Fitness Updates check-in, because I am a rocket scientist.

Consider this to be Part 2 of last Thursday’s post. I didn’t think I’d have much to report, but here we are!

I went ahead with my crazy idea to do Body Pump immediately after Body Combat, and now I’ve got documentation for myself (which I’m sharing with you) regarding how that went: it was really, really, really hard. End of documentation. Not exactly the notes you’d find in a rocket scientist’s journal.

Conclusion: Sunday’s double-class combo was a learning experience.

Body Combat was the first class. I threw myself into it, as usual. I always feel like I have energy to spare after a workout, but now I know that whatever’s left is not enough to fuel another 50 minutes with the same drive I applied to the first class. It was a struggle to get through Body Pump without decreasing my weights, and I was amazed that I did it! I’d just never felt so tired during a workout. Even more disconcerting, I was hungry during the workout. How does one deal with hunger during a workout?! It was a strange sensation. It made me feel weaker.

On the way home from the gym, I stopped by the water store to refill six five-gallon jugs of water. It probably wasn’t the brightest idea to haul 30 gallons of water home at that point, but I really thought it would be okay. My mind insisted, the classes are over! You’re not at the gym anymore! You can do the usual stuff! One of those three statements was a lie. My mind lied. It was not a good idea to do “the usual stuff.”

I shuffled slowly through the rest of the day, stopping to rest between steps. I had to gather energy for the next few steps. I had to take a few breaths to overcome dizziness. Oh, and the pain! Weirdly, all of my lower-body joints flared at once.

I felt like I was going to pass out as I did the laundry and some minor household tasks, yet somehow I managed to assist Callaghan in moving some Very Heavy Things in the house. It had to be done, and again, my mind said, Drive ON, Soldier. Since my week at the War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center, I’m now very aware of how my mind does this… but I don’t think of it until after the fact.

The next day was yesterday. I felt that I had energy, but the day ended with no alleviation of the joint pain. Muscle soreness also became a factor. I finally took some Advil and flopped onto the bed with my phone. I had a feeling I would report on my experiment in today’s post, so I took a selfie there in the moment of grade-7 pain.

 

Joint pain everywhere from the waist down. Just lying here waiting for the Advil to kick in.

 

I do pride myself on how well I can flop on the bed and stay there when I’m in pain. Haha!

I took more Advil the next morning – this morning, that is – and I went back to Body Pump and I smashed my workout, because today is a NEW DAY. Last night’s pain? Ancient history, thanks to sleep and ibuprofen! Today’s Body Pump workout went well. It was kind of awesome to note the difference in how strong I felt this morning compared to how I felt in Sunday’s class post-Body Combat.

This leads me to my spin-off experiment plan, which is to do the double classes again this Sunday with just one change: I’ll skip the last track in Body Combat (core, aka ab-work), and I’ll take that time to sit and eat a protein/energy bar. I’m hoping that a little break for rest and food between classes will be restorative enough! I don’t see a need to do TWO core tracks, anyway. The one at the end of Body Pump will suffice. I do Combat for the cardio; why work abs twice in two hours?

 

 

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Dreaming of a greener day (Fitness updates!)

I’ve had this glute/hamstring issue on my left side for months now. It’s still there, even after taking two weeks off. In fact, it’s getting worse! I finally said to myself, Self, wouldn’t it be great to get in your four workouts per week without doing consecutive days?

The only way to do four workouts per week with a day of recovery between workout days is to double up classes.

Thus, I got the insane idea to do what a lot of people do and slip a day of back-to-back Combat (cardio kickboxing) and Pump (weight-training) into my schedule. This is a scenario I’ve avoided for years. IT JUST SO HAPPENS that my schedule needed re-vamping, anyway. My “primary” gym (whose name rhymes with LA HOT MESS) finally dumped Body Pump from their schedules. Hoards of Body Pump orphans flooded out into the streets in search of new classes, bloating the available ones at the OTHER gym’s various locations. (I haven’t gone to a weekend Pump class since the last one on June 1st, but I’ve heard reports of the over-crowding at these other gyms.)

So I looked at those gyms’ schedules to see where weekend back-to-back Combat/Pump classes are offered, and I decided on one to try. It’s a bit further away going south, but that means that I can skirt around the construction zone that is my entire neighborhood here in NW Tempe. I’m fine trekking out to a south Tempe class! I was specifically looking to go either north or south; I found both, and they’re both on Sunday mornings, which is also fine.

