Tag Archives: exercise

Wildcard Wednesday: Cycling classes

As part of my newish gym membership, I have not only been going fairly religiously, but I’ve branched out from my usual treadmill, elliptical, and Arc trainer routines. I’ve even added more than just my occasional weight machines. Unlike Planet Fitness, Life Time Fitness has lots of classes.

Last week, I decided to try my hand at my first class: EDG cycling. I’ve never been to any sort of cycling or spin class before. Aside from the Zumba class I go to once a week, which is taught by one of my co-workers in the foods lab at our school, I haven’t attended any type of exercise class since I was in my mid-20’s and I went to Curves gym.

When my husband and I first started dating, we spent a lot of time riding our bikes down the local bike trail. Sometimes we would ride for hours. It was a lot of fun and after I got a super comfy gel seat, it didn’t even hurt much. But that bike has gotten little use over the last few years. In fact it’s actually gotten more than a bit rusted and bent out of shape over the years. And it’s been almost three decades since I’ve ridden a stationary bike of any kind. And back then, the bike didn’t have fancy digital equipment.

This new fangled bike was fancy and a bit confusing. It didn’t help that I couldn’t find the studio at first so I came to the class right as it was starting. Luckily one of the class regulars was kind enough to help me set up my bike and get me started. Granted, I had no idea what the instructor was talking about when she said to turn the dial to take the resistance up. I still don’t quite get what she meant by working out in zones 1, 2, 3 or 4, but I rode that bike. I even added tons of resistance by actually hitting the lever that knocks the resistance up by rather large leaps rather than gradually dialing it up. Oops!

I was definitely sweating by the end of those 45 minutes. I was also exhausted. And man oh man, did my rear end hurt. Those seats are not even remotely padded or comfortable.

But, despite my cluelessness and my sore derriere, I went back for another cycling class a few days later. This time I figured out the knob to slowly add resistance. I was also able to make it through all the “out of the saddle” portions of the class, which I’ll admit I could not do the first go around.

By my third class, I felt a bit like an old pro. I could add more resistance, even using that little power lever when I didn’t have to. And not only did I make it through all the stand up parts, during the last song when we had the choice to focus on speed, strength or stamina, I took a turn at all three, spending about a third of the song off my rear and standing as I peddled when I didn’t even have to.

And yes, my butt is still a bit sore from those horrid seats, but I’m already looking at the schedule for my next cycling class.

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Wildcard Wednesday: Lifetime Fitness

As part of my husband’s new job, he got a membership to Lifetime Fitness. As long as he goes at least 7 times a month, his membership is free. Not long after he found out about this new benefit, he headed over to check it out.

In the 15 years I have known him, my husband has not had a gym membership. He did have a small workout room with some free weights and a few cardio machines at his old job, so he’d often go in on his lunch hour or right after work to sneak in a quick workout. He didn’t do this with any sort of regularity, but he’d get on streaks where he’d pop in 3 or 4 days a week and come home quite proud of himself.

I’ve been a member of Planet Fitness for five or six years now. Although there have been moments in my life where I have been more dedicated than others, for the most part I go at least once a week and often two or three times a week. For the money, PF is a pretty good deal. Sure, there are no classes, no pool, no childcare and it’s hard to get any sort of trainer to set up a routine for you, but considering that mostly I just wanted to do cardio or circuit training, that was fine with me.

However, when my husband got his membership to Lifetime, he also got me and our kids a trial membership. It was basically love at first sight. The gym is ENORMOUS! Seriously, it is huge. They have a rock wall, three pools (one outdoor for nice weather) with water slides, a full basketball court, tons of cardio and weight machines, a cafe, a spa, a sauna and all sorts of classes. What’s more, they have a childcare facility, so instead of waiting until my kids are in bed and then slipping out on my own to work out, we can take our kids to the gym with us and they can play while we work out. We can also take our kids to the pool or to the rock wall, which they love.

The only downside to this new gym is that it is a bit more expensive than PF. For myself and our kids, it’s actually about 7 times my current no frills basic PF membership. That gave me more than a few minutes of pause. Is a gym membership really worth that expense?

