About Me

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just another 20-something stumbling through life, one mile at a time.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

training with fitmob: barre, boxing and booty shaking, oh my!

i'm one week away from my first marathon. the last couple of weeks have been hectic with more work hours, training, changing my diet (and CONSTANTLY eating) plus gearing up for the holidays. i joined the fitmob campaign through my sweat pink ambassadorship  for cross training to increase my overall strength, as well as challenge myself to new experiences. it was a challenge alright, both physically and emotionally.

all the classes are in san francisco and at first i was excited to spend more time in the city even though i knew i'd be commuting back and forth between workouts and work. i went to new neighborhoods and took muni for the first time. i got lost several times. i walked into studios and immediately assessed my surroundings to not bump into anything of anyone. i was often rushing from place to place, running to bus stops and through bart stations. i've dealt with commute crowds which is one of my anxiety triggers. i survived.

i tried out four different types of of classes/studios: barre at Elevate Fitness Group, sambo at FitFight Inc, boxing at Hit Fit SF, and pole flow at Cardio-Tone. there were more i wanted to try but after my first week i found that some classes filled up FAST, like aerial conditioning at Circus Fitness. and given my schedule i couldn't always reserve so far in advance. regardless, i was happy with the experience i had. even the getting lost in a not so great area of SF and then finding a muni station only to get on the wrong train and have it break down. at night. i was definitely ready to cry and call an uber but thankfully i have some really awesome friends, and one of them calmly and so patiently talked me through finding my way. and then even bought me dinner to sooth my frazzled nerves. 

at the beginning of each class i let the instructor know i had no peripheral vision and each person was really great about trying to understand my limitations and accommodate me so that i could have the best experience possible without being weird or awkward or overly sympathetic about it. they were professional and respectful and super nice. 

what i learned from each class:

Barre-  sounds simple but damn I worked up a sweat. for those who are unaware of barre type classes they are a mix of yoga, pilates, ballet barre work and strength training. the studio i went to had personal barres that could adjust to different heights depending if we were doing standing exercises or floor work and used resistance bands for strength training. i used blue, which was their highest level of resistance and thought about how far i've come from using yellow bands in physical therapy.

sambo- this is russian martial arts developed in the 1920s for military hand to hand combat. i thought this was going to be another hour long class...until an hour in the instructor said to get ready for the real workout. gulp. i survived, albeit sweaty and sore. i was the smallest person in the class but still learned to knock someone on their back. i felt awkward and clumsy for most of the class until we had a tumbling session (to gain spatial awareness for falling) and when the instructor was going over the steps for a cartwheel i smirked. i was the last one in line to tumble across the mat and after my first cartwheel the the instructor asked if i was gymnast or a dancer. nope, i just cartwheel on beaches! (proof on my instagram loverunpink)

boxing- i got up at 5:30 am to make it to boxing. i also got some pink gloves =) i did kickboxing in high school so i had enough experience to skip the usual mandatory beginner classes and went to intermediate. turns out i'm a bit rustier than i thought. and i suck at jump roping. but the instructor did notice i had good form, especially in the freestyle period of the class. it was weird to not add in kicks to the combos. this made me realize i really miss kickboxing as well and am looking into getting back into that again. my dad fully supported kickboxing in high school and paid for my membership because he liked the idea that any guy who dated me would know i could throw a punch if i had to. 

pole flow-this class reinforced my clumsiness. i've wanted to do a pole fitness class for a few years, since i discovered a youtube video of the world pole dancing championships. the ladies were incredibly fit and graceful, true athletes. i signed up for this class and had a lot of fun and earned a few bruises. most of what i do is static work outs, and this one is well, flowy. i went to a beginner/intermediate class and there were other first timers there, but i was most clearly the least graceful. and those previous classes where i thought i was so strong? ha. pole flow put me in check. i would do it again though because i'm stubborn and always want to get better at whatever i'm not good at.

some classes, like boxing and sambo, had some partner exercises which were more difficult for me. with my tunnel vision i couldn't easily see where to punch/move/etc when working with someone else. it's a little nerve wracking trying to overcompensate and be hyper aware, as well as properly execute moves. the people in the classes were really great about being patient and offering advice. i guess that's the thing about the fitness community- with all those feel good exercise hormones we help and encourage each other to do our best. 

i think i've covered most of the pros of my fitmob experience. one more thing is that while $99/mo is still a bit pricey for me (especially when i already have a gym membership in the east bay close to work), it's a really great value considering the variety of classes you can try out. drop in rates for the classes i took range from $20-30, and i was going to classes at least twice a week. plus there's the value of exploring new fitness options so that you'll never get bored with your work out routine,

recently they added some gyms to passport and a lower monthly rate for a year commitment ($59.mo for 12 months) so it's becoming more accessible and affordable. as a start up there's a lot of room for growth and changes so i'm curious to see how it evolves.

