Tag Archives: training

Women’s Rights

Be warned: this might turn into a rant.

Today was my last day working out in London while I was home to visit family. While the gym I was temporarily using does offer a women’s only area, I didn’t think twice about it before heading out to the gym floor. The main gym is hardly co-ed as it was filled with guys working out in small groups and walking around like they expected girls to ask for their autographs. If you aren’t looking at them then they will stare you down in the mirrors until you do. These guys just reinforce why women deserve a private area to wear their stretchy pants.

At my gym in Toronto, there is no option for a women’s only area. The ladies who don’t feel comfortable in front of the men are relegated to stick to the cardio machines, or let their attendance slowly drop off. Women brave enough to trek into the free weights risk the careful watch of creeping men or the ignorant looks from those who consider them flawless at their “gym ratting” ways. I do see the benefit of offering a separated option in a gym, but if it is done right.

The New Years resolution crowds must have got a head start on January because all of the benches were full, all of the cables were taken, and training partners were eager to step in. So I did a lap and ended up in the women’s area.

I have previously expressed my frustration at women working out differently than men (waving 2.5lb dumbbells at their reflection in the mirror) but as I entered the women’s section I realized that we are set up for it. This area was primarily cardio machines and I had to dig through a pile of mats to find the single Olympic barbell in the place (no joke). Even if you can scout out the barbell, there is no squat rack, and there were only 5 or 6 renegade plates from the co-ed section. The machines looked like they were plastic and I expected to see “Playskool” covered up somewhere. This room begs you to ride an elliptical from any of the endless aisles of cardio that dominate the space, and overlook the mess in the corner (attempted “free weight” section).

Let’s give women some cables and some benches, and some direction as to what would be most valuable to women in the gym. As much as I appreciated being alone with the free weights, it was ridiculous how many women were just doing steady state cardio. Hey, who knows, maybe they are training to become long distance elliptical riders in which case I support their training. In all fairness, maybe they are just doing a cardio day. I know from working in a gym that too many women neglect resistance training, and I am just trying to make a point here. Check out what I wrote earlier (not in a rant): Annie Get Your Guns.

Women are absolutely different than men and this does require some minor changes in training, however, this does not mean in any way that a woman is restricted from going heavier than 5lb dumbbells. Next time you see someone who has a body similar to your “goal self”, ask them how they got there. I would be shocked if anyone said “mindless hours of cardio!” I am not biased at all…. however I have science on my team.

The best advice I can give someone (over blog): get a trainer for a short period of time and learn all you can. Ask lots of questions and pay attention. Show up early, warm up on your own, and cool down on your own. Then follow their advice!!

WHYYYYYYYYY

WHYYYYYYYYY

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Squat a Lot

Back to the weights today!

It is a rainy day in Toronto and nothing cures the blues like squats. My bony post-surgery shoulder isn’t a big fan of the barbell but somehow the blasting dance music and the adrenaline of pushing weight rules that out.

I worked out today in the middle of the afternoon; that awkward lull when lunch is past, the trophy wives are done their parade, and the 9 to 5’ers aren’t out yet. This is my favourite part of my job. Actually, this is not part of my job. This is the time when the trainers come out to play. We almost all have breaks here so our overlapping workouts are a chance for us to hang out, but more importantly, show off. I weigh much less, and I am substantially not as strong (I am up against men let’s be serious), but trust me I promote my gains more than anyone. I let everyone know how much I was squatting as I moon walked through the gym floor, shouting out my stats, and giving them all the wink and the gun.

Today I did German volume training… which probably means I need to hang out females more often. 10 sets of 10 barbell squats, then walking lunges, hamstring curls, and knee extensions. Terrible facial expressions and weird sound effects included. By the time I finished, my excitement and shameless self promotion was reduced to bending over and panting with a  little bit of walking like a cowboy. It was all worth it though because today was another first! The first day I have added weight to a barbell squat in over a year. Not necessarily my best decision to combine it with so many reps but things were feeling good. If I am problem- free tomorrow then that means that it is time to squat! A lot!

This seems to be what happens to me when I work out with the guys. I forget about my limitations, and for the most part, that is a good thing.

K is three weeks out from a figure competition and more concerned with caloric intake than anyone I have ever met. I had never seen anyone use a calculator to decide if he could eat an almond or not, but he is 4% body fat so I will let it go. When we workout together I am the official Instagram photographer (you’re welcome ladies) but it is worth it because the high intensity is contagious. It was almost too good of a workout considering that it is 7pm and I can barely stay awake. As a bonus, seeing him practise his poses and giving himself seducing smiles in the mirror makes me laugh so hard that is the only ab workout I will ever need.

Depending on if I can walk tomorrow, I think this may have been leaps and bounds for my progress in the gym!

