The I’m-Having-So-Much-Fun-I-Forgot-I’m-Exercising Workout

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It’s become a joke this season on our Team LUNA Chix Portland Run team that it’s either scorching or pouring when we meet, so after several weeks of record-high temps I knew it was time to reach into my bag of tricks to get everyone motivated amid the malaise. We did this workout a few weeks ago, and it went over so well that I wanted to share it here.

Ever get one of those days where you’re just struggling to get that workout done? Whether it’s trying to get out the door or waffling on which type of exercise to do, this is the perfect way to fool your body into getting active when your brain’s not having any of it.

The I’m-Having-So-Much-Fun-I-Forgot-I’m-Exercising Workout

What you need: 

  • Deck of cards
  • Marker
  • Track or open place to do some running (at least 100 meters at a time)

What to do: 

  1. Make a list of body-weight exercises (think moves that can be done anywhere, anytime — planks, jumping jacks, squats, lunges, push-ups, etc.)
  2. Get a deck of cards, and write an exercise on each card (I wrote in numbers for face cards: Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, Kings = 13, Aces = 14)
  3. Give yourself a little something special for the Jokers (ours were “Run a lap”)
  4. Shuffle up the cards, divide them into four piles and place one pile every 100 meters along a track
  5. Start the timer, run to the first set of cards, grab a card off the top and do the exercises
  6. When you’re done with the exercises, place the card on the bottom of the set of cards and run 100 meters to the next pile
  7. Repeat until time is up!

We did 20 minutes for our workout, and when I gave the five-minute warning everyone was shocked at how quickly time had flown by.

Between the distraction of the run-exercise intervals and the element of surprise from the cards, I guarantee you’ll have a blast — and get a great full-body workout in the process.

Got any tips for tricking yourself into a workout when motivation’s flagging? 

Get Beach-Body Ready: Summer Sizzler Ab Workout

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A strong core is always in season, so I created this quick and versatile body-weight ab routine that can be completed anywhere, anytime.

Customize it to suit your needs, whether it’s one set on your lunch break or a multiple-set, full-body workout with the addition of short bursts of cardio (warm-up, cool-down and in between sets).

Hint: As always, if you’re not familiar with some of the moves listed, simply Google the term, and you’ll be able to find a description or video of it in action.

And please remember to focus on quality of movement over speed for the best results!

What’s your favorite workout for getting beach-ready? 

Get Explosive: 4th of July Firecracker Workout

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Light up your 4th of July with a plyometric workout designed to build explosive power. Performing these moves regularly can help you increase your vertical jump, speed and strength, which directly translates to better athletic performance.

A few words of warning, though: Plyo work can be pretty intense, so don’t do this workout in the heat of the afternoon or with a full belly. Your heart rate will soar, you’ll work several muscles at once and you’ll torch calories…but the last thing you want to do is pass out or lose your lunch in the process.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a towel, some water and feel the burn before that big family BBQ!

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Hint: If you’re not familiar with some of the moves listed, simply Google the term, and you’ll be able to find a description or video of it in action.

And, as always, remember to go at your own pace and use proper form. Think quality over quantity!

Are you planning a special workout for the 4th or taking the holiday as a rest day?

June Goal Check-In

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Giving Mary, leader of NoPo Run Club, a Team LUNA Chix Portland Run sandwich!

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~Russel Baker

Portland’s summer has not only arrived early (I’d been warned to expect rain off and on until the 4th of July), it’s also already kicked into high gear and promises to be one for the record books. In fact, rumor has it that this heat wave is likely to last well into early July and may end up breaking records for longevity, as well.

For example, last Saturday morning’s low at Portland International Airport was 71 degrees. This is the first time PDX has ever recorded a low in the 70s in the month of June.

Not that I’m complaining; I actually like the heat, and I’m thanking my lucky stars that my first year in Oregon has been a mild one when it comes to lack of rain. But it does make outdoor workouts a bit more tricky, so early mornings and advance planning have been key when it comes to sticking to my 2015 goals.

Wondering what this is all about? Read more on the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, summer in Oregon means one thing: BERRIES! And taking into consideration the amount I’ve consumed thus far, I’m quite shocked I haven’t pulled a Violet Beauregard and morphed into a giant blueberry.

If there’s a second thing I’ve learned, it’s that summer in Oregon also means another thing: ALLERGIES. Spending an afternoon in the strawberry patch on Sauvie Island was totally worth it, even if I had to take Zyrtec for the next two weeks to keep from being a puffy, wheezy mess.

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And although I’ve started to hear the all-too-familiar siren song of fall marathon training, I’m trying to ignore it and stay focused on the present: Bouncing back from injury and enjoying that process before I sign up for my next major undertaking.

