Monday, November 22, 2010

Mental Toughness

I think this is a great season to evaluate where we are in our lives, what we have accomplished, what we hope to accomplish, and what it takes to get it done. I am a firm believer in specific goal setting, personal accountability and follow-through. I am also mindfully aware of the inner dialogue that goes on in our heads that is often the catalyst for doing nothing. How many times have you talked yourself out of an idea because you fear failure? or negative response? or simply making yourself vulnerable? With all the changes/questions going on in the world, the economy, the job market, the future, it is no wonder many of us our questioning what lies ahead and whether we have what it takes to survive, progress and succeed. When you decide not to take a particular path or start a project you have to ask yourself what drives that decision? Is this because I fear “I can’t” or is it worry of how failure would be perceived by others? It is so easy to stay with the status quo because it is safe, it is what you know, you have done it before, it is you. But my challenge to you is to stimulate change within yourself. If you have an idea that drives something in you, excites you, quiet the negative voice within that beats you down and tells you “you can’t” and “it won’t work”. Listen instead to that excited, hopeful voice that says “but what if?” Most important during this process is to do your homework: Evaluate, Research, Prepare, Practice and Plunge. There is great personal reward in accomplishing a task that you feared. Your negative voice will lose its power and the paralyzing effect it has on your spirit, drive and creativity. Your positive voice will in turn gain in confidence, volume and wisdom.

On that note I nearly talked myself out of both tennis and Zumba®. My negative voice was loud and clear that it is much safer to stay with what I know and not look like a fool. Well happy to say I have been both the “fool” and the “winner” in both and I am having a ball. I want to thank all members who joined me for Zumba® Happy Hours. If you came to the first few and not again…(agghh!)…. I hope you will return. After 7 classes under by belt I have found myself, my groove and have evolved the workout in multiple ways. I am happy I listened to my positive voice on this one!

For the future: I am still debating if the Friday night time will work since many of you tell me you want to come but Friday nights are hard. Unfortunately, I am having trouble finding a better day/time since I already teach daily, unless I change one of my current classes into this format. Additionally I am not sure how to choose which gym…or if this alternating thing works. I would love your feedback on this!

I will bring Zumba® with Kari back in January and also plan on doing a Christmas Eve Zumba® workout…time and location to be determined!

Note to all members: Join ProRobics Conditioning Clubs Group on Facebook for gym updates, class changes, sub notices and announcements.

Have an amazing Thanksgiving and holiday season!!! ~Kari

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Zumba® Journey

Hi everyone! I had to take a bit of a break from writing, as my whole summer seemed to be spent on my feet enjoying all things physical. I hope your summer was amazing, refreshing and full of memorable events.

I want to write a bit about Zumba® and me. I recently went to the full day training to see if I had it in me to add this to my already packed teaching schedule. I have been interested in the concept, the worldwide rage for a long time, just never sure how I could fit it in to my life…but had a feeling I wanted to.

Those of you who know me know that dance is in my bones, my soul, and my spirit. I love to teach movement, love to see people begin tentatively, finally grasp a step and then embrace and perform it. Unfortunately, well actually fortunately, I have been teaching sooo long I have a developed a wide following of skilled exercisers and dancers. My classes have advanced in response to requests for more, which I love, but it also creates a wall between me and beginners, or those just wanting less intricate movement. It may often turn away those who are too nervous, too frustrated, and then too defeated to join in, or continue beyond one try. I do my best to break everything down, to be as inclusive as possible but the bottom line is it is “tough stuff”. Movements are introduced and embellished, combinations developed and linked together. It becomes a huge movement and memory challenge…. and better than any crossword puzzle at keeping the body and brain active in tandem. But I know it is not for everyone.

So this month I will be presenting some special Zumba® classes, alternating between the gyms. This has been a physical journey for me. I wish you could all be a fly on the wall watching me practice, following a DVD, and wondering why my hips aren’t going the right way on the right beat. Once again, I have made so many discoveries about muscle memory and learning patterns and am humbly reminded that what is easy to some is a mountain to others. I will be bringing to the table my own Scandinavian version of Latin moves with an uptight “ballet-trained” bent but I will say I am loving every minute of it. I am having to relearn body weight placement over the foot…it is totally different from my normal “aerobics” method of weight transfer. The good news is I have had to break this down to a science for me to relearn. When learning new skills my m.o. has always been to examine where individual body parts are relative to each other on any given beat. That’s all good until I try to look like I was born doing this. I am driving myself nuts. Well more nuts than usual.

