' Adventures with FitNyx: March 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016


In the spirit of election year, I wrote both a victory post and a concession post.  While both posts were very good...

I am SO thrilled to be able to post my victory speech!  I'M IN for the Marine Corps Marathon in DC on October 30!  The MCM will be my very first full marathon, and I'm incredibly honored and excited to know that I will be a part of such a historic event.  I've been thinking about this decision virtually non-stop since submitting my lottery bid at exactly 12:01 last Thursday when registration opened, and I firmly believe that come October, I will be more than ready to attempt a feat that as recently as last fall claimed I would never do.  That 26.2 started calling to me, and I'm prepared to step up and answer that call.  You'll see plenty of training updates and related blog posts along my journey, but for now I'm leaving it at this while I go celebrate!

Okay so now, like, for real - marathon training tips/advice/hard lessons I don't want to learn on my own?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Training (and recovery) starts NOW!

Okay I gave up pretty quickly.

I don't have the patience to wait a full week to hear if I'm actually IN for the Marine Corps Marathon and to start planning some training patterns.  Starting last Friday (yup, only one day after entering the lottery that won't post results until tomorrow) I jumped the gun a bit and drastically increased my running mileage with an 8 mile day followed by a 4 mile day.  This is about four times the mileage I've run in the preceding three weeks combined?  I know, typically not a smart move, but somehow I managed to survive and actually thrive on those runs!  And that's good, because I threw myself into a half marathon in less than two weeks, so I'm happy to know I can cover at least the majority of that distance without dying.

Now, it's not like I hopped off the couch and decided I would start running miles upon miles on a whim.  Even if I haven't been running consistently, I have been teaching group ex classes multiple times each week and working on a lifting schedule as well.  My fitness base is present and surprisingly strong, so launching into what is for me a pretty long run wasn't as crazy and impatient as it seems from some angles.  It was still more than my body was probably ready for, but at least I knew that going into it - and was ready to handle the aftermath of pushing my body a little.  I've learned so much about post-run muscle care and recovery, and I finally have just about a full array of instruments for properly treating sore and knotted muscles thanks to the most recent addition to my fitness arsenal: a muscle roller stick.

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

While I have several foam rollers of varying densities, textures, and lengths, none of them have been quite right for some of my worst knots and toughest sore spots.  For some reason I'm bad at controlling where the foam roller's pressure goes, and how much pressure I put on the muscle at the point I'm rolling.  One of the biggest benefits I've experienced using the Live Infinitely roller stick is that I have SO much more control over my rolling.  I can angle the stick just right to get at any knot, and make minute adjustments mid-roll that I can't do very easily with a traditional foam roller.  I'm also able to more deftly control the amount of pressure I put on the stick (and therefore on the muscle) while tending to my sore spots.  Unfortunately, I'm not quite flexible enough to reach my back with the stick, which pretty much has to be hand-held, so I'm still using my foam rollers since I can set them on the floor and not have to contort to use them!  But it's probably for the best, since the one time I had someone else try rolling my back with the stick, my hair got caught between the roller segments!

Caring for muscles following heavy workouts or long runs can make or break a training plan.  I've already seen benefits from using a combination of foam rolling, stick rolling, stretching/yoga, and compression gear post-run and post-lifting: I am less sore for a shorter period of time, and my next workout doesn't suffer from weak, overtaxed muscles.  Just as I'm trying to establish a better, more consistent running plan as I anticipate running a full marathon, I'm also trying to build better recovery and care habits to match the new workload I'll be putting on my body.  By staying at the top of my self-care game, hopefully I can avoid injury and see maximum returns on my workouts, which will (hopefully) lead me to an amazing success at the end of the year!

How do you keep your self-care game on point?  Do you prefer traditional foam rollers or muscle sticks?  What's your favorite way to take care of sore muscles after a tough workout?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

So, today I did a thing...

