Today’s FitBLAST – Avoid looking like a washing machine agitator

When I coached age-group swimming one of the biggest challenges was helping novices learn to balance stroke technique with turnover, especially during a race. It’s a natural competitive instinct to move as fast as possible once the gun goes off but for inefficient swimmers this results in looking something like a washing machine agitator in the water – lots of motion but limited forward progress from ‘spinning out’- meaning, a very short forward reach and backward finish. Hitting a faster time AND taking fewer strokes to do it is a true measure of progress since it means greater efficiency. Improvement comes from developing strength and endurance but if stroke execution remains inefficient ongoing improvement is finite!

The same concept can apply to weight training. Next to not using an appropriate amount of weight, the most common weight training error is failing to execute lifts with full range of motion – ‘spinning out’ while pushing or pulling. While you don’t necessarily look like a washing machine agitator, you limit muscular gains because you are not engaging ALL of your muscle. This risks hitting a plateau – just like continuing to swim using an inefficient stroke.

The good news is this is easy-peasy to correct. Watch yourself in a mirror to ensure full flexion and extension of each repetition you execute. This can mean taking a slight pause at both the bottom and top of your lifts. Take care to not hyperextend but ‘finish’ both ends of your repetitions. Also, it’s ok if you need to reduce the amount of weight you use. Doing it correctly with less weight leads to more gains than doing it incorrectly with more weight.

Like swimming, doing-it-wrong has a finite improvement range. Doing-it-right sets the stage for optimum, on-going benefit. And doesn’t make any part of your muscle feel left out!

The Best of all Worlds Today on the Bike Path – and no one Crashed!

The bike path on any given Sunday can be a free-for-all, today it was that times 1000! Two different organized athletic events were held – a professional triathlon and a cause-related cycling race. Believe me, the FULL spectrum of activity enthusiasts was represented! From the elitist of elite athletes to others who upon awaking decided to dig the beach cruiser out of the garage for the first time in forever to others yet trailing strollers. Oh, and not to leave out those texting while biking…more on that in a different post. It was a sheer cluster but one of the best rides I have ever had – so inspiring to see the elites crank on their expensive machines, equally inspiring to see the first-timers smile when they crossed their finish line. And the beauty of it all – no one crashed!

My take away – activity is for everyone and everyBODY. Not a week goes by that I don’t hear from someone who feels they don’t belong in activity because they aren’t an elite, or even average. Yikes! Activity doesn’t care who you are or what you look like. Activity just wants you to participate. To you elites – train your butts off so we can continue to admire the boundless capacity of the human body (and spirit). To you first-timers – oh you are going to feel it tomorrow but keep the beach cruiser in the front of the garage so you can get back out again – after the Advil of course…

Being ‘Off’ – Nothing a few wins can’t cure

A favorite childhood memory is of dredging channels in the sandbox then running the hose to float toys through all the twists and turns. Of course, once the water started most of the channels just collapsed, but then it was especially gratifying to redirect the water by building new channels. Even better was watching the toys actually float from the ‘mouth’ to the ‘basin’ after making the necessary engineering adjustments. Good times!…until the neighbors called because the continuous flow of water was flooding their yard.

Fast-forward about four decades and wouldn’t it be nice if in times of a funk redirection could be so clearly visioned, not to mention simply executed with but a shovel from the garage…

Being ‘Off’ is annoying…lonely…empty…cold… Out of the blue the client puts the account up for review or your assistant quits or your proposal is booted during the first round of review or your team’s overt lack of responsiveness to your leadership is as if you are communicating in gibberish. Oh but it doesn’t stop at work, the fun of ‘Off just snowballs into a clustered string. Clothes don’t feel right, the line at the grocery is 10-deep, but whatever because the ATM machine ate your card, and now the new 10-deep in line are staring/glaring. Then, the car door jams causing bags to tear during transfer into the car, which makes you drop your phone when you bend down to pick up the escaping apples… Good times!… If only the solve was as easy as turning off the sandbox river water.

Mostly, being Off is frustrating because you know you DO have the skills to lead your team to a successful end, you DO have the answers, you AREN’T a klutz, you CAN do it, [email protected]# it.

