All hail Gluteus Maximus. (Living room gym post!)

My friend and I were talking the other day about each other’s physiques, and he noted that I have “a big butt for my frame.” I replied that my glutes are simply developed from working out, which prompted him to ask what I was talking about, to which I explained about the muscles that comprise the butt: Gluteus (glutei?) Maximus, Medius, and Minimus. When he opined that those are ridiculous names, I informed him that they’re Latin words, and don’t they sound like Roman names? And he couldn’t argue with that. “Yeah it sounds like a Roman emperor.” And I concluded, “Roman emperor Gluteus Maximus. He was an ass.”

Which brings me to this workout that I did a couple of weeks ago, as it’s lower-body intensive. We’re talking Les Mills Body Pump 118 Metabolic Blast, my friends. This particular workout is my current favorite way to hit my major muscle groups in a mere half-hour. It’s also great because it’s a rare Body Pump workout that doesn’t require a bench, as there are no chest presses in the routine. You don’t need more than standing space with just a few feet around to step one foot back for lunges – or you could opt to do the exercises as squats rather than as lunges. You can live in a closet and do this workout. No excuses.

I set up my phone to film the 30-minute workout, then did the usual screenshot snapping, cropping, and resizing to end up with some (bad) pics to share with you who are here for fitness posts. Also – I’ve said this before, and this will always be the case – posting pics of myself working out is just a solid way for me to critique my own form so I can know what needs improvement.

As always, I must plug Les Mills On Demand+, as without Les Mills’s awesome streaming workout service, I wouldn’t be working out at all. For Body Pump I’m still using the dumbbells that I had pre-pandemic, rather than springing for a barbell set. Barbells are fun, but it’s not necessary to have one to do LM Body Pump classes. In fact, you don’t even need weights at all, as everything in LM Body Pump workouts can be done isometrically.

Without further ado:

Getting started.

All the time spent in a wide squat stance at the bottom of the movement contributes to glute work. This workout has a lot of that.

Bottom of the squat.
Squat, wider stance.
Squat, top of a pulse.
Suffering through squat pulses.

For the posterior/athletic chain portion of the workout, the routine incorporates single-arm rows, dead lifts, and clean-and-presses.

Stance for single-arm row.

(If it looks like I’m knock-knee’d, it’s because I am.)

Single-arm row – you straighten back up to a standing position after each rep.
Stance for dead lifts.
Dumbbell dead lift.

The dead lift prepares your body for the clean-and-presses.

Dumbbell clean.
Dumbbell press.
High pulls.
Stretching: child’s pose.
Stretching: cat.
Stretching legs.
Stretching legs, focus on quads.

These pics are poor in quality, I know, but hopefully they can give you an idea of the effectiveness of the workout. Les Mills is my jam, and you may find that it’s yours, too. Regardless of the type of fitness program/non-program you do, happy working-out to those of you who commit to keeping your bodies in shape!

On that note, I wish you all a happy Friday/weekend eve, my friends. Rock on.

Found my fuel. (Living room gym post: workout therapy!)

When a shadowy face of evil looms ahead of someone you love, littering their path with the equivalent of mental nuclear waste fallout every step into the future until their last breath, there’s only one thing to do: join the fight.

A person I love has been compromised as such. They fell through the trap door laid before them, experienced the false nirvana within, and eventually found escape to be impossible. Now they are infected with demons, and I am livid.

Thus, I threw down a particularly intense workout on Monday in the late afternoon. Les Mills Body Combat, my friends. I’ve been raving about Les Mills since 2014, as some of you may know, and I will always rave about them. Les Mills is fantastic, and Body Combat was my first Les Mills workout love. It’s more than cardio kickboxing. It’s cardio kickboxing, cardio Karate, cardio Muay Thai, cardio capoeira, cardio Tae Kwan Do, cardio Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and cardio Kung Fu.

For you who’ve been wronged: Your fight is my fight.

So on Monday after work, I hit “play” to begin 55 minutes of Les Mills Body Combat.

And I had the above-mentioned person in mind for my target. A name, only. A face I’d seen in photos, only. A willfully duplicitous person whose trespasses on the innocence of someone I love (and others, no doubt) feel unforgivable because of the havoc they’ve wreaked.

