Ride the Wave

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Per the quest to try new things in fitness and wellness, I have discovered a zen-ful place – WaveRoom Yoga in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I first learned of this studio from a former YMCA colleague Lori Skerjanz. She is the owner, entrepreneur and visioneer. She is also incredibly busy selling her brain-child, patent-pending product The Ravi, a heavy yoga blanket for practice and therapeutic use.

AarikaRide the Wave
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GX Thanks

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Group Exercise has played a big role in my fitness life for about 14 years. I remember fondly my free access to the state-of-the-art “Strom” center as a student at USC. And, my goodness, I took advantage. That’s where I attended my first GX class – probably pilates. Then I was hooked forever.

All these years, I have participated like mad. There were times when I needed that setting and instructor to motivate me or I was just not going to exercise. As a seeker of variety, I’ve sampled almost every class type. Been ground up and spit out by the bootcamp instructors. Been soothed and flexed by the yoga instructors. Been thoroughly impressed with senior citizens that could outdo me.

I have been a personal trainer for about 4 years. It was not until my latest job that I ventured into group exercise instruction. Exhilarated with the new challenge, I still had to pace myself. I taught 1 class a week from August to December 2017. I taught 3 classes a week January to March 2018. Classes were Plyoga, Total Body and Pep Step.

The participants were my boos. I loved them all, grooving to my playlists, pushing to the max. I did it for them, right. They needed me, and the inspiration flowed both ways. But after only 3 months, I realized GX may not be my perpetual calling…

For one, I was having terrible body issues flare up. I did have a serious car accident last August that contributed. I was still not over some shoulder, back, hip ailments.

For two, I didn’t really get to baby my body in the process. Sure, I shared my journey with classes, but once adrenaline pumped I wasn’t so limited and aggravated things without knowing.

For three, it wasn’t about me. I was performing. I was on. I had to lead these eager folks in high kicks, lunges, planks and downward dogs. I could not be overly concerned with myself.

For four, the schedule was ambitious and demanding for me when I got up to teaching 3 days per week, back-to-back. The show must go on whether I was sore or sick or whatever. People relied on me, and my facility did not have a substitute. Eek!

For five, I realized how much time and care went into class preparation. I spent countless hours pooling music, writing routines, practicing and setting up the room.

For six, I spent many more hours promoting offerings, fulfilling registration and communicating with participants. Each class required tender attention. And, yes, I did want my boos to have access to me.

All this is to say… OMG, I DID NOT REALIZE WHAT GROUP EXERCISE INSTRUCTORS WERE CONTRIBUTING. I did not realize intimately before how much heart they all must have. To hustle through and through. To walk everything off. To keep a smile on their faces. To do all of this for the betterment of others.

I just needed to put it out there. Thank you, fabulous Group Exercise Instructors of the world! You have given so much. And you have shaped me personally and professionally.

Oh, by the way, ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2018 has Group Training listed at #2. The article states that although GX has been a long-time potential trend, it did not make the Top 20 until 2017.

#respect

AarikaGX Thanks
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Meet Me at the Bar

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Closing out the year strong, and having a little flexibility of schedule, I decided to take on a new fitness venture. My office life kept me in Greenville, so what better time to explore that area. I had two friends petition me to come to their group exercise classes. They didn’t have to try hard at all to get me to CycleBar.

Sells Itself

CycleBar started in 2004 in Boston and is now a well-recognized cycle studio brand with franchise opportunities. The founding principles for a rockin’ experience still stand: great instructors, great music, great environment. The CycleTheatre is most impressive – tiered bikes, data monitoring and state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting.

Goal Setting

As a first-timer, I got to participate in a 30-minute Intro Ride for free. Unfortunately, I was late to that class due to Woodruff Road traffic. Fortunately, they were so nice to let me just hang for another 20 minutes and join the next full-length class (for all levels). I absolutely loved it! Clearly high from endorphins, I purchased a New Riders Special – 5 rides for $39. Since the rides expired after 1 month, it perfectly fit my timeline for a “December of devotion,” and I opted for 1 ride per week.

CycleBar

Some details about this experience that can’t be overlooked… CycleBar was incredibly thoughtful. They gave me promo items upon signing up – water bottle, lip balm, magnet. They supplied water, snacks and all kinds of products in the bathroom including hair ties. They provided cycling shoes and sweat towels for each ride. CycleBar also had their tech covered. You register online for classes, then arrive in-person to simply check-in on a tablet.

