My Summer Workouts

So, I didn’t quit the gym. Well, I did, then I actually started going so I unquit. Funny how it was going to take them two months to process my cancellation, but I could walk in a few days before the deadline and undo it with no lapse in my membership! It’s super close to work and I’ve fit in a few lunchtime workouts or just hit it on the way home. Plus I’m just too in love with their yoga studio. So, all is right in the world again (perhaps not quite in my bank account, but that’s okay)!

I’ve been running a decent amount lately, mostly treadmill. At the gym. At lunch. Watching the original Beverly Hills 90210. That might have influenced my decision to unquit.

But, I’ve also done some nighttime runs. Usually I lose my motivation by the end of the day, but I’m not getting up early enough to do morning and waiting until the sun goes down is a must. It’s still warm, but I kind of like them, even though they don’t seem to like me back.

Javelina-Hunting

On one night run my house key flew off my shoe (I loop it on my shoelace). A lovely couple stopped their car and helped me find it thankfully (because Rigo hasn’t learned to unlock the door yet). Then a quarter-mile from home, I saw a momma javelina and some of her babies. I FTFO! She saw me but didn’t really care, but in my mind she was coming after me!

Last Friday I went out for four or five miles at about 8pm and ended up looping out too far and finishing seven miles before I got home! My body wasn’t quite ready for that and it was hot!

If there’s anything I’ve learned from living in Phoenix for give or take 20 summers, it’s “get the hell out as often as possible,” so when a friend asked if I wanted to go to Tahoe for a wedding/her pre-birthday weekend even though the plans started months ago when it was still lovely in Phoenix, it was a no-brainer. It was chilly, but fantastic. I even got a brief teaser of a winter run because I could NOT pass up the opportunity for five cool and hilly miles there! I’ve booked two more water trips for the next two months and have two more in the works, thank God!

I marked on my calendar to make some decisions about my fall race calendar today. Why? I don’t really know, but now race brain has taken over. My mind is mostly imploding over the fact that the Fiesta Bowl half was pushed back two weeks and is now the same day as the IronGirl 10-miler. I like the half course and it would be my second half in the fall/winter and one of my 30 before 30 goals is a sub-2:00 half and the more opportunities I get, the better, right? But the hills at the Fountain HILLS (duh) IronGirl last year kicked my ass and I kind of want to go back this year and kick its ass.

Would you pick an enjoyable race or a challenging one? I think based on that I know what I should pick, but I’m leaning toward Fiesta.

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A Cold Day in July

The unthinkable happened. I quit the gym. I considered it last month, then realized, who was I kidding? I love my gym; I could NEVER quit the gym.

But then yesterday I realized enough was enough. I was paying WAY too much and not going – although when I went in to cancel, the sales guy mentioned that I was actually paying $15 LESS than current rates. WTF? That definitely still doesn’t make it a bargain though.

Goodbye lap pools (plural). Goodbye yoga studio and fantastic teachers. Goodbye personal TVs on each piece of cardio equipment. Goodbye pool loungers. Goodbye steam room. Goodbye towels in the locker room and so many other amenities – quick-serve restaurant, spa and salon – of the rich and the famous.

I still have almost two full months left to enjoy those things, but come July, I’m on my own. Seriously, though? That could not have been more poorly timed! No more ACed fitness right as we head into the hottest three months of the year when there literally is one hour in each day that running outside doesn’t mean certain death. And that hour is 4am.

Technically, I have an ACed fitness center at my complex, although it’s a little depressing. And technically I can join another gym that’s a fraction of the cost.

In fact, a big reason that I quit was because I kept being tempted by Groupons and Living Social deals and then I would buy and use those and ignore my real gym. I’m pretty sure I can stay fit just sampling a few different crossfit boxes (OMG I already know the lingo, I will fit right in), yoga studios or other trendy fitness classes, again, for a fraction of the cost.

Plus, the workout DVDs at the library don’t ALWAYS skip or stop entirely. Or I could just Bridesmaids it and creep on an outdoor bootcamp class?

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What are some of your favorite ways to stay fit without a fancy-pants gym?

