Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gear Up! Links and Thinks

Part of the fun (and the expense!) with sports is the gear. No matter the sport, there is the gear.

Let’s start with the basics: the Asics! Those are my favorite athletic shoes, but I’ve also used Saucony and the occasional Nike Cross Trainers (okay, that’s what they wre called 20 years ago). For walking around the house, I use Reebok Runtone (not Walktone, or whatever it’s called. Why walk when you can run?) I have wide feet, so Asics, Saucony and the Runtones fit the foot. They are supple, yet have support, and offer great cusioning for my achy joints and spine. 

As for socks, I like the colors and stripes of Addidas ankle socks, but Hanes cotton “foot” the bill just fine. They’re cheap and white. What more do you need? The cool thing I’ve discovered since pulling my calf muscle (wouldn’t you pull yours, too, at the age of 41, while running around with a bunch of preschoolers in Tae Kwon Do class?): Compression socks! Some say they work, some say they work because you think they work, but no matter, they do give support (and who over 40 couldn’t use a little support now and then?) There are several great brands: I’ve tried the German company CEP Women’s Running Compression Socks, the CW-X Compression Support Socks, and it’s footless brother, the CW-X Compression Calf Sleeve, which is great if you need to train in bare feet, i.e. Tae Kwon Do! I recommend wearing compression socks with long workout pants. Serious athleto-nerds, though, don’t care if they look goofy in knee socks and shorts. Just ask my pal Mateo, an Ironman, who originally lent me his CW-Xs to try. I told him he was very kind to lend me his socks, he told me I was very brave to use his socks.

In a true sign of love, Mateo bought his wife, Deanna, the FitBit, a device that can track your steps and calories burned and even tracks your sleep. Luckily, she likes and uses it! There is now an armband version called Flex, and both devices synch to your computer or cell phone and keep track of everything for you to keep you motivated and on top of your habits and activity levels.

A former high school field hockey and lacrosse teammate of mine who is now a coach to professional and Olympic athletes, including triathletes, Siri Lindley, with her company Team Sirius, uses the Halo Trainer, a device that grips onto a stability ball for stability and core strength building. She also uses TRX, a functional training device that helps you use your own body weight also to build strength, mobility and core strength.

And no triathlete can call her/himself a triathlete if (s)he does not consume GU! My fave is Vanilla Bean Gu Energy Gel (it’s like eating gooey caramel laced with caffeine). Siri uses Gu’s Chomps Energy Chews, new to me, a crunchy version of Gu’s amino acid and electrolyte-filled gels. Something else new I’ve discovered but haven’t tried yet are electrolyte tablets. GU has them and there’s another company called Nuun which has created electrolyte enhanced drinking tabs.

For the past couple of years, I had thought the most badass workout pants were the Lucy “Perfect Core” pants (which help you keep your core and its surrounding flabbage tucked in), but I have just purchased and tested Lucy’s “Perfect Booty,” and these are uplifting, shall we say! So now both are my favorites:   Decent athletic pants are also produced by Athleta, but after the “perfects” of Lucy, there’s no going back for me. Lululemon thinks it’s the top of the line in pants and acts like it, but I’m not so sure. However, I do use exclusively Lululemon sports bras these days. They are soft, flexible, fitted, fantastically formed and durable! Mine have withstood multiple washings in the yellow, gritty hard Moscow water system and they’re still rockin’! The other Lululemon item I adore is the “Forme Jacket.” Just as it’s name, it’s form-fitted, sleek and practical, sporting holes in the sleeves for your thumbs to keep the hands warm and the sleeves from riding up your arms (I just saw today that Gap has copied this feature and the look of this jacket in their GapFit line. Couldn’t think up your own style, huh? But actually, I do like GapFit's fitted shorts. I use them for coverage when my shorter skirts decide to have their Marilyn Monroe moments. Anyway, older models of Lululemon’s Forme Jacket also sported a hair elastic on the zipper just in case. Nice touch, bring it back!

My fave Pilates class? YouTube! Actually, it’s eFit30 Pilates from Down Under which you can view on YouTube! Yes! 30-minute workouts for free, and no commute! You can’t beat it.  My favorite instructor is Angela, who instructs out of Perth, Australia. She is experienced and totally ripped, and explains each movement and inhale/exhale in a clear, simple way. Their own website is http://www.efit30.com.au/ Beneath that baby blubber layer is that washboard stomach, I swear!

Heard of P90x? Me too, but I have never tried it. Supposedly it’s for the already fit to get fitter, takes 90 days and you can do it at home. It uses a mix of cardio, strength training, plyometrics (jump training), yoga, and stretching (according to Wikipedia). So you try it and tell me what it’s like! I’ll get to it eventually, I hope!

Last but not least, I would like to add that my gripes and groans about personal flab, injuries and shortcomings are there to keep things humorous and fun with a touch of self-effacement to counter any boasting about physical fitness (who, me?). Staying healthy is one of my goals in life, after past brushes with serious ill health and injuries. If one falls sick, it’s imperative to keep the dream alive of becoming fit once again. Check out Melanie Bowen’s blog entries on the importance of maintaining fitness through illness, in particular cancer. We always think of fitness for healthy people, but what about those undergoing chemo therapy or other potentially weakening and depressing therapies and illnesses? The answer is that fitness is for them, too! 

Again, keeping track of your workouts will motivate you to KEEP working out. Even though I only write mine down in pencil on paper, tracking my workouts has really helped motivate me, someone who can make up any excuse in the world in order to not have to go for a jog. I’m better about jogging now, though, than I was in my 20s, when I was super lazy. Now I’m old and achy and know it will just get worse if I sit on my Hintern.

Two more websites for reference:
American Council on Exercise: www.acefitenss.org
American College of Sports Medicine: www.acsm.org

This concludes the Decadethlon Series (for now!) At the very latest, I’ll check back in a decade to add my stats from another decade of workouts (I hope I’m so lucky!) Watch for my next MomVoyage blog entries on Food, Nutrition, Cooking and Travel! Hopefully these will be accompanied by photographs. So stay tuned and keep moving!

PS-I am just adding a few more links:
For some intense, short Abs workouts try efit30's 15-minute Abs Workout by a peppy Australian named Jess. For Body Sculpting Cardio workouts, look for efit30's dynamic duo, Tony and Fiona and their Total Body Workout series! Hello, sore muscles!
Another great pair of trainers, a married couple who have created their own website are Kelli and Daniel from FitnessBlender.com. Check out their large selection of free videos for Abs & Obliques (10 minutes!), HIIT Cardio & Abs (60 minutes of rigorous body weight work on day one and 24 hours of sore muscles on day two!), Natural Brazilian Buttock Lift, it's all there! (HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.) All you need to do is turn on that Internet and get moving - right at home! This is great for Moms like me who are "stuck" in the house most of the day!

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