Friday, June 26, 2015

Fit Fashionista Friday

I'm obsessed with tops that have cute backs. I have to add a few to my collection.
Jill came back from the Dallas Jazzercise Live event with this one and I love it. I think she could even wear this out on the town with a pair of skinny jeans and some red heels.

I love the neon colors in this top from Nike. And it looks great paired with this bright bra top. Sometimes it just takes knowing how to put stuff together, right?

This top is from T.J. Maxx. The capris are cute, too.

And here's something I might try this weekend. I have an old pair of boring flip flops and a scarf I don't wear so may be I can put them together and DIY. You can find the how-to here.
I'm ready for the weekend! A little shopping is on the agenda for tomorrow but Sunday is wide open. I'll be fitting in a Jazzercise Fusion class for sure but other than that, it may just be a coffee, paper and puttering Sunday.
What's on your to-do list?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Curls, curls and more curls.

The good news: Everyone has six-pack abs.
The bad news: A six-pack may not be visible because it’s covered with a layer of, yes, fat.  #darnit #absaremadeinthekitchen

I now know this to be true because I actually SAW the abdominal muscles of a cadaver in a lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

How did I happen to see a cadaver?

One day after Jazzercise, I asked Vicki Hurd, a long-time instructor, to help me out with a blog about biceps. We do different kinds of biceps curls in class and I wanted to know more about the muscles we worked. Vicki happens to be the anatomy and physiology lab manager at UNL so she suggested I come to her lab and take a look at the real thing.

That’s how I found myself gloved up and sitting on a stool next to a cadaver. As soon as it was clear I wasn’t going to pass out, I stood up and took a closer look. Let me tell you, the human body is amazing! I saw the major organs like the heart and lungs and even things like the IT band, a ligament that causes knee and thigh problems for runners.

And yes, I now know all about the Brachii, the Brachialis and the Brachioradialis, the long and short heads of the Brachii and which types of curls target which muscles.
Helping Vicki out was Mark Ringle, the head teaching assistant for anatomy who plans to attend medical school in the fall. As a former UNL gymnast, Mark knows a thing or two about muscles, bones and training. He started gymnastics at age 4 and over the course of his career, he had three shoulder surgeries, two forearm surgeries and ten broken bones. His most recent break happened while practicing on the high bar. One of the leather hand grips Mark wore got stuck on the bar. Momentum pushed his body around the bar anyway and he broke two bones in his arm. (It’s probably not a surprise that Mark wants to be an orthopedic surgeon. He has so much experience!)

Vicki and Mark in the lab.

Here’s what I learned about biceps from Vicki and Mark.

·      We do a variety of curls in class to balance the muscles and avoid overtaxing them. 

·       All the biceps muscles are worked when we do biceps curls but various types of curls isolate specific areas of the bicep. A regular biceps curl with the palms up works the long and short heads of the biceps Brachii, the prime bicep. A hammer curl isolates the Brachioradialis which is a weaker flexor. A reverse curl targets the Brachialis, a strong forearm flexor. It’s important to isolate all of the parts of the bicep.

·      Don’t be a jerk or a swinger. Movements should be smooth, not jerky. Pause at the top of the movement and then defy gravity. Don’t drop the weight, lower it slowly.

·      Pick the right weight. If it’s too light, you aren’t challenging the muscle. But if it’s too heavy, you compromise your form and risk injury.

·      A biceps needs a good tricep. As with all weight lifting, you want to work opposing muscles. So you often match biceps curls with triceps extensions.
Probably the most important message I got from Vicki and Mark is TECHNIQUE IS IMPORTANT in weight lifting. If you do it right, you avoid injury and maximize your results.


Monday, June 22, 2015

#texbraska and Jazzercise Live!

A few of the #texbraska delegation at Jazzercise Live!
Get ready to dance to Britney and Iggy’s “Pretty Girls” and a Pitch Perfect medley that will knock your socks off. And a few new Strength routines that promise to bring the burn.

