I Workout Because…

Whether I’m dealing with stress from work, home, or (shamefully) internal stress that I create amongst myself, I can always count on a good workout for relief! When it’s over, I’m left wondering what I was so concerned about before I began.

I am sure many of you have come across the following quote scrolling through Instagram or ended up seeing it on a random site as you’ve idly searched the web:

“I workout because punching people is frowned upon.”

T-shirts are actually being sold with this popular saying! What gives? Well, I am sure we can all agree that even the most calm and collected individual experiences stress and anger at some point in time. It’s a part of being human! Although, I do believe that we all have different levels of tolerance for dealing with daily stressors. Regardless of how tolerant we are, once that threshold is met, anger emerges, and how we express this emotion can make you or break you! This is where sublimation comes into play, (and makes t-shirt merchants thrive)!

Sublimate: to divert the expression of an instinctual desire or impulse from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable. (Mermaid-Webster Dictionary).

Unlike popular belief that picturing someone you hate will boost one’s motivation as they swing away at a heavy bag, boxing actually allows me to practice control. I am constantly thinking about my foot placement, pivoting my feet, transferring my weight, rotating my hips, aligning my shoulders, tightening and releasing my grip, controlling my breathing, and so on. With all of that going on in my mind, there’s really no time for me to think about anyone I hate! I am entirely focused on myself when I box, or perform any other form of exercise. That is what I love about working out and why I do it! (Not to mention the physical benefits of a strong, lean body with consistency!)

Why do you workout?

Should You Really Be Stretching?

I’ve been getting asked the same question from many of my group fitness participants after class, “How do I stretch this?” as they point to an area on their body. While they may know that stretching is good for them, they may not know when it’s good for them!

When do you need to stretch?

Stretching before and after a workout is ideal. It is included in all professionally accredited group fitness classes for a reason! Research has shown us that stretching before a workout, helps ready the body for the movements to follow, and stretching afterwards, helps relax the body and bring it back to its original state.

There are a couple of different ways to incorporate stretching into your workout routine. You may start with dynamic stretching, where the end position is not held, (such as in walking lunges), or if you are a beginner, you may warm-up the body first, with cycling or walking for 5-10 minutes, then perform static stretching, where you hold a position, (such as a toe touch). Dynamic stretching kills two birds with one stone; that is it warms up the body and stretches your muscles simultaneously. However, beginners, who are doing this on their own, may feel more comfortable holding a position, as they will spend less time stumbling with the coordination demands of dynamic stretching, and more time on the actual stretch. Finally, including static stretching in your cool-down can help relax muscles that have tightened up from the load of the workout.

When don’t you need to stretch?

Whenever someone approaches me after class, asking how to stretch a body part, I first need to know why they want to stretch it. The response is usually that it hurts. Sometimes it’s a new pain that happened in class, sometimes it’s a reoccurring pain from an accident or other activity in the past, and sometimes it’s not paining them at the moment.

For example, at the end of one of my classes, a student wanted to know how she could stretch the front part of her lower leg (the tibialis anterior). After asking her a few questions, it turned out that it wasn’t hurting her at the time, but after her morning runs. She recently began running daily for the new year, and was doing so outside on cemented sidewalks and streets, with shoes that provided very little cushioning along the soles. I suggested running on a track instead, or changing her footwear to a more supportive running shoe, if she insists on running on cement – because of its convenience. Either change will help reduce the impact as the foot hits the ground, avoiding strain, thus avoiding pain.

Since my advice helped the student, stretching wasn’t the answer in that case. Lesson: You should not assume that because a body part hurts, you need to stretch it. That does not mean you shouldn’t ask me (or any of your instructors) questions, though. You may or may not ask the so-called “right” question initially, but it will alert me that you need help with something, and we can figure it out together. You will gain new knowledge, and I will gain satisfaction, not in answering your question, but in solving your problem!

woman stretching
Photo Source: http://www.livestrong.com

How I Plan to Make This Year Happy!

