Exercise

8 Places for Cute, Inexpensive Workout Clothing

Because we wear workout clothes all day every day, we've become experts on where to find reasonably-priced, cute, comfortable, non-transparent workout clothes. And because we love ya we're sharing our favorite places to shop for threads to wear to the gym/studio/yoga class/living room gym.

Seriously, life is too short to wear clothes that are too tight or too loose or just plain uncomfortable. Sometimes we tell ourselves, "when I lose 15 pounds, then I'll shop..." But, you deserve to feel good in your clothes at every size. And working out is so much less uncomfortable when you wear pants that are the right size for your body as it is now.

Here's where we love to shop.

ThredUp. I am, admittedly, obsessed with Thred-Up. I have the app on my phone and have spent way too much time on it lately. BUT. In my defense, you can find really good prices on almost every brand of active-wear. And other wear. But for the purposes of this post, we'll focus on their selection of workout gear. I've found Lucy, Old Navy, Eddie Bauer, Nike, New Balance and Zella stuff I love there. They've got a wide range of sizes too. It's hit and miss since the selection depends on what people have sold to them. And you have to act fast if you see something you like. I've taken to just adding anything that I think might be a winner to my cart and then I go in and review it later, taking out things that don't look so great on second glance. But if you see something that's a "maybe" and you don't grab it, it's really hard to find it again.

Old Navy. Ah, Old Navy. It's not just for flip-flops and denim short-alls anymore, people. Nikki gets a ton of her stuff there. If she's wearing a cute, colorful tank or fun workout capris, chances are they came from Old Navy. 

Kohl's. Yet another Nikki recommendation. Again, most of the big active-wear brands at a reasonable price. I get my Asics workout shoes there for around $40. Also love their workout jacket/hoodie collection.

Target. Yep, Target has everything, including workout gear. 

Macy's. Macy's is always having a sale and you can get screaming good deals on name brand workout clothes and shoes. 

Amazon. The selection at Amazon is quite large, so browsing is difficult. But if you have time and kind of know what you want, you can get some good deals.

Poshmark. Another online secondhand store, like ThredUp. However, unlike ThredUp you are buying from individuals who have items for sale, not from a centralized PoshMark store. But, Poshmark is where I found a replacement for my very favorite Eddie Bauer active tank.

Etsy. Etsy is my favorite place to buy workout tanks because they have so many fun ones! 

Where do you like to find inexpensive workout wear? Any places I need to add to my list of favorites? Let me know below!

Act Now, Feel Later

I used to think motivation (for workouts or anything else) was a feeling that led to action. But I think that was wrong. Now I believe that action generates the feeling, rather than the other way around. That's a good thing, because feelings are transitory. And I don't want something transitory as the foundation upon which I base my life decisions, especially the ones that pertain to my health. I really don't. It's too important. 

What I want are habits.

What I want are things that make acting in a healthy way, even when I really don't feel like it, easier. Foolproof.

What I want is to set-up systems that support my goals.

What I want is to make sure it's as difficult as possible to get in my own way, because I know I will try. Basically.

Here are some things I do that ensure my workouts happen when the feeling of motivation appears to have taken a long sabbatical, far, far away.

Put on the workout clothes. If I can get myself dressed, I'm halfway there. Once the clothes are on it feels silly not to take them on a field trip to the gym. 

Only commit to 10 minutes. The upside to this little trick is that even if I stopped after 10 minutes, that's 10 minutes more than nothing. But once I've done 10 minutes, I'm probably going to finish the whole thing because, again, acting generates motivation. But the knowledge that I could stop if I wanted to is often enough to get me to the workout.

Exercise first thing in the morning. If I wait until later in the day, I'm way more likely to fill up my time with other things and/or be too tired. Working out when the house is still quiet and I'm not fully awake and immersed in the activities of the day, is actually kind of awesome. There's a great quote I found on Pinterest recently that says something to the effect of, "Workout early before your body figures out what you're doing." That's a fair statement some days.

Find the fun. Do whatever it takes to create some element of your workout that you look forward to, other than the results. My cardio days are a treat for me, but it's because I made them that way. I have my treadmill in the room in my house with the big television. So, I put an episode of my favorite show on Hulu, mute the TV, activate the closed captioning, get my headphones on and go. 

Resort to bribery. You can bribe yourself. It's totally fine. I do it all the time. Would a new workout tank make your workouts more appealing? Awesome, get your Etsy on. Would a shopping spree on iTunes mean that tomorrow you woke up itching to hit the treadmill? Sweet. Do it. The only thing I don't bribe myself with is food, because I don't want exercise to become a punishment or a price I have to pay in order to eat. But pretty much anything else is fair game.

Literally surround yourself with encouragement. Okay, this one I know is going to sound super-cheesy. But. I used to have a workout tank top that said, "Impossible is Nothing." And I loved it. I also used to have post-its with words of encouragement stuck to my bathroom mirror. I may, or may not, currently have a vision board with words and images that motivate me toward healthy choices. It probably doesn't sound "cool" but bathing my brain in positive, supportive, and sometimes funny messages does help. 

Put it in writing. Spend a few minutes writing down how you feel after your workouts. Do you feel ready to tackle the day? Do you feel stronger? More flexible? Less stressed? More awake? Being aware of how your body feels, both during and after exercise, can be a powerful motivational tool. For many people exercise is something they're glad they did after it's done. Remembering exactly why you're glad can help you start on days when enthusiasm is lacking.

Schedule it and eliminate roadblocks. Plan which workouts you're going to do each day and the time you are setting aside to do them. Write them in your planner. Add them to the calendar on your phone. Get your workout clothes laid out the night before. Make sure your water bottle is full and chilling in the fridge. Get your pre-workout snack ready to grab quickly in the morning. Make it as easy as possible to get from where you are to where you work out.

Never skip Mondays. Mondays are the first day of the week and making sure I get my workout in that day sets up the rest of my week for success. It's a mental thing. But it works.

I'd love to hear your tips for getting motivated for your workouts! Share them with us in the Comments section below.

5 Moments I Loved From Today's Workout

In an effort to take the advice I'd give to a client, I'm trying to focus on what I love about my workouts. And it's not always easy...

Sometimes it's hard because I want to see different results than I'm seeing, or I want to see them faster. Sometimes it's hard because I'm in a bad mood, or I'm tired, or I'm distracted by something else I need to do that feels more important than squats, and biceps curls and planks. Sometimes it's hard because my muscles are sore from the day before, or because my knees are hurting more than usual. Sometimes it's hard because I'm doing a workout that's actually, objectively, more difficult than the one I did the day before. 