Today, the Marine Corps Marathon opened their lottery system for entry into this year's marathon in October.  And I was one of the first to put my bid in at noon when registration opened!
Yes, I put my money where my mouth is and actually registered for my VERY FIRST FULL MARATHON.  Of course there's a chance I won't get in, but the first step to running a marathon is committing to it on your calendar.  I have a couple backup options if I don't get into MCM this year, but as of right now, the wheels are turning for marathon training to begin in earnest.  The Towpath Half Marathon in a couple weeks will be an early benchmark for my pacing and endurance; hopefully between April and October I will be able to stick to proper training and actually be prepared come time to tackle 26.2 in DC.

What this means for Adventures with FitNyx: Brace yourself, lots of marathon training posts are coming.  I'm hoping to document my running and cross training more thoroughly on paper, which will translate to more check-in posts about my actual training and what I'm sure will be many posts about the overall experience of training for a marathon.  I've also got a few nutrition and recovery products to try over the course of the next few months as I experiment with what will work best for me on race day, so you'll probably see some reviews too.  And I'm also hoping to have some guest blogs from some of my friends who are old pros at 26.2, sharing advice and experience from their journeys!  All in all, it's likely to be a very interesting year - and I'd be honored to have you join me for it!

What was your first marathon like?  Which did you run?  If you haven't yet, do you think you ever will, and which race would you choose for your first?  Any early advice for me?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Katie Sunshine Hula Hooping

In the group exercise world, class participants are often looking for the newest, greatest, most fun trends in fitness options, which has led to some of the most fun workouts I've ever tried!  My PoundFit classes are a current gym favorite, and my Zumba Step class has been full since day one with people looking for a challenge that keeps a smile on their face.  Part of the fun of being an instructor is finding the next class to add to your schedule, and lately, I've been feeling an itch to try adding a hula hooping fitness class!  But before investing in certifications and licensing, I had to make sure I actually still enjoyed hooping like I did when I was a kid, so I talked to Katie at Katie Sunshine Hoops about trying her at-home hula hooping program.  Katie was happy to oblige, and soon I received a brand-new fitness hula hoop along with her own instructional DVD!

I checked out the DVD first to get an idea of what I was about to get myself into.  The quality and clarity of Katie's video was great!  Vocals are clear and well-paced; the whole workout is easy to follow.  She includes a stretching section that actually uses the hoop, which I thought was very cool.  Her workout moves are really the highlight of the video, though: it's all functional - with the hoop constantly keeping the core engaged and testing the balance, your entire body is forced to continuously make tiny (and sometimes large) adaptations.  Every muscle lights up!  My core was starting to feel sore just from watching Katie's demonstrations!

The only downside to the video is that Katie uses several different hoop sizes for a more robust workout.  Some of the smaller hoop exercises could still be performed with my large hoop, but there were a handful of moves that simply can't be done with a large hoop, making the video a little tricky to follow if you're not an avid hooper with a full range of sizes.  Fortunately, Katie does provide modification suggestions for the super mini hoop, allowing me to participate in a greater portion of the video without having to dig up specialized equipment.

Katie sent me a custom-made hoop decorated with my favorite colors!  Her hoops are made of sturdy tubing decorated with tape, which is pretty common for handmade hoops, but often with handmades you'll see tape pulling or uneven coverage - Katie's hoop is very smoothly decorated with no loose corners or pulling ends, and it was very well-packed for shipping.  The tubing is pliable enough to literally fold the hoop in half for easier shipping, and there is an instruction card included for how to properly unpack the hoop for the best shape.  At first I thought I could easily fold it back up for storage, but the info card recommends not twisting the hoop after unpacking.  It's not like it's all that hard to store a hula hoop that fits behind any piece of furniture!

Actually hooping, though?  Holy crap, we did this for FUN when we were kids?!  I can barely keep the hoop moving for more than 20-30 seconds at a time, and when I try to do some of the workout moves like hooping on one foot, it's game over in just a few short seconds.  No way I can keep up with the video yet - gonna need to work on hooping endurance first before getting tricksy!  My (embarrassingly brief) foray into following the DVD proves that the video will be an amazing workout once I'm able to actually do any of it.