Fury in unflattering light is the best kind.

Fitness updates on my end:
I’ve just started up with my workouts again since my long hiatus pre- and post- hand surgery. So far, so good.

The last time I worked out with weights (dumbbells) was on December 11; after that point, the pain in my hand became too extreme to tolerate it, and it just got worse and worse up to my surgery on February 14. I’m well past surgery recovery and feeling normal again, but I still haven’t gotten back to weight-training. It’s been over four months. Literally the only thing keeping me in shape is my job.

So it’s back to regular Body Pump. Back to regular Body Combat. Monday was great. I kicked serious ass with the image of the evildoer’s face emblazoned behind my mind’s eye. I mean, I was feeling the fury in any case, so it was just as well that I also had a workout to do.

Happy Friday Eve, my friends. Blessings to you on your fitness journeys!

Street clothes workout! (First living-room gym post of 2022!)

Hello there, my friends. I thought I’d start out the new year with a fitness-related post, as I did last year, so today I’ve got a living-room workout post for any of you who are here for it!

Monday’s workout was the first of 2022. At the last minute, I decided to do it without changing my clothes – as in, I came home from work and stayed in my work attire. My daily winter work uniform consists of jeans, three layers on top (tank top, turtleneck, t-shirt), a thick, oversize gray hoodie I found in the men’s section at Ross, long thick socks, and winter hiking boots. (I work in a warehouse, which, like many warehouses, is not heated.)

And as you know if you’re along for this ride, I’ve now somehow (inexplicably) committed to keeping my house cold this winter. I turn on the new electric fireplace in my office only when I’m in here at night. The rest of the time, it’s in the low-60’s throughout the house.

So the house was 62 degrees F when I got home on Monday, and I didn’t want to get undressed to change into gym clothes. Then I thought, but who says I have to? The workout on the agenda was, of course, Les Mills Body Combat. It’s a cardio workout, but the way I’ve always seen it, it’s a fighting-arts training session, an opportunity to practice my technique. It would be good to train in my street clothes, went my thinking. After all, if I were to find myself in a situation, it would be on the street, and I almost certainly wouldn’t be wearing workout gear.

Also, I had to pee, but I didn’t, for the same reason. In a real-life situation, I’m not going to tell my attacker to hold off while I run to the bathroom. And again for that same reason, I didn’t drink water before the workout, even though I was thirsty.

I’ve always been like this. I get random ideas in my head, test the proverbial waters, and then go all-out with the ideas until they’re strange. Challenge: See how long I can wait before turning on the heat. Plot twist: Don’t turn on the heat at all! Challenge: Work out in street clothes rather than in gym clothes. Plot twist: Don’t use the bathroom or drink water beforehand, either!

I love simulations of real-life scenarios as a method of skill-testing. My first memory of such a test comes from the day I graduated from swim lessons, when Hank-the-instructor threw me into the far end of the pool with all of my clothes on, including my shoes, without warning. I found out that swimming the length of an Olympic-size pool wearing clothes and shoes is not the same thing as swimming across in a bathing suit. Clothes and shoes in the water are heavy and restrictive. There was this new, foreign resistance in the water, and it was trying to hold me back. I was totally blindsided when Hank threw me in, but I thought it was hilarious. I was six.

So it was like that on Monday. I jumped into the workout fully dressed in my street clothes, hair down and everything. I was glad that I did it, because yeah, throwing kicks and knee strikes and all other strikes in jeans and multiple layers is not the same thing as throwing them in gym clothes. My jeans were soft and worn and had some stretch to them, but still, they were restrictive compared to workout gear. I’m grateful to the cold house for prompting this new, realistic angle in my fight training.

I did change into my indoor gym shoes, though. I drew the line at messing up my floor with my dirty warehouse boots! I also put on my gel-padded gloves, reason being that I needed to protect my mangled left hand in the event of push-ups, mountain-climbers, or burpees (indeed, I did all of the above in the workout).

[Aside: I don’t believe I’ve spoken of my mangled left hand. I swear, so much in the way of medical crap happened in 2021, it would’ve been boring and repetitive to tell you about all of it. More on this to come, as I’ve got surgery in my near future!]

When I did the same workout again after work on Wednesday, once again in my street clothes, I filmed it so that I could get screenshots for this post.