Because I know that the words we say to ourselves matter--that the things we focus on expand--I'm making a concerted effort to notice the moments during my workouts that are good. Some of them are physical, others mental/emotional. But here are five moments I loved today.

I listened to a beautiful version of the song, Riptide, during my cool-down. (You can watch the video here, if you're interested.) There's nothing like finding a new song to love, or in this case, a new version of a song I already knew. 

The house was quiet. Sometimes I crave silence. Probably because I so rarely ever get it at home anymore. Being awake while it was still dark outside and the house slept, felt like such a gift today. Soon enough other people were up and moving around and saying words :-)

Finally, finally, something felt easier. I've been doing this series of abdominal exercises over the last few weeks, and there's one exercise in particular that's just been...I don't know...it just has felt difficult and like I wasn't quite strong enough to do it correctly. It just felt off. Anyway, today I noticed that while it was still challenging, I could finally feel my muscles engaging and doing the work.

My wobbly legs. Don't know why, but I love it when I finish a workout and my legs are kind of shaky. I got that today and relished that feeling as well as the feeling of stretching them out at the end of the session.

I had a much-needed moment of clarity. Exercise is one of the things I do to stay emotionally balanced, and to work out frustration or anger or fear about things that are going on in my life. While I was on the treadmill for the cardio portion of my workout today, I had a breakthrough in my thinking about a problem I've been having with one of my freelance clients. Not that I solved it, but there was a shift in the way I've been thinking about it that helped me to let go of some anxiety I've been carrying around. 

If you've never done it, I would highly recommend spending some time thinking about what you're grateful to your workouts for. Maybe it's not five things. Some days maybe you struggle to find one thing, while other days you could list ten. But the exercise of shifting your attention from what's uncomfortable or difficult about it, to what it gives you that's valuable, makes such a huge difference. 

Don't Wait on the Weights

Does weight-lifting intimidate you? Maybe you had a bad experience in high school gym class and have avoided the weight rack ever since. Or are you afraid that if you strength train you'll get bulky? Or do you believe that cardio is the key to weight loss, and strength-training shouldn't enter the equation until after you've reached your goal weight? 

Here's what I would tell you in response to those concerns: it shouldn't; you won't; and untrue, respectively. Let's address each of them one by one though. As always, I recommend consulting a physician before beginning any exercise program. 

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The intimidation factor. The good news is that I'm not telling you to buy a gym membership and start racking hundreds of pounds on the bench press bar tomorrow. You don't need to do that. I recommend having two sets of dumbbells--one lighter set for the smaller muscles of your upper body, and one heavier set for the larger muscles. When I started, I had a set of 3lb dumbbells and a set of 5lb ones. Then I moved up incrementally as I got stronger. The 5lb dumbbells became my light set and I bought 8lb dumbbells for my heavier set. Then I moved up again to 8lbs and 10lbs. And so on. I knew it was time to upgrade when I finished a set of an exercise and knew I could keep going, with good form.

Let me tell you, I LOVE when I have to buy new dumbbells. I feel so proud of myself and my body. That's one of the great things about strength training is that I can see and feel improvements in a way that I don't necessarily with cardio. If you aren't sure how to go about strength training on your own, you have a couple of options. Invest in DVDs you can do at home. Any of Jessica Smith's workouts would be a good choice. I use this one and this one quite often myself. I also like these ones from Coach Nicole and SparkPeople.

If you're new to exercise I would recommend at least a session or two with a personal trainer. If training this way isn't something you can afford to do regularly, you have some options. Take the workout DVDs you're going to do at home and ask him/her to watch them and then coach you on proper form. That way, you'll have some idea of how to do the exercise safely and effectively on your own. Or ask them to design a workout you can do at home with the equipment you have, and then come back every 6-weeks or so for some new exercises. 

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You won't get bulky. This is one I hear a lot, actually. It's rare for a woman who engages in a normal strength-training routine to get bulky. Women have less testosterone than men, and it's this hormone that is responsible for the larger muscle gains men experience from weight-lifting. You may find that strength-training actually has the opposite effect on your body. A pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat, so your body can look and feel smaller at the same weight, depending upon the ratio of lean muscle to fat. 

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And finally, the old do-cardio-first -to-lose-weight rule. Any of you who read this blog regularly or are familiar with our studio know that we never talk about weight loss as a goal of exercise. And I'm still not really going to. But...I am going to address it in this context for two reasons. One: because the idea that you do cardio for weight loss and then worry about strength-training is a fitness theory we reject as fitness professionals. And two: because regardless of whether we think weight-loss should be a goal, the reality is that it is why many women start exercising. So, for us not to address it at all seems irresponsible.

Here's the short version of why we recommend an exercise plan that combines cardio exercise and three days each week of strength-training: it's more efficient and effective.

It's generally true that if you engage in cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, biking, etc.), and change nothing about your diet, that you will run a caloric deficit. Meaning, you will burn more calories on the days you do that exercise than on the days you don't, which may lead to weight-loss. But muscle is more metabolically active than fat, 24-7. So by increasing your lean muscle mass you burn more calories at rest every day, not just on the days you work-up a deficit by spending an hour on the treadmill. There are many good reasons to include cardio in your workout plan (I do it), but focusing on it to the exclusion of strength, flexibility and balance-training is a mistake. That's true whether your goal is weight-loss or just being holistically healthier and fitter.  

If there are other reasons you're reluctant to weight-train, leave them in the comments below and I'll do my best to address them in a future post. Take care, friends!

Secrets to Making Midday Workouts Work

When I was working my full-time office job, I had good intentions when it came to exercise. Each night I would set my alarm for 5am, which would give me plenty of time to fit in a workout. And then my alarm would go off at 5am and I'd think, "I will feel much more like exercising after work than I do now." Snooze button hit.

But the thing was that I never felt like working out after work. I was exhausted by the time I got home. So, I'd give myself a pass--skipping one day won't hurt--and make big plans to go to bed early that night. That way, when my alarm went off at 5am the following day, I would bounce out of bed and into my workout clothes. 

And....that never happened. What I ultimately ended up doing was fitting my exercise in during my breaks at work. But that provided its own set of challenges--namely how to get myself looking, smelling and feeling presentable for the part of my work day that took place after my workout. 

