Coaching & Training: On Motivation and Critique

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a trainer or coach. In our current landscape it is an evolving role and there is so much to say about it all. And I’m not the only one that thinks so. I’ve read probably 8 or 10 write-ups in the last 3 months alone! It has given me enough ideas for at least four posts, but I’m starting here today.

A few months ago  I came across an article that caught my attention, gave me pause and I really wanted to write a response to it because I just had SO MUCH TO SAY. I think it only represents a small part of the fitness industry and I want to show you a broader spectrum. I want to show that there are a lot of ways to do this and a lot of ways to think about teaching group fitness that are, in my opinion, more beneficial to the people we serve.

The way my company teaches is different than group fitness in a gym, which is what I feel that this article is geared towards. Mostly I have the same people showing up day in and day out, only adding new people when a new session begins. And our groups are typically less than 12 participants. So yes, it’s a very different environment — one which I prefer! But that doesn’t mean that your standard gym classes aren’t good and can’t be better. They are and they can be!
Continue reading “Coaching & Training: On Motivation and Critique”

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A Few of my Favorites Things! 1st Edition

It’s officially s-u-m-m-e-r and there are a lot of little things that I wanted to share with y’all, so we’re doing it compilation style instead of parsing it out niblet by niblet.

1. Kettle Guards.

kettleguards

I’m starting my path to the StrongFirst Certification, which means lots and lots of Turkish Get-ups and Kettle bell snatches…hard on the wrists, but much less so with a little cushion, for a little less pushin’.

2. Summer Fruit.

summerfruit

Watermelon, fresh, local strawberries, nectarines, peaches…um, yes please! I can’t get enough. Expect more fruit porn shots all summer long on my Instagram n’ Facebook.

3. Get Sh*% Done mug.

gsdmug

I needed a new mug and who can’t use a little extra kick in the motivation pants with their morning coffee? I know I can! I’m enjoying the mug so much that I keep washing it every morning just so I can use it again. I think my other mugs are going to get lonely.

4. Argus app.
argus

A few weeks back I put my beloved Fitbit through the washing machine. It worked for a day…then it went on the fritz 100%. I was sad to lose it, but didn’t replace it since I don’t need it. While it’s great for providing motivation, I do already, um workout quite a bit. So while it was a nice thing to have, it would be a wasteful for me to buy another. About a week ago, though, I found out about this Argus app, which also tracks your steps! It also allows you to track a bunch of other stuff, like your workouts (duh), water consumption and you can also take pics of your meals (fun, but beware if you are someone that struggles with any sort of eating disorder past or present).

A few other drawbacks are that you have to take your phone with you all the time to get an accurate reading of your steps…which, lets be honest, we do anyway, but sometimes it’s nice to leave the ol’ ball and chain behind. And I also don’t believe it’s available on most phones/platforms…believe it’s just iPhone 5 for now (but don’t quote me on that).

5. Anderson Valley Holy Gose Ale.

goseale

Beer on a fitness blog? Waaaat? Yup, hello and welcome to my world:  I’m a craft beer lover. Many ladies love the wine, I love the high quality beers. Mostly, though, I’m into IPAs, which are higher in alcohol content — it’s seems to be trendy to get as high as possible. So, I just can’t enjoy them as often as I might like. Which is fine, too much alcohol consumption can get in the way of fitness goals…and well, a healthy life in general. Unfortunately, my taste buds think that most lighter beers pretty much taste like, well…crap (think Bud Light). But, this Gose? It’s 4.2% alcohol content! Yay! And it tastes good, it’s a bit tart, citrusy and light. So, it’s much easier to allow this beer as a treat on a random evening. Oh…and? Less alcohol content also means less calories. Lots of win, here.

6. Whole Foods maximum moisture lotion.

wholefoodslotion

So, this is how my hands look from so much kettlebell work this week:

calluses

Not real pretty, right? Well, part of callus management is keeping the hands well hydrated and moisturized. I randomly picked up this lotion this week and was super surprised at how awesome it was. Guessing part of that is the macadamia oil and shea butter. Whatever it is, at $3.99 a pop, I’m pretty sure this will be a staple in my world all summer long.

And…that’s a wrap folks! Favorites list, complete.

