Snowboard Training

Dear Mike,THANK YOU!!  Love,Biz
It can be hard to tell week to week whether I'm benefiting from the training or not especially since I have a hard time keeping up any regimen outside of training.  Then comes a revolutionary moment where I experience the benefits in a very clear specific way.  

This weekend I went snowboarding for the first time this season.  I always plan for this to be a frustrating and somewhat painful experience.  I crank my boots as tight as possible to minimize foot movement (read: the board moves more with less muscle use) and still my calves and quads start burning on the first or second run.  As the day progresses my feet and ankles grow numb and sore from lack of circulation, my feet start cramping and I get frustrated (read: whiny).  I take lots of breaks and adjust my equipment constantly (Read: it must be an equipment malfunction and can't possibly relate to my being out of shape).  Usually the second or third day out of the season I finally start to find my stamina and am able to go without getting too whiny.  Don't get me wrong despite all of that I LOVE snowboarding I just usually have to get through the first week or so before I begin to board at my normal level and can work on improving.  

This year was completely different.  I strapped in and prepared myself for a long whiny day and found none of my normal problems.  By the third run I was doing pretty well and feeling really comfortable on my board.  Additionally going slowly and stopping for slower members of our group would usually wear my legs out even faster but my legs were fine.  ALL DAY.  I loosed my boots and my legs were still ok (read: I could feel my toes).  About halfway through the day it struck me why it was so different this year.  MIKE!  It was my training.  It's the only explaination.  My legs are in better shape then they have been in years!  All those squats, swings, bulgarians, turks, and other nationalities are paying off big time.

In addition to keeping me from being a whiny baby I was boarding with better form than normal.  Usually I get lazy and tend to glide with my legs straight whenever possible and choose easy terrain that doesn't require a lot of work.  With my newfound leg strength and stamina I was able to lower my center of gravity and board with great form.  This meant I was able to go on harder terrain, faster and with more control (read: falling less).  I was on black diamonds my second day back.  Usually I won't go on them for at least a week (read: if at all).  Not only was I going on them but I was really boarding them (read: making turns not just getting to the bottom without dying).  

I have a feeling our next day out I might start doing tricks (read: go in half pipe without dying and/or go in kids trick park without dying).  I may even get a trick lesson (read: probably a good idea).  

So this is a big thanks to Mike!  I have clear evidence that my legs are in better shape than they have been in years and its due to the banging training we do each week.  Kick ass!


I Hate Christmas – and So Do My Pants

Now I don’t mean this in a Jesus-way, I mean it the over-commercialized, starting in July and especially: “How many parties with food that I’m not supposed to eat but can’t resist can you cram in to one month.”

I’ve been trying to lose 15 pounds for about 15 years now. Although to be fair, some years I was trying to lose 20. Somehow even with all the good changes, I’ve lost nothing. I think for every good move, my metabolism has taken an age-related downturn. So weighing about 10 pounds more than I did in high school is not too shabby and the great work that I’ve done has contributed to maintaining a fairly healthy weight as I age, which according to the rest of America’s track record is a freakin’ miracle. In the US, 68.5% ofadults are overweight  so I don’t think I’m alone when struggling through the holidays desperately trying to prevent the almost inevitable 5-pound creep.

Here’s the great thing about the personal training we do with Mike – if you improve your strength, your body changes and it shows – even under the fat. I have actually gained a little bit of weight but I know it’s muscle because my clothes are no tighter and they look better on me.

So this brings me to our last session. If there’s one exercise that I like (and hate) for changing my body, it’s the kettle bell swing. Although of course for Biz and I, we call it a kettle ball. Grab a heavy weight and swing it up by thrusting your pelvis forward and squeezing your ass tight (Mike’s got a video on his FB page to demo how you really do it). 

Clearly for our banging training this is the ultimate exercise. It also does double duty because you can’t do it for very long without seriously engaging your cardiovascular system. It will make you hyperventilate and sweat all over – even your knees! This bad boy works the whole backside of your body and at the right angle gives you some lovely cleavage – if you’re Biz anyway. I lack the raw materials. It will also get your booty sitting higher up in no time and give you the back strength to improve your posture, which is the fastest, cheapest way to look better besides smiling!

When Biz and I do kettle balls, the whole gym experiences a boost in testosterone. Not just because we are kicking ass but also because out heavy breathing (and some grunting towards the end) makes it sound like there must be an orgy going on! Take that Christmas fudge!!