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One part of the solution was to have the right products available to me at work. I kept a pair of workout shoes and a set of workout clothes in my office, so that I didn't have to remember to bring them with me in the morning when I was rushing out of the house to get to work. I also kept a bag with some post-workout refresh essentials, including:

Deodorant Wipes. I love these ones from Pacifica, but I'm sure other brands sell them too. 

Dry Shampoo. This was a lifesaver when I had a more intense workout and my hair ended up a little sweaty or windblown or whatever. Dry shampoos just soak up that moisture at the roots of your hair, and refresh the scent a bit. My favorite is this one from DryBar, but it's expensive. I also really like Batiste brand, and Hask makes a good one. Both of those are a little less expensive. 

A Washcloth, Hand Towel, and Travel-Size Body Spray. This is basically a makeshift bath kit. 

Travel-Size Facial Spray. I love this one from Mario Badescu. It's inexpensive and it smells like one of those high-end day spas. I'd just spray a little mist of this on my face to refresh my makeup after a workout. It was rare that I exercised hard enough that I had to reapply my makeup. But a little of this was so refreshing and kept my skin looking hydrated and alive. 

Travel-Size Powder and Blush. If my face was looking a little worse for wear after a workout, I found that all I needed was a little pressed powder and some blush to look like myself again. I would buy the travel-size versions and keep them in my bag. 

Make--Up Removing Wipes. I love these ones from Aveeno. These were great if I needed a bit more of a refresh than a mist of facial spray could give me.

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The second part of the solution was how I went about my midday workouts.

Let's say I wanted to get 30-minutes of exercise in each day. And let's say I couldn't, or didn't want, to do that all in one session. I would do 10-minute walks, three times a day--one during my morning break, one during my lunch break, and one during my afternoon break. There isn't a rule that you have to get all of your exercise in one long workout. Break it up as much as you need to, either for logistical reasons or because that's all you can take at one time.

On days when the weather prevented walks from being feasible, or on days when I just wanted to do something different, my phone was my friend. I was lucky enough to have my own private office with a door, so I could close it and do some YouTube yoga, or strength training exercise in there. I kept some resistance bands, a yoga mat and some weights in my office for that reason. If you don't have your own office, maybe there are other solutions. Are you allowed to reserve meeting rooms over the noon hour where you work? Could you do that once or twice a week?

Are there other people in your office who would like to work out with you? There are personal trainers who will come to you and lead a session. If you got a couple of friends together you could split the cost and have a workout with a trainer, without having to spend any of your limited break time driving to a gym. 

I hope some of these tips are helpful to you as you try to fit exercise into your day! If any of you have found things that work particularly well in making midday exercise work, please share below. 

 

Why I Love the Backs of My Arms and You Should Too

How often do you think about the backs of your arms? We see our biceps much more often and much more easily than our triceps. But just because they're hiding out there on the back side of our bodies, doesn't mean they aren't worthy of attention and appreciation. I have been guilty in the past of thinking of them as simply the jiggly part of my arm, aka the reason I wouldn't go sleeveless in the summer. 

But, I think the more we learn about our bodies and the miraculous things they do for us on a daily basis, the harder it is to hate them. And your triceps are no exception. Here are some fun facts about those little powerhouses on the backs of your arms.

You use them every time you straighten your arm. Pushing a door closed? Shoving a suitcase into the overhead bin of an airplane? Throwing a ball? Writing? All of these activities, and so many more, require the participation of your triceps.

Your triceps are actually a larger muscle than your biceps. Yep, it makes up about 2/3 of your arm. The average triceps muscle is twice as large as the average biceps muscle.

It helps to keep your shoulder in line. Your shoulder is an amazing joint. It has the biggest range of motion of any joint in your body, able to rotate in many directions. Because of this, it's also an unstable joint. Strong, healthy triceps help to stabilize it, so that it can function properly.

Your triceps are kind of like your biceps' bff. Triceps and biceps have an agonist/antagonist relationship. When one contracts, the other must relax. Let's use a biceps curl as an example. As you curl the weight up to your shoulder, your biceps muscle contracts and shortens while your triceps relax and elongate. But, as you bring the weight back down the roles switch. Your biceps muscle relaxes and elongates, while your triceps contract and shorten. It's a really cool relationship, and one that I didn't recognize until I started studying to be a trainer. 

It has three heads. The "tri" in its name is a clue :-) One head originates on your shoulder blade, and the other two originate on your humerus (upper arm bone). They unite partway down your arm, attaching to your elbow.

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There you have it--an introduction to your sweet triceps. I hope you love them just a little bit more now! And one way to show your appreciation is to strengthen them so that they can do their best for you. There are several triceps exercises I like, but here's one you can do just using your body weight: Triceps Dips.

Please Make Sure You Know This One Thing...

For me, the thing that has been a bit scary about venturing into the world of group fitness has been how often I use things I know, simply because I'm a personal trainer, to keep myself safe. It happens a lot. And I know it's happened to Nikki too.

It's really difficult to design a workout that's effective and safe for the wide variety of fitness levels an instructor sees represented in a class. And it's even more difficult to give the kind of personal attention and correction they'd like to each student, especially in classes the sizes of the ones you find in big gyms. An instructor can only be in so many places at once, right? This isn't a knock on small group fitness instructors at all. It's a difficult job and I have such admiration for the instructors who do it well. It's a specialized skill, that's for sure.

Small group classes are a great workout option for many people. It's less expensive than personal training. You get to experience a wide variety of exercise and you have the opportunity, when classes are managed well, to develop a strong support system among your classmates. So, I totally understand the draw. 

I've given some advice on this blog about how to approach group fitness classes--tips for getting the most out of them and for feeling less intimidated. But as Nikki and I have been talking about the topic lately, there's really one thing we can't emphasize enough. One thing that will serve you well, whatever shape your workouts take now or in the future. One thing we thought we needed to write a post about.

And that is: to know yourself and know your body before joining a group class. You must know when to slow things down; when and how to modify an exercise; and when to stop doing a particular exercise or workout. If you don't know these things, you run the risk of getting hurt. It is very, very difficult for a group instructor to know those things about you. No matter how good they are; you are the expert on you. You have to know what's good and safe for your body, and be empowered to act on those things in a group setting. 

That knowledge can come from practice; from experience. You can read-up on the mechanics of the body; you can research how to modify specific movements; you can try different things and notice what ranges of motion do and do not cause you pain. All are valid. But all take time.