So my challenge to you is to join in my madness. This workout is for all members, all levels. It is not complicated at all! We will have fantastic music, easy to learn moves, typically just 3 moves to each song, and each song stands alone…so that you can focus on your STYLE and dance away your stresses. It has only been a challenge for me because I want to be a great dancer and the fact that I have to lead all of you. The pressure only comes from myself. You won’t believe the mix of workout and fun!! You don’t need to be a dancer or “coordinated” to take this class. Your “inner dance” will develop over time and I promise a good laugh or two. Hope to see you there!! Kari

Zumba® with Kari
October 8th 5:30pm Queen Anne
October 15th 5:00pm Laurelhurst
October 22nd 5:30pm Queen Anne
October 29th 5:00pm Laurelhurst

(Further schedule will be determined based on response from members and my confidence in myself ☺)

Also be sure to check out Nathalye’s stellar Zumba® classes which have been packing in members for the past year.
She is from Columbia and has everything I don’t…she is an inspiration to me!
Queen Anne Saturdays at 11:30am and Tuesdays at 5:30pm
Laurelhurst Mondays at 5pm and Wednesdays at 6:15pm

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Solid Gold

Some of our members have been weight training for years and others are just now considering whether it is a good addition to their fitness program. Either way
there are all sorts of misunderstandings surrounding the subject of strength training that may keep you from setting realistic goals or achieving the gains you desire. Here are just a few tips to consider.

One very important concept to understand is that it is easier for some people to build muscle than it is for others. There is a genetic component to developing strength and muscle. Even two people of the same gender, age and similar body types can show quite different results while doing the exact same training. Scientists call this “individual response” and to many it just seems unfair. There is no one machine or piece of equipment that will develop “long lean” muscles. There is also no easy, one size fits all, formula for “bulking up”. Genetics (and gender) play a huge role in determining your ultimate progress towards your goals. The areas you can manipulate are the types of exercises you select, type of resistance you use, number of reps, how much resistance you work with and how often you train.

Strength training to spot reduce is also impossible. Using machines, free weights or hundreds of exercises focusing on one problem area will not get rid of “targeted” extra fat. To achieve fat loss you must burn more calories than you take in. The unfortunate fact is that we can’t dictate where the fat burning takes place in our body. The good news is that you can spot-tone. Resistance training can do more to reshape your body than any other type of training. By building up underlying muscles you will find that your problem areas can take on a totally new look and feel. You can achieve more solid, less jiggle. By incorporating both strength training and cardio into your weekly program you are maximizing your potential for positive change. On top of this you need to recognize that good nutrition and conscious diet control help the new contours come to the surface.

So much of the decline of our health and wellness is a result of muscle loss. This becomes more and more evident as we age. It is very important to recognize that strong muscles help us maintain balanced and erect posture, helps to minimize many orthopedic problems due to weakness or imbalance and generally just keeps us “greased up” as my physical therapist likes to say. Most problems seem to multiply or magnify when we stop moving. It’s a challenge sometimes finding the ultimate in smart, safe training especially when you are trying to push yourself. Incorrect technique, too much too soon, or simply over-doing things without the “armor” of bone, joint, and tissue strength and resiliency can lead you to the conclusion that getting fit leads to injury. It all comes down to smart, balanced and progressive training.

There is always so much to learn in the area of fitness and training. The best thing you can do is get started! Once that happens, be patient and persistent, focus on your own progress, acknowledge your successes, and always take note of where you started to see how far you’ve come.

~ Kari

Monday, May 24, 2010

Beauty or Not?

I was flipping through a fashion magazine recently and was happy to hear that there is finally a real effort on the part of designers, modeling agents and editors to change the model hiring ideal size from a 0 to a 4. Small step but a start. Many of us have adolescent, teenage or young adult females in our lives and this is a quietly growing problem that now goes way beyond a size and is a huge influence in their lives. Through TV, movies, print, and the internet girls are bombarded with what is “perfect” in the eyes of society. It is not an easy task to pass through puberty and ever be a size 0 not to mention the pressure to fill a bra, have the perfect body, perfect teeth, a flawless face, spotless skin and luxurious hair. What ever happened to embracing the genetics within a family and the uniqueness that makes us all a bit different? This quest for universal beauty isn’t a new thing but it is so “in your face” now that it can take over a personality, it can takeover a life. It is way too much for a young girl (or boy!) to put into perspective. The more we let our children, or ourselves, dwell on the physical exterior we are losing the chance to become a better person on the inside. For those that don’t see the beauty in themselves it is a dangerous road that leads to self-doubt, alienation, depression and worse. And the hard reality is it doesn’t get any easier as you age. Life is so much more than studying oneself in a mirror looking for flaws, shop ‘til you drop and finding the newest “fix” treatments. Don’t get me wrong I believe in self- improvement on all levels or I wouldn’t be in this business. I simply feel that the focus on betterment and change should go way beyond the physical and material. And as adults we also need to look closely at the messages we send to the children around us by how we view and speak about ourselves.

