Guest post: a fitness bonding evolution

So, ya’ll know by now that one of my sisters and I really bond over our workouts.  This barre n9ne challenge came at just the right time for both of us – both physically/mentally but also in terms of our relationship. Now that we don’t work together anymore (and commute together), we have far less time together. This challenge has become “our” time and we’ve been having a blast together – which resulted in quite the giggle fit during the stretch/cool-down in class the other night (whoops, hope nobody heard us).  It’s also resulted in a pretty cool realization – something my sister so eloquently shares in her guest post for me below – on our fitness bonding evolution.

For the last few years, my sister Jess and I have embarked on fitness ‘challenge’ after challenge together because we love to try new things and push ourselves (as you probably already know!) and because doing it together makes it that much more fun. Whether it’s Cathe Friedrich’s STS series (or her Road Trips, which we’ve loved and are sad to miss this year!), training to run our first-ever half marathon together, training for (and PASSING) Group Kick certification, the ‘homegrown’ Core Fusion 30 day challenge we did recently, and now, the Barre N9ne 60 day transformation. (Phew, guess we’ve done a lot, huh?) I’m proud to say I wouldn’t have wanted to have it any other way…experiencing all of this together has been the best part of it all!)

So, this Monday, as we kick-started our first full Barre N9ne week of classes, when I heard “Start me Up” by Kingston come over the speakers, I instantly flashed back…to Group Kick. We were training. And practicing. And practicing some more. And rehearsing for our second-ever launch (every three months there is a ‘launch’ of a new program and as part of that, our group of instructors would get together, assign tracks to learn and teach it to each other). If I recall, Jess had this song (the warm-up track) and I remember watching her teach it to us and she did it so effortlessly (and of course, for some reason, that track was tricky for me to learn that time around!) and she had a huge grin on her face. We had fun learning to cue tracks, show energy, and get through an entire cardio-intense class together.

But most importantly, we did it together.

Fast forward back to class on Monday. The song was slower than in Group Kick (it was a remix then) and we were sitting on mats on the floor next to each other. Focusing hard. On form, On lengthening. On proper form for the ab moves we were doing. And I looked over and just smiled. She knew exactly what I was thinking (and I, what she was thinking) and smiled back. And it came to me…this is what we bond over. This is what we love to do together. This is something nobody can ever take away from us, because it’s made us who we are, we’ve learned so much from these challenges and they bring us closer than ever.

So, thank you sis, for being part of this journey together. It’s always a fun ride and we always learn so much. Here’s to another fitness challenge together. Rock on. We got this.

Overheard at Core Fusion…

…”Focus on your journey…a journey that never ends.(fitness)”

Spoken by the one and only Fred DeVito, founder of Core Fusion and Exhale Spas.

You might remember the last time my sis and I took a class of his last time he was in Boston. It went something like this:

That was life changing…

I didn’t think. I just moved.

And it was unreal just how motivating it was, and incredibly detoxfying. I even tried some moves I was only modifying before and I was stunned to see that I didn’t do a half bad job at the “real” version of flat back, for example. Just his encouragement was all I needed – he came by during that very move and said “tomorrow – you’ll get there” and just smiled. And I beamed with pride

Yeah, it was just like that. Again.

Only this time? I felt even more confident in my movements. Even stronger. More in control. More in the moment.

And, remember those moves I talked about mastering?
Yeah, I still haven’t mastered them. Truthfully, I never will.

As Fred said, fitness is a journey that never ends. And working through Core Fusion is part of that journey for me in such a big way. I was just so incredibly proud of myself tonight for the changes I saw in some of those moves. Moves I thought I’d never get better at back during my original Core Fusion Challenge.

The curl? MUCH stronger and more control.
Flat back/round back series? Yup, still have majorly tight hamstrings but the more I do these moves, the better it’s getting.

And I dig it. So much.

But really, it truly has become all about the journey for me. Not just with Core Fusion but with all of these fitness goals I place before me. Goals that are no longer about the numbers. Not about schedules. Not about structure.

Running.
Weight training.
Swimming (someday!).
Core Fusion.

A journey.
My journey. 
A journey that never ends.

The mental game

Working out is as much physical as it is mental.

I’d actually argue it’s even more mental than physical.

And here’s why, using myself as an example.

