Tag Archive | Fitness

Pure Barre Review

I’ll admit that I have fitness ADD.  I find something that tickles my fancy and I engross myself in it until I really can’t stand it any longer.  Actually – I’m that way with a lot of things.  When I was in 7th grade, I asked my mom to make me salami and cheese sandwiches for lunch EVERY DAY.  I ate the same sandwich EVERY DAY for lunch, Monday – Friday, for 7 months before I decided I was on another kick (peanut butter & fluff).  I haven’t eaten a salami and cheese sandwich since.  No lie.  Anyway, when I first moved to Indiana I didn’t have any friends and I had left my family back in Pennsylvania.  So naturally I immersed myself in the gym scene where I accidentally stumbled upon Zumba.  I instantly fell in love.  After the first class I found myself rearranging my schedule so that I could make it to every evening class that was available during the week (that also was taught by my favorite instructor).  That love turned into me pursuing my group fitness certification and eventually teaching my own classes.  This love affair with Zumba lasted for about 4 years until I decidedly became officially burnt out and it was no longer fun for me.  I was dreading going to teach class and after teaching my own class and aside from taking classes from a select few, I found it hard to be part of the class again.  So I was on to the next thing.  Enter running.

I officially began running in 2011 while I was still in the midst of my Zumba phase.  But as I was becoming more serious about running and training, Zumba began to take a back seat.  In fact, after Lifestyle Family Fitness became LifeTime Fitness and I lost all of my LesMills classes (BodyPump, BodyAttack, and CXWorx), I really stopped enjoying group fitness all together.  The classes at LifeTime Fitness (I only speak of the facility I was a member at, not the company itself) just didn’t measure up to what had been the caliber of classes and the instructors when it was Lifestyle.  So I just focused on my running and lifting weights here and there.

Now I’m 3 years into running and while I still enjoy it – I’m looking to add something else to my weekly line up.  I want something that is fun and engaging as well as promote long, lean muscles.  My friend suggested Pure Barre.  I’ve had a few friends now who have tried Pure Barre and absolutely LOVE IT.  They rave about it.  I also did some research about it and I decided to give it a shot.  A nice thing about this company is that your first class is absolutely free so there is no risk in giving it a try.  That is a major plus in my book!

I always go in to new workouts and classes with an open mind and try hard not to be biased.  After my first Pure Barre class, here are my thoughts:

Pros

  1. The facility is really nice and clean.  The front lobby area reminds me of a little boutique where you can buy accessories and Pure Barre gear.
  2. The front desk gal was super nice and welcoming.  She gave me the short tour and a welcome goodie bag.
  3. The actual workout room is large and spacious.  Everything looked clean and smelled clean (which is huge in a fitness facility).  There was plenty of equipment (mats, balls, weights, and bands) for everyone.
  4. During the actual workout – my arms felt like they were getting a good workout despite the light weights, my legs were definitely shaking from time to time during the bar workout (hello plie squats!)
  5. Although I didn’t sweat, I felt like my major muscle groups got a pretty good workout.

Cons

  1. The instructor didn’t do the workout with the class.  She walked around to check form (which I totally can appreciate), but she gave directions on the microphone which was about the same level as the music so it was sometimes difficult to hear what she was saying. Also, because she wasn’t always demonstrating, being new to the class and new to the lingo, I had NO IDEA what was going on.
  2. The lady next to me took my equipment instead of her own, so I was always 2 moves behind everyone else while scrambled to where her things were so I could also have equipment.  That lady was so clueless, she had no idea that she even took my ball in the beginning.  So that automatically threw me off from the start.  For future reference, stand next to someone who looks like they know what they are doing.
  3. It was super crowded (good for them, not for me) – so I felt like I was going to hit the person next to me during the upper body weighted segment.  Also – it was so crowded that when the instructor did do demonstrations on the bar, it was at the opposite end of the room and her back was facing the group (no mirror) so I still had no idea what she was doing.  I tried to look around but the people in the class were all doing different things so I wasn’t sure who was doing it right.
  4. If you haven’t been going for a while, some of the directions make no sense.  Her idea of a pulse and what I call a pulse are two different things.  What in the world does pulse, freeze mean?
  5. The instructor didn’t ask if anyone was new in the beginning of class so when she finally came around to inform me that I was doing it wrong (which I already knew), I had to tell her that I was new and had no clue what she was talking about.  After that she did a better job of circling around more to help when I obviously looked lost.  Actually, I felt pretty dumb in this class and who likes to feel dumb?  Not me.
  6. I checked my watch every 15 minutes – that’s not a good sign.  It seriously felt like the longest hour of my life.
  7. It just didn’t have that spark for me.  If I’m not super into the class within the first 15 minutes, I’m probably not going to come back.  I do my best not to leave class in the middle because I don’t want to offend any instructor, but I was seriously ready to go after 20 minutes.
  8. It is SUPER EXPENSIVE.  Even with my teacher discount, it is still $140 a month.  Thats a bit pricey for only 1 type of class every day.

