Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Warm Up

On Saturday, running buddy Meg and I ran four miles on the lakefront path. While it wasn’t the greatest run for her, it was good for me. It was sunny and the air was crisp. The temperature, while still cold, wasn’t too bad, and it was nice to be outside. Overall, I was happy with my “long run” of the week.

On Sunday, I decided to ditch my usual Zumba class (which is actually now called “Dance Cardio” because the instructor sort of does his own thing) and use my Groupon for Core Power Yoga. They have an hour-and-a-half hot yoga class on Sunday mornings, and I have wanted to get back into a routine with yoga.

I don’t have a long and storied history with yoga. Prior to trying Bikram this past summer, I took various types of yoga classes a handful of times over the last decade. Nothing stuck. In fact, I was mostly disenchanted with the whole “yoga thing.” I never left feel like I got a great workout—a little stretched out yes, but not a workout—nor did I ever feel extremely meditative or at peace or whatever else it is that you’re supposed to feel when you do yoga. Rather, yoga usually just gave me a headache, so I never really understood what the big deal was.

However, as lazy as I can be, I tend to like the idea of extreme fitness (distance running anyone?), and trying hot yoga (or Bikram, depending on how hardcore your studio is) appealed to me. So I tried it. And I liked it. I didn’t fall in love and become a devoted practitioner of Bikram or anything, but this kind of yoga I understood—the sweating is cleansing; I felt incredibly stretched out; and I felt like I was pushing my body in a safe space where I could mess up, fall over, or take a break if I needed one.

Leaving the city meant leaving a lot of familiar things behind, including Bikram Yoga Andersonville where I went on and off through the fall. In the suburbs, things are a bit more spread out and my neighborhood does not cater to trendy fitness businesses, so I researched my options and found Core Power Yoga in a neighboring burb.

Core Power Yoga is a more trendy yoga studio than Bikram Yoga Andersonville. The Andersonville studio is pretty bar bones and pretty serious about the practice. Core Power offers multiple types of classes, including hot yoga classes. On the weekends they have a more traditional Bikram class that is an hour and a half long, but during the week, the hot yoga classes are only an hour.

My Sunday class was pretty traditional. I was glad to find that I basically knew what was going on, and though the instructor used a few names for poses that I didn’t recognize; ultimately, they were all the same poses.

The Core Power studio was either a few degrees cooler or less humid than other Bikram classes I’ve taken because it’s the first time I have made it through an entire class without feeling sick or dizzy or having to sit down. At Andersonville, they emphasized stillness between poses, but here, she encouraged us to shake out our legs or arms after a pose if we needed to. While I still felt like I got a serious yoga class in, I liked that it was a bit more relaxed about the stillness thing… or maybe I’m just not a good yogi. But my favorite part of class was at the end (of course) during final savasana when the instructor came around with cool, wet washcloths, which she pressed into our foreheads (you could opt out of this if you didn’t want your space to be invaded). It sounds like a small thing, but after an hour and a half of sweaty yoga, it was way more awesome than I was expecting. And, I noticed that it cooled my body down in a way that I hadn’t experienced before, and I left feeling refreshed and ready to get on with the day—not sick at all!

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience. In fact, without expecting it, I think I may have found a better yoga studio match for me and I’m looking forward to trying out some of their other classes. My Groupon gives me five weeks of unlimited yoga, so I’m going to take advantage and get to know some other types of yoga during this time as well.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our New Addition

For those of you who haven't heard the exciting news...



Yes, MM and I have a new family member. We met him at an adoption event on Saturday for a rescue group called Magnificent Mutts. Most of the dogs at the event were puppies, but Barkley was so sweet and calm, I gravitated toward him right away. We think he's a flat-coated retriever mix, and they told us he's about a year old. 

Barkley is adjusting well. We're pretty sure he was a family dog prior to ending up in a kill shelter in Kentucky. We have no idea how he got there, but we're glad he was rescued. 

Honestly, I can't believe how lucky we are. I know if we had walked away--even for an hour, just to think about it--Barkley would have been adopted by someone else. He tends to be pretty relaxed, but is very social and playful with people and other dogs, but he seems to know the difference between his toys and, for example, my slippers. 