I chose the south location because its first class, Combat, starts at 9am, which is what I’m used to. I’m looking forward to it. The instructor (easily findable in the local Les Mills crowds on FB) looks to be a complete badass, also in keeping with what I’m used to.

So that’s the main fitness update this time. It’s more a gym update than a fitness update, but it’s a big change and a big deal for me to try the back-to-back class thing. I’m dropping my recently adopted Friday morning Combat class so I can take a rest day after Thursday’s Pump. Maybe this will help the situation in my left glute/hamstring. I don’t think that doing Combat and Pump one after the other will aggravate the problem, but we shall see.

As for last week in Palo Alto, I didn’t get to work out, after all, because the on-site gym was closed the whole week. (I found out when I got to its doors.) There was a lot of walking and stair-climbing in my day-to-day, though, so I did get to get moving!

 

 

L’amour est bleu. (Fitness updates!)

Today’s post is brought to you by a “fitness updates” request. It’s been a month since my last one, anyway!

In short and in summary, I’ll just say this: If you’re looking to start working out, consider trying a Les Mills group fitness class, if you can get to a gym that offers Les Mills classes. I’ve seen people of all ages and levels of fitness in those classes!

For the at-length, actual “fitness updates” version, I’ll start with…

Les Mills Body Pump (strength-training with weights): How about I think back on today’s class, just for fun? Our leg track was set to a song that’s also used in Body Combat, which is why I thought of Body Combat while doing squats this morning. It also came back to me how in the On Demand video, the male lead announces that his female co-lead is “the only monster on the stage,” and how I thought this to be an odd thing to proclaim. It’s definitely a strange remark to hear if you’re oblivious to the fact that the song’s refrain begins with “She’s a monster.” I don’t pay much attention to lyrics in these classes. Context is everything, right?

This morning’s chest track was a Guns N’ Roses song. [-nothing further-]

The back track was one I didn’t remember at all. From the music to the moves, I recognized none of it. It was like doing a new release back track! Loved it.

I’m unable to bring the triceps song back to mind, though I can remember the workout combination.

The biceps track was set to a song by Pink, whose songs in Body Pump challenge the part of my brain that finds the beats. I’m not sure why this is the case with Pink and only with Pink. It’s like her vocals are so powerful and independent, they leave the beats behind. I always pick up on them or sense the timing eventually, though. It happened to be easy today.

I don’t remember this morning’s lunge track song, but the workout involved a little plyometric action, which I enjoy.

And the shoulder track? It was that one with the French vocals, “L’amour est Bleu.” It’d been a while since we’d done that one, and it was interesting to revisit it after my weight increases. I could note how my shoulders have strengthened since the last time we did that track.

This brings me to the update part of the “updates”: I’ve increased some weights since my last fitness updates post a month ago. I’ve gone heavier on legs, back, and shoulders.

Body Pump’s effects are most notable to me in terms of strength, but clearly the workouts change your physique, too. When you turn around and catch someone staring at you as you’re walking away and he gets all flustered and says, “Nice backpack!” you know that there’s something other than your backpack going on back there. (Either that, or the car wash guy just really admires my backpack.)

[I just realized that my account of this morning’s class was more about the music than about the workout. Ah.]

Les Mills Body Combat (cardio kickboxing): I did this class at my (new) second gym for the first time last week. It was cool, literally. Between the superpowered A/C and a huge, noisy fan, the room was so chilled that I hardly broke a sweat! It was a good workout. It was a new release, so that’s always fun, but I must admit that I’m not going to be sad to say allez, au revoir to this release. To me, it’s death by mountain climbers, and that isn’t fun. Of all the moves I’ve done while working out EVER, mountains climbers are my least favorite. They’re great for conditioning, but UN-FUN.

Step + Abs (cardio/aerobic): I haven’t gone. The last step class I did was on March 17. I always intend to go, but there’s always something or other, and now it’s been five weeks since I’ve worked out on a Sunday! I only managed to make up for it once. Life has been happening, as life does.

And that’s okay. I’ll keep trying to get to Sunday morning step.

Even one workout a week would be better than none. 20 minutes of exercise (i.e. brisk walking) would be better than no minutes of exercise. File this in “habits worth developing.” Also, “things that are fun before we know it.”

 

 

What’s new at the gym? (Fitness updates!)

Mercury retrograde ends in two days. I’m getting ready to throw confetti.

[…]

Fitness updates!

