Friday, May 31, 2013

The Edge or Month-End Review, May

What to say? It's been a long month but exercise is not usually what makes me tired. Although, that kettlebell session on Wednesday completely left me somber and made me take a look at my exercise objectives. In the end, I know that I don't get satisfaction from a workout that is too easy. Some of my yoga teachers talk about pushing the edge but not jumping into the fire or something like that -- you know what I mean...

10 Minute Solution: Tone Trouble Zones!
  • 10 Min Stretch

  • Bicycling, 1 x

    Boxing, 3 x's

    Climbing, 5 x's

    Ellen Barrett Live: Sleek Sculpt Express*, 1 x

    Kettlebell, 5 x's

    Stretch Max, 5 x's

    Walking, 11 x's

    Yoga, 8 x's

    *Disclosure: I received this DVD without charge.

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Bang...You're Working Out

    My nightmare was at the top of the list again but, this time, Marisa had already written in the modifications because, you know, you can always modify when you need to...

    50 Burpees (or 25 inchworms)
    50 Push-ups
    25 (right) /25 (left) Squat Press
    25/25 Snatch (or Clean)
    30 Around the Body with a Catch and Lunge

    50 Triceps Dips
    25/25 Rows
    50 Knee-Hug Sit-Ups
    50 Jacks

    Barb, Julia & Jessica Pump Out the Rows While I Catch My Breath

    I tried not to be a sourpuss but seeing 50 burpees dampened my spirits, for sure. Although, an enthusiastic Marisa said that when you see 50 burpees at the top of the list it's like Bang, you're working out...

    The Around the Body was supposed to be Russian Step-ups but we had a sizable group and a chair deficit. We still could have done them because everyone finished reps at different times. I didn't even do the jumping jacks because the group was ready to move on.

    After the jacks, we went on to do swings -- two-hand, hand-to-hand plus squat-curl-press-triceps extension, figure eights etc. then we got down on the floor and did floor presses, windshield wipers yadda yadda yadda and I did not yadda over the best part.

    I barely spoke through the whole situation because instead of Bang, you're working out, it was more like Bang, bang, my baby shot me down...

    I went at my own pace but I also need to remember that kettlebell practice is like yoga practice or any practice -- not everyone can do headstands or is super bendy and not everyone can do burpees as if they have a jet pack underneath them or springs attached to their feet... 

    Sunday, May 26, 2013

    The Shape Of The Pose

    I feel like a kindergartner wanting to put my mat next to my friend,  Sherry said. I laughed.  Sherry was trying to get next to Alison whom I've talked to many times but whose name I just discovered...

    I asked Gloria if she had the urge to go climbing and she told me I'm still afraid of heights. That took a lot out of me. Gloria told me that she would let me know when she's ready to climb again. Translation: don't ask me; I'll ask you...

    As we settled into triangle, Gloria advised us to keep our breath smooth. Take the shape of the pose that you need to in order to keep breathing smoothly. I was definitely having breathing problems so I backed off of a triangle a bit.

    Before savasana, Gloria told us -- Set yourself up to relax so that you can commit to being still. I did not have a problem with commitment because I was worn out.

    At the end of class, I went to gather my things and sat next to Alison. I asked Sherry if she was going to come after me for sitting next to her friend and she said No, she has two sides...

    I wanted to hit the Riverfront Trail but didn't feel like putting my bike rack on my car so I bicycled to the park and stopped to enjoy the breeze and read a bit. Gloria's 9 a.m. class was packed -- starting to think that everyone watched AccuWeather but me...

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    Savasana And Other Zones

    Went to a much anticipated class and yoga date with Cindy yesterday.

    Jen likes to remind us of a Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness exercise.
    The exercise is simply to identify the in-breath as in-breath and the out-breath as the out-breath. When you breathe in, you know that this is your in-breath. When you breathe out, you are mindful that this is your out-breath... 
    Toward the end of practice we aligned two bolsters, wrapped a strap around our legs, got on top of the bolsters and put our shoulders on the ground in a kind of supported fish pose.

