NOTHING BEATS HIKING FOR AUTUMN FITNESS

Mt.Laramore, Vermont, 9-16-2017.lfreeman

Nothing beats hiking for autumn fitness – at least not here in New England. If you do not live in an area of seasonal changes, please plan to visit. Even with the strange weather conditions we have all been experiencing this year, autumn is still heralded by shorter days and falling leaves. True, temperatures have been disturbingly higher than usual, but it appears we are now back on track and the 30s-50s are on their way.

Each of us has a seasonal preference. I love the summer months and can’t get enough of the outdoors. Others hide from the sun and break out when the snows fall. Thankfully there’s something for everyone in a four-season state (Though here in Vermont we credit an extra season for stick season or mud season – don’t ask!).

Typical September field and mountain scene in Northern Vermont. 9-23-2017 Greensboro.lfreeman

But why might hiking get such high marks in the fall? Serious athletes are often transitioning from one training or racing season to another and there’s a short lull in their work. Recreationally active individuals are eager to rebound from summer sports and land on something significant enough to tax their muscles yet relaxing enough to calm their hectic brains.

HIKING – For purposes of this post, hiking refers to trails that go up and down, over brooks and around boulders. Rocks, roots, ruts, mud, stone steps, wooden planks, ladders, ledge, exposure, fragile vegetation and weather conditions are all parts of the hiking experience. Trails, such as the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail provide sections or side hikes that offer day hikers a piece of the pleasure of a thru-hike. Though walking paths through towns, fields or forests are very pleasant and surely an excellent outdoor experience in and of themselves, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Nor are the more extreme hikes of weeks or even months that demand a level of expertise, fitness and preparedness beyond that of the day hike.

PROS – Most able bodied individuals who can walk can hike. Get outdoors. Gain strength, agility, endurance. See beautiful sights along the trail and vistas from the top. Hike alone or with others. Steady pace is calming and allows time to think. Get away from it all for even a few hours. Feed your appetite for adventure and challenge. Enjoy a sense of accomplishment when you return to your car.

CONS – Most disadvantages of hiking can be summed up in one word – preparedness (or lack there of). Finding yourself on a hike that is too long or too strenuous is a deal breaker. Blisters or strained ankles from inappropriate footwear can ruin an otherwise remarkable day. Getting lost, failing to carry water or food, not enough layers to be comfortable in cooler temperatures at the top or unanticipated rain … the list could go on and on.

PREPARATION – Though I said this above: Most able bodied individuals who can walk can hike… Gain strength, agility, endurance, it also must be said that preparation is critical to thoroughly enjoy a mountainous day hike. You do need to have a certain amount of strength (especially in the lower body and core – many complain of quadriceps soreness after a good hike), a sense of balance and practice dealing with uneven terrain, and should have built a level of endurance that keeps you moving for any where from 2-8 hours. Hiking can be both a reward from having diligently maintained fitness over the preceding months and a means to enhance that fitness by its practice.

see also http://lindafreemanfitness.com/2014/05/24/hiking-promotes-demands-fitness/ 

LOVE these blazes! lfreeman

Furthermore, it is imperative to know where you are going. There are books, the internet and other resources available to help you chose a trail that is appropriate for you and/or your group. Personally I like to back up my cell phone (coverage is spotty) with AllTrails app and even a few notes on paper that will help me find my way. I rely heavily on trail markings (that white blaze is such a happy sight when I have mistakenly left the main trail) and make note of such things as unusual trees or rock formations or whether I am following a brook. (Cell phone pics are useful here.) I famously get lost driving to a trail head (even with Google maps) and then again somewhere along the trail. So perhaps my preparation is a little more significant than yours might be!

You don’t want to be a packhorse and carry so much gear as to burden your play, but you do need to have the basic necessities. My go-to pack includes water, energy bars, gloves, hat, at least one long sleeved layer and a windbreaker. I usually add dry socks, sunscreen, insect repellant, small first aid kit, cell phone and headlamp. Basically I know the distance I intend to hike and that I will probably not run into trouble. (I have, however, exited a hike at the wrong place necessitating several miles of road walking to find my car.) I also know that hikers are very friendly and will help each other if possible. If you rely on this, be sure to choose a hike that is heavily trafficked!

