New Beginnings

I had a conversation with a mentor and one of my best friends recently about my attire.  It’s well established that I am a treehugging, hippie, paddler who likes nothing more than cargo pants and some quick drying layer (usually fleece or tech shirt).  I own a lot of men’s clothing of every variety.  I have a plethora of men’s pants because at one time, either in reality or in my head, I believed that I could only wear mens pants because of my muscular thighs.  I love them.  I have worn them for YEARS.  They are comfy, baggy, practical, and just a staple of my wardrobe outside of my Arbonne attire.

However, they are no longer serving me.  I have done a shit ton of personal growth, a lot of which was painful, some extremely.  All necessary, and all infinitely worth it.  My mentor told me recently to get rid of all my men’s pants that were ill-fitting.  For my job (not Arbonne, I sell work boots) I am regularly crawling around on the floor, searching through boxes, climbing up ladders, often get covered in dust, etc.  I do not wear nice things at work for this reasons.  I literally have work pants and go out pants because my knees always get worn out.

I initially went full out against this idea, because who cares what I look as I crawl around looking for boots, digging through boxes, or carrying heavy, dust laden boxes down the stairs?  I never had.  Perhaps-no definitely-I should.

Where I work is not glamorous, by any stretch of the imagination.   I sell work boots and work clothing, primarily.  I really like where I work, and have worked there on and off since I was 16.  It’s flexible, family owned and operated, and locally owned store in the Hunterdon County area.  It’s also different than anything you have probably been in, in the best kind of way.

The work boot area where I work in particular is quite different from what you may think.  It’s extensive, massive, and we have boots everywhere in the stock room.  I came to the realization today that just because it’s not the most classy place or the cleanest doesn’t make a difference in the pride I should have in working there.  There’s a reason I have worked there since I was 16.  I truly do love it there.  We have something for everyone. I  take pride in that, and therefore I should take pride in what I wear there.

I don’t need to be a diva.  I would like to be practical and classy.  The two are not mutually exclusive, despite me thinking that until recently.  I can do my job effectively, look classy, and not destroy my clothes.

The crazy thing is this is one of the hardest things she’s asked to me to do.  By the way, they have all been awesome and totally worth it.  The personal growth, while not easy, I did it quite willingly and without question.  This I questioned, and whined, until I realized that this out of all the other things she’s suggested I do, have caused me the most up-front mental hurdle.

Why?  Because my old self is trying to hide my badass figure from society.  I am worth it.  I am worth all the attention to my mind, body, and soul.  In personal growth,  there is always another piece to fill in your jigsaw puzzle.  This was a big one.

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Day 14, Gym 13

I travelled to upstate New York for an Arbonne training, and an incentive power hour.  It was pretty incredible.  Regardless of the training, I woke up early yesterday and hit the  small gym at the Hotel Hyatt in Balston Spa, NY.  There were some free weights, and four pieces of cardio equipment (2 treadmills, 1 recumbent bike, and one elliptical).  Since the elliptical was taken, I hopped on the stationary bike for about 15 minutes.  The hotel also had a pool, which is a very nice accommodation to have for a relatively small hotel.  The fitness room was open 24/7, and the pool from 6 AM to 10 PM.  As far as hotel exercise rooms go, it got the job done for me.  If you were there for a week, one might get bored.

Update on my TRX class from the other day.  A friend of mine told me that sometimes it takes a up to two or three to be sore.  Well, she was right.  It wasn’t the day after that I was sore, it was two days.  My legs, shoulders, upper back, and abs were a bit sore.  Nothing extraordinary, but I suppose I should have used my Phytosport line the day after, as well.  It’s a good sign.  It feels really good, both mind and body, to be getting back in shape again.  This time, just like when I did the clean eating challenge, it will become a lifestyle, not just a temporary phase.

