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Archive for the ‘WorkItOut’ Category

Nike has a new ad campaign that’s pretty kick a**.  I caught them posted on FB and thought they were pretty cool. Actually I think anything that tells me it’s okay to have “thunder thighs” is awesome…a “muffin top” is a different story though. Since it’s kind of hard to read the phrases, I typed them out…my favorite, “those who might scorn it are invited to kiss it.” 

Thunder Thighs

nike thighs

I have Thunder Thighs and that’s a compliment because they are strong and toned and muscular and though they are unwelcome in the petite section, they are cheered on in marathons. Fifty years from now I’ll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs and then I’ll go out for a run.

Chicken Legs

nike legs

My legs were once two hairy sticks that weren’t very good at jump rope but by the time I reached the age of algebra, they had come into their own and now in spin class, they are revered, envied for their strength, honored for their beauty, hairless for the most part, except that place the razor misses just behind the ankles.

Scabby Knees

nike knees

My knees are tomboys. They get bruised and cut every time I play soccer. I’m proud of them and wear my dresses short. My mother worries I will never marry with knees like that. But I know there’s someone out there who will say to me “I love you and I love your knees.” I want the four of us to grow old together.

Hips Don’t Lie

nike hips 

My hips return to puberty when I’m in dance class. Music affects them like hormones making them crazy and spontaneous and optimistic and prone to drama and I don’t understand them and sometimes they don’t understand themselves. When the music stops they’re still charged. Don’t touch me. Sparks will fly.

 I Like Big Butts

 nike butt

My butt is big and round like the letter C and ten thousand lunges have made it rounder but not smaller and that’s just fine. It’s a space heater for my side of the bed. It’s my ambassador to those who walk behind me. It’s a border collie that herds skinny women away from the best deals at clothing sales. My butt is big and that’s just fine and those who might scorn it are invited to kiss it.

SWOOSH. Well done Nike.

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“So today, KT, we’re going to work to failure…”

Failure. Shit.

I stared down my trainer with definite wariness.

He’s a fifty-something black former Navy Seal who cuts to the quick both verbally and when he’s piling weight on one of the machines he has me using. His name is Vince.

I’ve never been an athlete. Never even really played a sport (except youth soccer and softball – where teams were made of various colors like Teal and Gold) or tried to hone my skills in a non-organized pastime (i.e. skiing or golf). I never had the stamina or the coordination to even try-out…except 8th grade volleyball, but that ended badly and I’m still bitter.

What I have learned to do to exercise and stay healthy is workout…I enjoy going to the gym and through that, I’ve come to appreciate the dedication that goes into manipulating your body to work towards a specific goal regardless of endzone or finish line.

I’m pretty religious about exercise and it’s for purely selfish reasons. If I’ve had a crap day where nothing seemed to click in place, I’ll go to the gym and pound my frustration into a treadmill and feel better. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It’s a sense of intense satisfaction when I’ve finished a good workout.

The gym where I’m currently a member offers free training for your first month and then once a month after that. I signed up for a session with Vince and knew we’d hit it off when after shaking hands he said, “ready to cry?” then swatted my shoulder with a, “let’s get to work.”

We train…to failure. Arms. Legs. Back. Shoulders. He has me lift until I am physically incapable of raising my arm again. I’m standing there staring at it and it’s absolutely, completely refusing to move. Then he says, “do one more.”

And I do. And the day I told him I was a Redskins fan, he doubled the weight, adding five extra reps – he’s not a fan of that football franchise.

“OK, we’re done here.” Vince makes a note on my chart and I hobble behind him to the next machine to repeat.

At the end of an hour, my muscles are shaking with exertion. But I feel good. And I find myself fascinated with the fact that he says this is working to failure because failure to me means not accomplishing something, not seeing it through, a cacophony of negative. Yet he sees these failures as measures of success, as an opportunity to learn and grow and build – to eventually reach a tangible goal of fitness.

I’d love to be able to apply this thinking to life where failure actually becomes a means for creation, but I have a feeling that in most cases if a person (me included) hits failure more often than not, they’ll be unwilling to ever try again. Somehow, I’d like to get out of that mindset – and in ways, I think I am.

Vince pushes my muscles to failure and I come back the next week ready to do it all again. I look forward to working beyond what I think I can do to what I actually am capable of completing. So each week I work to this end. I add more weight, do more repetitions until finally I hit failure again.

