For years I’ve knocked the barefoot running movement, convincing myself that my bulky shoes and SuperFeet insoles reduce shock and improve my alignment. After test-driving barefoot running on the beach this month, my perspective on barefoot running has totally shifted and I now understand the hype. My body hasn’t been so sore from a run in a long time, a true testament to the intensity of barefoot running. Here are a few benefits for running barefoot:
Full body workout: Running barefoot, especially on sand, works your entire body. Plyometrics strengthen the tendons in your feet, knees and hips. You’ll also feel a strong core workout as your abs and back muscles help propel you forward.
Nature’s pedicure: Running on sand exfoliates your feet as you dash along the beach. With that exfoliation can come some serious blisters, so pace yourself. If you regularly run 3 miles, start with a mile on the beach and then build up from there.
Sometimes simpler is just better: No socks, no shoes, just do it. Plus, unlike running on pavement, the softer surface of the sand is much kinder on your joints.
Sometimes there’s no better motivator for your workouts than some rockin’ jams. We know a lot of you have been battling some nasty wet weather out there so we have put together a Rainy Day Fitness playlist on Spotify to get you fired up about running in the rain.
Here’s a sneak peak at some of the songs…
Blind Melon - No Rain
Eminem - Rain Man
Eurythmics - Here Comes the Rain Again
Madonna - Rain
Prince - Purple Rain
…plus 14 other soggy songs to beat those rainy day blues. Check out the Rainy Day Fitness Spotify playlist here.
This week I had my first slacklining experience - it’s basically a wider, bouncier tight rope that works your balance and core strength. Climbers love it because it helps improve body awareness and control.
With so many years of yoga experience, I thought slacklining would come to me naturally. Boy, was I wrong.
Here are a few insights I gained that we can all apply beyond slacklining…
Have a beginner’s mind: Beginners have no expectations and go with the flow. “Know-ers” are less flexible, expect certain outcomes and close themselves off to new and different experiences. I approached slacklining as a knower and was quickly humbled by my fumbling and shakiness on the line. It reminded me to pace myself and enjoy the little victories.
The line is an extension of you: The energy you bring to the line is a reflection of you. If you approach it with a sense of fear and nerves, the line will shake you right off. If you approach it with steadiness and ease, the line will move with you as you find your way. The line doesn’t control you. You have a choice to decide how it responds to you.
It’s about the journey: Our slacklining instructor chuckled as she told us that the pictures you see of rockstar slackliners holding steady poses on the line are total illusions. Usually that crux pose is held for no more than a split second, and the camera just happened to catch it. Even pros don’t master the line, and conquering some end result shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. Instead we should focus on what we learn and gain along the way.
Smile: You’re inevitably going to fall or make a fool of yourself. One of my finer moments was my “rotisserie chicken” move as I spun all the way around the line after trying to lay horizontally on it. I plopped right onto the mat laughing at myself and quickly hopped back on the line. If you approach the experience with a laugh and a smile you learn to be resilient and enjoy the process.
Seems like every time I go to a yoga class there are more guys on the mat. But I still have male friends who are hesitant to give it a try. Well, they need to get over it. Because chicks dig guys who do yoga.
10. They develop patience – going to yoga regularly forces you to become patient with yourself, your body, and all things outside of your control. Many guys have become accustomed to control and instant gratification. Yoga is one of the few things that can help reverse that.
9. They become more aware – yoga teaches you to pay attention to your body and your inner voice. It’s rare to find a guy who notices and appreciates the small, quiet details that often make or break a relationship.
8. They’re courageous – for most guys, yoga is foreign and closer to feminine dance than anything else they’ve ever done. For most guys, yoga is completely out of their comfort zone, and it takes some courage for them to walk into that first class.
7. Yoga does great things for a guy’s a*s – this one doesn’t need an explanation.
6. Yoga does great things for a guy’s arms – neither does this one.
5. Yoga does great things for a guy’s abs – definitely not this one, either.
4. They embrace imperfections – when most guys walk into their first yoga class, their muscles are tight and lack physical flexibility. They struggle through the first class. So the ones who return accept that they won’t be awesome at everything right away.
3. They are confident – guys don’t show up to a yoga class because it’ll be cool. In fact, their friends may give them a hard time for it. That takes a strong sense of self. Which usually leads to great abs. ;)
2. They value balance – it’s rare to find a guy who values emotional and spiritual development. Yoga helps us all redefine “happiness” more broadly than society does for men.