The other thing you can do though is leverage the expertise of a personal trainer to speed up the process. Personal training on a regular basis is sometimes more than someone's budget will allow. But did you know that one or two sessions with a trainer can be enough to prepare you to thrive in your small group classes? You can literally tell a trainer the kinds of classes you're interested in taking and then ask them to help you learn how to stay safe.

Ask them how and when to modify something. Ask them what it should feel like when you're doing an exercise correctly, versus what feelings are signs that you're doing something that's going to lead to injury. Ask them how to know when to stop doing something altogether. Ask them how to know when it's okay to push through discomfort. They have knowledge to share and they want you to love exercise. You aren't going to love it if you hurt yourself or don't see any benefit from it.

So that's our one, overarching piece of advice when it comes to group fitness. It applies to at-home workouts too. If you're doing a workout DVD, the instructor can't see you and can't help you stay safe. You can do the same thing with workout DVDs as I suggest above--take it to a personal trainer and ask them to prepare you to do it effectively. 

Any questions, leave them below!

How to Sneak Breaks into Group Workouts

The first time I took a group Barre class I thought I was going to either pass out or throw-up if I didn't stop and have water, so I did. I decided I'd rather have other people in the class suspect that the class was too hard for me, than prove it by doing one of the aforementioned things. At this point, I have zero shame about taking breaks and I don't care how obvious it is that that's what I'm doing.

But...That wasn't always the case. When I did feel self-conscious about stopping during some kind of group exercise, whether it was a hike with friends or a class, I had a few ways I would sneak in breaks when I needed them. Feel free to use them if you need to!

The "Documenting the Experience" Break. This one is one I know Nikki has used, and I've done it too. When you're on a walk or a hike with a group of friends and you need more breaks than they seem to take, use the excuse of taking some pictures of the scenery. Take as many pictures as you need to in order to be ready to continue with the hike. Reviewing your pictures can also take a minute or two :-) 

The "What is the Instructor Doing Now?" Break. This is a great one for group classes. In this one, you use the excuse of needing to see the instructor's form on an exercise to stop moving and watch for a minute. 

The "There's Something in My Shoe/Sock" Break. I used to use this one a lot, especially if I wanted a break where I could sit down. I just pretend that there's something in my shoe that needs to be removed; sit down and pretend to deal with it (which usually requires untying and removing my shoe(s); put my shoes back on and then resume class. Or I'll just pretend that my shoe is tied too tightly or loosely and I need to adjust it.

The "I Need to Adjust My Mat" Break. This one is good for floor exercise. Workout classes usually take place in rooms with hard floors, and the yoga mats they give you are often really thin. So, I'll use the excuse of needing to fold my mat in strategic places to provide more padding or support, or even getting up and grabbing a second mat to lay on top of the first, to take a bit of a break. 

The "Oops, I Didn't Fill My Water Bottle Enough" Break. I'll fill my water bottle half-full, and then when I need a break I'll hop up and go top it off. 

The "I Need a Stretch" Break. More often than not, I'm not pretending with this one. With this one, you just take a minute to stretch out whatever muscle you were just working. Or do a little back stretch or something. You're still doing something exercise-related, but you're giving yourself a little break, without it necessarily looking like that's what you're doing.

Okay, those are my favorite sneaky break strategies. Do you have any you use and want to share? Leave them in the comments below! 

How to Treat Your Sore Muscles

Sore muscles are the wages of exercise. Unfortunately. I almost always get them when I return to working out after a break, or when I change-up my workout in some way. I wrote a post about how to minimize soreness with the former.

But, I have had people ask me whether there's a way to prevent it or cure it. The answer is that I don't know of a way to prevent it from ever happening. When I'm exercising regularly, there's always some muscle of mine that's a little (sometimes a lot) sore. 

However, you can mitigate the discomfort in some simple ways. I'm going to share a few of my favorite tips for that here. I hope one or more of them help you!

Drink water. Staying hydrated helps everything feel and function better.

Stretch. Make sure you're stretching after your workouts (and not before), and that you're building active recovery days into your workout schedule once or twice a week. Stretching returns muscles to their healthy resting lengths, and can provide short and long-term relief from muscle soreness when done correctly.

Get enough sleep. Seven to nine hours is the recommended range. I tend to fall more on the nine hour end, but you may need less. One of the many reasons why getting enough sleep is important, is that it's the time when the muscles you broke down during exercise repair themselves. If you don't sleep enough then those muscles don't get stronger.

Eat protein, including some right before bed. Amino acids are cellular building blocks, and there is some evidence that ingesting them before sleep is especially beneficial to the repair and rebuild process. 

Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt in hot water can provide some relief for those sore muscles. And they are really inexpensive. A soak in a hot tub is great too, if you have access to one. 

Foam rolling. I haven't talked a lot about foam rolling on the blog, but I did a ton of foam rolling when I was recovering from a knee injury a while back and it helped. It can be really intense though, especially if you have really tight muscles. If you don't have a foam roller, or traditional foam rolling is too intense and uncomfortable, you can use a rolling pin to gently massage your achy muscles. If you've never done it before, I would highly recommend getting a professional to show you how to do it safely. A personal trainer or physical therapist can help you learn the basics.

Massage. I read an article recently about a personal trainer who swears by weekly massages to treat muscle soreness. If my bank account would let me, I would totally try this experiment myself. If you can afford it, regular massage makes life better. 

Take an anti-inflammatory. Ibuprofen can provide some relief for sore muscles, but it's definitely not something you want to be taking regularly. If you're in so much pain from your workouts that you need pain killers, you may not be dealing with normal muscle soreness. It may be a symptom of overtraining or injury. When mine is especially bad, I'll take ibuprofen. But it's rare that I do that, and far more common that I use the other treatments listed here. 

Awesome Ab Exercise to Try!

I've written before about how much I hate crunches. Anyone with me? If you are, you also probably love any ab exercise that you can do standing up. And this is my current favorite! I love that you really have to concentrate on letting your abs do the work too. Anything that helps me practice that mind-body connection thing is an exercise I can get behind. 

Anyway, here's a link to a video on the Woodchop exercise. We are working on filming some of our own exercise videos to share with you here, but in the meantime we've curated some from YouTube that we think are solid. I hope you'll try it and share your favorite non-crunch ab exercises below!

How to Survive Your First Group Class

For the first time in a long time I joined a group class at a gym. Nikki and I joined this gym earlier this week, which may seem weird since we work at a personal training studio. Why would we need to join a gym and hire a trainer?

