The one with the hard sell…

If you follow me on Twitter you may have caught these Tweets from Saturday:

  • Considered switching gyms but guy at prospective gym tried to hard sell me everything but a mini-van.#thankyouno
  • Come to think of it he did mention fold flat seats… 

I’ve recently added power lifting to my strength routine and my gym doesn’t really have the room or the gear that I really want/need. When I got an email saying that my membership was up for renewal I thought I might check out what the competition had to offer since the other gym is closer to my house and has a better weight room. (The gym I go to has a pool and a track which the other doesn’t  so it does have its advantages, for sure.)

I went to the “other guys” to find out whether the price would be comparable to what I was paying and was a little surprised when I was required to take a tour and give them my name and info before they would tell me a price. Though I was somewhat perturbed by this, I complied and went on the tour.

The guy taking me on the tour was so condescending. He treated me like I had never stepped foot in a gym before, but maybe should have. He made an assumption that I was looking to lose weight and take spin classes, neither of which is something that I have any real interest in. I am a muscular person and won’t pretend to be small for a second but I’m pretty darn solid. I was insulted by the fact that a woman walking into the gym looking into pricing MUST be a.) not happy with her weight b.) not knowledgeable about fitness c.) only interested in group fitness.

During all of this he tried to sell me a $3500 training package and when I told him I already had a trainer he immediately pointed out that they wouldn’t be able to work out with me there, that I wouldn’t have their equipment to workout with anyone but their trainers. I’m aware of that, thank you. I work out with her at HER gym.

I was put off immediately (I don’t do well with pressure sales) and upon finishing the tour was STILL not able to find out a price. He told me I should try the gym out for a week and then he’d give me a quote. A QUOTE? I thought I was buying a gym membership not having my floors tiled. I said forget it, that I wasn’t interested. Then came the fun part…

The guy tried to GUILT me into taking the free 7-day pass because if I didn’t then obviously I didn’t care much about my health. Obviously looking good isn’t important to me. Obviously feeling good isn’t important to me.

Right… because if you work out at another gym you’re automatically fat and ugly? You can keep your pretentious 7-day pass and your barter-for-your-membership policies and go away now. I’ll be staying with my original gym where the employees don’t work on commission and aren’t encouraged to try and make people feel like crap about themselves for the sake of a sale. They might only have one squat rack but I like every person who works there so I will continue to give them my $50 every month.

The one about Annapolis…

I had to do some research today for my internship. There was a photo in the newspaper of a woman named Marsalie MacKenzie modelling a dress, who happened to be an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy.  I was then tasked with finding out who this woman was so we could include the mention in our regular media monitoring. So, like all good researchers, I hit up Google.

What I ended up finding could not have been more fitting for my particular interests. As it turns out this woman attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 2009 as a Canadian exchange student from the Royal Military College. While she was there she wrote up a series of blog posts for the RMC website, one of which was about the stringent fitness requirements all the midshipmen are required to undergo.

Clearly, there is quite a difference between rights and freedoms in the US than there is in Canada because some of the rules they have to adhere to would be considered discrimination under our laws. For example, MacKenzie writes:

“Generally speaking, the average midshipman was leaner and meaner than their RMC counterpart-so much so that it led me to ask my roommates if it was in their constitution to attain (and maintain) rock-hard abs and chiselled pecs. At first they laughed and informed me that their chubbier peers, like bats or raccoons, only came out at night and at meals. As it turns out though, my original assertion was not so far-fetched; as my roommates explained, part of the yearly in-clearance procedure at the Naval Academy requires them to undergo height and weight testing, the results of which determines their eligibility for service.”

After reading this passage I immediately wondered what height and weight testing has to do with anything. When I joined the military in 2005 there was a requirement that before you went to basic training you had to pass your physical fitness test. During the year or so that it took to complete all of my paperwork and wait for my trade to become available that rule changed. At that point you could join the military in any shape and they would make sure that when you left you were fit. When I went to basic training you had to pass your PT test in the first week in order to move on with your platoon. If you didn’t pass your PT test you were moved to RFT (remedial fitness training) where you spent a month having some of the best fitness trainers in the country ‘whip you into shape’. At the end of that month you had to be able to pass your PT test and rarely was there an occasion where someone who stuck it out for that month would not be able to do it.