Well, as it turns out, my daughter’s swim lessons are even more than that. So, by canceling her lessons and signing up at the gym where we have constant access to the pool, we actually save about $14 a month. Sure, it means I have to work with my daughter to help her strengthen her swimming skills, but that just means I get to spend time in the pool. Plus, as great as her swim lessons have been for her, they are only 30 minutes once a week. We can replace that with gym time AND my son will get to practice his swimming as well. Plus, we’ll be able to add a whole other activity to our weekly schedule this summer. Unlike our current swim school where we can only take advantage of open swim M-Th from 12-1, this coming summer we’ll be able to swim all day, every day if we want to.

While I’ve only technically been a member of the gym for three days now, I did take advantage of that trial membership as well. I’ve gotten in four really solid workouts and it’s been great. My hope is that since it is a rather substantial expense compared to PF, I won’t feel like I can blow it off the same way I did working out at PF. I also hope having fun activities for the kid will help my entire family become more active.

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Wildcard Wednesday: Fitbit Charge 2

fitbit charge2I’m not quite sure how long I’ve had a Fitbit in my life. Even before I upgraded to the super fancy digital version, I’ve had some sort of pedometer strapped to my body for at least a decade now.

Although I would never call myself a health nut (I’m eating Lays bacon wrapped jalapeno chips as I type this), I do make an honest effort to get in a minimum of 10,000 steps each day, in large part so that I can eat things like bacon wrapped jalapeno chips.

As much as I loved my old school red pedometer I bought at Target, which clicked every time I took a step, it was highly unreliable. I’m a pretty animated talker and sometimes I’d be in the middle of an intense conversation with nothing but my arms flailing, and I’d hear the “tink, tink, tink” of my pedometer. Other times I’d be sitting at my desk nervously jostling my leg and I’d once again hear, “tink, tink, tink.” And don’t even get me started on how inaccurate it was on the rare occasions I decided to jog. Still, it was a good start for me and even though the “tink, tink, tink” drove me nuts at times, it was was still comforting.

About five years ago I decided to take a real leap forward and buy a Fitbit. When I bought my first Fitbit, there wasn’t much in the way of variety. I had a choice of one that could hook onto my clothes, which was only a tiny step up from my Target version or the Fitbit Flex which offered to not only count my steps more accurately, but also to help me track my weight, caloric and water intake, sleep patterns and gently wake me up vibrating alarms. I doled out the big bucks for the Flex.

For the most part I was pretty happy with my Flex. Since I work on the second floor and my house has a basement, I was a bit annoyed it didn’t count steps. I also didn’t like the fact that unless I logged on to the computer (and later my smart phone), I couldn’t see the exact number of steps I’d taken. Sure, if I tapped it, little dots would light up and flash to help me estimate to the nearest 1,000 steps how many I’d taken, and while that may have made me feel a bit like a Cylon, it also left me frustrated.

Even though there were elements of my Flex I was not fond of, when it fell off in the Kroger parking lot (because I’d ordered cute knock off bands with inferior clasps) and was run over by a car, I still decided to replace it with another Flex.

Fast forward to last month. While I was still wearing my Flex religiously (this time without the knock off bands), I was getting frustrated with it. It wasn’t holding a charge for long and I often had trouble getting it to charge at all, despite leaving it in the charger for 8 hours. I think something in the connection was just failing. I definitely wanted an upgrade. After trying a knock off fitness tracker I bought at Target, I decided I needed a new tracker, but this time I wanted one with a few more features. I definitely wanted to be able to see the exact number of steps I’d taken, I wanted a watch function, a heart rate monitor and an alarm function. I’d grown very accustomed to ditching the alarm clock for my Fitbit.

After a ton of research, which included quite a lot of feedback from my friends, I decided on a Fitbit Charge 2 because it was the only tracker I found that met all my other guidelines and had the alarm option.

I LOVE IT!

