Sunday, July 29, 2007

Boot Camp - week 1

So, I managed to survive the first week of boot camp. As I expected, things got a lot tougher on Days 2 through 5.

Each day starts with a "warm-up" run of three (count 'em - 3) laps around the track. If it was walking, I'd have no problem at all. I can walk miles and miles. But running? Not so much. Needless to say, I can't quite make it all the way without walking part of it. My strategy is to go at a comfortable, even pace and try to walk less each time out. I'm now down to walking for only one short break abut half-way through the run. I figure that's not bad progress in a week. Of course, I'm always last to finish – but you know what? I don't care.

One of the things I like about this class is that every day is different. Here's a re-cap of the rest of my first week:

Tuesday: Following warm-up, we did standing, leg exercises. I'm sure we did every variation of leg raise imaginable. By the time we finished and had a water break, my legs felt like jelly. Then it was to the mats to do a killer abdominal workout. Can you say "ouch"?
Surprisingly, it wasn't my abs that were sore by the end of the day. It was the quads in my legs. I had to use the handrails to help pull me up the stairs to my bedroom; and every step "down" was excruciating. I took a couple of ibuprofen and was in bed by 10:00 pm!

Wednesday: Cardio day – the toughest for me. We did a 25 minute walk/run; followed by more lower body work – this time done mostly on our mats. The hour flew by. Today, my hip flexors hurt. I have a feeling every day is going to see a different body part in pain.

Thursday: "Gauntlet Day" – a 40 minute, non-stop series of running exercises between cones to keep the heart rate up. OMG!!! Just when my legs were feeling a bit better, they're sore again. I am so looking forward to 2 days off on the weekend.

Friday: Circuit training. Four stations, 2 minutes at each, a different exercise at each station; three complete circuits; the exercise changes each circuit. This was tough, but actually rather fun. We were in groups of three at each station, so had a chance to talk and joke around a bit with each other.

The week was as difficult as I thought it would be, but also enjoyable in a masochistic way.

Some new things I learned this week:

  • Having a desk job following a hard workout when your leg muscles (well, any muscles, really) are sore is not such a good thing. After a couple of hours sitting down, your body tends to seize up, and it's near impossible to stand up without calling on a crane to hoist you up.
  • Those little handle thingies next to the car door are actually useful. I'd still be sitting in the car right now, if it weren't for the leverage afforded by those handles!
  • Every office should institute a mid-afternoon nap.
  • Going up the stairs is easier than going down when your quads hurt.
  • Whoever said you get used to getting up early, lied.

I'm pleased that I committed myself to this. As long as I remain injury-free (I have wonky knees and back) and finish, I'll be happy.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Day 1 - Survivor boot camp

I arrived at the designated meeting place at 5:55 a.m. under cloudy and rainy skies. Our trainer, S, checked us all in and I found out that only two of us from the 50+ group decided to join the regular group (the sixty year old man didn't show up). We immediately glommed onto each other for moral support. S reassured us that her classes are geared for everyone to go at their own pace and we should have no trouble at all. (She wouldn't lie to us would she?)

First thing on the agenda was a quick rundown about what to expect and a few tips about equipment, and pre-workout meals. Today would be mostly about fitness testing and body measurements for our "Before" level. There will be another fitness testing day at the end of the four week period to see how much we've progressed.

We started with body measurements first: Biceps, chest, waist, hips, thighs and calf.

Then it was off for a timed one kilometre run (one and a half laps around the high school track). We were encouraged to run the entire distance if possible, but to walk if necessary. I thought I'd be doing a lot of walking, but ended up surprising myself by only having to walk a quarter lap. I was the last over the finish line, but only by 20 seconds. Not too bad.

Next was a series of strength and endurance tests: Abdominal crunches, squat hold, push-ups, and something called "the plank hold". Again, I wasn't in as bad a shape as I thought. As a matter of fact, I lasted the longest of the newbies at the maximum three minutes. It must be all the stair climbing I do.

The hour was whizzing by. We finished off with some upper body exercises and stretches. Then it was, bye-bye, see you tomorrow morning.

I have a feeling tomorrow will be the beginning of the "real" workout.

A word about the group: There were eight people this morning, but apparently some "returnees" will be joining us tomorrow. They often don't attend the first day because it's testing day – although one of the gals this morning is starting her third boot camp!

A nice surprise: There's no yelling at this boot camp. S and her partner are enthusiastic but supportive. At least so far.

That's all for now. I need to get to bed. Five-fifteen rolls around mighty fast!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What was I thinking?

I didn't think I'd be posting such an early follow-up blog about fitness boot camp. But here I am.

It's Sunday afternoon. I'm getting pretty excited about my new fitness commitment. I've got my workout gear ready to go: weights, mat, shorts, running shoes, hat and jacket because it's supposed to rain. Then the phone rings.

It's Tammy from Survivor Boot Camp. Unfortunately, there aren't enough participants for a separate 50+ class, she says. The four of us signed up for the 50+ will have to join the regular group.

Ummm, okay, I say. What are the ages of the others? Well, there's a woman who just turned fifty, a man who is sixty, and someone else probably also in her fifties, a twenty year-old, and the rest in their thirties. Tammy hastily adds that she's quite sure I'll fit right in and won't feel out of place. It'll be fun. < deep breath > Okay . . .

It's been a long time since my twenties or thirties. Heck it's been awhile since my forties! With my luck, the sixty year-old is an ex-jock who does triathlons and the just-turned fifty year-old is a former fitness instructor, just retired.

