All posts tagged: challenge

Ride the Wave

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

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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HIIT Me

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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The Power of Ex

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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Jan Fit Challenge

Thanks to my girl Heidi with Train To Live, I joined a fitness challenge for January. The challenge consisted of a three-day cleanse and then two-weeks of workouts. I started January 5 and am proud to say I completed as of this Wednesday, January 21. I lost 2.875 inches total and feel more toned and energized than I have in a long time. Here’s the skinny on getting skinny…

Cleanse

First let me say that this was not a cleanse like most of you are instantly thinking, intaking only lemon juice and cayenne for three days. It was a clean-eating plan with actual good-for-you foods that another health specialist created with Heidi specifically for this challenge. Participants had a meal plan to repeat each day, including tons of hearty vegetables, lean protein and this dank-ass flax granola we were all required to make. We were not allowed to have fast food, fried food, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar or white flour. The toughest part for me was caffeine. Cleanse Day 1 was categorized by a lingering headache. I was very happy to discover that green tea had just enough caf to take the edge off and was allowed as an herbal tea, full of antioxidants.

Workouts

The exercise plan spanned two weeks. It was composed of 6 Fit Day routines. Basically, over the course, we performed each of those twice (total of 12 days) and incorporated two rest days (Sundays). Fit Days 1 to 5 were pretty high-intensity endurance workouts. One day focused on cardio; one day focused on legs; etc. Fit Day 6 was a stretch day, with 10 minutes of warm-up prior. Amazingly, each day’s routine was designed to be done with zero equipment – and anywhere with roughly five-by-five feet of space. I did use a mat for floor stuff, because I had one handy. The rest of the workouts I did in my bedroom, in the driveway, in the hall at the YMCA or even while out of town.

Things I loved about this challenge

1) I am currently undergoing what I’m considering an incubator phase for my new journey into a health and fitness career (as a personal trainer, plus), and this was the perfect opportunity to try something new. That’s where I am right now – learning as much as possible to shape my interests and path. Now I’ve done a sanctioned fitness challenge. Now I’ve done a cleanse. Experience is power, baby.

2) I was greatly surprised with my own personal results. I had already been eating relatively clean – watching sodium, fat and calories. I was working out regularly too – with a goal of three days per week.  But, alas, we are in the winter season and the holidays just past. So I guess, I wasn’t doing all that I could. I am thrilled to see positive changes in my body and can’t wait to enlist in something else for February that pushes me. (Note: Lost 2.875 inches were sum of total measured at 11 sites – neck, upper arms L/R, chest, waist, hips, thighs L/R, calves L/R and butt.)

3) Sparked by a newfound enthusiasm, I recruited several friends to also participate in the challenge. Shout out to Erin and her bridal party for agreeing! This was a whole other angle, to lead a group through the process, to serve as a good example. I have found fulfillment in sharing, motivating and holding accountability.

4) This challenge encompassed 17 days, a short-term commitment. And all the exercises were extremely user-friendly. I am thoroughly impressed with this approach. People lead incredibly busy lives. Got it. But often they are excuse-laden. Don’t have time to exercise? Don’t have a gym membership? Don’t have a finish line so you never start the race? Let’s give ‘em a solution. Workouts 30 to 45 minutes. That you can do at home (hell, in a broom closet). That require no equipment. That only lasts two weeks.

 

AarikaJan Fit Challenge
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