But like running downhill unable to catch up to your legs, some celestial anchor, some freak force of nature, something from the dark side has pulled you into this ‘Off funk, and of all people, you! The permanent chair of the ‘one to call’ committee, the one who actually remembers the details the new policy’s procedures and how to clear a copier jam. Now THIS?

It only takes being human to be susceptible to the ebbs of flows. So if you happened to dribble a few spots of blood after nicking yourself shaving (add that to the list, too!), well, you are human. @#$%^ funks @#$%^ suck! Yep, and with that let’s move to a solve.

First, understand ‘Off is temporary. Of course I can no more guarantee that for me than you but based upon my years of experience helping women de-funk, it CLEARLY is temporary.

Second, accept/be open to the other side of funk being a new normal. In fact, expect a new life-per-usual. Without apology to our tendency of habit, when a groove becomes a rut it’s time for the ‘C’ word—change. Rest assured though, the process is only as difficult as you make it – read in reverse, it’s in your power to just MAKE adjustments, rather than get caught up in the paralyzing emotion of having to make them! I know, it sounds so neat and tidy on paper, but, pause for dramatic effect – Trust the Process!, because there is a way.

Bottom line, you need some wins. You need to experience the satisfaction of using the shovel to re-dredge channels, symbolically speaking, to regain what it is to cause a productive effect. Winning can be a by-product of momentum. Most often talked about as it pertains to sports, it’s an intangible that just happens to be THE factor that determines a competition’s outcome. It’s also immeasurable and subjective. Great, right? This one powerball thing is like a faceless amoeba that has no contour.

But if you played or play sports or are a sports fan you KNOW it. Things are going well for your team until bam something happens and all of a sudden, things are going well for the other team. The kicker is the cause of that something is usually undetectable to the naked eye, which is the same for ‘Off. In sports, momentum-gone-wild is best countered by taking a time-out and switching strategy on offense or defense to choke its energy source and redirect its swing.

So here we are along the sideline of a court in a proverbial time out. Ready to get your legs back under you? And, regain your swagger bigger than ever?

The mechanism to change your momentum and GET YOU SOME WINS is physical activity, specifically an approach to physical activity that reveals all the ways you CAN achieve and how to display all the ways your DO achieve.

Why physical activity/exercise?

 It uniquely and profoundly gifts wellness, perhaps more necessary in lean than fat times.
 The cognitive clarity that aerobic exercise induces can inspire a new/different perspective.
 Organized events (e.g., community running or cycling races) are opportunistic for meeting new people – opening new avenues for socializing and networking. (Organized activity clubs offer on-going opportunities.)
 Sports offer avenues for professional growth/networking, e.g., golf with clients, play on the company softball team to enhance your presence.
 Sports offer the venue to hone your competitiveness and capacity to manage competition’s emotions. Participate in organized races and leagues to practice ‘being on the line’ and realizing you can deal with a process that can be unpredictable and has an unknown outcome.
And
 Hone your familiarity with ‘performance emotions,’ which enhance your capacity to lead teams by understanding how to respond to their reactions to performance outcomes – e.g., winning/losing business, frustration-discouragement-elation.
 Exercise/sport offers the means to see a process through to an end – e.g., training for, then completing a race; playing a sport season.
 The release of endorphins catalyzes an immediate and sustained ‘high’.
 The release of adrenaline heightens senses that can sharpen the quality of your work.
 Exercise allows you to exert control – you design then execute your routine
 Exercise/sport adds structure/routine to your day – attending group fitness class at X on X days, working with your personal trainer at X on X days, playing league sports on X day.
 Different types of activity nourish our soul in different ways. Hiking, surfing, the rhythmic music of group fitness class, cycling, dancing – each offers a different sensory experience.
 Physical activity uniquely and profoundly fosters physical/emotional/cognitive vigor; physical stamina to endure working long hours, reduced stress, sense of calmness, cognitive sharpness.

