Eleven Years Later…
I woke up on this Motivation Monday realizing we’ve somehow crossed the halfway mark for the month of July. Which also made me realize I completely forgot this blog had another “birthday” last week. It’s been 11 years since the first LauraLovesFitness post went live.
Each year that passes gives me pause not only because time seems to be moving faster and faster, but because life continues to present surprises I could never have imagined when I started writing. (A pandemic? In these modern times?) Things defined as top priorities more than a decade ago seem trivial now; while the importance of family, friends, health and faith have grown more important than ever. As I have aged along with this site, I can say my 40s have been a good decade when it comes to being more confident in my decisions and not wasting time worrying about what other people think about my choices. However, these years have also been filled with new things to worry about. My biggest fears now surround my aging parents and their myriad of health issues. I know I’m blessed to still have them both with me, but watching them struggle to do things that used to come easily is hard on the heart. Then I think of my friends who’ve already lost one or both parents and I’m overwhelmed thinking about the gravity of their loss.
While the issues that weigh heavily on the heart may have changed, there is still one constant that helps me push through the fear and uncertainty: exercise. At this point, I feel I can honestly say I’ve tried every workout under the sun, and nothing has had a more positive impact on my physical and mental health than boxing. Let me be clear, I don’t spar with others, but I do unleash hell on the heavy bag during 60-minute workouts at TITLE Boxing in Huntington. The classes are a core component of my self-care routine, along with mindful eating and every attempt to get enough sleep. I’ve also managed to cut back on my wine intake, which got a little out of hand in 2020 and 2021. If you’re still struggling to get back on track after a difficult couple of years, don’t beat yourself up. Finding my fitness groove didn’t happen overnight, and it will forever remain a work in progress. Trying to follow a healthy lifestyle isn’t a sprint.
I’m sorry to say one activity that used to help keep my mental health in check has become more of a chore than catharsis. I’m talking about writing. Thoughts and words feel more jumbled in my mind and I stress over finding the right way to put them together. So I honestly don’t know what the future of this site holds. Maybe it’s time to explore a different platform and different topics altogether. For now, I guess I’ll follow the advice I’ve offered here countless times and just take things one day at a time.
I close with a huge thank you to all my readers. Whether you’ve been stopping by here since day one or drop in from time to time, your support of my ramblings means more than words can say. My hope is we all find peace and comfort in these challenging times by clinging to the people and activities that nourish the heart and soul. And may we also find the strength to let go of the things – and yes, even the people – that may no longer be good for us. Wishing you a summer filled with good times and plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Ready for Another Trip Around the Sun…
So how’s everyone doing so far in 2022?
I have no idea how January disappeared so quickly. I’m even more unsure how it’s just about time to turn the page to my 48th year on the planet. However, I’m happy to report I’m kicking off my new year feeling better both physically and mentally thanks to one addition to my routine: a rekindled “love affair” with the heavy bag.
I’ll be the first to admit my health and fitness routine took a major hit in 2020, and it still wasn’t quite up to my usual standards in 2021. As you may recall, I did start running in Central Park after the gyms closed, but my heart has never really been in it. While I definitely missed my “dates” with the heavy bag, I don’t think I realized just how much I missed throwing powerful punches and breaking a serious sweat until I signed up for classes at TITLE Boxing Club of Huntington. You repeat readers know I’ve tried lots of fitness classes and routines during the lifespan of this blog, and I can honestly say this is the greatest fitness community I’ve ever joined.
The high-energy classes are simply amazing. My heart rate maxes out around 170bpms and averages in the mid- to high 140s during the 55-minute classes. The workouts consist of a 10-minute warm up; eight, three-minute rounds of boxing (no more kickboxing for me – my SI joint simply can’t take it); and 10 minutes of core or strength training to wrap things up. All of it is fueled by great tunes pumped through the super-clean, airy facility. But what makes these killer workouts so FITastic are the passionate and highly-skilled instructors and my “family” of fellow athletes. We’re a mixed bag of ages and fitness levels, and each and every person working his or her own bag is driven and supportive. This is a 100% no-judgment zone. I look forward to getting stronger with each workout, each week and each month in the year ahead. If you haven’t tried boxing, especially in these ongoing stressful times, I encourage you to give it a try – assuming your doctor gives you the green light. (And if you’re a Long Islander and give TITLE in Huntington a try, please be sure to tell Danny or Christin I sent you their way!)
Of course, I realize boxing isn’t for everyone. Each of us needs to find the right routine to motivate us to move. Whether it’s running, walking, swimming, tennis, dancing, bodybuilding, HIIT training….do what makes you feel good. No matter how many birthdays are in your rearview mirror, exercise will always be one of the best ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous – especially with each year we get to put another candle on the cake!
New Tricks, New Treats
One of the perks of getting my NASM and AFAA certifications several years ago is that it “forces” me to get a certain number of credits every couple of years to keep those fitness certifications current. This year, I’m beyond pumped those necessary credits led me to find the Everlast Striking Certification Workshop: level 1.
As you repeat readers may recall, I was lucky enough to discover the rush provided by muay thai kickboxing not long after birthday in 2017. I’m still not quite sure how I dealt with the stress of living in New York and life in general for 43 years before discovering the physical and mental rush that could be experienced thanks to kicking and punching a heavy bag! (Talk about inexpensive therapy!) After a full Sunday in the Everlast workshop lead by fitness guru Aaron Drogoszewski, not only did I acquire the credits needed to maintain my fitness certifications, I learned even more about the techniques that have become a huge part of maintaining my physical and mental strength for the past 16 months.