1. They aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves – not only are they in a room full of women, but they may also have to try the splits in front of all those women. That takes a good sense of humor!
Today I tried my first barre class, which is a ballet-influenced exercise that incorporates some strength training and pilates moves. Having no formal dance training besides a kindergarten ballet class and busting some moves on the weekends, the ballet-inspired routine seemed a little intimidating to me. I had also heard horror stories of the intensity of barre workouts from girlfriends who had tried it in the past. Walking into the studio, I didn’t know exactly what I was signing up for.
We started the class with some lunges and squats with hand weights. During those first 10 minutes it felt as though the horror stories were true. My biceps and hips were rocked to the point of shutting down on me. Then we finally put the weights away and stepped up to the barre and eased into some ballet moves, which were a little more forgiving than the warm-up exercises. Not to say I didn’t still feel a burn (and I’m sure I will be feeling more of that burn tomorrow morning), but I was distracted by the fun of playing ballerina for an hour.
Barre was a fun change-up to my workout routine, and here are a few reasons why you should give barre a shot…
It rocks your whole bod: Barre combines butt- and leg-toning squats along with core-blasting pilates moves. Couple that with some resistance training and a few yoga moves to stretch out your bod, you hit just about every muscle in your body in a short 1-hour class. Regularly attending barre classes helps build a lean, strong physique.
It’s graceful: Even with two weights in my hands, I felt like a ballerina floating between first and fifth position. Similar to how yoga and pilates stress the importance of form, barre focuses on posture and body alignment, which makes you feel that much more light and graceful. You’re also encouraged not to grip the barre, reminding you to remain relaxed and easy.
It helps balance and coordination: Barre’s focus on alignment and posture also challenges you to stay balanced as you rise up onto your toes and squat down into a plie. Leg lifts and other pilates exercises help further refine your coordination and stability.
Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. You’ll be surprised how much fun you might have with it. :-)
There are some age-old sayings that can’t be drilled in us enough. Eat your veggies. Floss your teeth. And one of them being…drink water.
It is especially important to keep up with your water intake if you are exercising regularly - meaning you should probably be drinking even more than the daily recommended 8 cups a day.
Water helps keep our bodies balanced and can make us feel more energized and alert. Drinking lots of water also flushes out nasty toxins that our bodies need to get rid of.
Water also plays a huge role in proper muscle functioning. Cells that can’t maintain a proper balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, resulting in muscle fatigue. Power your workouts with proper hydration.
Here are some ways to sneak more water into your day…
Spice up your water: Let’s face it, straight-up water is pretty dull and drinking it can seem like a chore. Add some healthy infusions to make your cup of water extra tasty. Here are some interesting ideas you can add to your cup: Cucumber and mint. Lemon slices. Orange slices. Berry slices. Crushed cilantro and a little agave syrup.
Eat more water-rich foods: Watermelon is 92% water by weight, tomatoes are 95% water and eggs are 74% water. Incorporate these and other water-dense foods in your diet and you’ll get the added benefit of eating more fruits, veggies and healthy proteins, too!
Supplement with juices and other healthy alternatives: Orange juice, cranberry juice, coconut water, tea…all drinks have some element of water, but BE CAREFUL! Watch out for sugar-laden substitutes like these…
You’re halfway through your spin class - your quads are burning, the intensity keeps increasing and thinking about finishing the last 30 minutes seems insurmountable.
Some people say 90% of success is just showing up, but it’s that last 10% of yourself that can lead to incredible results. During those times when you are tempted to give up, you would be amazed how much strength you have in you to power through. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you conquer those breakthroughs…
Stay present, stay focused: It can be overwhelming to get ahead of yourself and worry that you’re going to run out of gas before you hit the 10 mile marker in a half marathon or the 45-minute marker in an intense hour-long core-blasting pilates class. Focus on your breath and focus on the moment you’re in. The pain is only temporary, whereas your pride of achievement and endorphin-induced ‘hi’ will have a much more lasting effect.
Trust what you’re made of: Your mind is your biggest obstacle in getting yourself to the next level. Trust that by pushing yourself you will uncover incredible strength and endurance that your inner voice would have tricked you into overlooking.
Honor your successes: Feeling that ‘hi’ at the end of a workout - that euphoric state that makes you feel invincible - is an important sensation to relish. It powers your next feat and boosts your confidence in knowing that you have it in you to achieve incredible things.
Get out there, kick some ass, feel awesome about it, and do it all over again.