Day 13, Gym 12

I am becoming obsessed with the TRX system, and thought it was about time to get a formal instruction.  I found Sphericality in Flemington, NJ, which is a fitness studio with all sorts of classes, one of them being the TRX.  I spoked with Maggie, who very nicely waived the fee for the class so I could get an idea of the studio.  I was thrilled, and was excited to finally learn how to best utilize the TRX.

dinner and arb

Gearing up for workout with eggs, and Arbonne Phytosport hydration and fizzy stick.

The class was small, only three students, including me, were attending the class.  The room was clean, and had a great energy to it.  It had a community feel, which I am realizing is becoming a key factor in my decision when I do chose a gym to call home.  There were mats laid out, and the TRX was set up.  This class was going to be no joke, and I could tell that I was going to like the pace and just the general set-up.  The instructor Kelly was fantastic, and definitely did not take it easy on me just because I was new.  She pushed us, but it was more like nudging and providing encouragement.  She made sure my form was correct, which is so important when working out.  This is especially true for this type of equipment where you are using your body weight to develop muscles, which stretching muscles, tendons, etc that do not necessarily get tested on traditional weight machines.  We alternated from arms, to core, to legs, and then back again so we weren’t targeting one group of muscles for a prolonged period of time.   I can feel it in my back muscles more than anything, because I think almost every exercise involved shoulders and/or upper back.  I will be curious to see how sore I am tomorrow in that muscle group.  I haven’t worked my upper back that intensely so far, so I will keep you guys posted.

Update on my overall fitness and results.  I have broad shoulders to begin with, and have been known to rip suit jackets (literally).  I put on a somewhat tighter fitting shirt, and when I flexed my arms across my body I could feel the slight pull across my shoulders.  I haven’t been doing anything extreme, but it reinforced that consistency in anything leads to results over time.

Day 12, Gym 11 Walking with Dad

After so many of years, months, etc of trying to figure out things.  I have figured it out.

There is such a thing as fear based versus caution.  Fear based is based on limited information, fear, and an overall scared mentality.  Caution is based on informed decision making, facts, and pros and cons list.

Having lived this life on fear based thinking and mentality, I get it.  Trust me, I get it ALL of it.   Fear is easier to handle, it’s easier to push away, it’s easier in general.  I’m scared of heights, boom, done.  I’m scared to talk to that person because I’ve been devastated before in the past when opening up to someone BOOM, done.  I’m afraid to do this thing so outside my comfort zone, what if I get ridiculed, embarrassed, and want to hide in a corner?  BOOM, activity over.  People coddle you when you make excuses, hide yourself, and hide under a rock.  They do not coddle you when you make a decision to change your life.

People commiserate over sadness, and make excuses for you.  My friend Keri, said when she broke her foot, that people would say to her, “oh it’s ok you’ve gained such and such weight, you broke your foot.  Let me help you.”  All of that is okay.  But it is so much easier to commiserate than it is to move past your own obstacles, own them, figure out a way to fix the problem, and move on.  This is why people stay where they are for years.

Own your life, your decisions, and be happy with it.  I had a talk with my dad about a few different things tonight as we were walking.  The universe conspires in weird and wonderful ways, and sometimes those ways suck hairy monkey balls.  The best thing that ever happened to me was being fired for forgetting to lock a door, literally.  I was working 60-70s a week between two jobs, and quite honestly, I didn’t see that changing.  I got a promotion at work, and literally two days later was fired.

I had to figure out what the hell I was going to do with myself.  I spent the first month vegging out on TV turning off my brain.  Then I took my first whitewater kayaking class, and started paddling.

However, for the next two out of the three jobs I had were fear based.  Fear that I would lose my job, that I wasn’t good enough, and I put in more hours than ever.  This is really no way to live life.  When my last environmental consulting job, which was the worst in terms of job security than any of the others, ended, I was actually relieved.

Fast forward to the present.  I am working retail at a job I’ve worked since  high school, which is as far from fear based as you could possible get; and I am passionately working my beloved Arbonne business.

I say that I found myself in Arbonne, and it’s true.  I have found so much more than that.  I have found my purpose for being on this planet.  If I can inspire one other tree-hugging hippie paddler, introvert, and outdoor junkie to understand that they can do whatever the hell they want in this life, than what better honor is there than that?