I love that I can see the time and date as well as every little step I take, including the ones I take when I’m pushing the cart around at the grocery store, something my Flex never did. I love that it tracks my stairs–so far only 3 today, but some days I do as many as 11 flights. I love that I can track specific times for my exercise routines and that it has a variety of routines to pick from. I love that I can see my active and inactive alarms so that I can make sure an alarm is actually set without having to get on my phone or my computer. I can also enable or disable my alarms from my Charge, which is fantastic! I like that it gives me little reminders to move every hour so that I’m at least taking 250 steps an hour. I even like the guided, meditative breathing function it has. It’s amazingly relaxing, which I know is the point.

When I had my Flex, I was sometimes really pushing it to get in all 10,000 steps. Some days I’d felt like I’d walked all over creation and it was still barely registering 8,000. Since I’ve had my new Charge 2, the only days I haven’t hit my minimum are days I’ve been on vacation. I’m actually averaging closer to 12,000 each day. I don’t know if it’s the added accuracy or just a burst of new pep in my step thanks to my new tracker.

fitbit bandsPlus, unlike my Flex, I’ve been able to order cheap, knock off bands for my Charge 2 and they are amazing! Thanks to the design, there is no way my Charge 2 will just fall off of my wrist. They are high quality and 12 of them only cost me $15. I actually just ordered another band that has adorable owls on it for only $8.

Unfortunately I did not think that the face of the Charge 2 needs a bit more protection than the Flex did. I have a tiny scuff on it, so I also found myself ordering protectors on Amazon today. Once they get here, I have a feeling my Charge 2 will be the perfect accessory.

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Wildcard Wednesday: Please stop parking on the sidewalk

Today we finally got a dose of fall weather. It’s still not our usual late September sweater weather, but the dip into the 70’s was very welcome after a week spent in the 80’s and 90’s. In honor of the gorgeous breeze ruffling the trees, my daughter and I decided to go on a walk around our neighborhood.

Well, I decided to go for a walk. She wanted to go for a bike ride. Once I got her all suited up in her helmet and pads, we headed off.

Our neighborhood is not very big. It’s basically one main road, which makes a circle (and therefore gets 4 different names depending on which curve of the circle you live on). I mapped it once to figure out how many miles an hour I was walking and found out that one lap around is .8 miles.

My daughter loves riding her bike, but she’s still a bit unsteady on it. She’s 7, but her training wheels just came off in June. Since our circle has sidewalks and the few people who enter our neighborhood tear through it like it’s the Indy 500 Speedway, I make her ride on the sidewalk. I think this is perfectly acceptable, especially since I walk along behind her. She has to stop every so often to let me catch up so I can scan for any hazards like cars backing out of driveways.

For the most part, our neighborhood is pretty great. It’s off a major road, but since it is small and only has one entrance/exit, only people who live in or are visiting come in. There are lots of old growth trees all around it. In fact, the entire neighborhood has an outer ring of trees separating it from various fields and apartments. Things are pretty quiet and there is almost no crime. Unless you happen to be on the main stretch of the road looking out to the busy entrance way, you’d never know we are in the ciy.

My only real complaint about my neighborhood is that people park their cars on the sidewalk.

Now, I don’t mean they jump the curb and park on the sidewalk. They park in their driveways, but instead of parking their cars next to each other (or in their garages), they park bumper to bumper so that the backs of their cars block the sidewalks.

When it’s just me out walking, it’s not really that big of a deal. It can be annoying if the grass is wet and muddy, but I can pretty easily step around their cruddy parking job and still stay out of the street. My daughter, who is still unsteady on her little bike, however, has major navigational problems.

Tonight she wiped out about a dozen times. About half of those times were because she’s also not very good with her hand breaks, so when she needs to stop, she just sort of slows down, lets the bike wobble and then falls. She’s generally good about aiming for the grass so while she may get a few stains, she doesn’t do any real damage.

The other half of her crashes were trying to avoid cars. And she wasn’t always successful.