Luckily, Ben’s on board with this plan and has made it his mission to keep challenging us with weekend hikes that are as breathtaking in scenery as they are in elevation.

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2. Training Smarter

The biggest revelation — and relief — this month came from finally solving the mystery of my SI joint pain!!! I happened to overhear one of my trainer’s other clients complaining of similar symptoms and that his PT said kettlebell swings were the likely culprit. A-ha!

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Since he’s not a runner and the only common denominator in our workouts is kettlebell work, I decided to back off from swings to keep from jarring my pelvis. It’s been almost a month, and I’m happy to report that the pain has all but subsided during runs, so consider this my PSA if you’re having a similar issue!

3. Facing Fears

Swimming. My 2015 nemesis.

As I sit down to reflect and write my recap each month, I always cringe when it comes to this part. Yes, I’ve been in the pool a few times since my last update; no, I haven’t taken any of the steps needed to actually improve my technique and comfort level.

But that may have changed this past weekend. I was so inspired by watching Ben and friends in the Pacific Crest long course triathlon that I decided to re-commit to getting my ass to the pool.

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And Mary Anne, the swimmer from the women’s relay team (who kicked butt, by the way, and is training for a 5K swim later this season), graciously offered to get in the water with us and give Ben and me some pointers, so we’re going to set some dates and get moving on this.

Baby steps, right?!

4. Pushing Myself

My proudest moment this month came in the form of work: namely, launching my new company, Pulse Creative. After spending the past few years part-time for a start-up with freelance gigs on the side, I finally decided to make it official and fully align my passion (health, fitness and wellness) with my livelihood (helping people tell stories through PR, marketing and social media).

Just as coaches recognize potential and guide athletes to greatness, my goal is to work directly with small business owners to define challenges, recognize opportunities and help them develop the critical skills to be competitive and relevant in their respective market.

So if you happen to hear of anyone looking for help, I’d really appreciate it if you’d send them my way 🙂

5. Giving Back

Last but certainly not least comes Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. An extremely close second in terms of proud moments this month came in the form of being nominated for the Foot Traffic Women’s Hall of Fame for encouraging women to get active and providing a non-competitive environment in which to do so.

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Not only am I humbled at being included in the group they assembled — seriously, there were some pretty amazing competitors, coaches and local legends in there — but it also makes my heart happy to be able to contribute to the women’s running community here in Oregon.

And great timing, too, as we’ve been seeing some terrific attendance and momentum at our weekly workouts, so please come out and join us if you’re in the Portland area. We meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Duniway Park track — and all levels are welcome, both walkers and runners.

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Check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for more info!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Spirit + Strength: Use Yoga To Take Your Training to the Next Level

Think you’ve got to reserve yoga just for rest and recovery days?

Think again. 

Despite common misconceptions — i.e. that yoga’s purpose is simply to ease tension and melt away stress (although there’s most definitely a time and place for that variety) — a brisk, flowing session can actually do more than help you find your zen; it also improves digestion and circulation, builds lean muscle mass and helps increase your overall metabolic rate.

That’s fantastic news for weekend warriors. But it’s even better news for athletes who not only want to hone strength and flexibility, but also develop proper diaphragm use and breathing biomechanics, get back into alignment and discourage compensation patterns, as well as concentrate on activating specific muscles that have become inhibited.

“Yoga can be an incredibly beneficial practice for any athlete,” says Anabel Capalbo, a yoga teacher, spin instructor and Ironman triathlete. “A consistent yoga practice builds strength and stability, while also working to increase our body awareness and alert us to any weaknesses that could lead to injury.”

And instead of viewing yoga solely as a static practice, Capalbo says it’s helpful think of it as a moving mediation, a time for you to be present and become more aware of your body, your mind and forging a deeper connection between them.

“Not just physical, yoga turns our focus inward and towards our breath, teaching us to find a strong sense of peace and calm when on the mat. For athletes, that ability to turn towards breath and to find strength can be somewhat of a secret weapon,” says Capalbo.

Here’s a sample sequence that can help increase balance, flexibility and strength — not to mention up your athletic game, as well.


Source: Fix.com

Do you use yoga as part of your training routine? 

Bright Idea: Summer Solstice Body-Weight Workout

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It’s almost the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (2015’s sumer solstice falls on June 21) where 15+ hours will pass between sunrise and sunset in parts of the U.S. and Canada.

That sounds, to me, like a great excuse to soak up the abundance of daylight and celebrate the start of summer than with an outdoor workout.

Round up your friends and family, and hit the local lake or beach for an hour of body-weight work while the kiddos can play!

Photo via BrendelSignature at English Wikipedia

Photo via BrendelSignature at English Wikipedia

Hint: If you’re not familiar with some of the moves listed, simply Google the term along with the word “exercise,” and you’ll be able to find a description or video of it in action.