As the weather continues to get warmer and it's easier to spend time outside, I'll be working hard on my hooping.  I am setting a tentative goal for myself: to be able to do most of the workout video by the end of the summer!  If I can get through Katie's awesome workout, I have no doubt I can teach a hooping class that my students will LOVE, thanks to the high level of challenge and the sense of returning to childhood when hooping.  If you're looking for a way to shake up your home fitness routine with a true challenge that is also fun and unique, head over to Katie Sunshine - she'll get you moving!

Have you ever taken a hula hooping class?  Can you last more than ten seconds doing some of the hooping tricks?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Peak Win Foam Roller

With a half marathon in a few weeks, and hopefully a full marathon in the fall, it's time to start learning better recovery and self-care techniques to use throughout my training.  I've already discussed the importance of foam rolling in the past, but the rollers I own haven't always been the right tool for the job: one is too soft and one is often too firm for a sensitive muscle.  Finally, though, I think I have the Baby Bear foam roller - it's juuuuust right!

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

This Peak Win foam roller has two surface textures and is made of a spongy substance that lets me control how deep my rolling goes.  The flatter surface is soft but not too soft, and is great for the days when my training makes for sensitive, sore, but not knotted muscles that just need some gentle massage.  On other days, when I have huge knots that need some extra work but are too sore for an ultra-firm roller, I can use the bumpy surface of the Peak Win roller.  The little nubs dig in to the affected muscle, but because of the roller's slightly squishy material, there's just enough give to keep the roller from causing more pain than relief.

In addition to being a very usable massage tool, the Peak Win roller doubles as a convenient storage unit!  The end caps unscrew, granting access to the hollow core of the roller.  This means I can tuck some gym extras right into my foam roller!  Small towels, earbuds, resistance bands or tubing, hair ties or headbands, even keys or other odds and ends can be stashed inside the roller for convenience.  I could see this being a huge asset when traveling for any of the destination races on my list: knowing I'd travel for a longer distance race, it'd be great to take a roller for post-race recovery without losing tons of packing space in my luggage!  Or, on the home front, it's a great way to keep track of fitness accessories in a home gym or even at the office (which is where my roller has ended up).

Now that my foam roller collection is complete, I'm actually looking forward to some of the tougher aspects of training for long distance running!  Knowing that I can properly take care of my body throughout my training is a big confidence boost, and I'm excited to start ramping up!  How do you take care of your body after long runs and challenging workouts?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Peak Win Stability Ball

The stability ball: a big, rubbery, bouncy bit of fitness equipment that seems to find a way to take up space in every gym these days.  When I would see these balls in gyms, I typically thought of old ladies taking a balance class, using the ball as a seat more than anything.  I wondered why the stability ball was so popular, since many gyms don't offer senior programming, but still had a bunch of balls.  Then, I finally got one of my own.  Now I get it: the stability ball is all about adding a dimension of INstability that can supercharge your workout.

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

My Peak Win Athletics stability ball came deflated, but included a plastic pump and hose combo for quick inflation.  It took me about six minutes to blow up the ball to about 64 inches around, which was full round but not full-to-bursting.  Oddly, the instruction booklet included with the ball indicates that "full" is at 81 inches in circumference, but I can't imagine that this ball could get that much bigger even if I inflated it until the plastic stretched!  As far as stability balls go, this one is on the smaller end of the spectrum right now, so I might eventually try to pump another inch or two into it, but for now I'm able to use it with no problems - and no fear of it bursting mid-exercise!