Exercise & Stress Relief

You're Only One Workout Away From A Good Mood

Every week we come into the gym and Heather and I show up and sound like a broken record.  Mike asks us how we are and we say “ok… stressed about work but hopefully it will get better soon”.    EVERY WEEK.  It’s time to face some reality… its not getting better or at least not quickly.  The good news is that I’m always much less stressed when I leave.   I decided to do a little research into the connection between stress and exercise.
First off let’s accept that I am not a doctor, scientist, trainer, or anyone particularly official.  Lets also accept that my research is primarily unverified Google searches.  According to the Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Health letter “It’s clear that exercise is beneficial for mental health. What’s not clear is how it works.” If he can’t explain how it works then its ok if I can’t. 
The first thing I discovered is that there is a  That’s sounds like either a really relaxing place to work or a REALLY not relaxing place to work.  They have lots of info on Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation aka electric head therapy… no thanks.   I’ll try the exercise thing first they can shock my brain later.
 I also found that scientists like to stress out rats and force them to run on their wheels. Which is not cool“In animal studies, rats who were allowed to exercise as much as they wanted to on a free running wheel showed less severe and fewer “fight or flight” responses to a painful stressor compared to litter mates in similar cages with a fixed wheel.”   A painful stressor, like what?  Rat divorce?  Rat communications team training?  Thank God I’m not a rat and I found one doctor to agreed with in writing stating “Of course, rats are not people.” Whew!
Heather as a Dead Bug, Not a Rat
Then I found some actual research from the Mayo Clinic.  I trust them, they are Minnesotans and therefore are trustworthy.
Exercise and stress relief
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits. 
  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
  • It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
What the Mayo clinic says makes sense to me.  The more regularly I exercise the more I feel the effect and the longer the effects seem to last.  When I work out with Mike I feel less stressed the rest of the night.  When I exercise 3 or more times a week I start to see the impact on my stress/mood even on days I don't workout.  I also sleep better which helps with my mood and the stress.  I guess my point it that I need to keep it up with Mike and get in a couple more workouts and hope that it gets better.  ;)
One final note... banging is also good stress relief so banging training should help with banging which in turn will help with stress... take that Mr. Harvard!
Here’s some links to some of the stuff I found.  Also the link to so you can look into Cranial Electo Hububbaloo 


Angry Balls II - You thought you looked dumb last time

Ok so I'm not one to accuse anyone of anything but I'm pretty sure that after my blog post about angry swiss balls Mike went home and tried to think of the most ridiculous thing for us to do with balls.  Call it a hunch.  I believe this enough so that we have, for the first time, felt the need to provide video evidence of our experience.  To give you a taste picture Heather and I attempting this:

Except take away the handle part and picture us only using our legs to hold the ball.  

Now before you just scroll to the bottom and watch the video to mock us, read the rest of the blog that I worked so hard on while developing a mental picture of what is coming.

So in addition to new swiss ball exercises we also did kettle bells (henceforth to be known as kettle balls in keeping with our theme).  Additionally, to clarify, training will now be referred to as "banging training" as improved banging seems to be the strongest motivating factor for us.  

Of all the banging training Kettle Ball Swings probably rank second in the "banginest" moves we do list.  So much hip thrusting and grunting.  There is one other hip thruster that likely takes top honors but we'll talk about that another time.  We did about 100 ball swings (and thats not an exaggeration it's just how badass we are).

Although Turkish Getups sound like they'd be pretty "bangy" they actually are just hard and to clarify I mean difficult.  They are mostly about trying to not let the kettle ball hit you in the head when your arm muscles give out, which they will. A dead Heather is only fun for Jack.  6 of these and we are warmed up and ready for bigger balls.

Both Heather and I told Mike how much we liked working with balls and he apparently misunderstood us because he got out the swiss balls for us to workout with, silly trainer.   One of us (Heather) asked for more ab work..."idiot", I mean "love you".

We started with:
  •  "Use you feet to bring balls to your butt" aka Hamstring curls.  Totally counts as banging training.

    Then there was the repeat of: 
    • "Dead Bug" Heather had blocked this one out so Mike had to remind her.  I might rename this one "Soon to be a Dead Bug" as the torture more closely resembles that than a dead bug.  I could lay there like a dead bug all day.
    • “Practice trying to close your legs while there’s balls in the way” Apparently I needed more practice at holding a ball between my legs. Once again the sideplank with a swiss ball between your legs.  I rocked the first side by not cheating for a full 30 seconds of the 60 seconds (Mike was not impressed).  The second side was not so pretty but I still tried.
    And then there was:

    • “Practice trying to close your legs while there’s balls in the way – Version 2.Oh!” (hold a medicine ball between your legs while you “boat”).  Seeing as how I made comments about not being able to keep my legs closed for more than 10 seconds  Mike decided to offer up some practice for me.  So kind of him to be so thoughtful.  It looked vaguely like this:

    OK... OK.. You've read enough.  For your mocking pleasure:

    Be Kind.  We try so hard,
      ~ Biz (the Serious one)