    A few minutes later Jen said As we move into savasana...but I had been in the savasana zone for quite a while. Fish pose is very relaxing.

    As Jen closed practice, she talked about the meaning of Namaste, we said it then she softly said thanks and we thanked her back. I turned to Cindy and we saluted each other.

    I keep thinking about something that Gloria said on Sunday about yoga being an opportunity to make connections and build relationships. I took that literally but also thought about ongoing relationships that can be strengthened by reconnecting.

    I just finished reading Complete Idiot's Guide to Yoga. I read Yoga for Dummies but related to Complete... more.

    Loved this part:
    Yoga is like a key to the secret door into the zone. Because yoga unites body and mind, it teaches you to discipline your mental state just as it teaches you discipline over your muscles. Your mind can be the instrument that keeps you in the zone of peak performance. Yoga unlocks the secret door to new productivity, creativity, efficiency, and true delight. (11)
    Someone at work asked me when I stepped into my first yoga class and I realized that this month marks my second year anniversary of participating in a teacher led class. Lucky me...

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    When You're Wrapped Around A Ball

    It's swinging day and the workout went along these lines:

    Two-Hand Swing, 30 seconds

    Clean and Squat, 30 seconds (right arm)
    Clean and Squat, 30 seconds (left)

    Row, 30 secs (r)

    Clean...Squat...Press...Snatch...Rack...Press (60 secs)

    Two-hand swing...

    Next up, reps:

    15 V-Ups or Knee-Hug Sit-Ups
    30 Two-Hand Swings
    20 Cleans
    50 Mountain Climbers (25 Per Leg)
    20 Rows (L & R)
    25 Push-Ups
    10 Around the Body with a Catch and Lunge

    Clean...Squat...Press...Triceps Dip...(60 secs)

    The 20 kettlebell cleans totally owned me...

    For more ab work, we grabbed a medicine ball and did windshield wipers and crunches. I asked Chip if he felt the burn. Burned out, he replied.

    In the middle of the workout, Marisa told us that newbie, Paige, had done over 100 push-ups the other day. I mouthed Who cares? and Marisa ratted me out. I care, she said. I do need to be more careful. I don't know Paige and I shouldn't joke with someone the first time that I make their acquaintance...

    Went home and popped Stretch Max into the DVD. Did stretch routine two with the fitness ball. The music is so relaxing. A lot of the moves reminded me of yoga moves -- with support. I encountered bridge, child's pose, up and downward-facing dog and a floor spine twist. The ball just made every stretch phenomenal. Oh my God, baddha konasana a.k.a. butterfly pose was amazing. I also enjoyed the arm, glute and hamstring stretches and the one where you yawn your whole body out over the ball -- another move that we do in yoga but feels even better when you're wrapped around a ball. This stretch session was such a treat. Gingerzingi, thanks for turning me on to Stretch Max.

    Monday, May 20, 2013

    Taking Out The Knee

    Move her back, Mike told me as he demonstrated a side kick...1-2-3-4...knee...3-4 maneuver. And it was fun moving Michelle back once I got into a good rhythm.

    One of my favorite sequences of the night was a simple right (roundhouse), left (roundhouse) and back kick. My hips didn't quite agree with me though.

    At the end of class, Mike showed us a self-defense move. Taking out the knee is vital. He told us that if we didn't kick the knee the first time to keep trying then told us again that the knee is the key.

    I immediately thought about yoga and how we are told to be careful with the knees. During tree pose, we are told to put our foot anywhere except for on the knee. I've also heard to not torque the knee etc. so it makes perfect sense to take out the knee if someone is attacking you.

    Mike asked us to read a poster on the wall -- the one with blood dripping down it -- with an excerpt from a David Baldacci novel whenever we have time...

    I stretched immediately after boxing. Otherwise, there are consequences. I also pulled out Cathe's Stretch Max when I got home because I am now copycatting Gingerzingi. I chose stretch routine three that incorporates a resistance band.