I run. I love it. But I didn’t always love it. In fact, I used to gasp for breath, telling my husband and running partner that “I can’t do this.” And it wasn’t because I couldn’t physically handle that run, it was because I mentally wasn’t prepared for the challenge. I didn’t know how to let go and just let my body take over, trusting it to carry me along. Today, I do. I trust in myself, not just physically, but that I’m mentally capable of crossing the finish line of another half marathon, or completing another group fitness certification, or finally learning to swim. I trust. Therefore, it will happen.

I’m a self-professed Core Fusion addict. As you all know, from my Core Fusion Challenge, I struggled the most with changing my mental attitude towards a workout that didn’t leave me breathless like a killer spin class, or drenched like a hot and sweaty summer run. But it was that mental shift that helped me to see and embrace the benefits that Core Fusion has offered me. It’s given me a stronger core, leaner legs and arms and increased flexibility. But mentally? It’s my source of “finding my center” in the midst of chaos – something that will certainly come in handy during SXSW this week in Austin – but it’s also my source of inner strength and quiet confidence. Something that I haven’t found through any other workout.

So what’s the theme in both of these examples? That it took me overcoming mental blocks for me to push myself physically, to challenge myself, mind and body. But it’s those mental blocks that are often the hardest to overcome – especially if you aren’t even sure what kind of workout you might even enjoy. I’m thinking of a beginner, someone who has struggled to get and stay fit. To commit. For them, it might not even be the physical challenge that’s the hardest, but it’s the mental piece that is key. A key that isn’t always so obvious or easy to find and unlock.

Am I making any sense here?

I guess what I’m saying is this: if you’re struggling to commit to living your best life yet, explore the mental side of that workout that scares you/intimidates you/that you’ve been avoiding for a million reasons.

Go for it.

Trust yourself.

Let your body carry you, leading the way.

Once you figure that out, you’ll be golden.

Core Fusion, live with Fred DeVito

Life changing.

That is the only way I can possibly describe tonight’s Core Fusion class at the newly opened Exhale Spa at Battery Wharf in Boston.

Now, my sis and I took our first live class together yesterday at the same location…it had been at least a year or two since we last attempted a live class. Well before we initiated our Core Fusion Challenge a month or so ago, even.

And lemme tell you, that was an experience in and of itself yesterday.

But when Dori alerted us (love you, girl!) that Fred DeVito - THE Fred DeVito – was coming back to the Battery Wharf location tonight to teach one class, we HAD to be there. Just had to. I left work a full 90 mins early just to get there (and good thing I did, directionally challenged, much??).

And it was completely and utterly life-changing.

I honestly don’t even know how to capture our experience tonight in this post. Words seriously won’t do it justice. But I’ll try.

Fred DeVito, in a word? Has such an amazing presence about him. He’s calm, he’s extremely centered and ridiculously inviting and encouraging. (jobo commentary: hey, you stole my line, that’s exactly what I thought! He was radiant, calm, balanced. And happy. All sorts of happy!)

He immediately asked where his “twitter friends” were – um, that would be us! He welcomed us in with a warm smile and a handshake. And from there, we were off. He instructed us not to listen to his instruction but to just do what he said, without thinking. And you know what? That is EXACTLY how the class went.

I didn’t think. I just moved.

And it was unreal just how motivating it was, and incredibly detoxfying. I even tried some moves I was only modifying before and I was stunned to see that I didn’t do a half bad job at the “real” version of flat back, for example. Just his encouragement was all I needed – he came by during that very move and said “tomorrow – you’ll get there” and just smiled. And I beamed with pride. (jobo commentary: this is where he held my legs up higher and really pushed me, and to my surprise, my legs *did* go higher and I was able to hold it. It felt incredible).

He believes in his students. I mean, TRULY believes. And here I am gushing away, but that’s exactly the reaction he brings out in his students. He instills courage and pride and strength and focus. (jobo commentary: he came over to me as I was doing the curl, lifted my back up and slid his kneees under my back and whispered, ‘lean back. Now hold your arms out wider, lengthen your legs and just hold it.’ And having that guidance was exactly what I needed. And damn, did I feel it, like whoa!)

He wills you to push harder. And you do. No thinking. Just doing.