All in all – I can see why some people really enjoy this.  My instructor was nice, she knew what she was doing, she was rehearsed, and the music was okay.  I can tell I will be sore tomorrow because I used muscles that I don’t normally use in my regular workouts, but sadly this workout just isn’t for me.  I just couldn’t get into it and for that money, I need to be addicted.

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2013 A Year in Review

As I say goodbye to 2013, it’s nice to take a look down memory lane and remind myself that although there were some of the rough goes that each year brings, there were also some high points too.  It is so important to keep these high points in your memory to remind you that life isn’t that bad and when you are feeling down and out, you can always pull on your best memories to keep yourself in check.

So more as a reminder to myself when I’m feeling bad about my nutrition (or lack thereof), how I’ve fallen off the workout wagon (I will get back on soon, I promise), or how I continuously make excuses why I’m not making it to the gym (it’s freaking cold outside!) – I can take a look back at my 2013 and know that if I did it once, I can do it again, and if I stick to it I can probably do it better.

Without further ado – my top 10 2013  fitness highlights…

1. I climbed 36 flights of stairs.  That’s 780 steps and 500 feet straight up in 7 minutes and 6 seconds coming in 3rd place in my age group and 206th out of 1,068 people.  Not bad for my first try and not training.

2. I hit a new personal record for my 2nd half marathon.  I ran the OneAmerica 500 half marathon in exactly 2 hours, which of course was my goal.  I’m so proud of that number and I’m hoping to maybe hit a new PR in 2014.

3. I placed 3rd in my age division at the KeyBank 8K during the Carmel Marathon Weekend.  This put me in the running for the Triple Crown Series.

4.  I placed 3rd in my age division along with my husband at the Geist 5K this year and we ran the 5 miles back to the car in the rain.  It was definitely a memorable race.

5. I won 1st place in my age division in the Triple Crown Series 8K events (KeyBank 8K, Eagle Creek 8K, Hoosier Park 8K).  The first time I’ve ever placed 1st in anything!

6. I placed 1st in my age division at the Noblesville Fit Fest 5K.  The second time I’ve placed 1st in a race and it was in the same year!

7.  With the support of a few friends, I completed my first Whole30 program without any cheats or having to start over.  Through this program (and a lot of testing and doctor visits) I was able to determine that I have a gluten and dairy intolerance that was causing some undesirable effects on my body.  I have now since remedied those and I am feeling WAY better.

8. I was able to help a friend run in her first half marathon and ensure that she reached her goal of finishing in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less.  There were times where she wanted to stop but together we pushed through and we ended up beating her goal by a few minutes.  I am truly blessed to have been able to be a part of that experience with her.

9. I tried many new fitness activities in 2013 including CrossFit, SkyZone Skyrobics (trampoline exercises), Insanity, Hip Hop Abs, and Boxing to name a few.  Pushing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to realize that there are some activities that I really enjoy that I never thought I would and others that just aren’t the right fit for me and that is COMPLETELY okay.

10.  I had a 2013 goal to run 12 races in 12 months and I met my goal.  I used to be that person who said, “The only way I would run is if someone was chasing me,” or “Look at those people running outside.   They look miserable.”  I never thought I would have enjoyed running as much as I do and I look forward to keeping up with this fitness adventure in 2014.  Perhaps 14 races in 2014 should be my next goal.  What do you think?

Happy New Year!

 

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon

The Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon was my 2nd half marathon for the 2013 running season and my last race of the running season as well.  Yes – I’ve hung up my running sneakers until the weather gets warmer again (metaphorically… we all know I still workout during the winter months, I just don’t pay to run in the cold).  I’ve never run in the Indy Monumental half before, but I’ve run two downtown races so I figured it would pretty much be the same thing.

For this last race, I ran with my friend, Alyssa.  Alyssa decided to run the half marathon (her first half marathon) to raise money for Joy’s House, an adult day service in Indianapolis for adults who need assistant and cannot provide for themselves.  She had a goal of $200 and a finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Where do I come into play you might be thinking?  My job was to be her running buddy, to keep her motivated when she wanted to quit, to help her with her pacing, and to let her know she was doing a good job.  I was able to run with Alyssa a few times prior to our actual race day but nothing more than 8 miles.  In fact, neither one of us ran more than 8 miles before the race.  (To be honest, I didn’t train as much as I should have for this race but I was in the middle of moving from my house into an apartment and then from an apartment to my new house… it was quite a hectic month for me).  I wasn’t too worried for myself, however, knowing I had run 13.1 miles earlier in the year and I run quite often.  I know how to pace myself for longer runs without over doing it in it the beginning.

