Take Me to (Dance) Church

Anyone who has been around this blog knows that one of my favorite hobbies/passions is dance fitness. Eleven years ago, my coworker invited me to a Zumba class and that class changed me forever. I was instantly hooked, and found myself rearranging my schedule and making Zumba a big priority in my life. Even when I was living and working 30+ miles away, I would still make the drive so that I could attend, and when the classes ended forever a few years ago I felt like a big piece of me was missing.

I tried a couple of different Zumba classes at different gyms, but nothing filled the void like that first class did. I missed the music, the routines, my friends, everything. But I found a new home at the Red Hot Dance classes when I joined Harbor Square Athletic Club here in Edmonds, and as I became a regular and made friends I felt less sad over the loss of my beloved Zumba class (though I will miss it forever).

Of course, then the pandemic shut things down and now I don’t have a gym membership anymore. I work out pretty much exclusively from home and although I like my at-home workouts, they just aren’t the same high that I get from dance. So when my friend Kate invited me to a Dance Church class on Tuesday night, I was excited to say yes!

I’d been to an outdoor Dance Church event with Kate over the summer and had enjoyed it. They’re a dance fitness platform with both streaming and live class options, including events at venues in Seattle. Attendees are required to be vaccinated and to pre-register, so the classes are never overcrowded, and masks must be worn throughout class. Even though I am extremely cautious due to Covid, the extra precautions helped me feel confident about attending.

The class was so much fun! It was held at Washington Hall, a historic landmark building in Seattle that turned out to be a really beautiful venue for a dance class. Everyone with Dance Church was extremely kind and positive, and the enthusiasm in the room was definitely contagious. I found myself swept up in the music and the movement, and it felt like only about ten minutes had passed when the hour was up and class started winding down.

I had a blast at Dance Church and will definitely be attending more classes in the future.

Working Out with the Peloton App

Over the last year and a half, Bill and I have been working out pretty much exclusively from home. Our gym was shut down during the beginning of the pandemic, and even when it reopened in summer 2020 neither of us felt ready to go back to that environment. We decided to cancel our membership and restart it when things felt more normal, which sadly hasn’t happened yet. Although the gym we went to is taking Covid extremely seriously and has implemented a lot of great safety protocols, the idea of being around sweaty people who are breathing heavy just doesn’t seem like a good idea to me just yet.

We kept ourselves active with home workouts from our Beachbody on Demand subscription, but over the last couple of months I think both of us have grown bored with our exercise routine and found ourselves craving something new. Although BoD does have a robust library of different exercise programs to follow, I don’t really want to work out six or seven days a week and I’m generally happy to keep my home workouts to around 30 minutes, and not a lot of the Beachbody workouts fit those parameters.

A couple of weeks ago I was lamenting to a friend that I was bored with my workout routine and having a hard time making myself exercise, and she enthusiastically told me about the Peloton app. Although I do not live under a rock and know all about the extremely-popular Peloton spin bikes, what I didn’t know was that there is also an on-demand library of other types of workouts. I get a free trial of the Peloton app with my credit card, so I was able to sign up with zero commitment.

My first impression as we explored the different available workouts is that there are a LOT to pick from in different categories. And since there are some that are as short as ten minutes, we’re able to stack multiple workouts. Today, for example, we did a 20-minute strength training workout and a 10-minute cardio one. There are also longer videos to pick from, but something about doing multiple different ones makes me happy.

Using the Peloton workouts has been such a great change for us. Different trainers always work you out differently and the app has plenty of different people to choose from, and just mixing up our routine has made me more excited to work out again.

9-Week Control Freak: Day 1

Today is the day that everyone in my Beachbody group has been eagerly awaiting: the new 9-Week Control Freak program is now available in the On Demand library!

9-Week Control freak is the latest program from trainer Autumn Calabrese. When I first joined Beachbody On Demand, Autumn’s 21-Day Fix was the program that I followed and I really liked it, so I’ve been excited to try the latest workouts she created. 9WCF is a 9-week at-home workout program, with each workout lasting around half an hour. I love getting my workout over in 30 minutes, and Autumn is great at kicking my ass quickly!

There are two versions of the program so that anyone who works out at home can follow it. The first one includes equipment like door- or wall-mounted resistance bands, a core ball, and a step, but the second one is a dumbbell-only option called Off the Wall. Bill and I are following the second one, because we work out in our living room and we just don’t have room for all of the other equipment that the first version requires (especially the control tracks with the resistance bands – that is, unless Beachbody can figure out how to come out with a set that attaches to the back of my sectional couch). The only thing that some people may not like about Off the Wall is that not every single workout is unique; it offers five workouts for each of the three phases that can be cycled through to complete the nine weeks.

