Posts Tagged ‘yoga

04
Feb
14

Preparing for crazy … weather wise!

Preparing for crazy … weather wise!

Winter Weather Alert

Fitting in gym visits, long runs through the park, making it to your yoga class or a lunchtime walk gets to be a real challenge when inclement weather threatens. Given that NYC is under yet another winter storm warning, I found myself rearranging my schedule to fit in a boxing workout at Gleason’s Gym this evening after work, just to make certain that I got at least one in this week.

What with 8 inches of snow yesterday, and another miserable day set for tomorrow, taking advantage of relative lulls in extremes of temperature or precipitation aka snow, ice, sleet and slush, not to mention temperatures in the single digits, means having to be flexible when it comes to keeping to a regular workout regimen.

gleasons_gym.jpg?w=655If Gleason’s was any indication–there were definitely a LOT fewer people training, nice for me because it meant I had the luxury of pounding my new favorite gym apparatus, the upper cut bag for eight leisurely rounds without feeling that I should give it up to another boxer.

Those who were working out though, seemed to be were putting a lot of extra time in too, as if knowing that with a winter storm on the way, it was a good idea to get in some licks because it might otherwise be awhile.

When the weather does hit and its either too cold, too slushy — or still coming down in a big way, you can certainly give in to one’s couch potato proclivities  (like me lately), or find another way.

One thing I’ve always had luck with are the videos I find on YouTube. For several months I was doing 30-45 minutes of Yoga every morning rotating through three or four of them, depending on my energy level, plus there are fun ones for ab workouts, shadowboxing, and of course, there’s always dancing!

I really like JT Van … and he’s designed a sweet, heart-pounding 20-minute boxing workout you can do at home with no equipment needed.

This is a decent 30 minute Vinyasa style Yoga practice — with sun salutations. Not for rank beginners, but not too complex either.

Ten minute Abs with LOTS of exercises! Nice and intense.

For a change-up — here’s nice “Salsa fitness” workout, with actual salsa music.

01
Feb
14

Back at it …

Back at it …

The heavy bags at Gleason's Gym

After a ten-day hiatus, I made it back into the gym today.

Talk about a shock! My conditioning as I entered the ring with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore was at about z-e-r-o!  But, that was to be expected after having fought off a lousy cold and its aftereffects.

Yes, I did manage to spar four rounds–but it was charity! Really. We were at half speed at best and I admit to feeling a bit light-heading as I shadow boxed. Giving into the reality of not being quite back to my usual level of fitness, after four rounds of sparring I took it slow and went three rounds on the upper cut bag and four on the speed bag before doing sit-ups.

Given the season, a lot of folks are in the throes of colds and flu and need to sort out just when to get back to the gym.

The following are some tips on how to go about it:

Klennex1. If you’ve been really sick with fever and an infection or if the virus that’s been plaguing you has left your muscles and joints achy and weak, you really should wait until your symptoms are pretty much done. You also don’t want to infect anyone else so if you’re still sneezing and coughing you should hold off until you are no longer contagious.

2. When you do head back, remember that your body has just been through an ordeal. And no–you are not going to perform to you usual ability, nor should you even if you think you can do it.  The body needs adequate time to recover. You will also need time to get your body back to its former conditioning–and depending upon the severity of your illness will require time, effort and patience.

Unknown3. Don’t think that you can immediately pound away at full speed. Whether it’s boxing, an hour of yoga, jogging in the park or working out on weight machines, cut your workout down to a reasonable time and cut yourself some slack when you find that your performance is off. No matter what shape you’re in a miserable cold is going to slow you down and your body needs time to get back to full strength. And, if you’ve had a couple of days of fever, your body has been hard at work fending of miserable germs–so it’ll take that much longer to get back to full strength.

4. Give yourself adequate recovery time, meaning if you run everyday, you don’t have to immediately get back to your normal schedule. Run on day one, rest a day, and then get back to it. In this way, you really are giving your body a chance to fully recover. Make certain that you are also keeping yourself adequately hydrated before, during and after workouts. The body can become slightly dehydrated even with a cold–which also takes time to recover from.

Most of all, remember to keep it slow and before you know it, you’ll be back at 100%!

 

01
Jan
13

New Year’s Day …

New Year’s Day …

New Year's Eve, 2013, NYC

As a young woman, New Year’s seemed loaded with the hazards of the dating life, expectations met and lost, and the specter of a fresh start, though not unburdened with the seeds of doubt regarding those pesky New Year’s resolutions.

A world away from that earlier version of myself – the one in the 1970s garb (OMG!!!), dancing the hustle to Donna Summer at the Salty Dog in the East 80’s on one New Year’s eve or another with my bestie, Jamie, and an assortment of leisure-suited guys – I can say with some assurance that there are some helpful do’s in the resolution game!