My Week in Workouts

Today, I’m sharing a weeks worth of my workouts for a few reasons:

1. Being a fitness “pro” I often get asked about how much I workout. Like, OMG, you must workout ALL the time. Not true by any means! I appreciate days off just as much as anyone — maybe even more so, since not thinking about exercise is frankly, super duper healthy for my brain at times. The idea of becoming a one-dimensional fitness person scares me…so not appealing!

2. This particular week of workouts might seem sort of random — and it is. I didn’t plan in advance to go biking — it was simply what I felt like doing. After all, I’m not training for an event…right now I’m simply training to live a healthy and happy life.  And let me tell you, this week of workouts made me really happy! This week is sort of a classic “me” week in terms of the randomness coupled with challenging myself. This is what makes it share-worthy in my opinion, because it’s exactly what I want to shoot for each week, but it doesn’t always happen:

fun + challenging + breathless + a balance of hitting all fitness areas + working on a skill + rest days = a perfect workout week. 

Sunday 3/30/14

workout:  15 mile bike-ride on the Bay Trail. Ride took just under 60-minutes.

Monday 3/31/14

workout: 60-minute session with my coach, TGU, KB swings, cleans, presses, front squats, oh my. In particular, we worked on my power clean + clean technique. It’s a toughie for me, but I left knowing I’m heading in the right direction.

self-care: 60-minute yoga with my favorite yoga teacher

Tuesday 4/1/14

self-care:  rest day. I took the dog on a long walk, got my 10K steps in for the day!

Wednesday 4/2/14

workout:  Today I ran with all 3 of my bootcamp classes. Do I “count” this as a workout? yes. because it clocked in at well over 5 miles. Was I focused on my own running and caring about my splits? Not at all. Was I loving every minute of the fact that I get to do this? Without a doubt. In total this meant I was “working out” for about…45 minutes?

Thursday 4/3/14

workout:  I did a “homework” workout from my coach. kettlebell swings, TGUs, other strength moves. This only took about 35-minutes.

Friday 4/4/14

workout:  did a strength session in my garage:  back squats, reverse burpees, weighted sit-ups, TGUs and maybe a few other things in there too. I played around in the garage for a good 45 minutes.

Saturday 4/5/14

self-care:  Long dog walk! And then, lots of foam rolling/mobility with some clients. I did tinker around on my spin bike for a little bit, but was mostly just doing so to play around with my cycling shoe fit.

All in all, that accounts to 5 days where I worked out, 2 where I rested and plenty of other self-care items. For me, that is a really, really good balanced week!

“Counting” workouts

If I had a dollar for every time a client or friend asked me if something “counted” as a workout, I would definitely have a few extra hundred bucks in the bank. And just this week I read a fitness piece by someone that I truly like and respect. In the program, there was a guideline for not counting certain types of movement as your exercise for the week. I get the point of this:  you want your clients to actually do the workouts you write for them. You want them to achieve the results you’ve promised them and that won’t happen if they don’t do the workouts. I truly understand this perspective.

But the idea of not counting things like soccer games or hilly weekend hikes as part of your weekly exercise? To me, that’s the wrong tone to set. Because to me that sounds like we’re telling people that what they are already doing isn’t good enough. And that’s just not my style. Because for those people that are doing that kind of stuff? Keep going, buddy! I don’t want them to stop. I want my workouts to complement their life as it is, I don’t want them to prioritize a workout over a hike. There. I said it. My workouts are a piece of the puzzle to make those things more fun, so you are stronger and have more endurance, not replace something you already enjoy.

As for those times when we ask someone this question of, “does this count?”, it’s because we feel the need to have validation, right? I get it, we want to know that it counts, damnit!? But here is the truth:  no one is keeping track…no one except you! Trust me, whatever your beliefs are, there is no God of fitness keeping hash marks of your workouts.

You might be saying to yourself:  what the hell kind of trainer says this kind of stuff? The kind of trainer that doesn’t believe in using shame tactics, that’s who. Because putting pressure on yourself to measure up to some arbitrary measure is a really awful way to feel. Trust me when I say that the only people that need to worry about whether a workout “counts” are competitive athletes (that likely do have a coach keeping track) or perhaps those that have a very specific goal in mind, like completing an Ironman. If those don’t apply to you, shouldn’t your goal simply to be healthy and happy? Shouldn’t your workouts simply be a complement to your busy life and not be yet another thing that makes you feel bad yourself? There are many battles to fight in life. This isn’t one of them.