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slash a follow-up to why zumba should remain an important part of my life until winter is over. 

It’s March 1st and we are expecting 6-8 inches of snow in the metropolitan area.

Awesome.

So naturally I used the cold weather and threat of imminent snow as a reason not to go to the gym this afternoon. Yes, I realize this action  goes against my typical work it out mentality. Rather, I curled up under a wool blanket and in complete contentment napped for 3 hours. I was nakered…what can I say. As proper guilty punishment, I may tape the four corners of the below card to my cupboard anytime I have a hankering for a chocolate chip cookie.  

sea_471

Though…in all fairness, one can use the excuse of an excessively large winter coat and multiple layers beneath as an excuse for the large snowy imprint. Come Summer, this excuse will no longer apply. Keep that in mind folks.

Thank you to someecards.com for knowing how to say “it” exactly right.

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Somedays, I have Workout A.D.D. I’ll go to the gym and spend ten minutes on the treadmill before my eyes go crossed with boredom, ten on the elliptical, 15 on the bike, 15 on stairs…and I’ll leave the gym feeling like I didn’t even work out.  

So I like to mix it up a little by participating in the classes offered. In NYC, I spinned 3 days a week at 6:45 a.m which meant I was up at 5. I’m still not sure how I did that because down here I am absolutely unable to lift my head from the pillow before 6. My eyelids flutter open in mild surprise if the alarm beeps at 5:45 before flapping down like window blinds in an adamant refusal that it’s time to wake up. With the stagnant gym circuit and the inability to get moving in the morning, I knew I needed a shakedown.

Slim suggested I try zumba. She’d been going for awhile with a few friends and said it was a great workout that didn’t actually seem like one….my kind of exercise!

zumba

 Zumba (for those of you who don’t know) is a fusion of Latin and International music that incorporates dance moves with a fast-paced cardio workout. Now…I’ll be the first to admit while I love to dance, I know I’m not the most coordinated person on the dance floor. You’re unlikely to see me bust a move in the middle of the circle; I’m more likely to lead the clapping for whatever brave soul jumps in with their version of the lawnmower.  So, clearly I was skeptical when Slim told me it was a “get low” type of class, but I gave it a try.

Lili is the instructor; she’s a spirited chica who bounces all around the room to her Latin mix of songs. I stood next to Slim in the back while the Latin Mafia* filed into their positions in the front row. They’re all Latin divas who are 40, but look 30 and wear only Zumba tanks and wind-pants. As the music started, we salsa-ed through a warm-up and I quickly realized I was out of my element. These women were shaking parts of their bodies that I didn’t know could move independent of other parts.

A mirror ran the length of the front wall and I watched my awkward “white girl” body struggle to catch the groove and rhythm of the beat. Lili yelled, “Alright ladies, squat down and SHAKE IT,” the “it” being your butt. I tried, really I did…but Slim looked over at me and busted out laughing.

“KT, you’re supposed to shake your ass, not your head.”

Apparently in trying to wiggle my rump, I’d also been bobbing my head and jiggling my arms, but my butt was going nowhere. So I got lower and really concentrated on bouncing it.

But I ended up feeling more  like Homer Simpson in Homer’s Triple Bypass when Dr. Hibbert says,

“Now I’m going to do a fat analysis test.  I’ll start your jiggling and measure how long it takes to stop.

[starts it jiggling]

[jiggles for five seconds]

Homer: Woo hoo!  Look at that blubber fly!

Dr. Hibbert: Yes.  [to intercom] Nurse, cancel my 1:00.

 

than a vogue dancer from some movie like Step Up (yes I saw it and yes I liked it enough to reference it here).

“I don’t get it,” I frowned.

“You just shake….move it around…that’s it.”

Well, that was easy for her to say…she’d been doing the class for awhile. We sashayed across the room….meringue-d and cross-stepped through a few more songs. Then a song came on that caused everyone to groan…I looked around apprehensively.

Groaning is never a good sign.

Lili laughed, looking only slightly sadistic, as she hollered “Trabájelo!”

I recognized the song as Apple Bottom Jeans” only here, instead of bopping my head to the song like I typically do, anytime she hit the floor came on we had to swing down to the floor and do push-ups, pop back to stand then, crunch our abs up eight times. I have come to negatively associate that song with pain 

By the end of the hour, I was drenched, but it was fast, furious, and fun. Slim and I’ve been going to Lili’s for a few months now. She did a Turkey Burn around Thanksgiving and a Holiday Boot Camp at Christmas; both were an hour and a half of high-intensity zumba.