I’m sitting here in utter awe at how changed I was by tonight’s experience. I am completely and totally re-commited to Core Fusion like never before. Seriously. I want to see even more change, deeper change, by going to the class as much as I can. Fred urged us to commit for three weeks – three classes a week and “then you’ll be hooked.” And I’m right there. (jobo commentary: um, me too. Can I just, like, move in there and go every single day?!)

Thank you Fred DeVito. We are changed. And inspired. And ready to surrender to Core Fusion all over again. 

Facing “fear,” boot camp-style

Remember my confession that I was just a teensy-tiny bit scared of Core Fusion Boot Camp?

It only came out in me and my sister’s “she said/she said” blog post and only because my sister forced me to add a “confession” to the list of Core Fusion ruminations in that post (when in doubt, blame your sister, works like a charm).

But for real – I *was* afraid of it. I had only done it twice as of that post. Twice out of almost the entire 30 days of the Core Fusion Challenge? C’mon, I’m better than that, right??

So this week? I faced down my “fear” of Core Fusion Boot Camp.

Not only did I conquer it on Monday, but I faced and conquered it *again* this morning, on a FRIDAY morning no less. Fridays, as you know, are SO much harder for me. I’m exhausted from the long week and the last thing I usually want to do is something super-duper challenging like Core Fusion Boot Camp.

But I did it.

And guess what? It wasn’t nearly as challenging today. I mean – don’t get me wrong, that is a damn hard workout, no doubt about it. But today I was ready for it. The jump-back series (x2!) was ridiculous as usual but I loved how it made me feel. My entire body was warm, sweat trickling down my back and I was alive. Talk about a total body workout. From the jump-backs to the push-ups on the playground ball to the planks on the playground ball and all sorts of Core Fusion fun in between?

Well, I have nothing left to say than this: TGIF. I’ve freakin’ earned it! And, I’ll add that to the “goals accomplished” list for the Core Fusion Challenge. Hmm there may be a follow-up blog post in there…

Happy, happy Friday – it’s freezing out here, but at least the sun was up not even halfway into my workout today. Which makes e even MORE excited for daylight savings time! I miss the sun…I feel like a bat half the winter. Up in the dark, inside at work all day, leave for the night and it’s pitch black. Seriously, something is VERY wrong with that, don’t you think??

Core Fusion Guest Blog: The Mirror

As you know, we’re nearing the “end” of the official Core Fusion Challenge.

But what you also know is that this isn’t where the journey ends. It’s just the beginning for my sister and I. We are total Core Fusion Converts. Or addicts, really.

In reading my sister’s guest post (if you missed her first one, check it out here) – I totally couldn’t help myself so you’ll see some “color commentary” from me throughout. I hope she doesn’t mind. ;-)

The Mirror.

Using the mirror in Core Fusion…who knew?!

While traveling this week, I have been doing Core Fusion in my hotel room. There is a table with a mirror in front of it that I opted to do last night’s Core Fusion workout in and WOW, did it make a difference (and side note: Core Fusion Thighs and Glutes…whoa Nelly! That was tough, but I loved it! Can’t believe I hadn’t tried that one yet).

Things I noticed?

- I need to acutely focus on tucking in my core when doing standing glute work. I tend to pooch my lower core out, versus tucking it in constantly. I tend to start that way, and then eventually it starts to creep out of position. Holding it the entire time during each move made a huge difference!! <—this was HUGELY eye opening for me when I went to the Core Fusion classes at Exhale Spa (wish I stuck with it way back when I first discovered CF a couple years back!). It actually takes a lot more “thinking” to keep everything in it’s place, keeping proper form throughout each series of moves, your brain kinda hurts at the end, ha.

- Watching myself doing leg lifts or squats or whatever the move may be is motivating in itself. Because I am starting to see more definition. And my legs are starting to creep higher and straighter. Small changes but with each tweak, I feel better, taller, leaner. <—walking tall(er)! LOVE IT!!

- It’s far too easy to fall out of position when you aren’t watching yourself and are watching the DVD. I fell into this when training for Group Kick as well…just going through the motions more than feeling each one, putting energy, strength and intent behind each move. Watching myself really helped tighten that up (no pun intended) <—that’s one thing I truly love about Core Fusion vs. any other workout you can do at home or at the gym – by its very nature, your mind is much more engaged in the workout, which means your body is much more engaged in the movement. It’s far harder (at least for me) to “zone out” during Core Fusion because every move has meaning. Every hold, every pose, has a purpose. An intent. It’s that mind-body connection thang, really and truly.

