Monday, May 4, 2015

Best Outdoor Bootcamp in Alexandria-Gladiator Fitness-6pm M, W, F

My favorite bootcamp has just started back up again! If you are looking for a hard workout in a supportive environment, this could be the class for you. I like Gladiator Fitness because even though the workouts are hard, if you can't do something, it's okay. The instructors there to support you and they never make you feel bad about yourself no matter what you cannot do. I cannot say this for all bootcamp classes that I have been to. I am not that strong, which is why I go to bootcamp, so I hate when people yell at me for not being strong...there's some irony in there somewhere...

In general, the same people show up every week so it's really nice to meet and workout with others. Plus, I like that the class is outside, so there's lot of room to move.

Here was us last week:

If you need a kick in the pants or just want to get stronger, this may be the class for you. The evening bootcamp meets at George Washington middle school in Delray at 6pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 
Here's a flyer about the class:
If you are an English teacher like me, you will enjoy the pun on weekday. (haha!)
Even though I haven't been able to sit down since last Wednesday, I am still looking forward to this week's class. I am hoping to get stronger and balance out my quads (which are the only muscles I really use). If you have a fitness goal you are trying to reach, think about trying out Gladiator Fitness.

If you have any questions about my experience, please let me know. If you need a cheerleader or support person to go to a class with you, also let me know. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What Do You Do To Feel Alive?

I stayed up late last night finishing Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston. I was up to hour 90 of his 127 hour ordeal and, obviously, I could not put the book down at that point. But finally, at 1:15 am, I finished the book, picked up my jaw off the floor, and attempted to go to bed.

This morning, my brain is still mulling it all over. I am really stuck on the experiences that Ralston needs in order to feel alive and happy. Early in the book, describing a moment when he is alone on a hike, Ralston writes: "I'm glad at the world: This is my happy place. Great tunes, solitude, wilderness, empty mind. The invigoration of hiking alone, moving at my own pace, clears out my thoughts. A sense of mindless happiness-not being happy because of something in particular but being happy because I'm happy-is one of the reasons why I go to the lengths I do to have some focused time to myself. Feeling aligned in my body and head rejuvenates my spirit. Sometimes, when I get high-minded about it, I think solo hiking is my own method of attaining a transcendental state, a kind of walking meditation. I don't get there when I set and try to meditate, om style; it happens only when I'm walking by myself" (16). That's Ralston's happy place and my unhappy place. I love to be outside, but I hate being alone it in. I love to share it. It's why when I went to Utah this summer, I signed up with a tour group. To me, it's really special when a group of adults can come together and work towards a common goal or share something really awesome together.

This all got me thinking about what I do to feel alive. Ralston has this need to test himself against the elements. In other words, in order to feel alive, he needs to be in that tenuous space between extreme action and death. While he was describing some of his pursuits, I could not help but feeling that Ralston had a death wish. Similarly, Laird Hamilton needs to ride giant, 100-foot waves to feel happy and alive. Giant waves are crazy rare, so doesn't that leave a lot of time to feel down and frustrated in-between? On most summer days, an average East Coast surf report makes me happy because I'm just an average person.  Being average has its perks, though. Doing the most average athletic things make me feel alive...and happy...and I am grateful for the simplicity of that. I'm glad I can feel alive by putting on my running sneakers and my i-pod and jogging near the river.

A Few Athletic Things That Make Me Feel Truly Alive and Deeply happy and Like I am Not Just a Working Zombie:

Riding the blue loop at Fountainhead.
Riding the new pump tracks at Meadowood.
Skiing green and blue ski slopes.
Catching the last downhill on the Tuesday night Fresh Bikes rides.
Surfing thigh/waist high waves. (Yes-it's possible to surf waves that size. Shut up.)

I'm glad that I am a somewhat simple case, but I do understand that people have to chase their happiness even if it means climbing a giant mountain in a snow storm or surfing 100 foot waves or biking for three weeks straight or hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail...but what about you? What do you do to feel alive?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Don't Let Your Hobbies Stress You Out

For some reason, I have it in my head that to be a real athletes wake up early on the weekends to play their sports. I guess it's because I connect dedication to sacrifice. It may also be because I spent most Saturdays and Sundays from grade 6  through college waking up early on the weekends to play sports. But most adults, as far as I can see, still wake up early to participate in their favorite sport. Great. I've got one problem, though. I'm not a morning person, and I am no longer interested in waking up early. 