To inspire others to live their dreams, and make them realize that if I can do them, than why the hell not them?  Truly is there any better privilege than that?  No there isn’t.

Yet another big shift.   And I’ve only just begun.

Day 11, Gym 10

I headed to the Flemington, NJ area.  I went to one of the most well-known and popular gyms in the area, HealthQuest.  After my pleasant experience with LA Fitness last week, I was determined to have no preconceived notion about the place.  The lovely woman at the front desk let me do a workout, despite membership not being there which is usually a requirement.  She was quite nice and informative, so I asked about classes.  She got a schedule, and started to go through them with me because they were lacking a description sheet.  However, after this interaction, I had my first disappointing experience at a gym that I had worked out in.  I will touch on why, but first the positives of my past 11 days.

I have noticed a few things about my body progress so far.   My little pudge is just about gone, and my abs are somewhere in between slightly squishy and firm.  This may not sound like an improvement, but when I started 11 days ago there was just stomach flab.  Most of my small pants still fit, but I could feel the little distended pudge and didn’t like how it had crept up on me again.  My cardio fitness is slowly improving, along with muscle tone and endurance.  I weighed myself at 138 pounds, and was quite pleased with the number.  I, unfortunately, didn’t weigh myself when I started because it just wasn’t on my radar.  It may have been around 143.  I think I am most excited about the cardio fitness, and I’ll explain my progress in the next paragraph.

I started off with some light cardio at the rowing machine, which I wrote about in Day 6, Gym 4.  There I did about 12 minutes and almost 2000 meters, which is approximately 165 meters per minute (mpm).  Today I did 18 minutes and over 3,000 meters, approximately 172 mpm.  I wasn’t as tired, winded, and actually increased my rowing speed towards the end.  I am inspired to see tangible results so quickly.

I did my TRX routine, which is going to be a gym requirement.  I then went to the free weight area, since I hadn’t done that in a few days and wanted to work on my arms and core.  This was my first true disappointment in a gym.  The free weight area machines I have used have been mostly by a company called Hammer Strength.  They have either all or mostly been labelled at what muscle groups are targeted on the machine, how the machine works, etc at the other gyms I have been to.  At HealthQuest, this was lacking on a good number of the machines.  Some were labelled with print that said what they were, some of them were partially worn off, and I’d say about one-third to a little less than half were not labelled at all.  More than half did not have a diagram of the muscles that the machine targeted, and while I could guess at most of them, I find this is unacceptable for a gym of this size and cost.  It is not the gyms responsibility to be equipment police in regards to people, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to make it as user-friendly as possible.

On my way out the door, I asked for the membership price for a single membership.  I was astonished at the astronomical price of $93 per month.  This does include all the classes,  but not children’s programs or some speciality programs.  This is according to the little brochure I was given.  She almost looked apologetic when she gave it to me.  I have not taken a class yet, and would like to take one before passing on a final judgement. This is an incredibly popular gym, and I would like to think there’s a reason for it.

Day 10, Gym 9

Updated for full report now that I’m more awake.

This is going to be short, and I’ll expand more on it tomorrow.  It was time to try the gym that women in the Lehigh Valley area all seem to be flocking to, Sweat Like a Girl in Nazareth, PA.  I signed up for a free class, it was fight club.  The class was awesome.  I was sweating quite a bit by the time we were done, and it was so much fun.  Another full body workout, and I mean every part of my body was worked.  The instructor, Amy, was pretty consistent with showing us form, rotation, and placement on the bag.  She seemed to pick up on the fact that at one time the music was too loud, and turned it down.  This was by far my favorite class so far.  It was a combination of community since we broke up into groups, all body workouts, and pushing yourself to the limit.  If you enjoy a kick ass workout that is all-encompassing, but so fun and efficient this is your class.