- I can’t wait for my two-week Rue La La membership to Exhale Spa to go to some classes! I know it will help improve my form, and boost progress and tone. I won’t lie, I am intimidated, because even though I know I have improved, I am still a beginner in every sense of the word! But I never shy away from a challenge, now do I? (or we!) <—helllllll yeah! I seriously am so psyched for the two weeks worth of classes! You bet your ass we’ll be taking FULL advantage of as many CF classes as we can, too. Game on.

Bring it!

Core Fusion Challenge – the final week…

So here we are.

It’s the final week of the Core Fusion Challenge my sister and I embarked on way back on February 1st.

Part of me wondered if I’d make it through this month without “cracking” due to the complete change in workout routine and thus, mindset, it would require.

But now that I’m here and I’m looking back at just how changed I feel after the past few weeks of the challenge, I can’t imagine it ever ending.

So I’m not ending it.

Well – not really. Sure, I’ll still call this week the “last” week of the Core Fusion Challenge. Because it is the last week of the challenge as I defined it originally.

But it’s certainly not over for me. Now that Core Fusion is in my life, I can’t imagine just ending it here. I feel too changed, too impacted by it…

  • I’m *still* determined to conquer these Core Fusion moves.
  • I want to overcome my apparent “fear” of Core Fusion Bootcamp and come to terms with our love/hate relationships.
  • I am looking forward to more “she said/she said” blog posts with my sis…perhaps a series we’ll return to when we start our two weeks of Core Fusion classes at the newly opened Exhale Battery Wharf in Boston (thank you, Rue La La!).
  • I want to have even more eye opening experiences thanks to a stronger core like I did the other night after Kick.
  • And, not gonna lie, I’m really digging the compliments (totally unprovoked!) from my husband who said “wow, you look so long!” the other night while I was cleaning up after dinner. And for anyone who knows me in person, or has met me, “long” is not exactly a word to describe me (hi 5’3″ much?).

Yeah, I’m pretty much infatuated with Core Fusion.

And, I’m excited for the “last” week of this challenge…but even more so, I’m excited about what’s to come in the next phase of the journey.  Which maybe, just maybe, will include me touching my toes someday…mastering on-the-toes push-ups…and finding my “inner length” despite my height challenged ways. ;-)

Workouts as “detoxifying”

“Detoxifying”

This is a word I hear a lot from Fred DeVito during some of the Core Fusion workouts I”ve been doing at home. Usually it’s in reference to a hip opening move or spinal stretch or other stretching techniques.

But when I really paused to think about it, I totally view an entire workout as a detoxifying process.

Not just physically (though that’s a huge part of it) but also mentally.

And I think that’s a big reason I return to my workouts faithfully each and every day (‘cept for that rest day, of course).

It detoxifies me.

Centers me.

Makes me feel alive.  Energized.

Toxin-free.

Finally! I have an answer to the question I get all the time: “how do you stay so committed to your workouts?”

Working out is detoxifying.

At least it is for me.

This as I sit here working from home today and noticing that I’m increasingly feeling the effects of Kick last night followed by Core Fusion Body Sculpt this morning. Can you say DOMS city?? Ahhh, just how I like it. Nice and warm and toasty up in my back, my shoulders, my core, my glutes (ok, my ass).

Not a bad way to kick off the weekend if you ask me. Yes, pun intended. Because that’s this workout nerd rolls. Take me or leave me. ;-) 

 

Well, that was eye-opening

I returned to Kick tonight.

For the first time in ohhhh, about four weeks or so.

….does four weeks ring a bell to you?

That’s just about how long I’ve been in this Core Fusion Challenge with my sis.

And wow, was tonight’s class eye-opening.

Usually I find Kick to be EXTRA challenging when in the class versus doing it at home (which is a given since there’s that competitive edge that comes out when in a class setting, afterall). And even harder if I’m teaching it (note to self: I miss teaching!!).

Well tonight’s class felt so different.

Not “easy” by any stretch. Still an ass kicker for sure. But tonight’s class? I felt stronger. Powerful. In control of my moves – especially those side kicks, roundhouse kicks and front kicks.