But, the not-so-secret truth about personal trainers is that we are just like you. We need accountability. We need someone to push us--to challenge us. We need someone to help keep us safe. To switch things up.

I have a particular kind of workout I like to do, and Nikki does as well. There's nothing wrong with that. But, in order to keep getting stronger and to keep seeing and feeling the results we want, we have to do different things. And sometimes--oftentimes--it's hard to do that for yourself, no matter how much exercise knowledge you have. 

Hiring a trainer or taking a class also renews my excitement about exercise. When I'm feeling bored or not motivated to work out, the solution is often to do something new. Which is what I did today. 

Anyway, since it's been a while since I was new to a class or modality of exercise, I decided to pay attention to the parts of that experience that were kind of intimidating and tell you how I managed my nerves/insecurities.

I don't know where to stand or which equipment I need. Help! This is the first challenge when you're new, right? You feel awkward and unsure and tempted to turn around and leave. The solution is to find the instructor, introduce yourself and ask for guidance. Often they want you in a spot in the room where they can easily keep an eye on you until you get familiar with the exercises and the format of the class. Trust me, you aren't bothering them if you ask questions. Just make sure you arrive a little bit early, so you aren't cutting into class time. Especially at a bigger gym, an instructor won't necessarily know you're new. They have lots of students and multiple instructors teach the same class at different times. Even if they don't recognize you, they may assume you've taken the class before with someone else. So, be sure to let them know you haven't.

Oh my goodness, what in the world is she doing?! This totally happened to me today--many times. When you're in a group class, you aren't going to get the same kind of cueing you'd get from a personal trainer. The instructor, if he or she is a good one, will incorporate some cues into their instruction. But, it's likely that they'll name the exercise, start doing it and then provide subtler cues about form and effectiveness as you move through the exercise. And you might be panicking, not knowing what you're supposed to do. That's how I felt, anyway. It's okay to watch a few repetitions before you actually start moving. You don't need to feel pressure to jump right in. Take the time you need to understand the basics of the movement and then attempt it yourself. If it's an exercise where your arms and legs are moving at the same time, feel free to just do the arms or just do the legs and add in the other piece of the movement when you feel ready. 

They're going so fast! Again, had this experience today. Fortunately the instructor told us all to go at our own pace several times, but if your instructor doesn't say that to you, consider this your permission to do so. Slow the movement down as much as you need to in order to learn it, to feel safe and for the exercise to be effective. Who cares what everyone else is doing? Swinging your limbs all over the place to keep pace with someone else in class is not a great plan. It puts the bulk of the work in your joints and gives momentum a much bigger role than your muscles. That isn't good. 

What am I supposed to be feeling? And where? Okay, so my opinion is that if you are brand new to exercise that having a few sessions with a personal trainer is a great gift to give yourself. There are ways to do an exercise incorrectly that won't hurt you, but also won't be effective. That's not great, but it's also not terrible. Then there are ways to do an exercise incorrectly that is likely to cause injury and isn't effective. That scenario is very bad. Establishing a strong sense of your body in space, enhancing the connection between your mind and your body, and learning the basics of good form are the foundation of exercising safely for the rest of your life. Those things are very difficult to learn in a group class because you aren't getting one-on-one attention and feedback from your instructor. But, if you're new and are committed to group classes, here's my advice. For almost every exercise, engaging your core muscles is a good idea. Here's a post I wrote about what that means. Secondly, understand which muscle(s) the exercise is supposed to be working. Ask your instructor during class or after. Research it online, or ask me in the Comments section on this blog. I'm happy to answer! Thirdly, the key to communicating with the muscle you want to work is to think about it. Sounds simplistic, but it's true. Think about that muscle contracting and doing what it is you want it to do. And it will do it. Swear. 

Do I look silly? I am incredibly uncoordinated and prone to clumsiness. It's one of the things I would totally change about myself if I could. But I can't wave a magic wand and sprinkle myself with graceful dust, so I've kind of accepted it. And mostly it doesn't bother me. Being new in a group class though is ripe with opportunities to compare my level of grace with other people's, and ultimately find myself lacking. Here's how I combat that. When I'm in a class, I am so focused on what I'm doing that I can't pay attention to anyone else. I assume other people are in the same boat. And I break down complicated or new exercises into manageable pieces. I figure out what the most important part of the movement is and I just focus on doing that correctly, then I add in the extraneous stuff (arm movements, for example) when I'm ready. 

What do you find to be the most intimidating part of joining an exercise class for the first time? How do you manage the fear? Share below.

What Motivated Me to Exercise Today

Yesterday I went out and bought new workout shoes, because my current ones looked like this...

And because they looked like that, they were wearing out my socks on the heels such that they were threadbare.

And if the shoes were wearing out my socks that way, you can imagine what they were doing to my poor, now-exposed heels.

So, I bought some new socks too.

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Aren't they fun?! And as an added bonus--they are so bright that I can see them in my sock drawer when I stumble to my dresser, bleary-eyed, in the dark, for my morning workouts :-)

Anyway, I found myself last night really excited about working out today just because I got to wear my new shoes and socks. Funny, huh? That the workout I would have done today in my old shoes and socks--not grudgingly, but not excitedly either--felt totally different to me because of something new. Same workout. Same home gym. But different shoes and socks on my feet and all of a sudden I can't wait for 6am.

And I remembered that I feel the same way when I load new songs on to my iPad, or am learning a new, challenging exercise.

Like anyone I struggle with exercise motivation sometimes. I get bored with what I'm doing, or I'm so stressed in another area of my life that the last thing I want to do is get up early and exercise. So, I have had to find ways to switch things up. I have to find my exercise currency and pay it, if you will. I have to re-set my workouts in some way that makes them appealing.

Sometimes that means taking a new class. Sometimes that means trying out a new piece of exercise equipment. Sometimes that means checking out a new workout DVD or an exercise on YouTube and trying to master it. Sometimes that means finding some new music to listen to while I hit the treadmill. And sometimes that means buying something new to put on my feet. Anyone else find that something new, no matter how small, makes a huge difference?

I want to go back really quickly to my old worn-out shoes.