Of course, Beachbody is a business, and they want to sell their products, so there are lots of supplements and nutrition containers and all kinds of other stuff that they encourage using while doing the program. I’m a calorie counter for life and I don’t have any desire to change that, so I’m opting to stick with my LoseIt app for tracking my food. I do drink Shakeology every day because I like it, but I absolutely don’t believe that doing so is vital to success with this or any workout program.

Bill and I did the first workout this morning, and I really enjoyed it. The main workout consisted of completing a circuit of five different moves, twelve reps each, as many times as we could in twelve minutes. After that was the Tabata Cardio portion. Neither of us knew what the heck Tabata was, but we now have learned that it’s a form of high-intensity interval training that forces you to work at a very high intensity for short periods of time. For the first workout we did eight rounds of mountain climbers, working for ten seconds and then resting for twenty seconds before going into the next round. I liked that because I typically do not enjoy cardio and really have to push myself mentally. Knowing that I only had to do it for ten seconds at a time helped me to work harder and faster during that time.

I’m excited to be doing this new program and am eager to see what benefits I get from switching it up!

Be Nice to the New Kids at the Gym

In October 2010, my friend Angela finally coaxed me to go to Zumba with her after months of asking (read: borderline harassing) me to go. It was a special night for her: she had her Weight Watchers meeting that evening before Zumba class, and that night she achieved her goal of 100lbs lost. Because I knew she was close to the milestone, I went with her that night to cheer her on. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would immediately fall in love with Zumba – so much so that I did back-to-back classes that night. I’ve been doing some sort of dance fitness ever since.
It’s January, and for a lot of people that means New Year’s resolutions. This can be evidenced by the once-empty parking lots at gyms that are now packed with cars and the influx of new faces in workout classes. The gym I belong to is pretty well-attended no matter what time of year it is, but even I have seen an increase in class sizes when I go to dance. And it’s easy to gripe about having to park farther away, or needing to arrive earlier, to accommodate these new people who may not even stick around into mid-February…but instead, I think it’s a good idea to be welcoming to those people and to be excited that there are new people who are doing good things for themselves to kick off the new year.
Part of the reason I stuck with Zumba is because I received a warm welcome and a ton of support from the class regulars. Had I been treated like an outsider, I probably wouldn’t have lasted very long. And the same idea goes for new gym members. They deserve to be in the gym and in classes, just as much as we regulars do. They paid the fee to be there, they are looking for what we’ve found – a way to get exercise that they can commit to, that doesn’t fill them with hate and dread. So don’t be an asshole to new people at the gym. Show them kindness. Make room for them in classes. Show them that they’re welcome. It’ll help them become regulars themselves.
 

Red Hot Dance

Seven years ago, a coworker invited me to her favorite Zumba class, led by her good friend Nancy. It was a life-changing night for both of us; for her, it was the night she officially weighed 100lbs less than she had nine months before, and for me, it was the night I discovered a passion for dance.
I loved Zumba, and attended three to five classes a week. I would rearrange my work schedule to make sure I could go. I brought friends with me and got them hooked too.  In 2013, my friend Kate and I even got certified to be Zumba instructors and led a class together (she went on to be a favorite instructor alongside Nancy).
After moving out of the area, I did still attend Nancy’s Zumba class every now and then, but it was ultimately too far to drive. I found Beachbody On Demand, which I love, and it was a great tool for keeping me consistent in my workouts. Still, I missed Zumba terribly.
A few weeks ago, my friend Kelly was telling me about Harbor Square Athletic Club, the new gym she and her husband had just joined. She encouraged me to get a six-day pass to check it out, and I’m glad I did. I love working out with her, and I cannot say enough nice things about Harbor Square. Everything is so modern and clean, the studios for group classes are spacious, and the women’s locker room was recently remodeled and is absolutely beautiful. There’s a smoothie bar, tennis courts, and a pool for lap swim (and you can reserve lanes for swimming!). I loved it instantly, and after taking Husband with me to check it out we ultimately became members.
When I looked at the group class schedule, I was a little bummed that there were only a couple of weekday morning Zumba classes, but I was intrigued when I saw an evening class called Red Hot Dance. The schedule described RHD as a “fun, exhilarating, calorie-burning dance party”.
Kelly and I went, and I was instantly hooked. The class was SO much fun! The dance steps were similar to the ones I loved at Nancy’s Zumba classes, the songs were fun to dance to, and I felt so happy dancing again. Some of the moves were pretty challenging (my body is 15lbs heavier now, and let me know it all through class) but I’m hoping that with time and practice I’ll get my former groove back. I am so happy to have dance in my life again!
 

