I Lost My Sneakers

January 6, 2011

Seriously…I have no idea where they could be.

I wore them to and from the gym last Friday and sometime between then and now, they up and walked away.

And although barefoot running is all the rage right now too (for good reason), I can’t go to the gym and run barefoot on the treadmill or go in the weights area with no shoes because I’m pretty sure that’s against gym policy. Read:

“Closed-toe athletic shoes must be worn at all times on the courts and in the fitness and exercise areas.”

Damn.

In lieu of my sneaker-less dilemma, I’ve been forced to do more kettlebell workouts this week, simply because I can sneak into one of group exercise rooms and do them barefoot without anyone yelling at me to put some shoes on.

So, for now, kettlebells it is. And it’s kicking my ass. I’m actually sore today!

In celebration, I wanted to share a few videos with those of you who might be interested in the good old KBs, but have no idea what to do with them, or for those that are looking for something new to spice up your routine.

Without further adieu:

Video 1:
Kettlebell Basics with Steve Cotter


This guy is insane. Anyone that can do a double-snatch with any kettlebell is awesome, let alone the ludicrous amount of weight he’s using.

Anyway, I like this video because it focuses on the four basic kettlebell movements: swing, snatch, clean, and overhead press. These four exercises alone will kick your ass. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try it. One 30-60 second set of each, 3-4 times through, one minute rest after each circuit. You’ll be dying.

Video 2:
5×5 Finisher

This is an awesome way to finish up any strength training workout:
5 snatches
5 cleans
5 squats
5 overhead presses
5 lunges
(rest 1 minute)
Repeat on the other side of your body

I did this the other day after 40 minutes of regular lifting combined with some kettlebell circuits. Five minutes of this had me sweating more than those 40 minutes did. And I was only using a 12 kg KB. (Green, for you colored-oriented folk.)

This can also be a great workout if you’re really pressed for time. 2 or 3 times through and your heart rate will be through the roof.

Video 3:
Finally, the Kettlebell Meltdown 300 Workout

Not for the faint of heart:
25 V-ups
50 snatches
25 push ups
50 swings
50 burpees
50 clean and press
50 mountain climbers

All in a row, as fast as you can.

Amazing workout, but only for people who are already in good shape, and are comfortable with kettlebells. The guy in this video finished in 11 minutes and 16 seconds using a 24 kg bell. That’s almost 53 pounds he was swinging around. I know– he make sit look easy. Jerk.

So, resolutioners, if you’re looking to get in shape, do it right. Skip the treadmill and stationary weight machines. Please. Believe me when I say, those won’t do anything for your overall health and fitness. If you don’t believe me, read this post, “Resolve to move BETTER”, written by one of the people who introduced me to the glory of kettlebells. What she says is true.

But, before you trot down to the gym and start swinging around a bell like a bat out of hell, always have a certified (preferably RKC or AOS) trainer show you how to use them first. While KBs are a great way to get stronger/fitter/all-around more awesome, they can also seriously hurt you if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. If the trainer doesn’t know what RKC or AOS is, avoid him/her.

Happy training!

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Wii Fit is Mean

December 29, 2010

What’s that saying?

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

I think if computers are going to act more and more like humans, they should be required to follow the basic rules of courtesy that we learn as small children.

And that goes for gaming consoles– specifically, Wii Fit.

I knew Wii Fit is designed to make your onscreen avatar look, more or less, like the real you.

I did not, however, know it had to right to tell you that 1.) you’re “obese” and 2.) exactly how much weight you are required to lose to bring you down to a weight that the Wii deems “appropriate”.

But, apparently, that’s what it does. It happened to one of my cousins.

If the Wii thinks you are an unacceptable weight, it will make your poor little avatar balloon up on screen, sometimes to a point where your arms stick out and you waddle like a penguin.

The screen will flash red, and the words “OBESE!” will scroll across the screen.

Then, it will tell you exactly how much poundage you need to drop.

Well, thankyouverymuch WII, but I don’t need a gaming console telling me how much weight I need to lose.

Chances are, if I’m overweight, I know it. I don’t need a reminder, especially from a system that isn’t even human.

You don’t even know what chocolate tastes like!

And, last I checked, making fun of a person’s weight isn’t the way to get a person to exercise.

It’s just plain mean.

It’s the equivalent to walking into a gym and having a personal trainer say to you “Holy crap! Thank God your here ’cause my-oh-my You. Are. HUGE. Get your ass on a treadmill stat.”

A good trainer…hell, probably even a bad trainer….would never say that to a client.

Luckily, the cousin who was relaying this story is confident, self-assured, and not willing to let a computer hurt her feelings.

But what if a teenager, who’s self-confidence is probably struggling at best, had the Wii tell her she needs to lose weight? As if peer pressure isn’t bad enough.

Hel-lo plummeting self-esteem and eating disorder!

So, we came up with a solution. We’re going to invent a gaming system that uses compliments and encouragement, not insults and degrading remarks.

For example:
Instead of saying “Hey fatso, you need to lose 67 pounds to be a functioning member of society”

Ours will say:
“Day-um girl, you looking FIONE today! Try substituting an apple instead of chips for lunch and you’ll look even better, if that’s possible!”

See the difference? It makes me want to eat an apple!

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been slacking.

Big time.

Slacking at what, you ask?

Kettlebells.

Earth shattering, I know.

Lately I’ve been finding excuses to just go to the gym and run.