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I kind of glossed over it, but they were really starting to hurt my feet. Having workout clothing and shoes that fit is so important, both for your physical well-being and creating a positive association with exercise. So, if your workout pants are too tight or too loose; if your shoes don't support you or are wearing holes in the backs of your heels; if your sports bra isn't supportive or it's so tight you can't breathe properly; if you're swimming in a t-shirt that's so big it gets in your way when you're trying to move; invest in stuff that fits. It's so important. Exercise is hard enough, especially when you're first starting out, don't make it harder with clothes and shoes that make you uncomfortable from minute one. You are important enough to invest in some high-quality clothes and shoes and you don't have to break the bank to do it. In fact, last year I wrote a post about my favorite places to find inexpensive workout gear. You can read it here.

What are your favorite ways to switch-up your workouts and up your motivation? Share below!

Awesome Workout Thingy

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Happy 2018 everyone! Hope you had a lovely holiday and that you're looking forward to what the new year will bring. I don't know how embarrassed I should be that I used the word, thingy, in the title of a blog post. I'm not even sure it's an actual word. Ugh. I really do love the English language, I swear. But as I write this, I am feeling a bit creatively deficient :-) Hence a blog post with made-up words in the title.

Anyway, here's one of those shorter posts I promised back in December. These things from Miracle Method are my new favorite piece of workout "equipment." I used them in a Pilates workshop I attended last month. When I saw them I thought, "what can these little things possibly do?" But, oh my goodness, they are amazing! You place them beneath whatever part of your body is tense or painful--shoulders, hips, back, elbows, knees, head (if you're like me, some days it's all of those things!)--and then by resting on them, rotating on them or rolling on them in strategic ways, it releases those points of tension and pain. I noticed instant relief the first time I used them, but by using them regularly I'm noticing even better results. For less than $20 I feel like they're well worth the investment.

I've been using them in a couple of ways. When I have lots of time for my workouts, I will use them for about 15-minutes before I start exercising. Then I spend 5-minutes doing some joint mobilizations. And then I do my 30-minute (ish) workout. That happens a few times a week.

But I also find myself using them in the evenings while I'm watching television or listening to a podcast. It's kind of a nice way to end the day, and I'm not on so much of a time-crunch as I am when I use them before workouts.

Have any of you tried these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the Comments below!

 

An Intro and a Discount

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We are so excited to announce that after many months of work and planning; of shooting exercise videos and testing software platforms; of brainstorming program names and designing web pages; we are finally launching the online version of the workouts we do with clients in our Tacoma, Washington, studio! Online personal training may sound like kind of an oxymoron, but it's really not. For many people, coming in to a gym or studio isn't feasible. Schedule, or budget or some self-consciousness about exercising in front of another person, can be huge roadblocks for many people who could benefit from working with a personal trainer. And technology being what it is, we can communicate, schedule and demo workouts, and even check our clients' exercise form via our computers and iPhones.

Here's how it works. It's actually pretty cool.

We do a consultation, just like we'd do for an in-person studio client, only it's done via our online training app and telephone. We then design a workout program, customized to each individual client. Each workout includes a demonstration video and text instructions for each exercise, as well as warm-up and cool-down videos. Clients login, complete their workouts and submit feedback to us. That feedback informs how we design subsequent workouts.

Let's be honest--you could exercise at home without a trainer for free, right? The reason to work with a trainer, online or in-person, is to have someone to hold you accountable to your fitness goals. To have someone who can give you practical support and advice, to ensure that your workout time is safe, effective, efficient and customized to you and your body. To have someone to offer encouragement--who will notice and celebrate your accomplishments and cheer you on to success.

That's what we're offering here. Now, no matter where in the world you live, you can workout with us at Fitness for Life. And to help you kickoff 2018 in good health, we're offering a discount on our online personal training memberships for a limited time. If you sign-up between now and midnight on January 1st, 2018, you'll get 20% off your first month's membership. Enter the code ONLINE18 at checkout to receive your discount. 

Click here for more information or to sign-up!

I'm Psychic

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Yep, exercise gives you superpowers. Did you know that? Yours might be different than mine. I don't know. But I guarantee you've got at least one and you might not even know it yet. It took me years to recognize mine. Exercise has made me psychic.

Really.

Well, kind of...

My workouts are the canary in the coal mine for me when I'm about to get sick. My body has been giving me signals for days before I ever feel the first ache in my head or scratch in my throat. I just needed to notice.

Those signals show-up in my workouts as extreme and quick muscle fatigue. If I'm doing my normal workout and find that my muscles just don't want to cooperate, that's a red flag for me. When things that are normally doable but slightly challenging, feel impossible, I know something's not right. It's more than just not feeling like working out or feeling sleepy. It's more like the first reps of an exercise physically feeling like I've already done 25 of them. My muscles are tired and ready to quit before I've even asked them to do much of anything. Does that make sense?

Exercising regularly is obviously the key to unlocking this particular superpower, because if I don't spend lots of hours of paying attention to how my body normally feels, I can't notice when something is off. 

And that's one of the gifts that exercise gives you--the opportunity to be present in your body. I know that when I've been uncomfortable in my body because of my weight, that I got really good at ignoring it. At deliberately not paying attention to how it felt because I didn't like how it looked. Anyone else relate to that?

Getting good at exercise meant that I had to get good at connecting with my body again, at least for that 30-minutes in the gym...

But the thing is, once that connection was made in one part of my life, it got harder and harder to disconnect again outside of the gym. It was kind of like when you buy a new car and you all of a sudden start seeing that car EVERYWHERE. I started to "see" my body in the gym and then I couldn't un-see it outside of the gym.

Okay, okay, so that's not exactly the same as being psychic. But it is a practical benefit to exercise that people don't really mention. After I-don't-know-how-many times of having that fatigue during a workout and then getting sick within a day or two, I finally recognized it for the clue that it was. Now, when it happens I usually stop my workout and behave as I would if I were actually actively sick. I sleep as much as possible; feed my body as many nutrients (fruits and veggies); make sure I'm getting fluids in; and do things that are restorative. Sometimes I don't end up sick; very rarely I do.

I hope there's at least one thing that exercise has given you that's similar, or that you might start thinking about what your exercise superpower is. It's such a great motivator to keep going with your workouts regardless of whether or not they move the needle on your scale.

Take care everyone!

That Time I Went All Weak in the Knees

There are things my body is really good at and things it's really bad at. For example, my body is really good at gaining weight. On the flip side, it's also really good at building muscle. My body gave me clear skin as a teenager, but also crooked teeth and frizzy hair. I'm a terrible dancer, but I can spell backwards. It's a mixed bag, being in my body. That's really what I'm trying to say. Knees 1

A little over a year ago now, I injured my right knee badly during a workout. It took a long time to recover, and landed me in physical therapy for 12 weeks. Working my way back from that injury was frustrating and painful and slow.