Just like that a new year is among us! Rather than getting into the cliched new year’s resolutions with you guys, I’d like to share what my top goals are for this year in different areas. 😉

Career & Education: Acquire another specialty certification.

I currently specialize in Boot Camp Conditioning, Cardio Kickboxing, Group Resistance Training, Step Aerobics, and ZumbaÂŽ, and every year I like to further my knowledge with a new fitness workshop/training, like TRX, for example. (If you are unfamiliar with this portable, single piece of equipment, called a TRX, check out my post Hang Tight where I cover basic TRX moves for a total body workout!) In addition to feeding my inquiring mind, a new certification is something physical that can be presented to a client or employer that shows commitment and achievement in the profession, (aside from a killer body!)

Community: Volunteer to help students with special needs.

I have been involved with Atlantis Academy in the past, where I shadowed and assisted Occupational Therapists and OTA’s in providing care for those with Autism, Down’s Syndrome, and other mental disabilities. Therapies involved, but not limited to, music sessions, such as sing-a-longs, to painting, and (just up my alley) exercise and sports. More recently, I’ve had opportunities to participate in my very own Florida International University’s Project Panther Life. I led aerobic warm-ups and cool-downs for a couple outdoor events last year to encourage healthy living to the FIU students with special needs. It is an endearing experience and I look forward to helping out again this year.

Fitness: Average a 7-minute mile.

I may have been a fast sprinter in my track days, but it’s over a decade later and although I’d like to think I’m still quicker than the average Jane, a mile is not a sprint! Over the last few years, I’d like to think that I’ve made some pretty decent progress with my 3-mile runs, from having to stop after a mile, to learning how to properly pace myself and control my breathing to complete 3 miles steadily. I am now going to set a shorter distance and crank up the speed! (I’ll continue to do 3-mile runs on days that I am not working on my mile speed). A mile may be a third of what I’ve been running, but, as I’ve mentioned, it’s no sprint! Finding the right pace is going to take a lot of time and dedication.

Friendships/Relationships: Accept what cannot be changed and move forward.

I’d like to think of myself as a problem solver. I want to fix everything, even when it’s not worth the hassle. I don’t like to call it a day. I like to pull all-nighters. I stop when the job is done. With people though, you can only get as far as both parties are willing to go. Without their cooperation…without their effort…without their commitment…yours is in vain. So when’s quitting time? Just wait! Maybe if I try this instead, or push a little bit harder, or lay off and give it some time…no, no, no! Sometimes frienships or relationships have plateaued or reached a dead-end and I need to accept this. I really should have a stopping point for my own sanity. If I can master when to throw in the towel, I believe I can finally be at peace with myself.

What inspires you and makes you happy?

End-of-Semester Stress

How has everyone’s semester turned out? For me, these past few months have been filled with rather undesirable surprises. It took a lot of unexpected turns. This is quite awful considering that I am the type of person who needs structure and order to keep their sanity! Okay, maybe I am exaggerating just a bit. Not to say that I’d like for life to be predictable all of the time. I do enjoy spontaneity, and I live for problem solving! All that I am saying is that a girl could use a little assurance.

Change can be bad. Change removes us from our comfort zone. It breaks us from familiarity. It can mess with our flow. It may come unexpectedly, be intimidating, or even depressing. Change may require more effort, which, in turn, may cause difficulty and stress!

Change can be good. Change presents us with new opportunity. It pushes us to be better than before. It can help us progress when we are stagnant. Change may be just what we need to reach our goals, which, in turn, creates a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment!

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I tend to either eat something I shouldn’t, pump some iron, go for a run, or blast some music and dance my butt off! I am not recommending eating unhealthy by any means, but just keeping it real with you guys, I go for a burger, fries, and coke almost every Friday evening, after dealing with a long, stressful week…and oh is it satisfying! Also worth noting is that overtraining can be equally unhealthy for you as overeating. A good rule to live by: everything in moderation!

