Fitness

Teach me how to speedwalk

Teach me how to speedwalk 6

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It’s become a bit of a family tradition — each time I’m back home in Washington, my parents and I take an afternoon walk around Chambers Bay Golf Course after church on Sunday.

chambers

fam

 

The course boasts panoramic views of South Puget Sound, and has a fabulous three-mile walking path, public park and doggie playground. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, and I wasn’t at all surprised to learn it was selected to host the 2015 PGA Tour U.S. Open.

Visiting Chambers this past weekend was especially wonderful as it was sixty-five degrees out. Sixty-five degrees! As my family leisurely strolled along the paved path, enjoying breathtaking views of the Narrows Bridge, I wondered why in the world I had opted for a life in the frozen tundra of Minnesota?!?!

This sentiment didn’t last long, as I was quickly distracted by my father’s…um…booty shorts.

shorts

 

The fact that I didn’t inherit my father’s long, shapely stems remains one of the great injustices of my life. How is it that a sixty-five year old man has better legs than I do? And less leg hair? I had to find out.

“Hey, Dad” I asked casually while picking up my pace to catch up with him, “What do you do for a leg workout?”

A mischievous grin spread slowly across his face. He turned his head toward me, a twinkle in his eye. “Speed walking.” he proclaimed dramatically with an eyebrow raise.

Of course. Speed walking.

Twenty minutes later, we had reached what I like to call “the hill from hell”. Anyone who’s visited Chambers Bay is familiar with the twisted uphill climb through the forest on the north side of the trail. It doesn’t matter if you run, walk, or crawl…that hill will seriously mess you up.

My dad, a good ten paces ahead of me stopped at the base of the climb, turning around to face me.

“Wanna do a speed walk race?” he challenged.

I instantly nodded my head in agreement…if only because I wanted my legs to look as good as his in a pair of booty shorts.

“Good luck!” my sister Hayley chimed sarcastically, “He’s really fast.”

“You’ve raced him before?” I asked.

“Yup,” she nodded tellingly, “He beat me.”

This is the point where I became frightened. My sister Hayley is an elite athlete. She not only competes in triathlons…she literally wins them. She’s also a competitive rower who travels the country racing Olympians in training.  And she couldn’t beat Mark in a simple speed walk?

I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Before I could grow too concerned, the race had begun. Determined not to be defeated by a senior citizen, I turned up the gas and walked with all of my might. But it wasn’t enough. I, a twenty-nine year-old fitness instructor, was getting my ass handed to me on a platter by an old man in daisy dukes.

Clearly aware of my struggling, dad stopped at the halfway point to give a me a few pointers in terms of form and technique. Here’s what I learned:

 

  1. Keep your elbows bent at ninety degrees, arms in close to your torso. You don’t want to swing your arms so much as you want to pump them.
  2. Long strides won’t help you, especially on an incline. The key to effective speed walking is short, quick steps.
  3. Lean forward slightly, bracing your core muscles.
  4. Don’t straighten your legs all the way — always keep a slight bend in the knees.

With that, we were off to finish the second leg of our race. While Mark’s tips were certainly helpful — my form felt better and I could tell I was moving with more efficiency — my father still beat me by quite a long distance. He powered out of sight immediately, leaving me to speed walk the final leg of the course in solitude. I wouldn’t have minded walking by myself had there not been so many people laughing hysterically at me. I’m not quite sure if they were making jests at my speed walking style, or the fanny pack I was wearing, but I suspect it was probably a combination of both.

fanny

 

Despite the masses of taunting strangers, I dug deep within myself to find the confidence to finish what I had started. You laugh in the face of public humiliation, I kept telling myself as I pushed through the final stretch. Moments later, I was greeted by a smiling father, cheering my on as I huffed my way across the official finish line.

If you take away one thing from this post, let it be this: Speed walking is not for the faint of heart hamstrings. My heart was pounding, my body dripping with sweat, my face red as a beat. “That’s a serious workout!” I managed to gasp between breaths.

Mark nodded with validation. “I told you.”

*****

Now that I’ve returned home, the speed walking experience keeps popping up in my daily thoughts. Much to my surprise, I really liked it. It was just as much cardio as a jog or run, simply without the impact on my joints. While an hour of running leaves my knees stiff and creaky the following day, an hour of speed walking would be much gentler, yet every bit as sweaty and challenging. Furthermore, I felt a serious burn in my legs while speed walking. During a run, my knees, hips and ankles are the first to grow weary, undoubtedly from repeatedly pounding the pavement. But with speed walking? My leg muscles were on fire! I could tell that in addition to getting my heart rate sky-high, there was some serious toning going on down there.

