For the past 37 days, I've been making small lifestyle changes that are adding up to a big positive. I'm sharing this because fitness professionals are human and subject to the same stresses and temptations as anyone else. Sometimes the stresses become too much and we succumb to unhealthy choices that wreak havoc on our bodies, minds and spirits.
All too often I see social media posts from people trying to make major changes all at once like going from inactivity to jumping into an insanely intense exercise program or extreme diet with the idea that they'll beat their body into some kind of submission.
What you don't hear is how they manage to maintain this all or nothing approach for a short time and then revert back to their former lifestyle, losing everything they gained and gaining everything they lost while telling everyone that diet and exercise doesn't work or that it isn't for them.
However, psychologists and exercise scientists have shown that a series of small positive changes implemented slowly over time is much more likely to be maintained indefinitely than trying to tackle too many changes at once or making changes that are too large.
Make a list of all the changes you'd like to implement to reach the lifestyle you'd like to have and then implement one small change each week until you've implemented every change on your list. An example of a small change might be: drink an additional glass of water each day this week. Or: Walk briskly for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times this week.
Small steps add up over time to create positive changes in your spirit, mind and body. Incorporate positive lifestyle changes into your life and your body and mind will follow. Living an active, healthy lifestyle will become a habit and a way of being. You'll get more personal rewards from living well than from making poor nutritional choices or remaining inactive.
You can accomplish amazing progress by making your changes one at a time and it will certainly be less painful. Think of it as nourishment for yourself rather than deprivation. Trust me, your body is worth it.
Moving:(adjective) 1.causing or producing motion. 2. involved in changing the location of possessions, a residence, office.
Moving has taken center stage in my life over the past several months. I relocated from Alabama to rural Georgia two months ago and it's taken all that time to unpack and we're still not finished opening all of the boxes.
Back in February I gave notice to the Parks & Rec Center where I'd taught a variety of group fitness classes for the past five years and then promptly suffered a freaky back strain that had me bedridden for a week and caused a delay of two months in our moving plans.
After a week of rest, I still couldn't even do Zumba Gold without a flair up, so I turned to walking--first on my home treadmill and then outside with my dogs. My pups had become couch potatoes from my teaching schedule, but all that changed in March.
I discovered something strange: after five years of teaching 5-12 group fitness classes per week, I had no desire to take or teach group fitness.
So we walked. And on the first of May, we moved. To Georgia.
In mid May, I had the honor of presenting aquatic fitness workshops for the second year in a row at the International Aquatic Fitness Conference (IAFC) in Tampa. I enjoyed the classes I participated in when I wasn't presenting. (See photo above of me in the Acquapole: Power master class.)
But when I returned home, the pool at our new house wasn't open yet and my fitness dvds, dvd player, and music were still packed up, so I continued to walk the dogs and added bike riding to my weekly movement.
Last week, I finally felt "moved" to workout to dvds for the first time in years. I pulled out old favorites of mine such as Kari Anderson's Hot Steps and Push dvds. I'd forgotten how fun and effective a great step class can be. Yesterday I tried Zumba Toning with Jani Roberts and today was another fabulous Kari Anderson dvd, Reach, which beautifully combines ballet, Pilates, yoga and strength training. And I'm loving them.
I'll be starting a Zumba Gold class at the Golden Isles YMCA in Brunswick, Georgia next month, as well as a yoga class. I'm sure I'll expand my schedule there in time, but for now I'm enjoying my walks, bike rides and favorite fitness dvds.
Moving and moved in every sense of the word, forward, backward and full circle. Sometimes the circular path is the right choice.
Treadmills and mini-tramps aren't just for people anymore.
My dog, Moxie, used to walk on a home treadmill several times a week. She also swims laps in the pool during the summer months.
You may be shaking your head, thinking: a dog on a treadmill? Well, it all started when I enrolled Moxie in obedience training several years ago and quickly realized that I’m a terrible dog walker (although I recently overcame this deficiency by starting my newest dog on a leash at 3 months of age). Putting Moxie on a leash quickly became an un-fun dominance challenge between me and the dog, each of us battling to see who could pull whom down the sidewalk.
So, I taught her how to use a treadmill as if she were a personal training client of mine. I combined dog training techniques with personal fitness methods. We took everything step by step, beginning with standing on the machine in the proper position. We progressed to turning it on in the lowest speed to get her used to the sound and feel of the belt moving under her feet.
Moxie caught on quickly. Over a period of several months, she worked up to being able to walk for an hour, including a gradual warm-up to prepare her for vigorous activity and a warm-down to allow her heart rate to return to normal. Our veterinarian was pleased with the results: fit dog, a happy owner, and a fun trick to show house guests.
