Tag Archives: Females in Action

Putting In That Extra Effort

I haven’t posted since Monday because I have been putting in that extra effort (quite literally) this week.  While continuing to dig deep with my Spartan training, I happily subbed several additional classes at Flywheel, met the ladies of FiA for an early morning beat down and co-led my first weekend bootcamp at SmartCore Fitness.  Details to follow.  It was an incredible week, full of amazing levels of effort put forth by everyone that I was surrounded by.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 12.57.46 PMLet’s start with Flywheel.  It has already been almost two months since I started teaching after having baby number two.  The transition back to pre baby body has been made easier by enjoying several rides a week on the bike.  The downside of taking so many weeks off is that I have to work my way back on to the schedule.  I also have to get my name out there so people know I am back.  Well, I AM BACK!  While my regular class times – Thursday 10:45 AM/11:45 AM and Sunday 7:30 AM – are difficult for most to make it to, please check the schedule for days that I am subbing.  I am doing everything that I can do to get out there during times that I know my “regulars” can make it to!  As requested, see Sunday’s playlist above.

IMG_6015Following Thursday’s double, I grabbed lunch at neighboring hot spot Leroy Fox with a fellow rider and co-worker.  The decor in this place is as well thought out as the delicious food.  Upon entering the doors of the restaurant, the right wall is covered in words that represent street names in and around the neighborhood.  I actually think I might try to make something like this for my home (in a smaller version, framed and on the wall).

IMG_6010I had a refreshing barbecue chicken peach salad.  I love salads that are juicy and flavorful enough that I don’t even need to add dressing. This is one of them.  The sauce over the chicken mixed with the juiciness of the peaches gives the lettuce and vegetables enough flavor to pick the dressing up off the plate and give it back.  After teaching a double prior to eating, this was just what I needed to refuel.   Full disclosure – I actually ended up teaching another class that night.  Making sure I ate enough “good for you” food was imperative.

IMG_6030Three classes on Thursday equals over two hours on the bike.  I had every intention of sleeping in and taking a day off on Friday.  My plans changed when my youngest woke up at 4:00AM for a feeding and my husband admitted that he was not going to get up to go to the gym if I wanted to go.  Geez.  I have to take these days when I can get them.   As my daughter finished her bottle, I made the decision to lace up my running shoes and say “hell with it”.  I drove over to Metropolitan prepared to get a decent run in if I didn’t do anything else.  It is always nice to run with someone else.

IMG_6031Go figure, the day that I show up to put in a less than stellar effort, I was informed that we were partnering up and performing a AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workout in which there might be a “winner”.  Great.  Competitive Jen kicked in.  Everyone had picked partners the night before.  Except me.  I looked around the circle of ladies before seeing the one new person that didn’t have a partner.  Well, here goes nothing.  She was literally the “Real Deal” (which ended up becoming her nickname).  Over a matter of forty minutes, we ran almost four miles, up and down stairs, while performing several sets of pushups, squat jumps and partner wheel barrows.  I’m pretty sure on the run we were hitting 7:15-7:45/mile splits.  Thank you “Real Deal” (Cara) for taking me out of my comfort zone.  While I train people all of the time to do this, sometimes I need someone to do it to me.

IMG_6025I earned an afternoon off for some playtime with my oldest daughter.  Boy is it hard to find things to do when it is so hot outside.  Anything with water or indoors seems to be the preferred activity.  Anyone else have any ideas?  I would love to hear them.

IMG_6043I FINALLY got my chance to sleep in Saturday, before getting geared up for my first bootcamp at SmartCore Fitness.  I joined fellow CPT, Denise Duffy, to lead 10 hard working individuals through four, four exercise circuits.  This workout is legit and hard.  Several things differentiate it from your average bootcamp:

  • The thought put into it – This workout was not put together on the whim.  The order of each and every exercise is methodically organized such that you get the most out of the muscle groups that you are working.  Hence “Smart”Core.
  • The number of complex movements using your entire body – Four, four exercise circuits, means you are doing at least 16 different movements over the length of the workout.  I have been to several places where you might only be doing 4-7 exercises the entire workout (and they are basic exercises).
  • The length – 60 minutes.  There is also some leeway here.  It’s go at your own pace.  If you finish before an hour (good for you).  If it’s going to take you an extra ten to fifteen minutes, that’s OK.  Depending on how quickly you move, you can burn ALOT of calories.
  • The ability to modify – Having a Certified Personal Trainer overseeing a smaller group, allows us to be able to modify specific exercises to work around weaknesses, injuries or at times that we see fatigue.  There is no need to neglect an entire exercise when modifications can be offered.  There is also no reason why ANYONE cannot do this workout (regardless of your fitness level).  Change is good.
  • The strength component – I am always surprised how big the strength piece is.  You will likely be sore somewhere the next day.  This stuff is not easy, light weight repetitions.
  • Working out indoors (and out) – We will likely take you outside for a cardio component.  Yes, there is cardio in this workout.  Again, if you don’t like running – there is a modification.

I have to say, the group that showed up Saturday knows how to work.  While the entire circuit was designed by Denise, I am looking forward to taking ownership and adding a spin on several exercises over the next few weeks.  If you are interested in checking this out OR want to learn more, please reach out!
IMG_6045I was so pumped after that bootcamp that I came home excited to continue my own training for the upcoming Spartan Race.  Apparently there might be a SmartCore team in the upcoming Sprint?  I’m down.  Did anyone else notice that Amelia Boone is gracing the cover of the most recent issue of Runner’s World.  Obstacle course racing (OCR) is taking over the racing scene.  Bootcamps are a perfect way to train the body for the stop go motions involved in completing a race like this. My daughter actually pointed at Amelia and said “mommy?”.  Whoa.  Biggest compliment ever.  This girl is a machine.  She pushes a 500 pound sled.  My husband can’t do that.   You better believe that I am checking out her Instagram for workout inspirations and ideas (clearly not at her level, but modified).

Happy Birthday America!

Since the Fourth of July fell on a Saturday, several businesses were closed on Friday.  My husband had the day off, as did a large portion of the people that work uptown.  With an added day to our regular weekend, we both took advantage of being able to complete some great workouts while planning some large meals before taking the girls out for the holiday.

IMG_5922I took the early morning workout shift on Friday.  Instead of planning an at home workout, I joined the ladies of FiA (Females in Action) for a high intensity bootcamp workout that started at the Metropolitan.  For a 5:15 AM launch time, I was surprised to see 18 other women there.  Maybe it was the Q (person who leads)?  Julie, aka “Suzy Stalker”, was the designated leader for the workout.  After a short run to where our strength training circuit would start, we circled up to get instructions (see above).

IMG_5926From there we ran hill suicides, progressively building the number of repetitions that we would complete of each designated exercise (squats, CrossFit Pushups, “Peter Parkers”).  Each time we hit the start, we did 6 burpees.  After over 20 minutes of running and exercises, we moved on to two other locations that we performed exercises – ending at the top of a parking deck in a wall sit.  Love the picture above.  In 45 minutes, we covered 3 miles and completed several sets of exercises.  It was one of the best workouts that I have done outside of Flywheel with a group since I had my second child.  Thank you Suzy Stalker (and Happy Birthday!).

IMG_5928The best part about this workout is that I was home by 6:15 AM.  I came home to my sweet girls as they were rolling out of bed.  My youngest will be four months old on July 18th.  She is getting SO big.  I am about 99% sure that when we go back for her four month appointment she will be given the green light to start trying solids.  That said, as I finished up the banana that I ate post workout, I smushed up a small piece for her to try.  Look at her reaction (above).  She loved it!  I can’t wait for her to start trying more of the good stuff.

IMG_5936Once I had a chance to change clothes and take the babies, my husband was out the door for his workout.  We had big plans of going to the pool on Friday.  Nothing ever really goes as planned.  After getting everyone’s bathing suits on, we jumped in the car and headed to our local Y.  It started pouring down rain on the way.  Good thing they have an indoor pool.  Before the masses invaded the kids pool, my oldest daughter did have a chance to play.  By play, I mean, she got to go up and down the “whale” slide what seemed like 100 times.  Isn’t everything more fun when dad is there?