He's also potty trained beyond anything we could have hoped for. He actually woke MM up in the middle of the night because he needed a potty break. He hasn't had one accident inside, which is kind of mind boggling, but I'm crossing my fingers that this sticks. We are still going to take him to obedience school because, despite he's sweet disposition and pretty good manners, he doesn't seem to know any standard commands, nor does he seem terribly inclined to listen to us (lucky for us he's really not getting into much trouble and he's probably still learning his name). He pulls a little on his leash and jumps sometimes when he's excited to meet someone, which are behaviors I'd like to see curbed. But overall, he's got the sweetest disposition and just wants to be loved. Basically, he's exactly the kind of dog we were hoping we'd find.  

We're officially pet parents!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Test

Back during the New Year’s Resolution posting craze, I mentioned that one of my big focuses for 2011 was to become a Zumba instructor. To get this rolling, I need to get certified as a group fitness instructor.

Getting certified seems to be a daunting task. First of all, there are a few associations that certify, and there’s really no definitive information out there as to why you should choose one over the other. Generally, most gyms will accept anything that is considered to be well known, like ACE or AFAA. Second, this is expensive. There are some cheaper options, but ultimately, you’re buying textbooks and paying to take a test.

After much deliberation, I settled on the ACE exam. In order to motivate myself, I scheduled the exam for May 7, which seems like it’s a long way off, but it isn’t. 

The material—a 400+ page textbook—is far more challenging that I expected. There are a wide-range of group fitness instructors out there, so I guess I wrongly assumed that the test, while maybe not “easy” per say, would be pretty manageable. I was dead wrong. Without a background in anatomy, physiology, or kinesiology, I’m completely at square one. Chapter 1 jumps right into explaining the bioenergetics of exercise and other seemingly nonsensical words and whatnot.

It. Is. Hard.

And I’m struggling to get through more than five pages a day (though I have yet to pass out on my book, which happened a lot in graduate school).  And I’ve gone a little overboard highlighting the pages, but I don’t know enough to know what’s important and what’s not!

Oh the humanity.

Anyway, I’m hoping that once I’m past the first few chapters—Exercise Physiology; Fundamentals of Anatomy; and Fundamentals of Applied Kinesiology—and into the less rigorous sounding chapters—Group Exercise Program Design; Adherence and Motivation—I will move through the material a bit more quickly.

For whatever reason, I sometimes struggle to stay motivated on “pet projects.” Becoming a group fitness instructor is an idea I entertained for a long time—off and on—just because it seemed fun, but I never really found a style of class that I really wanted to teach. And then I took a Zumba class, and I knew, if I was going to instruct, this is the type of class (or really, I’d probably be happy in any dance-based class) I would want. I’ve taken the first step and am certified by Zumba. I’ve taken the second step and sat through my four hour CPR and AED training. This is final piece of the puzzle I need to even be considered hire-able by a gym.

I really, really want this. I see this as another step on the path toward leading the life that I have always wanted to lead. And I’m going to do it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Wow. I neglect the internet for two days and my reader is crazy filled with blogs to read.

Man, this has been one of those weeks. I spent the last two days in focus groups, coming in to work early, leaving work late, listening to people talk about stuff for hours, and wishing I had some of those nifty glasses with the eyeballs painted on them so that I could take a nap. I have never been so happy to be back at work, at my desk, in front of my computer. I do not like being out of my normal routine (unless it involves my couch and some good TV), and I do not like being disconnected. To top it off, I have definitely felt thwarted in my attempts to get back on track this week with my wacky work schedule.

But moving on…

My husband and I have decided to start down the path to doggie adoption. It’s something we have talked about doing on and off since we got married. Now that we are basically settled in our house complete with a fenced in backyard and we have gotten our budget back under control, we feel like we’re ready to take the leap.

I have to admit, I’m nervous about taking complete responsibility for another life, but I’m glad MM and I are going into it at least attempting to understand the commitment we are making. We’re not fooling ourselves that it’s going to be all fun and games. Pet ownership (especially dog ownership) requires time, energy, and money, but I expect it to be rewarding to bring another member into our family.

So far we’ve visited one shelter and met one dog that we liked, but I wasn’t comfortable with the shelter. They didn’t seem to know their dogs. Tomorrow night we’re going to meet a female, lab/pointer mix, who is young (1-2 years old) and currently being fostered. I’m worried that we’ll love her and want to take her home that minute, and then, shit, we’ll have a dog. And I’m worried that we will feel she is not the right choice for us and have to walk away from a good dog who needs a good home. Basically, I’m banking entirely on the fact that we’ll know when we know that we’ve met the right dog.

On the Agenda Tonight…

Workout: 30 minute run
Dinner: Polenta Gratin with Mushrooms and Fontina