Coronapocalypse quarantine week 8. (Fitness updates!)

I finally have fitness updates for you who’ve asked for them, and for anyone else who’s interested!

Our garage gym is at the top of the list of things for which I’m incredibly grateful during this quarantine. The virus has changed everything about my fitness regimen, and in a good way. I’m still doing Les Mills workouts via their On Demand (online) home workout subscription, but I’m using different equipment and lifting heavier than I was before. On the cardio side, I’m solidly back into Body Combat, and I’ve added a new class. I do three days of weights and three days of cardio per week, minimum.

It’s heating up outside, but that’s what the living room is for when I go to do my afternoon cardio workouts! Mornings are cool enough to comfortably lift weights in the garage.

I’m loving doing three of my six weekly workouts “with” my friend Jessica. Since our gym closed and we haven’t been able to hang out in Saturday morning Body Pump, we’ve been hanging out on the phone during Saturday morning Body Pump, instead. We both have home gym set-ups and Les Mills On Demand. We get on the phone in front of our online class and hit “play” at the same time and put our phones on speaker. We don’t talk during the workouts. It’s an invisible companionship and accountability thing. We have to show up, because the other one is expecting us. It’s rad.

Other changes:

–The new cardio class I added to my regimen is Body Step. (Thank you for suggesting it, Jessica!) The step and four risers are the only equipment I’ve had to purchase.

Those of you who’ve been here a while, remember when I tried to establish myself in a Sunday morning step class? I made the effort because it was the only other cardio class that fit into my schedule, but I didn’t love step enough to want to give up my Sundays. It’s different now that I can customize my schedule, and also, my new step aerobics experience is insane in the way that I like my cardio. The reason, of course, is that it’s Les Mills.

Step aerobics: We’re going to kick your butt with our hardcore workout!
Les Mills Bodystep: Hold my water.

Les Mills incorporates squats, lunges, regular burpees, snatch burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and variations of dynamic planks into their step choreography… and that’s just what I’ve seen so far. They also have you pick up a weight plate or two from time to time.

In other words, Les Mills Body Step is not your grandmother’s step aerobics class.

–Body Pump: I’ve ditched the barbell, and, along with it, my February whim of sticking with light weights. I’m now lifting the heaviest dumbbells possible in our barbell-less garage, as in, “to failure” in every Body Pump track. We have dumbbells up to 30 lbs, so I can start heavy and quickly drop my weights down to lighter ones when I need to.

The luxury is that I no longer have to decide beforehand what weights I’m going to use in the next hour so can bring them to my spot on the floor. If I want to change my weights during the track, I don’t have to run back and forth to the equipment area, disturbing others while weaving around them. Body Pump is fast-paced lifting (which is why light weights are also effective), so the track would be over by the time I’d get back to my spot with the new weights. Neither do I have to worry about being that person spreading into neighboring peoples’ spaces with my cluster of weights.

All of the weights are within reach, and they’re dumbbells, so I don’t have to waste time messing with the barbell. I can do drop-sets easily, and so I do.

Dumbbell-only Body Pump is also intense and challenging because it involves more in the way of stabilization, I’ve noticed. I feel like I’m working my core a lot more with the hand weights.

 

Post-workout selfie [05/05/2020]

 

Bad lighting, I know. I’m totally washed-out here! I can’t technically explain the blinding whiteness of my right leg, but my apologies to your eyes. I’m standing in front of the open back door, peering down into my phone that was situated on a case of emergency water at about stomach-level. I’m rarely thrilled with the lighting in my pics, but I’ve yet to develop an interest in learning how to fix it, so that’s on me.

ALSO, I cut my bangs again, and I’m not hating it.

April Favorites coming Thursday!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 4. (Quick FUN tip: planks!)

The hour is beyond nigh for this post, and my brain is wrung out.

Hello. I’m writing this from a forearm plank position… just this one sentence. Did you know that this was possible? Neither did I. It never occurred to me before, anyway. I’m not sure why it did now. I’m going to blame it on the virus, which I don’t have, by the way.

(I’m in a weird mood. Please bear with me.)

If you’re not familiar with the plank position, then this is for you:

What you do is you set your laptop on the floor and lie down in front of it on your stomach, like you do, all stretched out and comfortable, your forearms resting on the floor. [<– That is not a part of the plank position. This next part is. –>] Then you flex your feet forward so your toes (actually more the balls of your feet) are planted on the floor, and you raise your body up so you’re supported only by your forearms/elbows in the front and your toes/balls of your feet in the back. Your fingers would be left free to tap the keyboard. Except I’m not suggesting that you do that. That is not a part of the position.

I won’t be writing in the plank position, either. It was just an interesting thing to try. It got me thinking, though, that it might be cool to watch something on the computer while lying on the floor and holding a plank every so often.

I grabbed this image in a hurry just to show you what I’m talking about. This is not an ideal demo pic. The quality and lighting are lacking, for one thing, and for another thing, I’m wearing this big, baggy shirt that’s draping to the floor. It’s rather unfortunate, but just to give you a general idea:

 

forearm plank shenanegans [09 April 2020]

 

Right?!