The vibe of the gym I would describe as low-level coolness.  I’m not sure how else to describe it; it’s understated but humming with energy.  It is unclear how clean it is; to be clear, the gym didn’t have an odor to it or appear dirty, but rags to clean and wipe down the equipment seemed a little spread out.  Hence the I’m not sure.  It could be clean as an ER floor for all I actually know.

The gym itself is a basic gym, which is fine for me.  I don’t need fancy equipment, pool, sauna,  etc.  I would like, however, is a place to shower after I’m done.  Sweat Like a Girl doesn’t have that.  So, if you want a gym that you can take a killer class, sweat, then shower, and go to work afterwards, this gym won’t work for you.  If you want to take a class after work, have the opportunity to go home in between events, or just budget time into do so, this gym is great.  If you want a kick-ass workout where you get sweaty, and then can go straight to work afterwards.  As far as actual basic gym equipment availability, I’m not sure how much they have.  I saw some free weights, mats, etc.  It’s a fairly small gym, and they probably have equipment they move in and out for classes.  It seems to be a gym that is geared towards classes and community.  It definitely has a friendly feel to it, even for my first time being there.  The friendliest gym I’ve been to yet, and very similar to Cornerstone in New Hope.

I think the cost of the gym is a slightly pricey for what you get, but not exorbitantly so.  It’s $50 per month for unlimited workouts if you get a contract, or you can purchase class passes.  It is $65 for month to month.  I absolutely loved, loved the class and the feel of the gym itself.  There’s also childcare available, if that is a need of yours.

All in all, though, upon reflection, the lack of showers is a small caveat.  Sweat like a Girl has been my favorite so far, but I’d have to see what other equipment they have available for it to be an all-purpose gym.  The vibe is great, the people are friendly and nice, and it truly did feel like a community even though it was my first class.  Bring baby wipes with you and do kind of the college shower, because you will sweat.

Day 9, Gym 8. River time

So while not a gym in the traditional sense, I’m going to use it as one because it’s an all-body workout when you do it correctly, especially if you are in a whitewater canoe.  Kayaking is mostly upper body, and some legs.

This was a short run of about 4.5 miles, and it wasn’t really whitewater.  There were a couple of riffles, some waves, tiny bit of surfing, but nothing intense about it.  I still made sure to use my legs to move the boat, do my torso rotation, and paddle on both sides of the boat.  You may be asking how does canoeing have you utilizing all of those muscle groups.

An example of a bulkhead set-up.  Your legs go in the cut out holes, where you carve them out as needed to fit you.  It is not my picture.  Photo credit:  Wetnobby on Photobucket. 

Whitewater canoes are not set up as your typical canoe.  Some have saddles and/or thigh straps, but I had mine installed with a bulkhead set up.  I love it, it was worth every penny. It allows you to use your legs, thighs specifically, to get the boat where you want it to go along with your torso.  Your arms do some of the work, of course, but I know my form is off if my arms are getting tired.

There have been days where I have woken up after canoeing all day the previous day, and my legs and abs have been so sore that I was limping.  Days like that, I knew I had done it right and pushed myself.  This will not be the case tomorrow.  I did not paddle 14 miles or 6 miles of continuous whitewater, this was just a beautiful day on the river with a friend of mine.

The river is one of my places where I reset my mind.  I had not been out in a couple of weeks, and I was beginning to notice the way I was feeling because of it.  Now, my mind and body are reset to tackle the challenge and task at hand.  It’s go time.

 

It’s Time

There’s a moment in time when you come to realize that you are over all your bullshit, and you get over yourself.  Everyone has been where you’ve been, they’ve dealt with the same shit or worse, and some have triumphed to greatness.  Up until this point, I have used exterior circumstances, family stuff, and a series of piled up bullshit to fuel me.

I have come to the realization that it is not enough.  I am fueled, I am driven to change by outside circumstances, which works to a point.  Eventually, the circumstances, the situation resolves, or you just deal with the mess that is being left.  The adrenaline goes away, and you are left with you.  Your desire, your need, your why, and your passion.

This is the point where I am at right now.  I rode the wave of shock, grief, expectation, more shock, and now I’m figuring out where to go from here.

