5 things I’m loving right now

In pictures!

What an amazing, long weekend! I took an extra day and loved every second of having four days off. There was so, so, so much to love and just not enough time to photograph it all! Plus, I was too busy trying to be in the moment…

1. IMG_20140703_202018Summer evenings spent outside with some of my favorite people in the whole world. Really, is there anything better than warm summer evenings spent in good company?

2. IMG_20140704_161634This meal up at the 4th of July bash at The Gold Hill Inn. This post-Challenge cheat meal was worth every bite. It was a lovely afternoon with some great girlfriends!

3. IMG_20140704_162934Naps. I spent an inordinate amount of time in bed on Friday afternoon before watching fireworks up the street with my dear friends and neighbors, who have a great view from their place. It’s possible I love nothing more than that sweet spot between awake and totally asleep where you’re just dozing – completely peaceful, no cares or worries – just bliss. My mom calls my Friday afternoon behavior “wallowing”.

4. IMG_20140706_015151This thoughtful treat from my parents. We call such things “sussies” in my family. It’s when you give a loved one a present for no particular reason other than you’re thinking of them or see something you know they’ll like. My mom is the sussie master. This taffy has been a presence in my life since I was a little girl – my youth wrapped up in cellophane and placed in a box.

5. IMG_20140706_163956Wearing shorts for the first time in 11 years. The last time I wore them was while visiting my little brother when he graduated from Basic training. It was one of the Carolinas (?) in August and clothing felt like heavy wet blankets, so shorts were a must. It’s only been recently (and thanks to The Bar Method, AdvoCare, and CrossFit) that shorts feel like an okay option.

6. IMG_20140706_105815One more for good measure – spending Sunday morning at Union Reservoir soaking up some sun and swimming in the cold water.

From one Bar Method student to another

I’ve been doing the Bar Method at the Boulder location for close to two years at this point. In that amount of time, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that might help some newbies out.

1. Try to think of this as a dance – find the beat of the music and move your body to it. This will help you stay on count with the instructor as well as add some fun to the whole thing. Especially during back dancing.

2. We’re all used to BIG movements in workouts. Not this one. They mean it when they say move ONE INCH.

And here’s why: in each repetition, the movement is basically you going from clenched to AS CLENCHED AS YOU CAN GET. (Yes, the capitalization, bold, and italics are necessary.) When you do this, you have no choice but to make small, controlled movements. And that’s where the power lies. Don’t believe me? Instructors often take class – watch one of them and you’ll see how small and controlled their movements are.

3. You’ll notice I used the word controlled above. That’s what all the movements should be. Even when you’re releasing something. For example, when we do full arm curls, you should be resisting and controlling the release of that motion.

4. To riff off of number three, there is no bouncing or swaying in Bar. At no time do you want to use momentum to complete a move. Again, it’s all about control.

5. When the instructor is giving a correction to someone in the class, pay attention and try to see if the same correction could be made in your body as well.

6. During round-back, the goal is to get your leg as straight as possible. We all think, initially, that it’s to get your leg as high as possible. The height will come in time. The beauty of this exercise is how it will tone your thighs and give you those shapely muscles around your knees. Muscles that help with knee health. So, focus on straightening your leg!

7. During flat-back, your breath is your biggest asset. (Same in ab work, for that matter.) For the first several months, I couldn’t do the leg movements in flat-back due to some groin issues, so all I focused on was my breath and pulling my abs back towards my spine. In all honesty, I sometimes think this did more for me than regular flat-back! Anyway, breathe out sharply with each rep and focus on drawing your abs in and you’ll get more from this exercise.

8. If you ever look in the mirror and see your butt sticking out, tuck it back under you! I can think of very few movements (besides cat/cow after ab work) where sticking your butt out is appropriate. Basically, you want your tail bone under you as much as possible. This will be hard for some people initially due to tight muscles and muscle imbalances between your low back and core, but you’ll get there. And getting there will help you with posture, alignment, and flattening out your abs not only in class, but in day-to-day life. Think about it, when someone’s back is arched to stick out their butt, their stomach automatically pooches out, which is the opposite of what we’re all going for, right?

{Note: none of the statements above are sanctioned by The Bar Method. This is my commentary, and my commentary only.}

This is why I workout the way I do

I’ve posted I don’t know how many blogs on why I love the Bar Method so much, but after reading a few articles the other day about CrossFit (the other workout obsession in my area), I’m even more glad I’ve gone this route.

Now, I know that what I’m about to say has it’s controversy and that some of my readers are into CrossFit, so please just try to shake out your hackles and hear me out. There’s a side effect to CrossFit people are starting to talk more about and it something every CrossFitter should know, but likely doesn’t.

CrossFit can seriously damage your body. Seriously. Hell, the founder of it, Greg Glassman, himself says, “It can kill you. I’ve always been completely honest about that.” (Source)

What prompted my research was this recent article. It made me aware of something I’d never heard of (despite having been an athlete and regular gym/workout goer for most of my life). I encourage you to read it, especially if you do CrossFit because it’s a REALLY important thing to know about. However, if you just want the nuts and bolts, here it is: working out to the level CrossFit pushes people to can kill them, literally, because of something called rhabdomyolysis, which is, according to Wikipedia, “a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle tissue breaks down rapidly. Breakdown products of damaged muscle cells are released into the bloodstream; some of these, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure.”

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t do CrossFit. I’m saying they should know the causes, signs, and symptoms of rhabdomyolysis and how to prevent it just in case.