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Sometimes I feel like my entire day revolves entirely around tiring my kids out.   Holidays are no exception.  After a big morning at the pool, both napped.  They had no idea what the evening had in store.  Every year, the Charlotte Symphony holds a summer concert series outside at Southpark Mall’s Symphony Park.  The last performance of the summer is to celebrate July 4th on July 3rd.  It seems like it rains every year.  This year was no exception.

IMG_5943Based on past experience, we knew that someone needed to go to the venue at 5PM to set up a tarp to reserve our seats.  Seating is first come, first serve.  Doors open at 5PM, but the music doesn’t start until 8:15 PM.  There is sometimes an intro group, but there is a large gap between when the doors open and when the symphony starts.  For a family with young kids, we have to plan accordingly.  My husband marked our territory at 5PM, before coming home to eat dinner and heading back over with everyone else.  The first thirty minutes were great.  Both girls enjoyed the warm up music and sunshine.

IMG_5994Then it rained.  I wish that I had a video of what chaos ensued.  My family was also with us.  You could tell that the rain would not last, so there was no need to take shelter.  Of course, we didn’t bring an umbrella.  In an attempt to cover ourselves with a blanket and chairs, my oldest daughter cried hysterically while yelling, “Bye, Bye” over and over.  Not sure if she was saying “Bye, Bye” because she wanted to leave OR she wanted the rain to leave.  Regardless, she was happy when the storm passed.  She grabbed her blanket and snuggled up to dad.  Like I said before, dad makes everything more fun.

IMG_5958It wasn’t until much later in the night that my oldest decided that she wanted to spend time with me.  I passed our infant on to my husband as she slept through the entire event.  No lie, we packed up our stuff and headed out about five minutes before the fireworks started erupting.  As we approached the car, we were able to watch them with less noise and avoid the delay of traffic getting out.

IMG_5963We had an absolute blast.  We made so many memories – specifically the “bye, bye” moment.  Kids do and say the most amazing things.  It’s in these candid moments that unplanned memories happen.  On a holiday like the Fourth of July, it is even more special.  I sometimes take for granted the freedoms that we have.  As the symphony played the various anthems of each of the branches of the military and veterans stood in pride, I felt a sense of pride.  I am so proud to be an American.

IMG_5988One of the reasons that we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic was because I was teaching an early morning class at Flywheel Saturday.  My class started at 8:30AM.  My husband had a workout with F3 from 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM.  To avoid him having to leave early, I met him in the parking lot with the kids in the back for a car swap.  He jumped in, I jumped out. I jumped in his car and was on my way to ride!

FullSizeRender-33By the time that I taught, got food from the grocery store and made it home, the girls were already ready for lunch and watching the hot dog eating contest.  Go, Morgan, Go!  Look at Number 5.  Kidding.  We did joke that she had eaten 31 hot dogs.  Could we eat 31 hot dogs in a week? I don’t think so.

IMG_5965Once the girls went down for naps, I started prepping veggies and meats for skewers that we would be grilling later that afternoon. Since we saw fireworks and heard music the night before, we had no pressure to go out on the actual holiday.  That said, we opted to invite my family over for a cookout and some relaxation time.

IMG_5972To say it took some time to make these is an understatement.  There is a reason why there is such a large markup on skewers that you can buy pre made at the butcher in the grocery store. With at least 25 skewers, I put together the following varieties:

  • Chicken, red onion, peaches
  • Chicken, red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper, onion
  • Chicken Sausage, red pepper, green pepper yellow pepper, onion
  • Chicken, red onion, pineapple
  • Veggie skewers
  • Fruit skewers – peaches and pineapple

About 5-10 minutes before grilling, brush the skewers with a marinade.  I simply used our favorite barbecue sauce.  These cook fast too.  Look at that fully loaded grill.

IMG_5976We used whole wheat pitas to stuff the meat and vegetables in.  The great thing about this meal is that we can use it during the week.  I’m already envisioning lavish salads and rice bowls.

IMG_5971While we didn’t see fireworks on Saturday night, with the lower evening temperatures, we did pull out the fire pit to roast some marshmallows for s’mores.

