Saturday, November 26, 2011

Game Changers

Photo Courtesy Clarita

I received news that I officially passed my personal fitness trainer certification exam (thank you, thank you,) and am now looking forward to adding an AFAA personal trainer certification to my arsenal in the near future. I've had several inquiries from people at the gym who have been asking when I become official because they need help with one thing or another and are interested in working with me.

One of the more amusing things (to me anyway) during my PFT classes was when the instructor's daughter came in her place one Saturday to teach the class and she was discussing interaction with clients. She had a dialogue going along the lines of, "Now, it can be difficult sometimes when you're running with your client because you have to keep your own ego in check and slow down for them or they'll get frustrated...."

Ummm, no. With my blazing 14-minute middle-aged broad shuffle/jog miles, I don't think slowing down for a client is going to be an issue for me. In fact, I think I'm going to change up my run schedule again (since it still sucks, that won't be a big problem) and just do the suggested 4-week programs listed in my text book so I have a better insight into what other beginning runners will be going through under my watch and maybe I'll see some improvement in my running. I'll probably just see improvement in my walking but one can always dream.

Also, next Sunday, December 4th, I'll be attending an AFAA indoor cycling workshop (which is called that because "Spin" is trademarked by Johnny G Indoor Spin and they beat you and your bank account to a pulp with those 45-pound flywheels if you use the word "spin" to make money and they don't get a cut.) This ensures that my gym will have two subs "in-house" for last minute no-shows. My manager dusted off her cycling cert a few weeks back to help out but she often takes off for New Hampshire Thursday nights which leaves two classes vulnerable on Friday at Noon and Sunday morning if the ailing instructors can't get in touch with their "usual" subs.

I don't expect that I'll actually teach more than 1-2 classes per year but the workshop's continuing education units count towards re-certification for the personal trainer papers so it's worth the cost plus, I love spin and mixing fitness with my background in music is something I've been doing for several years on my own anyway so I thought it was high time to get a little formal training.

In other news, while hubby and I were visiting his sister's home for Thanksgiving (I won't go into what we ate. A couple of my friends wait for the list every year and one accurately described the literal feast as a food orgy,) my sister-in-law's husband went down to the basement and came back upstairs with a bike trainer which he gave to me. He had bought a Specialized several years back, rode it a few times but eventually lost interest and sold the bike. I had mentioned that I would be interested in purchasing the Minoura Mag 850 from him and he said he would just give it to me.

You may remember when I swapped out my Hutchinson tires for the Bontrager's for the Hotter 'n Hell 100 because one tire had one too many gashes. Well, knowing that these tire friction trainers beat up tires rather handily, I put the less-beat-up of the Hutchinson's on the back wheel to save the back Bonti from excessive wear this winter. The front wheel isn't going anywhere so I just let it be.

The trainer and bike set up easily in the living room and isn't anywhere near as noisy as I had feared. While it might not be as comfortable as the couch for watching TV, at least I can burn calories while wasting time in front of the tube. After all, has anyone ever heard of a, "bike potato?"

So for me, Thursday truly was a day to give Thanks, not only for what I received, but also for the knowledge I now have that can help others.

Plus, I've got all of my Christmas shopping done and didn't even have to risk getting pepper-sprayed in a Wal-Mart on Black Friday. How cool is that?
Sunday, November 20, 2011

Much Rejoicing

I finished my personal fitness training classes! I don't know if I passed the test yet, but at least no one is going to be measuring my fat again any time soon ("and there was much rejoicing").

I just love Terry Gilliam.

As there are many similarities to this certification, we were encouraged to take the AFAA exam as soon as possible (it's supposedly easier) but right now, my head is fogged over with the case studies I just went through. I also have an indoor cycling certification course (AFAA) coming up in a couple of weeks so I can sub at my club in case of a last-minute no-show by an instructor so I don't know when the next test is going to happen.

Since I was at the gym discussing the certification with friends, I've already had several inquiries as to when I would be available to train. While my bank account will be happy to hear this, I will have to start carving out chunks of time to make myself available for clients without forgetting to take time to look after myself and continue training for my own goals. It's odd though because it's the first time I've ever had potential clients/customers without first having a business.

It goes back to that one-to-one networking idea I talked about a few weeks ago. For the woman that is hoping to launch a personal training career from her basement but rarely even ventures to her local Planet Fitness to meet and interact with potential clients or even with people who could lead her to potential clients, this road is going to be much more difficult. Let's face it, if you want to start a skydiving school, you won't get the most out of your networking efforts by hanging out with the Bridge Tournament crowd.

That means I'll be dedicating some time each day both to the gym and to the books - continuing my education to give my clients the best information possible to help them reach their goals.

Right now, it's on to my next goals. My swimming and running have taken a backseat to my studying and it's time to knock the dust off those two disciplines and start working with a goggle towards Spring, which is only a few months of blistering cold, a few (dozen) feet of snow, and a couple of cannibalized minstrels away.

Sure, sure. Always picking on the band.
Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Secret Weapon

At some point, I got it into my head that the only time to get exercise was during my workout sessions. I thought if I was training, I was doing "enough." Trouble is, I lose weight when I workout but gain when I train for endurance events. Those modifications made to my cardiovascular system to build endurance change up my metabolism. When I work out without a specific goal, I'm more of a gym rat, burning more calories, losing more weight.

I think I've finally found a very workable solution to my issue. All I have to do is walk more.

That's it. Not race walking. Not power walking. Not, "Buy these creepy shoes and you'll have a butt worthy of television," walking. Just a stroll a couple of times a day. If my caloric intake remains stable, the extra 200 calories at a low heart rate will add up to a loss without interfering with my recovery time or any scheduled sessions.

