Category Archives: real
First up, thanks to everyone who voted on their favorite muscle groups to work at the gym! All eight of you (or maybe seven since I can’t recall if I voted or not) made my poll very representative of the blogging population (sarcasm alert!). Although, based on what my I’ve heard my friends and clients say, it actually might be pretty accurate! Looks like legs and core tied for first, with back and chest coming in second, and no one liking arm work at all. Which, like I said, pretty much reflects everything I’ve ever heard when training!
Moving on, though!
Although last Friday’s post also involved food, I’m obviously talking about a different sort here. I know I talk a lot about body image and staying sane and healthy with it, but today I was clicking around on my favorite blogs and came across a video that does the topic more justice than I can right now. Leah posted this video of Jean Kilbourne lecturing about images of women in the media, and it reminded me of WHY I choose to write about these topics. It reminded me why I write about eating disorders and self love and everything else. I remember seeing other Killing Us Softly videos when I was a Women’s Studies major at Michigan, but this one really struck a chord with me.
So there you have it, folks.
THIS is why I was a Women’s Studies major. THIS is why I want to go back to school for a graduate degree. THIS is why I want to teach about destructive images of women in the media and how we can change them. THIS is why it’s so easy for me to hop up on my feminist soapbox. THIS is why half of my blog is about body image and being healthy but not succumbing to the pressures of someone else’s version of perfect. Because it is a public health problem. It’s not just us girls being silly and taking things too personally. Although, when I see my fellow women beating themselves up, and even DYING, striving to be some ideal that doesn’t exist, I DO take it personally. But it’s not just our problem. It is the problem of every single person who has any relationship with any woman. It is EVERYONE’S problem.
(That was actually my exact comment on Leah’s blog, but I realized it conveys precisely how I feel about the topic, and I could think of no better words to express my thoughts, so there you go.)
Anyway, you know I love a good discussion, so lay it on me! What do you think? Of the video? Of the topic at hand? Do you think the media is damaging to the self image of today’s woman? Do you think it’s a public health issue? Do you think we can change this? How? I know that’s a lot of questions, but SPILL!
So after Wednesday’s post on getting past your excuses for not working out, my friend Kira asked yet another great question: ”Okay here’s another excuse … money. Say you get bored to death running (or get too many weird pains), but you can’t afford a gym membership or sports equipment. I personally would love to go to a climbing gym regularly but I can’t afford it. I would also love to hire a personal trainer, but clearly, same issue. Any thoughts on this one?”
For some reason, even though I’m a semi-broke twenty something myself, this excuse didn’t even occur to me. Maybe it’s because I work at gyms or the fact that I got an amazing deal on my own gym membership (I now pay $9 per month for the rest of my life!) or the fact that I just can’t imagine a life without exercise. Whatever the reason, I’m always fretting about money, so it’s crazy that I didn’t think of this one! But once it was brought to my attention, I couldn’t stop thinking of new ways to sweat for very little money! Here’s a somewhat abbreviated list for those of you who, like me, don’t have dollar bills falling out of your pockets:
1) Use what you have. Now let’s start with the basics. While Kira mentioned that she didn’t love running, some of you might. I’m guessing you already have a pair of shoes, and that’s all you need (besides yourself), so give it a try! Add in intervals by sprinting on the choruses of your workouts songs if you’re listening to music, or, if you’re not, decide on a certain number of blocks you’ll go all out for. And there’s no shame in doing a walk-run combo if that’s what gets you moving. If you’re still not a fan of pounding the pavement, try biking! I’m guessing that about half of you have an old mountain bike from Target in the garage or stuck in storage somewhere. And if you don’t have it, I bet your parents still do, so if you live close enough for you or them to drive, throw it in the trunk on the next visit and you’ll be good to go (at least until it starts snowing here in the Midwest)!
As far as strength training goes, use your own body weight! Pushups, squats, and situps are awesome moves that require nothing but your own fabulous self. Once you master these, add weight with household items (as silly as it sounds, fill up old milk jugs with sand, even!) or try standing on one leg to make them harder. If you really can’t afford a gym membership, you already have everything you need to cover all of the basics. Trust me.
2) Buy used. If you don’t have a bike or other exercise gear, and buying new is out of the question, try craigslist. Honestly, you can find anything on there, and some people are selling some pretty nice exercise equipment in the Beauty + Health section. A client of mine bought a never-been-used wetsuit for a Tri, and I’ve even seen someone selling their gym membership for cheaper, so be on the lookout for those bikes as well as things you wouldn’t expect! If you have a Play It Again Sports or other used sporting goods store in your area, check it out as well! Sure, some things might gross you out to buy used, but a soccer ball or basketball or set of dumbbells is still the same, even if it did have a previous owner.
