2012 In Review: Thank You!

I’ve been seeing a lot of review posts in my reader the past day or two and it’s been fun reminiscing over posts from some of my favorite bloggers.  I don’t want to post a year in review for this blog, mainly because I didn’t post from February to May, but I did go back and reread to give you all my top three favorite posts. So, here they are:

1. Coming to a Gym Near You…: Announcing AFAA’s newest Certified Group Ex Instructor; the day that I vowed to stop yearning to sleep to dream, because my dreams have arrived.

2. The Power of the Mind: Validation. Strength. Perseverance. Having people to push you and have your back.

3. Fitness Friday: How Group Fitness Gave Me Life: Acknowledging all that group fitness has brought into my life and has taught me about loving myself. (Note: my WordPress year in review stats tell me this was a highly trafficked post, so thank you all!)

There you have it!  Before I shut down for the year, I want to say thank you to all my readers, commenters, lurkers, and even those of you that just stumbled upon this site by searching my tagline. You have done so much to help me not only make this blog what it is, but also find myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In 2012, every bit of laughter and tears, victories and defeats, brought me here to a happiness I never thought I’d find. In 2012, my dream was realized. There are not enough words to describe what this means to me. It all still feels so amazing and surreal to me that I wake up some mornings and have to look to my wall and see that certificate again before I believe it.

I wish you all happiness and blessings on this last night of 2012, and cannot wait to venture into 2013 with you towards new goals, friendships, and fitness classes to teach! 😉

 

You Are Stronger Than You Think

It seems that many of my posts have focused on the gym and fitness as of late.  I would apologize for this, except I really can’t because it would not be remotely close to sincere. The truth is, this is me. I live fitness. I live health. I live trials and triumphs, moments of weakness and feats of strength, and everything in between. This is my new found love and life force, and I would not trade it for anything.

That said, please come with me on another journey.

Late last night, I finished reading an amazing memoir Waking by Matthew Sanford.  Matthew is a man who, at age 13, was in a car accident that left him with a T4 spinal cord injury.  Matthew writes of learning to navigate life in his now “silent” body, and how his discovery of mind-body relationship led him to physical and emotional healing and his eventual practice as an adaptive yoga instructor in Minnesota.  Fitness friends, family, and all other readers: do yourself a favor, whatever your beliefs and practices, and pick up a copy of this book.

I went to bed feeling deeply touched and satisfied, but more than anything else I felt hopeful.

My alarm went off at 7:15 this morning for Saturday morning gym session. I could have rolled over and gotten a few more hours of sleep. I could have said I’d be going Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday next week because I’m off work. I could have said it was the holidays. I had 1, 000 excuses to choose from. I chose hope.

Today’s class was a challenge from go since I have been dragging it after being sick and making a slow comeback. Interval training followed by TRX training.  For those unfamiliar with TRX, it is a Suspension Training, full body workout system that uses gravity and your bodyweight to perform a variety of exercises.  You are in complete control of the difficulty of your workout simply by changing your body position. This is a confusing explanation, so check out this quick video. 

The class was instructed to do one specific move, that started out holding on to the ropes to do a low row (think pulling your chest up to an imaginary bar from a slightly slanted standing position…or don’t imagine it, I’m doing a horrible job explaining things in this post….just take my word for it!), then drop down into a squat, and pull themselves back up.  I did not have the balance to be able to drop myself into a squat without falling and potentially cracking my head open, so it was time to modify! Yay!

I started the exercise by sitting on the floor slightly leaned back and performed my row. From there I was to lift my body off the ground as dead weight with only my heels as the anchor point. Failed attempt after failed attempt began to leave me more than a little bit frustrated.  At this point, Janice came over and foot blocked me so I wouldn’t completely go sliding and I tried again.

Note: Everything from this point on might sound utterly ridiculous to some, but this is what I believe can happen and this was my experience. I closed my eyes and tried to connect my mind and my body in a way that I had read about only hours before. I needed to feel the energy of my heart, of my will, and somehow transfer that energy into my legs, into my core–to come together and achieve this small goal for the day. I inhaled deeply and I could feel the connection. With what seemed like unimaginable strength, I felt my arms start to strengthen and slowly lift by body. I felt my core muscles engage and noticed that the only physical point of connection I had was at my heels.  This was it. I trusted my mind and it got me through step one. Now it was time to trust my body. A 10 second hold of this position was what was being asked of all of me. Closing my eyes again, I hoped. I pleaded with my body to outlast the time. I know I beg a lot of my body on a daily basis, but I needed this one, because I knew I could.  Janice, standing above me, said “trust your body, you are stronger than you think”. And I believed before those 10 seconds disappeared.

Then I collapsed on the ground and started hysterically laughing because all I wanted to do was cry.  The tears came later on in the day, when my soul processed what occurred in the gym. Today, for the first time, even if for maybe only a total of 30 seconds, I fully trusted my mind and my body. The results were awesome.

Until next time…inhale hope, exhale strength…

What Helps You Face Fears? Getting Back on the Bike…

I’ve been a stranger (again), but my semester is unofficially over at 7pm tonight and I’ll be on the downhill swing of graduate school. Dear God I never thought I’d be able to say those words.