Booty shorts, here I come!

Over the past few days I’ve come to realize that I don’t want speed walking to be something I randomly engage in while back home visiting my family. Dare I say it, speed walking might just be my new running!

When I told Scott this, he instantly forbid me from speed walking anywhere publicly. (Especially while wearing the fanny pack.)

Looks like I’ll be forced to keep my new hobby hush-hush…at least from my husband. On the bright side, “The ‘Sota Secret Speed Walk Club” sure has a nice ring to it.

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Two days of pumping

Two days of pumping 2

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No. Not that kind of pumping. (I realize I’m a super ridiculous dog mom, but that’s where I cross the line.)

I was referring to Body Pumping…the strength endurance workout created by New Zealand fitness powerhouse, Les Mills.

Two weekends ago, my gym hosted a Body Pump Instructor training. My gym currently offers Body Pump classes, and while I’ve only taken a few, I really enjoy the challenging, music-based strength workout. My group fitness director had encouraged me to get certified to teach the format, so I decided to sign up for two 9-hour days of pumping iron.

(Yes. Ouch.)

I won’t lie…my training didn’t get off to the best start. Scott, who had promised to drop me off at the gym for my first day of training, decided to make one of his incredibly involved devil smoothies right as it was time to leave. Naturally, this meant I strutted into training ten minutes late.

I sheepishly entered the group exercise room I teach in twice a week to see a circle of thirteen strangers. I also saw a giant poster hanging on the wall with handwritten “rules”. Commandment numero uno?

“Don’t be late. (10 push ups)”

Whoops.

Fortunately, our trainer didn’t make me drop and give her ten. She did however hand me a breath mint.

The confused look on my face must have been more apparent than I realized. “Don’t worry,” she assured me, “I gave one to everyone.”

We then proceeded to each go around the circle and engage in a traditional Roman handshake while touching foreheads and saying “Kia Ora” followed by our name. This would have made much more sense had I been there for the introduction in which we learned that Les Mills is founded on a “Tribe” culture, with several ties back to the traditions and rituals of it’s New Zealand heritage. But…I missed all of that, (see “devil smoothie”, above), which meant I was generally perplexed, yet thankful I had at least been given a breath mint.

Soon after this, we sat down to learn a little more about the essence of Body Pump. The words Les Mills uses to describe this particular format are strong and grounded. Basically, instructors should exude a vibe of strength and stability as opposed to bouncing around chirping like happy, cracked-out cheerleaders. Also? Instructors are encouraged to embody the strong, grounded persona by forgoing bright colors for the official shades of Body Pump: black and red.

This sure would have been nice to know before showing up to training in this get-up.

outfit

Yes. Seriously.

But I was stranded without a vehicle, and it was too late to go home and change, anyway. I decided to own my obnoxiously loud workout gear and focus in on what I came to do in the first place: learn more about Body Pump.

And learn, I did. I’ve attended my fair share of fitness workshops, and can say without a doubt that my Body Pump instructor training was head and shoulders above the rest. Here’s what pushed my experience over the top:

  • The training was two days instead of one. That’s eighteen hours of hands on learning, which resulted in a very thorough understanding of the class format.
  • Our trainer was incredible. Kind, funny, and didn’t make me feel weird about my flower pants. She also was full of great feedback and pointers.
  • There was a ton of emphasis on proper form. After nearly thirty years of struggling with lunges, I feel like I’ve finally grasped correct range of motion and positioning. (Even if I can only do two of them in a row.)
  • We took the Body Pump class four times. Four times. I can’t stress enough how helpful this will be when it comes time to teach my first class. Familiarity is key!
  • We had the opportunity to practice teaching and cueing. Believe it or not…I’ve been to several instructor trainings where this wasn’t covered. Um…hello? Teaching and cueing in front of a live class is the hardest part of all! Tackling this in the training (and getting real, honest feedback) was incredibly valuable.
  • Our trainer filmed us while we were teaching. As painful as it was to hear myself yelling motivational phrases when she played the footage back on her iPad, I was able to learn a lot about what I was doing wrong (and right!).

The icing on the weight lifting cake were the amazing participants I shared in the training with. We genuinely liked each other enough to go out for a team dinner on the first night!

dinner

No, you’re eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. I somehow convinced Scott to share a meal with a dozen fitness instructor strangers. There may have been some crumpled receipts angrily thrown at him after a few snide remarks…but it otherwise went fairly smoothly!