For these reasons and more, physical activity is a momentum-changer with an unprecedented capacity to GET YOU SOME WINS! But many of you are skeptical because you have only realized limited satisfaction doing physical activity, if not sheer disappointment that has led to avoidance for the sake of self-protection from further disappointment. The main culprit is not realizing the radical body transformation that is virtually guaranteed, and quickly and easily! ‘6-weeks to a new body’ just doesn’t happen, because radical change for how it’s presented is unrealistic. Weight loss and/or muscle growth, yes, but not to the degree of radical change – like your arms looking like a celebrity’s (no more than theirs looking like yours).

Motivation to sustain engagement can be low at best, fully eroded at worst, and here I am advocating you to embrace it. I get it and am on your side. So the next step is to introduce you to an innovative approach to physical activity that transforms the concept of achievement and delivers a solution to low/inconsistent motivation by revealing all the ways you CAN achieve and how to display all the ways you DO achieve.

Sadly, many of us miss the gains we make by looking for the gains we are not going to find…but not anymore. According to Iron Footprint Fitness, physical activity consists of three different dimensions of engagement—your daily workout, activity separate from your daily workout and the quality of your engagement—and achievement unique to each dimension can be tracked, then displayed as your ‘Iron Footprint’.

Winning/achieving in physical activity is:
1. Completing your daily workout,
2. Hitting a benchmark personal record in a physical activity event,
3. Attempting a new activity or doing daily activity separately from your workout.

Every time you engage in physical activity you can realize achievement—you can WIN! For example, achievement is completing a health-related workout, doing more push-ups this week than last week, joining a new fitness class you have been reluctant to try, and taking a bike ride separate from your daily workout – See all the gains you can make when you know what to look for!

I promised you wins, and the Iron Footprint Fitness approach delivers the opportunity for you to notch them – lots of them. It’s satisfying to see you have strung together more consecutive workout days than ever, or can now bench press 20 more pounds, or have deepened your ‘Footprint by adding new activities to your repertoire.

Circling back to ‘Off. Self-reflection can lead to enlightenment but during the process use Iron Footprint Fitness to change your momentum. Go get some wins, Sport, you can do it. Hello self-confidence!

Party On – YOUR achievment IS deserving!

Today’s trivia question –

What do Kool and the Gang, Lionel Richie, Prince, 50 Cent, Miley Cyrus and Iron Footprint Fitness have in common?

A belief in the importance of celebrating!

Ok, so Iron Foortprint’s messaging is painfully stale compared to how the artists spin it, but the sentiment is the same whether styled as 80s pop, 90s soul-alternative, 00s rap, 10s bubble-gum, OR a closure loop to an approach to fitness that fosters resilient motivation – celebrating accomplishments and milestones is important, including recognizing the routine of the everyday, pun intended.

Yet, we don’t think to celebrate our activity successes, less those that recognize our ‘everyday routine’, dismissing or discounting personal milestones or benchmarks as trivial or insignificant… which means a missed opportunity to reinforce the engagement resiliency we have developed via the success we have realized.

And that is what I mean by the loop closure thing. We engage-we realize FitBASE, FitBEST or FitBUBBLE achievement – we are motivated to engage again since success begets success…then cement your motivation by taking success a step further: celebrate it!

Call me greedy for wanting more out of success than the success itself, but there is cause for the gluttony.

First, celebrating success offers symbolic closure to an otherwise never ending process. Let’s face it, preserving our health means a daily (or nearly daily) commitment to exercise. Taken at face value this can be so overwhelming it prevents some from starting—I can’t seem to do one day how can I do every day the rest of my life—and prompts others to snowball one missed day into a string of missed days – I missed today I may as well not go tomorrow or the next day…

Which brings us to the next point. In non-exercise life we celebrate pretty much anything. We don’t seem to need a reason to party other than wanting to have a party, and last I checked there isn’t a celebration boss who goes around judging then squashing celebrations deemed insignificant. Perhaps growing up you thought that of your parents when they ‘requested’ that your friends leave but I digress…

With all due respect, compared to celebrating the only time some unfamiliar planet orbits another unfamiliar planet on a Tuesday, it DOES matter that you have strung together more consecutive workout days than ever or held a plank longer than ever or completed more jump-rope revolutions in 5 minutes than ever.
Finally, your celebration can inspire others. We poach motivation seeing others participate – AND celebrate. The symbolism is direct – it offers hope that we too can accomplish what another has accomplished.