I won’t deny that I was weighed and measured when I went for my intial medical testing but that wasn’t got me into the military. It was my aptitude, my ability, my smarts that got me in and it was my level of fitness that carried me through until an injury led to my early release. The ultimate question though, was always ‘Can you pass your PT test?’ and you didn’t go anywhere until that answer was yes. I believe that is the way it should be but according to MacKenzie things are slightly different when it comes to the US Navy.

“However, in early October, I was summoned by my lieutenant, who informed me that I would report to the fifth wing gym to be weighed in with the UNSATS (those who had failed to meet their requirements in September). Some veterans of the process took it upon themselves to explain to me the protocol. First, each midshipman is led to a scale where their weight is recorded. Simultaneously, their height is measured by a second individual, while a third does a quick calculation. If they meet requirements, the midshipman is free to leave. If they do not, they are led to a pen where they await further measurement of their neck, waist, arms and calves (this is to ensure that “athletic builds,” specifically wrestlers, are not misidentified as overweight). Those who are UNSAT after this process are then placed on a strict diet, with portions rationed to them at every meal, and forced to attend supplementary morning PT (regardless of whether or not they have passed their physical fitness testing). Ironically, those midshipmen placed on special diets are the only ones allowed to have a fridge in their rooms for personal use.”

I understand wanting your recruits to be healthy and I understand encouraging them to make healthy selections when they walk into the mess hall. (Perhaps making healthy selections the only ones available would be a better method?) How though, can you expect someone to be able to giving a top performance both mentally a physically when someone else is controlling their calorie intake? Not because they’re ill, not because their body requires it, but because an arbitrary set of numbers has determined that they should eat less. What really irks me is that someone can pass their PT test but if their BMI isn’t ‘ideal’ they still have to take supplementary PT until it is? Your height to weight ratio has nothing to do with your ability to do your duties whether it’s for the military or not. And the reason for why they do this? According to MacKenzie the answer she got was that it was all about appearance. It’s not about doing your job, it’s about looking good in a uniform.

“From what I could deduce,” MacKenzie writes, “the US Navy considers this impossible for anyone wearing above a women’s size 10 or a men’s size 36 pants. Apparently, a lower BMI is a testament to an individual’s leadership potential; as it turns out, looking like ‘an officer’ is just as important as being one.”

Is this really the military we should all be looking up to as a standard for leadership? I have a hard time thinking so. Regardless of your ratio of height to weight if you serve your country, proudly wear the flag on your arm, and do your duties as required to the best of your ability, including passing your PT test, then you’re the one we should be looking up to.

Source

The one with my results…

Tomorrow will be a week since the Blue Nose Marathon so I figured I might as well catch you all up on how I did!

I could not have asked for a better day to run this 5K. It was a tad on the warm side but luckily I wasn’t going all that far. Keeping the course in mind I had set a goal time for myself of 35:00. Again, slow, but I am a tortoise and proud of it. We started running just after the marathon runners which was a little intimidating because they were SO in it to win and I was like, “Yay 5K! Go me!” haha

My bib and shirt!

We all got warmed up with a little pre race Zumba which was fun, and a different way of warming up. I quite enjoyed it except I almost killed the girl next to me when I stepped on her foot. Oops!

Then we were off! I will say that one thing I didn’t like was that there was no order when they lined everyone up at the start. There were nordic walkers and walkers at the front which made it very challenging to try and get out of the pack.

I spent a lot of time (and energy) dodging around walkers, fighting to get myself to a point where I could set a steady pace and stay in it. Every time I tried I would catch up to a pack of walkers that were walking three across or had nordic poles that I had to try and get around.

I had a chance to make up some of my time when I had the most energy at the start of the race but that took a lot of my time.

