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wellBEing weekends: functional fitness

wellBEing weekendsI haven’t stepped foot into a gym for workout purposes in over 3 years.  Not that you need a gym for fitness.

Since I was pregnant with my son, I still did some swimming, intense walking and hiking.  Post-pregnancy, I did some martial arts (a little too much too soon), and some intermittent running training, but I didn’t have a much needed routine for fitness.

Oh have I missed the routine.  Intense workouts with a surge of accomplishment afterward.  There may be a serious soreness after-the-fact, but THAT’s what I missed.

But this past month, I got to get back into a routine at the Crossfit Charlottesville On-Ramp class–a class that eases prospective gym members into the basics of weightlifting, rowing, stretching, and functional fitness skills with attention to safety, proper form, and complex movements that are broken down into small, digestible movements.

Workout #1, my Crossfit On-Ramp comrades and I muscled our way through a tough workout.  Today, eleven workouts later, we repeated that same workout from day one, and we crushed it.

Workout #1 & #12:

  • Row 200 m
  • 3 rounds of 15-12-9 repetitions of air squats, push-ups, and ring rows
  • Row 200 m

My time during the first workout was 7:12.  Today, I shaved off almost 2 minutes with a 5:21.  Yeah!  Also, in four weeks, I’ve lost one size and most of my winter pudge.

What is a typical Crossfit workout? Well, you can visit Crossfit.com to play along with the workout of the day.  You can read more about “what is Crossfit?,” too.  The Charlottesville Crossfit has its own workout of the day postings, plus social event postings.

Crossfit Classes

Small classes vary from groups of three to seven.  Based on the workout of the day, you lift weight or do as many repetitions of a specific exercise within a given amount of time.  Over time, you get stronger, faster, and healthier.

Our on-ramp class began with seven people.  Yet, due to busy schedules we  ended with the three of us in the photo, plus our awesome trainer Ben chilling in the middle of the tire.

By the way, one night after a workout, three of us did tire lifts and flips–that is one heavy tire, let me tell ya!

If you think Crossfit sounds too intense for new moms, think again.  Two of us in on-ramp were breastfeeding moms…one mom just had a baby three months ago!

Can’t wait for my husband to do his on-ramp class so that we can both join as members.  I’m so excited about Crossfit!

*Note: I did not receive any compensation for this post.  I just love Crossfit’s fitness philosophy, and I’ve been a fan for years.  I paid for the On-Ramp class, and I’ll pay for my membership in the very near future.

Family Exercise – Play Together

The family that plays together, stays FIT together.

This weekend, we’re discussing ways for families to incorporate together time and fitness.  Physical activity shouldn’t be a chore or a dreaded event.  Just like turning room clean-up into a game becomes more fun for the child (and the parent who’s spared of the disobedience or whining), physical activity where the entire family participates can be a fun experience where beautiful memories and healthy habits are created.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 percent of children (over 9 million) 6-19 years old are overweight or obese — a number that has tripled since 1980.  Over the past three decades the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years.

Experts agree that inactivity and poor eating habits contribute to obesity. While national guidelines recommend 150 minutes of physical activity each week for elementary children and 225 minutes for older children, only Illinois has a statewide requirement for daily physical education.

Why rely on the government to give your child his daily dose of exercise?  As a parent, I kinda feel like it’s my responsibility to teach my child how to live a strong and healthy life–I don’t think anyone else can do a better job with that than my husband and me.

Here’s three suggestions for families to engage in physical fitness while enjoying time together:

  • Go on a weekly nature hike. If you live in an area with varying terrain, the hike alone with increase the breathing and heart rate while giving everyone’s legs a good climbing workout.  If you live in a relatively flat area, then incorporate speed drills.  Run or race to a specific tree or marker that’s 10 or 20 feet away, and then walk, and repeat at varying markers throughout your route.

  • Go on a family bike ride. If you have older children who have bikes, then pick a route with minimal or no traffic.  If you have a bike trailer for smaller children, you can tow them in a low-traffic area.  They’ll learn to appreciate the time together and desire to exercise just like YOU!  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a bike trailer like the one *pictured above?

Do yoga or stretches together. Yoga for pregnant women, and post-partum moms is often a great way to help your body relax, and find balance with your constantly shifting center of gravity.  If you’re unsure of how to incorporate this back into your life once baby arrives, we’ll talk about some great tips for this later this weekend.

    • Do family calisthenics a few times a week. These are good, old-fashioned exercises such as jumping jacks, skipping, galloping, jumping across one end of the backyard to another.  If you’re familiar with other calisthenics, use those, too: crunches, push-ups, pull-ups.  Make it a game and do it together as a family.  Laugh, have fun, and encourage one another.

    A basic calisthenic exercise that small children usually do perfectly and innately by the time they learn to walk is the squat.  As they get a little older, children tend to forget how to do a perfect squat since they don’t do it all the time…well, at least not in our culture.  Kids and adults in several countries in Asia perform perfect squats their entire lives.Why is it important to learn how to do a good squat?

    The squat is a basic movement that we perform our entire lives.

    • We often bend down to pick something up, and then stand up.
    • Small children naturally squat with their feet flat on the ground, and then stand up using their stronger thigh, buttocks, and leg muscles.
    • Over time, we incorporate less of our strong thigh and buttocks muscles, and rely more on bending over with our backs.
    • Improper execution of this simple task can lead to wear and tear on the joints and discs in the low back over the course of time, resulting in back muscle strain, sciatica (or sharp/numb radiating back pain), and low back disc problems.

    Want to learn how to teach your kids the proper form for a squat?  Actually, do YOU want to learn a simple method to do a perfect squat?  Watch this 5 minute video by Crossfit instructor Jeff Martin (complete with two cute kids).

    YOUR TURN:  In what ways do you incorporate fitness into your family routine?

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    *Bicycle image above by Kamyar Adl via Flickr