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Hitting My Stride

Eye of the Tiger playing on repeat didn’t work last time so I tried a new strategy today… which was just being normal.

I signed up for a race this weekend after my dreams were crushed in last weekend’s attempt. Well, that is an exaggeration but I had wanted a better result. I had my mind set on beating 25 minutes, but my body didn’t follow through. So I set up a plan to try again.

I came to my parents house this weekend for a visit and of course, for another race. Luckily for me, all conditions were in my favour, especially compared to my last race. The weather was as close to perfect as it ever gets for races, and it was the opposite of the hurricane- like scene of last weekend. I had a ride to the race which also meant I had a warm up buddy (thanks mom) and I could strip down my layers at the last minute. My dad made sure to weave through the women at the start line to give me a firm handshake and yell “Give ’em shit!” which did a great job of clearing me some space.

Due to lots of rain over the past week, the original course was flooded and the new route was much flatter. Like I said, things were turning up in my favour.  We were running an out and back course on a flat bike path, I had a great starting position, my laces were double knotted, and my cheering section was waiting for 25 minutes (as they specified).

The first kilometre was the hardest but at the 1k mark, I was running a 4:50 pace and that was a good feeling. As we ran through the park I saw some old co-workers and after yelling a friendly greeting, I almost forgot I was racing. The bonus to running in my hometown is that I know that park inside and out, and it is easy to get comfortable. As comfortable as racing can be.

Beyond the turnaround, I found I had a new cheering section in the runners behind me. Some friends from old soccer teams or people I knew from the running community hollered my name and yelled encouragement as I headed back to the finish. That felt great and I found more motivation to get myself across the finish line even faster.

Turning the last corner before the finish was when I really started gasping for air… but then I saw the clock. I could roll to the finish line and cross this goal off of my list. Not only did I beat my last time, but I beat my goal time. I really beat it. I happily crossed the finish line at 24:32, high fiving strangers and looking for my parents’ excited faces in the crowd.

As a kid, running races with my family was just an average weekend. It’s funny, though; 15 years later and there is still no feeling that matches seeing your proud parents cheering you on from the sidelines.

Another good feeling is having to set another goal.

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It’s The Fiiii-nal Countdown

As my pre-race week diminishes, my relationship with my foam roller has been upgraded to intimate and exclusive. I feel like an unprepared disaster, and 5k feels like a marathon.

All I really need to do is stay out of my head. Those who know me, know that over-analyzing is just my “thing”. My mind is already gone down paths of what comes next if I achieve my goal, or how do I respond if I fall short. What I should really be concerned about is how I have run more this week than I have any other week in the past year and that seems like a terrible send-off to race weekend. We will all question our training once the competition gets close, but I may still be adding to questions to the list I will have to answer.

The only thing I can do now is watch YouTube clips of slow motion running montages while screaming along to a loop of Europe’s The Final Countdown.

Join me?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sblvu-PvTi4#t=157 ] Thanks to RN for the slo mo montage!

[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jK-NcRmVcw ]

I have one last tune up (overhaul) with my chiropractor tomorrow, one day before the race. Hopefully he can snap my body parts back in place just long enough for me to give myself my own readjustment, as my runs always seem to disorient my skeleton.

The weather looks like it will be cold and wet which is the condition I ran my 25:05. I will do my best to recreate everything else from that run, and just hope my legs are under me on Saturday! 🙂

abrn639l

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Rest is Best

When the calendar says it is a rest day, do you actually rest? It seems to be very common that if your body is feeling good then you keep going, right?

Not me. I am going to relax (maybe not relax, but not workout) and then I will happily make a big fat checkmark on my schedule right over the words ‘rest day’.

Sometimes the hardest part of training is taking days off (ridiculous, right)! After training five days straight and coming back from a frustrating week of my body not reacting exactly how I envisioned it (like slow motion on the Olympic track), I hit rest day. I felt like my body wanted to keep pushing and taking a day off would be like dragging my feet while trying to build momentum.

Like any other trainer, my apartment is stocked with all sorts of fun things like my TRX, sandbag, kettlebells and weights. On training days they look like equipment and on rest days they look like a playground. What we need to remember is that rest days are actually when our bodies make progress. Exercising creates microscopic tears in our muscles and (with rest) they heal and repair themselves to be stronger. So we need these days off to allow for regeneration otherwise our bodies just get worn down… Like many dragging limbs to building momentum.

Despite lack of need for another goal, I am setting another goal. On my last day off from the gym I visited a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. I didn’t think about what food I should be eating or what I would be doing if I was working out.

As my busy days fly by, I realize I don’t make enough time to visit with friends or reach out to people I haven’t talked to enough. So I will replace the time I would have spent in the gym doing this. It’s the new and improved rest day.

I suggest we all make our rest days more productive by not exercising and spending some face to face time with a friend. Good for the body and soul 🙂

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