Jump On It: My First Trampoline Workout Class

Friday, April 26, 2019

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One of my April goals was to try two new-to-me gyms or workouts, so earlier this month, I did two Rise Nation classes - which I loved & which absolutely destroyed me, functionally, for, like, a week afterward. I wanted to try something new & fun while on my second NYC trip of the month, but I didn't exactly budget in the time for a SoulCycle class - so when my friend Sam asked if I wanted to join her for a class at trampoLEAN, you could say I jumped at the chance.

Sam & I met in 2006, the year before my senior year (errr, second senior year) of college, when we both participated in a Jewish internship program in Washington, D.C., with the organization where I went on to work after graduation. She now works for an affiliated organization, so we're technically coworkers, though we don't get to see one another often - so we mostly keep up via social media & our blogs. You can find hers at La Petite Pear.

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Welcome to New York (It's Been Waiting for You)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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I'm back in New York for a bit, mostly for my best friend's dad's memorial service but also to work out of my office for a bit (which is headquartered in Murray Hill). As I always do when I'm here, I way overbooked myself, cramming plans into every spare non-work moment - & even into a lot of my work moments, with coworker lunches, face-to-face coffee meetings, etc.

My calendar is a liiiiittle scary to look at right now, so it's safe to say that I'm feeling more than a little overwhelmed - though mostly in a good way.

Last night, though, I didn't schedule anything. Initially, I didn't make plans because I thought my flight got in a lot later; when I realized I landed earlier than I thought, though, I  opted not to make plans in case I was burnt out after travel.

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I Do My Hair Toss... (Feelin' Good as Hell)

Monday, April 22, 2019

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I used to have great hair.

No, really. I know that sounds sort of egotistical, but I had some seriously good hair for awhile there in college. It was silky & soft, & I got compliments on it all the time. I changed up my style with some regularity, & aside from a few bad bangs experiments (& that time I shaved my head in junior year), it always looked pretty darn good.

Wanna see?
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PSA: You Don't Know What Anyone Else's Body Can Do

Friday, April 19, 2019

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In January, gyms fill up with newbies who've made New Year's resolutions to get healthier, to get fit, to lose weight. I used to work at a gym, even when I didn't work out at said gym, so I'm familiar with the January rush: people who don't know how to use the machines but want to, & all the regulars who impatiently wait for the influx to die down. (P.S.: I have a lot of feelings about said impatience of said regulars, but that's for another day.)
When it comes to gyms & January, this is a known trope. I get it.
But I really got it, in a personal way, the first week of January 2019, as I stood in the lobby of my cycling studio waiting to take my first class of the new year. Regular readers may recall that I started riding last April, to serious struggle, but grew to love it & began proudly counting down (err, up?) to my 100th ride. There I was, awaiting class #82, & I made eye contact with a thin, fit girl standing against the wall alongside me.
"First ride?" she asked, smiling at me, & though I don't think she meant to sound condescending, she did - because I was about to take my 82nd ride. Most definitely not my first.
I smiled back, faltering. "Oh, no, I've been coming for awhile," I responded, & she nodded, eyebrows raised politely, & turned away awkwardly.
Let's admit what happened here: She thought I was new, not just because the gym is full of new folks after the first of the year but because the new folks are expected to also be fat folks, & of course, fat folks can't possibly be people who already work out. That girl looked at me, in all my 200-lb. glory, & she thought, "Oh, how nice, this overweight girl is trying to get in shape in the new year. I should give her some encouragement."
So she did. Except it was not encouraging.
On one hand, good for her for begin the kind of gym regular who wants to encourage newbies - & yet, at the same time, screw her a little for looking at my particular body shape & assuming she knew a damn thing about it or what it could do.
I've been thinking about writing this post ever since, but I finally sat down to bang it out after yesterday's ride, my 110th(ish?), after which a stranger said to me, "It gets easier!" This person presumably looked at me, fat & sweaty after a difficult class, & thought, "Oh, this poor fat girl is trying to get in shape. I should give her some encouragement."
Yet, again, it was not encouraging. Yet again, it was hurtful & awkward.
What I wanted to say was "After 100 classes, it has gotten easier, actually," or "Hey, I just did a really tough ride & it is totally appropriate for me to be sweaty," or maybe even "It's not supposed to be easy." Someone on Twitter suggested that I should've responded, "When does it get harder?" (SAVAGE.) And yet, all I did was mumble the same refrain: "Oh, actually, I've been riding for a while."
So here's the thing, & I'm gonna say it REAL loud for the folks in the back: You cannot tell a damn thing about a person's body just by looking at it. Not mine, not hers, not his, not that body over there, not that body over there, not nobody's body except your own damn body. Period.
Part two: Because you cannot tell a damn thing about a person's body just by looking at it, you should not make assumptions (especially out loud) about what people's bodies can or cannot do. 
After my January knee injury, I took a month off of riding. When I returned, I was self-conscious of what others would think of me when they saw me ride: subbing push-ups for tap-backs, opting out of jumps, never hitting the dial to turn up the resistance. Would they think, "That fat girl isn't even trying"? I wished I could wear a sign: "I CAN USUALLY DO THIS, I'M JUST INJURED."
I started to think about all the ways judge other people's bodies, too.
I look at a thin, seemingly fit girl who can't keep up, & I feel secretly smug to be out-riding her. I watch somebody mess up the beat & feel amused by their inability to get it quite right. I wonder why that person rides in the back, or if that person should really be riding in the front, or how many classes he's been to or what kind of cross-training she does.