I still have trouble bending and shaking in some of the ways she asks us too, but I’ve managed to at least learn the routines pretty well.  Slim and her other friends in the class joke about taking their moves to the bars. But I think I’ll wait a little longer til I show you what I’m workin’ with…

 

*10 of Lili’s “original” dancers who’ve perfected the booty-jiggle lifestyle with zumba and margaritas on the weekends.

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Shout Out Loud

You may think in this post I’m going to reveal the nickname that I have kept buried for 20some years. You’re wrong; that name follows me to the grave…except for those of you who already know it, in which case I’m shit-outta-luck or currently plotting my revenge should you reveal it.

Instead I plan to follow up my last post about the way we tell stories with friends with a “The Way I Tell Stories with Friends.” The best method by which I figure to do this is to tell you a story…one that happens to involve a nickname.

My gym, called BOOM, I guess because of the high-impact and high-intensity of the classes was my haven in New York for a year. The word filled an orange circle in neon green or white lettering with an ! meant to show just how much of an impact this gym could have on your life. Trainers often stood outside the glass door entrance soliciting people to give it a try and get a free work-out with one of them. As often as they shouted this, they would mumble comments out of the sides of their mouths when they were ignored. Ones like, “you should use it so you can lose it” and “come on girlfriend, it’s almost Thanksgiving…you know you don’t need another pumpkin pie,” laughing at their own wit. I joined before I noticed these “encouragers,” otherwise I probably would have passed.

When I worked out there, I stuck mainly to the cardio room, running on the treadmills and ellipticals. Typically, I plugged into my playlist and out of the world around me.

One night after work, I walked to the gym, changed, filled my water bottle, and looked around for the next available machine.

The only one open was a squeaky elliptical positioned precariously between a nicer elliptical and a treadmill, both of which were getting a workout from the people pounding on them. The guy on the treadmill caught my attention. A few years older than I am, he had an 80’s sweatband around his head and was rocking to whatever ‘jams’ were on his ipod. I stepped on my machine and began my workout.

Lost in girl-pop and tunes by Journey, I toned out all the other New Yorkers sweating to their oldies, Friends episode, or ESPN countdown. But the guy on the treadmill kept catching my attention. He bumped up his speed, digging hard into the revolving band. He pushed it up again and as he did, he yelled out “Go Go, COME ON.” I almost fell off the elliptical. I turned to him, but his eyes were closed and his shaggy hair flopped back and forth to whatever rhythm the beat of his music set.

I looked around and other people were watching this guy, who was totally unaware and absorbed in his regimen. Their mouths quirked and we cocked our heads and the interruption before going back to our workouts.

About three minutes later, the speed on the guys treadmill revved up again. His arms pumped faster, and he yelled “OH GO GO YEAH YEAH.” And again, I completely lost my balance. I frowned at the disturber. Looking down the row of machines, I found a different one at the far end. I snatched it, glancing back to see he was finally getting off, dripping sweat and confidence at his running capabilities. Not bothering to towel off his machine, he walked right by the paper towels and into the Men’s Locker room.

Now not only had he disrupted mine and several others’ workouts, he also failed to clean the machine he rained sweat on for the past 50 minutes.

Disgusted, I finished my time out and gathered my stuff to leave, deliberately cleaning my machine as if to make up for his slobbery. As I headed to the subway, I called my friend in desperate need for someone to commiserate with my experience.

“So, tonight at the gym there was this guy,” I began, “and as he worked out, he’d just shout out all of the sudden, really loudly and randomly…” I demonstrated and a few people glanced at me as they passed by. “It was like he had exercise tourette’s …and everyone stared at him as he’d shout out. Exercise Tourettes kept this up for my entire workout. Do you know how hard it is to focus on a machine I’m already pretty unstable on when someone is shouting next to you? Damn near f-ing impossible…”

She laughed on the other end of the phone as I retold my story, slightly exaggerated of course, but that was the fun of telling it. Exercise Tourettes became one of my first nicknames, and one of which I’m most proud, but certainly not the last one my lips have uttered. The best part of telling a story, I think, is coming up with the names of the people you’re talking about in the event you don’t actually want to use their real ones…which of course you never because what’s the fun in that?

So most of you who are in my stories may be wondering what I call you when I telling one…you may find out soon enough and I’m sorry in advance.

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