fitness · fun

YouTube passive cross-training exercise videos for you!

Hi readers– sometimes when I sit down to write a blog post, the words just flow effortlessly. Inspiration strikes, and I’m off to the races. The perfect photo or metaphor or theme appears, and voila! Blog mission accomplished.

Sad to say, not today.

Just so you know I have tried, here are some topics I thought about writing on for Sunday, but rejected:

  1. a compendium of bad stock photos depicting women playing sports (yeah, that didn’t go anywhere). I was inspired by the twitter hashtag #badstockphotosofmyjob, which is actually at least 2 years old, but hey, I just made it to the party…

2. A compendium of inspiring stock photos of women playing sports, reminding us 1) there was such a thing as women’s sports that spectators could watch, in person even; and 2) sports playing is something we might consider doing, too, albeit safely. I admit I’m sorely in need of motivation to leave my house more often. Inertia’s a tough one…

3. A review of one of the many feminist/sports/activity/self-care books on or near my bedside table, just waiting to be read and summarized by me, for you.

4. Another installment of “cockamamie and likely non-functional exercise devices sold over the internet.” I never tire of looking at them. My current fave (which I haven’t ordered yet) is shoe covers that fit over sneakers, facilitating dancing either on hard floors or carpet. This model purports to make pivots and turns much smoother. I’m sold.

5. A commentary on this article revealing how T. Rex wasn’t (as conventional paleontology would have it) a fast sprinting lone hunter. No. T. Rex was all about the energy conservation, so ambled along at a more leisurely pace. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that for us all. Or not. Which I why I didn’t pursue the topic further.

Instead of any of the above, I’m offering you a chance to do some passive cross training with gymnasts and parkour instructors. I have to say I enjoyed these. They are two YouTube videos in which male athletes in one field try to teach female athletes in another field, and the women kick ass. Then, when the tables are turned, the male athletes don’t do as well. Turns out, in this pair of videos everyone is incredibly talented and also pretty chill and good-natured. Okay, I might as well insert them here.

Women college gymnasts try out parkour and rock.
Male parkour instructors try gymnastics and do okay.

See you all next week, when I expect to be chock-full of inspiration and humor and fluency and sincerity. In writing, as in all things–

Some days you get the bear. Some days, the bear gets you.
Some days you get the bear. Some days, the bear gets you.

Hey readers– are you doing or reading or hearing or eating or seeing anything that’s got you excited or inspired or fired-up or out of the house or off the couch or out of bed before noon? I’d love to hear about it… 🙂

fitness · fun · play

Cretaceous fitness options during COVID-19, courtesy of T. rex

(CW: Very silly and irreverent photos and descriptions and gifs of people in T-rex costumes doing physical activities. I hope this makes people smile a little.)

It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and we’re all yearning to get outside and explore nature in all its forms. However, COVID-19 will be with us for a long time to come. Vaccine development is still in early stages, and our knowledge and resources for treatment are limited. So we’re left with what we can do: prevention. To reduce transmission, we’re social distancing. I blogged about sports and risk recently here. That means limiting or avoiding activities with a high risk of transmission, especially avoiding any sports or activities that involve contact with other people.

Not so for T. rex! Other than keeping a eye out for stray comets, Every T. rex is out and about, enjoying themselves. Boating is one of T. rex’s favorite pastimes:

T. rex driving a motorboat on a river. Note: always wear a lifejacket if you’re not naturally buoyant like T. rex.

T. rex likes non-motorized boating as well, and enjoys launching from the dock:

Pro tip: before somersaulting into the boat, make sure to put the oars in first.

Sometimes, though, we just want to hang out by a river and enjoy the quiet pleasure of fishing. T. rex is no different.

Short arms plus big fish spells trouble for T. rex, but they’re not giving up (neither T. rex nor the fish).

Most people are understandably apprehensive about returning to gym workouts. Not T-rex! Their workouts go on as usual.

T. rex doing a parkour workout, always with safety in mind: a human is spotting them.

Sometimes T. rex just needs to create some aerobic heat, and the rowing/erg machine is a classic way to do just that.

Arm length necessitates modification of the form. In the end, though, watts are watts…

Of course, running is a classic outdoor activity, which T-rex enjoys. It even provides a motivator for other runners to up their own performance:

It’s so nice having friends.