3) Learn to share. The things we learned in kindergarten are still valuable today. Sharing or splitting the cost of things is a HUGE money saver. Really want to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions? Find a friend or two who does too, and halve your cost! Honestly, most personal trainers (especially newer ones at big gyms who need clients desperately!), are willing to work two people out for the cost of one (sometimes a little more, but your cost is still lower than hiring one on your own), because it’s not much extra work and they’re still making the same amount of money for an hour of work. Recruit a third friend and your individual cost will go down by a lot even if the overall price goes up a tiny bit. (Note: with this situation, don’t expect the same individual attention you might get if it were just one or two of you, though. When training three or four, it gets hard to focus entirely on every single person in the group.) There are even tons of places that offer cheaper group training (like Motiv in the Chicago area) or pre-set workout plans available to their members (check out TEAMiFIT, also in Chicago).
However, if a gym membership and split personal training sessions are still a stretch, check out some do-it-yourself programs that you can split with friends. You buy the P90X or other workout program between four friends and have up to 3 months of workouts for next to nothing! Do it at a different pal’s house every week to be fair, and make copies of any written instructions. You’ll all reap the benefits! You could also host a workout video swap, and have your friends bring all of their used CoreFusion, step aerobics, and yoga DVDS that they aren’t using anymore. Everyone will be able to find something that they haven’t tried before, and no one loses any money! You can always get your DVD back after letting the other person try it.
4) Look for deals! Call your local gyms and see if they’re running any specials and if they offer any additional discounts for students or family members or people in a certain profession. If you really want to try a gym, this is key! I know that when I worked at Bally, they were always offering month-to-month memberships for 20 to 30 bucks! They might not be the fanciest gyms, but they have all of the basics and even some classes! Basic gym is better than no gym, my friends. Call up gyms in your area to see if they do anything similar.
Additionally, I have found a ton of really cool stuff online by signing up for email updates from Groupon, Tippr, and Living Social Deals. They’ve got them for all of the major cities and surrounding areas, so I bet you’ll be able to find something! I recently bought a month of hardcore bootcamp classes for only $20 from Tippr, and I’m eyeing today’s deal on Groupon for two months of unlimited Bikram for only $39. And for just new and cheap ideas, check out Vital Juice. I get an email update for all sorts of fun activities, and they even do an email blast on free healthy things to do in your city! Seriously, this one is just about being resourceful!
5) Take advantage. Are you sure there aren’t services available to you, for free, that you just haven’t been paying attention to? Does your office hold a before-work bootcamp or fitness class to all employees? If not, would they do something similar to lower their insurance premiums? (Ask them! And if you’re in the Chicago area, tell them you know of someone who can lead the class!) Is there a running group that meets nearby a few times per week? Most groups have a website or ad on craigslist, so get to Googling! You could even start your own by tweeting or Facebooking that you want to start a group for swimming or climbing or cross-training… whatever! I bet you’ll get a ton of feedback from people just like you!
Do you have a library card? Head over to the nearest library and check out a workout video or fitness book (FYI, books usually have longer check-out periods so make sure you turn those DVDs in on time to avoid fees!) Does your local high school have a rec center or pool that’s open to the public for a small fee per visit? Try it! It’s like a gym, but on a pay-very-little-per-visit basis. Does a local workout facility or yoga studio host free weekly classes that you can join in on? I know that even my local Lululemon store has free Sunday classes right in the store! Even if these free classes are being used to plug a business’ services or clothes, so what? It doesn’t mean you have to buy anything! Go and take advantage!
I’m sure there are a million other ways to sweat on the cheap (or for free!), but this is what I’ve got for now! Have you tried any of these tips? Would you be willing to? Got any other inspired tips for me? Like, I said, sharing is an awesome way to get fit for free –and that includes sharing information, so if you have any more ideas, spill!
Now, I know I’ve given you my gym pet peeves, and I’ve gone off on a (necessary) tirade or two about things that irk me, but usually I’m a pretty happy person! Occasionally though, something just gets on my nerves, and I have to say ‘Enough!’