And, as always, remember to perform the moves at a steady pace and use proper form!

How are you taking advantage of sunny days this summer?

ClassPass-ing in Portland: Round 3

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After our initial #30ClassesIn30Days ClassPass challenge, Carolyn and I have settled into a nice rhythm with our weekly workouts: We hit up our favorite spots for cycling, strength training and yoga each week, but pepper in some new studios here and there to keep our fingers on the pulse of the Portland’s ever-growing fitness scene.

Not familiar with ClassPass? Check out my previous posts on it here and here.

And just as I’ve said it’s tough to get a bad meal here in Portland, we’ve learned pretty quickly that it’s just as difficult to find a poor workout here, as well.

Whether you’re looking for the precision of Pilates, mobility work for recovery days, an array of options for cardio or strength training, or simply functional workouts with the effectiveness of CrossFit with a tad less intensity — this city’s got it all; just pick your poison.

Although the sustainability (and longevity) of this business model remains to be seen — both for ClassPass and for participating studios — I’ve found it to be a useful discovery tool. We’ve stumbled upon places we may never have otherwise heard of, and it’s helpful for comparing and contrasting different studios before committing to class packages or monthly memberships.

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Here are a few recent highlights:

Pearl Pilates: Offers both individual and small group Pilates and Gyrotonic sessions by highly-trained instructors

Pedal PT: Full-service physical therapy office with a specialty in bicycling and running injuries

Portland Fit Body Bootcamp: Personal-trainer-designed workouts in a fun, safe, high-intensity group environment

Recreate Fitness: Trade mirrors and machines for hopscotch and hurdles in a friendly, supportive environment

YAS: Dedicated to the combination of Yoga and Spinning to combine cardio, strength training, stretching and alignment

Stay tuned as we explore more great Portland fitness spots in the coming months…

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Wanna check out ClassPass? Here’s a list of cities where it’s currently available.

How’d you stumble upon your favorite local studios?

Round Out Your Training with an Obstacle-Based Workout

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Source: Brent Doscher

Whether you’re planning on tackling a Tough Mudder or simply thinking about switching up your workouts this summer, obstacle-course-style training can offer a whole new way to hone your strength, power, balance, coordination and strategy.

Because the physicality required to navigate obstacle courses mimics functional, whole-body movements of our ancestors and presents complex challenges, the focus shifts from being the best athlete to becoming the most well-rounded one.

The upside of all this work? Workouts are full of fun and variety, both your mind and body become more adaptable and, as a result, you get into kick-ass shape.

Of course, if you have a particular event in mind, you’ll want to choose a race-specific training program that mimics the actual physical demands of the race. But if you’re looking to just dip your toes into the obstacle course waters, here’s an ideal workout to help you get going.

Start with one session per week with the exercises below, and gradually work your way up to two sessions. Adjust the distance of the runs based on your conditioning level and the length of your race.

Obstacle Course Training Guide
Source: Fix.com

Need more of a challenge? Feel free to swap some of the exercises below into the strength-training portion — or change up your exercises during each of the different sets, which will create an even more well-rounded workout.

  • Walking lunges
  • Front and/or side planks
  • Squat jumps (or box jumps)
  • Mountain climbers
  • Push presses
  • Body-weight rows
  • Weighted carries
  • Crawling (hands/knees, hands/feet, or army)

If that’s still too easy, consider implementing some different types of workouts into your weekly training regimen to help develop the skills needed to excel at obstacle-based events. This could include, but certainly isn’t limited to:

  • Trail running: To simulate the muddy, rocky, hilly terrain of an obstacle race
  • Hill repeats: To build endurance and strength
  • Cross country races: To test your race-day skills on both trails and hills
  • Fartleks: To get used to changing gears and running at different speeds
  • Parkour: To practice balance and agility for challenging movements

You don’t have to be a super-human athlete to complete, compete or even train for these types of events; all that’s required is an open mind, a positive attitude and the willingness to identify and work on your potential areas of weakness.

Now, go forth and dominate!

What’s your take on obstacle races: yay or nay?  

The ‘Lazy’ Gal’s (or Guy’s) Guide To Getting Fit

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An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. -Newton’s first law of motion

My girlfriends and I were discussing workout habits while on a group run the other morning, and I joked about being one of the “laziest active people” around. Yes, I work out — probably more than the average person — but I’ve also learned how to make it easy on myself.

Easy? Well, there’s a bit of effort required, but the concept is simple: Make the path of least resistance the one that leads to fitness.

Huh? Ok, allow me to explain.

You see, years ago my workout routine consisted of dragging myself to the gym after work and halfheartedly hitting the elliptical machine for a half hour (while reading a magazine) before calling it a day. I was too tired to cook well, bedtime would get pushed back, I’d sleep in to try to catch up, etc.

