Tag Archives: Fitness

Happy New Year: The Year of Positive Energy

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

I can be a bit superstitious when it comes to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day activities–I tend to believe that what happens on this particular night and this particular day can set the tone for an entire year. Last night, I knew that all I really wanted to do–aside from be with good friends–was dance. When we reached our second bar for the night, still fully clad in my scarf, my jacket, and vest, I began to feel the rhythm. My feet moved, my hips swayed, my head bobbed, and slowly I made my way to the biggest opening on the dance floor, stripping off my vest, my jacket, and my scarf. The Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me song came on and I continued to move losing myself in the music. I forgot there was anyone else even there at the moment. I felt at home in my dancing. A few moments later, a girl who had been dancing in the space earlier jumped in–and began dancing with me. I saw this at first as a challenge, but then it became poetic as we moved off one another’s spins, two steps and plies. I felt the energy as the people around us continued to watch with joy in their eyes. When the song ended, our dance with one another did too, but our smiles lasted long after. And as I stood with my friends, the woman approached me and said “Thank you for that…You have so much energy—positive energy. Your positive energy really got me out there to just let go like that. THAT made my night. So thank you.” I smiled and repeated the words “Positive Energy” back to myself. That’s EXACTLY how I want to set the tone for the new year–full of positive energy.

This morning I woke up hoping to carry that positive energy through my day by heading out to the Polar Bear Swim in Coney Island where I rang in the new year last year. Unfortunately, a nasty head cold kept me from making my way back out there today, but I did make it out to a Trooper Fitness Bootcamp class (for the first time!) in hopes of sweating out this gross fever and working out this cough.

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After leaving the bootcamp class, I felt a natural high from the workout but from also still finding a way to make the most of a day where I may have stayed in bed otherwise.

When I got home, I decided to take a poll to see how others brought in the new year, how they set their own tone. I’ve shared their New Year’s adventures below–check them out and then SHARE YOURS!

Lucas Gold (Second Time)
Polar Bear Swim – Asbury Park, NJ

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Suzanna Cameron and Tony Esper
First time Polar Bear Plungers: Coney Island, NY

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Michelle Pierson Young of Michelle at Play
p90x: “Not to brag but it feels better than a hangover”

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Hannah Brencher & Tammy Tibbetts
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC & Letter Writing
Each year Hannah and Tammy write letters to themselves to open the following year (SO COOL!)

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Jennifer Romanelli & Prince Brathwaite of Trooper Fitness
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC

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Laura Jaxheimer, Yoga Instructor
Brought in the new year doing what she’s passionate about: Yoga.

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I want to hear from you! What’d you do to kick off the New Year just the way you wanted to?

Pon De FLO DVD

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Pon De FLO DVD

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies I have stuck with since starting The Hobby Hoarder. The answer is yes and I am proud to say that one of the hobbies I have kept up with is a Caribbean Reggae dance-based fitness class called Pon De FLO. I’ve noted this before, throughout the blog, but I’ll say it again: I didn’t go to group dance classes for years because I never felt comfortable–I never felt at ease–I never felt like I could do it. That all changed with Pon De FLO.

Many of the dance classes I tried throughout the hobby year were stepping stones in getting comfortable with being in a group dance class. But Pon De FLO quickly became more than a stepping stone–it became a ROCK–Just like the way good friends help us find balance and stability in our lives, Pon De FLO did the same for me–and continues to do the same for me.

I recently wrote about how The Hobby Year helped me to find balance in a world that I constantly felt held down in. This class has played a significant role in finding that balance and in surrounding myself with positive people who continue to help me find that balance. And to be honest, FLO has become more than a once in a while class for me–it’s become a routine, a habit–my go to. I’ve even started scheduling a lot of my hobby nights around the Pon De FLO schedule.

This isn’t your average dance class. The non-verbal cued choreography forces you to build endurance, stamina and strength through 60 or 90 minutes of high energy cardio that includes an abundance of burpees, pushups, sit-ups and squats. Additionally, the class challenges you to escape from everything that’s bothering you, from a day that came with more stress than you expected, and from the negative aspects of life that are just holding you down. FLO asks you to step up, look at yourself in the mirror, connect with yourself, and disappear into dance–to let it all go and for a brief time–just FLO.