Once inflated, of course I had to play with my new toy!  As I mentioned before, the stability ball is actually a great way to add instability to standard exercises, raising the challenge level and activating additional muscles by increasing the dynamic nature of a move.  For example, the first thing I did on the ball was a plank: with my elbows propped on the ball, I had to use so much more of my core to hold myself stable while fighting the wobble under me!  I also tried push ups, resting my feet on the ball instead of on the floor.  Again, the instability under my anchor point seriously increased the amount of effort it took to complete the push ups.  Additionally, using a stability ball can increase your range of motion on other exercises like sit ups, which also increases difficultly level and, of course, gains!

I also learned a couple of stability ball exercises that I'd never done before, but are incredible!  Pikes are perhaps one of the most challenging moves I've ever done, and hamstring curls on the ball are simple but effective.  Some people also take stability balls in to work as a substitute for their normal office chair, claiming sitting on the ball keeps their core active all day; however, mine is a little too small to try that at my big desk.

Overall, I'm very happy with the addition of a stability ball to my home gym.  I'm a little disappointed that the ball doesn't actually inflate to the full large size (though I'll slowly put a little more air in every few days to gently stretch it, maybe we'll get there), but even the small ball has so much to offer in terms of tweaking an existing workout to maximize challenge and gains.  The ball also gets big points for versatility, as that's always a key factor in whether I can afford the storage space for a new piece of equipment!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Infinito Pilates Ring

In my thirst for more exercise knowledge and experience, I've been trying a lot of interesting types of fitness classes, exercises styles, and workout equipment.  Recently, I got my hands on a little toy I'd seen many times before, but had never had the opportunity to use: a Pilates ring, also sometimes called a "magic circle", which seemed to be the most innocuous bit of exercise equipment I've ever seen.  To be honest, Pilates classes still intimidate me, which is the main reason I had yet to use some of the props and equipment you'd see in a typical Pilates class.  Now that I have an Infinito Pilates ring, though, I know how much I'm missing!

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review.  As always, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

This deceptively simple little circle is incredibly versatile: I found ways to incorporate it into almost any workout!  The ring is flexible, made of a metal core with rubber coating, and has pads on two ends that cushion on both the inside and outside of the circle.  My first instinct was to squeeze it - between my hands, between my legs, under my feet, under my head, everywhere!  Turns out, every one of those instincts was spot-on.  Though the ring doesn't offer much by way of weight-like resistance, holding it in any number of places with a slight squeeze during your workout can activate additional muscles to maximize your efforts; conversely, in another location that squeeze can take some of the pressure off the active muscles so you are less likely to fatigue.  For example, you may choose to squeeze the ring between your legs while doing leg lifts, which will activate the insides of your legs while your core works, but you might also squeeze the ring under your head like a pillow while performing an exercise that keeps your head unsupported for a while.

With this discovery, I realized the Pilates ring is for both isolation of muscles and engagement of multiple muscle groups, depending on your workout needs.  Additionally, the magic circle assists with an important physical sensation called proprioception, which is your body's awareness of its own movement and what space it occupies.  Using the ring, by squeezing or even just holding in place, provides additional feedback to your body about how your muscles are being used and where your limbs are in space.  Heightened proprioception is essential to stability, especially when you get older, so training your body's sense of motion and location is a huge benefit.

I quickly understood why this tool is called a magic circle!  Workouts can be dynamic or isolation based, with resistance or with support, with added challenge, or even just stretching - the magic circle has a place in all of these!  Plus, my Infinito ring has proven to be incredibly durable and comfortable to use over the past couple months.  It's small and lightweight so I can take it to work or toss it in a suitcase if I start traveling again, or I can tuck it out of the way at home and pull it out when I need it without taking up much space.  For a total package home gym piece of equipment, I think I will be hard-pressed to find something better than the Pilates ring!

Do you practice Pilates?  Though the magic circle has already helped, what would you tell a newbie to make Pilates classes seem more accessible?  Can you think of any other small piece of fitness equipment that is as versatile as the Pilates ring?