I totally credit two things to why Kick felt so good tonight:

1 – intervals. All those intervals I love to hate? They are amping up my endurance! High five to me!

2 – Core Fusion! A strong core? Well damn, it transformed my Kick technique incredibly. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror a couple times and dare I say, I looked pretty fierce. ;-)

Moral of this story? I heart Group Kick…and I *really* heart Core Fusion. It’s opened up my eyes to a whole new side of fitness I’ve been avoiding for far too long.

Do I regret that? Nah. I wasn’t ready to embrace it. But I am now. Like whoa. ;-)

Core Fusion: She said/She said

That’s what she said.

Oh wait. Different blog post.

<insert giggling like two five-year-olds here>

Rather than have my sis guest blog for me again on how things are going with her Core Fusion Challenge (because she already has a big enough blog ego since that post generated the most hits in a single day to my blog ever…but I digress), I figured we’d “co-blog” tonight instead. (and she’s even claiming this post as “her idea” as I type this…see what I mean about blog ego???). I kid. I kid. Kinda

Moving on.

Let me introduce you to a little segment I like to call: Core Fusion: She said/She said

Favorite Core Fusion move(s)?

She said (that’s me!):The plank! Followed closely by that ab curl (love to hate). The plank is one that always frustrates the hell outta me. We had a “plank contest” at our gym and I was like SO annoyed by the mere thought of it…how the eff can someone plank for MINUTES on end?? I mean, really – who has a plank contest anyway <crosses arms> But now? I think a plank contest would be kinda neat…though I could probably only hold it for like a minute+ but still, progress!

She said (the sis): The ab curl, because no matter what, it’s challenging and I always feel a little stronger after. And any move that will give us ‘high rounded butts” as Elisabeth calls them. I want a nice ass butt for Jamaica dammit! <—me too!

Least favorite move(s)?

She said (that’s me!): For me – it’s gotta be the ab curl to the side, the ones that work obliques. I don’t know why, but doing those are SO much harder for me to do properly than the regular ab curl. Drives me NUTS. I still love to hate the darn things though…what can I say, they work.

She said (the sis): Downward dog. I freakin’ hate those. And you know why? Because there are about five hundred of them in Core Fusion Boot Camp (and Yoga)!

Most improved (so far)?

She said (that’s me!): The flat back/round back series. Wait, scratch that. Make it the round back series – flat back is still much harder for me given how inflexible I am in the quads. But round back? I can pick up my feet for some of those sequences which is a big step for me. Before, it was a lot of shuffling and awkward jerking moves that got me nowhere fast.

She said (the sis): Overall stamina – strength in stillness. Less overall “I’m-gonna-die-this-sucks-this-is-so-hard-I-don’t-wanna” thoughts streaming through my brain. Second most improved? The flat back series. Like my sister, I’m much more graceful than the aforementioned jerking motion outlined above. (Note to Lindsay – sorry, no videos allowed yet, maybe some pics next time now that we’re a wee bit more graceful, i.e. not fodder for blackmail material)

Confession(s):

She said (that’s me!): Core Fusion Boot Camp scares me. A lot. As in, I’ve only done it a few times twice. It’s like I need to “work up” to it in my head. If I wait too long into the week to add it to the rotation. It ain’t getting in there. Note to self: do this one on Mondays or Tuesdays when you’re least sore/tired and more likely to bite the bullet. Friday? No chance in hell. (peanut gallery comment: You call that a confession? Wuss!)

She said (the sis): Um. I sometimes once in awhile skip the stretch at the end if I’m running low on time. Please. No scolding. I know this is bad. That’s why it’s a confession. (peanut gallery comment – um hello! We are the LEAST flexible humans on the planet, don’t avoid stretching at the end!! Ok, I’m done. Peanut gallery response: why do you think I hate to stretch?)

Well, now that I totally feel like I have multiple personalities after typing this up, I hope you enjoyed our little Core Fusion Progress Report.

Our grades thus far:

Effort: A+

Enthusiasm: A+

Creativity: eh, not sure where I was going with this one. We’ll give it a solid C.

Commitment: A- (because we can’t give ourselves *all* A+ grades now could we? How presumptuous of us!)