Elmore Mountain trail (now expanded with Ridge Loop trail) 9-17-2017. lfreeman

HIKING WITH MY DOG – For many years I have wanted to hike but am usually alone so have been hesitant. As a city slicker pretending to be an active outdoors Vermont girl, I’m pretty much a wuss. This year I have upped the ante and have hiked as often as possible. My now one-year old Lab, Sophie, is my constant companion. We have played in the woods on local trails, MTB trails, and town forests – all of which are great for building up both conditioning and behavior on long days when there is plenty of time after work in the evenings to do so. We laid the foundation for several months (on leash and off) before heading to the hills.

Now we are adventuring every weekend and plan to move up to New Hampshire’s 4000 footers in the near future. I am learning how to pack her water, leash, treats, extra food, and water bowl. I have studied a wonderful little guide to hiking with your dog in New Hampshire and Vermont. Though written in 2005 and somewhat dated, it is super helpful. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0898869889/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I do my best to practice good trail manners, leash my pup when it is best to do so and unleash her when it is equally appropriate. On a good day, on a busy hike, she will be leashed and sit to the side and wait while hikers pass. On a good day off leash on a lightly traveled hike she will run up to greet an oncoming hiker, but sit when she gets there and wag her tail. If another dog is off leash, I allow her to be the same and often she and her new friends romp for a few minutes while we proud parents swap dog stories. If all dogs are leashed, it’s harder as she is uber eager to make new friends. In fact, as you might expect, my Lab pup is often uber eager about most things.

Sophie after Mt Cube’s 7 miles with lots of vertical and play time in the woods and brook! lfreeman

Alas, another Hiking Pro – she sleeps very well after a long hike!

WHAT NEXT? – What happens next is anyone’s guess. As the days grow shorter we working folks have less time for the outdoors and often become weekend warriors. Hiking trails become treacherous in fall rains and wet leaves and downright nasty when covered by thin layers of ice. Maybe it’s back to walking the country roads for a few weeks? But then the white stuff will come to beautify the world and nudge us on from boots to microspikes to snowshoes to skis and to more fun adventures ahead. The trick is to just keep getting out there, right?

KELLY BRUSH RIDE 2017 – PLAYING SMALL OR LIVING LARGE

PLAYING SMALL OR LIVING LARGE – Sometimes, the unimaginable does actually happen. I find it beyond comprehension, even arrogant, to try to understand, or worse, experience, what it must be like to be so completely different from other “normal,” able-bodied humans that when your brain says “do this,” your body says “no.” Sure, we all get fatigued; we complain that after a long day on the hill, many miles cycled or many feet climbed our “legs feel like led” and it’s hard to walk up/down the steps. (And then, of course, there’s that old goodie – after too many squats and lunges you just can’t get up off the toilet seat!) But to know the reality of bodies that simply don’t move, don’t’ get the message, is just … beyond.

Hand cyclists at the start of the Kelly Brush Ride 2017 at which the fund-raising goal of $500,000 was surpassed.

KELLY BRUSH DAVISSON – I invite you to go to www.kellybrushfoundation.org where you will find more information than I can even hint at in this post. Read Kelly’s story. From the ski racing accident that left her permanently paralyzed (T7 and below), to her many athletic achievements, career, marriage, childbirth (yup, all but the labor pains), motherhood, and who knows what she might choose to address in future years.

But for Kelly and her husband Zeke Davisson, it’s now all about (parenting, of course and) the Kelly Brush Foundation which works aggressively year round to raise funds to translate into grants for adaptive sports equipment for those challenged by spinal cord injuries and to help promote ski racing safety.

You might want to check out the story I wrote for the Rutland Herald and Times Argus Active Vermont page after meeting with Kelly and Zeke in Maine in 2015.http://lindafreemanfitness.com/2015/08/27/kelly-brush-century-ride/ What I remember most, and what compels me to continually support the KBF, is: There are two types of individuals who submit grant applications. One is clearly the athlete, perhaps injured during his or her athletic pursuit. The other is the individual who may or may not have been previously active but suddenly sees the possibilities of adding something to his or her altered life expectations. Adaptive sports programs that offer coaching and equipment fill an essential role in developing adaptive athletes and introducing the potential to engage in sports. “We want to be the next step,” Zeke said. “We want to offer to that individual the ability to take ownership of an active lifestyle, and to be able to join family and friends when and where the opportunity exists.”