Without further ado, then!

Let’s go.
Let’s GO.
In it to win it
Call it a fist bump, because I’m not in any kind of a fight stance, so I’m not sure where this was coming from, haha
Duck

Weird angle, but here’s the bottom of my shoe
Punch
Hook
Uppercut
Something.
Making friends…?
TF haha

And that’s a wrap for this gym post, my friends. One of the benefits of home workouts is that you can wear whatever you want, right? Whatever you want, for whatever reason.

Here’s to all of you and to fitness year 2022!

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!

 

 

Garage gym updates and Tae Kwan Do techniques!

Coming back around to the promised garage gym update! Since our initial setting-up in January last year, we’ve made a few additions to the garage to further its transition into a small but functional training space. We also cleared out the relics that came with the garage when we bought the house – old cans of paint and such.

Now we’ve got the basics: 63 square feet of mat flooring (we added a couple of rows of rubber tiles to enlarge the floor), a standing punching bag, an MMA dummy on the floor, a mirror (thanks to Craigslist), a few sets of dumbbells, and speakers (for blasting dub-step, rap, and metal during boxing and Muay Thai training, of course). It’s a great space for the two of us, but as many as four people could train in there at once. Maybe five. Maybe six, depending on what we do. It’s small, but it works.

The South Korean flag still hangs in the corner. When I go in to practice Tae Kwan Do, I’m entering a do-jang  (the Korean equivalent of the Japanese dojo). There’s no music during a Tae Kwan Do session. Because of the quiet and the concentration required, I find that it’s akin to a moving meditation practice. I feel at peace. Perhaps more than anything, the flag carries sentimental value, as my Tae Kwan Do master handed it down to me before he moved out of state years ago.

Another thing – unrelated, but useful – is that I upgraded my phone last week, so now I’m equipped with a camera that’s much better than my old one!

(I’ll be honest… I only upgraded my phone to get a new camera. I was content with the phone, itself, but I wanted to take better pictures, and I didn’t want to invest in an actual camera. I was eligible for a phone upgrade, anyway, so it worked out well.)

So, with this new phone camera, thinking of how I could show what the space can accommodate, I decided to record myself doing a Tae Kwan Do form (hyung in Korean; kata in Japanese – this is TKD, so it’s hyung). I recorded the video on Sunday afternoon and used “pause” and “the snippy tool” to get the slew of Tae Kwan Do technique selfies posted here.

But first, observe the quality difference between my old and new cameras!

Old camera (Samsung Galaxy S4):

 

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

 

New camera (Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge):

 

Walking up to start...

Walking up to start…

 

I clipped this shot out of the video, so I’m blurry in movement, but notice the colors! The lighting in the garage was exactly the same in both images, and as per usual, there were no digital shenanigans involved to alter the pics. I’m in love with this camera. The phone part is pretty great, too, and yes, I’m totally raving about a Korean phone in a post about Korean karate. Coincidence.

Without further rambling about cameras and phones, here are a few of the Tae Kwan Do blocks and attacks I clipped from the recorded video:

 

Horizontal front chest block

Horizontal front chest block

 

Double-fisted groin block

Double-fisted groin block

 

Stomp attack with downward block (prep)

Stomp attack with downward block (prep)

 

Back fist (prep)

Back fist (prep)

 

(My striking fist did originate from further inside, but it looks awkward at this second of transition… )

 

Jump attack (prep)

Jump attack (prep)

 

Jump attack

Jump attack

 

Block to sides

Block to sides

 

Left hand groin attack (pull at the end of the technique)

Left hand groin attack (pull at the end of the technique)

 

Finished.

Finished.

 

Note that my feet are slightly too far apart in that finish.  I saw ALL of my mistakes while watching the video and pausing on the techniques, which makes the recording a valuable practice I should continue. You may see more training pics here in the future.  Just a head’s-up.

 

(walking back to stop the recording, haha)

(walking back to stop the recording, haha)

 

Anyway, our garage gym figures beautifully into my New Year’s resolution to get stronger. We’re going to add three or four sets of dumbbells to our little collection, so we’ll be able to get in some effective full-body workouts. Gotta love Play It Again Sports! We’re also going to add what we need to keep the space tolerable during the hot months.