Me (one week ago): I’m not joining a second gym for just one class. That wouldn’t make sense. No.

Me (yesterday):

 

Second gym.

 

Who even am I?

Body Combat is leaving our gym for good, so I went looking for a replacement. I wanted to find a Combat class that’s held on a weekday morning… my one requirement. The so-called silver lining to Body Combat’s departure from my gym is that I’m DONE fighting traffic through downtown in the evening, when a 12-minute drive takes 50-55 minutes no matter the route. This is not normal. I do not live in L.A., and I don’t have to play that game, I say!

Not to mention that it’s been a long time since evening classes made sense in my schedule. Body Combat was my one and only.

With this second gym, I have more options than ever all over Phoenix. Hey! Maybe one of the two gyms will open a location specifically in NW Tempe. I figure it’s a matter of time, considering that everything else is being built here.

In Body Pump news, we did the new release (#109) on Saturday, and I’m intrigued. There’s an unusual challenge: a new move with a mysterious timing relationship to the music. I wasn’t able to decode it during that first run-through. How do the beats work with this move? I hope to feel it this Saturday! It’s a great workout, 109. It destroyed my shoulders.

As for Step Plus Abs, I’ve settled into making that class a martial workout, as that’s a surefire way for me to burn up some energy. I quietly go beastmode in there. If she offers a fancy variation to a move, I don’t take it… I stick with the basic version and just do it hardcore. There’s enough footwork happening as it is, and there aren’t too many variations throughout the workout, anyway, so I’m still getting in that agility training.

Them’s my updates! I’ll sign off on a note of fitness motivation (I love this one):

 

 

 

 

I went to a step class. (Fitness updates!)

I did a step class on Sunday morning because I wanted to add another group fitness workout to my workout week. It had to be cardio (preferably kickboxing; definitely not Zumba),* and it had to be on Sunday morning. I combed the schedules for all of my gym’s Phoenix locations and found the Sunday morning “Step Plus Abs” at a location as near to my house as my regular gym. Yay!

Turned out that the class title on the schedule is a misnomer, as there are no Abs in “Step Plus Abs.” It’s just Step Plus. The instructor let me know at the beginning that it was “advanced” step.

I’ve taken step before, but I went to Sunday’s class assuming that I’d forgotten how to do it. I was right. The only familiar moves were “basic right” and “basic left,” so BASICALLY I remembered nothing.

The first person I saw when I walked in was a woman I recognized from Body Pump, who asked whether I’d ever done step, to which I replied, “Yeah, but it was a really long time ago.” She smiled mirthfully and said, “You’ll be fine, then.” I answered with “We’ll see!” while looking into the future and seeing myself clueless. Because when I say I did step “a really long time ago,” I’m talking about 25 years ago, as in, decades ago. 25 years ago, I was 25 years old. 25 years is long enough for me to forget how to do step.

The class was kind of fun. Weirdly enough, I worked up a decent sweat (not Body Combat-level sweat, but enough to roll down the sides of my face), but I still had a full tank of gas at the end of it. I was breathing normally. I was speaking effortlessly. I felt like I’d exerted no energy at all. How is it possible to sweat and also feel fresh and energized after a workout? I didn’t feel anything the next day, either. My muscles gave no indication that I’d moved my body in ways it’s not used to moving. I felt nothing.

It wasn’t a challenging cardio workout for me, but it was still cardio. Any cardio is better than no cardio! I kept going with step-knees and step-kicks when I got totally lost, so I did maintain continuous on-and-off-the-step movement for 50 minutes, or whatever it was.

I’ve decided that I’m going back to that Sunday morning step class because:

  • There’s no regular Sunday morning kickboxing class at any of my gym’s locations
  • Step isn’t high-impact, but it’s a sweat session nonetheless
  • It’s easier getting myself to a group fitness class than onto a treadmill
  • Step class amounts to some crazy-ass agility training

Agility training is an important component of fitness, I feel, and step class is nothing if not that. The instructor had us skittering all around the step bench and up across it every which way with intricate footwork in complicated patterns and switching directions and feet straddling the bench and turning and turning back and up the step and down the step and now do the same thing on the other side and so on and so forth. There’s choreography, and it’s fast. There’s terminology, and you have to know it. Your brain has to be fully engaged in order to keep up.

Step is sweat-inducing physical and mental agility, and totally different from what I normally do.

I’d still like to find a morning kickboxing class somewhere in the week, though! (And not on a Body Pump day!) I’ll keep looking through the group fitness schedules for my gym’s nearby locations, in case anything changes.