What was extra fun about the workshop is that in addition to learning how to execute the six basic punches (jab, cross, hooks and upper cuts) along with the roundhouse kick with more accuracy and efficiency, we also learned how to cue and coach others through the moves. It was fun – and also one heck of a workout – to work with a partner and switch roles between trainee and trainer. The bottom line is there’s nothing like gaining extra knowledge from the experts to help take your game – whatever that may be – to the next level. I look forward to sharing some of the techniques with friends looking to add something new to their fitness routine.
In addition to Aaron’s instruction and motivation from my new fitfam friends, I couldn’t have made it through the day without the right fuel. Lucky for me, I received a “goodie box” of new KIND protein bars just in time for the workshop. (I did some spokesperson work for KIND a couple of years ago, and I was thrilled the team remembered me.) Not only did the double dark chocolate nut bar taste great and keep me satisfied with its 12 grams of protein, I love the fact that the bars contain no artificial sweeteners and have a low glycemic index. (They’re also gluten free!) I know I’ll be keeping one or two of these bars in my gym bag or purse at all times so I don’t get tempted by the not-so-healthy vending machine options when hunger hits.
So on this Motivation Monday, remember this: you’re never too much of an expert to get some new moves and new snack ideas to help you keep you on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Laura’s Newest Love: PILOXING®
A change of seasons is the perfect time to think about mixing up your health and fitness routine. On this first Motivation Monday of the summer of 2014, I can report I certainly kicked my favorite season with a bang!
Yesterday, I learned all about an incredible fitness program called PILOXING®. The concept, developed by Swedish dancer and celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen, combines Pilates, boxing and dance to create a super high-energy interval workout. At the end of the 60-minute master class that kicked off the eight-hour instructor training day, my heart was pounding, my clothes were drenched in sweat – and I was hooked.
What exactly did I love about this workout? Each jab or uppercut I threw wearing half-pound weighted gloves made me feel powerful. Every standing Pilates move made my muscles feel longer and my body seem more graceful. And every hip shake I belted out through the dance sections simply made me smile – and sweat even more. Add some killer tunes and a hands-on training day led by two PILOXING® powerhouses – Jordan Ballard and Amy Gilberg – and I ended up having the most energized Sunday I can remember in forever!
Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for awhile may remember Amy’s name from some of my earliest posts. She’s not only the PILOXING® Master Trainer for New York, she’s one of my fabulous fitness friends who encouraged me to get certified in the industry back in 2011. Being a participant in her first certification workshop made the day extra special and extra fun!
I have some work ahead of me before I can teach my first class, but yesterday’s workshop gave me a solid foundation to get started. It also gave me some continuing education credits to use toward my AFAA recertification which is coming up quickly in September. If you’d like more information about my newest fitness addiction, you can check out the PILOXING® website. Remember, finding a workout that works for you is the key to sticking with your health and fitness routine. When you need to inject some fresh energy to that routine, trying out new group exercise dynamics can help. If you happen to find one that makes you feel like you can handle whatever life throws your way at the end of a workout, even better!
Whatever is on your agenda for the summer ahead, be sure to mix things up and let me know what new finds help keep you moving. Here’s to a great season filled with plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
The Benefits of Group Exercise
Every Tuesday night for the past six years, unless I was sick, on vacation or on the road for work, you’d find me in the front right corner of the group exercise studio in the New York Sports Club near my office sweating it out in my favorite class of the week. “Club Strength” utilizes free weights and weight plates for a total body workout of resistance training. Add the kick-butt choreography and music selections from fitness instructor Wayne Sims, and you have all the makings for a class that gets the heart rate going and brings on the burn in all your muscle groups. I absolutely love how I feel when I leave this class.
Of course, even Wayne has to take a vacation or sick day now and then and a substitute instructor fills in. Unfortunately, the sub who filled in tonight just didn’t do it for me. I’m not here to name names or bad-mouth anyone, as everyone has their own teaching style and technique. Maybe some of the other class regulars enjoyed tonight’s workout. For me, it was simply disappointing to leave the gym without my normal Tuesday night rush.
While this let-down won’t prevent me from going back to the gym tomorrow, I realize one not-so-hot class experience can wreak havoc on your fitness goals if you’re just getting started on a workout routine. You decide to take the plunge and join a gym, you try a class and then you simply hate it. Well, here’s what I say about that predicament: don’t despair and don’t give up!
There are so many different classes available today that it would be hard not to find something you like. Whether it’s “old school” aerobics, spinning, boxing, core conditioning, Pilates or yoga, there really is something for everyone at every skill level. Group classes can be intense, but between the heart-pounding music and the contagious energy of your instructor and classmates, it’s a fun way to get a great workout – sometimes in less than an hour. Enjoying all these benefits for so many years and wanting to spread the fun to others is what led me to study and become a Certified Group Exercise Instructor with the Aerobics & Fitness Assocation of America (AFAA).
Like many other activities in life, when it comes to exercise, you need to find something you like doing so you can stick with it. Participating in group exercise classes can be a great way to find your own groove on how to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!