Do # 1:  Let the KISS theory suffice (as in keep it simple …)

Keep it simple! Credit: Sodahead.com

That means instead of promising yourself an elaborate hours long daily workout that involves multiple machines, ab-routines PLUS a LOT of rounds of boxing/running/fill in you’re your own workout poison, how about just promising yourself that you will commit to a regular exercise program with reasonable goals that you can attain as in … January:  I will run (fill in the number) miles per week … et al…

Do # 2:  Think grand, but not TOO grand.

Overachiever! Credit: danceswithfat.wordpress.com

Okay, you have a book you always wanted to write or a new part of the garden to plant or a terrific new glazing technique to try that involves multiple steps and using weird chemicals, or figure this is the year to run that marathon you always promised yourself.

That all sounds great, but first off remember Do # 1.

Is it attainable?

Do you have the time?

And most importantly, do you feel ready to take on the challenge? (As in, if you have a tricky knee, a marathon may not be in the cards.)

If you do feel as if you have the “stuff” to do it, then in the words of my favorite Captain (as in Picard) … “make it so.”

If not – perhaps a weekly blog will help you “rev” up your writing or consider adding tomatoes this year, or try walking first with your knee brace before taking on light jogging.

Remember that you get a lot of self-“brownie” points for trying, but face your own “Wrath of Khan” if you underestimate the obstacles after having put all that self-capital into believing you would complete the task.

Do #3:  When in doubt, do it with a friend.

Tandam Bicycle, circa 1900, Credit: gryphonsbicyclerepair.blogspot.com

This one is a good one, especially for exercise goals, weight-loss and other “we can do it” attainables that lend themselves to a little friendly competition, not to mention the buddy-system to drag your butt out of bed for those early morning routines – or fun stuff like learning to tap dance, salsa or fox trot, or even putting together your own group to learn Italian, or better yet a fight-club of your own for weekly sparring!

The point is, doing it with a friend (or two or three, or more) gives you camaraderie plus a lot of inspiration for those outer months past the first blush or two when rising for yet another early morning run is about the last thing you want to do.

Do #4: Do what feels right for YOU.

Anthony Quinn Bay, Rhodes, Greece

This one’s a tricky.

Say you really could lose a few pounds, but the truth is it’s not in the cards right now. Well have the guts to say, nope, not now. The same thing with adding days to your workout schedule at the gym or even giving your mother a call every Sunday morning.

The point is to be aware of what is and is not attainable or desirable for yourself before you launch into things that you just can’t handle.

Better to take on fun things like catching up on your British police procedurals (Prime Suspect – all seven seasons – is on Netflix), than to burden yourself with daily yoga or insight meditation when you’re just not ready for it.

The same goes to being nicer to people you don’t like and all the other things we add to our lists.

The point is to make it work for you. After all, you don’t have to be a New Year’s resolution overachiever!

So think through the sorts of things that have meaning to you not to what has meaning to others and if this is your year to run a marathon, then have at it. Otherwise, content yourself with cutting back on caffeine after 4:00 PM or doing Sun Salutations on Saturday mornings instead of burdening yourself with the whole enchilada, so to speak.

Do #5: Sometimes grand is good!

Taj Mahal

Okay, yes, this does fly in the face of Do #2, but there’s nothing wrong with going for it either!

So if you are up for it — take the challenge!

That could mean boxing in the Golden Gloves or fighting for a WBA female title!

Whatever it is give it your best and if it means going full-throttle than by all means do!

You deserve whatever goal you think you can achieve no matter how large or how small.

I’m not saying that risk is everything – but without it, we lose our creative edge, which I figure is what we’re all about anyway.

Put it this way, whether it’s finishing the book on time (hint to self), working through the ills of your body to come back into the game or readying yourself to go for the gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games … there is no better time than today to overcome whatever obstacles stand in your way.

Whatever you resolutions, I’d like to wish my Girlboxing pals all the best in 2013 with the sincere hope that whatever it is you do – this is your year!!!

31
Dec
12

Of endings and beginnings …

Of endings and beginnings …

2012 USA Women's Boxing Team

As is inevitable for this time of year, we relive our triumphs and disappointments and much like the wisdom espoused by the rituals of the Jewish High Holidays, may even set about examining those aspects of our lives we are most proud of and those we may be at a loss to explain.

In considering my own 2012 I certainly ran the gamut from graduating with my master’s degree to emerging from surgery on my shoulder with a pathetic wing that has taken months to set right.

Meanwhile, my own highs, lows and in-betweens are graced by the luxury of lots of comfort, a loving family and a Brooklyn home that experienced nary a sprinkle during Hurricane Sandy.

I’ve also gotten a book contract, my straight right back and a husband who even squired me to the movies two days running over the weekend!

