fitness · fun · kids and exercise · play

May the 4th be with you: Star Wars Day Workouts

Whether you are training to be a Jedi or you just want to mix things up a little, here’s a fitness-based way to celebrate Star Wars Day.

Sure, some of them are designed for kids but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t do them, too.

The key here is to maximize your fun while getting a little movement into your day. You get bonus points if you do any of these workouts in costume.

When I’m looking for a themed workout, I usually check at Darebee first and they did not disappoint. Here’s their Jedi Tribute Workout:

A poster featuring a black and white drawing of a person doing a series of exercises. The text at the top reads 'Jedi Tribute Workout by Darebee.com'
Image description: A poster of a series of exercises entitled ‘Jedi Tribute Workout’ featuring a black and white drawing of a person doing pushups, sit-ups, lunges and other bodyweight exercises.

If that’s not your thing, you could try this Daisy Ridley/Rey inspired workout from Sarah Rocksdale:

Image Description: a still photo from a YouTube video that features Daisy Ridley in character as Rey, holding a lightsaber. She is wearing grey clothing and her hair is in a bun on top of her head.

Or if you are looking for something a little different, here’s a fun, graduated challenge that Nicole P. found on Instagram from one of her local gyms:

And, of course, here are some kids’ workouts that work just fine for adults, too.

Image description: a still image from a YouTube video with text on the left reading ‘Star Wars Jedi Academy Workout’ and a person with brown hair, and white and grey clothing holding a lightsaber standing to the right.
Image description: a person in a blue tracksuit stands on a yoga mat in a virtual version of a scene from Star Wars ( The Force Awakens.) She is holding a lightsaber aloft. A banner that reads ‘Cosmic Kids!’ in pink and purple bubble letters is on the left side.

If you try one of these workouts, be sure to tell us about it in the comments.

fitness · fun · play

Physical activity and its many moods: which are you today?

My friend and colleague Lee is the energizer bunny of teaching. She just keeps on going and going, coming up with new ideas and maintaining classic winning strategies year after year after year.

I just saw this post on her FB page, showing a way to invite students to talk about how they are doing this fall using a safe proxy: cat pictures. She asked them, which of Lee’s cats are you feeling most like today?

6 pictures of Lee's cats, in various kitty moods.
6 pictures of Lee’s cats, in various kitty moods.

What a great idea! It’s a way to talk about ourselves, but with a feline shield in case we need it. I love this and plan to implement it immediately.

Except I don’t have cats. Or dogs. I have a bunch of plants, but their moods seem to comprise blooming, being green, wilting, yellowing, and dying.

Well, maybe we’re not in need of much more mood nuance than that. Or are we? I happened to notice (while wandering the internet) this set of 20 cards to aid in identifying our emotional barometers. At first it seemed silly, but maybe we can use some help in unraveling our emotionally snarly selves. Here’s the set, which you can buy here (at the ICA museum store in Boston):

A color wheel of emotions, ranging from happy to envious to stressed and back again.

It doesn’t cost a ton ($21.95 USD), but I’m sufficiently impressed by Lee’s personal approach that I thought I should create my own mood packet. So, in lieu of pets or plants, I decided to do a grouping of various forms of me in motion, labeling each with some mood.

On a bike, in the water, running hard, paddling slow, climbing up or skiing down, we movers experience the full range of human emotions. It’s part of why we move– it both provokes feeling and reveals feelings we’ve kept inside. It’s one of my favorite things about physical activity– it feels… like… living.

So here are some mood collages of me in motion.

Clockwise, from top left: goofing around, happy, irritated, trusting, taking a risk, maintaining.
Clockwise, from top left: goofing around, happy, irritated, trusting, taking a risk, maintaining.

But wait, there’s more.

Clockwise, from top left: hanging on, barely hanging on, loving, done, Look ma, no hands!, and immersion.
Clockwise, from top left: hanging on, barely hanging on, loving, immersion, Look ma, no hands!, and done.

If you read this on the Fit is a Feminist Issue FB page or Twitter or Instagram (or other things I don’t yet know about), how about post a picture of yourself in motion (or stillness), and name the mood? Just for fun. Or for self-investigation. Or grousing. Or joyful exhortation. Hey, you never know.

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.