Race day arrives and we get to the start line.  There is no race coral and no one is really pushing to be up towards the front.  I find this oddly refreshing compared to my last downtown half marathon start.  It is very relaxed.  The music starts and we are off.

We ran most of the 13.1 miles with a couple of walk breaks and lots of water breaks to ensure hydration.  In the end, not only did Alyssa exceed her $200 fundraising goal, but she also finished her very first half marathon in just 2 hours and 24 minutes (6 minutes under her goal).   I am so proud of her and I’m so glad I was a part of it!  Way to go!

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Alyssa and I with our finisher medals and bananas!

Ghost and Goblin 5K

The Ghost and Goblin 5K has got to be in my top 5 favorite 5Ks to run, most likely because I get to see a bunch of my students participating plus the proceeds benefits my school district. But it is also a really fun course to run. It takes you through downtown Carmel and over to the Monon trail for some great fall scenery before taking you back to the high school.

Ever since I was hired by Carmel Clay School District, I have run in the Ghost and Goblin 5K. In fact, this race was my very first 5K I ever ran in back in 2011. It really does hold a special place in my heart.

This year it was unusually brisk out for an October run, 33 degrees to be exact. Luckily I had my long pants, long sleeve running shirt, and running gloves to keep me warm. I can’t say the same for my supportive husband who had all of his jogging pants in storage (we were in the process of moving and the majority of our stuff was in storage). He toughed it out in a pair of gym shorts, long sleeve shirt, and a thin jacket. I’ve certainly got myself a good man!

We headed out for the start line with 5 minutes to spare and took off. The great part about repeating races is that you are familiar with the course and so it is easy to pace yourself. Plus the cold is motivation for you to run a bit faster so you can get warm quicker. We took off, set a solid pace, and simply enjoyed the run. It was over before I knew it and I was back at the high school looking for my students to congratulate them on a job well done!

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Some of my students who participated in the race.

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My wonderful, loving, supportive, husband!

 

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Ghost & Goblin 5K
Official Time: 25:33
Division Place: 11/85
Overall Place: 160/870

 

Sometimes You Need a Motivational Talk

Today was just one of those days.  I was sleeping so well and I didn’t want to get out of bed so I snoozed… now I’m running 10 minutes behind schedule.  I opt for my morning coffee with coconut milk and rush out the door with the plan of eating breakfast at my desk.  One thing leads to another and I’ve forgotten to eat and the kids are coming in for the day.  I’m hungry, I’m irritable… I’m HANGRY and the kids notice.  I quick eat a Lara Bar that I have stashed in my desk drawer to hold me over until lunch.  But the tone has been set for the day….  It’s an especially long day just because right after school I rush to tutor for an hour and I don’t typically get home until around 5:15 (I know that doesn’t sound like, but I leave the house at 6:25 AM).

The heat index is reading 102 degrees outside.  YUCK!  Thank goodness I’m not scheduled to run today but I’m in desperate need of lifting.  I haven’t lifted in who knows when.  But all I want to do is sit on the couch and turn on the TV.  So what do I do?  I call my trusted best friend to give me a little motivational pep talk.  She told me about her supersets, how I can get it done in 30 minutes, and be on my merry way.  That was all it took.  As soon as I got home, I put on my workout clothes so I had no excuse.  I was out the door and off the to the gym.  And you know what?  She was right.  With the use of supersets, I was in and out (warmup and stretch included) in exactly 30 minutes.

I’m so thankful for friends who not only promote healthy habits but live them as well instead of justify sitting around and being lazy.  Thanks Kimberly!

Today’s Workout: 4 sets of 8 reps per exercise

  • Stretch
  • Superset 1 – Weighted barbell squat, Dead lift
  • Superset 2 – Dumbbell step up (8 per side), 1-legged Dead lift (8 per side)
  • Superset 3 – Dumbbell Walking lunges (8 per side), Dumbbell Sumo Squats
  • 25 pushups
  • 50 abs exercises
  • 25 pushups
  • 50 abs exercises
  • Stretch

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Paleo Dinner for 2 – Seared Sea Scallops

A handful of my friends have read It Starts With Food and have begun (or finished) their Whole30 plan. Talking to them, reading their blogs (which I will repost on my blog as soon as I get permission), looking at their instagram meal photos, and reading Facebook posts has inspired me to take a closer look at how I’m eating day-to-day. Naturally, I hopped onto Amazon and not only purchased It Starts With Food, but also Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, and Paleo Slow Cooker. (My thought process was to give myself LOTS of choices when it comes to recipes.) My book has yet to come in the mail (but should be here soon), but since I’m already eating gluten-free and dairy-free, I figured why not eat clean most of the time now (I still am having difficulty giving up my non-dairy creamer and soy lattes) and then jump in whole-heartedly once my book arrives (and I have a chance to read it).