She crashed into two cars, both of which had their tails sticking out over the sidewalk. The first one was just barely over the sidewalk, but it had a big wheel cover for a spare tire which hovered a foot or so over the sidewalk. She tried to steer herself onto the grass. She almost made it. Her handlebar didn’t quite clear it though and she sort of bounced off the tire cover and landed fairly hard on the sidewalk. I was proud that she didn’t cry. She was hurt and unhappy, but she got right back on that bike to try again.

Three houses later she was met by another car. This one covered the entire sidewalk and was on the bottom part of the driveway. I told her to get off her bike and walk it around, but she thought she could make it.

She didn’t.

This house was a particular nightmare to maneuver because they had those scalloped bricks lining the small grassy area around their mailbox, so when one side of her bike hit the back of the car and started to tilt, she was driven into those damn bricks.

To her credit, she didn’t cry this time either. And she did learn her lesson. Every time I saw a car hanging over the sidewalk I’d call for her to get off her bike and walk it around. She did. In fact, with each car hanging over the sidewalk, she started getting off of her bike just a little sooner to guarantee there was no way she’d run into another car.

I realize that there are situations where blocking the sidewalk might be temporarily necessary, however, when you live in a community, it’s kind of a jerk move. The sidewalk is there for people who want to walk. It’s there for small children on bikes or roller skates. Be kind to your fellow neighbors. Keep your car in your driveway, but not on the sidewalk.

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Wildcard Wednesday: Fitness trackers

fitness bandA few weeks ago I was at Target looking for a fitness band to store my iPod Classic (yeah, I’m old school) in while I work out. The electronics department had them, but they were a bit pricey. Thankfully they guy working the desk mentioned that they might have one in the back to school aisle.

I thought this was kind of an odd place to find them until I ventured over to that part of the store and found what were clearly the back to college aisles. Eight weeks ago when I’d gone back to school shopping for my kiddos, hardly any of the regular school supplies were out and none of the college wares were on display.

Not only did I find a fitness band that works perfectly adequately (I know, that is not a ringing endorsement, but it’s honest, and it was only $5), but I also found an off-brand fitness tracker for $10.

Now, for $10 I knew I wasn’t going to get much. However, since it promised that not only would it track my steps and tell me the time, but also allow me to set alarms using gentle vibrations, just like my Fitbit, I figured I had to give it a go.

For the most part, I love my Fitbit. I’m generally pretty darn happy with it. The only way my Fitbit could be better is if it a) told the time (I have the original Fitbit Flex) and b) held a longer charge (it is nearly two years old and now only holds a charge for 4-5 days).

My intention with this new fitness tracker was not to replace my Fitbit. My intention was to use it when my Fitbit is charging. Since I rely on my Fitbit not just to count my steps, but also to wake me up in the morning (a feature I ADORE), I thought this new tracker could be a real help for me. Normally I have to lose steps in order to plug my Fitbit in long enough to charge so that I can still wear it to bed so my alarm will go off. My plan was to wake up, put this fitness tracker on, then charge my Fitbit while I’m at work, then put my Fitbit back on just before I go to bed.

Sounds pretty great, right?

The first day it was. I loved being able to check the time on my tracker. I also loved that with the touch of a button I could see my steps. The only odd part was that I seemed to be taking a lot fewer steps than usual. And, for some reason, the alarm randomly went off at like 4 am and then again at like 8 am and then again at like 3 pm. Still, I made just over 10,000 and it seemed to be a ok.

I decided to wear it a second day. After all the alarm bug magically fixed itself, the band was a cute mint green, and I really liked that watch feature. However, even after doing a Zumba routine, I did not hit 10K. I have never made it an entire day at school and gone to a Zumba class and not hit my 10K. After all that work, the tracker was only registering like 8K. That made no sense to me.

I tried it a third day, which included a trip to the gym (although it was doing circuit training) and had similar results. That was when I realized that I clearly got what I paid for, a cheap watch with an alarm that counted some of my steps.

Oh well, it just reaffirmed my desire to get a new Fitbit which meets my current needs. Plus, my kids have been wanting Fitbits of their own and since I picked up an extra tracker (in black), I have a feeling mine might find its way into my daughter’s stocking while the black one ends up in my son’s.

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