One day, I rode next to an older guy whose knee was in a brace. "Coming back from an injury?" I asked him (which seemed like an OK comment to make, because, again, he was wearing a brace & massaging his knee before class, as I was). He said yes & that the brace helped a lot during the ride; after class, I asked for the brand of his mobility brace, thinking maybe I'd get my own - not only because my knee needed it, but because then at least people would know that my knee needed it.
I never did get the brace, but I all three of those experiences got me thinking: Does it matter? Did I really have to wear a visible sign of injury in order to operate at the level my body needed from me at the moment? What about all the times people have no way of conveying why they're operating at the level they are?
And, wait a sec: Why does it matter to anyone else what level other people operate at?
Maybe you're slow in class today because you did a crazy-hard workout yesterday, & you're recovering.
Maybe you can't hit  those tap-backs because it's your third class in a row this week & your body is kind of spent.
Maybe you're not at peak form because you were in a fender-bender yesterday & everything just fucking hurts.
Maybe you are at peak form & the way you're riding right now, which looks "off" to someone else, is infinitely better than where you were when you began.
Maybe you lost 100 lbs., or you gained 100 lbs. Maybe you used to be a marathon runner, but then you developed a thyroid disorder. Maybe you're healthy & muscular, but you used to be anorexic.
Maybe it's your first class back after giving birth. Or having a miscarriage. Or an abortion. Or a car accident. Or the flu. Or cancer. Or falling on the damn ice on a snowy January day.
Maybe you're off the beat because you can't stop thinking about a loved one who's in the hospital, or a job you just applied for, or your pending divorce, or your kid's grades, & those constant thoughts are throwing you off.
Maybe you just got laid off or your dog just died or your boss just yelled at you or literally any myriad life issues that can manifest themselves physically, even if they have nothing to do with your body.
Maybe it's your first class, or your 100th, or your 500th. Maybe someone thinks you're better than them, or worse than you; maybe they're thinking that they'll never be like you or that they're glad they're not you. Maybe someone thinks you're too fat to be 100 rides in, or too fit to be so bad at the ride.
And also maybe it doesn't fucking matter
Maybe you showed up & rode through & pressed on, regardless, & other people's bodies just don't matter because you've got your own body to focus on instead.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for community, for motivation, for encouragement. If the person next to you is actually new to class (like, you just watched the instructor set them up on a bike for the first time), say, "Welcome!" or end with "Great ride today!" Heck, maybe just introduce yourself.
Whatever we do, let's be sure we encourage each other in ways that don't also actually tear one another down. Let's check ourselves when we catch ourselves assuming other people's abilities (or lack thereof) based on the way their bodies look to us from the outside. In short, let's all be kind & ride hard, but let's stay in our own lanes - on our own bikes & in our own bodies - while we do it.
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Adventure Time: My DIY "Best of CLE" Weekend with Friends & Faves

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Whaaaaat a weekend! Last week is now a distant memory, but there sure were a lot of memories packed into it. I'm usually a pretty chill weekend person (I go off my sleep meds on Sunday, which means I take sleep more than usual) but last weekend was jam-packed. I ate a ton of delicious but terrible-for-me food; I spent time with a few of my very favorite people; & I checked out a couple of places I'd never been.