If you moved into a new house this weekend and lifted boxes for 48-hours, you better believe I would validate the hell out of you and understand if you didn’t fit in a run or trip to the gym. Not because I want you to be lazy, but I don’t believe in creating an exercise obsession either. Yes, there is always “time” to fit in a workout. Hell, I’ve used this logic with clients and on myself. There are times when it is worth it:  like the time I did Tabata sprints in a hotel parking lot at 7am in 25-degree weather with my dog before spending 9-hours in the car. But is actually  necessary to kill yourself to get up at 5:30 to fit in a workout on already very active day, e.g. moving? It’s definitely a question that is worth asking yourself.

tabata and stella

(Stella wasn’t super stoked about the sprints being so early…but she warmed up quickly!)

So if you find yourself asking someone else if something “counts” as a workout, step aside and ask yourself a few things:

1. Does whatever you’re doing meet your goals? (If you don’t know what your goals are, this question doesn’t even apply to you because your goal is then to simply be healthy and happy.)

2. Are you moving?

3. Are you sweating?

4. Does it make you happy?

If you can answer at least 3 of those things, then yes, here I am to say that it “counts” as a workout.

It’s okay to want validation. Particularly if you are paying for a trainer, whose advise and expertise is what you are looking and paying for. But let’s ask ourself why we are asking this kind of question:  is it because you’re actually looking for a technique, exercise-science based opinion? I.e. can I count this as my “arms” day, etc. Or is it because you want someone to tell that what you did was good enough? If it’s the latter, then let’s go back to our checklist above. Because I am here to tell you that you are good enough. You don’t need someone else to tell you that. Trust me…you are good enough!

My Manifesto

Hello out there! Welcome to my little piece of the internet. Here, you’ll find some historical posts from previous blogs I’ve had so you can get to me know me a little bit. But this post? This is my first post hereTo learn a little bit more about me, please click here. But for now, here is my manifesto. This is a big part of my WHY. As in, why I am here, taking up space on the internet. I hope you come back for more!

But, for now, let me take a minute to tell you how I really feel:  I don’t believe in fitness dogma. I don’t believe that if you ONLY do pilates that your life will be saved, or that if you lift heavy weights the keys to the universe will suddenly be given to you, the heavens will open up and Mark Rippetoe will appear, giving you a slight nod of approval. I wholeheartedly believe that many things have their place in the fitness world. They each serve a purpose. They speak to some people, they literally save peoples lives. But, not everything speaks to everyone and that’s okay. Because the best workout is the one you enjoy doing…but also the one that gives you the results you seek. 

One thing I have struggled with for years in the fitness industry, is the pressure to adhere to one school of thought. You either are a heavy lift proponent or you’re not. You’re a yogi or you’re not. You’re a runner or you’re not. It’s black or white:  if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Right?

For me, in terms of fitness modalities, that’s wrong.

Because I stand for a lot of things. I like to lift heavy weights…some days. Some days I want to take my dog for a run and stop to smell the roses along the way. Some days I want to spint up that damn hill three times, the last one faster than the first. Most days I want to just do some HIIT in my garage. And on some days, I want nothing more than to down-dog my heart out, sprinkled with some nice long pigeon poses.

But mostly, I stand for consistency. For doing SOMETHING. Because what matters, to me, is that I’m moving. And I’m moving often. I’m varying my routine. There is definitely a method to my madness:  I’m getting my heart rate up. I’m doing strength work. I’m working on mobility. And each week I’m thinking about what muscles I’m using in all the different things I’m doing…and adjust accordingly. I’m thinking about how my body feels on a daily basis. I am not going to go for a run on a day that my foot is aching. I’m simply not going to take that risk. I don’t think training through injury is anything to be proud of — why do we need to repeat this, oh yeah…we are humans and I believe that there is too much chatter out there about meeting your goals at all costs.

But let’s not confuse what I’m saying for being lazy. For giving yourself the easy way out. What I’m taking about is being mindful about your training.  And being mindful does not mean that I’m not working hard. Remember, there is a method to the madness. And the method includes lots of sweating, being hyper aware of my body, external circumstances and the ability to amass more fitness clothes than street clothes in the dirty laundry every single damn week.