What I’m Digging Right Now – December Favorites

December is over! 2014 is over! Today, I’m going to rave about stuff (aka little things) that made the magical 12th month of the year even more magical, and next week, I’m going to rave again about the little things from 2014 that topped them all for a “best of” list for the whole year.

For December, I’m starting with entertainment, because as we all know, that’s one of my favorite types of things… and a great month for that it was, indeed. Three movies knocked us out with their awesomeness in December. Let’s get right to it.

1). The Babadook (film)

thatasianlookingchick.com-thebabadook

So we were scrolling through our favorite movie-watching site one night and decided to take a chance on yet another horror flick. Good call! The Babadook was intense and intensely gratifying. It more than made up for all the horror flicks that left us feeling wistful for well-crafted terror, because The Babadook is the very definition of well-crafted terror. It scared the hell out of me. It was completely enthralling.

2). Big Eyes (film)

thatasianlookingchick.com-bigeyes

My birthday was two days after Christmas. We went to the movies that afternoon, because my idea of a good birthday includes a movie date. This year, we went to see Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. We’re ardent Tim Burton, Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz fans, and I love movies based on true events, and I love art, and I loved that for the second year in a row, my birthday movie featured Adams and her stunning talent. Last year’s American Hustle was excellent… and Big Eyes followed suit, to the surprise of neither of us.

First of all, I was fascinated by the story, itself. Since I’d always known the painter of those pictures to be Margaret Keane, it was interesting to learn the history behind the phenomenon and take in a few details about the art world that I hadn’t known before, as well. I’m surprised that no one made a movie about this story before, but I’m happy that they waited until now, because now we have Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. I’m eagerly waiting to see how many Oscar nominations this film rakes in, like American Hustle.

3). The Interview (film)

thatasianlookingchick.com-theinterview

Think or say what you want about the hype surrounding this movie or the movie, itself; we thought it was freaking hilarious. It had us rolling from that ridonkulously absurd opening scene with Eminem, and the ridonkulous absurdity continued… the actors never dropped the pace of their comedic timing. We saw The Interview on Christmas day, at home, computer hooked up to our T.V., voilà! Our first ever new-movie home viewing experience! The novelty and hilarity of it made for an extra enjoyable Christmas. I hope no one dies because of it, though.

4). Bikram yoga.

Bikram Yoga.

Bikram Yoga.

I’m so grateful to say that there was something fabulous every day of the short holiday break, and on the 26th, the fabulous little thing was my first Bikram yoga class in about 10 years. It felt marvelous, and I was reminded of why I’d enjoyed yoga so much in the first place. Graciously invited by a friend who practices the art at the newer Bikram establishment, I walked in without an idea of how my body would behave or react throughout the series of poses. As it turned out, my muscles still knew what to do, though at the surface level, I couldn’t remember how the mechanics of some of the poses worked… it was a strange juxtaposition.

Aftereffects? Physically, I never reached the depth of the pain I was sure I’d experience in the following days. The day after, I felt it in my lower body, mostly in my hamstrings and hip flexors… but it wasn’t that bad. I went beast mode in Body Combat class as usual without the help of Advil (I’d been prepared to gulp the Advil in order to do Combat, but it wasn’t necessary). The following day, I felt the soreness in my upper body, mostly in my triceps, lats and along my spine… and again, it wasn’t at all as severe as what I’d thought it’d be.

In other respects, I felt great. The meditative 90-minute practice brought back everything I loved about Bikram yoga. It was energizing, centering, grounding, and I was very glad that I went.

5). XXL WaveMaster heavy bag.

Thanks to the arrival of my XXL WaveMaster heavy bag (standing), our car no longer lives in our garage.

Thanks to the arrival of my XXL WaveMaster heavy bag (standing), our car no longer lives in our garage.

For Christmas, Callaghan offered me what he knew I’d been wanting for a long time: a heavy bag! Body Combat class has been (and continues to be) awesome, but I’ve really been missing making actual contact with my strikes; I love it, and I’m badly in need of target practice. It’s been too long. I went online and identified the bag I wanted. It’s the extra-large WaveMaster, and it’s since taken up residence in our garage.  More on this later… it deserves a post of its own! Suffice it to say for now that I’m completely stoked and can’t wait to start training here at home to supplement my group fitness workouts.