Watching videos or episodes or movies or whatnot is a sedentary activity, but if you lie on the floor with your computer and elevate yourself to a plank position for even one second, you’re suddenly doing a one-second, full-body strength-training workout while watching whatever you’re watching. You’ll feel your entire body working to keep itself propped up. This is not easy. If you can do it for even one second, you’re a rockstar.

It may not seem fun, but it is! What if you were to try it and hold the position for one second, and then, a little while later, decide to do it again? What if you were to continue doing it every once in a while, holding the position for just a second each time? You would soon notice that you’re holding the position for two, three, four seconds at a time. At some point, you would challenge yourself to hold the position for ten seconds, and then longer, because you’re a human, and humans like a challenge.

Humans like a challenge, and humans wouldn’t enjoy eating snacks in the plank position. That was the thought that struck me. I’ve eaten way too much in the way of snackery while watching T.V. or whatever. Doing this plank thing would be a satisfying diversion. Really!

I just thought I’d offer a fun suggestion for all of our housebound butts. Everything is different and weird now, anyway, so why not?

 

 

Cicadas are rad, and other random thoughts. (Plus a mini gym update!)

Sorry again about Tuesday’s late-night post, guys. Today is a new and better day, because today, I’m not operating in crisis mode. All is well, and I have a few thoughts to share. I also have gym updates.

Thing 1: It was 112 degrees today, and it’s been thereabouts for weeks now. This kind of heat ushers us into the cicada season part of summer in the desert. Cicadas hold a special place in my heart because I associate them with life in Arizona; to me, they’re emblematic in that way. I find them enchanting with their beautiful, diaphanous wings, their benignly short antennae, and their large, round, wide-set eyes that give them those adorable little faces. I’m delighted by the way they rattle their songs without care or concern that they sound like loudly malfunctioning electronics. Cicadas are nature’s industrial music artists, and as appropriate, they crank it! I love them.

Thing 2: I crawled out from under my rock to find that Jake Gyllenhaal is in the new Spider Man movie. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Thing 3: Netflix drops Money Heist Part 3 on July 19 – next week Friday!!! Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) is my second-favorite series (the first being The Americans). If you enjoy the crime thriller/action genre and haven’t yet seen Money Heist, I highly recommend it. Watch it in its original Spanish with whatever subtitles you need. This series is abjectly brilliant.

I enjoyed the season 3 trailer this morning:

 

 

Thing 3: I keep thinking that today’s Friday because I didn’t need to be anywhere, and I went to Body Pump yesterday morning. It feels odd, switching up a gym schedule I’d had for so long. It’s invigorating. Change is ultimately good, even if I balk at the idea of it sometimes.

Tomorrow is Friday, so it’s Body Combat. The next morning will be Saturday-morning Body Pump, as usual. This works well. I’d rather do Pump the day after Combat than the day before.

I’m so grateful to be able to incorporate such a schedule preference.

(Cue gym updates)

It’s been a good gym week! Monday, we had a sub who challenged us to go up one weight increment on the all-dumbbell biceps track she’d chosen, and I did, and I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have to drop down to my regular weights. I suppose this means that I should always use the higher weights…? I know that’s what it means. I’m just a bit daunted. I’m doubtful that I can maintain that weight through every biceps track, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t start out with it.

For Body Pump yesterday morning, I went to a location I’d never visited before. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that its floors are gorgeous, which seems like a weird thing to admire in a gym. The Body Pump instructor had his unique personality and teaching style, which I thought was interesting. It was a good work-out. I’m glad, because that’s going to be my regular Wednesday morning class.

I took a selfie in the locker room beforehand:

 

Body Pump at a new-to-me gym location

 

Everything isn’t different, though! I’m fortunate to be able to keep my former-gym Tuesday/Thursday Pump instructor, as she teaches my Monday class at the new gym!

I like to stick with professionals with whom I click in both formal and friendly ways. A hairstylist who knows how to cut my hair. A tax preparer who knows how to make filing taxes painless and fun. A realtor who’s always, unequivocally the best. And inspirational, authoritative group fitness instructors who set challenges.

Happy Friday Eve, all!

 

 

Posting on the 4th of July. (Gym updates, because.)

First things first: Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

Trivial things second: gym updates, to duly relay how it went when I did the back-to-back Combat/Pump class thing again last weekend. How it went was, it didn’t. I got real with myself at the last minute and admitted that I’ll never have 200% to give in two hours, so it wouldn’t make sense to waste my time and stress my body.

This morning’s workout rocked. Our instructor put together a 4th of July-themed tracklist, and somehow, she motivated me to increase certain upper-body weights yet again. On my way out, I CANCELLED my membership at that gym. My second gym is now my only gym! I’m not sad about it. It was a great five years overall. I won’t have to miss anyone, either… I may have cancelled my gym membership, but I didn’t cancel my gym friends. Most of us have migrated to the same new gym. ALSO, I get to continue taking Body Pump with the aforementioned badass instructor, because she teaches at my new gym, too!

Starting next week, my new workout schedule is going to be M-W-F and either Saturday or Sunday. Two of the classes will fall on consecutive days, but it’ll be better than the three days in a row I’d done for so long.

For our pic today, here’s Yours Truly using a wall as a headrest and repping a favorite metal band. I live in jeans and oversize t-shirts.

 

In my natural habitat

 

That is all. Have a safe and fun weekend, my friends.

 

 

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?

 

 

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.”