Regardless, I managed to get myself behind someone who ran about as fast as me and just settled in. The hill getting up to the top of the Citadel was unreal. I won’t lie, it was downright hard. What surprised me though was that it wasn’t the hardest part. I got up the super steep hill thinking to myself ‘Wow, that wasn’t so bad’ but then had to tackle to really long gradual hills and I found those far more draining on my energy. I pushed through though!

Once I got to the top of Citadel Hill and I knew that all that was left was downhill, a flat section, and a slight uphill to the finish I got a little excited/emotional. It was a beautiful view from way up there, I could see the entire city – so impressive. I really had to hold myself back when I actually said to myself, “The hardest part of this is over. You’re going to finish strong.” That was at the 3K flag.

Admittedly, I didn’t finish as strong as I would have liked to. I made a stupid mistake on the downhill section. I thought I could pick up some of the time I lost on the uphill by speeding my jog up to a run. The problem being that I didn’t really slow back down when I got to the flat section and by the time I hit the uphill to the finish I was toast. My body rebelled against me and just came to a complete stop. I had to walk for about 30 seconds but I did NOT want to walk across the finish line.

This is where it gets kind of funny. I needed to run again but my lungs were burning and my legs hurt and I just wanted to be done. So I resorted to drastic measures and said to myself, “Dinosaurs are chasing you. You’d better run.” For some ridiculous reason that worked and I scrounged up every tiny bit of energy I had left and sprinted to the finish line. My finish line photos are simply horrendous. I look TERRIBLE! lol

I finished though (within a minute and a half of my goal!) and that’s what matters. Now, I just want to get a bit faster!

Blue Nose Marathon 5K Results 
Goal time: 0:35:00
Finish time: 0:36:17.1
663rd place out of 1414 runners
179th out of 298 women 20-29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next race: Support the Troops Navy 10K – 19 August 2012

The one about countdowns…

I have to admit, I’m feeling a little stressed.

My life has been sort of a whirlwind the past couple of weeks (hence the lack of posts) because I am currently on my internship for school. It has kept me very busy and mentally exhausted so although I have a lot of ideas for Fatty that have brewed, I haven’t had the energy to sit down and write them.

One thing that hasn’t faltered (maybe a little) has been my workouts. I have made that a top priority. My job starts at 8am so it means I have to get up and go to the gym earlier than I was before and I really only have an hour once I’m there. My gym doesn’t open until 5:30 and I have to leave my house by 7:30 in order to get to work on time. So I’m somewhat restricted in what I can get done.

I have had plenty of time to focus on my strength training but my cardio has suffered. I have taken to doing some cardio after I get home from work but I seem to lack some of the enthusiasm that I have in the mornings. This wouldn’t be an issue except that the Bluenose Marathon is THIS WEEKEND.

Being realistic, I called a changed my registration from the 10K to the 5K because I haven’t ran a solid 5K in … two months? Before I started my internship I had been doing sprint training and was only doing endurance cardio once a week and usually on a bike (more kilometres, less time). That has sort of left me in a precarious situation because I feel like I am going into this under trained.

Anyone who runs halfs and marathons is likely rolling their eyes at my pathetic fears of delivering a weak 5K but running is not a strength of mine at the best of times. I am built for strength, not speed. I just don’t want to be disappointed with my results.

I’m going to try and get a couple of 5Ks in this week, then take Saturday off completely to rest up for Sunday morning. Wish me luck, I’ll let you know how it goes!

The one about plyo…

Usually when I meet up with trainer Cathy she asks me what, if anything, I’d like to focus on for that workout.

My answer is always the same – plyometrics.

I absolutely love doing plyo. There’s just something about that ability to use explosive energy to move yourself higher, faster, further that I find strangely satisfying.

Traditional cardio is my biggest downfall so I try to use active rest during my strength training (between sets) as a way to keep my heart rate up and get quality cardio in without the unhappiness that I generally find associated with sitting on a bike for an hour or running 5K. A lot of people are afraid of plyometrics though, or they don’t know where to begin. Most people know of a jump squat and a jump lunge, both effective, but doing them over and over again can get boring. There’s so much more to plyometrics that people can take advantage of to really ramp up their workout! Here’s a little Plyometrics 101 for those who might be curious about taking the leap… literally.