CycleStars

My secondary goal was to try all different instructors. I thought, I might as well maximize this situation for variety of class types and personalities. I took my friend Simone’s class. She is a powerhouse, and for this particular sesh she was 8 months pregnant. She said, “If I can do it, you can.” :0 I took my friend Emily’s class. She used music videos, which totally had me tranced and ignoring the pain. We blasted our “glutes and guns.” Also, shout outs to Lisl, Greta, Vilora and Demar. They were all high-energy, motivational and caring. CycleBar has to be proud!

CycleBar = Focused indoor cycling. Moving and grooving relentlessly but not even noticing. Concierge and clean.

 

AarikaMeet Me at the Bar
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Atlanta MANIA

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MANIA is an annual fitness convention offered in multiple states by SCW Fitness Education, where professionals go to earn credits, get certifications, network with peers, learn new material and be utterly inspired. This year’s Atlanta conference was held July 28-30, and our Fitness department was in attendance.

One Doctor for Life priority is enlisting the most qualified employees. We take pride in investing in staff, providing Certified Personal Trainers and others with continuing education opportunities. The goal was to have trainers and group exercise instructors return from this conference enthusiastic, knowledgeable and better able to serve clients. Here’s what the team had to say…

AARIKA

“What a fantastic experience to reinvigorate the spirit! I loved going with colleagues because we got to know one another better, shared a lot of laughs and commiserated over being exhausted after multiple hours of exercise. I felt lucky to have picked such a thought-provoking two-day lineup. My favorite session was Barre Trilogy with Leslee Bender. She was charismatic and wise. The class was part lecture and part activity. We covered warm-ups and cool-downs with myofascial release. I was fascinated by the impact these can have on performance and recovery.”   

CHRIS

“MANIA was an overall awesome opportunity. It was a great chance to catch up on what is going on in the fitness industry, what the latest trends are and the current research and application. My favorite class was definitely a tie between Stress and Chronic Disease by Kimberly Garcia and Everything Resistance Training by Dr. Len Kravitz. Both of these lectures were super informative, […] explaining the physiology behind everything we discussed. Dr. Kravitz challenged you to […] take a more scientific approach to training clients. Kimberly Garcia encouraged us to look outside the box at how different factors are stressing the body, and how these stressors may be affecting our clients’ overall health and well-being.”

ANNA

“This past weekend in Atlanta for the SCW Fitness Conference was a wonderful experience, and I certainly think my time was well spent in the classes. Some of the sessions incorporated lectures to refresh already acquired knowledge, and then brought attention to additional information that can be used to further health and fitness for clients and myself. My favorite class was a very challenging workout with SGT Ken, which was as physically taxing as it was mentally exhausting. SGT Ken’s class sparked some ideas of how to workout more efficiently, so that each exercise session presents the rewarding feeling that only comes from the combination of motivation and hard work.”

< As written for Doctor for Life >
AarikaAtlanta MANIA
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HIIT Me

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After leaving my job at the YMCA, I found myself right back in the Group Exercise classroom regularly. But this time, I was not teaching; I was participating.

For one, my Wellness Department successor Wendy Jo was leading a new Small Group Training, and I wanted to support her and this effort to bring specialty, pay-for programming to Y members. For two, the class type was High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and I had never focused on that very intentionally. For three, the commitment was six weeks, and I could really use that as a condensed period for reboot and body change. Wahoo!!!

HIIT Explained

High Intensity Interval Training describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. For example, a good starter workout is running as fast as you can for one minute and then walking for two minutes. This Shape Magazine article lists 8 benefits of HIIT…

  1. Efficient
  2. Burn fat
  3. Maintain muscle
  4. Healthier heart
  5. No equipment necessary
  6. Do anywhere
  7. Increase metabolism
  8. Seriously challenging

HIIT Experience

I was right that I was not at my preferred level of fitness. I found that out on Day One of class. Granted, HIIT is not supposed to be easy. But, I really thought I would fair better. So, this revelation made me work even harder over the six weeks. I only missed one session – because of a travel conflict. I even worked out on my birthday – really proud of that choice. Wendy Jo and Jana were the instructors. And, man, did they make us all sweat. I did see improvements in endurance and body fat. Don’t worry about my red face in the photo above. I was just pushing it to the max!