Initially I had decided not to ride this summer as I would be indulging in my study and practice of yoga and the joys of walking and hiking with my growing Lab pup. With a full work schedule, there are only so many hours to go around; but …

STOP PLAYING SMALL – I met Alison Heilig at Teaching Yoga to Athletes training with Sage Rountree at Kripalu in January 2017. We became instant friends. She is an amazing woman who gives freely and puts herself out there with complete honesty. Earlier this summer she posted this on her Facebook page and it hit home:

“Yesterday I made a decision to put myself out there in a way that’s incredibly exciting but also terrifyingly vulnerable – triggering the broken record of all my old, familiar doubts and fears. I can feel myself wanting to contract, slow down, pull back and shrink into comfort. But it’s time to stop playing small – I can feel it in my bones. So here I go, feeling the uncomfortable sensation of fear … and doing it anyway.” Alison Heilig http://thepursuitofawesome.com

I chewed on this a bit and wondered what I might do. Nothing? But then eventually I knew. In other years I had trained meticulously for my cycling season, which had always culminated in the Kelly Brush Century Ride. Drifting into purposeless activity had not been satisfying. So, I registered for the Event, lubed my bike and hit the road. Once the commitment was made, it felt good. Besides, as a Personal Trainer, I know that motivation and accountability are key components to any successful fitness endeavor. Signing up for something is a solid dose of both!

This is what I posted on my Participant’s Page for the Ride: “Each year this amazing ride is personally different and unique. My son Teague and his wife Tara rode the Kelly Brush Ride together in 2009 – it was Teague’s first, but Tara, one of Kelly’s Middlebury Ski Teammates, has been in since the beginning. I was on the course in 2009, but as a journalist, not a cyclist. The following year my first ever century ride was, yup, you guessed it, the Kelly Brush Century. And it was painful – on a heavy bike and only my first year riding on the road (actually my first year on a bike – no kidding).
Six years and many centuries later, I met my time goal, wearing Tara’s original jersey, and had the most fun ever. My first 50 were with Teague on my wheel and I couldn’t have been happier.
Each year has been special and meaningful – whether 50 or 100 (or one year something in between) – each has been an achievement and a poignant reminder of why I was out there – connecting with adaptive cyclists of all types. My rides have integrated training, goals, family, friends, and purpose. I value the friendship of Kelly and Zeke and am constantly humbled by Kelly’s courage. Is there anything this woman cannot do?!
Frankly, I had not intended to participate this year. But one day, walking my Lab puppy around Berlin Pond, I passed a hand cyclist clearly in training. I called out “Hey! Are you doing the Kelly Brush Ride?” He smiled a huge smile and replied “YES!” So, of course, I said “See you there!” I was still on the fence, but a few days later Teague gave me a nudge.
So, here I am. In a very small way, I know the gratification of digging deep (if only for a few hours) and reaching a goal. Once again this year I have a goal – a cycling goal and a fund raising goal – to help support the Kelly Brush Foundation and all the recipients of their work.”

Cycling partners-keeping it in the family. KBRide, 2017.

POST RIDE – Bottom line, I rode those 50 miles (which might previously have been an easy trek, but which made me reach), with huge pleasure and finished with gratification.Furthermore, I added to my collection yet another ride with my kid

Oh yes, there’s plenty more – I supported a cause in which I deeply believe. I rode for these brilliant people on the road with me and I rode for those who got out their checkbooks (figuratively) to support me. [A few #s: 810 riders; $514,499 raised.]

I’m glad I chose to take the risk, do the work, and breathe through my anxiety. I’m glad I chose to stop playing small. As I said, it felt good.

SEPTEMBER 8, 2018 – KELLY BRUSH RIDE 2018 – It’s on my calendar. How about yours?

LF greeting a biker on the Kelly Brush Century Ride.

DUALITIES. BALANCE. THINK ABOUT IT.

Dualities. Balance. Yin and Yang. Effort and ease. Activity and stillness. Community and solitude. Sound and silence. The list just might be infinite. Sage Rountree (http://sagerountree.com) introduced the concept of dualities to those of us participating in training at Kripalu to Teach Yoga to Athletes. It is a profound concept.

It’s something we think about – a lot – in the practice of Yoga. Life is so full of ups and downs, ins and outs, happy and sad, ease and disease. Our quality of life, our emotional and mental stability, in fact our very lives, depend on the balance of these opposites, these dualities, these partners in each individual existence. And it is, in fact, a balance rather than the elimination of one or the other. Many dualities are equally positive or equally challenging, just different. Often it is a matter of coincidence, coordination, comingling, cooperation.