Today I come to all of you loyal readers–family, friends, fitness enthusiasts–looking for a bit of advice.

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About a month and a half or so ago, I went to the gym for a Tuesday night spin class. I set up my bike (the same bike I ride pretty much every class unless it’s already taken), had someone clip in my shoes, and was on my way. Twenty minutes or so into the ride, I noticed my calf was tensing up pretty bad, and eventually my whole leg was so tense I could barely complete a revolution of the pedal. This obviously scared the you-know-what out of me and, not being as comfortable explaining the situation to this particular instructor, I decided to get off the bike. Some of the tension eased once I was off the bike, but it stayed abnormal feeling until the next day. Two weeks later, same thing happened again.  This time I forced myself to fight through and stay on the bike.

Since I couldn’t figure this one out on my own, I went to my PT and asked if he had any ideas.  A few things came to mind: I have generally tight/immobile ankles so if my feet are too pointed it might cause cramping (Solution: try to stretch them more); I might need new shoes because mine are 7 years old and pretty well worn (Solution: bought these); or maybe it’s a bike adjustment issue (Fitness Friends: could this be, when I always ride the same settings? Does my bike fit change over time?).

As you can see, I’ve been making some necessary adjustments; okay maybe I haven’t been stretching quite as much as I should, but I will. Yet I can’t get myself to get back on the bike for the life of me! Spinning was my first fitness love. It will always be my go-to for a heart-pumping, ass-kicking, stress-relieving workout. But this situation has me fearing that it’s going to happen again. I need to get back on the bike for my physical strength and, most importantly, mental sanity, but I’m struggling.

What helps you face your fears and get back on the bike? Any advice from my fellow Spinning fiends or instructors? I appreciate it!!

Photo Credit: FitnessRevolution

A Thanksgiving Request/Favor

Hello all my loyal readers. I have a little favor to ask of you on my blog tonight.

My dad is a big fan of blues musician Joe Bonamassa and has entered a contest to try and win tickets to meet and see Joe in Las Vegas in April.  Part of the contest involves getting as many people as you can to download one of Joe’s songs. The person with the most downloads wins the trip!!

Attached at the bottom of this post is a link.  If all of you could click on the link and enter your e-mail address, you’ll be able to download the song for free and my dad will get credit for the download.  Nothing will spam you, promise! You just get to help my dad (who is the greatest guy I know) and get a pretty great free song! Thank  you so much and feel free to send this to your friends–the contest ends in a few days!! 

http://jbonamassa.com/promotion/?i=bonavegas%E2%8A%82%3D221

HOPE

“Hope a little each day.

Let hope be your guide in life. It shines through the toughest of trials and takes you to a better place.

Even in the darkest times, a glimmer of hope will keep you going.

Hope in love, grace and righteousness. In doing so, you could withstand all things and gain faith.

You will transform into a person of great character who stands firm in all things that are good.

In all things that are for the truth. In all things that are patient.

Hope will give you the strength to never give up and to never be hopeless.

Always keep hope close to your heart and soul and one day hope will lead you to your true awesome destiny.”

Random Acts of Kindness

It’s a pretty well known assumption (I won’t say fact because I know someone will pick up on that) that we live in a society that is generally pretty self-centered on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, we are all too often in a rush to get where we need to be, to get things done, and look out for ourselves as number one.  I say generally because there are times when we, as a whole, transcend that tendency and reach our hand out to someone in need.

The past few days have been rocky here on the East Coast with the aftermath of hurricane Sandy in CT, NY, NJ, and RI.  We were fortunate enough where I am to have never lost power, but just less than an hour south of me is devastation along the shoreline.  Times like this stir up the humanitarian in all of us, the strong hearts that we all have, and the desire to help others.  I for one know I wish I could be in NY doing something to help with the cleanup efforts.  My prayers are with everyone so greatly effected.

Those times can also occur on a much smaller, more personal scale.  There doesn’t have to be a natural disaster or a devastating heartbreak of some kind.  Sometimes that helping hand comes in the form of a simple random act of kindness–and just that occurred for me this morning.

I was at the gym for my normal Saturday morning double and was doing some free weight work in the boot camp class.  Normally I sit down if we’re going to be lifting for a long period of time to preserve some energy, but I knew this wasn’t going to last long and I wanted to make the quick transition.  One small problem: the studio floor is super slippery because of the type of wood it is (I think), so the breaks on my walker wheels sometimes don’t work as well. Usually I can get by readjusting myself, but today it was not working and the walker started sliding backwards every time I’d let go to do a bicep curl…so annoying…and unsafe too I guess. 😉 All of the sudden I noticed I wasn’t sliding anymore, and looked behind me to see that one of my fellow bootcampers had positioned herself behind my wheels so that her feet could block them from sliding!!

I was so taken aback by her actions that all I could say was thanks.  Not only did they allow me to continue on with the workout, but also gave me a little extra push. I was tired, class was almost over, but knowing that someone was standing behind me, extending me a helping hand, helped me to find the energy to keep going.  We were a team, connected through her kindness, and I wasn’t going to let her down.