Biking to Work

Right now my coworkers and I are experiencing some driving pains, as the streets all around our office are being torn up and repaved before winter. There is a LOT of construction going on, and there are pieces of equipment and cones everywhere. Yesterday when I left work, I was very confused about where I was supposed to go, even with a flagger standing in the middle of the street to assist! Luckily, I work earlier in the day on Mondays, so I got to work before the road work started and left before most people in the office buildings lining the street were ready to head home.
I knew that today would be worse, since I would be arriving for and leaving work around the same time as most of the other people. If there’s one thing that makes me crazy, it’s being stuck in traffic, especially traffic that is just not moving. I had an important meeting scheduled for today, so there was no way I could just work from home, I had to come to the office. But I decided that I didn’t have to drive, I could ride my bike instead.
I love my bike. I’ve had it for just about four months now, and in those four months I have gained a lot of confidence. This morning was a new milestone for me, my first solo ride. I decided to drive as far as Log Boom Park, then ride the Burke-Gilman trail a little over six miles to my office.
I had taken the route before and was comfortable with it, and it was a beautiful morning for a bike ride. Bill went to the park with me to help me unload my bike from my car and make sure I got started out all right (have I mentioned that he is the best fiancee ever?). I kept my ride leisurely, averaging a pace of 10mph, both because I wanted to enjoy the experience and also because I didn’t want to get super sweaty! My office does have a shower that employees can use, but I didn’t want to have to re-wash my hair.
It took me just over half an hour to arrive at the office, which was considerably less time than it would’ve taken me to get through all the road work to park!
Even though the road construction is still going to be a pain (I can’t bike to work every day, there are days I will need my car during the day), I’m glad that it pushed me to try biking to work because I really enjoyed the new experience. Sometimes great things can come out of minor inconveniences if we use them the right way!
 

Hiking Mt. Pilchuck

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost halfway through August! Summer is winding down, although it’s been so warm out lately that it’s hard to believe that fall will be here soon.
Although I absolutely love the city of Seattle and all it has to offer, sometimes I crave fresh air and mountains and wilderness. Luckily for me, one of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that both the city and the mountains are an easy drive from my home in Edmonds.
Last weekend, Bill and I got our mountain fix by hiking up Mt. Pilchuck. The trail up to the summit is fairly short, 2.7 miles, but it is STEEP. I admit that I found it extremely challenging, although well worth it – the views are breathtaking!
I thought that we were incredibly prepared for the hike. We brought along our day packs, filled with bottles of ice cold water and Cliff bars to snack on along the way. I remembered the sunscreen, but quickly wished I had brought bug spray – the bugs ate me alive along the way!
We had a blast and are already scouting out locations for our next hike!

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Bill and I at the summit


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Fire lookout at the summit


Pilchuck 1 Pilchuck 2
 

Bike Love

After deciding that I wanted to be healthier, I treated myself to a bike. I had been mulling over the idea of buying one for quite awhile, but I’ve never been an avid cyclist. I didn’t own my first bike until well into my childhood, because the neighborhood I grew up in was not bike-friendly. We didn’t have sidewalks and there was no good place for kids to safely ride. Even after I did get a bike, I couldn’t really venture off and have adventures riding it. After I learned to drive, that was really it for bike riding.
Here in Washington, there are a lot of different bike-friendly trails and places to ride, and I grew more intrigued. I have several friends that really enjoy a good long bike ride, and I finally couldn’t stop myself. I took the plunge and bought my very own bike. I chose a Trek 7.3 fx, and I absolutely love it.
Once I had purchased the bike, it was time to get out on a trail and ride the thing. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I had no idea how I’d feel after a ride, how far I could go, or what kind of rider I would be. Bill also bought himself a bike, so we took them out to the Burke-Gilman Trail and rode a few miles just to get comfortable and see what adjustments we needed to make. While I was reassured that I could still ride a bike, I was definitely nervous to take it out for “real” rides.
Last Saturday, we met up with friends and rode a total of 23 miles on the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River Trails. About halfway through the ride, it started raining, so we were pretty soaked by the time we got back to our car. But it was FUN!
I didn’t die.
I didn’t pass out.
I didn’t even get cranky.
And I LOVED riding my bike.
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Being on a bike makes me happy. I may not be the most skilled or fastest cyclist on the planet (far from it, actually), but I felt really great by the time we finished that 23 miles. I am so proud of what we accomplished. I’m looking forward to spending my summer outside, enjoying my new bike and exploring trails.