In lieu of a pic relevant to this post, please enjoy this ridiculous pic from the day my hair freaked out after I washed it and it ended up complimenting my t-shirt.

 

Basking. [18 Jan 2019]

The End.

*I’m not dissing Zumba. It’s just not something I’m interested in trying right now.

 

 

Finding the fury. (Fitness post)

I don’t love cardio, but I need to do more of it – my fitness refrain over the last 12 months or so. Followers of my group fitness endeavors, remember when it was the opposite? When cardio was all I did, and I wanted to add strength-training? Now it’s strength-training (Body Pump) three times per week, and one cardio (Body Combat), the latter being consistently sporadic for one reason or another.

I don’t love cardio, but I do love combat sports training, which happens to be straight-up cardio when you do it as a group fitness class. I made it to Combat this week and realized why the focus there feels so different than my focus in Pump: it’s because my focus in Pump is inward. In Combat, it’s outward. It’s the same degree of focus, but projected in opposite directions.

This realization adds a dimension to my “I need to do more cardio” refrain. The balance of strength-training (Pump) and cardio (Combat) attracts me more in an energetic sense than a physical one. Eastern Philosophy 101.

My mental focus is different in Combat because in combat sports training, I’m focused on an opponent (hence the outwardness of it). This means that I have to first work myself up into a state of anger, or at least strong annoyance. That’s my pre-Combat prep: hone in on an opponent so I can direct my energy at a specific target. Sometimes, I’m mad at more than one entity or situation, and then I’m fighting multiple opponents.

Thus, my best cardio workouts are fueled by rage.

I get the most out of cardio when it’s combat-oriented and I’m fighting to the death. By the time class is over, I’m flying high on victory. I’m a finisher, and I won. It’s a post-workout euphoria that’s different than the post-workout euphoria I experience after a good Pump class; I need equal amounts of this euphoria in my life, and that’s the actual reason “I need to do more cardio.”

Everyone has a fitness epiphany in them somewhere. Find yours… find it to get your fitness journey started, or to refresh your fitness mojo. Whether you need to get off a couch or a plateau, finding what drives you to action can help.

 

[30 Jan. 2019, post-Combat water-guzzling]

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

 

 

Back at the gym again. (Fitness update!)

I worked out over the weekend! It was great. Our Saturday Body Pump instructor happened to choose one of the easier workout releases… one that was awesome to do after being out for a while.

My legs, though!

I expected to feel the workout after having done nothing for a month, but I didn’t expect to feel it only in my legs. I used my warm-up weight for the entire workout, too. Dropping my heaviest bar weight – legs – all the way down to 5 lbs should have benefited my lower body more than anything, but noooooo. (Channeling John Belushi in Saturday Night Live.)

On Sunday, I could hardly walk. Yesterday was the same. This morning, I got up and thought, geez, how could my legs forget completely after just one month of sedentary life?! My legs are acting like they’ve never lifted a thing in their lives. It’s like my legs spent a month chilling on a beach in Rio, and now they’re mad that I yanked them off their lounger and put them back in the gym.

I popped a handful of Advil for the pain before I went to the gym this morning, feeling hopeful because I was walking a little more normally than I had been in the last two days. I was ready for whatever our Tuesday/Thursday instructor would throw at us, which turned out to be release 106.

Then class got underway and I found that I didn’t just yank my legs off a beach lounger in Rio and put them back in the gym on Saturday. I also sent them to an overzealous grocery store butcher who just couldn’t wait to run my quads through their new meat tenderizer.

In class this morning, I could bend my knees slightly. That was it. Those were my squats. My range of motion was basically zero, and the pain was intense despite the Advil.

There was a pretty rad bright side, though: I put more weight on the bar for upper body when I realized that my legs were out of the picture. Doing clean and presses and power presses using only upper body strength revealed that my upper body is stronger than I’d thought it was. My thing about overhead shoulder presses with the bar really is psychosomatic. The back track in release 106 involves a lot of overhead shenanegans, and I had no problem doing it without lower body assistance using a heavier bar than I use for shoulders.

Also, I figured out my Saturday mistake right away: I’d gone as deep as I usually do in the leg track. This was apparently the wrong answer for my first time back.

As for my upper body after being out for a month? Nothing. I’ve felt nothing. As far as my upper body is concerned, it never left the gym. Weird, right?!

I’m so glad to be back.

November Favorites post coming on Thursday!