 There are only two rules in FLO–just stop thinking–and just keeping dancing.

Beyond the workout, Pon De FLO is a community of positive passionate individuals who WANT to be in class– who love the burn they feel after a burpee song, and crave for the feeling the way their body sizzles after an intense set of pushups. And when the burpees, the pushups, the sit-ups, the squats, and the booty shaking is done, those positive, passionate individuals carry on their friendships with one another outside the studio classrooms.

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Because of the upbeat community of friends I have made through the class, the kick ass work outs, and the positive energy and passion for the dance class fueled by founder Heather Fay, I have found myself absolutely addicted to a group fitness based dance class.

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 Currently, Pon De FLO is based in New York City, but it is the hope and goal of their team to begin expanding the niche dance class nationally and globally.

This past week, the team launched their Kickstarter to fund a professional fitness based DVD so that people all over can do Pon De FLO from the comfort of their own home.

If you have a dollar or ten to spare, I hope you’ll consider donating to the cause–and if not, I hope you’ll spread the word.

AND lastly, if you are in the New York City area, I definitely recommend taking a class.
I’ll even treat you.

 

Pon De FLO might just change your life–I know it has definitely changed mine.

Motivational Soundtrack: Heather Fay

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“I feel so high – Like if I could fly
I feel so free – so free to be me
I wanna go up – I wanna get down
This feeling can’t stop – So put your hands up
I said put your hands up!”
-Machel Montano

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies that I have stuck with post-initial hobby year. The answer is, “Yes–a few.” And in fact, the one I’ve returned to the most is the fitness-based Caribbean reggae dance class called Pon De FLO And there are three simple reasons why I keep coming back:

 The freedom to be free and to dance, the kick-ass music, and last but certainly not least–I find myself coming back to the class because of the supportive and upbeat founder and teacher of Pon De FLO: Heather Fay.

But Heather is not just the Pon De FLO founder, instructor, and choreographer–she is a bright and motivational force, inspiring her classes of newbies and pro-floer’s to leave the negative vibes at the door, to stop thinking and to just dance. There is doubt in my mind that her vibrant energy and positive attitude is what keeps not only me but a number of her students coming back for MULTIPLE classes each week.

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Last week, when I asked “hobby coaches” to submit a motivational song for a blog post, I knew I had to ask Heather. But when I asked her–Heather didn’t submit just one song–she submitted a whole album of them.

She told me that her list of motivational songs could go on and on and then added why the songs motivate her:

“These songs motivate me because they all have the underlying motivation of living for today, enjoying life, and being true to yourself.”

She continued:

“The songs are also a reminder that no matter how hard life gets or how bad someone hurts you, you can dig deep within yourself and push forward because right when you feel you want to give up and throw in the towel–is when your story is born.”

What do you think? Are any of these on your motivational soundtrack? I know they’ve definitely been added to mine:

“Waiting for the End” – Linkin Park

“Written in the Stars” – Tinie Tempah ft Eric Turner

“Move Along” – The All-American Rejects

“Just like Heaven” – The Cure

“Living on the Edge” – Aerosmith

“Fly so High” – Machel Montano

“Simple Song” – Konshens

“Advantage” – Machel Montano

Power Vinyasa Yoga

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Before I jump into my power vinyasa yoga experience, I’d like to share an anecdote with you about the first time I tried another type of yoga class–a hot yoga class–just over two months ago.

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It is very hot

I feel like I am dying.

I must be dying

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Five minutes later
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I feel like I am sweating out my organs

I look up. Sweat drips off my forehead.

I’m in the safety position which means I’m on my knees. Not one knee. Too worried I’ll tumble over. Two knees.

I don’t feel safe. I feel like I am dying.

The instructor motions for the class to transition to the next posture of 26.

I look at my hands to see how many fingers I have used to count postures. 

I’ve lost count.

I may vomit.

I’m still on my knees.

I try another posture.

Golden.