Now that she's a senior citizen, she walks on a leash just fine. But the treadmill is handy for winter and rainy days.
The mini-tramp, on the other hand, makes a wonderful dog bed. It's elevated off the cold floor, has some give to it and is easy for older dogs to climb up on. We found ours at the thrift store for twenty bucks. I'd bought it for myself to jump on, but Moxie loved it so much as dog furniture that I gave it to her. She's the only pup I know with her own home gym.
Ever wanted to play the drums or be a rock star? What if you could combine drumming and exercise and have fun in the process? You can. It’s called Cardio Drumming and there are two branded group fitness programs out there that provide it: Drums Alive! and Pound Fitness.
Drums Alive! combines traditional aerobics with the rhythmic movements of drumming. Drums are made by placing stability balls (think Hippity Hop ® without the handle) on upside down step risers. The entire workout is performing standing up although some of the stretches at the end are performed sitting on the stability ball. Most of the aerobic moves are low impact. Athletic shoes are recommended.
Pound combines low impact aerobics with Pilates and uses weighted drum sticks to drum on the floor and bang your sticks together to the beat of good ole rock and roll. It does involve a good bit of unsupported forward flexion (bending over and reaching down the the floor) and getting down on the floor and then up on your feet again throughout a class so it may not be the best option for beginners, older participants with joints issues,or those who have difficulty transitioning from standing to floor work. However, if you already have a moderate to high fitness level, Pound is a fun way to workout and tone up and is done barefoot.
The health benefits of cardio drumming include coordination, intellectual stimulation, cardiovascular conditioning and muscle toning, not to mention the stress relief from drumming to pulsating music. It’s better than primal screaming and so much more fun. A forty minute class can burn anywhere from 300-700 calories.
According to Rhythm for Life, drumming can boost the immune system, reduce stress, and enhance spirituality. Many ancient cultures practiced the art of drumming, believing the music to be a conduit to the Divine.
So, if you’re looking for a fun way to get fit or just want to bang on a drum or beat a pair of drum sticks together, check out Pound Fitness or Drums Alive! And feel the beat.
What’s a fabulous way to workout in the winter? The answer: Water Fitness.
Water Fitness has gotten an undeserved reputation as being a workout that’s only for older adults. While older folks can and do enjoy exercising in the pool, water fitness can provide both a cardiovascular and strength training challenge for any age due to the unique properties of water such as buoyancy, drag, inertia, turbulence and surface area. A variety of equipment can be added for progressive overload, including Lycra or Neoprene gloves, float belts, buoyancy cuffs, noodles, kickboards, hand buoys, weights, and rubber tubing. And shoes are actually recommended for shallow water workouts—either Aqua Sox or Water Aerobic shoes. Shoes provide traction against the pool floor, protect feet from abrasive tile, and provide drag.
Unlike exercising on land, water constantly presses against the body, and this hydrostatic pressure prevents the heart rate from elevating as high as it would when performing the same moves in a gravity-based air environment. However, this in no way means that you’re working less intensely. Studies have shown that water workouts burn as many, if not more, calories than land workouts. And it’s time efficient—combining strength training and aerobic fitness at the same time. Participants definitely sweat in the water, but don’t feel it in the pool. And just like dry-land exercise, water consumption before, during, and after a pool workout is highly recommended to stay hydrated.
There are many water fitness formats to choose from to suit your preferences: shallow water workouts focusing on repetitive athletic moves to music, boot camp, deep water workouts, choreographed water dancing such as Aqua Zumba ®, and even small-group personal training. And since water is fluid, everyone is able to work at their own pace. The harder you push against water, the harder it pushes back. And vice versa. Water provides the freedom to move in ways that are impossible for most people on land.
So, head on over to your nearest indoor pool this winter to reap the benefits of this fun, effective, and time efficient workout. You’ll discover that water works.
"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
I must be ready for a total transformation of body, mind, and spirit because that was the theme of this year's IDEA World Fitness Convention held in sunny Anaheim, California last week. I attended four days of workshops, lectures, and master classes in a variety of modalities, including group fitness, yoga, the business of fitness, and even a mind-body connection presentation by Cheryl Richardson, author of You Can Create an Exceptional Life.
Virtually everything I took was absolutely fantastic and the presenters were truly top notch. The Expo with its 600 vendors blew me away. I discovered new types of equipment, classes, foods, and even a certification program for pet personal training! Sounds right up my alley, doesn't it?