It all goes back to being worth it, and believing it.  The past couple of months have been life changing for so many different reasons, and it was fuel to my passion, desire, and stubborn pursuit of excellence.  Now I need something more.  And once again it is me.

IT IS TIME.  The world deserves to know what I am capable of because I will change thousands of lives in a multiple of different avenues.  It’s go time.

Day 8, Gym 7

Update on yesterday’s workout:  second workout where my abs felt a little sore when I laughed really hard.  Update on my fitness in general:  I can notice my pants are getting bigger again, which is good.  I can see definition building in my arms, and legs getting more muscular.  I wouldn’t call it definition in my abs yet, but I can feel the muscles developing and the pudge decreasing (quite rapidly).  It’s pretty damn satisfying 😀

This is really funny and true for fit girls, especially for trying on clothes (disclaimer not mine):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yzx5Ocq4EQ.

I have heard mixed reviews about LA Fitness in general, but in the effort of comprehensive and open-mindedness, I went to the Easton, PA location.  I liked the overall vibe of the place, which is incredibly important especially where you are opening your body and mind to cleansing and reset.  In terms of that, I think the only place that had a better vibe was Cornerstone.  I really liked the membership/trainer guy Darryl.  He seemed truly genuine about wanting to help people, gave me a tour right away, went over the classes and any questions I had, and then went over the membership details.

Added bonus when he asked what I did, and I said I helped teach people how to live a better life from the inside and out, his eyes lit up.  They also have a local business day for gym members where you can set up a table and basically say what you have to offer the community.  It’s also a private company where the two founders are still actively involved with each facility apparently, and it’s a month-to-month membership, so you are not locked in for an entire year.  All of that made me respect the gym a lot more than I had previously.

The gym itself was spacious, well-lit, seemed and smelled clean, and had plenty of equipment for whatever you wanted.  I did a quick free-weights workout with my shoulders and legs being the focus.  There’s also a basketball court and a small lap pool if that is your thing.  The only thing it seemed to be lacking is a TRX setup, but I didn’t get to ask for verification.  Also they use paper towels and foam to clean the equipment, which from a scientific perspective could be better.  Minor things, but just notices.  I got a three-day pass, which includes any classes I want to take.  For being a chain gym, I was pleasantly surprised.

Day 7, Gym 6

I wanted to see what bootcamp was like, so I went into a relatively new gym called Club Metro in Phillipsburg, NJ which I stumbled upon the other day.  The class is 45 minutes long, and when they say bootcamp, they aren’t messing around with that term.

The instructor was a bit older, but she could kick my ass into next week.  This is impressive, but also slightly embarrassing.  More so impressive, let me make that clear.  She really did “bark” out orders, and tell the class to do this and that very authoritatively.  It is called bootcamp for a reason, and I truly didn’t know what I was expecting.

I found the class very fast paced, not much in between time, and intense.  It was quite different than the class I had on Saturday with Ollie Thomas, which I personally prefer.  The classes were different, but not at the same time.  At this gym, it was less personal. For two reasons, there were a  lot less people in my class on Saturday, and just the style of teaching was different.  Saturday he really focused on my form and making sure I got the movement right.  Today, she said to do the form, but was not really instructing how except for a few times.  This could be because we were all doing it correctly, but I sincerely doubt that.  We were doing some not exactly intuitive moves and weight training in particular exercises.  There were a few times, I couldn’t see exactly what she was doing, and had to sit up to see.  This is not necessarily a criticism, just my personal observation, which is obviously subjective.

I personally don’t learn well by orders being barked at me, which while I’m sure well-intentioned and effective, are just not my preference.  The nice thing about this gym is there is a three day free pass, and the class was only $5.  I thought it was well worth the money.  I got a very effective, whole body, intense workout in under an hour.  The exercises were more intense than last Saturday, and I would prefer a hybrid of the two.   I don’t know yet.  As I continue doing this, and experiencing more gyms, I am narrowing down what I like and what I don’t.