The most valuable lesson I learned during Body Pump training? How vital it is to vary your workouts. I exercise six days a week, which typically includes Olympic weightlifting and cross training at my local Crossfit gym, as well as free weights and cardio (Turbo Kick) at the gym where I teach. I’d argue I’m in pretty good shape. But my muscular endurance? I hadn’t focused on this area as much, and it really showed in my training. There were lots of spots where I had to stop and take breaks, even though I was lifting a fraction of my normal CrossFit weight.

The moral of this story? Variety in your training will make you a more well-rounded athlete.

The other moral of this story? Multi-colored flower pants should be worn at your own risk.

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The Runsie

The Runsie 1

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Everyone has anxiety dreams. Showing up to work naked. Forgetting you signed up for Earth Science until it’s time for the semester final. Being chased by a mountain lion and suddenly experiencing random leg paralyzation.

Or if you’re like me, these night terrors involve shopping.

Imagine walking into your favorite store. The racks are perfectly organized, and freshly stocked with a new shipment of product. Somehow, the store is bigger–filled with even more options than ever before. You’re favorite song is playing over the speakers, your best friend is there to cheer your on, and your wallet is locked and loaded with a fresh stack of bills from the ATM down the street. Also? Everything is on sale.

Yet somehow, nothing fits. You can’t find the color you like. There are too many choices and you feel overwhelmed. Panic sets in as you skitter from rack to rack, desperately searching for the perfect item. The harder you look, the more frustrated you become. Time is running out…you need to find something. But there is nothing you want!

This recurring nightmare–which I probably experience bi-monthly–came to life Saturday afternoon while shopping at the local Lululemon outlet.

There were yoga pants everywhere. A never-ending rainbow of sports bras. Scuba sweatshirts that were (gasp!) under one hundred dollars. I was in overpriced activewear heaven!

Yet by some mystery of the Canadian workout gear universe, there was nothing I even remotely liked. I must have gone through every rack three times, violently grasping pieces of luxtreme fabric, hoping to find “the one”.

An hour later, I found myself at the front of the checkout line, whipping out my American Express. While I hadn’t been united with my stretch pants soul mate, I’d at least stumbled upon something interesting. And with a price tag of only $34, I couldn’t say no.

******

36 hours later

Scott: Katrina — what’s up with this jumpsuit thing from Lululemon?

Katrina: Hey…are you going through my shopping bags?!

Scott: Is it….a unitard?

Katrina: It’s called a “Runsie”. And Reese Witherspoon totally has one.

Lululemon Runsie

So…I kind of made the Reese thing up for the sake of persuasiveness. But she totally SHOULD have one.

Scott: What the *@$# is a Runsie?

Katrina: A running onesie. Duh.

Scott: It sounds like some sort of adult diaper.

Katrina: Reese Witherspoon didn’t think so.

Scott: When are you ever going to wear this thing, Katrina?

Katrina: To CrossFit. Once I get rid of all my leg cellulite.

Scott: I’m not going to comment on that.

Katrina: The name is kind of weird. “Wromper” would have made more sense. You know, like “workout romper”?

Scott: {Eye roll}

Katrina: Or “Fumpsuit”.

Scott: Fumpsuit?

Katrina: Fitness Jumpsuit.

Scott: I can’t believe you spent thirty-four dollars on this thing.

Katrina: I know…right? A complete outfit from Lulu for under forty bucks — that’s practically unheard of!

****

I’m going to stop my recap right here as this is the point where things got a little bit ugly. Let’s just say our conversation took a turn for the worse when Scott discovered the Burt’s Bees lavender-scented dog perfume I had unsuccessfully tried to hide underneath the runsie.

(On the bright side, the girls now smell like a combination of corn chips and flowers.)

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The Fab Five: January 2014

The Fab Five: January 2014 4

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It’s time for a New Year’s addition of my monthly fab five round-up! (AKA, a summary of my most favoritest Christmas presents.)

I’ve tried to keep with the January theme by focusing on goodies that promote healthy living, or products that are helping crush my 2014 resolutions. Here’s what I’m swooning over this month:

1. Pure Organics Fruit Sandwiches

fruit-sandwich

I stumbled across these tasty little gems via a free sample, and immediately went searching on Amazon for them. Luckily, I didn’t have to look too far! Think of them as a natural, organic fruit leather that tastes better than ice cream! (Although not at all like actual ice cream.) Scott, a recovering Fruit Roll-Up addict can’t get enough of them, and has since been limited to two sandwiches a day. (At 70 cents per unit, I can’t condone a 6-sandwiches a day habit.)

The sandwiches come in two flavors —  strawberry banana and pineapple passion fruit. Both are to die for, out of this world, off the chain, etc. (Do people still say “off the chain”? If not, I’m bringing it back, organic fruit sandwich style.)