Plyometrics comes from the Greek word “pleythyein” (to augment or increase). American track coach Fred Wilt coined the word in 1975. Based from the Latin root words “plio” (more) and “metric” (to measure). The purpose of plyometrics is to train speed-based power. Almost everyone has done plyometrics at some point in their life, it’s the basis of running, skipping, throwing and jumping. This isn’t to be confused with power training – one single jump onto a high box doesn’t constitute plyometrics. It’s when you jump off the box, immediately load the muscle and go back into the stretch as you jump again that qualifies it. Speed does trump power. It’s a good idea to have a foundation in weight training before trying some of these moves. The cardio-only types might find it a bit too challenging starting out.

Here’s some terminology you might come across when exploring different types of plyo:
Jump – when you land with both feet
Hop – take off and landing on the same foot
Bound – take off on one foot, land on the other
Hurdle – jump up and over an object

Don’t forget your upper body either! Though more challenging, there’s lots of great options for plyometric exercises for your arms and chest. (Clap pushups, anyone?)

Fit Deck cards

I love my FitDeck cards!

I find a great way to always keep your plyometric exercises different is by making a deck of plyo cards or purchasing the plyometrics deck of FitDeck cards.

If you’re going to make your own, make a list of plyo exercises with a mix of speed, agility and footwork, (you can find all sorts of examples on bodybuilding.com, just click plyometrics on the filter) then flip three cards, add them up and do that many.

Plyometrics doesn’t just keep your heart rate up between sets either, it’s also a great fat burner! I often include plyo in the strength and conditioning class I teach and my “students” don’t dread anything more!

As motivation I often quote fitness great Jamie Eason, “By hitting both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers, these moves also will stoke your fat-burning furnace. Picture the marbling in a steak. Our bodies have intra-muscular fat like that. Plyometric exercises help “squeeze” the fat from those areas.”

Somehow that always works at getting another couple of reps in spite of the burning muscle pain! 😛

Here are some of my favourite plyometric exercises:
Jump rope
Hurdle jumps (I do them over a bench)
Knee tucks (or knee to chest hop)
Mountain climbers
Medicine ball slam 

Get jumping!

The one about inspiration…

This week I really needed some inspiration and I am thankful to have gotten it.

I haven’t talked much about my training lately because honestly I always have a lingering fear of failure in the back of my mind. I worry that if I’m too vocal about what I’m doing and then fail, I’ll have to be accountable for it. I’ve come to realize though that talking about it just means there are more people there to support and encourage me which makes it easier to succeed. So, upon the suggestion of a peer friend, I will be sure to update more often with my training progress.

I’m one day shy of finishing the fifth week of some fairly intensive strength training and I won’t lie, I’m starting to get tired. I’ve been fighting off a cold for a week and although working out regularly has kept my immune system high enough that I haven’t fallen completely into the grips of illness it’s still left me feeling a bit drained.

This week kicked off with two really terrible workouts. Monday morning I did an hour of lacklustre weights and was about halfway through my cardio when out of nowhere my engine sputtered and stalled. I had totally run out of gas. That would normally be the point where I would push myself to just make it through the rest but I couldn’t. I can’t recall the last time I felt like I had nothing left like that. I left the gym literally sick and tired. I went home, ate, and relaxed for a bit and did manage to have a much better cardio session later in the day.

I was desperately in need of some motivation and it came in the form of a simple Twitter notification.

If you remember from this post, she is one of my biggest fitness idols. I randomly replied to one of her tweets and she started following me because she thought the name of my blog is funny. It might seem silly but her follow on Twitter reminded me of what I’m trying to accomplish. Some day I want to be as inspiring to others as she is to me and I don’t think she would let a couple of bad workouts or some sore muscles stop her from reaching her goals. She is to me what Sidney Crosby is to every TimBit hockey player in Canada.

I kept those women that I mentioned weeks ago in the back of my mind as my alarm went off at oh-dark-thirty the next day and I powered through my workout. By Wednesday I was feeling better (albeit still trying to kick some chest congestion) and Thursday I felt more like myself again.