This is exactly the way spring weekends ought to be.

While I certainly can't operate at this level of energy & enthusiasm every weekend, you've gotta capitalize on nice weather when you can - especially in Cleveland! Here's a not-so-brief, photo-heavy rundown of all the many places I went, food I ate, & people I saw in the span of 48 hours. 
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Together We Rise: My VersaClimber Workout at Rise/Nation

Monday, April 15, 2019

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One of my April goals was to check out two new-to-me gyms or workouts, & I'm reporting in early to tell you that I have, indeed, accomplished that goal. One of the things I've tried? Rise Nation, a 30-minute VersaClimber workout (& if you, like me, have no idea what that means, read on).

My first class was so freaking hard that within two hours of my returning home afterward, I could barely walk. I took a scalding-hot Epsom salt bath, but that night, I barely slept because of the pain (& because I read that you shouldn't take Advil after a workout). Damn! Four days later, my thighs were still sore - but I decided that the best way out was through, & so I returned for a second class while still recovering from the first.

What It Is

Don't know what a VersaClimber is? I didn't either - & even though I Googled it, I couldn't really get a sense for what it was until I actually tried one in class.
  • The studio: Rise Nation's studio is set up like a spinning studio, but it's full of VersaClimbers, one for each participant.
  • The machines: Learn more on VersaClimber's website, but practically, a VersaClimber is a hybrid of a ladder & an elliptical, with pedals & handles that move all your limbs as you "climb." The machine tracks your progress in vertical feet, telling you how high you've climbed - without ever leaving the machine.
  • The classes: Classes are set to music, in a dark studio with pulsating lights & an enthusiastic instructor leading you through the movements. The class is "only" 30 minutes long - & any longer might just kill me.

What I Don't Like

I'm not a fan of starting out with the negative, but bear with me! And hey, this way we'll end on a positive note.
  • Intro, my (cl)ass: Rise Nation calls its Level One class an "intro" class, but don't be fooled: Both classes I've taken were full of regulars who knew exactly what they were doing & how to do it, which, as an out-of-shape newbie, is pretty intimidating. The people around me were flying through their workouts while I struggled mightily - & felt very much on display.
  • All those mirrors! Part of the reason I felt so exposed was that the studio is surrounded by mirrors on two walls, which means you're visible from anywhere in the room, & the set-up of the room itself (at least at the Cleveland location) means there's no way choose a machine in the back of the room. It's also not as dark as riding studios, so there's truly no hiding - which, again, is way intimidating when everyone else in class is doing way better than you.
  • Oh, my aching feet: There were multiple times when, even though my body & lungs could've kept going, I had to step off the VersaClimber to stretch the soles of my feet. They felt like they were on fire, cramped up & screaming in pain. Maybe from the weight of my body? I don't know, but that's literally been the worst part - & I have no idea what to do about it. 