Haven’t you noticed that living with imperfection, whether real or perceived, often makes a person try harder and excel in other areas? This opens the door wide for developing a compelling personality, amazing people and/or work skills, broad intelligence, a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at oneself before others. And most important, in my opinion, it allows you to become a person rich with understanding, acceptance and compassion for the feelings of others. Beauty is a gift, not something an individual somehow earned at birth. If you have been lucky in this area, be thankful and humble and notice how doors may open easier for you. And never, ever be judgmental of others who may not be so lucky. I have always felt “be careful what you wish for.” Sometimes the road you think you want forks the wrong way.

In the meantime, get fit, get strong and maximize the gifts you have right in front of you.
Share the message of how commitment, work and accomplishment enhances living and self-worth. Celebrate an efficient heartbeat and the ability to move. There is no better feeling than making the most of what is the real, healthy YOU!

~ Kari

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Changing Behavior

This is the perfect time of year to revaluate how you are managing your life. The winters are always challenging for many reasons and spring, along with the hints of summer, give us some relief, some hope.
If you are at all like me you may have somewhat of an “addictive” personality. I easily develop patterns of behavior (typically in response to circumstances) that tend to gain momentum as time goes by. The patterns then become reinforced as I find they are successful, comfortable or highly enjoyable. The bad news is sometimes the evolving change is not in my best interest. Feel free to plug any of your own in here! This could be diet/nutrition, excessive or non-existent exercise, smoking, drinking, drugs, negativity, risk-taking, apathy…withdrawal from friends or family…or any number of things.
I have been through this before and at one time had to address a problem that I feared I would never overcome. From that experience that spanned several years I now know it is possible to attack and conquer the perceived impossible.
The most important thing is to acknowledge that something is affecting the quality of your life negatively and then look at the ways to begin a process of change. The biggest obstacle in my opinion is thinking too large, rather than looking at the option of mini-steps of behavior change. Rather than using the words “I will start now and never again…” consider beginning with a smaller commitment. Why not just start with TODAY and see how it goes? By knowing that your immediate commitment is short there is peace in the process. By experience I know that that one day often becomes another day, then a week, then a month, then years and before you know it what was a pattern is now only an option that you can choose to ignore. New behaviors breed new reinforcements and change can happen.
When a pattern is truly an addiction or illness… or is life-threatening and more than you can handle on your own it is critical to seek help. There is no shame in being in need, it is human and we all go through it to some degree at one or many points in a lifetime. The shame is when a life is wasted because you feel alone in your struggles. Look around yourself at the gym. You are surrounded by people who have both struggles and triumphs. We are lucky to be in a physical environment that is all about change and empowerment. Spend a moment today thinking about what you want for yourself and how today can be a new beginning. That first step is the best… and who knows you may affect many other people you care about in the process.

~ Kari

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ready, Set….Prepare….Go

Spring is here and it’s time to rev things up!

This month I want to talk a bit about progression because as the days get longer and warmer we tend to jump into activities, sometimes at a high level, without training appropriately. Any of you that are in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond have probably noticed a greater tendency towards injury. Sometimes these annoying injuries seem to happen without much effort and it leads one to think that those great days of being active are over. Not!!
Too often I’ll meet men and women who admittedly do little daily basic training for a sport and then go out and play for the first time in years and try to perform like they are still in college shape. Muscles have great memory, unfortunately they need to be used regularly in order to stand up to forceful loads. The brain remembers how you used to perform and sends that signal to the body to go for it. The human body is a big load and put into motion can create tremendous force on joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments (not to mention cardio-respiratory system)…and your body may not be conditioned for the stress. If you are not doing consistent training for strength, endurance, flexibility, cardio, speed or agility than it isn’t a good idea to go out and play a highly competitive game of tennis, basketball or soccer. These are all examples of sports that require “reaction”, not a whole lot of time to decide if you should “go there”. Explosive power does not come without training. Power, speed and agility require training and diminish over time when not challenged on a regular basis. When a muscle contracts with force, another part of the body may not be able to handle that force.
Of course there are physiological aspects of aging that we all have to address and respect but it IS possible to remain quite competitive for many, many years. Your bones may not be as strong as they once were and soft tissues of the body may not be as elastic or responsive. A recent report in Sports Health suggests that bone mineral density can increase significantly in older athletes who participate in high impact sports. But there is always increased risk with increased intensity especially for older adults so it’s important to look at training as a process. Progressive training allows you to make smart decisions as to what your body is capable of doing and how far you can go. You will develop confidence that you are training smart and it makes all the difference in performance. This will inspire you to keep as active as you can for as long as you can!
So gang, make a list of all the physical things you want to do this spring and summer and get the body ready specifically for that. If possible progress from walk, to run, to sprint, to jump. Keep whatever vertical range of motion you can by reaching high and going low. Train the body on all planes of motion so you can move forward/back, side/side and rotate….creating great body balance. Develop a strong core so that all movement is controlled. Find a functional balance between upper and lower body strength and motion. We all have limitations to some degree; our individual journey is to make the most of what we have to work with. And then….we win!!

