Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Toy In My Toy Box!

It should really be called a tool. But when you can have fun at the same time...

 I've been wanting to purchase this product for a long time. The Animal Flow Workout. Creator Mike Fitch has combined several disciplines into a fun and challenging way to increase strength, agility and in my opinion, general bad-assery.

Why I love this?

Let's start by asking another question. What is bodyweight training?

Here's a wiki-quick'n'dirty.

In the last year or so I've developed an interest in bodyweight training.  As I have explored more contemporary forms of dance instruction and my own strength training, I have found that many elements of bodyweight training can give a dynamic twist to any choreography, as well as give you one heck of a workout! Global Bodyweight Training, Mike Fitch's creation as well, is chock full of tutorials, tips and inspirations. As a younger lass I never really thought about doing handstands, and definitely not pull-ups or chin-ups. No time for regrets about missed opportunities of the past! Now pull-ups and chin-ups are a part of my regular workouts through the week. I've even got my 19 year old daughter learning on the pull up assist machine at our gym. Don't have access to an assist machine? Here's a great tutorial from Global Bodyweight Training.

How will I apply The Animal Flow Workout to what I do?

Aside from increasing my own knowledge, strength and abilities in my exploration of bodyweight training with AFW, it has great applications for dance. Especially more contemporary forms. Dance has always been athletic in various ways. But nowadays even more so. Click on an episode of SYTYCD and you will see amazing feats of agility, strength, timing, acrobatics and grace. While some of those things were never my strong suit when I was heavily immersed in performing as a dancer, as a teacher (and a perpetual student) it is important for me to set up some foundation for my ballet/contemporary dance students (almost exclusively female) to seek out opportunities to increase their abilities in those areas. As a woman I hope that I can pass that along to my adult dance fitness students as well. Don't let memories of gym class humiliation stop you from finding out how amazing you really are!!

Back to a tool like AFW for dance training. Using some of the techniques in Mike Fitch's AFW in my contemporary dance classes has helped both me and my students with our strength and agility. I'm excited about digging in even deeper!

Throughout the years, when teaching early childhood creative dance or playing with my own little ones, moving and dancing like different animals was always energizing and fun. You got winded because you knew you were playing hard. Why should "play" be removed from the "grown-up" world of working out? Look around in the fitness community these days and you will see "play" in exercise is making a strong comeback. I say comeback because there is evidence that that is how we started out. Mark Sisson, creator of Mark's Daily Apple and author of The Primal Blueprint has written some really good stuff about this topic; here, and here.Visit his website and find even more great info.

Some playful moments from a recent family vacation;

Admittedly, I'm not the best at spontaneous play. Perhaps getting my family on the lawn with some cool animal inspired movements will lead to all kinds of adventures.

So go check out The Animal Flow Workout, Global Bodyweight Training and Mark's Daily Apple.

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Power In Range Of Motion.

I have a personal philosophy of movement. Range of motion is its own form of strength.

So no matter what your sport or activity of choice is, being able to operate with as much range of motion that your body will allow (different for everyone) is, in my opinion and experience, of paramount importance. I'd never really thought about this in decades past (youth, ha!) until I started losing some range of motion in things I'd been doing for years. That coupled with trying some new movement vocabularies really got me to start thinking of the whole prehab/rehab-try to keep this ol' body movin for as long as possible-thing.

I can't remember how I first stumbled upon Kelly Starrett's MobilityWOD blog, but stumble I did. You can start from the top here.

It was a video that he did about proper shoulder form during a kettlebell Turkish getup that I feel in love with kettlebells. Matter of fact, adapting the kb getup to a bodyweight training/dancer oriented exercise was one of the driving ideas for even doing a dance/dance fitness related blog. Although my first Turkish getups resembled more of a drunken hobo, I've since polished my form. More on that in the future.

Back to Kelly Starrett's blog. I haven't check in with it for awhile. But I was inspired anew by a recent blog post from Mark's Daily Apple. Its a darn good list. And a great reminder to check back in with MobilityWOD.

Kelly covers a wide range of movements and techniques for a wide range of athletes. Oh, and here's the part that really tickles me; he's worked with dancers! Know wonder I got hooked. Plus, I think there has been mention of Chuck Norris-like jeans. What's not to love.

I'll be doing this in the near future!

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Heat Is On! Time To Hydrate.

I don't know about elsewhere, but in my neck of the woods (above SF Northern California) we are hitting some high temps. 100 + degrees for the rest of this week for sure!

Higher temps mean the need for more hydration. Recalibrate to hydrate! is a post I put up back in May. The heat drove me to review it!

I think we can all agree that water reins supreme as the best way to hydrate.

So how much do you need?
According to this article I found on the Mayo Clinic website;

So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

Got your measuring cups out yet? No need to, unless of course you are under a doctor's advice to do so. Or its competition day for a figure/bodybuilding competition you've gotten yourself into.
Getting overhydrated or water intoxication is not very common. But as a warning, that adorable and fearless teeny-tiny tike boldly jumping in and out of the pool over and over again and burping between ginormous gulps of water could be at some risk for water intoxication. Swimming is an important skill at about any age, but watch those babies closely. To much water in their little bodies can thin out their blood , thus available oxygen, and thin out their electrolytes

What about the eight 8-oz. glasses of fluid a day?
It's a catchy phrase, but not necessarily one to get all neurotic about. Drinking around 8x8 glasses of fluid a day is a great template to keep in mind, but mind what you drink.

Beverages that are caffeinated, have alcohol or are sugary should not be relied upon. Caffeine and alcohol can behave as diuretics in the body and metabolizing sugary drinks taxes your body's hydration, as well as the sodium (as if there weren't enough reasons to avoids sugary drinks). A cuppa joe, a glass of vino or -gasp-  soda should be considered "gravy". Add a few extra cups of water if slamming cups of coffee or really living foot-loose and fancy free with a pitcher margaritas.

Fruits and vegetables can be an important source of hydration, as many of them may be as much as 90% water. Forget juice though, unless you maybe water it down with, what else, water. Better yet, put just a splash of juice in a glass of ice cold sparkling water.

If your urine is only lightly colored or clear and you're not suffering from constant thirst, then you're probably in the ballpark of proper hydration.

Special circumstances?

Short bouts usually need a couple extra cups of hydration worthy fluid, depending on how much you sweat as an individual (I make puddles). Longer, more intense bouts, around 90 minutes or more, require more hydration. Those longer bouts may also require some electrolyte replacement. Grab that commercial sports drink if you must (is there a font for cynicism?). Or perhaps go for a healthier alternative and grab a coconut water, like Zico or Vitacoco. Katie "The Wellness mama" over at  Wellnessmama.com has some recipes for  natural, homemade sports drink alternatives.


Hot weather and/or high altitudes = a greater need for hydration. Higher altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and an increase in respiration rates, which can tax the body of its hydration.

Vomiting, fever, diarrhea can severely dehydrate the body in short order. Even if it seems it will only come up or out, keep the fluids coming. And then a bit more than usual as you start to recover. No fun getting over the trots only to suffer the effects of dehydration.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding;
According to the Mayo Clinic article, about 10 cups a day if you're growing it and a whopping 13 cups a day if  you're the personal dairy. I've found myself on the wrong end of this hydration equation a time or two through my days
of breastfeeding a little one. One occasion landed me in the ER due to food poisoning while I was still breastfeeding an infant.

I hope this information is helpful. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a drink of water.

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the dance that is life!