Repeat again and again with the exception of a few races. I’d schedule and train for them, but fall off the wagon in between.

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It wasn’t until my fall marathon in 2013 that I finally decided to stop the vicious cycle once and for all. I was sick of training hard into injury, then spending months healing and recovering…only to find myself back at square one.

You can only play Jenga with yourself so many times before the excitement of seeing how high you can stack the pile before everything comes crashing down loses its appeal.

Instead, I vowed to take a new approach, one that would allow me to once and for all create a solid foundation. Step one was deciding to make fitness a lifestyle — something that I live and breathe every day — instead of an option. Step two was to figuring out a game plan. And step three was putting it in action and conservatively building on successes.

So here’s how I started offsetting my sedentary habits for good:

1. Stop thinking, start doing.

Get up! Quite simply, sit less and move more – and once you start, don’t stop. It began with a nightly walk around the block with my dogs, then I started building up my mileage and adding strength training between races to push my fitness threshold.

Weekend runs were no longer just a means to an end (i.e. the same five-mile loop to our farmer’s market for fresh kettle corn); they became part of a bigger plan of slowly building a larger base so I wouldn’t have to start from zero each training cycle.

2. Watch your mouth.

As in, what you put in it. You are what you eat, and it’ll translate into your training, so make it count. Avoid processed foods, practice portion control and aim to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Once I started seeing food as fuel and feeling the impact of my choices — both good and bad — I wanted to give my body what it needed to get stronger and stay healthy. Rather than viewing it as extra work, I got excited when I saw how it was so closely connected to performance.

3. Ask for help. 

It can be intimidating starting a new routine, so seek out people on whom you can rely for advice, motivation and inspiration. Join a local running club or swim team for coaching, or enlist the help of friends who are seasoned athletes and can explain the finer points of various training concepts.

You’ve got to know yourself and what works for you; I get bored easily, so I knew I’d need to mix things up. I started adding cross-training in the form of different classes, which not only challenged my mind, but also made me a stronger runner. My November Project tribe was also immensely helpful when it came to staying motivated; there was always someone doing something — or someone who was game for anything.

4. DIY at home.

You can thank Jane Fonda for this one. After inspiring a home video fitness craze among millions of baby boomers, she paved the way for P90X, Insanity and a host of other DVD-based workout programs in our generation.

Let’s face it, we all get our days when we’d rather hit the couch than the treadmill. So I made a deal with myself that if I didn’t get to the gym for a workout, I’d at least move around at home with one of my workout DVDs (I happen to love Beachbody’s, and they don’t pay me to say that).

5. Sign up for a race.

A mere two months of three 20-30 minute sessions per week stand between you and the finish line, so it’s totally doable. Check out my couch-to-five-miler plan, which takes you step-by-step through the process if you’ve got your eye on an event this season but don’t know where to start.

When all else fails, having a deadline can be very motivating. And once you have that race date in the calendar, the key is to back out from that day and create a training plan (the actual length will depend on your current level of fitness and the race duration).

I put my marathon plans front and center on the fridge and even make check boxes so I can cross off runs as I complete them. Take it one step at a time, one workout at a time and before you know it, you’ll be living — and actually looking forward to — a more active lifestyle.

How do you motivate yourself out of a workout slump?

ClassPass-ing around Portland: Month Two

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Yep, what started out as a one-month experiment has now quickly become a verb. My workout buddies and I “ClassPass” around town each week, testing different workouts, meeting with studio owners, spreading word about new places and making all kinds of fit friends in the process.

If you’re not familiar with ClassPass, I wrote about my initial experience with the service here. During our first round, Carolyn and I threw down the gauntlet for #30ClassesIn30Days, but now we’ve issued each other a much more sustainable challenge: hitting a handful of new (to us) studios each month.

Aside from one hiccup at a Saturday bootcamp where the class was overwhelmingly large and somewhat unruly, we’ve had nothing but excellent experiences across the board. Portland’s really stepped up to the plate when it comes to delivering quality sweat sessions.

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Here are the latest and greatest from round two:

The Grinning Yogi: Warm yoga haven whose mission is to provide consistently accessible, affordable classes for all levels

Fulcrum Fitness: Bootcamp and personal training gym featuring a mix of exercises that work different body systems

Hot Yoga for Life: Fusion of sweat and serenity, this place promises to strengthen your body and leave your spirit softened

Vibrant Studios: Lively community of movement classes, workshops, musical concerts and nutrition-based food events

Yoga on Yamhill: Non-competitive approach to yoga that fosters health and well-being and is accessible to everyone

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for month three!

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Wanna check ClassPass out? Here’s a list of cities where it’s currently available.

Are you a creature of habit when it comes to workouts, or do you like to mix things up?