Monday, March 7, 2016

BeFit All Year! (GIVEAWAY)

Oh, fat.  Without you, the entire fitness industry would crumble - and yet, the whole point of the industry is to eliminate the very thing that gives us job security!  It's ironic, but fortunately (or unfortunately) there's plenty of counter-productivity out there working to keep us employed.  We're constantly looking for better ways to burn fat and lose weight, and now BeFit has produced a 30-day Fat Burn program that is available FREE to anyone who wants to dedicate themselves to a better fitness regiment.

The BeFit 30-Day Fat Burn program has three major components: the 30-day workout calendar, a YouTube playlist full of 10 minute workouts to mix and match according to the calendar, and a series of nutritional supplements to augment the exercise routines.  I had the chance to try all three components of the program, and I have to say, I have mixed feelings about the program as a whole.

Disclaimer: While the workout program itself is free to all, I did receive my set of supplements at no additional charge in exchange for my review, and I will receive additional compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed here in are, as always, my own.

BeFit's YouTube playlist starts with an introductory video that sets the stage for what's to come.  As with many fat burning programs, the video features super-thin, super-fit, tall, lean women promising that you, too, can become Super Sexy in only 30 short days if you follow this program.  Let's be honest here: not everyone can have that kind of body in their lifetime, let alone in 30 days, but the fitness industry needs stereotypically "fit" bodies to sell product.  Since I couldn't care less about a standard intro video, I skipped through to the workouts, which are meant to follow the 30-day calendar, which starts by using only one video per day, then works you up to combining multiple videos as you build endurance and strength.

The workouts themselves are where the bulk of this program's positive experience lies.  Though there are many workout videos available on YouTube, I haven't seen too many comprehensive programs (and none that come with a calendar to guide you through a pre-planned workout routine).  Each video offers approximately 10 minutes of material based around a theme: arms and abs, legs and butt, dynamic strength, HIIT, and so on.  It's a surprisingly well-rounded system, and the exercises in each video are easy to follow while also working your body thoroughly.  My personal favorite is the Dynamic Strength Training workout - as a group exercise instructor, I love working dynamic training into my workouts because dynamic motion increases functional fitness rather than just pure strength.  Many of the workouts, though, include dynamic elements, which is probably why I liked so many of the workouts!

Every program has downsides, though.  For me, the biggest drawback to the 30-Day Fat Burn from BeFit is that none of the videos address proper form for most of the exercises.  I work with a lot of beginners in fitness, who are just starting to incorporate exercise into their lives to help them get healthier, and I know from experience that almost no one knows how to do a good, safe squat when they start!  Lunges and squats, if done incorrectly, can put serious strain on the knees, and exercises like planks or burpees can damage the back if not performed properly.  It's hard to work form correction into a series of workout videos like this, but a day-one intro video that explains form and alignment might be better served than a program overview intro, especially for programs that are marketed towards fitness newbies.

Finally, the BeFit program recommends using a series of nutritional supplements to maximize your workouts, aid in recovery, and enhance your fat-burning metabolism.  I've been posting individual reviews of the products I received as part of the BeFit trial program, so you can find my full review of BeFit's pre-workout supplement here, and my review of the BeFit whey protein powder here.  The final supplement I received is BeFit BURN, which is supposedly a fat-burning capsule that will help me lose weight.  I'll be writing a full review next Sunday on BURN, but I can tell you right now - it didn't do anything for my weight.  For the most part, I'm pretty fit and reasonably thin, but I still have some extra stomach pounds I could do without.  Neither the workout program nor the supplement actually helped me lose any weight - but again, I'm so used to a consistent workout program that I probably need to increase my weights during most of the exercises or do multiple videos every day.

In summary: the biggest pros of the BeFit 30-Day Burn program are easily the videos, and I also would recommend the BeFit whey protein powder.  I would not, however, recommend the other supplements offered by BeFit, and I would recommend that if you are new to fitness programs that you spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the basic concepts of body movement.  Learning how to perform exercise motions properly is key to preventing injury and maximizing your strength and cardio results, far more so than popping a few "fat burning" pills.  Follow the workouts, challenge yourself with heavier weights or stacking more videos as your body strengthens and adapts to the program, and use good sense when choosing nutritional supplements.  Anyone can benefit from this program so long as they approach it with knowledge and enthusiasm!