IMG_5983Um, get in my belly.  I can’t even begin to remember the last time that I had one of these.  Mouthwatering delicious.  Worth every calorie.  I forgot how incredible these treats are.  I even ate two.  Literally, finger licking good.

IMG_5985With little to no plans for such a big holiday, we really made the most of every little bit of it.  I remember a good friend of mine telling me before I got married that I had so much to look forward to.  I didn’t really get that until now.  Everything is so much more fun with kids.  Seeing things through their eyes gives me a new perspective on my life.  From my family to yours, I hope that you had a safe and happy holiday!

Resuming the FiA “Q” Role with a 1-2 Punch

Over the past week I have been posting a lot about FiA (Females in Action).  The increased publicity has driven a lot of questions my way about how the group works and whether or not someone new would have the ability to keep up.  I am hoping to address some of those questions in today’s post – since it coincides with my first “Q” back since having baby number two.

1372261424What is the group anyways?  Females in Action (FiA) was started in January 2013 as inspired by the all male workout group F3.  It is an all female peer led workout group that is free.  Leaders, “Q’s”, volunteer and plan workouts in advance.  In an effort to build confidence in members, each and every person is invited to lead after completing “Q” school.  It’s not just about working out though – the group regularly holds bible studies, meets for happy hours and completes volunteer work together.

photo 2-14How do you find a workout? Check out the amazing website (FiAnation.com)  The group is currently operating out of several locations throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.  Workout times vary by location.  Higher intensity options are offered on some days.  Workout types include running only and bootcamps.

Do I just show up? Yep.  Prior to starting the workout, let the group know that it is your first time meeting.  Members communicate by nicknames.  At the end of the workout you will be given your own nickname.  No need to feel threatened.  Workout location meet ups are typically well lit and the women are very inviting.

What is a typical workout like?  There is no way to tell what a specific workout will be until you get there, however, reading the workout location description should give you an idea.  It is also beneficial to read prior week “backblasts” or descriptions of prior workouts.  Each “Q” is asked to post a short summary of their workout later in the day.  If you want a better idea of what to expect, check some of the backblasts out.

FullSizeRender-20I will use this point as a perfect lead in to a more detailed description of the high intensity bootcamp that I led on Friday morning.  High intensity workouts involve at least two miles of running.  The Friday workout, titled “Iron Maiden”, runs out of the Metropolitan and begins at 5:15AM.  Total workout time is 45 minutes.  Since I was leading at 12 weeks postpartum on the 12th of June, my entire workout was aimed at using the numbers 1-2.  Hence, we started the workout with a 1.2 mile run to local Edgehill Park.  In an effort to keep all pace groups together, I gave ladies the option to drop into the park at .8 miles OR continue on for the 1.2.  I think we were split about 50/50.

FullSizeRender-24Bootcamp circuits started at the park.  For 12 minutes, we completed a legs/arms based AMRAP circuit (As Many Rounds As Possible).  See circuit below, including a picture of part of the circuit above.

  • Box Jumps x12 or Step Ups x12 each leg on brick ledge
  • Dips x12 off brick ledge
  • Squats x12
  • Push ups x12
  • Run up the park stairs and back down

FullSizeRender-21Notice the trend of 1-2?  After 12 minutes, most women were able to get through 4-5 rounds.  We continued with a second AMRAP circuit on the playground that targeted core strength.  See below.

  • Plank walk down and up x12 (see picture above)
  • Ab V-Sit Extenstion x12
  • Side Plank Dip x12 each side
  • Knee Up x12 (see picture below)
  • Run up hill to sidewalk and back down

FullSizeRender-17We concluded the workout with a run back to the start.  Again, athletes were given the option to run the .8 mile or 1.2 mile loop back to the parking lot.  I was extremely excited when everyone decided to do the long loop.

IMG_5626Self admittedly, several women mentioned that they were not runners so this was hard.  I admire their dedication.  Given the option, they pushed themselves out of their comfort zone.  That said, they were able to run over three miles, while completing a difficult cardio strength bootcamp, in 45 minutes.  At the same time, some of the fastest women who attend workouts were able to push themselves as hard as they chose to through completing the AMRAPS and pacing their runs.  All pace levels finished together and no one was dropped.  I want to reiterate that.  Don’t use the fear of not being able to keep as your reason for not coming.  It’s free.  What do you have to lose?