My secret weapon is that I'm a middle-aged broad. As such, no one that I meet on the street has any expectation of me doing things like, oh, riding my bike 50 miles or swimming a mile. That means that I can get out on the road and walk and people won't think twice about it. If they see me running, they're likely thinking, "What if she has a heart attack doing that?" and if they see me riding my bike, they think, "Why the heck do they ALL wear Lycra? I just don't see how that's fun..." and perhaps they'd interject some rudeness in there because feelings of insecurity are often hidden behind a caustic veil.

If you think my perception of middle-aged women is way off-base, here's a quick little story...

I used to socialize with a woman that shall remain nameless who goes to the casinos and rakes in a small bundle whenever she wants because she can count cards and disciplines herself to never get greedy. Her husband has been escorted out while they were both playing at the same table but the house never thought twice about the possibility of her counting. Why? Because the pit bosses don't expect the average woman to be able to count cards, so she just finished her hand, cashed in her stacks of chips, and went off to find her hubby. According to the casinos line of thought, when her husband does well, he's cheating, when she does well, hey, even the clueless get lucky sometimes. She taught me a thing or two about perception and gamesmanship.

So if you ever find people underestimating your abilities, instead of killing yourself to prove them wrong, you have the option of using their incorrect perception to your advantage. Sometimes, it's better not to prove yourself to anyone besides yourself. As a middle-aged broad, I can get in a workout and no one will notice. I am stealth. I am working out in plain sight, burning calories during a weight-bearing activity where I don't need to consume electrolytic drinks or 200 calorie energy gels and no one will be any the wiser. It's the modification I need to make now that my metabolism is slowing down.

My first attempt went well. I decided not to channel my inner workout girl  and instead, wore my best spy clothes... jeans, a pullover fleece, and denim-colored trail running shoes. Wow. Lookee here - POCKETS! I can bring a photo ID, my phone (with tunes) and... and... KLEENEX!!! WOO HOO!!! This stealth walking thing is FANTASTIC.

It was an overcast day and about 57 degrees. I had a chance to grab a couple of photos of the neighborhood. The colorful leaves of Fall were pretty much trashed after the snowstorm but there are still some bright spots.

This shrub sticks out even way down the street.

Then there are the signs that some things were changed forever.
I think that I shall never see, a sight so odd as half a tree.
30 minutes later, I was home and NOT sweaty but still warmed up enough to get in a stretch. Since I can easily bundle up and not stray too far from home, this "secret weapon" idea might be worth keeping this winter.

Come to think of it... maybe I ought to throw on a frumpy sweatshirt and head on down to Connecticut for a nice game of Blackjack.
Friday, November 4, 2011

Thoughts on Power

It was an odd week to say the least. First, a freak snowstorm hit us. I should add that I HOPE this is an anomaly and not a portent of Autumns to come. Many in the area are still without power and while most have suffered discomfort, others have had tragedy strike home.

My home lost power from early Sunday morning on through Monday morning. Luckily, even my birds made it through the chilly overnight temperatures unscathed. Some in the area didn't see power until yesterday (Thursday) and the newscasts tell us that there are still about 200,000 in the state without power. I have seen members from my gym and their neighbors booking rooms at the hotels in the area. I even went so far as to go online at work to find a room for a member who just couldn't take another night at home.

The news was even worse for an 86-year old woman named Dorothy Hall of North Brookfield, Mass. who tragically froze to death in her home. She had refused to go into a shelter and the best her 59 year old son could do was to put blankets around her - but to no avail. He was also treated for possible hypothermia at a local hospital. Sadly, news crews interviewed the next door neighbor who said she would have taken them in had she known that they had no heat.

These recent events intersecting with the personal trainer certification journey that I'm on now is where I started thinking about how many times we don't ask for help when we should look to others for assistance. We want to be self-sufficient but quite honestly, we are not all doctors, psychotherapists, nutritionists, auto mechanics, or plumbers. We need other people - professionals and just caring folk alike - to live in this society and we need to know when to ask for help. The old adage that, "It takes a village to raise a child," should have an corollary something to the effect of, "It takes a village to empower a village," with the addendum of, "Each one of us is the village," because as every good salesman/lobbyist/teammate/family knows, it's a numbers game. There is strength in numbers, there are solutions in numbers and all we have to do to gain a numbers' advantage is to let the next person know we're there for them and then to actually be there if they need us.

Maybe we only recognize that we need help when we are looking to survive, but being a part of a community can bring us to actually thrive - to live life as a gift we are grateful to have instead of just waking up at the alarm and hoping to "get through" the next 5 - 12 hours.

I also want to add here that "Friending" people on Facebook and "Following" people on Twitter is NOT what I'm talking about. I believe that one-to-one interaction is still the most powerful tool we have in creating our personal success stories. Think about what we leave out of our blogs, omit from emails and don't post on Facebook but confide in to our closest friends and loved ones. These Social Media/Web 2.0 tools have a place in our lives but when we use them to the point of discarding personal interaction, we lose a chance at being happy without sitting at a keyboard or having an iPhone attached to our hips.

Plus, what happens when the electricity goes out? Like Dorothy Hall, we are stuck in our homes, hoping that something good happens, but what if no one realizes that something bad has happened in the first place? A safe haven was right next door to Ms. Hall but without one-to-one communication, it was never realized.

Don't worry, I know this is a bit more serious than my usual posts but this week has created a slight shift in my personal paradigm and I thought I'd lay out why it's happening than for everyone to say, "Uh - Edie, wt[insert comfortable abbreviation here], girlfriend?" later on.

I'll be catching everyone up on the rest of my stuff soon. In the meantime, stay safe, stay warm, and by all means, stay sane in The Village.

Number 6 is having no fun in The Village