So, line the walls of you house with plastic, invite the neighbors over, put on goggles and spray bottles of your carbonated beverage-of-choice at each other to celebrate your ‘Footprint achievements. But not so late that you can’t get up the next morning to run or go to the gym. After all, the celebration has just begun….

A Pre-Schooler’s Wisdom…

“I like you mommy. You aren’t useless like the other mommies”

Backstory – while looping the dog around the park I stopped at a bench by the playground to answer an email. I looked up periodically and noticed one mom chasing her pre-school age son around and playing follow-the-leader. That alone made me smile – albeit a bit envious – but I grinned ear to ear when I overheard his compliment to her.

Perhaps someone with less of an eye for anything related to physical activity would interpret the meaning differently but I think it was as spot-on as spot-on gets. I’ll leave it at that so as not to contaminate its purity. But maybe if you have a little one, or not so little one you can get to the playground for a quick round on the equipment…

Today’s fitness word – SMILE

Today’s fitness word – SMILE

While you are doing your cardio…at the person next to you doing their cardio…to yourself for pounding out your miles…for the (hopefully) nice walking weather…in recognition of your BEST bench press ever…for someone who can’t right now…as you tie your cleats knowing you are going to kick the other team…for all your FitBASE, FitBUBBLES and FitBESTS…while you attempt Zumba, rather laugh knowing your lack of rhythm sets Zumba back a decade…at your kids while you play catch with them…as you do your fastest 5K split of your 10K race…as you pass someone during the race…back at the person who passes you…at your friend you convinced to go to the driving range…knowing you were active today – knowing you get to be active tomorrow…remembering you DO achieve in activity and you have the ‘Footprint to prove it!

Now go clean the bugs out of your teeth.

The Corporate Version of ‘Taking a Relationship to the Next Level’ – Play Company Golf and Softball

Note – this may or may not apply to you. If it does, great! If not, sorry, but perhaps you can pass it along to someone for whom it does…

Professionally speaking, are you ready to get serious – commit to leadership – take on the responsibility of the bottom line? Excellent! Tune up your putting and hit the batting cage to practice your swing; use company golf and coed softball to showcase your leadership capacity.

I can hear your ugh’s! This is meant to help not be painful. Read on…

Golf is five hours of being ‘on’ and dealing with the unpredictable; making conversation while intimately traversing the course in a tiny cart, contending with bugs and the weather, needing to use the restroom but realizing there doesn’t seem to be one…anywhere. Oh, and taking shots with everyone and their mother looking on, often with side-bets weighting an already charged situation.

Softball is less time-intensive but no less ‘exposing.’ Technically, it’s a team sport but when the ball is hit to you catching it has nothing to do with anyone else, nor does being up to bat late in the game with two outs and needing to get a hit to tie the score. Oh, and you are up to bat because the man batting before you was intentionally walked so to get to you ‘the girl!’ ‘Team’ is loosely relative; it’s only by virtue of everyone wearing the same shirt.

All this with people you want to WOW, but what could be better? And why wouldn’t you want to have the opportunity to shine when it’s a matter of accountability or the bottom line? There’s not a better stage to show your readiness for IT than on the course or field! Here are a few reasons why:

First, corporate leadership (broadly considered) requires dealing with the gamete of emotion that is part and parcel to performance and accountability. Immersing yourself into contexts where it’s all about performance provides an optimal opportunity to first-hand experience its spectrum of reaction, and develop competence in how best to respond to how others react. The frustration, success, discouragement, elation, etc., displayed during golf or softball parallels winning new business, dealing with a chronically difficult client, losing an account or closing a sale. How you respond to employee’s emotions can ultimately determine the bottom line, for it’s your encouragement, support, empathy, etc., that can lessen distractions and keep them focused on the task at hand. This competency is best learned through experience. You can’t gain insight about how to respond to performance emotions unless you spend time in a context that induces performance emotions.