    I see why Gingerzingi calls it a bondage scarf. I felt hog-tied during the quadriceps stretch but being in that position was amazing.  I kind of got lost during the process of stretching my forearms. It took my mind a while to get with the program as far as positioning the resistance band.

    After stretching I wondered why I don't do it more often but yoga takes care of a lot of my stretching needs but I like variety and I also like "10 minute" solutions so I'm going to stretch on my non-yoga days.

    Oh yeah, totally dug the pink and burgundy outfits that Cathe and her crew had on.

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    The Rough Plan

    Got several emails about climbing. The rough plan was 9:00 a.m. Yoga Under The Arch. Some folks would hit the climbing gym around 10 and others around 10:30.

    The likelihood of me making it under the Arch at 9 was very slim but you never know...

    I wake up in phases since I often go to sleep with the TV on despite having a timer. I woke up and watched Lester and Jenna participate in the new line dancing craze on The Today Show then propped myself up to read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Yoga.

    Went to the basement, rolled out my mat and tried to lift up into wheel pose. The book ended up being by the scale and I weighed myself despite making a decision to stay off the scale for a day. I was not satisfied with the number and I already knew that I wouldn't be...

    Drank my smoothie (almond milk, banana, unsweetened cocoa, flax seeds, peanut butter powder, ice cubes) clipped my fingernails, got my gear and headed to the gym.

    I didn't see anyone that I knew and waited a bit before I put on my unforgiving shoes. I'm pretty sure that I've been stood up by four people so I gear up and hit the auto-belay. I climb, get water. I climb again. Get water.

    It's been a long year week and the tears come. I rubbed my eye and dislodged my contact and, of course, I didn't have any contact solution plus I had a little chalk on my hand. I grabbed a paper towel and placed the contact on the brown paper, washed my hands and hoped for the best.

    As I exited the bathroom, I am invited to climb by two women.
    Me to Tanya: I thought you looked familiar. Are you David's friend?
     D...: We are David's friends.
    So Davel...I can't remember how to pronounce or spell her name put the first part is pronounced like navel put starts with a D...and Tanya chatted with me for a while. They made it to Yoga Under the Arch and expected to see David and Jessica but didn't.

    Not too longer after that, the pair walked in. They totally overslept...

    I passed by a guy and recognized a tattoo. It was Ryan.
    Ryan: You only recognized my tattoo?
    Me: Well you look different.
    Ryan: I have hair.
    Ryan said that while he still felt like he had the coordination for climbing, he was out of shape. He hadn't really climbed in three years and he weighs 25 pounds more than he used to and he says it's such a difference  carrying more weight up the wall. Tell me about it, brother...

    How I Recognized Ryan
    More of Ryan's Tattoo 
    Jessica Working On a 5.10 Route
    Before Jessica and David appeared, I was going to cut out but I'm glad that I didn't. I felt pretty good on the wall even though I botched more routes than I care to remember but I stuck with everything -- even the last route when I felt my energy wane and my fingertips smart... Jessica reminded me to use my legs and behind more...

    Trisha's Rat Tattoo*

    I felt good after climbing and enjoyed the way my body moved. On my post-climbing walk, I am reminded of an important lesson -- to not let my mind write stories...

    Such A Divine Fragrance That I Walked By Twice

    *Trisha co-taught the lead climbing class that I took eons ago.

    Friday, May 17, 2013

    You Wouldn't Do That, Would You? or Stuff People Say To Me

  • You wouldn't do that, would you?

  • My mother upon hearing that Andrew Mason, former Groupon CEO, posted a video of himself doing yoga in his underwear.

  • You know how we eat radishes in Switzerland? With a little butter and salt on top. Mmm, so delicious.

  • Sarah

  • It's you that smells like Christmas.

  • Jessie to me after I magnetically cleared her energy field.

  • You look regal.

  • Bonnie, a woman who thought she knew me then chalked it up to my look.

  • Scudder me...

  • Sue to me during energy workshop

  • No thanks, I'll find the bees.

  • One of my boxing classmates who was not looking forward to allergy season. She preferred taking local honey to acupuncture.