The best part? With only sixty calories of whole food ingredients per pop, they’re a snack you don’t have to feel guilty about.

(Unless you exceed the two-a-day limit, of course.)

 

2. Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle paperwhite

I’ve been an avid e-reader user for the past four years — yet up until this week, I was using the Kindle for iPad app. Don’t get me wrong — the iPad is capable of amazing things, and I absolutely adore mine. But I can’t help remember a trip to Hawaii Scott and I took a few days after beginning my e-reading journey. I downloaded several books onto my device, delighted at the idea of packing light (in the reading department, at least) and leaving all my paperbacks at home.

The next day, I sat sunning myself on Waikiki beach, my iPad stowed safely at the bottom of my beach bag. It was essentially useless as the screen was unreadable in bright sunlight. Certainly, the iPad is a magical manifestation of technology and convenience — but a top of the line e-reader it is not.

Scott gifted me the Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas, and it was love at first page. Because the device is intended solely for reading, the overall user experience is significantly more pleasant. The size, the contrast, the weight, the screen…everything is just right.  We’re heading back to Hawaii in just over a week, and I can’t wait to read on the beach without any glare or greasy looking thumb prints. (No offense, iPad.)

On a related note, I just started Born to Run and am already hooked. I don’t even like running all that much, but the book is incredible.

 

3. The NutriBullet

NutriBullet

Scott and I won this 12-piece NutriBullet blender set at his office Christmas party during a “match the celebrity couple” game. (Fred and Ginger, for the win!) We were the proud owners of the original Magic Bullet, which we used religiously until it bit the dust two years ago….rest in peace, MB.

I, for one, was thrilled to receive an updated bullet. I’ve been back on the juicing bandwagon, and have also been trying to incorporate green smoothies into my daily meal plans. I also have a hate-hate relationship with our Blendtec–seriously…we really don’t get along…like, really–and I was happy to have an alternate blending tool at my disposal.

I originally assumed the NutriBullet to be the exact same product as the Magic Bullet, just with an updated, “healthy” marketing campaign. The NB boasts an extractor blade, which they claim “transforms ordinary foods into superfoods by busting open seeds, cracking through stems, and shredding tough skin!” Uh…pretty sure you don’t need a fancy blade to extract nutrients from your fruit and vegetables, but okay Blendtec. Really, I’m just happy to make smoothies without having to use an 80-ounce pitcher.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and realized the NutriBullet actually is better than its predecessor. Here’s why:

  • It’s prettier. (Clearly, this is priority numero uno.)
  • It’s larger and more powerful.
  • It just blends better. (I still don’t buy all that “extractor” marking spin…but the new blade is definitely an improvement.)
  • The cups that attach to the blender are larger, more durable, and for all the hippies out there, BPA free.

The true sign of success? Even Scott has been using the NutriBullet to make his morning “power smoothies”. (Shh! Don’t tell the Blendtec!)

 

4. Lorna Jane MNB 2014 Diary

mnb-diary

 

I purchased this as a New Year’s treat for myself, and am totally smitten. Call me old-school, but I much prefer writing my goals, progress and daily check-ins down with a pen and paper. This diary quickly replaced three different online applications I was using to track my nutrition, calorie intake and daily activity. The book is beautiful, motivating, and full of recipes, positive mantras, and fun new workouts. I keep it on my nightstand and genuinely look forward to writing down my daily entry each night before bed.

Of course, Scott makes fun of my by screeching “Deeeeear Diaryyyyy!” In his most obnoxious pre-teen girl voice. (I think he’s just jealous.)

 

5. Rosetta Stone TOTALe

totale

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to become fluent in another language. While I briefly debated  taking the plunge into Old Norse, I eventually landed on Latin American Spanish as I already have eight years of classes under my belt. I downloaded Rosetta Stone TOTALe levels 1-5 during a half-price promotion that was running over the New Year, and jumped right in.

While I’ve only completed a few lessons, I already love how simple and intuitive the program is. (Even if it was a huge pain in the arse to install.) The software is highly interactive and comes with three months of live tutoring via Skype. The cherry on top of my Spanish-learning flan? Zero English is used, so I’m completely immersed in my new language. I’ve really enjoyed the ability to go at my own pace (not to mention schedule) and feel like I’m remembering quite a bit of what I learned in junior high and high school. It’s still quite a bit of review, but so far, me gusta!

*****

What were your favorite Christmas gifts? Any tools you’ve discovered that are totally helping you rock your 2014 goals? Someone please tell me I’m the only one cheating on my $400 Blendtec with a NutriBullet from Kohl’s

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