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Back at FiA + Garage “DUFifty” Workout

The weather in Charlotte right now is unbeatable – low humidity, great early morning temperatures and highs in the afternoon hovering right around eighty.  It won’t stay this way long.  I know the dreaded high humidity and even higher temperature days are looming.  I am still working on losing baby weight.  I am also still operating on a less than ideal sleep schedule, while trying to keep my active toddler busy during the day.  In order for me to get my workouts in, I am using every ounce of energy that I have to stay motivated.

IMG_5196These days, my workout isn’t always an instance where I am breathless or sweating profusely.  I have started to take my daughters on a morning walk and/or an afternoon walk to the park (see picture above).  In an effort to track the distance that I was trekking on these walks, I actually wore my Garmin watch yesterday.  During our walk to the park, play time and the walk back, I logged almost two miles.  For those of you keeping track of steps – that is a lot.  Not only did I wear my daughter out, but I wore myself out.

IMG_5200Earlier that morning, I had woken up to complete a strength bootcamp in the garage. Both girls slept well and both were actually still sleeping when I woke up feeling energized to exercise.  My workout took exactly 35 minutes.  You will need a kettlebell and a set of dumbbells and/or a medicine ball.

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I have coined the term “DUFifty” as a Fly.Jen.Duf original workout in which you perform 50 repetitions of each exercise over the duration of your workout.  I haven’t done a “DUFifty” workout in months.  It was tough.  See below.

Round 1 – Complete 20 repetitions of the following exercises sequentially.

  • Burpees
  • Thrusters (holding medicine ball or dumbells at chest level, lower into a squat, as you are coming back to standing, press weight above your head)
  • Push press with kettlebell – do prescribed number of reps each arm.
  • Stepback lunge (holding kettlebell in one hand – do prescribed number of reps on each leg)
  • Russian Twists – do prescribed number of reps each side.
  • Pushups
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Sumo Squat with Upright Row
  • Side Bends (holding kettlebell – do prescribed number of reps each side).
  • One Legged Deadlifts (with kettlebell on the ground in front of you, lower down to pick it up, move back to start position with weight, lower weight to ground and come back to start with out weight.  That is one rep.  Do prescribed number of reps each side.

Round 2 – Complete Round 1 again.  20 repetitions each exercise, sequentially.

Round 3 – Complete Round 1 again, this time performing 10 repetitions of each exercise, sequentially.

Hold plank until you get to 35 minutes to finish.  

My legs were sore by the time I started my walk that afternoon to the park.  The first part of the workout will get your heart rate up, while burning out your shoulders.  The second part of the workout will really burn your legs out.

IMG_5204At home workouts and walks with my kids are great, but working out with people my own age is even better.  Whenever I work out at home while the girls are asleep I am constantly paranoid that someone will wake up just as I am finishing my first set of exercises.  It is a struggle to focus on the importance of what I am doing.  That said, my husband pushed me out the door Thursday morning to do whatever I wanted to do.  I contemplated running on my own, maybe riding at Flywheel or just going to our local Y.  I ended up deciding to go to the track FiA workout.  Great turnout (and decision) – see picture above.

IMG_5205I have posted about Females in Action (FiA) several times, but let me just take the time to point out one more time the great things about this workout group:

IMG_5202I chose to do the track workout Thursday morning.  The “preblast” indicated that we would be doing 400 meter repeats.  Perfect.  I need speed.  The best way to find that is to train with people that are better than you.  By reading the comments on the “preblast”, I knew the training group would be intense.  I was in.  Between warm up, intervals and a short cool down, we ran almost two miles.   Goal was consistent splits.  Goal accomplished.

  • 1st 400m – 1:34
  • 2nd 400m – 1:32
  • 3rd 400m – 1:28
  • 4th 400m – 1:27

Thank you ladies for a great workout and some most importantly amazing fellowship.  Loved the post workout selfie!