Becoming a Barre Fly…Again

When I was 3, I began what turned into a life-long love of dance. Once a week from 3 until age 16, I went flying up the steps at the Gail Herring School of Dance and then Chelle’s Dance Studio (after Gail moved) with tap, ballet and jazz shoes haphazardly thrown (with love) in a navy blue tote bag. Admittedly, about all I did the first year was hang from the barre like a little orangutan, but later I began to appreciate the grace and strength dancing gave me. Even when I became a chubby teen, I still had killer leg muscles and rock-hard abs. You couldn’t see them with a few pounds of tub but they were there.

The crazy thing I’ve learned is that despite being thinnest in my adult years, I’m much less toned than I was as a dancer…even when I was chubby. And that’s why I picked up Xtend Barre off Amazon. Both running and walking are good for me and I do enjoy it but ballet is just zen. That ache you get where your hamstrings meet your gluts after 50,000 plies? Heaven in muscle fatigue form.  Even the ab session was divine because it wasn’t just a crunch here and there. It was intense and yet comfortable all at the same time.

The result? Great! I am a big believer in muscle memory both because I know it is physiologically possible and because I’ve seen it work on my own body. I completed one (yes, 1) 55 minute session of Xtend Barre on Monday. Talk about feeling it! I generally have defined arms but they looked even better the next day. Best of all, I had great posture without much effort because I had forced myself to pull in, tuck under and lift up long enough to remember how to do it.

I’m of the opinion that a great fitness routine is NOT built upon a single method of exercise. This is going to be the one I go to when I don’t feel like exercising. If you’ve been a dancer (and even if you haven’t), this may be a great option for flexibility and strength. If you try it, let me know what you think.

Been Up in the Gym Working on My Fitness, Or Day 7 of Skechers GOrun

Okay, so I couldn’t resist the Fergie song reference. I’m a card-carrying hard rocker but who doesn’t love a little Fergie sometimes?

Today marks day 7 with my Skechers GOruns. I absolutely adore them! One of my concerns had to do with barefoot running, and the possibility of funky shoes. This is so not the case. I’ve been on the treadmill every single day during my trial and they are as fresh each morning as they were on day one. So there goes that concern. The shoes are actually molding (not like the fungus) to my feet. They seem to fit and feel even better with each wear. They don’t look quite as factory-perfect now but they conform beautifully to my feet. Oh, and I have yet to wear a blister or hot spot. Unheard of, I tell you!

Here’s the best part: my knees don’t hurt at all. I mentioned last week after my first run that I didn’t have knee pain that day. I’m 7 days into it and still don’t have knee pain. I’m actually of the opinion that they perfected my stride, which has reduced the pain. I really did feel it in my Asics the day before I started this trial but not since. Perhaps this is TMI but I’ve had hormonal aches and pains (sciatica with shooting pains down my leg, hip pain, etc) since I was pregnant three years ago. During that hormonal window each month, I’ve generally been in pain since I started my foray into running. I’m still feeling some aches in my hip and back but the other pains that are exacerbated by the run are much less this month. I hate to sound like a snake oil salesman but I’m starting to wonder if it’s the shoes. I think I’ll know for sure after a couple of months of this. If it’s the GOrun style that helps, I’ll be a Skechers athletic shoes convert for life. Testify, right? (Insert goofy smiley emoticon.)

So nothing but glowing reviews so far. Along the same lines, I finally fell for the Zumba hype and ordered a set. It got here today. If you can stand another product review, look for one soon. Oh, and I also bought the Barre Method. I had outstanding gluts when I was a ballet dancer. I’m hoping it will bring some 15-year-old perkiness back to this 30-something physique.

Toodles for now.

SKECHERS’ New GOrun Running Shoes: Day 1

SKECHERS GOrun

Yesterday was like Christmas (again) around my house. FedEx showed up with a new pair of kicks from SKECHERS, the brand new GOrun. First off, I want to say thank you to SKECHERS for sending me a pair to review. To say I get excited about new shoes is an understatement.

I wanted to give an immediate review today, but I’ll continue wearing them and report back periodically to let everyone know my thoughts.

Two things struck me the moment I opened the box. First, the color orange. When I initially saw the orange on skechers.com, I thought it was kind of cool in an in-your-face sort of way. I like it so much better in person. I personally think my photo above is a better representation of the true color than what’s on SKECHERS’ site. It’s the perfect tropical orange, and it’s the color of Spring 2012 (so says Pantone). Second, the weight totally caught me off guard. They weigh next to nothing. According to the marketing materials, a woman’s size 6 weighs in at 4.9 ounces. My foot is a little–okay, a lot–bigger. My size 10 shoe weighed in at just 6.45 ounces according to my kitchen scale.