Want to try some of these supplements for yourself as you work through the calendar and videos at home?  BeFit has generously offered to give away a set of Whey, Burn, and Pre supplements to one of my readers!  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter before the contest ends on Sunday, March 13, at midnight!  US winners only; if you have already won a BeFit prize pack from another blogger, I am sorry to say you are ineligible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 6, 2016

BeFit WHEY Vanilla Protein Powder

Protein powder is always a tricky supplement.  There are TONS available, all with different benefits and flavors and formulas.  Most protein supplements provide adequate protein for my needs, so when I look for new powders one of the biggest considerations I have is for the taste and the powder's versatility; that is, how easily I can incorporate it into other nutritional items such as smoothies or baking recipes.  My biggest struggle has been in finding a vanilla flavored powder that I would actually use enough to warrant purchasing a full-size tub - and I think, at long last, I might actually have found one!
BeFit WHEY seemed at first to be like any other vanilla protein powder I've tried: a little sour flavored, with a powdery texture that no amount of mixer-shaking could prevent.  Mixing with water versus milk had no real affect on taste as either medium simply tasted thick and slightly sour.  But then I started mixing it with foods, and I found my new favorite breakfast combination: strawberries and cream oatmeal with vanilla protein powder.  I'd actually grabbed the oatmeal in an attempt to try something new (I like strawberry flavoring but only in certain foods, and oatmeal hadn't previously been one of them) and to have something to keep in my drawer at work for mornings when I don't get out of bed early enough for breakfast.  Adding the whey was almost an afterthought, but now I've been enjoying the combination almost every day for a couple weeks, and it just gets tastier every time!

I've found that eating a big helping of oats and whey on mornings after my hardest workouts helps me get over the morning sluggishness that sets into my tired muscles.  The BeFit WHEY is more than enough protein to assist in muscle recovery, and the one-two punch of complex carbs from the oats and protein from the powder helps me stay fuller longer, so I eat less overall on days I have my delicious breakfast.  I have yet to try using my powder in baking, but it does blend up well in smoothies without any sour flavor or powdery aftertaste, so this BeFit supplement definitely gets my thumbs up for versatility, even if the straight powder doesn't taste so good on its own!

What's your go-to breakfast?  Do you have a preference for something specific after harder workouts to boost your recovery?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bossywear Wrist Wraps

Before the new year started, I was doing very well staying consistent in the gym - and I was seeing very solid results!  Unfortunately, the first couple months of 2016 have seen me slacking off on my weight training, which has created a noticeable decline in my upper body strength.  It's time to start getting back to lifting for upper body strength.  Of course, my wrists are still as weak as always, so I always need to have a pair of wrist wraps available when I'm in the gym.  I have a couple pairs already, but I'm always looking for the right wraps to get the job done, so this week I tried Bossywear wrist wraps.

Disclaimer: I received my wraps at no charge in exchange for my review.  As always, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

At first I thought these wraps were just like another pair I had tried previously (that hadn't worked out) and was afraid they'd be deceptively stretchy. When I pulled them out at the gym, though, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were much less elastic than I thought they'd be - which meant it was much easier to gauge how tight to wrap them for the right amount of support without cutting off circulation! The thumb elastics are perhaps not sewn down properly, as they seem to stay twisted a bit no matter how hard I try to straighten them out, but that is only a minor annoyance. The support level is perfect and the wraps are very comfortable - but they're not very breathable!  I definitely got more sweaty under the wraps than I have with other pairs.  Again, a minor problem so long as the 
sweat isn't dripping onto my hands and causing slippage.