Counting myself among the luckiest of the lucky, I also keep in mind the triumph and trials of my pals at Gleason’s Gym, the thirty-six young women who courageously took up the gloves to box at the London 2012 Olympic Games and another year in the history of women’s fight for equality whether it be in the boxing ring or the hope that a bus ride home in New Delhi doesn’t result in a brutal gang-rape and death.

Maybe it’s the latter that saddens me most.

I’ve been around a long time and the fact that a woman still isn’t safe whether it’s in New Delhi, Johannesburg, London or the Bronx reminds that me that for all our female bravura at embracing martial sports, the fact remains that there is always some part of what we do that is informed by our need for self-defense.

Talk to my thirteen-year-old about it and she’ll regale you with how to leg sweep a potential attacker or such street savvy stratagems as using big glass store front windows to check on who is walking behind her. The operative thing here is that she is thirteen and has already experienced men saying gross things to her on her short walk between school and home. And while her martial art, Aikido, is defensive in nature, it hasn’t stopped her from figuring out that sometimes the best defense is offense: that and the sense to scream, act crazy and run like hell.

So if we are talking New Year’s wishes, mine is to end assault with the first toll of midnight … that said, keep up the fight to claim the boundaries of the ring as your own, whatever your ring happens to be.

Happy 2013!

 

03
Dec
12

Up and at ’em …

Up and at ’em …

Women's Service Corps, ca 1945, Credit: Washington State Magazine

 

Whether its early morning calisthenics, a five-mile run to get the “juices flowing”, or cracking the books one more time for an exam, the old “up and at ’em” attitude is a great way to push oneself to whatever task is at hand.

Monday mornings also have a way of setting the tone for the week ahead whether its starting a new diet (or getting back on an old one), ticking off chores on the “to-do” list or getting back to the gym after a long hiatus. A Monday that is also the first one of the month has the added feature of jumping off into a fresh start with 30 or so days of opportunity to meet one’s goal.

Woman running 1920s, Credit: Baltimore FishbowlIt’s not exactly training for a prize-fight — but setting off down a path towards something to accomplish can certainly feel that way. That can mean losing five pounds, writing a paper (or a couple of chapters!), running five days a week, perfecting a new kind of glaze or learning five new chords on the guitar.

Whatever the goal putting in the work to do it means a lot of well deserved self-congratulations for persevering and at the end of it that fabulous “I’ve done it” fist-pump in the air.

Whatever the goal — one is also never really alone in it either.

We are all here doing the same thing and for every quiet cheer we might let out for ourselves we are also championing our friends who are along the path of their own achievements … at least that how I like to think of it!

So, if you’re out there today embarking on something for the month of December, know that a whole lot of us are riding along side you eating salads with low-fat dressing, waking up early to do doing crunches at 6:00 AM, perfecting sun salutations and memorizing the periodic table of elements.

 

01
Jun
12

Moaning and groaning … oh yeah, about that shoulder!

Moaning and groaning … oh yeah, about that shoulder!

Shoulder Anatomy (Credit: Massageitsgoodforyou.wordpress)

Oy … so here’s the story.  Back in December my shoulder started hurting after boxing.  I didn’t think too much of it and let it slide for a while.

By February I noted serious “ows” when I swam–so I stopped doing that, but kept boxing, avoiding things like the right cross.  By March it was still hurting and making “popping” noises so I saw an orthopedist and after getting an MRI got the diagnosis:  A torn labram.  Specifically, I was diagnosed with a SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum from anterior to posterior), a tear where the biceps muscle tendon connects with the labram in the shoulder joint.

Labram Tear (Credit: Healthandfitness101.com)

Here’s a good explanation from About.com: An injury to a part of the shoulder joint called the labrum. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip; however, the socket of the shoulder joint is extremely shallow, and thus inherently unstable. To compensate for the shallow socket, the shoulder joint has a cuff of cartilage called a labrum that forms a cup for the end of the arm bone (humerus) to move within. A specific type of labral tear is called a SLAP tear; this stands for Superior Labrum from Anterior toPosterior. The SLAP tear occurs at the point where the tendon of the biceps muscle inserts on the labrum.

The MRI also showed tendonitis of the supraspinatus tendon (the tendon at the top of shoulder) and bits of inflammation in a couple of other places).

Next up was a course of physical therapy — and no more boxing for the duration.

I worked with a terrific therapist name Eddie who patiently took me through a myriad of stretches and strengthening exercises.

Twice a week I  lay on one of the tables while I had a heat pack applied to my shoulder that felt GREAT–for a few minutes. Next up was a massage and gentle manipulation to try to improve my range of motion–and get me out of pain.

After the heat and massage came the hard part: lots of exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and improve range of motion which I had already begun to lose. The biggest problem was my shoulder was feeling even more unstable–meaning lots of popping when I moved it plus it hurt even more after PT was done.  In other words, not a great sign.