This is sort of a problem if I want to connect with people, because most group activities happen in the morning. But here was the problem: I would sign up for a weekend event, and then all week I would worry about waking up on Saturday or Sunday to get to my sport on time. So on top of waking up super early for work (super hard for me), I was now stressing out about my hobbies. Doesn't that go against the point of having a hobby? So after flaking out on some rides because, dang-it, I was NOT getting out of bed one second earlier than I had to,  I finally come to the conclusion that IT DOESN'T MATTER. No matter how temping and awesome those pre-noon rides look, I know they are not for me. Instead, I've got a new plan: ride when I want to. I don't know if this still makes me a "real athlete," but it definitely makes me happy. 

My plan seems to be going well so far. This weekend I woke up when I wanted to,  read the paper top-to-bottom, drank my coffee, and THEN prepped my bike and got my ride on! Happy happy!! 

This routine works for me, now I'm just working to find some others who are on the same schedule. I'm leading my first NOON group ride next weekend. Come join!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How to Combat the ALWAYS EMBARRASSING Beginner Stage of a New Sport

Let's get something straight. There's no way to learn something new WITHOUT going through the embarrassment stage.

Let's go over some of my highlights:

When I was getting to know my mountain bike, I took the front tire off then and couldn't figure out how to get it back on. A friendly guy exiting the church across the street came over and helped me out. (Presumably because I was standing there with a befuddled look on my face.)

When I started to surf, I had to use the 9 ft foam board and get pushed into 4 inches of whitewater by my instructor. I wiped out a lot. When she finally took me out to the break, my board tomb-stoned almost every time I tried to catch a wave.

When I tried to go skiing with a friend for the first time (after a few days of lessons), I lost my balance in line, knocked over the 3 dudes in front of me, and eventually got the entire lift shut down because we were all about to get decapitated by an oncoming chair.

More recently, I participated in a SUP Meetup. It was my first time not in a lesson. Basically, I spun in circles and eventually got so far behind the group that I had to be hooked onto a kayaker and towed for awhile. I wasn't tired....I was just that slow.

So, since I've not established that there's no way to skip the embarrassment stage, here are a few ways to make it less painful:

1. Accept that it will happen and practice your smile now.
2. Get a coach in order to shorten the learning period.
3. Take an introductory class....and then an intermediate class...and then as many classes as you need to until you feel confident.
4. If you can't get a coach or take a class, find someone who is obsessed with the sport and willing to help you (the beginner) out. Every sport has these people, you just have to find them. They are usually the ones who start Meetup groups or invite you to that group ride even if you don't own a bike.

Hang in there!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Women's Mountain Bike Rides on Winter Saturdays-Fairfax, VA

I found this series of winter, beginner-friendly mountain bike rides posted under on of my mountain bike Meetup groups (Washington DC Mountain Bike Meetup). It sounds like fun.

Here's the link explaining the series:

Adventure Women Book Club-Huntington, Alexandria, VA

Women's Adventure Magazine just published a list of books that adventure women may be interested in. They also have a discussion group on Facebook, but I'm not on Facebook.  Soooooo! If any women would like to read some of these books, get inspired, and then discuss them in person, I wouldn't mind organizing a meeting in Old Town or Huntington. Just leave me a comment below with your information. If we get around five people, I'll see if I can get something together. 

This is the Facebook group for interested ladies:

Here are the books suggested by WAM in this month's magazine: 
Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis
The Best Women's Travel Writing, Volume 9: True Stories From Around the World edited by Lavinia Spalding. 
Breaking the Trail: A Climbing Life by Arlene Blum
Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole by Felicity Aston 
Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods by Christine Byl 
Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog by Steph Davis 
A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey by Chrissie Wellington
A Long Trek Home: 4,000 Miles by Boot, Raft, and Ski by Erin McKittrick
Miles from Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure by Barbara Savage 
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed 

Couple Gets Married at Finish Line of Adventure Race

I religiously skip over the wedding announcements section of the paper, but the picture of a bride wearing a muddy wedding dress piqued my curiosity.  Jennifer (the featured bride) lost her ability to walk and see in her mid-twenties because of a rare blood disorder. When she started to recover, she promised to physically challenge herself each and every day.

She and the groom got married after completing an adventure race together.

I loved this story and just wanted to share it: