Thursday, September 29, 2011

Training with Friends

This past Tuesday, my friend, Debi, came to my gym to train with me. Since she's only four weeks out from a show, we did her workout instead of one of mine. I haven't had a training partner since I moved to Maryland two years ago, and I just realized how much I miss having someone there to push me and for me to push them in turn. Sure, J pushes me when he trains me, but it's not quite the same as training WITH him.

Debi and I trained shoulders and did some light leg exercises. I thought my delts were going to fall off by the time we finished the shoulder circuit!

Debi and me
We had a fun time training hard, pushing and encouraging each other, and getting caught up on each other's lives. While it's not feasible for me to have a training partner all the time, every once in awhile, it's nice to get together with friends while still getting in a good workout.

Do you have a training partner or do you prefer to train by yourself?

Monday, September 26, 2011

More than One Adventure

Now that J and I are finished with contest prep and can re-enter the world again, we decided to use one of the many Groupons I've purchased in the past few months (Yep, I'm a planner). On Saturday afternoon, we headed downtown to Madame Tussaud's wax museum.

The Rock - my dreamboat!
Most of the wax sculptures looked very realistic, while others looked ... waxy. It was fun to walk through the exhibits and read more about America's own brand of royalty.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow ... be still my heart!
We thought the museum itself would be exciting ... but getting home turned out to be the biggest adventure.

Unbeknownst to us, there was extensive track work being done on the Metro system this weekend. Several stops were closed, and others were only operating on a single track. Meaning one side of the tracks was closed, and only every other train headed in our desired direction. We didn't think much of it ... until what should have been a half hour trip home took us nearly TWO hours.

We tried to board a train from two different Metro stations before we realized we needed to somehow get around all the track construction. We ended up walking out of a Metro station and taking a taxi to another Metro stop. (A tip for those of you visiting DC: every time you enter a Metro station, you get charged $1.60, regardless of whether you actually go anywhere, or whether you simply look at the 6-person deep line of people waiting to board a train and turn around and walk right out. Also, taxis can charge you $2.50 in addition to the fare if they have to cross state/district lines.) So, $20 and 2 hours later, we arrived home. I don't recommend using the Metro as your main means of transportation on weekends when they're doing track maintenance.

Maybe I should bring this issue up with my new friends?

Michelle and Barack

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Time to Relax!

Seven months ago, I started prepping for Team Universe. Six weeks after I started, J started prepping for the Maryland show. For the rest of the winter, all spring, and all summer, we sacrificed our social lives and focused solely on prep. Now that both of our shows have come and gone, we can relax and re-enter society. So we decided to go on a cruise!

Last Thursday morning, we flew down to Miami and hopped on board the Carnival Destiny cruise ship. I've been on several cruises, but this was J's first. I tried to prepare him for what he'd see and experience, but it's tough to describe exactly how big the boat really is!

We spent Thursday afternoon chilling on the boat, walking around, eating, and relaxing. When we woke up the next morning, we were docked at Key West!

Port of Key West
We walked around, poked our heads in a bunch of tourist souvenir shops, and then decided to hop on a trolley tour of the island. What a beautiful island! Palm trees everywhere and fascinating architecture. J and I decided we'd have no problem living there!

Trolley Tour
We drove past Ernest Hemingway's home, and also saw the southernmost point of the U.S, which is only 90 miles from Cuba!

Ernest Hemingway's Home
We left Key West in the afternoon and the boat headed toward Cozumel. While on the ship, we spent time relaxing on deck, soaking up some rays. It felt nice not to have to be anywhere or do anything at a certain time. After so many months of sticking to such a strict schedule, it was nice (and weird) to feel so relaxed.

Soaking up the rays
We docked at the Port of Cozumel on Saturday afternoon. We'd signed up to swim with the dolphins, so we headed to the Dolphinaris immediately after getting off the boat. I've swam with dolphins before, but this was J's first time. He had the biggest smile on his face the whole time - it was a wonderful experience!

The dolphins performing for us before we got in the water with them
After petting Nautica the dolphin, we hit up a bunch of tourist shops in Cozumel.

We got balloon hats at Carlos 'n' Charlie's
We re-boarded the boat that evening, exhausted from the sun and so much walking. Every night, we got towel animals in our room (which delighted J to no end!), and we got to eat as much food as we wanted (which also delighted J to no end).

Towel bunny
The next day was a "Fun Day at Sea" ... which involved lounging around all day. We went down the ship's waterslide, sunned ourselves by the pool, took a nap, and ate more food. When we woke up the next morning, we were back in Miami.

We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation, and are so thankful we could take the time to get away. Even though we both worked out in the gym in the mornings, it was nice to just simply relax and de-stress for several days. I feel refreshed and ready to work hard toward my new goals!