But what I didn't anticipate at the beginning of that journey was the fear I would experience after my knee was medically, officially healed and I was cleared to go back to my regular activities.

When I was laid up, all I wanted was to be able to move again. But when that permission came, I found that I was terrified of injuring it again. Really, really scared. Scared of the pain, for sure. But more than that; I was scared of not being in control of my body. Of not being able to move. Of not being able to do my job effectively anymore.

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I lost confidence in my ability to predict how my body would perform--of how it would react to the demands I placed upon it. I thought if I made one false move. If I lunged or squatted the wrong way, snap would go my ligament.

That fear was paralyzing. It made the prospect of working out again something that filled me with dread. But when I would think about not exercising, that would scare me too. Because I knew that if I stopped moving, the pain would come back, the muscles supporting my knees would weaken and I would be much more likely to injure it again.

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes. Not fun.

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Have any of you ever experienced this? Maybe you experienced an injury similar to mine. Or maybe you gained weight and then felt uncomfortable or insecure in your body. Or maybe you got the message early and often that you weren't sporty or coordinated, so you've never been confident with anything physical. Maybe you think that you don't know what you're doing and as a result you're either going to hurt yourself or embarrass yourself.

I think exercise is often as much about working through mental limitations as it is physical ones. It's as much about pushing past that voice in your head that's telling you all of the reasons why you shouldn't, or cataloging all of the things that could go wrong. as it is about getting your biceps to curl a heavy dumbbell up to your shoulder. Whether what's holding you back is the fear of physical pain and injury, or the fear of failing, or the fear of people judging you or laughing at you; it doesn't really matter.

So where to go from here? How do we move from that feeling of damned if we exercise, damned if we don't?

I can and will tell you what I did. But I don't want to make it sound like it was some miracle cure and now I'm fixed. I'm not. There are days when I'm still overly cautious with my body. There are still exercises I won't do; classes I'm reluctant to take. There are still moments when I feel a twinge in my knee and am scared it's going to give out. I still sometimes lack confidence in my ability to distinguish what's become a normal level of discomfort in my knees and what's a sign that something is wrong. There are still days when I'm so frustrated that I work so hard and yet my knees sometimes still feel so weak. It's a work in progress for sure.

Here's what helps me.

I got expert advice and I follow it. Because my injury was so bad, I had physical therapy. Those therapists gave me exercises to do every day and I still do them, nearly a year after my last PT appointment. They also told me the warning signs to watch for--things that were flashing red lights to stop what I was doing before I hurt myself. They gave me a list of exercises to avoid. And told me how much pain was okay to work through and how much was too much. I wrote it down and I stick to it.

I take time to take it easy. I never used to spend much time on stretching or mobilization exercises. Now, two of my workout days are active recovery days where I do stretching and "pre-hab" routines.

I learned which muscles needed to be stronger to support my knees. In my case, that's my hamstrings and the muscles of my quadriceps. I make sure I do safe exercises that strengthen those muscles several times each week.

I write down what my fears are, and I get specific. Sometimes naming a fear takes some of the fear out of it. Then I refute it, or I decide how I'm going to address it.

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Even if your fear isn't driven by an injury, some of these strategies can still work. Maybe working with a personal trainer would help your confidence because you'd get some expert advice on how to do exercises correctly and safely. Or maybe going to the gym or a class with a friend would take some of the anxiety out of the experience for you.

I don't know that I'm someone who necessarily thinks everything happens for a reason. But I do know that my injury humbled me in ways that were probably good for me as a trainer. I've said before on this blog that I struggled with my weight and with feeling uncomfortable in my body for many years in my teens and twenties. So, before this experience I don't think I would have said that I was unaware of what it was like to feel that way.

But I do think that sometimes I probably forgot just a little. I think that sometimes those feelings weren't as accessible to me as they might have been because I found myself so far on the other end of the fitness spectrum in my thirties.

This injury, while mostly healed, will have lingering effects. There will always be occasional pain. There will always be exercises I don't do. There will always be modifications I need to make and days when frustration and fear override confidence and ambition. And I've gotten to a place where I think that's okay.

Because it means I always have one foot in both worlds. I'm firmly planted in my personal trainer world--in a world where I love moving and challenging my body. But I'm also never far away from that other place. That place of physical pain; that place where your body isn't a predictable, known quantity; that place where moving is a loaded emotional and physical proposition.

If you find yourself there too, you are definitely not alone. And you should give yourself a pat on the back for feeling that way and working through it to do great things for your body and your health.

I Don't Crunch & You Don't Have to Either

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Anyone reading who absolutely LOVES abdominal crunches? Anyone especially love getting down on the floor; struggling to relax your neck (kind of an oxymoron, I know); and crunching until your abs burn or your arms get tired of supporting your head? I mean really love crunches? I broke-up with crunches months ago and here's why. They're uncomfortable; it's relatively easy to do them incorrectly and hurt yourself; it's relatively easy to do them wrong and have them be almost completely ineffective as an exercise; they don't really target the deep core muscles (the ones you need to be strong in order to prevent back issues and to support your body in the motion of daily life); they hurt my neck; they are not fun but are very boring. Other than that, I think they're great :-)

This would be a bummer of a post, except for the fact that there are so many awesome exercises that work your core better than floor crunches. Yay for good exercise news! I won't list them all here, but here are my 5 current favorites, making their way through my current workout rotation.

The Woodchopper. I just think this one is so much fun. Not sure why. But I love it.

Dead Bug. Terrible name. Awesome exercise.

Forearm Plank. I love to add knee-drops or hip drops for variety. But make sure you've got the basic plank form down pat before adding anything fancy.

Bird Dog. Great name. Great exercise.

Standing Mountain Climbers. Can make these harder by holding a dumbbell in your hand.

 

The Most Unexpected Part of Exercise

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What does that statement conjure up for you? Are you thinking that I'm about to write a post about how I actually gained weight from working out and how I'm okay with that? Or maybe you're thinking it's going to be about how I sleep so much better because I work out. Or maybe you just know that this post is going to be about how I'm happier, more energized, more insert-positive-adjective-here because of regular exercise...But nope. Not it. You're not even lukewarm, if we were playing the hot-cold game. The biggest surprise about exercise to me is laundry.

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Yep, laundry.