That’s the word from Jazzercise instructor Lindsay Pappenhausen-Schmuecker, who just returned from Dallas and Jazzercise Live. The event brought together 1800 customers and instructors from 10 countries for a weekend of Jazzercise. The weekend included specialty classes and a live taping of the upcoming set of routines that will debut soon.

Lindsay and seven other Nebraska instructors made the trip and got the sneak peak at what’s coming. Apparently, there’s good stuff on the way, fresh new moves and great music. That’s one of the things I love about Jazzercise: it never gets old.

The #texbraska group took an Interval Fusion class led by Shanna Missett Nelson, the Jazzercise President, and Young McCarthy, who is Director of Training and Development and a taping team member. The live taping took place Saturday morning and the finale class was led by four instructors from California.

Our gang with Judi and Shanna

Nebraska girls with Young.
Lindsay says it’s fun to watch the corporate team in action, including the founder, Judi Sheppard Missett.

“ It’s fun to watch the members of the corporate team give one another grief or mess up on a routine. (As Jazzercise instructors) we can so relate! We all strive to be perfect for our class, but we are all so human,” Lindsay said. “I am also reminded that our company is in the hands of one of the greatest. Judi Sheppard Missett has a witty sense of humor, the ability to laugh at herself, is a great story teller, a visionary, and not afraid to admit she might be a bit of a show off or diva. She has so much passion and her heart is filled with love and gratitude. She lights up a room and can capture any audience.”

Of course, the weekend included pool time and shopping. (Do I even need to say that?) A shopping expo offered Jazzercise apparel that is stylish enough to be street-wear. Lindsay had her eye on the mesh, printed or cutout capris and the crop tops. I might need a few more Core classes before I’ll be ready for a bare midriff.
Hiding at the pool. Guess you had to be there.:)


And Lindsay had some great stories of fun times in Texas that she wouldn’t share. I think I need to take those girls out for a cocktail after class some night and get the real scoop. Most of it was just silly fun and good times with good friends.

“Of course, for me, I was looking forward to the workouts and Jazzercise fun, but I was equally pumped to spend a weekend with my girlfriends (and my sister who is a Jazzercise customer in Plainview, NE),” Lindsay said. “Given that Jazzercise is such a big part of my life, it's probably no surprise that some of my most precious and treasured girlfriends are fellow instructors. These events are a great way to bond as a team and to remind oneself of how lucky we are to be a part of this program.”

The 2016 Jazzercise Live event is in Palm Desert. I’m in! Who’s with me?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fit Fashionista Friday

I know, I know. Fitness isn't supposed to be about fashion. It seems ridiculous to spend a lot of money on stuff you're going to sweat in. In my head, I keep hearing Tom Hanks yelling, "There's no fashion! There's no fashion in fitness!"

Sorry, coach, but I've always believed that cute athletic wear ups my workout game. And now I have proof. It's called "enclothed cognition," a term coined by researchers who had a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

True, the experiment they conducted involved participants dressed in lab coats, not a Jazzerciser in something new from the Jazzercise catalogue. But the study suggested powers of attention increased when the subjects wore a lab coat described as a doctor's coat. It only stands to reason that great active-wear will energize my workout. Right? (That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.)

In that spirit, here are a few Fitness Fashionista favorites spotted recently at the gym.

LOVE these capris with the slits down the side. They're perfect for summer. I don't remember where she said she got them. Athleta, maybe? I did find a similar pair at Fabletics, which is a membership site.You get your first outfit for a low price and then every month, they send you some personalized picks you can order at a higher cost.

My Jazzer-friend Heidi turned me on to these headbands and I'm going to order some, if I can ever make up my mind. There are so many different designs and patterns.  You can get them at the Hippie Runner website. Only $8 and if you order three you get one free.
                                                           These two are on my list!

And finally, this t-shirt from Kohl's is perfect for Jazzercise. It also sums up my life philosophy!

Do fun clothes amp up your workout? Where do you shop for fitness and active-wear?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nia Jam!

I love dance exercise. Give me chassé and some jazz hands and I’m thrilled. So it’s been fun to give Nia a try at my health club, Prairie Life Fitness. Last Friday night I joined in a “Nia Jam,” where four instructors took turns leading a packed class.