  • I don't want to kill him but I don't want to have lunch with him either

  • Woman at Serendipity Cafe about a bee on her menu.

  • Does everyone have their cell phones on stun?

  • Pat before we started energy therapy work.

  • You were doing aerial fitness

  • Patti to me after my rope got seriously tangled with the auto belay.

  • Spandex is a privilege and not a right and it's a firm belief of mine that if you're a male, it's a privilege. 

  • David to me after I commented on his cool (non-spandex) bike shorts.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    If There's A Kettlebell Static Hold Contest

    Went to kettlebell practice despite not feeling 100% but I would have felt worse had I not gone. Marisa's menu today:

    One Arm Swing, L & R
    Snatch, L & R (Around the Body with a Catch and Lunge, modification)
    Clean and Press, L & R
    Overhead Static Hold, L & R
    Two-Hand Swing
    A to Grass (i.e. Squats) with Kettlebell, 10 x's
    Tactical Lunge


    We did each maneuver for one minute. I made it through the first round okay but staggered through the second one. I must say, though, I can hold a kettlebell in the upright position for a very long time. If there's a  Kettlebell Overhead Static Hold contest, put your money on me.

    Because of recent incidents, we talked about personal safety. Barb had a good point. She suggested parking so that you don't have to back out. Chip said that, if in danger, he would not hesitate to hit other cars to get away. I reminded everyone that fire stations are usually occupied...

    Barb talked about her recent trip to California. Everyone in Cali is in such good shape. I think this talk of Cali people made us swing our 'bells a little longer and lunge a little deeper.

    Speaking of safety, Marisa reminded us that if we could not maintain good form to cease and desist with the reps...

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    How I Spent My Tuesday

    Came home from work, ate a few apple slices, put on sunscreen and headed out the door.

    When I returned from walking, picked up yard debris and heard the subtle motion of water. My neighbor was in his new pool floating around in a plastic chaise longue. It's swimming day but my pool is closed for renovation.

    I contemplated offering my neighbor a cold beverage so that I could float as well. Instead, I took the trash container to the curb then went inside to eat.

    At some point, I moved my dinner bowl away from my legs, read the introduction of a book that just arrived then went prone. I got cold but could not be bothered to get under the covers. Stayed in the same position for almost two hours...

    Think that I go TKO'd by the heat. Even though the humidity was low, we went from light jacket weather to 93 degrees.

    Dandelion in the Middle

    I Brake for Cardinals But They Don't Brake For Me

    Sunday, May 12, 2013

    Let It Go On Its Way

    Looked at Gloria and we started laughing -- a hold over from yesterday's laughter yoga class.

    It was my first time going to laughter yoga and, with anything new, I had my reservations but I went. 

    Before I entered the studio, I was captivated by the staircase. I love passageways and corridors.

    The Way to Flex Fitness
    What to say about laughter yoga? So funny. It was both what I expected and what I did not. One of the most powerful parts of laughter yoga was the laughing meditation -- think savasana but with peals of laughter. 

    We were all lying down with our heads in the same direction. Gloria was next to me and just about caused my demise. Her intense laughter, soon joined by the intense laughter of others, made me absolutely lose it. I slapped my leg, stomped my foot, took my glasses off and said Oh my God a few times...

    Emma, our laughter yoga leader, is really good. She guided us, beautifully, at the end of practice: If a thought comes, acknowledge it and let it go on its way...

    Gloria had me chuckling again right before practice. She read funny quotes about mothers. She also had me laughing when she said that she didn't like her mother until she was around 40 since they had their differences and she also "confessed" to not being a perfect mother but said that she did the best that she could which reminds me of one of Oprah's favorite Maya Angelou quotes: when you know better, you do better

    We started off in downward facing dog. Gloria said that we should feel warmth and I instantly felt the heat which was kind of nice since it was such a chilly morning. 

    Get hot happy Gloria said as we folded over then she encouraged us to make a healthy forward fold by bending at the hips instead of bending at the back. 

