely got on the floor with a big determined grin on my face and did my best.

I have to say, TI was awesome. He checked in on me regularly and helped me with everything. “Doing okay?” “Hanging in there?” He asked early on how I had heard about the place and I had told him a friend sent me. At one point he got down on the floor to help me with something and he quipped, “Still like your friend?”

I laughed, “Mostly!”

There was only one point, maybe midway in, when I thought “I am not going to make it.” I felt hot and sweaty and a little weak in the knees. Fortunately a moment later TI called break and I had a chance to catch my breath. After that, I was good to go. By “good to go” I do not in any way mean I was able to complete each set. I did what I could do, and by the end, I’ll admit, I rested more than I moved, but I gave it everything I had and then some. I haven’t tried that hard at anything in a long time. Even though there was a lot I couldn’t do, I still felt pretty good, and when TI came over and fist bumped my glove, I almost teared up a little in pride.

At the end of class Bob walked over. “Well, you didn’t puke, and you didn’t pass out. I think you should come back!” He chuckled a little and then said, “Although, by those rules I don’t know why they let me back.”

I will definitely be back. In fact, I went ahead and bought my first set of gloves.