There’s Just Something About Yoga Teachers

After proclaiming high and low that I’m just so dang healthy and I never get sick…I got sick twice in a month!

The first one knocked me out, but after a few days, I was recommitting to a healthy 2013 and getting back to running post-injury and I was doing okay with it until I got all sniffly again, then the throat, then the exhaustion, then the sinuses, oh the sinuses. And that crap hung around like a bad ex-boyfriend! Boo.

Finally, I decided the sick was not going to win and I was going to do what I could, so yesterday I ran and took one of my favorite yoga classes I hadn’t seen in far too long. It wasn’t completely awful and the warmth of the room helped me sweat out what seemed to be left. I woke up feeling better today, so back to the gym I went to run and – yay! – do yoga.

The thorn in my side about my perfect gym has always been the lack of yoga classes that fit my schedule on M/W/F. Yesterday I checked the schedule and saw a HOT yoga class added on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:30 with a teacher with a great local reputation. Mind blown. My whole training plan just opened up!

I took the class today and I’m so happy! It’s a great addition and the instructor deserves his great reputation. And some of the cougars in the class agreed and I might have had a little giggle to myself about it. And then he told me my bridge pose (an ankle grab variation) was “beautiful” and I may or may not have blushed a little. There’s just something about those instructors, you know? Pop culture is on to something.

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Workout Giant: Kickboxing

A lot of my workout giants are really just things that take me out of my comfort zone.  My comfort zone at the gym is the treadmill, the yoga studio, the pool, the steam room (ahhh) and sometimes the spin studio. But, I’ve been dying to try my gym’s Cardio Kickboxing class, which is held in the, gasp, “Group Fitness Studio 1.”

Many years ago I was in love with a kickboxing class at my little gym in Thousand Oaks and I was faithfully there every Monday and Wednesday at 5:30 and Saturdays at 9. IN LOVE. But, the gym didn’t pay their rent, got shut down and I never went to a kickboxing class again. Until Thursday night.

The instructor joked at the beginning of the class for the newbies (there were quite a few) that she locks the door, but fortunately I didn’t have to test that.  It WAS for sure a tough class – more appropriately named Cardio Kick Booty Boxing, I was sore for a few days after!  – but the hour was fun and sweaty and flew by! It was everything I remembered and loved and I’m so happy I have a class I can get to to punch and kick out a little aggression when necessary! And then at the end, you feel like this:

Are there any fitness classes you want to check out but haven’t yet? I included a few new ones on my training schedule in the next few months and since kickboxing was so great, I’m pretty excited about them!

Workout Giant: Lunch Time Workout

I am very fortunate to have my job for many reasons. One reason is that my schedule is quite flexible. Another is that it’s close to my gym.

A + B = WHY don’t I work out on my lunch break more often?!

The idea of getting a good work out in, refreshing and getting back to work in a reasonable amount of time is intimidating, but on Tuesday I just wanted a quick workout – a little cardio, a little strength – you fit in WHAT you can WHEN you can and it’s a heck of a lot better than skipping it all together!

I was surprised to find the parking lot packed when I pulled up, but my gym is very family friendly and the kiddos are still on summer break (seems like a given, but my boss’s kids have just ONE week of summer vacay left!) so it made sense, they usually crowd the pools all summer long, but fortunately for me, I was not headed to the pool.

I changed quickly, jumped on the elliptical for 10 minutes to warm up and then into an empty group fitness room for some more booty busting, which got my heart rate up! I wrapped it up with 10 more minutes on the spin bike and I was happily breaking a sweat.

A quick shower – sans hair washing – and wardrobe change and I was back to work!

I love the feeling of working out in the morning because I’m accomplished and “done” for the day…and the mid-day workout gave me the same feeling with the added bonus of getting up and away from my desk for an hour to recharge.

So, after tackling this workout giant, I’m no longer in the you “can’t get a good workout on a lunch break” club and hope to get in more mid-day sweat seshes!

Hairy Mary

Being a gym-goer for a few years now has not by any means made me a good gym-goer. Case in point, last night I found myself at the gym for a yoga class with no hair ties. This is actually the item I forget most often (with iPod or cap and goggles tied for second place). Hair tie vending machines in the locker rooms would make a killing, even if I was their only client.