Once I put the GOrun shoes on, I immediately noticed the 4mm heel drop. According to SKECHERS, this drop puts your foot 66% closer to the ground to replicate a barefoot running experience. I’ll be honest…it felt really weird. Not bad but weird. Once I wore them around, though, it all started to feel more natural. When I put them to the test with my first run, the drop was actually quite comfortable.

4mm Heel Drop

The GOrun‘s design incorporates a roomier forefoot to allow your toes to spread, grip, and push off. To fully take advantage of this, the shoe is designed for sockless running. Now I am usually not the type to wear any athletic shoe without socks. I felt like I needed to go sockless for the full effect. I’m trusting that the OrthoLite will truly keep them from getting a funky smell. I can say that I didn’t have a single blister after my test mile, and I really did like the feel of free toes in the shoe.

Key features include the 360 flexibility, OrthoLite for sockless running and a roomier forefoot

One of the other major technological advances with the GOrun is the mid-foot strike and high-abrasion strike points, which are supposed to create extra stability and traction control. The first 1/4 of a mile, I began to think I didn’t like the strike points. Literally all of a sudden, though, I adjusted to them. I’m going to have to pay more attention to what this all may be doing for my stride. I can say that I had knee pain yesterday during my run but not today. I’m not prepared to say the GOrun stopped the knee pain but it certainly is plausible that it corrected my stride or alignment, putting less pressure on my knee. This is one area I’ll have to continue watching.

High-abrasion rubber at strike points for traction control and stability

The SKECHERS GOrun comes in 8 colors and retails for $80, which is an absolute bargain. When I realized that I needed new runners last month, I was a bit shell shocked by prices. Sure, you can get a runner for less than $50 but I didn’t find a single one in that price point that felt good and met my needs. To see this one under $100 and then to see how lightweight, comfortable and chock-full of technology it is, I think the price is a great deal.

Like I said, I’ll continue to wear them. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

As it Turns Out, I’m Superwoman…Running and Ear Infections

I fell off the treadmill a few days ago. No, that isn’t a euphemism for complete failure. I literally stumbled off the treadmill. In hindsight, that was the first clue that I had two big ol’ ear infections but, like every mother, you pretend you aren’t sick until it’s practically time to call the CDC. So I’m walking for a few days. It’s about all I can do to keep a 3 mph stride; Amoxicillin should fix that soon. I’ve actually received messages asking how the running was coming, so I felt like I owed a recap to some of you.

Now it’s time for a funny observation. I realized today that I am actually Superwoman (and I bet you are, too, if you are reading this). Before having a child, I did get an ear infection every now and then. I. Was. Wiped. Out. I’m talking on my back, writhing in pain, crying for my mother (okay, maybe she was already there that one time but I still asked for her). Post-baby? I clean the floors. I feed, bathe and dress said child. I go grocery shopping. I write contract and non-contract blog entries. And I do it all with not one but two raging ear infections.

Superman may be able to save Gotham but I’m pretty sure the fate of the world rests on mothers.

Now I’m off to my Fortress of Solitude (aka the shower) for 10 minutes of peace and quiet. I’ll be back with prettier content in a day or so!

Running to Re-define Myself

I’m not good at failure. You see, I’m one of those sickening people that seems to be good at just about everything. And when I’m not…whoa. Seventh grade volleyball, for instance. I couldn’t send a “floater” serve over that damn net, which meant I had zero chance making the team. By eighth grade, I was stronger and even taller and could, in fact, send a volleyball over the net with nearly surgical precision. I didn’t try out that year (or any year after that). Why? Because I had failed the year before. I wasn’t a “volleyball player.” Suffice it to say that the same happened with every sport.

Despite my lack of athleticism, I’m not sedentary. I can’t afford to be with my family history. Strokes, heart failure…you name it, it has been suffered by someone not too distantly up my family tree. I’m not thrilled with the idea of obesity but I’m really not in favor of death or a vegetative state so I exercise. What I’ve never been able to do well is run. First it was childhood asthma, then it was…who knows?? Cut to November of 2011. One day while writing a StyleBakeryMom.com blog entry, a wild hair pushed me to look up Couch to 5K. Before long, I was immersed in the program. I put off buying shoes because “I’m not a runner,” but weeks 4 and 5 passed and I realized that maybe I had failed to define myself correctly. My tight buns and aching knees just might be proving that I was, in fact, a runner. As of today, I’m up to running 1 1/2 miles without stopping. Slow? Yep, but I’m doing it. I am a runner.

So what do I do with this new definition? Well, I take pride in the fact that I’m doing something to stay healthy and vital but I also take pride in that I just might be wrong about some of my self definitions. And maybe I can re-define myself whenever it is necessary. And maybe there’s not a thing wrong with that. I wasn’t a runner but now I am. Kind of makes me wonder what else I’ve been wrong about.

Incidentally, I highly recommend these!