I’ve been on a big seafood kick lately. Maybe it is because I just got back from the shore where I dined on fresh oysters, clams, and crab legs all week. But either way, I just can’t seem to get enough of it (except fish…. I can’t seem to like any cooked fish except salmon). The other day I made jumbo tiger shrimp on the grill YUM!!! But a girl can only eat shrimp so often (who am I kidding, I could eat shrimp every day! sautéed, grilled, baked, stir-fried, in tacos… you get the picture). Actually, it is my husband who probably would get tired of eating shrimp every day so I went out on a limb and picked up a pound of jumbo sea scallops. I’ve never made scallops before, but you’ll never learn something new if you don’t try. The outcome was awesome! This meal is paleo friendly, Whole30 friendly, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and pescatarian friendly!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Makes 2-3 Servings
Why haven’t I thought of this before?! I always made baked sweet potatoes (which I find repulsive at best and usually choke down), frozen sweet potato fries (which tend to come out soggy), or candied sweet potatoes (think Thanksgiving and TONS of butter which I can no longer eat). My best friend was telling me how she loves to roast veggies and I thought, why don’t I do that? Sure, it takes a lot longer than nuking a baker in the microwave for 7 minutes, but the outcome is SO MUCH better! Plus it’s only 3 ingredients. Yes, I said that. 3 ingredients!

What you need:
2 sweet potatoes, washed, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch cubes
3-4 TBS Coconut Oil
Low-Sodium Salt, Sea Salt, or whatever salt you prefer

What you do:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the coconut oil in a glass baking dish (I used a smaller rectangular one, but I’m sure you can use anything you have on hand). If the oil is solid, place the baking dish in the oven for 3-5 minutes until oil is melted. Take it out and toss the sweet potatoes in the oil, making sure to evenly coat them. Sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. About halfway through give the potatoes a stir. They are done when the fork easily pierces through the potato. Trust me, they don’t need anything else!

Sautéed Green Beans
Makes 2-3 Servings
If you are anything like me, I get in vegetable ruts making the same thing over and over again (usually steamed broccoli or some type of yellow squash or zucchini). The fresh green beans looked promising, so I picked up 1/2 pound and brought them home. Again 4 ingredients, low maintenance, just how I like it!

What you need:
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 TBS coconut oil
Salt & Onion powder

What you do:
Heat up the oil in a medium sauce pan. Add green beans and season with salt and onion powder to taste. Cook until desired tenderness (some like it crunchy and some like it mushy). DONE! Super easy!

Sautéed Jumbo Sea Scallops
Makes 2 Servings
As I mentioned earlier, I love scallops but I never made them at home. I didn’t think I was skilled enough to make them or that I would over cook them. But after eating at Seasons 52 and a couple other places that keep things healthy and simple, I thought I can do that. And if I can do it, you can do it. The key is simplicity. A lot of times recipes have you adding all sorts of weird, exotic, and usually expensive ingredients that you will only use for that one recipe. Not this. Everything you need (other than the scallops) are probably already in your pantry.

What you need:
1 pound Jumbo Sea Scallops, not frozen
TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

What you do:
In a large saucepan heat up the oil on medium-high heat (not too high). Gently place the scallops around the pan so they are not crowded and it allows for even cooking time. While they are cooking, sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cook for roughly 5 minutes, until the bottoms are a nice seared golden brown. If your scallops are browning before cooking, turn your heat down to medium. Flip your scallops over and season the other side of them. Cook the second side for another 5-6 minutes to get a nice golden brown top to your scallops.

Once your scallops are done, plate and serve warm. Delicious!