Meet Me at the Barre

I’ve been hearing a LOT about barre classes lately. A few friends have declared their love for this workout and I’ve been seeing studios popping up everywhere. I was definitely curious to try a barre class myself, and so I was really excited when a studio called The Dailey Method opened up in Bothell, very close to my office. Even though I was a little nervous to try out a brand new workout all by myself, I figured that since the studio was new, all the students would be too, so I went for it.
So What IS Barre?
I admit, going in I really had no idea what barre was or what to expect from the class. I took a basic barre class, which incorporates a ballet barre to perform exercises with elements of yoga, ballet, and Pilates. In my class, we did some work on the barre with a resistance band, and other times we used the resistance band looped over the barre for strength training either standing or lying on the floor. The benefit to a workout like this is getting lean, sculpted muscles like dancers have.
The program I tried didn’t involve cardio like some barre classes do, so I wouldn’t say that it was really a dance class. The classes are for people of all fitness levels, so you don’t have to have any ballet or other experience to enjoy the class and get a lot out of it. I admit, I was SORE the day after my barre class!
Want more information? This article is a great way to read up on barre before you try it!
What Should I Wear?
I wore my usual workout outfit of yoga pants, a sports bra, and a racerback tank top. There are no shoes allowed in the barre studio, so students should either go barefoot or wear socks. I recommend buying grip socks so your feet don’t slip while you’re holding different poses.
How Much Does it Cost?
Costs per class will vary from studio to studio. At the Dailey Method, a single barre class is $20, or you can buy a ten-class package for $180 or a 30-class package for $480. Right now, because the location is new you can buy a package of unlimited classes for six weeks for $125 (it doesn’t say online how long this special pricing will last, so if you’re interested, grab it now!).

A Great Loss

This weekend I achieved a goal that I’ve been working toward for awhile: I dropped below 130 pounds. As of Saturday morning, I weighed in at 129.9 (I know, just barely below, but a win is a win). This was exciting for me, because I haven’t been this light in three years. Once we decided to relocate to Washington in early 2010, I got lazy about the gym, and the stress of preparing for an out-of-state move combined with bad eating habits left me much heavier.
In October of 2010, I discovered Zumba. Taught by the wonderful Nancy McFadden, my Zumba class is not just about losing weight, it’s about being the best person you can be…mind, body, and spirit. And for me, Nancy’s class was life-changing. Long before I started seeing more favorable numbers on the scale, I noticed awesome changes in my attitude, self-confidence, and outlook on life. I’ve become a braver and better person in the last two years and I credit Nancy and the rest of my Zumba friends with a lot of the improvements in myself.
I do Zumba workouts three to four times a week. Nancy’s classes are on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, and recently I’ve added in Saturday morning workouts as well. On non-Zumba days I work out at the gym that we have onsite at my office. I can either take lunchtime classes (I do way better in a structured class than in the gym by myself) or hit a treadmill after work if I can’t make it to a class.
Even though I was enjoying Zumba and I did lose a little bit of weight, I didn’t really see any major changes until recently, when Paul and I made a pact to lose weight together before our December vacation to Hawaii. I introduced him to Lose It, a web-based application to track your calories and exercise. When I set up an account on Lose It, I input my height, what I weighed, and what I wanted to weigh. Then I decided what pace I wanted to lose at (in other words, how many pounds a week I aimed to lose). Then the app calculated how many calories I could have a day to keep me on track to meet my goals. The math is simple: the more exercise you get, the more calories you burn, so the more you can eat. Paul and I have had a lot of success with this app and I recommend it to everyone. So if you want to track calories, sign up for Lose It and add me as a friend, so we can motivate one another!
Another great weight loss tool that I swear by was introduced to me by my friend Cambria, who among other things is a Beach Body Coach. When she came to visit me earlier this year (I hosted a Scentsy party, as she is also a fabulous Scentsy consultant!), she fixed herself a morning Shakeology shake and let me have some to try. I was instantly hooked. In short, Shakeology is the best lunch ever. As it explains on the website, “This patented daily nutritional shake helps your body gently eliminate toxins more efficiently while allowing for better absorption of the essential nutrients you need.” For me as a consumer, replacing my lunchtime meal with a Shakeology shake helps me to feel full all afternoon, yet stay on track to losing weight. It’s healthier than Lean Cuisines or other such fare that I would bring for a quick lunch. I make a shake in the morning, using a packet of Shakeology, some ice, and a cup of soy milk. I put it in a travel cup to keep it cold, and when I get to work I stick the cup in the fridge til lunchtime. Delicious!
Something that I remind myself of constantly is that this is NOT a diet. This is a change to my lifestyle for long-term health and happiness. The changes I’ve implemented are things that I need to stay in the habit of doing forever. I haven’t given up foods I really love, and I still eat pizza and cupcakes…in moderation. I don’t deprive myself of anything, but I’m getting better at assessing whether I really need to eat something. I’m hoping that I can continue to make and maintain good habits and see lower numbers on the scale.
My goal weight is 125 pounds. Now that I’m less than five pounds away from that goal, I’m super excited to reach it and then focus on maintaining my weight and healthy habits.