So … back to the orthopedist I went only to learn that I was also developing a frozen shoulder, meaning my shoulder was stiff and losing range of motion big-time.

I’d already known that I hurt when I tried to move my arm up and to the side or across my body–but the shocker was realizing that I couldn’t scratch my back anymore on my right side. I had also started to wake up in the middle of the night in pain, and trying to put on a sweater was becoming a challenge (not to mention hooking a bra!).

In other words my favorite shoulder Yoga pose was a pipe dream and I could no more do the pose than launch into space.

Options??  Well pretty much only one if I want to gain back the use of my right shoulder — arthroscopic surgery to repair the labram tear, clean up the “junk” around it  and to “unfreeze” those parts of the shoulder capsule that are impeding range-of-motion.

Arthroscopic means that the surgery will be performed through 3-4 small incisions around the shoulder using a camera and specialized surgical instruments.  Depending upon the severity of the repair, tiny ceramic screws may also be inserted to help stabilize the shoulder joint.

Surgery typically runs from one to two hours and may also entail repairs to the biceps tendon depending upon the amount of damage.

Recovery is another challenge. Immediately post-op, patients wear an ice-pack on their affected arm for 72-96 hours and pretty much keep the arm immobilized in a sling for upwards of four weeks.  PT starts pretty early though and patients usually start a course of exercise from about the second day or so.

The prospect of surgery is miserable to say the least — but given that I can’t even run because the motion hurts my arm gives some indication of its necessity.  As my surgeon said, if I want to be active at all, I kinda’ have no choice and given that I DESPERATELY want to box again, onward I march into a summer in recovery mode.

My surgery is scheduled for June 20th at NYU/Hospital for Joint Diseases.  I’ll let you know how it goes from the other side.

For further information on Labral tears here are a few good resources.

Johns Hopkins Orthopedic Surgery

NYU – Shoulder Labral Tear

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

23
Jan
12

Getting back in the swing!

Getting back in the swing!

Whether it’s perfecting your left hook or flexing your mind (as in keeping a “daily” blog) – getting back to a regular regimen is tough going when you’ve been away from it for a while!

Having stepped into the gym on Saturday for the first time in three weeks was a case in point.  I’m nursing sore abs, a creaky shoulder and a mindset that is less focused on perfecting the minute shifts of tuned-up training, than just getting to the gym at all.

So my job is to push my momentum, meaning, getting myself back on a weekly gym schedule that *builds* rather than maintains!  I’m also trying to talk myself out of the neat excuses for not going such as, “I’ll be out of town on Saturday” or “I’m tired” or “it’s raining out” … you know the drill!

I can say the same for writing!  When I don’t write every day I get out of the habit — so, starting today, I am bound and determined to get back on the writing stick!  And yes, I’ll even give myself some slack for having finished up my degree, et alia, but a daily blog is just that, a daily blog.  That means putting fingers to the keyboard with a mindset that can get past the range of reasons *not* to do something.

Meanwhile, it’s 2012 and I’m already over three weeks behind in getting my resolutions in order for the year!  So here goes!

1.  Write a daily entry for Girlboxing!

2.  Gain more strength, endurance and flexibility. Being in my late 50s means I need resistance training and a lot of it to keep my bones strong.  I also need to do more aerobic training, and yoga.  That means getting back to a training schedule that has me doing at least one thing a day and on some days all three!

3.  Eating better!  Yikes.  This one is tough.  Having been diagnosed with LPR (Laryngeal Pharyngeal Reflux) and GERD (Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease) PLUS having Barrett’s Esophagus (the cells in the esophagus near the gastric junction actually CHANGE due to acid erosion), I’ve been living a low-acid/low-fat life!  What I have to get to, however, is better balance in selecting meals and foods and how they are combined.  This one is a tough to sort out – and I’ll actually do a column on it sometime soon, suffice to say that I’m getting there.  I’ve lost nearly 25 pounds since the change in my eating regimen in July 2011, now the trick is to go the rest of the way (another 10 pounds), while continuing to build muscle (which has suffered as late) so that when I eventually meet my goal, I’ll be a healthy and toned – rather than depleted and weak.

4.  The next project:  now this is the tough one!  I’m thinking book and just have to move into the space by DOING rather than angsting about it.  And therein lies the sticky problem: getting to the DOING part.  Again, it’s a matter of starting and once in the habit continuing the process until it is concluded.  Easier said than done?  No, probably not ‘cause we all have goals that we set and follow.  It’s that pesky issue of getting started!

What it all comes down to for the year:  Doing!

So, day one in my reforecast New Year means putting the fingers to the keyboard to say thanks so much to my Girlboxing friends for listening and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

And how nice that it happens to coincide with the Chinese celebration of the Year of the Dragon!

GONG XI FA CAI




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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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