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Insanity Core Cardio and Balance Day 34

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I know I haven’t been posting recently about Insanity, but I’ve been doing it faithfully every morning 5 days a week (I know the program is a 6 day a week program, but I need some time off to recoup).  I currently finished day 34 of the Insanity program which concludes my Recovery Week with Core Cardio and Balance.  Unlike month 1 where your workouts alternate between a number of options, this week I had to complete the same video every day for 6 days.  I am going to go ahead and put it out there, this was probably my least favorite video out of all the ones I have completed so far.  Even though it is roughly a 37-minute workout, I am so bored in the beginning.  I don’t start enjoying the video until the very end when we get into the super tough stuff like the hip-flexor burners and the shoulder burners.  I didn’t feel like I was getting as good of a workout in this video like I did in the others, but on the other hand I was probably working in my fat burning zone (which is difficult for me to do).  Knowing this bit of information kept me going through the entire week.  

Here is a mini breakdown of the video:

Warm Up: Each move is for 1-minute

  • Switch Heel Kicks –  Jump rope while alternating your heels outwards, landing with soft knees
  • Mummy Kicks 
  • Football Shuffle – shuffling side to side and clapping at the end
  • Log Jumps – sprinting for 8 counts and jumping over an imaginary log
  • 8 High Knees / 8 Power Jacks 
  • 8 Fast Feet / 8 Hooks – sprinting for 8 counts and then using your core to throw eight alternating hooks

Stretching: Shaun T is really good at making sure you get a good stretch in.  Don’t skimp on your stretch and don’t forget to take the water break afterwards.  You need it even if you think you don’t!

Core Cardio: Again each move is done for 1-minute.  Keep your core tight and focus on that through the entire workout

  • Moving Ski Hops – Keep your feet together and hop 4 times to the left and 4 times to the right. Make sure you knees are together, core is engaged,  and you are using your arms.
  • Hit the Floor – We’ve done this before in other Insanity workouts.
  • Level 1 drills – drop down, jump into plank, 4 push ups, 8 floor sprints/mountain climbers (whatever you want to call them), just remember to keep your butt down.
  • Heisman – Shaun T does this is EVERY warm up it seems like, you should be very familiar with this.
  • 8 Switch Kicks/8 Hop Squats – Both of these exercises are from previous Insanity workouts but now put together in a combo move.  Keep your core tight and try to lift your legs as high as possible for your switch kicks and in your hop squats, butt is down and legs are wide.
  • High Jumps – try to jump as high as you can, feet together, squeezing your thighs together, and reaching as high as you can go.  It’s not so much about quantity as it is about quality in this exercise.
  • Wide Plank Walks – Walk your plank 4 steps to the right and 4 to the left.
  • 8 Elbows/4 Suicide Drills – Throw 8 alternating elbow punches followed by 4 suicide drills.  We’ve done suicide drills in other Insanity workouts.

Balance: Again focus on the core!  Each exercise is for a full minute.

  • 4 & 4 hops – Very easy exercise and effective exercise. All you are doing is hopping 4 times on your left leg, then alternating 4 times on your right leg for the allotted time period.
  • Jab Switch Jump Squats – Throw 8 alternating jabs while sitting in a low squat.  After your 8th jab while still in your squat position jump up and do a complete 180 degree turn in the air. Land and repeat. 
  • Hip Flexor Burners – This exercise is slightly different in that you hold each exercise for 30 seconds each without breaks!  First start with a simple knee lift, contracting your core as you lift your knee to hip height.  Arms are bent, elbows in to help keep your balance and keep things centered. Then after 30 seconds keep you knee lifted at hip height and begin small pulses lifting your knee up and down.  Finally after another 30 seconds you’re going to take the same leg, keeping it lifted, and extend your leg out (foot flexed) and back in for 30 seconds.  You may need to hold onto something to keep your balance at this point.  Once 30 seconds is finished, repeat the entire sequence on the other leg.
  • Oblique Knee Lifts –  Using your right arm and your right leg out to the side. Bring your elbow to your knee (or as close as you can get it) for 30 seconds. Repeat with left arm and leg.
  • Shoulder Burners (My favorite part!) – Get yourself into a plie squat (or regular squat if you aren’t flexible), take your arms straight out to the side (parallel to the floor) and pulse your arms for 30 seconds.  After that immediately begin bringing your straight arms front and back out to the sides contracting your core as you bring your arms forward for 30 seconds.  After that bring your arms up above your head and touch your fingertips and bring your arms back down (parallel to the floor) for 30 seconds.  Immediately go into back arm circles for 30 seconds, keeping your core tight, staying in your plie squat, and arms straight.  Finally move into forward arms circles for the last 30 seconds.

Cool Down: Stretch – don’t skip this part!

The funniest thing I found about the stretching part is that as you are stretching out your shoulders, Shaun T says don’t put your head back like him because it’s bad for you but if you are watching the video, over half of the people are doing it too.  I found that quite amusing.  I’m glad that I stuck to it and finished this week, but I’m so looking forward to what Month 2 has in store!  Stay tuned!