6). HeartFire Botanicals Chocolate Orange sugar scrub.

Chocolate Orange Sugar Scrub from HeartFire Botanicals.

Chocolate Orange Sugar Scrub from HeartFire Botanicals.

This scrub is the creation of a good friend who recently started making and selling her own healing personal care products, and my dry winter lips love it as an evening exfoliating treatment! My lips have been so soft since I started using it. She gave it to me for Christmas, and I already swear by it. Her site is here… check it out! (I added the link to her shop in the sidebar here, too.)

7). Got2B Rockin’ It 4Ever StyleSpray dry shampoo.

Got2B Rockin’ It 4Ever StyleSpray dry shampoo.

Got2B Rockin’ It 4Ever StyleSpray dry shampoo.

Dry shampoos and I got off on the wrong foot. The one I tried last year? Turned my hair gray. I mean, it sprayed on white, and the discoloration was ridiculously difficult to correct. I couldn’t massage it out. I couldn’t brush it out. It was such an annoying experience that I returned it and assumed that dry shampoo was just something I’d do without… until I ventured to try again with this Got2B product. I’ve been enjoying the Got2B Guardian Angel heat-protectant spray so much that when I found this dry shampoo next to it in the drugstore, I sprang for it. It turns out that this brand of dry shampoo is magic in a can! It also sprays on whitish – I guess they all do…? – but my hair easily returns to its color after working in the product and brushing it out. I put it through the ultimate test and used it the day after a Body Combat class after which I did not wash my hair (I come home from Combat with my hair soaked in sweat, so this was gross). The next day, the Got2B Rockin’ It dry shampoo make my hair look and feel like I’d actually washed it. Amazing. Sold. Will re-purchase!

8). Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution Relax & Relief with Eucalyptus and Spearmint.

Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Soaking Solution with Eucalyptus Spearmint.

Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution with Eucalyptus Spearmint.

I took a hot bath the evening I went to Bikram yoga, and it was this concoction of Dr. Teal’s that went into it. I actually wanted plain Epsom salts so I could treat the water with some essential oils I already had, but I ended up going for this one with Eucalyptus and Spearmint. It provided a thoroughly relaxing experience, and as mentioned above, the post-yoga soreness I’d experienced in the following days was minimal and short-lived. I’m not sure how much of that I can attribute to these bath salts, but at the very least, I can say that they made for a wonderfully relaxing bath!

9). Birthday flowers.

Flowers for my birthday!

Flowers for my birthday!

Poor Callaghan. My birthday is on December 27, so he has to think of double gifts for me during the holidays! When he asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I thought of the expensive heavy bag he’d gotten me for Christmas and just said, “Flowers from Trader Joe’s!” Because there was really nothing else I wanted. Callaghan’s artistic talent extends to flower arranging, and I love the quality and selection of cut flowers at Trader Joe’s, so we went there on my birthday and came home with the enormous selection of blooms he’d chosen. Later, he presented me with three gorgeous arrangements (only two are shown in the picture because the third one fell casualty to Ronnie James). I am lucky.

10). Sumatra coffee from Starbucks.

Ground Sumatra coffee beans from Starbucks.

Ground Sumatra coffee beans from Starbucks.

Okay, so I grudgingly admit that our new favorite coffee happens to be a product of Starbucks.

When I was in college, I worked briefly as a barista at a small independent espresso shop that specialized in roasting beans to sell to customers as well as to distribute to other coffee shops. I worked there just long enough – almost a year, I think? – to develop a familiarity with a dozen or so Arabica coffee beans from around the world. Of the blends and straights our Master Roaster (who was from Italy) produced daily, the straight Sumatra quickly became my favorite.

That was back in 1994. I blame my snotty attitude toward Starbucks on my experience working with the Master Roaster, but really, I never preferred the taste of Starbucks coffee. Thus, it was a total surprise when Callaghan found a bag of ground Sumatra one day in December and my Sumatra love was promptly rekindled by its excellence… and the name on the bag was Starbucks! Guess where he found it? At Target. Of course.

That wraps it up for December… Happy New Year, everyone, and happy Friday! =)