We’re asked to repeat. And I retreat to my knees. My water is out of reach. I don’t want to disrupt the peacefulness of the class. My internal dialogue is already disrupting my peace. I don’t want to ruin this moment for these practitioners. 

Somehow I manage to sit in the room for the duration of class. There is a pool of water below me. I wonder if it’s possible to drown in my own sweat.

Dizzy. I whisper to myself, “I should have hydrated more. 

I leave the class.

My instructor smiles at me–no wait, I mean, he grins. “Libby, you did great!” He exclaims jubilantly.

 Inside, I am screaming, “Don’t you lie to me–I was like a fish out of water desperately trying to breathe.”

Instead, I try and chirp a positive, “Thanks.”

“You should do it again tomorrow–and the next day…” He responds.

I smile again. “Okay.”

Inside my head, “No thanks.”

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If I had written about my hot yoga experience in anymore words than that, it may have looked a lot like this guy’s post that circled on MindBodyGreen several years ago. Like him, I bought a pass to attend multiple hot yoga classes after my first. That would be great–if I hadn’t spent the money before even stepping into the heat infused room. That was my first mistake. But my bigger mistake was jumping into hot yoga before I had taken much more than a flexibility and stretch yoga class in Ohio during the road trip.

This wasn’t the first time I actually stepped foot into a hot yoga classroom. Last year, I took the time to video my good friend Rena as she completed her 100th Bikram class in under 100 days. But videoing and actually doing the yoga are two totally different beasts. I was unprepared for the struggle I was about to put my body through. I hadn’t drank enough water. I hadn’t attended any basic flow classes that involved difficult postures. Essentially, I had attempted to jump from being young Simba to the Mufasa of yoga far too quickly. I can tell you that, now after taking a hot yoga class, my respect for those who attend this practice on a regular basis has only exponentially grown. Hot yoga s not easy. Not at all.

But despite my disappointing first attempt at a yoga beyond the most basic kind, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let the experience deter me from giving other types of yoga–like vinyasa–a shot. So in order to keep my promise to myself, I headed to my first power vinyasa yoga class at Yoga to the People at St. Marks Place last week–and I couldn’t be more glad that I did:

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It’s not even five minutes into class and I can feel little sweat droplets moving down my back.

But this time something is different. Something is much different.

I can breathe.

I’m not struggling to find air to in a 100 something degree sweat box.

I find my breath.

My muscles loosen.

I’m transitioning from downward dog to salutations.

I’m bending backwards and stretching forward

And while my body feels the stress of the movements, I find myself enter a rhythm.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I’m still sweating. 

It’s okay.

I’m flowing.

I try not to loose focus.

These men and women at my sides are much more flexible than I am. 

That’s okay.

This is about me. This is about my body. This is about my breathing.

I take a moment to retreat to my safety position.

“You got this Libs,” I whisper. “Keep breathing.” “Stop thinking.”

Inhale. Exhale. Downward dog.

I find shift my way to my left arm and hand and reach my right hand way up toward the ceiling, opening my entire body.

I can feel my body underneath me–all of it–working together. I feel strong.

I return to downward dog.

I flow.

“Now let yourself relax on your back,” I hear the instructor say.

Class is coming to an end. 

I’m not dizzy.

I inhale. I exhale. I can still breathe.

I feel alive.

I’m ready for my day.

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LibsYoga

CrossFit

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You’d think after a year of hobbying, I would be immune to pre-hobby anxiety and intimidation. The truth is I’m not. But that’s a good thing. It means I am still exercising my mind and my muscles. It means I am still continuing to be challenged. It means I am still taking everything that I am trying–just as seriously as all those things I tried when it was simply just a project. I am still attacking life and taking chances. I am still living.

This week my pre-hobby anxiety was high. I’d signed up for a private one-on-one CrossFit session. For those that aren’t quite sure what that means–here’s one of CrossFit’s own videos:

Intense right?

I grew up playing sports and I even played Division 1 field hockey. I’ve dabbled in the Insanity workouts on my own time and I’ve trained for and completed two half marathons. But at all cost, I have avoided going to a personal trainer–or really letting others see me train. So the thought of letting someone train me–in addition to having a good friend standing by to help video–induced a lot of anxious feelings.