now for the cons:

right now fitmob is only in SF/Marin area and Seattle. if they expand to the east bay I think I would jump on board immediately. right now i'm on the fence. there's an app to use but it's only for iPhone and i'm a die hard android user. thismeant i had to use the not so great mobile site and also had a few technical difficulties, such as random classes being added to my schedule that i didn't sign up for and trouble cancelling a class. the very first class i signed up for was a cardio dance class and when i showed  up to the studio no one was there. i waited around a bit and then the owner arrived and said the class had been cancelled so she emailed everyone the night before. i never got a notification and thought i contacted fitmob i still don't know if it was on the studio's end or theirs. it was pretty shitty since it was my first weekend off in months where i wasn't travelling for a wedding, bachelorette party, birthday party, etc and wasted a morning rushing to the the city for a cancelled class. another thing is i could immediately tell the website is not very handicap accessible friendly, especially on mobile. i made these comments in a feedback survey so hopefully the technical parts will improve.

overall i am really glad i challenged myself to break out of my comfort zone to do this. plus i'm also stronger than i've ever been before, and probably in the best shape of my life. i've had to really focus and commit to my training, which means my social life has suffered a bit (my parents text me to make sure i'm still alive since i don't have much time for phone calls). i signed up for CIM four weeks ago and i feel confident i've done the best i could in that training period and now i have one week to go.  i'm cautious, nervous, excited, hopeful among other things. strangely, pre-race week will probably be the hardest part. i just need to not psych myself out or burn out.

and keep reminding myself that there will be beer and brownies at the finish.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Trials of Miles

"The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials. How could he make them understand?” 

-Once A Runner

in 2011 i signed up to run a marathon. i trained for months, trading in nights out with my friends for early morning runs and thinking twice about what i ate. there were times where i felt so exhausted and times where i felt like i couldn't eat enough to ever feel full. it was a twisted kind of love and a life changing year in many ways. all my training came crashing on me while i was sitting in an exam room on october 11 when the doctor told me that i wouldn't be running the race on october 16. i fought back tears and lost.

i dropped out of the marathon i spent four months preparing for and took the time to heal from a stress fracture and a broken heart. oh, the Trial of Miles, the Miles of Trials.

three years later i connected with the right people and found myself as a last minute addition to a group of visually impaired (VI) runners participating in the california international marathon (CIM). holy crap, there are organized groups of blind runners?? this was amazing news to stumble upon. even more amazing, CIM graciously allowed me to register late and the volunteer coordinator at United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) found me two guides for the race. that means i'm running my first marathon. CIM here i come!

it's been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks but oddly, things have been falling into place to make this dream a reality. another opportunity also presented itself and i was another last minute addition to a fitness campaign in SF, i joined fitmob to try out new exercise classes in the city. (full disclosure: I received the opportunity to take part in the fitmob campaign through my ambassadorship with Fit Approach. All opinions are my own.)

what is fitmob, you ask? it's a one stop shop fitness membership. what that means is for one monthly membership fee you have access to various fitness boutique studios and gyms. you don't have to worry about drop in class fees or spending hundreds each month to have your yoga class, boot camp, and spin workouts. this was perfectly timed with signing up for CIM since now i can amp up my cross training routine with barre, boxing, booty shaking dance classes and more. i love the variety of options and the chance to try out new activities that i may not ordinarily go out of my way to pay for, like capoeira. which, by the way, is a brazilian martial arts/dance combination.

because there are SO many classes i want to try out, my life has become revolved around training. i'm running, rushing to the city for a workout, working and sometimes sleeping. they say it takes a special kind of crazy to run a marathon and it's true. but it's also a good kind of crazy.

and to celebrate this good kind of crazy, i'm doing my first ever giveaway! i'm a month away of fulfilling my dream of becoming a marathoner that's taken three years and counting. one of the many, many hard lessons i've learned from my training mishaps is that one should NEVER underestimate the importance of cross training. that's why i've partnered up with fitmob to get my ass in gear for this race. as a result, you can win a $50 Nike gift card for new gear to chase your own fitness dreams! enter here. to sign up for fitmob (come get sweaty with me! and see how uncoordinated i am) the first 2000 mobbers will get $1 sign up for november.
i'm not a morning person but i find my self setting an alarm for 5-6 am daily to train, cutting out my beloved junk food (i readily admit i have a huge sweet tooth. i'm actually known as the cookie monster in some circles), and even passing on delicious craft beer with friends for the sake of trying to be my healthiest and strongest self. whenever i ask myself why am i doing this again?, particularly at times when it seems impossible to get out of my warm and cozy bed or sluggishly making my way up a seemingly endless hill, i think about one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books: “Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.” it all becomes worth it every time i reach that sweet spot where my legs are on auto pilot and my mind is free. it's the purest joy i've ever felt when i'm completely lost in the run and i'm transcended from running to flying.

yeah, that's why i'm doing this.