I’m not going to lie, I work out at a fancy gym (and I kind of just realized that they may actually have hair ties in the cafe where they also sell deodorant or other easily forgettable items or I could have stopped by the salon and begged one from a stylist, doh) and I just can’t quit it because it’s awesome. I go there to sweat, but often find myself people-watching the members who go there to see/be seen/hit on/be hit on or any combination.

Many of those women work out with their hair perfectly done, but let’s be honest, they’re not doing much of the working out part. However, doing yoga with no hair tie is a bad idea. It’s just obnoxious.

I found two bobby pins and my iPod headphones in my bag (not the iPod, of course) and you can guess what I attempted. Tying my hair up in an iPod cord didn’t work and all through class I was fixing the bobby pins to bun around the cord to hide that I had earbuds in my hair! Okay, so maybe I do care at least a little how I look when I’m working out.

I realized it was a losing battle and I was so damn distracted and felt like I was distracting everyone else in the class, so finally I skipped a down dog to rip the whole thing out, knowing very well that with my curly hair and the rubberyish cord, it could end up in an even bigger mess (these fears run back to elementary school days…having curly hair gives you a little baggage), but fortunately it came out pretty easily, but I had to do the rest of the class with my  hair all over the place!

I love the teacher who subbed and with t-minus three weeks to my triathlon, yoga classes are pretty scarce these days, but it was probably the worst. class. ever. I was still sweating and my arms felt like they had had a good workout, but zen and centered and calm I was not.

What have we learned from this? The value of hair ties. The need to have bunches in my car, in my gym bag, at the office. Anywhere and everywhere.

So, when I stopped at Wal-Mart this morning (don’t judge, it’s in a swanky part of town and it’s open 24 hours and it’s glorious), guess what I DIDN’T pick up?! I think I’ll have to regress to my junior high style that involved wearing scrunchies as part of my outfit.  Really.  Even if I didn’t put it in my hair all day.  Had to have.  And often I wore it above my elbow.  And if you pretend you didn’t do the same, you’re a liar!

What do you most often forget for your workouts? What is a deal breaker if you forget it?

My Yogi Valentine

Apparently some people had plans yesterday?!

Mine included a 1400 meter swim – no stopping, just using breaststroke as a little recovery: 300 free/100 breast/400 free/100 breast/500 free – and my must-attend Tuesday yoga class.

Since the new year, the yoga classes at my gym have been you-only-have-your-mat-space-forget-about-extending-your-arms packed.  And good for the JJs for keeping up with it, because the instructors didn’t ease up for their sake by any means.

But yesterday, true love and/or unrealistic expectations won out, which meant there was breathing room and it was soooo nice!  There were all of six students so we stretched out and the instructor declared the beginning of class playtime.

We flowed like Tibetan monks!  The movements she taught were linked to breath, like traditional Vinyasa, and are practiced daily by the monks, or, I suppose, Buddhists in general or people who enjoy aligning their chakras? 

We started with prostrations:

Okay, that was the cutest version I found, but ours involved using blankets to slide in front of our mats (thus why it’s not doable in a crowded studio) and doing a Superman-style back strengthener on the floor.  I think she said the monks do 108 a day!  We just did 10, then we moved onto the Tibetan Five, the first of which is spinning, so we skipped and did the Tibetan Four. 

It’s a lot of ab work and we did 10 of each, but the full ritual calls for 21! The instructor said something to the effect of, “when we’re doing them, you’re going to think it’s not much, but in two days, you’ll be cursing my name.” 

It didn’t even take two days, my abs are feeling it already!

The rest of the class was a typical Vinyasa flow, but pretty fast-paced and even though I haven’t been sweating in yoga much, I was yesterday!  I got some good handstand hangtime in and plow again.

I have to admit, I thought about cutting out of the gym after my swim, but I’m so glad I went to the class…I love trying new things in yoga!

Workout Giant: Pre-Work Yoga

I used to be such a morning workout snob. I only wanted to workout in the morning and if I didn’t, it was sooo hard for me to do it later in the day.