I began to think to myself:

“What if I fail? What if I am just too weak? There will be a lot of FIT people there–what will people think of me? I’m flabby and big boned–do I really belong?”

I went as far as texting my friend who does CrossFit on the regular to confide in her about my feelings.

She responded quickly:

“Google articles on being nervous for CrossFit. No one’s there to judge–everyone has to start somewhere.” -CF

She was right. So I took a breath, and I asked myself one more question:

“Why are YOU doing this?”

I gave that question a moment to sink in. I surely wasn’t doing it for all those people who would be at the CrossFit center working on their own fitness-just as they weren’t going to be doing their pull ups for me.

And then it came to me:

“I’m doing this because I can. I’m doing this because I said I would. I’m doing this because deep down inside, I know that the things that intimidate me most–are the things that are most worth facing. I’m doing this because I WANT to do this, not for anyone else–but for me–My health. My body. My life.”

I kept repeating all these answers in my head as I headed over to the Black Box on 28th Street. As I exited the elevator I walked into what appeared to be a factory of fitness. There were rings hanging from the ceiling, free weights, bar bells, kettle bells, and pull up bars everywhere. I watched as people all around the gym fiercely worked out. I watched as their muscles flexed and their sweat dripped. I could see determination in their eyes–in their focus. Instead of intimidating me the way that I had imagined it would, it motivated me.

“I can do this,” I whispered to myself.

I walked over to my coach and introduced myself.

“Hi Kyle, I’m Libby.”

He shook my hand.

“You ready?” he asked.

“Let’s do it,” I said with a new found confidence.

“Great, let’s start with a warmup. 30 seconds of jumping jacks, lunges, and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.”

I felt my muscles waking up, and the first drop of sweat fall from my brow.

Ninety seconds later, I was so focused on myself and my breathing and my own workout ahead that I had already forgotten that the gym was filled to capacity with all the other CrossFit participants. This was solely about me and my body–and about bettering myself–not anyone else.

Following the warmup, Kyle, my instructor, told me that next up would be a 10 minute repetition round–I would be doing sets of 15 squats, 10 kettle bells, and 5 pushups. The goal was to see how many rounds of this cycle, I could do and also to maintain a consistent time for how long each round took.

As I took on the first round, I felt strong. But as I transitioned into my second and third, I could feel the fatigue setting in. My arms shook, my legs wobbled, my movements slowed. But I pushed through. I didn’t let the word “can’t” enter my brain. Like the Little Engine That Could, I just kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can.”

And I did.

In ten minutes, I completed five rounds–most at around 2  minutes and 15 seconds. Kyle gave me a high five. “You moved well. Your first round was fast–because your muscles were strong. But the consistency of the last four rounds was really what we are looking for–great job!”

I took a sip of my water and I smiled.

“But we aren’t done,” he added. “We’ve got one 90 second round to go–90 seconds of burpees.”

Burpees involve a combination of a squat, a pushup, and a jumping jack.

They are kind of hell.

“90 seconds, that’s it Libs, you got this,” I cheered myself on.

That was quite possibly the longest 90 seconds of my life. As I dropped to the ground, and pushed myself back up, I could feel my body working, the sweat dripping, my heart racing. With each burpee, I felt my muscles ache. “30 seconds Libs, you’re almost there…Drop, push, Jump. 15 seconds…10…Come on…Don’t stop.”

“AND TIME!” Kyle yelled.

I picked myself up off the ground, and I raised my arms over my head. I glanced around the gym. The anxiety that I had felt just the night before was now totally gone. I smiled.

I breathed in an enormous feeling of positive self-esteem, while my legs shook with fatigue.

And I thought to myself:

“This is why I do these things. Because of THIS feeling afterwards. This feeling of accomplishment–of success. This feeling is the most rewarding feeling of all.

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Special Thanks

CrossFit NYC
Joshua Newman
Kyle Smith
http://www.crossfit.com

Special Thanks
Ashley Castle
http://www.travelwithcastle.com

 

 

 

 

 

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