The sheer volume of loads of laundry I do in a week because I exercise regularly.

It's ridiculous. If I had a nickel for every minute of the week I spend dumping clothes in the washer; for every minute I spend reading tiny labels to determine which pairs of leggings can go in the dryer and which ones need to air dry; for every time I've scraped lint from the lint trap...Well, let's just say my savings account would have a few more zeros at the end of that number.

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For years, out of convenience and because I didn't really know any better, I just hung my clothes to air dry after a workout and then wore them again the next day.

Some of you are cringing right now at how gross that sounds and others of you don't see the big deal. Am I right?

Here's what I learned that made me decide that the place for workout clothes is the laundry room.

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We are little bacteria, yeast and fungus-growing factories, we humans. Our sweat is full of bacteria, which when trapped against our skin by workout clothes can cause infections. One example is a particularly lovely acne-like skin rash called, folliculitis. But there are others.

Wearing workout clothes a second or third day in a row will often mean you smell bad. Sorry, but it's true. And no one wants that. The areas of your body most susceptible to bacterial transfer to your clothes are the parts of your body where your workout wear is the tightest and the least amount of air can circulate. Makes sense, right?

Skin rashes are one issue, but if you have cuts and scrapes on your skin and then you expose them to the bacteria on unwashed gym clothes, you can get other kinds of nasty infections. For those of us who exercise in a gym, we're exposing our workout clothes and, by extension, our bodies, to other people's bacteria and germs too. Sometimes people wipe down machines after they've used them, but sometimes not. And you never know how meticulous a given gym is about doing regular cleaning of their equipment.

If the above doesn't gross you out or seem like good enough reason to wash, consider the  lifespan of your clothes. Bacteria and fungus found on our bodies and in our sweat can break down certain kinds of materials more quickly than they would if we washed them after each wearing. They can also grow mold if left to sit damp after a workout. I want to get as much wear out of these things as possible, so it's kind of an investment in my workout wardrobe to care for them correctly.

If you are engaging in light workouts and aren't sweating at all or are sweating very little, you probably are fine to just wash your workout clothes on your regular laundry day. But if, like me, you almost always end your workouts a sweaty mess, you  want to wear once and wash. Here are a few washing options, depending on your preferences.

Run through the washing machine, gentle-cycle, cold water. Air dry.

Hand-wash them in the sink with Woolite and then let them air dry. 

Put them in a ziploc freezer bag and then remove and wash when you have enough other items to justify a spin in the washing machine. (The freezer stops the growth of bacteria.)

Rinse them out quickly in the sink with cold water, before putting them in your hamper, if you can't run them through the wash immediately.

 

Well, That Was Embarrassing & Horrible

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Once when I'd done something super embarrassing, my dad told me a story to make me feel better and it goes something like this. He was out for his daily walk and decided to take off his hooded sweatshirt. But, rather than stopping, taking off the shirt and then resuming his walk, he decided to multi-task. He kept on walking and began pulling his sweatshirt over his head. The thing he hadn't counted on was that while his sweatshirt was over his head, he wouldn't be able to see the metal streetlamp ahead of him. Can anyone tell where this is going? Yep. He walked straight into that lamppost with his shirt over his head. And do you think he was afforded the minimal dignity of doing this and having no one see it? Nope. Bus full of people watched him bounce off the post. I tell this story because I found great comfort in knowing that I wasn't the only one who had done something mortifying. And as I thought about the ways in which exercise offers us all myriad opportunities for embarrassment and/or regret, I realized that there might be comfort for you in hearing a personal trainer confess some of their most regrettable exercise decisions.

So here goes.

Wearing a Unitard. When I first started exercising, I found a navy blue, spandex unitard with an image of tweety bird on the front, at Target. And I bought it. And I wore it. Not in public, thank God--that's really the only redeeming part of this story. And I wasn't ten. I was like, 16. Geez. I'm embarrassed even writing this.

Moving on...

Hot Yoga. AKA the worst thing I've ever done. I was new at work and one of the cool people invited me to join her for hot yoga. I said yes without thinking it through. Clearly. Because I don't like yoga and I hate the heat. I can only describe this experience as akin to doing yoga while standing inside your oven. For those of you not familiar, hot yoga is 90 minutes of yoga in a room heated to between 95 and 108 degrees. I started to get scared during the pre-class instruction, which consisted of ways one could lower their risk of throwing-up or fainting. Five minutes in and people were literally dripping sweat on their mats. I watched a woman crawl out of the room. A grown person, literally crawling to freedom. I watched another run out at a speed that left little doubt as to what was going to happen on the other side of that door. Leaving was something they told us not to do, by the way, as the rapid change in ambient temperature between the classroom and the lobby could mean you'd pass out and hit the ground like a safe. Never a good sign when the best argument for continuing a workout is that the alternative is possibly suffering a head injury.

Spin Class. This was horrible. I knew it was bad when the instructor literally bolted my feet into the pedals of the bike. Whenever they physically prevent you from leaving, you're in trouble. This was like doing cardio in a dance club, but without the alcohol to make it bearable.

Yoga at Work. Never underestimate how hard it is to look your co-worker in the eye at a morning meeting after you've watched one another downward dog or happy baby-pose your way through a group yoga class. It's awkward. Two worlds that should never collide.

Headstand During Pilates. Anything that requires a spotter; I'm out. That's my motto. I couldn't do cartwheels as a kid, so this moment was super physically uncomfortable with the added benefit of being middle-school-gym-class-level embarrassing.

Boot Camp Class. After I took this class I thought to myself that the only reason to go back was if I felt like what was wrong with my current workout plan was that it didn't provide me with enough opportunities to cry in public.

If this were just my personal blog I probably wouldn't feel the need for these stories to have any kind of larger point.  Other than maybe to share that even people who make their living in the fitness industry have had embarrassing or regrettable exercise experiences. It's universal.

But I guess the other point I'd make is that they're examples of situations where a particular approach to, or brand of, exercise was just wrong for me and my body. But there were others I tried that felt right and if I'd given up after any one of these I wouldn't have found the good stuff.

Each kind of exercise is different and while none of these worked for me, they do work for tons of other people. Maybe some of them represent your favorite exercise and you could write a similar post about how little you liked about some of the classes I love.

What I'm trying to say is keep taking yourself on little adventures, trying different kinds of exercise. The embarrassing stuff and the stuff you end up hating, teach you something. Sometimes we learn more about what we do want by experiencing things we really don't.