~ Kari

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get to the Core…

One important aspect of your journey to great fitness should be a thorough evaluation of your core strength. Even professionals and researchers debate what constitutes the core and you have probably heard it cued or described in different ways. One of the common ways to look at it is to include all the muscles and connective tissue that connect the pelvis/hip region with the spine. When all tissues are activated and working together they essentially act as a brace, or a girdle, keeping the body stable, more centered and more powerful. Understanding “neutral posture” is essential—both during your workouts
and throughout your day. Complete awareness of this at all times will also help you conserve the integrity of spinal discs, ligaments and joints, The core is often referred to as the “powerhouse” because that is essentially what it functions as. It becomes the center of the body’s kinetic chain. The more powerful your core the less stress you put on the rest of your body. If your core is weak the potential of your movement is compromised and whatever your intended result is it may not happen as planned. With a strong and awakened core you gain more control of arm, leg, and torso movements because you have developed active stabilization between the pelvis and spine. Your body is now able to distribute force more effectively throughout the body no matter what position you are in.

As instructors/trainers we see all too often individuals putting focus on the movement of the extremities without the conscious thought put into how the body should be prepared to accomplish the task. This results in flailing limbs, movement from momentum, instability at joints, loss of balance and sometimes injury. Everyone needs to approach his/her fitness routine from the inside out. A variety of movements should be used to optimally strengthen the trunk region. These may include mover-type exercises, isolation trunk exercises and isometric held positions. These held positions allow the individual to experience the importance and discipline of static strength. When performing some exercises you may not even feel incredible muscle fatigue but you do experience a deep warmth within tissues and a better understanding of the role your powerhouse plays. Your fitness gains will be far greater, broader in scope and longer lasting. Whether you are swimming, running, cycling, playing team sports, climbing rocks, skiing, walking, lifting…this bracing effect must become second nature, always in place. Once you are aware of it and begin getting stronger you are more efficient in everything you do and you will find you use it constantly.

Remember don’t just think “abs” because it goes way beyond that. Work with your trainer or instructor on finding the ways to improve where you are now. You will feel more solid, more in control, stand taller and have a new sense of what your body is really able to achieve!

~ Kari

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy New Year to Everyone!

I can hardly believe I have been saying that to ProRobics members since 1982. I want to welcome all of the new members who are trying out the gym this month. I love January especially for this reason. I sincerely hope you are able to find the support, encouragement, equipment and classes you need to keep coming back as the weeks go by. It is our goal that your commitment to fitness becomes a life-long passion that you simply can’t live without. Please make a point of sampling everything here. We have been around for a long time and because of that we hope you experience the heightened sense of community and family within our gyms.
I want to take a moment to address our Group Ex classes because I strongly believe participating in these is the best way to meet other members, develop friendships and simply feel a part of a wave of movement. Here are some tips to guide you to the right class.

Some classes are truly geared for the person new to group exercise. Those would include:
1) All mind-body classes (Yoga, Pilates, Reach, Beam) These are slow, controlled full-body workouts that give you the time and the tools to progress at your own pace. These classes are a fantastic way to improve your mindfulness and movement technique while working on strength, flexibility and balance.
2) All muscle strength/endurance classes (BodyPump™, CUT, FIT, Core/Ball, Abs Only, Ball 360, Gravity™) These classes offer excellent instruction and progression using varied types of in-studio equipment such as barbells/plates, dumbbells, tubing, bands, balls. Some of these workouts include cardio intervals so you get both aerobic and muscle training.
3) Basic Cardio Workouts (Cycle, BodyStep™, ForeverFit, Zumba®, CardioMix) When your goal is to get that heart rate up but not be too worried about getting the moves these are the workouts for you. The emphasis is on keeping you moving, burning calories and pushing yourself as hard or as easy as you want.

As you progress and confidence builds, OR if you are new to the gym but not new to Step or Aerobics these classes offer that next level of challenge and fun…

1) Advanced cardio/choreography workouts (HiLoDance, HiLoChallenge, Step Challenge) We are one of the few gyms that offer this level of complexity to go with your cardio workout. The emphasis is not only on the heart rate but also on improving movement skills, memory, transitioning and in many cases dance skills. The HiLo (stands for Hi and Low Impact combination) classes are faster paced, directionally challenging and amazingly fun if you have the patience to be mentally pushed in your workout.

In closing I want to say a BIG Happy New Year to our long-time loyal members!! You are what make this gym what it is. Thank you for always being so welcoming to new members. Thank you for being patient and informative when they may not understand certain procedures within a class or around the gym. We all remember how hard it is to step into a room full of strangers. So thank you everyone for being true ambassadors to ProRobics. This will be another great year!