Well, today, my friends, that thing is the phrase ‘beach ready’ when it comes to whipping ourselves into shape for warmer weather. I know everyone wants to look their best when strutting across the sand or running about town in their shortest skirts, and I’m not telling you to stop striving to be the best and fittest you can be (I am a trainer, after all). But I get a little annoyed by phrases like ‘summer-ready’ and ‘bikini-worthy‘ because they imply that if these individual body parts aren’t ‘ready’ by whatever publication’s definition, then, well, we better not let them be seen! Arms aren’t rock solid yet? Better keep those long sleeves on. Don’t have abs of steel yet and there’s still some muffin top hangin’ around? Better keep your top on and don’t even think about trying on anything but a one-piece bathing suit. Riiiiiight.
Well, here’s the thing, friends. I didn’t drop 20 pounds or trim inches off my thighs by the time June rolled around. But did I think my legs were prepared for shorts? Yes! Because it was hot! My legs were ready to be freed, no matter what state they were in.
I really feel that phrases and articles like these can be really damaging, and can keep women (and men, too!) from believing that they can do whatever they want right now, no matter what size or shape or weight they happen to be. It keeps the mentality of “Oh, I’ll do this when I drop 10 lbs’ in place, and keeps us from living our lives. I know, because I’ve done it, and I’ve been there, and actually, it was when I was much smaller than I am now. I had it in my head that I had to keep preparing for the main event, but I was always ‘getting ready,’ so it never seemed to roll around. I spent a lot of time waiting for myself to get ready, and in the process, put actually living and loving life on hold. But once I finally figured out that life keeps happening, whether I’m ready or not, I stopped obsessing as much. As author Jessica Weiner points out, ‘Life doesn’t begin five pounds from now.’
So instead of asking yourself if your tummy or your butt is beach ready, why don’t you ask yourself if YOU are beach ready? Do you want to lie on the sand soaking up the sun (with SPF, obvi)? Do you want to play beach volleyball with your friends? Do you want to splash in the water or even bring out your inner kid and build a few sand castles? Then do it! Whether Fitness or Health or Shape says you’re ready or not. Summer’s almost over, and you’re ready, I promise!
So this post was inspired by a combination of things. 1) I’m being a total copycat here, but I really liked Eat, Live, Run’s “Confessions of a Food Blogger.” I’m totally not a food blogger, but I am a personal trainer, and I think a lot of people have preconceived notions about what we do/think/say/eat. 2) I’ve been taking it kind of easy lately and went back into the gym this morning for a less-than-intense workout after a week of avoiding it even though I live across the street.
Anyway, without any further ado, here are my confessions. Forgive me, gym rats, for sometimes I sin:
I love working out, but I go through phases where I would much rather read in my bed than hop on the treadmill or do a set of squats.
This summer has been HOT and humid in Chicago, even in the supposedly air-conditioned gym. So, for the past week and a half, I have been calling my bike rides to and from work cardio. And I don’t really feel guilty about it.
I think there is a point of pushing yourself too hard and being too obsessed. Contrary to what many trainers I know have said, puking at the end of your workout isn’t healthy and ignoring injuries to get in 3 workouts per day is more insane than it is tough. Call me weak if you want, but I’ve never gotten more from a workout because I saw my lunch afterwards.
Sometimes I use being a PT as an excuse to wear leggings, sports bras, and t-shirts as my daily uniform — even if I’m not training that day. And on the extra lazy days, I chalk up not wearing makeup and donning a wide stretchy headband with a pony tail to working in a place where people are sweating anyways.
If I demonstrate ab exercises enough during the hours I’m on the job, I might call it core work.
Lately, I’ve been paying attention, but not really freaking out over what I’m eating, and people are telling me I look smaller. I’m chalking that one up to chilling the eff out for once.
Sometimes sleep takes precedence over my workout. In the last two weeks since leaving my old job and starting to work at these smaller studios, I’ve slept a LOT. To be fair though, working 13-hour days didn’t really do me any favors in the rest department. But now I’m catching up, and feeling sooo much better since rest is pretty essential to recovery. And to me not being cranky.
I know that body fat percentage is the best indicator of health, and that how your clothes fit is more important than weight, but sometimes when I’m working hard, I (sadly) get the most motivation out of seeing a little drop in the numbers on the scale.
Even though core strength is totally important, I HATE working my lower back. Abs follow pretty closely.
I am not a rippling mass of lean muscle, and although I’ve been that way before – and liked it and would actually love to get back there — for the time being, I’m actually kind of liking having a booty.
So there you go. I’m sure I have more, but I think that’s plenty for now. I need to save some transgressions for the next time I come to confess, right? Any other PTs out there? Do you have similar confessions? Anyone else feel that sometimes they’re totally human and aren’t the epitome of everything their profession says they should be?