On the other hand, many of us are screaming out for novelty these days; what better way to change up your exercise routine than by combining two favorite pastimes in novel ways?

Without a doubt a novel activity, but the chances of this catching on seem slim.

Back to reality: I hope you found some silly respite in these images. For me, a smattering of jokes fits nicely into my schedule of ranting, gnashing of teeth, hiding, crying, donating, letter/email writing, self-reflection and learning.

Finally, the inspiration for the T. rex post is from my favorite T. rex in real life: here’s my friend Steph and me before the Orchard Cross costume race a few years ago. I’m her second banana. Looking forward to costume cross races, picnics, swimming outings with friends’ kids, beach trips on hot holiday weekends, and all the other lovely things we all do together.

So readers, how are you getting out there this summer? Any plans? Any interesting protection ideas? Feel free to share what you’re up to; I’d love to hear from you.

Me (on left) and Steph, before the Orchard Cross costume race, held every Halloween weekend.
Me (on left) and Steph, before the Orchard Cross costume race, held every Halloween weekend.
fun · play · Sat with Nat · yoga

What I’m learning from “preparing for” poses

Recommended soundtrack for this post: Where is my mind? by the Pixies

Recommended outfit: comfy yet clingy with a high Lycra content

Something I’ve committed to while I’m participating in physical distancing in response to the current pandemic is a daily yoga practice.

I dusted off my copy of Om Yoga by Cyndi Lee, an oldie but a goodie book published in 2002. The style of yoga is Hatha and there is a daily warm up flow as well as different sequences for each day of the week. The time it takes for each day’s practice, including warm up and relaxation/meditation is as short as 20 minutes and as long as half an hour.

My partner and I have laughed a bit as, over the years, postures that used to be easily accessible to us are now a stretch, a challenge and sometimes beyond reach. We both felt that acutely the first Saturday (which is a series of inversions).

***Side note, many studios and practitioners have stopped doing inversions as they can be difficult in a group setting. There is an increased risk of head & neck injury. So. You know, do the things you need to do to determine if inversions are for you!***

We were reviewing the sequence before our practice and noting what we needed to support our attempts at various inversions. We laughed as we muddled through the first Saturday flow. The next day I really felt the strength building in my neck, shoulders and particularly my triceps with only moderate success in even doing the “preparing for” postures.

If you haven’t heard that term, preparing postures are any posture you take in a flow that gets you from one recognized/named posture/asana to the next one. It can also be used to describe modified postures that help support your body and strengthen you as you work towards being ready for a posture you don’t currently find accessible.

Part of what struck me was how much fun we were having try to do headstands, shoulder stands, elbow stands and other stuff with your “feet in the air and your head on the ground.” (See soundtrack recommendation)

I remembered when I was a kid the thrill of that first summersault taken at a run. That first successful cartwheel where I learned to trust my body and the joy of handstand competitions at recess. We were playing then and now, enjoying the thrill of what our bodies can do.

But. I have to say it. My attempts at inversions is not graceful or photogenic but I think that is why they are fun. You can’t take life seriously when you are trying to cajole yourself into being upside down.

My elbows on the ground, rear in the air and my head is not touching the floor. Being near the wall gives me comfort as I prepare for forearm stand. Spoiler, I never get my feet off the ground but work on shifting my weight onto my forearms and walking my feet & back closer to the wall.
Preparing for headstand. Most of my weight is on my elbows. I really feel it in my triceps. About 10% of my weight is on my head. I slowly walk my feet towards my head.
Preparing for handstand. My shoulders are pressed against the wall as I shift my weight onto my hands. One leg kind of up in the air. Where is my mind?

So, as you can see, my preparing for poses are not the same thing as the actual pose. I may not ever be able to do a headstand. That’s not the point. The preparing for pose is the workout. It is what my body can do. It’s fun! It’s silly! It is also a great upper body and core strengthening set of exercises.

What I’m learning from these preparing for poses is that the process matters. What I can do now matters. It’s not a steady state, an end state, or a means to an end.

This resonates so much with my life right now. The physical distancing measures we are all taking in response to the pandemic are like “preparing for” postures. It’s not what life will always be like, it’s what life is like while we get ready for a new normal. We can’t do everything we are used to doing but what we can access right now is good too.

Kneeling at home on my mat after a humbling but fun attempt at inversions. I’m winded and smiling.