Port of Cozumel

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another 550 Miles

Lately, I seem to have a slight obsession with shoes. I can't walk by a shoe store without noticeably slowing my stride, and I head directly to the shoe section in department stores. I've had to use strict discipline to not open the numerous DSW emails I receive each week announcing all the wonderful shoes I must have in order for my life to be complete.

I've come up with some perfectly reasonable (to me) justifications to warrant a few new pairs of dress shoes in the past couple months. When it comes to running shoes, though, I'm much more reluctant to part with my money.

Maybe it's because running shoes don't make my short legs look a mile long? Maybe it's because they don't give my calves that nice shape? Maybe it's because they all seem to kind of look alike? Whatever the reason, I always have a tough time spending money on running shoes.

According to most sources, running shoes should be replaced every 350-550 miles. I have no idea what that translate to in the gym since I'm definitely NOT a runner, so I replace my running shoes every 6-9 months or so, depending on wear. My current shoes were starting to hurt my feet, so I figured they must be within the 350-550 mile range.

I was surprised and elated when I discovered some Saucony shoes on sale at Marshalls and Ross last weekend! Last year, I stepped out of the box and bought black running shoes - a first for me! This year I found two great pairs of shoes: white and black to match every workout outfit!

Variety is the spice of life!
I broke in the white shoes today during morning cardio; it was so nice not to have sore feet when I stepped off the treadmill!

How often do you replace your running/gym shoes?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Fastest Way to Get Blocked

One of the benefits of social media in the fitness world is the vast network of other fitness-minded, motivated people. Most of my "friends" on Facebook are online relationships with people I've never met in person. I do, however, have the fitness lifestyle in common with these people. I value all relationships I've made with people, whether online or in person.

What I do not value, however, is the influx of communication from "creepers" - usually men (but sometimes women) who feel it's appropriate to "poke" me on Facebook or try to chat with me. I don't find this communication welcome nor appropriate.

I've noticed that the amount of creeper communication I get is directly proportional to the type of photo I have as my profile picture. When I had this photo up, I didn't get any creepers trying to chat me up!

Cuddles from one of my favorite nephews!
But when I had this photo up, I got quite a few creepy requests.

Even though I love this photo, it seems to attract  the kind of attention I DON'T want!
This leads me to believe the creepers aren't really interested in getting to know Kari; they're interested in seeing girl-in-bikini pictures. Definitely NOT the kind of "friends" I want or need. A "poke" from someone I don't know is the fastest way for that person to be blocked. While the random "pokes" from weird men creeps me out, I also realize that unfortunately, creepers are inherent in the fitness industry.

Do you get weird communication or random "pokes" from strange men? If so, how do you manage them?

UPDATE: Facebook Pokes on 9/13/11. Who the heck are these dudes?! I don't know them, have never heard of them, yet they're "poking" me?! What the heck?! CREEPY!!
Nick & Kevin - you're now BLOCKED!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Hot New Experience

In another effort to try new things and have new experiences, I attended my first Bikram ("hot") yoga class last weekend. It was ... well, it was an experience. I finally recovered from it two days and five pounds of water weight later.

Check out my FitnessRx blog about my experience and some lessons learned.

FitnessRx Blog

Have you ever tried hot yoga? What was your experience?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Change of Scenery

Lately, whenever I walk into my gym, I immediately feel crabby. Even if I'm just there to pick up J, I still feel crabby just pulling into the gym parking lot. My workouts haven't been intense, and I've been having difficulty staying focused and motivated. It's time for a change of scenery.

Last week, I bought a 10-time pass at the Gold's Gym down the street. I love Gold's and would get a membership there if I didn't know how difficult it is to end those memberships. (Srsly, I know some people who've been trying to get out of their memberships for a YEAR now. NOT cool.) It may seem cost-INeffective for me to pay for a gym when I have a free membership at my own gym (working the front desk has its benefits!), but I'm worried if I don't make some changes, I'm going to majorly burn out soon.

The best thing about Gold's, in my opinion, is the wide variety of group fitness classes. If I haven't already stated it, I adore group fitness classes! I've been lamenting the fact that my gym doesn't have them, so I was excited to take some of the classes at Gold's.

I used to take step classes all the time several years ago, but when I started seriously training for Figure, I focused only on the cardio I needed to fine tune my physique. Last week when I took the step class at Gold's, I felt like I'd reunited with a long lost friend! I'm a bit rusty on the footwork yet, but it's just like riding a bike - the skills will come back quickly.
Doesn't this look like fun?!
I also took the BodyCombat class for the first time. I didn't know what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be very similar to some cardio kickboxing classes I've taken in the past. There was a lot of punching and kicking, which was a great outlet for some hidden aggression!

I really enjoyed both classes and am glad I decided to take a look outside my own gym for some variety. When I asked a couple others if they experience the same feelings, and it turns out I'm not alone in needing some variety in my workouts and in my training environment.

Have you ever felt burned out or crabby every time you stepped in the gym? What did you do about it and how long did it take you to feel excited about working out again?