After I am done treating myself to a meal or a couple hours of sweat, I feel much better and then the constructive thought process begins. I evaluate what is causing my struggle by reflecting on my interactions with others, since my major life challenge has always been people-oriented, as opposed to task-oriented. I ask myself: What do they expect from me? What do I expect from them? What do I expect from myself? What is the best way to make it all happen?

Finally, I practice patience! I find that when I am patient, everything eventually falls into place, whereas, when I am impatient, I cause greater dilemma by creating friction between myself and others.

A healthy life is dependent on balance. I suppose without the hellish moments, we couldn’t appreciate the heavenly ones.

screen-shot-2015-04-28-at-121215594289.pngImage Source: “Stressed Out” 21 Pilots

How do you cope with change?

Back to School Tips for the College Student

After a long, eventful – or maybe deliberately lazy – summer, a new school year has arrived! It would be wise to take action now by organizing your time, before things become hectic! Sure, you have your class schedule in place, but have you developed a schedule that involves study time, exercise and leisure time, shopping and errand time, eating, cooking, and clean up time, or even nap time?

Time management is a crucial life skill I struggled with as a Freshman. Here are some tips that may, hopefully, help you make a smoother transition than I did:

1. Plan ahead. Don’t leave it up to working on tasks when you feel like it. They can build up fast and before you know it, you’re sinking further and further until you have to drop a class, resign from your part-time job, give up an extracurricular activity, or break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend (haha, yea right) to stay afloat.

2. Read the material to be covered in class, BEFORE class. Unfortunately, class lectures do not cover all of the material of the course. What does not get covered in class, you are responsible for learning on your own. By reading ahead, you’ll have the opportunity to ask your professor specific questions, in class, on something that you may have not understood. Not only will you help yourself understand the material better in doing so, you will help your professor to see what they need to focus more on, and in turn, help the entire class perform better on exams.

3. Make time to study everyday. Studying a day or two before the exam may have cut it in high school, but unless you are a genius or gambling on scraping by with a C average throughout your college career (good luck with that), you must make time to study with or without an exam around the corner. You will retain the information better and save yourself a ton of stress and sleepless nights.

4. Don’t skip meals. It’s easy to get caught up in the task at hand and neglect your body of proper nutrition. Making the time to eat a meal can help boost your energy and ability to focus when you need it most; be it during a long, boring class, a grueling exam, or sports practice. Try packing your lunch and snacks to ensure that you don’t miss a meal due to long lines in the cafeteria and other campus dining areas.

5.  Get moving. Take time out from academics and go for a walk/run, bike ride with a friend, or sign-up for a group fitness class that your school’s recreation center offers. If you can manage to fit it in your budget, personal training is a valuable service, especially for those new to fitness, as your trainer will ensure that you are performing exercises safely and effectively. Without a healthy body, the mind cannot work to its optimal level.

6. Rest. Taking naps was one of the best things I could do for myself, especially on my busiest days. Setting those times where I would turn off the outside world to recenter myself and recharge was a life saver. Sometimes I’d be unable to fall asleep, which was fine, because nap time would then turn into meditation time. I still gave myself the much needed break, and going back into my work with a clear head resulted in a far better outcome than working non-stop until I burned out did.

7. Discover if you are a night owl or an early bird, then submit to it! Pushing yourself to be in an 8:00AM class when you are most creative and productive at 1:00AM will only disrupt your internal clock, just as studying ’till 3:00AM when you’re an early riser will. Fighting your biological clock will produce less success in the long run. You may find that you are an inbetweener, which is great (and makes me a tad bit envious) because that means you can be flexible! In any case, discovering your own way of accomplishing tasks, makes life a whole lot easier!

These are just a few of the things that I have struggled with and overcome as a first-time college student. Do you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? Comment below!

R.I.P. Alexis Dale, 18-year-old FIU student who was struck and killed by a car when crossing the street in front of FIU this past Sunday morning, August 20th, 2017.