I left the convention feeling inspired and knowing that I need to cut a few things out of my life in order to focus on fewer areas--less is more. Letting things go can be difficult, but considering that I keep hearing the same "messages" from recent books I've read and now the IDEA convention, the time for me to transform my life is NOW. Because the past is over and the future is always ahead of us. Now is the only time we truly have.
I capped off a tremendous week with a trip to Disneyland on a twilight pass. If anyone knows how to do things right to achieve success, it's the Walt Disney Company. I had an epiphany in Cheryl Richardson's presentation and again as I toured the park concerning myself and Disney. I won't share it at this moment, but let's just say it's a humdinger of an epiphany.
So what is ONE thing you can do to transform your life? What are you willing to do differently in order to change? Start with one small thing and each week add another small thing. In one year you will have made
52 positive changes--talk about a transformation!
So go ahead, become the change you want to see in the world. You can do it and you're worth it!
Meet Moxie, a 10-13-year old American Staffordshire Terrier and the inspiration for the character of Luna in my newest novel The Weredog Whisperer.
Moxie has arthritis and doesn't walk so well anymore, but swimming is right up her bayou, so to speak. She wears a doggy float vest so that she can swim continuously for thirty minutes at a time without the stress and strain of trying to keep herself buoyant in the water.
One of her favorite games is "keep away" with a tennis ball. She'll also "fetch" in the pool and will even tell us when she wants to swim by dropping the tennis ball by the pool steps.
Float vest by Outward Hound, purchased at TJ Maxx.
The temperature dropped into the 60s the morning of my aquatic workshop: (Developing) Off-the-Wall Theme Classes. As a first-time presenter at the International Aquatic Fitness Conference, I had qualms that everyone would choose to stay in their warm beds at 8:00 am EST instead of brave the chill morning air, but I was pleasantly surprised when fifty participants showed up at the pool for a rousing football game themed class including cheerleading, football drills, and even a half-time show with the marching band and majorettes.
The water turned out to out to be warmer than the air, but it was the perfect temp both in and out of the pool. No one was cold once we got started and I didn't have to worry about massive sweat dripping into my eyes (a very real concern when it's hot) or overheating in the sun.
Jock Rock tunes accompanied our Tabata drills, football pass-and-dash game, and traveling drills. We shook our pom-poms to popular cheerleading songs--even the guys!--and got wild and crazy with a tunnel as we "Danced to the Music." At half-time we had to "bang our drums" and then marched around the pool conducting the band and playing various instruments. At the end we sang, "Nah Nah Hey Hey, Wave Goodbye" as we high-fived each other after a vigorous "game" of football.
My costumes and props included a football helmet, red/white poms, a red/white referee dress that doubled as a cheerleader uniform, a sport's whistle, a bag of footballs, and a baton.
After the pool practical, we headed indoors for a brainstorming session on developing themed classes. The attendees came up with many fabulous ideas and song possibilities and we had fun sharing ideas and walking through the creative process together.
I had so much fun facilitating this workshop and am looking forward to many more! If you've never been to IAFC, I highly recommend it! For more info, visit www.aeawave.com.
I'll be presenting two courses at IAFC (International Aquatic Fitness Convention) this year. I'm super excited about it since teaching and developing other instructors is one of my passions.
I'll be leading an aquatic workshop: Off-the-Wall Theme Classes [developing theme classes] ,and a lecture: The Write Stuff [breaking into fitness publication].
I am honored to join the ranks of the most excellent water fitness presenters in the world at the Innisbrook Resort in Tampa, Florida from May 13-17.
IAFC is the premiere water fitness event of the year! For more information, or to register, visit www.aeawave.com. IAFC 2014 is expected to sell out, so don't wait.
Forty-four countries participated in Worldwide Aquathon Day today, November 9, from 9 am - Noon. The facility where I teach--The Anniston PARD Aquatic and Fitness Center--was one of the facilities representing the United States this morning. Four instructors--Robin Brothers, Mary Webb, Julie Brown, and myself taught a variety of water fitness modes during the aquathon, including tai chi, bootcamp, aqua dance, and aqua kickboxing. We had a great turnout and tons of fun making a splash around the world.
Rose Hartzenberg, a water fitness instructor in South Africa, started the wave that would travel around the world to encompass forty-four nations. Planning began this past summer and culminated today. Some of the countries involved: South Africa, Australia, Great Britain, Portugal, Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Russia, the Netherlands, Norway, Malaysia, Hungary, the Ukraine, and Korea...
Slide show and instructor gallery below...
Lover of dance, Zumba and aquatic fitness. And Wave Webs aqua gloves.