    I don't fold too much but I often think of what Madonna said: the more you do yoga -- the more your body opens up.

    The View Leaving Flex Fitness

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Bending Pages or A Few of My Favorite Things

    What do Downward-Facing Death and Wild have in common? I never wanted them to end.

    Downward-Facing Death (DFD) is a Kindle serial and I knew that I wanted to buy it from the moment that I saw it advertised. It's a yoga mystery written by Neal Pollack. How could I go wrong? I had already read Pollack's Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude and enjoyed it. Pollack is really good and he's funny. It was pretty cool, too, to get an email from Amazon letting me know when the next episode of the novel was available.

    DFD is about a charismatic guru who is found all contorted and dead in a yoga studio. Loved this whodunit tale. And here's wisdom from Slim, a friend of the detective Matt Bolster:
    "They try to warn us when we start practicing," Slim said. "Don't get attached. Don't trust your gurus. But then, before you know it, you're following your meditation teacher up to Mendocino and he's asking you to monitor his pot farm for three months while he goes on a silent retreat in Thailand..."
    I tweeted at Pollack that I wanted more Matt Bolster and Lora Powell, a meditation teacher in the book and he tweeted back coming soon! Sweet...

    I am usually a huge page bender but not so with Wild. I just went along for the ride and had an urge to go on some trail and hike...

    I often click on recommendations that Netflix gives me and so that's how I ended up watching Kumare about a man, Vikram Gandhi, from New Jersey who pretends to be a guru. I felt discomfort as I watched Gandhi's charade and I would like to think that I would speak to him after it was all over with but I don't know...

    I was so moved by Raw Faith, an amazing documentary about Marilyn Sewell.

    On a final note, totally dug My 2-Year-Old Judges Books By Their Cover by Robert Bruce.

    Okay, that was a preacher's final note. I also liked a recent Neal Pollack article featured in Yoga Journal -- When Your Teachers Leave.

    What are you diggin' these days?

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    The Pacesetters

    Barb -- Pumping Out The Rows
    I looked at the whiteboard then looked away because I hoped that the workout was for a private client of Marisa's.

    We warmed up with jumping jacks, mountain climbers, butt kickers and plank jacks and I assured Marisa that I was all warmed up.

    The workout was not for a private client but for our group. Our mission, should we manage not to pass out, was to do:

    50 Burpees
    50 Push-Ups
    25 Squat/Presses, Right Arm
    25 Squat/Presses, Left
    25 Rows, R & L
    50 Knee Hug Sit-Ups
    Plank (50 Seconds)
    50 Jumping Jacks
    10 Dive Bomber Push-Ups
    10 Side Plank Hip Dip/Raises, R & L

    Before and after this series we did simple kettlebell swings. For burpees, I ended up modifying and doing inchworms. Erin and Julia set the pace and we pretty much went to the next exercise when they finished. When I reached 25 knee hug sit-ups, Marisa looked my way as I was forming a word then asked Were you just getting ready to say fourteen?

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    Unfurl Your Brows or The Gospel According to Madonna


  • The more you do yoga, the more your body opens up...

  • The body has trade-offs for everything...

  • Yoga is all about releasing energy...because it gets blocked.

  • I loathe hot yoga.

    Madonna to me after I told her what I originally used my yoga towel for...

  • Loosen up that synovial fluid...

    One of Madonna's favorite fluids...

  • I tell people that I can't wait until the next day because I'll be even more beautiful then. If I don't say it, who will?

  • We need to move our bodies...,

    (As we moved a leg back and forth while it was suspended from a strap on the yoga wall)

  • You all look gorgeous... Madonna to the class as we were in Warrior I

  • We all have our reasons that we are drawn to yoga...

  • You can put your legs up on the wall at home...You can breathe, can't you? Re: the importance of having a home practice.

  • Don't get uneven on me...

  • Let go...unfurl your brows... At the start of savasana

  • The first time that I experienced restorative yoga was with Madonna and it was amazing. Haven't been able to go a Madonna led class in a while but I still remember the lessons and the laughter. Thanks Madonna...