What I Do Like

OK, OK, let's get onto the better stuff.
  • A friendly staff: The guy who checked me into my first class was nice & helpful, setting me up & not making me feel like a doofus who probbbbably couldn't keep up, although it was likely clear to both of us that that'd be the case. And both of my classes have been with the same instructor, who is upbeat, friendly, & supportive.
  • Words of support: That instructor, Derek, often speaks directly to newbies, providing specific instructions, modifications, & encouragement. I appreciate that, especially in a class largely populated by people who know exactly what they're doing. Hearing, "If you're new & feeling discouraged, don't be! You're going to get better at this" really goes a long way.
  • Visible signs of progress (or not): The machine tracks your numbers & tells you exactly how you did - & it turns out I did get better at it! Even though I was sore in the lead-up to my second class, I climbed 200 feet higher than before. (I climbed 1650 feet the first time, while the girl in front of me hit 2700+; the second time, I hit 1865, while my friend Natalie hit 3300+. So I was proud of my personal growth, but also a little mortified, which maybe goes under "things I don't like." Ouch.)
  • SPEAKING OF OUCH: Dear God, that's a helluva workout. You can tell that the VersaClimber is destroying your body, in a good way! Even with my low numbers, I was sore as hell, & I can still feel it in, like, every single step I take (especially up or down stairs... ow...) After 100+ spinning classes, I'm trying something new & working some seriously underused muscles.
  • Adorable animal relief: When I arrived for my second class, there was a dog at the studio. It was adorable. It played with me while I waited for class. This one's self-explanatory.

The Final Verdict

I suck at it, but still, I think I really like Rise Nation, & I want to continue to go to classes when I can. Maybe "like" isn't the right word, given how hard it is - but the challenge of it compels me to want to keep trying.

My new goal is to hit 2000+ vertical feet and/or just to be able to move properly the day after a class. Can I do it? Only time will tell. But as Miley once sang...

Psst: If you're interested in ClassPass, my referral link will get you $40 off your first month (which basically adds up to one month free). I'll get $40, too, which I'll use to keep on climbin'.
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If We Were Having Coffee...

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

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If we were having coffee, I'd be really excited to finally order my warm-weather drink - a large iced coffee with a splash of simple syrup & soy milk. I'd also tell you that I'm excited that it's cheaper than my winter lattes!

I'd tell you about my recent trip to New York City, where my office is. They only bring me in once or twice a year, & this time, I barely spent any time in the actual office, because they brought me in for two days of off-site meetings. Hey, the building had a good view, strong coffee, & lots of snacks, at least! Have you ever worked out of a Convene meeting room? Very cool.

I'd tell you that before that trip, I experienced some of the worst physical manifestations of stress in my life. I was nervous about the trip, super-crazed at work, trying to meet multiple freelance deadlines, & attempting to wrap up some other loose ends before I left town - & it resulted in my body basically just, like, locking up. I couldn't turn my head, I had shooting pain beneath my ribs, & I could literally barely walk... it was bad.

I'd tell you that the trip turned out just fine. Honestly, I just never give myself enough credit for the way I thrive in big cities. I was worried that I didn't know how to, like, do New York - which is ridiculous, given that I've been going to this office for 11 years, & I lived in Jersey, & I am, at heart, a city girl. Sure, the subway stresses me out, but I've always been fine in busy cities - & still am. 

I'd tell you that I'm headed to New York again at the end of April. I convinced my boss to make it half a work trip, but it was booked as a personal trip to attend my best friend's father's memorial service. She's the one I visited Miami with in January, after her dad died but before they'd planned anything for him. I'm glad to be able to be there for her - & I booked the trip using credit card points.

I'd tell you that this trip will probably be busier but hopefully also more fun - aside from the memorial service, of course. I'm working from the office, setting up face-to-face meetings, & making plans with friends I don't see often. I'm also hoping to have a couple of blog-worthy adventures I couldn't otherwise have here in the CLE. Maybe a trip to The Color Factory or finally walking the High Line? And Corbin Bleu is in "Kiss Me Kate"!

I'd tell you that before that trip, I'm trying relax, unwind, & stay healthy. I'd tell you I'm mad at myself for getting the time wrong on (& thus missing) my first Rise Nation class, but I joined Planet Fitness & am planning to take full advantage of their weird hydromassage couches. I'd tell you I haven't done as much Harness Cycle as I'd like lately, but that I'm excited to try SoulCycle when I'm in New York. Oh, & I even signed up for ClassPass! Who am I?

I'd tell you that things are going well but that I need to work on stress management - as always. I'd tell you I'm rereading the Harry Potter series, slowly, & that I'm enjoying new TV shows like The Enemy WithinThe Act, & The Fix. I'd tell you that I've been listening to the new Jonas Brothers song on repeat but that I can never get enough of podcasts, including The Baby-Sitters Club Club & the brand new Jensen & Holes: Murder Squad.