Our Nia instructors getting ready to teach at the Nia Jam.

How do I describe Nia? A variety of music transports the class from the jazz club to the dance club to the beaches of Jamaica, mon. The moves are fluid, easy to follow and low impact. It’s a different way of moving your body and it feels so good. Take a look.

Nia was created in San Francisco, by Debbie Rojas and Carlos Ayarosas, two fitness professionals who were tired of the “no pain, no gain” philosophy of exercise. They wanted to develop something that felt exhilarating, healing and supported the mind-body connection found in yoga or tai chi. There are no burpees here.

Holly Nastase, one of the instructors at Friday’s class, has been doing Nia for 22 years. She says Nia reflects “the body’s way of telling us how to move.” The spine is curved so we “dance the spine” in a way that reflects the spine’s natural shape.

Because Nia is low or no-impact, it’s done without shoes, which always feels great after a long day in heels. Every class has a focus and participants are instructed how to zero in on a specific goal, such as improving agility or exercising the joints.  Core conditioning is always part of the class. It's a gentle routine, perfect for any fitness level.

            “The focus helps you direct your attention on a specific area, how you move and how you feel” Holly explained. “You can learn a lot about your body and yourself in Nia.”

Nia emphasizes cardio fitness, flexibility and balance. It’s not a workout that’s going to leave you drained and shaking. But you get your heart pumping and afterwards, you feel energized. Ready to head for the cafe and a glass of wine. 

Have you tried Nia? What did you think?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Motivational Monday

Swimming: Check.

At 5 a.m., Fara Adams sat on the edge of the bed in her Kansas City hotel room, breastfeeding her baby and thinking, “This is completely crazy.” It was the day of her first triathlon and the culmination of five months of training.

After having her fourth child at the age of 38, Fara had set a fitness goal.

“I wanted to do something big, something I had never done before that would really push me to the limit,” she said.

And the triathlon fit that category. Fara is a seasoned runner but a novice at cycling. And she didn’t know how to swim.

Yep. She’s crazy.

I’ve watched Fara over the years on the stage as an instructor at Jazzercise or pushing us during a Personal Touch class. She’s petite and encouraging and always has a smile on her face. Don't be fooled. That girl is tough. Fara doesn’t back down, even in the face of a challenge that required her to take swimming lessons and conquer a long-distance bike ride.

I'll be honest and say there were many times I wanted to give up. My mind told me I was in over my head. My body was still so weak from childbirth. I was up at night with a newborn. Occasionally, I resented the fact that I had to put time in on the weekend when I really wanted to stay home and relax,” she said. “But I had set a goal and I wasn't going to back out. I had shared my goal with friends and family which helped to keep me accountable. I wanted to show my kids that when you commit to something, you follow through.”

So Fara kept at it, lacing up the shoes for another run instead of collapsing on the couch after a day at work, logging  miles on the bike and laps in the pool. And she kept getting up on the stage to teach Jazzercise.
Biking: Check.

“Strength training is huge as well, along with cardio endurance. Jazzercise provided my cardio base, which helped my body endure hour-long swimming sessions. As an instructor I knew how to analyze the movements I needed for each sport and strengthen those muscle groups,” Fara said.

No wonder her Jazzercise classes were extra tough. We were part of her training regimen.

By 6:30 a.m. on the morning of the race, Fara was in a wetsuit at the lake getting warmed up and still questioning her own sanity. The lake was cold, dark and forbidding. But when the horn went off, she started swimming.

“I kept thinking of how I've prepared for this for months. I can do this. I will not stop. And I kept repeating that to myself,” she said.

And she did it, celebrating the end of each leg of the race with a big smile on her face. 
“I absolutely loved the whole experience,” she said. “At times I was even teary because I was just so damn proud of myself for accomplishing something so far out of my comfort zone,” she said.
Fara and her husband DeMoine celebrate at the finish line.                                                                                                                          

Well, I’m proud of you, too, Fara.

Now, could you ease up a little bit in class, for cryin’ out loud?!

Have you ever set a big fitness goal for yourself and accomplished it? Do you have a goal that you're working on now?