I loved this new experience. It is me upholding an objective for the year – “engaging in new physical challenges to keep my own activity fresh and interesting.” To make twice a week workouts for six weeks took prioritization, and was not without me rescheduling a date night or two. Setting goals is incredibly important for me. I really enjoy executing a plan.

YMCA

I am a member of the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg. I mostly frequent their Thomas E. Hannah branch located in downtown Spartanburg. This facility is pretty amazing. It is only about 6 years old, which means state-of-the-art design and clean. They offer plentiful amenities for exercise – courts, pools, classrooms, Schwinn cycles, machines, free weights, functional tools and adjacency to the city’s Rail Trail. The Y is also well known for Group Exercise, offering 65 classes per week, last time I counted. Some instructors have been staples in the community for decades. And that doesn’t mean they are stale; they are the most energetic, caring people you’ll ever meet. Extra nice – Standard GX is included with your monthly membership fee.

YMCA Small Group HIIT = Great variety. Heart pumping. Falling in the floor but smiling. High fives!

 

AarikaHIIT Me
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Coughing in the New Year

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I’m fairly miserable at the moment. I have combination sinus and respiratory infections. I have all the symptoms of the flu, except the added facial pressure and wheezing. It is not the flu though, the nurse practitioner said, because my fever hasn’t been high enough. Go figure.

I’ve been taking every care to recover – visiting the doctor, resting, taking doses of pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, cough suppressant, breathing treatment, vitamins and more. I’ve had high-nutrient items – homemade bone broth, fruit and vegetable smoothies, lean protein, herbal tea with ginger, tons of water and more.

My first priority is to get well and not be a lump. My second priority is to return to work. They desperately need me. I’m at the turn of a revolution in the Wellness Department, and I am M.I.A. for the moment, and I feel terribly guilty.

I start to think about progress and plans for a New Year. Even if it is an arbitrary new beginning, I do like to make a resolution. As I sit sickly reflecting on my last 12 months, what I hope to focus on in 2017 comes easily.

I have pondered often the irony of me “being the most unwell I’ve been in a very long time since taking the job as a Wellness Director.” I have been in the position for nearly five months. The role is demanding. Yet I cop to a good deal of fault for the way in which I have done the job – to my own personal sacrifice.

Technically, this was the first full-time year of my health and fitness career. The larger irony is that I believe I have discovered that all H+F professionals are forced to self-sacrifice. Namely, I find pros running themselves ragged to serve others and make enough money.

They most likely…

  • Work random hours – supremely early mornings and late nights
  • Go through physical toll – repeated instruction and demonstration
  • Juggle employment at multiple places – for financial stability

For me, this has led to…

  • Unpredictability of schedule – little rest and non-routine sleep
  • Chronic cervical spine issue – with neural tension and back, shoulder and arm residuals
  • Lack of time and energy for my own exercise

Which leads to…

  • Discomfort
  • Sour mood
  • Frustration

But all of that is overshadowed for them and for me by one resounding truth… Loving what you do, or more so, why you are doing it

Herein lies my resolution. Not changing the what or the why. Changing the how. For 2017, I will change how I operate. I will keep some health and fitness for me.

I must. Because without being healthy and happy, I cannot expect to spread “healthy and happy.”

This means…

  1. Identifying boundaries and upholding them
  2. Engaging in new physical challenges to keep my own activity fresh and interesting.
  3. Meditating, being quiet and seeking serenity.
AarikaCoughing in the New Year
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GO Day

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Saturday, June 11, 2016, was National Get Outdoors Day, or GO Day for short. This year marked the ninth annual recognized day, but it was the first time I had heard of it. Thanks, random TV commercial!

I talk all the time about the importance of getting outside more. The benefits of fresh air and sunshine are pretty obvious. Even more significant could be the variety of activity – moving your body in a new way, breaking a pattern of boredom, enjoying competition and company or just plain playing.

This special day gave me the perfect opportunity to pester all my training clients via text message, saying “Today is National Get Outdoors Day. Do something fun!”

I took this idea to heart, too. My husband and I were in Vermont that weekend for a wedding. The event was not taking place until 5:00 in the evening, so a group of family and friends and us went for a hike. Although it wasn’t an extreme excursion, it was on target, and may have been one of my most majestic experiences. (The Trapp Family Lodge scenery will not disappoint!)