Second, golf and softball offer the opportunity for you to display who you are when an outcome is on the line, meaning directly impacted by your action or decision. In golf or softball it might be facing a 4-ft putt to win a hole or batting late in the game with 2 outs needing to get a hit or otherwise lose the game. At the office it might be taking a client meeting to win back the account, or deciding which campaign to show the client. Important to realize is in corporate-level golf or softball you can develop this presence even if you miss the putt or don’t get the hit. None of us hits a home run each time at bat but each of us can show we have fire in our belly by communicating we WANT to be the one up to bat late in the game or facing the putt to win a match. It’s how we carry ourselves and manage the distractions that arise. A purposeful stride to the plate with shoulders back, then tuning out the catcher’s negative chatter shows steely confidence. It also sends a message to the pitcher, which might be strong enough to rattle them into walking you. The sentiment and attributes directly transfer to the office. Saving an account that is at risk usually comes down to communicating undeniable belief that you ARE right for the job. Or, when it’s a meeting to attract new business the sway factor is often HOW the presentation is made, less the content. In softball terms, it’s communicating that you want the hit more than the pitcher wants the out. From softball or golf you can show that have the capacity to rise to the occasion when an outcome is on the line.

Last, playing corporate sports provides the opportunity to show your self-improvement initiative. Taking lessons, going to the batting cage or driving range, or weight training to strengthen your throwing arm will show on the course or field. It also makes a statement that you want to improve and are willing to take the necessary steps. Most of us CAN get up at 5am to get to the gym before work – not all of us do. Considering evolving technology, business is transforming more and faster now than in previous eras. Life-long learning isn’t a cliché rather an absolute. Leaders need to take steps to stay abreast of emerging trends to best service and advise clients. This means proactively seeking professional development–with more bite than joining an online support network – which typically requires attending seminars, workshops or taking courses. Playing sports occurs in proverbial public fishbowls. There are no secrets about your skill capacity, so any improvement will be noticed. It says something about you that you care enough to take steps to improve!

Realize corporate golf and softball for what they can be – unique, serendipitous gifts to display the intangibles that catalyze your corporate relationship to the next level.

It’s NEVER too late to take up sports or hone your skills!! Iron Footprint Fitness is an approach to physical activity that can help you grow your ‘Iron Footprint’, your physical activity portfolio, by fostering resilient motivation. We reveal all the ways you CAN achieve in activity and how to display all the ways you DO achieve as a solution to low/inconsistent motivation. We help you STICK to your routine and help you grow your routine by structuring motor skill practice. I know! how fun to be able to look forward to the treadmill everyday and then practice your throwing. Our book is on sale at www.amazon.zqdboy and the companion website is www.ironfootprintfitness.com. We care, and the approach works!!

Don’t Miss out on the Non-Exercise of Exercsie

DON’T MISS OUT ON THE NON-EXERCISE OF EXERCISE

Completely switch gears and for a second think about exercise – but don’t think about the exercise.

Anything unusual happen recently at the gym or while you were running/walking? Overhear a juicy conversation? Any break-ups or make-ups? See any cute shirts or really ugly shoes? Has that really weird person been around? Did you make eye with someone interesting? Did you see someone you haven’t seen in awhile? Pick up any stock tips?

I’ll share – any hour of any day my gym is slammed with people except Sunday mornings. I’m usually out on my bike but due to weather had to regroup and jump on my steady-eddy elliptical machine to get my cardio fix. I counted 4 other people, all familiar but none more than gym-familiar. For some reason all of the TVs were tuned to the same channel that was showing a popular teen-movie from the 80s. Well, wouldn’t you know, the movie’s star, still looking great!, walked into the cardio area and began to set up at a machine. It was one of those surreal gym moments that have nothing to do with exercise but could only happen at a gym. We 5 commoners looked around at each other all smirking wondering what was going to happen next. Because of how the TVs face, the star had their back to the TVs for a good 2-3 minutes, which only cranked our anticipation. Finally, as we held our breath, the star turned around to get on their machine. Well, after taking a few seconds for the images to sink in the star burst out laughing then turned to the rest of and asked if anyone would mind if the channel was changed…