Otherwise, they're probably some of the best lifting wraps I've ever used, PLUS they're BRIGHT PINK, so I'm pretty much in love. Great purchase for lifters, great to have in your gym bag for those lifts that need just a little extra oomph, definitely receives my recommendation!

What are some of your favorite upper body exercises?  Do you use any support gear when you're lifting?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Returning to the Towpath

Just wanted to take a few minutes out of my daily crazy to let you all know that I have added two races to my 2016 schedule!  I likely won't be running as many events this year, but I have my heart set on tackling my first full marathon towards the end of the year, so a few races in between can help me stay on track and benchmark my expectations for that marathon.

This weekend I'll be warming up with the Arnold 5k while I visit (former) home sweet home, Columbus, for the Arnold Fitness Expo.  There is a pump-and-run option, but I'll just stick to the road racing for now!

Wait...  Is Arnold going to start us off???

Then, in April, I'll be attempting my third half marathon - by returning to the Towpath Trail!  I ran the Towpath 10-10 last year and loved it so much, I ended up working as the volunteer coordinator for the Towpath Marathon in the fall!  It's very possible that this year, I will be running that marathon, if I can't get into my first choice (the Marine Corps Marathon).  Should I manage to have all three weekends off this year, I'm eyeing down that Towpath Trilogy award!  It'll be an even more amazing experience to run the Towpath now that the organization and the trail itself have so much more of a personal connection for me.

How can I stay away from this amazing course??

As soon as I can settle into a schedule, I'll be starting a marathon training series here on the blog, documenting my journey as I chase that 26.2!  And definitely keep an eye out for recaps from these races as I finish!

Any advice for a first-time marathoner?  What are the most important things to remember - and to avoid?  Anyone want to run one of these races with me??

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Yoga Cards

Yikes!  Apparently, last week's goal was too ambitious - obviously I've hardly posted at all recently, and I'm way behind on some posts I had scheduled.  I'm still learning how to balance my schedule and still find me-time (computer and wifi issues don't help either), but one thing I've been managing to keep up with is practicing at least one yoga pose every day.  What I originally thought would be a difficult habit to keep became incredibly easy once I discovered Yoga Cards from Think Fun.
Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Though I know this game was created with kids in mind, I actually wanted to try it to grow my own personal practice.  Especially for the "pose a day", it has been so convenient to simply pull a card from the deck and focus on that pose.  The game itself focuses on "mission cards" that require you to perform multiple poses that share a common theme (such as animal names); on days when I had enough time, I focused my practice on one of these missions and created a more well-rounded session.  Actually playing the game would be really fun, too, I think!  I don't have any kids to play with (yet, we'll see someday), but I have an itch to take these to the gym and see if some of my class ladies would want to play with me.

The cards aren't a total substitute for a broader yoga practice, though.  Some of the pose names listed on the cards aren't entirely accurate, so for true beginners to learn traditional yoga, they'd need accurate names.  Additionally, none of the cards offer pose variations or alternatives for people who may be dealing with injuries or other limitations, nor do they suggest how to incorporate props when needed.  Some of the more challenging poses could also benefit from a build-up sequence.  Maybe little kids are bendier than I am (most certainly!) but I will need some serious work before I can actually perform some of these cards!  It's easy enough to consult another resource for suggested variations and build-ups or prep poses, but one of the things I wanted out of Yoga Cards was portability.  I'd like to take my deck into the woods on a beautiful day and create a flow without needing to haul technology with me!

Overall, I think Yoga Cards are a really clever development!  They're only $5 a box, too, which makes them an incredibly affordable yoga resource for any level of practice.  I'm very pleased with this addition to my mindfulness toolkit and my fitness collection, even as an adult with a semi-established personal practice.  Someday, I think these cards would be a great way to introduce my kids to the practice of yoga as well.  And in the meanwhile, I'll have fun with my friends instead!

Have you ever played a yoga-focused game?  Do you think Yoga Cards have a place in adult practice as well?  Would you play this game with your youngins?