    Monday, May 6, 2013


    I thought about taking Gloria an apple or dark chocolate on Sunday then nixed the idea.

    Gave myself a talk about drinking too much of the Kool-Aid and drinking too much of the yoga mix.

    I told myself to stop being goofy and to stop with the corniness...

    As I walked into class, Gloria told me that she had something for me – a book about swimming. 

    And her quote that morning was from a Tibetan Buddhist – You only have this moment

    Didn't realize that it was Teacher Appreciation Week until I saw this tweet:

    I should have totally followed my first mind on Sunday. In fact, I'm still in touch with one of my high school teachers. I should drop her a line and let her know that I still appreciate her.

    Saturday, May 4, 2013


    Texted Marisa to let her know that I would not be attending kettlebell class on Wednesday and would see her Saturday.
    Marisa: (Princess) Tiffany has xyz and Liz has and might be the only one.
    Me: I don't want you to give up Saturday for me. I'll catch you Wednesday.
    Marisa: Come to class! It's what I do!
    Me: A silent damn...
    I never want one-on-one kettlebell practice with Marisa who is first-class but...

    I barely get myself together in time and remind myself that I am not a morning person and that's okay. When I get to Marisa's, Julia is there. I don't remember her but she used to swing at the place that closed, feels like a badass when she practices kettlebell and has lost 60 pounds.

    We start off doing jumping jacks then we pick up our kettlebell for 10 two-hand swings. We do mountain climbers then get up and do 10 right hand swings then 10 burpees with a push-up and a tuck jump and that just saps my energy but I move on to:

    10 Swings, R
    10 Swings, L
    10 Rows, R
    10 Rows, L
    20 ATB (Around the Body) with a catch and lunge

    At some point, we go back to single arm swings for one minute -- way too long if you ask me. We also get in 10 bottom up presses and 20 squats.

    We do planks from the TRX and I'm still not sure how Marisa gets in and out, when she demonstrates, with no assistance. Also don't know how people work out quietly. I am noisy and I sometimes protest too much but I don't care because it gets me through the workout.

    We check out the battle ropes for a minute -- doubles -- 10 x's; singles -- 10 x's; outs -- 10 x's.

    We do core work with a medicine ball. Then we do a straight arm plank, right side and left side planks, a forearm plank and, to end the workout, we squat while holding the medicine ball out. I drop my ball before time is up and Marisa tells me to finish it out and I do.

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

    The Gift That Keeps On Giving

    Woke up early, wondered why the TV wasn't responding to the remote and why my iPod wasn't updating. I finally connected the dots -- no electricity. The only noise in the house came from my iPod alarm, a chime signaling that my daily yoga quote had arrived and the unconscious flipping of switches that produced nothing.

    I feel like I'm always learning lessons and the lack of electricity was definitely a lesson in preparing ahead of time. Luckily, I usually get clothes that don't require a lot of maintenance. But what to eat? I went to an independent coffee shop and got a breakfast sammie and coffee then headed to work. Still missed my oatmeal with banana and mango...

    Hit the climbing gym yesterday and when I spotted Cindy, I felt the corners of my mouth lift and the smile spread. I was happy to see her. Didn't know that she was coming and she probably didn't think that I was coming either since I had emailed our group that I didn't know if I would swing my kettlebell or swing from ropes...

    I was belaying when Cindy got ready to leave and, being the good belayer that I am, I slightly turned to kiss her and instead of cheeks, we ended up lip to lip and now I have that I Kissed A Girl...Katy Perry song in my head. Tim* -- no disrespect intended.

    Went to yoga and Jen had the line of the night during corpse pose: Allow yourself the mental and physical gift of letting go. She also said pertinent things about corpse pose vs. savasana and the act of renewal that comes every time you step on the mat.

    As I drove home I realized, again, how much I adore earth salutations. I really need to take time to do them at home. The electricity finally came on around 9 p.m. and, coolest of all, my fish pulled through...

    *Cindy's fiancee