Oh, yeah - & I swear I'd let you talk, too.

So tell me: What's new with you?
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6 Small Goals for April

Friday, April 5, 2019

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OK, OK, so I wasn't quiiiite as successful in March as I was in February - but I didn't do too badly, either. Let's see...
  1. Finish & file our taxes. As of April 1, all that was left to do was write a check to the City of Cleveland for my local taxes - which I did before I left town on April 2. Thanks to my husband & our accountant for taking care of this... entirely without me! 
  2. Stop picking my eyelashes. Ugh, I've tried so hard, but I don't think I can mark this as done because, well, I'm still not there yet. I know this one is going to be a longer process than just a month - but really, I'm trying. 
  3. Keep a clean home. I mean, look, our place could definitely be cleaner - but it certainly doesn't look or feel unclean, thanks in part to my recent habit of picking up around the house every night before bed. I could sweep & mop a little more, but things do feel cleaner & more organized around here.
  4. Finish Michelle Obama's book. Ackkkk, I didn't do this one! I thought seeing her live would inspire me to finish her book ASAP, but I still haven't made it through. I did order it on Audible, though, so I'm planning to listen to it during travel this month. 
  5. Schedule a dentist appointment. Not only did I schedule a dentist appointment, I already went to my dentist appointment! In February, I announced a new partnership with Hudec Dental, & this week, I shared my going-to-the-dentist tips for scaredy cats based on that first appointment. I'm weirdly excited about dental health right now?! 
  6. Organize my books. Sort of, but not entirely. I went through all of my books, taking a huge stack to the local Little Free Library, & I reorganized my own bookshelves. I've yet to convince the husband to organize his, but I'm counting this as done because I  did my part, at least!
Onto April. To be honest, March was pretty stressful for me - I did too much, I overbooked myself, & I procrastinated on a couple of big deadlines - so I want to try to get things under control & feeling a little bit more calm.
  1. Get my airbags replaced. It is deeply unsafe that I have not yet done this. 
  2. Look into volunteer work. Engage! Cleveland's recent Next Generation of Women event encouraged me to start figuring out ways I might be able to volunteer in the city. Any ideas? 
  3. Try (at least) two new-to-me gyms and/or workouts.With my free month of Class Pass, I'm scheduled for an intro class at Rise Nation & a yoga class at Studio 111. I'm also hoping to attend a CycleBar class with a Annie & maybe even a SoulCycle class while I'm in NYC! 
  4. Write a pitch for an upcoming anthology. I don't want to jinx anything, so I'm keeping this mostly mum - but I'm really excited about the possibility of contributing an essay to a new anthology, & I've got to sort out my pitch so that I can be considered for it.
  5. Do something new-to-me in NYC. OK, OK, this is kind of a cop-out goal because there are lots of things I haven't yet done in NYC, but it seems that when I go, I usually do a lot of the same things. I want to try something fun, bloggable, & different this time around.
  6. Hit my Apple Watch move goals every day in April. Ideally, I'd like to hit all my Apple Watch goals - moving, exercising, & standing - but that seems a bit ambitious. For now, I want to hit my 500-calories-a-day burn goal & hit 10k steps at least 20 days out of the month.
How'd you do on your March goals? What are you aiming for in April?
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10 Ways to Be Less Nervous about a Trip to the Dentist

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

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Recently, I had my first dentist appointment - & teeth cleaning - in more than four years. I know, I know. This is unacceptable!

Last month, I wrote about my history of fear of dental work & announced a new partnership with Hudec Dental, a neighborhood dental office with 20 locations across Northeast Ohio. Now, having finally done a cleaning - & chatted with my amazing, kind, helpful, friendly hygienist, Sandra, for tips for scaredy-cats like me - I'm back... with tips for scaredy-cats like me!
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What I Read in March

Monday, April 1, 2019

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Another good reading month! I was hot in the beginning of March, flying through books, & then slowed down significantly toward the middle - but I still got plenty of reading in. Did I read any of my Book of the Month picks? Ummm... not yet. That TBR list keeps growing!
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