I'm telling myself to calm down. It won't be so bad. My family is saying all the right things and saying I'll be fine. But they can't resist adding, "Just be careful. Don't hurt yourself." Thanks, guys.

My alarm is set for 5:15 a.m. Wish me luck. I'll see you on the other side.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Boot Camp and Serendipity

I need to preface this by saying that I've always been a person who likes trying new things. I get bored doing the same thing.

So it should be no real surprise that I signed up for Survivor Boot Camp. Now, lest you think I've completely lost my marbles, I signed up for the 50+ class.

It started innocently enough. On Friday (my day off), I was relaxing and reading my local community paper when I saw an ad for Survivor Boot Camp. I was just about to flip the page when I saw, "NEW – 50+ Class". I knew it was speaking to me.

I'm no stranger to fitness classes. However, in the last seven years, along with a more sedentary desk job, I've fallen out of a regular fitness routine and put on unwanted pounds. Most people would say I'm not fat, but I'm pushing the upper end of what a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) should be for me. Not good. My family has a history of high blood pressure and stroke. Also not good. I'm at an age that family risk factors catch up to you. I knew it was time to do something about it, but I just couldn't get myself motivated. The Boot Camp ad came just at the right time.

I looked up their website and realized the next local class starts this Monday, the 23rd. Uh oh. I called the local number and asked if it was too late to sign up for that class. The woman said no, registration for that class was still pretty small. Okay!

Back online I went to fill out the registration form. It asked some health questions and had the usual sports waiver –- you know, the one that says anything bad (muscle strains, sprains, broken bones, joint injuries, etc.) that might happen is not their fault and that you can't sue them? Standard for almost anything you join these days. The only bit that gave me the slightest qualm was the "including death" part. I ticked the "I agree" box anyway.

So, as of this coming Monday, I'm off to fitness boot camp: starting at 6 a.m. for one hour; five days a week; for four weeks.

I hope to keep a little blog journal of how I'm doing.

If you don't hear from me, you'll know I succumbed to the "including death" part of their waiver.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Reading Queue - redux

Okay, after posting this --> Is this cheating?, I felt the tiniest bit guilty.

I realized I wasn't really giving the system a chance. I'm going to give it another try and this time I'm going to choose at least one of my current reads with this method.

Last week I came up with The Barclay Family Theatre on the random number generator and finished it over the weekend.

The next number up is 15, Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte.

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And when I finish it, I'll remove it from the queue.

So now I've done it; put it down in writing, right here on my blog for all to see. Let's see how long I can keep it up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harrison Hot Springs - revisited

Growing up, my family, along with other fifties post-war families took weekend drives as a form of recreation in the summer.

We'd pile into my uncle's station wagon with beach blankets, snacks, playing cards and assorted beach paraphernalia; the 'we' being an assortment of cousins, aunts and uncles. There being no such thing as seatbelt laws, we'd cram as many bodies as possible into that poor vehicle; usually six adults who would occupy the two front bench seats and at least as many kids crammed into the back compartment (I cringe when I think about it now, but that's the way it was back then).

The cousins would sit, backs to the side windows, feet towards the middle, staggered and stacked like sardines in a can. The lucky ones got pillows to lean against, but mostly we just took it for granted that we'd end the trip a bit battered and with numb bums.

I'm sure kids of today would be appalled at such cramped, primitive quarters -- being accustomed to SUVs with swivel captain's chairs, air-conditioning and built-in DVD and CD players -- but we thought it was cool. It was a time to bond: we'd sing, argue, play Volkswagen-no-return, fall asleep slumped onto an adjacent shoulder,
tell silly jokes, and laugh till it hurt. I'm not sure how the adults survived the noise. They must have had secret earplugs.

One of the places we'd drive to was Harrison Hot Springs. It was a long drive. Air-conditioning consisted of all windows open, including the window of the back tailgate and feet sticking out to catch a bit of the breeze. By the time we arrived, we'd be wobbly with half-asleep pin-prickly feet and legs. But it didn't seem to matter. We'd roll out of that old station wagon and head straight for the water. Meanwhile, the adults would set up a picnic under a willow tree and wait for us to realize how hungry we were. In retrospect, I doubt they were in much of a hurry to corral us back in and enjoyed a bit of quiet in the shade, sans kids.

All these memories came back to me when I spent a few days this past week at Harrison. It's still a very small resort town, as resort towns go. It's had a few setbacks over the years, but seems to be hanging in there. There are condos and boutique stores now, but it still caters to families who just want to picnic and hang out at the beach.

Some things never change: Kids, dogs, water

Some things do: Cool sand sculptures

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Is this cheating?

As some of you may have noticed, I started a Reading Queue on my sidebar as a follow-up to this post based on C Max Magee's article on The Millions.

The unread books on my shelves were getting out of hand and I needed a better method of choosing the next book to read. I stumbled onto Magee's method and decided to give it a go. I've had mixed results.

I listed all the unread books on my shelves; I alphabetized them by title; I put them all on a spreadsheet and numbered them; I fed the data into the Random Number Generator (actually, it's called the Integer Generator, but who except mathematicians would call it that); et voila, out spits the number of the next book I'll read.

One little problem. There's a try "Again!" button. When I'm not in the mood for the book that comes up, I tend to hit "Again", again and again. Is that cheating? Methinks it is.