I don’t even know this woman’s name, and she probably doesn’t even know how big that random act of kindness was for me, but sharing this with all of you is my way of saying such huge thank you to her!

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a random act of kindness offered or a helping hand extended.

Coming to a Gym Near You…

I’M AFAA CERTIFIED!!!!

I’ve been waiting and waiting…and waiting for these results for what feels like an eternity! I know that my presenter told us it would be about 4-6 weeks, but I always assume they overestimate these things and when it got to be mid-way through week four this week, I started to  doubt that I’d passed the practical portion of the exam–I was almost positive I had passed the written portion.  Then last night, I just had a feeling that it was the day.  I was in class until 7pm, so I texted my sister and asked her to please get the mail, but not to tell me if anything came. When I walked in the door after class, I noticed the envelope sitting on the table. I ran over to the table, sat down, and ripped it open to see what was inside. All I read was the “Congratulations!” on the letter and I threw it down and screamed/cried/laughed and every emotion in between! Everything I’ve been feeling for the past months and weeks came flooding out of me like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

All night I could not stop smiling and staring at my certificate. I DID IT!

What this means to me is something I’ve tried to put into words so many time, yet I fail every time.  All I know is right now I’m on top of the world and I don’t see myself coming down anytime soon. I have never wanted anything so badly, and I have achieved it.  These few months have led me to amazing new people and experiences, and deepened my passion for fitness, both for myself and for others.  I am so excited to be a part of the AFAA family–one that has already welcomed me with open arms in the past 24 hours! I am even more excited to start planning my classes and get out there to help others realize that fitness truly can be for everyone and that they can make their lives however they want.

So to everyone out there who has a dream and is not sure they have “what it takes” to make it happen.  I’m here to tell you you do. Fight for it, and when it’s yours, rejoice in that moment. There is no better feeling.

An amazing post by Sarah about believing in yourself and doing what you set out to do. Rings very true for me tonight! Thanks Sarah!

Strong-Fit-Beautiful

I’ve often said that the easiest way to make me do something is to say that I couldn’t do it. Maybe it’s the oldest child in me, or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t like to be underestimated. As much as I have changed throughout my life, if one thing has stayed the same, it’s that if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it well.

From a fitness standpoint, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m capable of doing things I never would have thought I was capable of doing myself. I was never an athlete. But everything changed when I discovered that I could run a few miles and not die (yes, this seriously was a fear of mine back in high school, as I was forced to run around that dang track in gym class … one of my closest friends from high school…

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The Power of the Mind

I’ve always believed in the power of the mind. It’s power to get you through tough times, to unlock potential, to be strong when the body is weak.  Anyone who knows me knows this.  One of my favorite quotes is even “change your mind and your body will follow”. However, this is something I’ve always had a bit of a hard time seeing for myself, within myself. You know, one of those age old can’t take my own advice kinda things–I can tell people how important the mind is to achieving your goals, but casually seem to forget that when it comes to my own life. Whoops!!

Until this morning.  Saturday mornings have become my sanctuary since the semester started.  With my interning and class schedules, I’m lucky if I make it in for a class during the week, so I’ve started doing doubles on Saturdays. Drums Alive for the fun cardio and then Full Body Blast/Core Fit for the strength, cardio, and ass-kicking.  The format of FBB changes week to week, but we almost always start out with some variation of interval training: 3 rounds of 7 different exercises performed for one minute each with a one minute breaks between rounds.  The idea is to ramp up your intensity each round, giving all you have left for that last round.

Take a journey with me: it’s the last exercise of the last round. Jumping jacks. Side note: I do regular jacks in terms of the lower bosy, just holding on to my walker for balance. We’re 21 minutes in at this point and everyone is just ready for it to be over. Timer goes and we’re all moving through our final for 60 seconds.  I have a tendency (in everything I do) to come out of the gate insanely strong, too strong for my own good, and then end up having to take a break or two within the minute.  Today started out no differently.  I was beasting through those first few seconds in both speed and accuracy.  Janice, our amazing instructor, was going around the room keeping everyone on track and all the sudden she stopped right in front of me, mirror image.  Janice has been an amazing asset to my life in the past few months since joining the gym and going for certification and has truly supported my goals from the get-go.  She started talking to me telling me things like “I know you want to go faster than me so do it” and that if I stopped and took a break at all in the next minute we’d all be starting over.  It wasn’t the fact that  I was slightly terrified of her in the moment that sparked my motivation, but what she was actually saying.  It was like she tapped into my own mind and knew what I was thinking. I did want to go faster than her. I am a competitor at heart. But my mind was stopping me from getting there.  And then something crazy happened. Janice looked at me and said “I know it’s hard, but do it anyway.” Those words not only unlocked my emotions and almost made me start crying, but unlocked my mind and body together to give me what I needed to push through until the end and do those jumping jacks for a minute without stopping. I have acknowledged that things are hard before, but hearing that acknowledgement from someone else is not something that happens often.  In that moment it was as if our minds synced.

It’s hard. Do it anyway. Do it because you want to better yourself. Do it because your dreams don’t take breaks or days off. Do it because your body does not define you. Do it because you can.