How all of this relates to Bar is this: I’m REALLY glad the founder of my workout can’t say, “It can kill¬† you. I’ve always been completely honest about that.” In fact, in the 18 months I’ve been doing Bar at the Boulder location, I’ve not heard one person complain of getting hurt during a class. I’ve heard people complain about soreness, but never about an injury, let alone hospital time! And in that 18 months, my body has changed in ways that other workouts didn’t produce. Bottom line, you don’t have to damage yourself to get a good, effective workout.

Let’s just support each other, already!

A few months ago I read a post somewhere about group fitness that basically highlighted the author’s judgmental and snobby attitude towards her fellow students. The post was meant to be funny and sarcastic, but the overall tone was a bummer. (No, I’m not linking to it because I don’t want to promote this kind of rude behavior.)

A lot of people (women in particular, I’ll wager) tend to avoid group fitness because of this exact attitude and these kinds of people. We all judge ourselves enough so the thought of someone else doing it along with us is a difficult thing to get over and keeps a lot of people out of certain situations.

“I can’t possibly go to a workout where all the women are fit and cute in their little outfits. Once I loose another ten pounds and buy the expensive Lululemon pants, then I’ll go,” (or some similar thought) churns through most women’s minds when they consider trying a new class. The irony is that none of those fit women in their cute little outfits is wholly confident, either.

Or, better yet, “What if I mess up and everyone stares at me? Or what if the teacher calls me out and people take notice? I can’t bear it. Never mind. The shame isn’t worth it.”

So to read a blog post where this woman was, essentially, doing just those things was so sad to me. Why are women our own worst enemies? (Yeah, I know. That’s a whole other post.)

But, as I always try to do, I found the silver-lining…my Bar Method location.

We have every type of participant in my class that the rude blogger referred to and said mean things about and none of it matters. In my location, people are supportive of one and other. (And if they’re not, they’re kind enough to keep their traps shut and not let on.) No one is judging someone’s outfit or whether or not they’re messing something up because, quite frankly, we’re all working too damned hard! And if you have the time to pass these judgments, you’re NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH!

I avoided group fitness classes for years because I wanted to skirt the kind of judgment I’ve discussed in this post. It was easier to head to the gym, turn on my tunes, keep my head down, and just do my thing with little to no interaction with anyone else. And then something shifted and I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Low and behold, all of those things they tell you are beneficial in group fitness (accountability, support, camaraderie, friendship, etc.) helped me to reach a point my life where I’m more committed to my health and fitness than ever before. I know that if I play hooky, my buddies will realize it and call me out. I need and appreciate that. I also know I can turn to the women on the left or the right of me and mouth, “Is she kidding?” when we’re told it’s time for another set of plank after just having our abs crushed and they’ll roll their eyes with me in solidarity, which makes me feel less alone in the whole thing.

So, if group fitness freaks you out but you’re interested in giving it a shot, come join us. We take all types, sizes, and ages. Come in your $19 Target pants (like me) or your $100 Lululemons – it don’t matta! You’ll find we’re a supportive group who likes to work hard (and get our just desserts in results)¬† and get our asses kicked by some awesome, no-nonsense teachers who dish out tough love with a smile. You won’t regret it.

Finding What Works for Me

So, I’ve talked about my car accidents quite a bit on here. Maybe not in the detail some of you would like, but I’m not in a position to do that just yet for various reasons beyond my control.

After my first accident I wasn’t able to workout like I had previously and I found that immensely frustrating. Working out is my stress relief. It’s one of the few things I do in my life where I’m totally present and fully engaged. That I felt that had been taken from me angered and saddened me. The truth of the matter is that my body will never be the same again. The workouts I did pre-accident are likely workouts I won’t ever be able to do again.

Then I found The Bar Method and it works for me because of so many variables. Bar is hard, but not in a way that compromises my body and that’s because of the foundations of Bar and the modifications I can take to keep my body stable and healthy even during a tough workout.

Bar is rooted in the Lotte Burke Method. A method that has a solid foundation in rehabilitation and a focus on working the muscles without compromising the joints.

As for the modifications, the teachers at my studio (and studios across the nation) are great at working with students to modify specific exercises to suit an individual’s needs. I regularly have to do push-ups, the arm series, flat-back, and ab work in a modified way so that my neck is not compromised. In fact, every time I’m at Bar, which is a lot, I have to modify something.

The great part is that the modifications help keep my body safe and happy but don’t take away from the benefits of the workout. The other great part is that my need to modify things doesn’t effect anyone else in class like it did in the workouts I used to do. In previous group exercise scenarios, my need to modify slowed everyone else down and changed the dynamic of the group. This isn’t the case at Bar.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found a workout that my body can handle – a workout that’s beneficial in so many ways, a workout that actually works, and a workout that doesn’t deteriorate or deplete my body.

So, if you’ve got some aches and pains that have been keeping you from regular workouts, you might consider trying The Bar Method. Tell them I sent you!

  • About Me

    My mother is an encyclopedia of useless information (sorry, ma, but it's true) - no one can beat her at Trivial Pursuit. As I age, I become more like dear old mom everyday. I routinely tell people about resources, recipes, tips, tricks, or websites I've heard about, tried, live by, etc. until one of my clients urged me to start a blog. So here it is! My perpetual ramblings. I hope you find them useful and amusing. If you don't, you can either keep it to yourself or leave me a well constructed critique.

    I'm a former massage therapist, a freelance journalist, and a web information architect and UX designer. I enjoy yoga, the Bar Method, camping, reading, gardening, and spending time with my friends and loved ones. I live in Colorado.

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