Remembering The Famous Jett Jackson

Although he played adult roles later in his career, I remember his baby face and gorgeous set of honey brown eyes from the Disney channel’s, “The Famous Jett Jackson.” The actor whom I speak of is the late Lee Thompson Young, who was only 29 when he passed. Young was found dead in his apartment, the morning of August 19th, 2013, after failing to show up on set for the filming of the popular television program, “Rizzoli & Isles.” It was determined that his cause of death was a self-inflicted gun shot wound…but why would a young, successful actor kill himself?

Young’s mother, Velma Love, opened up to local WIS TV of Columbia, SC, (Young’s hometown), about a year after her son’s death. Love shared that her son was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder as a teen. She described his illness as periods of sadness that would stabilize quickly.

This tragic loss for Young’s family, friends, co-workers, and fans, shows us that anyone, famous or not, white or black, woman or man, wealthy or poor, can suffer from a mental health disorder. Let us remember to be compassionate to our fellow human beings, regardless of how healthy or well-off they may appear. Lend an ear, empathize, and remind them that nothing is ever hopeless. As Velma Love expressed,

“Some of a person’s inner life, you really don’t know.”

R.I.P. Lee Thompson Young.

Do you have any advice to help those suffering from mental health problems? Comment below!


Sources:

IMDb

Lee Thompson Young Foundation

WIS TV

Figure Skulpt™ on National Dance Day

Last weekend I pulled my hair up, put on my favorite pair of leggings, paired with an airy tank and Nikes to match. Packed with a water bottle, towel, and banana for post-workout recovery, I threw my gym bag over my shoulder and hopped into my car. I was looking forward to supporting fellow Florida International University instructor, Ratasha Iribarren, or better known on social media as @the_ice_ninja as she hosted her signature class, Figure Skulpt™, in celebration of National Dance Day. The talented instructor and exceptional athlete is a former Florida Panthers Ice Skater who co-created this figure skating-inspired workout that allows you to train like a skater! The workout is a unique combination of power, balance, footwork, strength, flexibility, blended with fun choreography!

After a one-shot, 45-minute drive up the Florida turnpike, I had finally arrived at ATP Atomic Training and Performance in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I entered a welcoming atmosphere with women of all ages eager for what Ratasha had in store! The girls and I worked up a sweat with HIIT (high intensity interval training) involving jumps and other plyometrics, smoothed it out with some Ballet which challenged our balance and stability, and picked the pace back up with a little bit of Latin-inspired dancing. We even performed some classic Michael Jackson Pop moves, Hee-Hee! The last quarter of the class was dedicated to on-the-mat conditioning for the ever so important core, (abs, back, glutes), followed by a well-earned cool-down. Many of us hung around afterwards to take pictures and chat a bit. Shortly, we parted ways, leaving with sweat, smiles, and a sense of empowerment.

I’d recommend this class to any former/current dancer or athlete who desires a fun, yet challenging, well-rounded workout and doesn’t have time to spend all day training. As Miss Sweet Brown put it best, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Personal Tip: Wear soft, flexible sneakers, (rather than the stiff, supportive kind), to help develop muscular stability and improve your balance.

Figure Skulpt™ is currently offered at Florida International University, MMC and will soon be available at ATP Atomic Training and Performance, Ft. Lauderdale. For business inquiries, you may contact figureskulpt@gmail.com

☆Train Like A Skater!☆

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

Resolution Resuscitation

Every year, when January 1st comes around, we make resolutions for ourselves. Very few of us stick to them, while most of us tend to fall off track. As we slip into the final weeks of January, you might want to take a moment to ask yourself how far you’ve gotten with your resolution?

Continue reading “Resolution Resuscitation”

Progress and Regress

You may or may not have heard that changing the amount of weight and reps of a particular exercise gives you different types of benefits. For instance, light weight and high reps are better for “toning”, while heavier weight with lower reps helps build more muscle mass. However, those are just a couple of ways that you can vary an exercise!Continue reading “Progress and Regress”