OK, a lot of you will probably just shrug your shoulders at this and say, “What the hell is she complaining about? Running is still good.”

Yes, I know it’s still good, but running doesn’t get me jacked and huge quite like the good ‘ol bell does.

Alright, so maybe I don’t exactly want to get jacked and huge, but I do need to stay on top of my strength training.

So, this brings me to my story of the day:

I was pumped when I got an email on Monday from Stacey of Progress, Not Perfection fame, and one of the old instructors from Punch Gym.

She’s moved onto a bigger, better place called Myoforce — which is really good for her…

…but really bad for me. Hence my slacking. 😦

Anyway, she invited me to come in last night to check the new place out.

“Be there at 7pm for class,” she said.

“Alrighty!” I said.

Being the psychotically punctual person that I am, I left my house at 6:15 to make sure I had plenty of time to find it.

I mean, the directions seemed simple enough. Mapquest told me I should be there in “about 17 minutes.”

Well, one hour and 17 minutes later, guess who was still tooling around Newton, MA?

You got it!

Me.

It doesn’t help that driving in the dark turns me into a 90 year old woman who can’t see. I was so intent on finding the street, at one point I had slowed down to 15 mph.

I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a line of cars behind me about a mile long.

That’s when I knew to just give up.

I went home, did a few crunches to help convince myself that at least I did something, and then…

I had ice cream.

But anyway, that’s not the point. I’m going to try again tomorrow, with new and improved directions from Stacey herself.

So I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

And in the meantime, I’m going to buy a GPS.

How much did you spend on your last pair of running shoes?

Me? $150.

Absurd. I know.

Especially considering the fact that they consistently give me blisters on the bottoms of my feet, and strain my knee so bad to the point that sometimes I can hardly walk after running anything over 4 miles.

But, I continue to wear them.

Why?

Because they’re Saucony’s! They’re the best shoe out there! They’re expensive, and therefore, great!

Besides, look how cool I look in them:

See?

Right.

Well, new studies are showing that high-tech running shoes can be as bad as wearing high heels, and in fact, bare feet are the best if you plan on running.

Well, yeah. People aren’t born with sneakers on their feet. Obviously the Evolution Gods knew what they were doing when they made us humans into 2-legged creatures with 5 toes.

Unfortunately, the roads and running trails of today aren’t exactly barefoot-friendly.

Unless, of course, you’re willing to risk stepping on a disease-ridden needle or shard of glass. Which, if you’re a risk taker, by all means go right ahead.

But for your safety-conscious, right-minded folks out there, let me offer you a few alternatives. Check out Vibram FiveFinger Shoes:

They're like gloves for your feet!

They may look ridiculous, but if you have any prayer of straightening out your gait and avoiding joint strain in the future, you may want to check them out.

Nike Frees are another lightweight shoe out there that simulates barefoot running without the hazards of actually being barefoot.

I’ll be investing in a pair as soon as my Saucony’s get too worn out for running.

What?? I paid $150 for them!

I might as well get some use out of them, blisters and all.

No pain, no gain, right?

EA Sports Active

December 8, 2009

Have any of you jumped on the Wii Fitness bandwagon?

Last night, in place of my usual Monday night kettlebell class, I hopped on over to Newbury Street to try out EA Sports Active.

Oh, who am I kidding. I hardly hopped. I practically dragged myself over there.

But anyway…

I had no idea what EA Sports Active was. And to tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed when I walked in and saw a whole bunch of Wii’s set up. In all honesty, the first thought that ran through my head was, “Damn it! Guess I’m not getting a good workout tonight.”

Yeah I know, I’m a little bit of a snob.

And as payback for being a total snob, I was proven wrong. The Wii kicked my butt.

I woke up this morning and was sore!

Really sore!

Who would have thought doing this:

Look at me pumping iron

…could make it hard to get out of bed in the morning?

Either I’m super pathetic (which is entirely possible), or the Wii actually gave me a good workout!

So to any of you thinking of trying it out, I recommend it. It’s worth it.

PS- Thanks Stacey for providing that (horrible) picture of me 🙂

Foam Rolling

October 5, 2009

Please pardon the lack of a witty title. It’s Monday, people.

I know you were all hoping for another completely pointless Top 10 list, but it’s time to get serious. The topic of today: foam rolling. Yippee!!

For you visual learners:

Get on this!

Get on this!

This form of stretching called myofascial release. The specifics of this can get complicated, so I’ll do my best not to get too scientific on you. Basically, what it does is help release the tension in your muscles, allowing them to loosen up and remain limber. Think one word: massage.

Now do I have your attention?

Curious to know how how this works? Think back to middle school science class. Do you remember your teacher mentioning something called the Golgi tendon organ?

No? OK, then just humor me.

This awesome little sensory organ is responsible for sensing tension and the rate of tension change in a muscle. When the Golgi tendon organ senses high or prolonged tension on a specific muscle, it responds by making the muscle spindles relax, releasing the tension and making that area looser and more limber.

Are you following this?

The foam roller allows you to use your own body to put high and prolonged tension on a specific area of your body that may be sore or tight, activating the Golgi tendon organ and thus, relaxing the targeted muscle.

Pretty neat huh?

Here’s a video for your viewing pleasure:

I know you probably don’t have 9 minutes to devote to watching a YouTube clip on foam rolling, but this one is pretty informative.

A word of warning: it’s probably going to hurt like hell the first time you use one (especially if you’re a runner). The more it hurts, to more you need to use it. So suck it up. It’s worth it.