Training for races got me over that because I knew the workouts had to be done one way or another and when longish runs were scheduled on weekdays, it was suck it up and wake up at 4am or suck it up and do it after work, so I learned to workout after work.

Yoga also got me out of my morning workout rut because I had to go when the classes were and most were in the early evening.  However, since joining my gym over the summer, there’s been one class that’s piqued my interest. The only yoga class they offer in the early morning is at 5:30 on Mondays. It totally appeals to my desire to get in a good workout and have the rest of the day to do other things, but it’s at 5:30! On Monday!

I finally decided to do it yesterday and knowing I’d be pretty disappointed in myself if I didn’t, I actually got up with my alarm, no excuses.

It wasn’t as crowded as their other classes, so it was workshoppy in a good way. The flows were great, but I found it a little difficult to push myself that early. I was definitely not very loose, which was my concern about hopping out of bed and into downward dog in the first place, and although this level of class is supposed to be slightly heated, it really wasn’t, so I didn’t have much help getting any looser.

I call it a workout giant because it’s something I’ve wanted to do, but have been intimidated to try for a while, so I let the jump rope circle a couple times. I’m glad I finally jumped in and it’s a nice option for those times I have a packed post-work schedule, but if I have the time, I’ll probably stick to my night class where the instructor plays too-loud music and sweats on me, but hey, that’s supposed to be a blessing, right?

Walk the Walk

I was driving myself crazy with talking the tri talk, so I officially signed up over the holiday weekend.  Yes, the Fourth of July holiday weekend that was, yes, two weeks ago, so yes, I’m a little behind! 

I also signed up for a spot in Red Rock’s open water swim clinic about a month before the event, but then found out that I’ll be in lovely San Diego that day instead.  I will never complain about a company-sponsored trip to the beach, but really?!  Talk about some bad timing. 

I’ve got two and a half months and I’m sure I can find another opportunity to jump in a cold lake with a bunch of other crazies between now and then.  Until I do, I joined a gym!

I’m sad to leave my yoga studio, but I joined a pretty, little (big) gym that gives me awesome yoga classes and an adult-sized pool (two actually with LOTS of lanes) and spin classes and of course my beloved treadmills because I’m still too much of a wuss to take it outside.  I better get over that ASAP since it won’t be much cooler on the day of the race!   

I guess I’m really doing this…kinda excited, kinda scared, totally ready to get ready!

Gym Shopping

I picked up running four years ago when my roommate moved out very suddenly.  I had to make some cuts and my gym membership was the first thing to go, but I wanted to keep working out, so I hit the pavement.  When I could afford it, I joined a few different gyms here and there. 

I fell in love with running, but I really like having a gym to fall back on.  When I don’t have a specific training plan for the day, I find going to the gym to be like going to Fresh & Easy when you’re not sure what you want for dinner.  You’ll figure something out and the results will be favorable!

I started a three-month membership at a big gym here when I recently moved, but it just ran out. Despite not really using it, I’m itching to join a gym now so I toured a new one earlier this week.  I really wanted to like it.  But I hated it.  It got me thinking about what makes a good gym (to me).

  1. Location, location, location.  The closer the gym, the more likely I am to go. 
  2. Hours that work with my schedule.  I’m used to a particular gym that is open 24 hours.  Not to name names.  I know not all gyms are, but if a gym isn’t open early enough to make pre-work workouts a possibility or if they open too late on the weekends, it’s not going to work for me.
  3. Conveniently-timed classes.  I used to love my pre-work spin classes, but my schedule has changed and now I’ll settle for a handful of good classes after work and on the weekends.
  4. My must-haves– spin, kickboxing and a pool. 
  5. A friend or family member who goes to the same gym.  I’m okay with going on my own, but over the years I’ve always been more consistent when I had a friend going with me.
  6. A good vibe.  All the other things that affect how you feel about the gym.  If you’re not comfortable with where you’re working out, you just won’t go!  Plain and simple.

Basically ALL these things were not working for this new gym. My gym at my apartment complex works for now.  I have my running.  And there are a few more gyms to try out if I go through any major withdrawals.

What are your must-haves and deal-breakers when it comes to a gym?

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