I workout alone most of the time so I don’t have another person driving and motivating me from five feet away. For me, I need to surround myself with strong, positive influences while I’m not in the gym and use them as my inspiration. I might not know Emily Stirling beyond Twitter (though maybe one day I will, I don’t want to speak too soon! lol) but she inspires me to push through one more rep the same way that trainer Cathy does for me when we are able to find time together.

I followed up that excitement by meeting with that friend I mentioned up at the top who told me I need to talk more about my training. She gave me some really great advice that I am definitely going to take, and likely blog about later. 🙂 I thought I would kick off my new trend by listing my current goals. Maybe getting them out there will help me make them reality.

Goals (as of March 2012)

In the next six months:
1. Finish my advanced diploma in public relations (five projects and one internship remain!)
2. Work out six times a week (six strength – three cardio)
3. Eat clean
4. Be able to finally give trainer Cathy that chin up she’s been demanding for years

In the next year:
1. Get a communications job in a health/fitness focused organization
2. Earn my personal training certification from CanFitPro
3. Compete in a fitness competition

Wish me luck!

Product Review – Zaggora Hot Pants

I’ve always wanted to be a consumer reporter. When I got into journalism I was jealous that while I sat through tedious town council meetings and covered court there were reporters out there getting tons of free stuff just so they could say “you should buy this!” or “this product sucks!”. It was just so cool to think that not only did they get to try out things that hadn’t hit the market yet, but they were also really the driving force behind why many people buy things. Your product showing up in a newspaper, or on TV with some reporters stamp of approval can really make or break it. So when I embarked on this blogging journey I knew I wanted to do some product and website reviews. I am somewhat limited by the fact that I am a full time student and part time broadcaster; meaning I don’t have much in the way of funds and this project was going to take money. What I lack in money though, I have in determination! I also have an uncanny ability to bargain shop. 🙂 To be clear, no one is paying me to talk about their products!

One day a couple of months ago I got an email from a certain “group coupon buying” website – I won’t say which one – about a product called Zaggora Hot Pants. The company claims these exercise shorts (now available in both capris and leggings also) can cut you down by two sizes in just two weeks. All you have to do is exercise in the pants for 30 minutes 3 times a week. After what could only be described as an over-exaggerated eyebrow raise I thought this would be a perfect product to start with! Zaggora is based out of the UK but they ship worldwide. It cost about $15 for shipping after the exchange rate (though they do allow you to shop in the currency of your choice, it is charged to your credit card in British pounds) and I was quite surprised when I had to pay an additional $31 in customs charges when it arrived! Just some things to note…

They fit pretty well, here I am rocking a size medium.
The texture of the fabric is interesting, overall comfortable but I couldn’t get over the noise! Even breathing is noisy in these things. Luckily when I’m running at home I can’t hear the swishing over the sound of the treadmill and my music but I don’t know if I would wear them to the gym. A recent update on their website now has the shorts in nude and says they are less noisy than their predecessor. I hope so! Also, I wore them a total of three times before one of the seams broke and I had to fix it. There was no way I was shipping them all the way back to the UK for an exchange.But the real test is whether or not they can achieve what they claim and make a person lose two sizes in two weeks based on 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week in the pants. Consider it a challenge I am taking up. I’ve now done two workouts in them and I will say I’ve never sweat so much in my life and for anyone who has seen me after a run that’s saying a lot. (I’m a sweaty girl, what can I say!) I had sweat running out of the bottom of the shorts, it was unreal. This may be TMI (it likely is) but when I took them off the undergarment I was wearing beneath them looked like it had just come out of the washer. Clearly they have some kind of magical powers, we’ll see whether that power lies in water loss or actual fat loss. They also claim to be a solution to cellulite but (don’t hate me) I don’t have that problem, so I can’t speak to it.

For the purpose of this exercise I measured myself before I started wearing the shorts. As a reference point… my thighs are 25.3”, hips are 42”. I think those would be the most likely areas to change, if any do, since they’re shorts. 🙂

In two weeks we’ll check out the results! (if there are any…)