Another time, same gym but during a packed Pilates class, a different entertainment star let out a booming gasser while doing v-sits. Well, talk about a hush coming over a room – until the star got up to move in a thinly veiled (and failed) attempt to pin the blame on someone else. So weak! Funny, since then there is always a lot of room between their mat and the others…

I digress, but sometimes the exercise experience has nothing to do with the exercise itself – and that’s ok! Allow yourself to take the exercise experience in while you are exercising. After all, it doesn’t get much more human than the gym. Sometimes too human!…

The Core Case for Balance

Gimme a B… Gimme an A… Gimme an L…A…N…C…E…
What’s it spell?

Foot speed; more distance on your kicks/punts, golf drives, hits to the outfield gap, 3-point jump shots; more velocity on your slapshots; higher position in the water…

Huh?

Stability, my friends is (an often overlooked) key to physical wellness – not its health but its performance aspect. You simply will move better and feel better moving the better your stability.

But you didn’t make us spell out ‘stability.’ What does balance have to do with stability?

BALANCE is the CORE of STABILITY. A play on words there because stability is a by-product of core strength, which is stimulated when you do balance work. So, recalling grade-school geometry and using reasoning, if A then B and also C. Please don’t pin me down for the exact theory but you get the gist, and most important science has the evidence to back up what most of us just know – a stable core is a strong core is a happy core.

Balance work is very subtle. You aren’t necessarily going to ‘see’ balance—it’s not a displayable vanity muscle—but you can instantaneously feel even subtle improvement regardless of your place on the activity performance spectrum, meaning it applies to elite athletes as well as those just getting into an exercise routine, and to any age.

Subtle process, yes, but the product pays huge dividends. Strengthening your balance can be the mecca of conditioning considering its web of benefit. Improved motor skill capacity – in fact the more proficient your skill execution the more you need to think past skill practice to catalyze improvement. And beyond catching, throwing or kicking a ball, or running fast(er), balance has quality of life implication for how it can sustain functional independence as we age. Ah, ageing. The risk of falling increases drastically as we age, and with it the chance of losing independence. Active balance work lessens the likelihood of falls, thus decreasing the risk of diminished quality of life due to lessened independence.

So, whether elite athlete or targeting functional independence, structure balance work into your ‘Footprint FitBASE routine just as cardio, weights and flexibility work, and use FitBESTS to track your balance-related benchmarks.

And with that I rest my case.

Below are examples of simple balance exercises. Please consult with a qualified fitness professional or access the senior fitness download at the fitness pavilion of www.ironfootprintfitness.com for more ideas.

Examples:
Stand on one foot with other foot drawn @ 6” off the ground
Stand on one foot with other foot drawn @ 6 “ off the ground with eyes closed
Stand on one foot with eyes closed and bicycle other leg: forward, backward, side-to-side
Stand on one foot and repeatedly draw the other knee upward while at the same time crunching your opposite elbow to meet it
Triple back flips on the balance beam
Oops, maybe I missed a few steps in the progression…

Fierce!

Today’s fitness word is FIERCE!

It’s attitude:
strong, independent, assertive, proactive, problem-solving, doing the right thing, which usually isn’t the easy thing…

Better yet it’s attitude turned action, regardless of age or any other demographic – Fierce is as Fierce does:
Sitting with your child to finish their homework
Saying no to more chips
Asking the fitness instructor to help you do the move correctly
Calling your teen’s friends parents to double check their party supervision
Submitting your resume for a position you really want
Updating your portfolio then asking for the raise you deserve
Stringing together the most consecutive workout days ever
Wearing shoes to work you can walk in during lunch
Signing up for the tennis league
Learning/improving your skills in a sport you can play with your clients – Inviting your clients to play golf…tennis…
Doing an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill
Finishing your report – now
Using a spotter to help you set a bench press FitBEST
Telling someone they look nice
Inviting a friend to walk and not letting them back out

Be fierce!