The bottom line? Anyone that tells you they have a magical program is wrong. Not because the programs are bad nor effective, but basically because no program is magic. Unless that program was designed just for you, or has room in the program built into it for modifications that work for you. You’re a super unique snowflake and so am I. Yes, I mean that slightly tongue in check, but not 100% so. Because, honestly the magic is not in the program; the magic is inside of you.

Let’s figure out your unique program together. Please follow along with me and on April 30th, I’ll be launching my first Just Like Recess program. It will be a custom program tailored to you. Yup, just for you. For reals. Please follow along for more info on the program, for free workouts and more of my thoughts on fitness, health, mental well-being and more.We’re going to exercise like we mean it. We’re going to live life like we mean it. Join me.

IDEA Convention 2013: An Ode to Inspiration and Commitment

This past weekend I was in a fitness wonderland. We did push-ups, squats and burpees many times over and over…and over and over.



welcometoidea

If you’ve ever been a client of a trainer and felt that you wanted a bit of retribution for all the pain they inflict on you:  well, you missed it, but I saw your retribution this weekend! All over the conference, I saw trainers that were sore, tired and flopping around like dead fish on a beach all because they were working their butts off so hard, all weekend. And they were doing it all in the name of learning, trying to become better at their craft, their profession, for you, their client.

This was inspiring to me.

Most of my sessions were inspiring, also. I learned a few tips and tricks from a pilates session on how to perfect form in these very subtle movements that will make your inner thighs sore for days. I learned about meditation and how these principles can be applied to training and also how to simply apply it in my life to make me a better and more grounded trainer. I learned some new partner based exercises and circuits to make my classes that much more fun and engaging. I learned about BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and about the immense power that exercise has on the brain (we grow neurons! we create new dendritic branching! we get…smarter!)*. And I learned some awesome techniques on rolling from the Trigger Point Performance folks that my calves are supremely grateful for and has me inspired to start teaching stretching/rolling workshops! (TBD)

inspireceremony

And I won two Inspiration medals. Man, that felt…good. They give one out in most of the sessions at the discretion of the presenter (this also enters you in a drawing for some big prizes at the end of the conference, I didn’t win any of those). I won the first medal in my second session of the conference. It was a rowing session (IndoRow) and Jay Blahnik gave it to me! Pretty rad. And then, Jay gave me another one in my very last session of the conference that was a huge session on games (very, very BootCamp relevant)! I have no idea what I did to get the second one — the rowing one made sense because I’m very competitive with rowing in particular and was feeling on fire during that session trying to pump up my team and all, but not so sure about the second one. But, whatever it was that made him notice me, I am grateful and felt very honored. It really made my day/week/conference. Thanks Jay!

inspiremedal

I had been wishy-washy about whether or not I should attend IDEA this year. I went in 2012 and felt just okay about it all, but that was likely due to being distracted by some stuff going in my personal life. This year, I took the opportunity to attend and fully embraced it. I attended every session with gusto, with my notepad in hand, and ready to learn.

And isn’t funny how when you fully commit to something how much better it makes the experience? Isn’t it funny how you get just that much more out of it?

Hmmm….I wonder what I could compare that to? 😉

Maybe sort of like committing to your workouts? Hmmm? Yes, my friends, when you show up with a commitment to your workout, to yourself, you just might find that it translates to a better experience and workout. Try it. Make this coming week a commitment week and see how it goes!

*I wrote a little more in-depth about my brain session, here.

The SF Marathon

We had a volunteer station at The SF Marathon yesterday. I woke up at 5am on a Sunday. I brought bagels and yogurt for our volunteers.

I brought t-shirts and goodie bags.

I brought this sign:

I left tired.

But energized.

I left with less stuff to carry, but feeling very full.

These are the kind of experiences where you get to see who most people truly are:  kind, generous, encouraging, fun. And those are just the adjectives I have to describe the people that volunteered for us. The people running the race? The word inspiring seems trite, but that’s what I have.

And then I went out to brunch, had a mimosa and I fell asleep with 2 of my favorite pups surrounding me and I had the best nap ever.