I was also happy that we turned our whole long weekend into a Great Outdoors adventure by visiting Moss Glen Falls, the “most photogenic waterfall in the state,” and doing a trek along the above-cloud rocky trail of Mount Mansfield, covering about one-third of the trail toward the summit in 46 degrees and 40 mile per hour winds. (Don’t worry. We rewarded ourselves for this physical toll by touring the local Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory later.)

I heard back from my clients…

My shirt for the day! (with a photo of her wearing a “Celebrate the Great Outdoors” t-shirt)

Sweet. Fits my plan of walking to a lake […] and taking pictures.

Ok. Will do it!

I bought a huge piece of cake and ate it OUTDOORS!! (just kidding)

Incredible case study. I was a champion of GO Day as well as a good influence. ☺

AarikaGO Day
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The Power of Ex

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m writing an article about couples.

My fiancé and I are currently in the middle of a three-week fitness challenge. It requires being active seven days a week and adhering to an eating plan. So far so good. Day One was the worst, where he really had to make some mental adjustments regarding working out with me, put the pride aside. He was “anti,” but I’m nothing if not persistent. Day Seven has been the best. We’re in a groove now, falling in the floor dramatizing when we’re tired and cracking jokes mid-hustle about the people on the instructional videos.

I pushed for him to join me on this challenge. Our wedding day is coming up quick, and I do think it is nice for us to both be at our best for such a grand occasion. I also know how much it can increase our relationship success. Per expert analyses, laymen surveys and even lab studies, it has been proven that there are a lot of positives for couples that sweat together – namely they stay together.

Here are the biggest benefits of couples exercising from my perspective…

1) Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins into the body. People experience this natural high; elevating mood, decreasing anxiety, leading to healthy patterns for energy balance and sleep. Best of all – couples are experiencing this “good juju” together.

2) Many couples spend all day long apart. Each person has work, errands, meetings, kid shuttling, etc. These regular duties keep us so busy, we’re starving for quality time with our significant others. Exercise can be a way to kill two birds with one stone. You’re together. You’re in sync. You’re bonding. And heck, setting up a workout schedule is kind of like making dates with each other – “let’s get started around 7:00” – that can be reminiscent of the courtship past.

3) One of the biggest limiting factors that my clients are faced with is a lack of social support. You know it – how you have a fitness goal in mind but then others don’t really understand it or want to hear too much about it or join in on the good behavior. When couples are active together, that not only can ensure long, healthy lives for them but also creates a built-in partner for “cheerleading,” someone who completely relates and is rooting for your happiness. You may also logistically enjoy having a spotter or duo for certain moves and stretches.

4) People get comfortable. You feel settled in a relationship. You’re not on the market anymore. So you maybe don’t try as hard? However, physical attraction is still a key factor to a romance. Be real. Who doesn’t want to be seen as good-looking through his or her partner’s eyes? Exercise, similar to sex, triggers several physiological signs similar to arousal – sweaty palms, increased heart rate, shortness of breath. Use this phenomenon to your advantage. You may also find those yoga pants or fitted t-shirts to be visually pleasing!

5) Like my guy and I, you may find that fitness is fun. You may fall down together. You may pick each other back up. You may smile through the pain. You may push yourself harder because someone is watching. You may banter wittily back and forth. You may start inside jokes. You may realize a little competition creates a spark or fuels a flame.

6) I believe part of being a good person is seeking self-improvement. How productive and fulfilling could couple-improvement be? You set out on new adventures together, striving for a common goal. And when you reach that goal, it is a joint accomplishment. You have a reason to celebrate and cherish the victory. Then you take on a new challenge, and the splendid cycle continues.

7) Exercise equals physical adaptations. You can get stronger. You can get faster. You can last longer. Endurance, people. A magical thing. It’s essential to everyday tasks and managing your responses to everyday stress. It can have benefits between the sheets too.

8) Exercise creates new avenues for communication. You are learning skills and terminology, for sure. The experience alone gives you something new to talk about, chatting about what routines you like most, what is sore today after yesterday’s tough gym session. That sharing also generates trust and appreciation. You are able to be yourselves, potentially vulnerable up against new odds. You offer constructive input without judgment to each other.

AarikaThe Power of Ex
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