In our Yoga practice, we give equal time to stretch and strength, twist and bend, prone and supine, kneeling, standing, lunging, forward fold, back bend, Tadasana and Savasana. And those are just the Asanas, or physical poses. (Asanas are but one of the eight limbs of Yoga so there’s plenty more to practice!)

In the gym we make certain to cover all our bases: warm up and cool down, challenge ourselves aerobically, build muscular strength, enhance quickness and coordination, balance without falling as well as balancing opposing muscle groups in training, and, of course, flexibility.

Once again I am reminded of the shared elements of all forms of training. Yoga has been around for a very long time, so coincidences in functional training, physical therapy, Pilates, and so much more can usually be traced back to some form of Yoga. Likewise, practice in one discipline aids performance in another.

Perhaps I find it most significant to remember that there is no right or wrong. Of course, asking each individual body to move in a way appropriate to that body, seeking maximal alignment for each, is key. Repeatedly practicing a movement, a training exercise or a Yoga pose inappropriately leads only to overuse or even wear and tear that negates the effort invested over long periods of time.

But that being said, there should be no feuds between instructors, coaches, athletes, or schools of practice.

Josh Summers (https://joshsummers.net/podcast/what-is-yin-yoga/) presents an excellent definition of Yin Yoga. The notion that Yin and Yang are BOTH valid and should BOTH be practiced, simply triggers the imagination to consider the value of blending opposites of all kinds.

Balance is, after all, equilibrium.

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For the past three weeks I have indulged in shared time spent with my dog, or friends, or family. Each dynamic generously gifts its own special blessing. This year has been different from past in that my “me-time” has been with my 11 month old Lab. (As my brother quipped, “it’s just like having a toddler!”) She has been by my side for multiple and daily trail walks, swims, off leash runs/on leash training, and even a little rock scrambling in Camdenhttp://www.mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/camden-hills-state-park-interior-trail-network). We’ve both learned a great deal about each other and have kept each other moving almost constantly, mutually increasing fitness as we go.

Balancing outdoor activity have been hours of Yoga practice (both Vinyasa and Yin at Freeport Yoga Company, http://freeportyogaco.com) and the deck.

Time spent on the deck where I am living is time sketched in gold. Vivid oranges and pinks fire up the day even before the sun makes its early appearance, bouncing color and energy off the surface of the water. (No wonder Sun Salutations are integral to one’s Yoga practice.) Though the sunset on the other side of the peninsula is equally dramatic, there is something oh so lovely about its residual glow from our deck. And the full moon? There are not words …. But if it weren’t for the deck, would I pause to sit there and observe?

The deck is the intuitive gathering place for all of us. Sophie could sit there and look for hours. My family and I can talk endlessly, but there always comes the fall into a reverent or contemplative silence – just watching. Tides ebb and flow, lobster boats motor up and down the sound working while I play, fish rise and re-enter with a significant slap, ducks search for food as cormorants dive under for so long I wonder if they’ll ever reappear. They do.

But it is not in stillness that my random thoughts are born. Movement, not stillness, generates curiosity, the attempt to define, ponder or even organize what floats in and out of mind. Hours spent hiking the trails, walking the rocky shoreline, or riding the roads are the hours that produce thoughts that beg follow up study.

So, in my experience this summer, it seems that balance has been paramount. The Yin and Yang of the hours teach. May I be a receptive student.

CREATE YOUR OWN, PERSONAL LOGO? WHY NOT?

 

A logo is a symbol that helps to represent or identify a particular business, organization or individual. A logo plays a key role in “branding.”

Did you notice that I said “individual?” Do you have a logo? If not, why not?

Creating your own, personal logo is not just crafting a design, but it is an exercise in probing who you are, how you identify, what you would like others to see in you, and perhaps peeling away a few layers to find core values, purpose and preferences.

After developing this website in 2014, I waited to work with a professional to design a logo. I’m glad I waited. This is not something to do frivolously or hurriedly. And, most likely, it is not something to do only once.

With a few simple lines, colors or words, one must snapshot a profession, service, career, qualifications, or even a belief system. Good grief! While a logo might characterize services available, it equally suggests more intrinsic values and personality.

Let me use my own new logo as an example. While I chose to work with a professional designer, it was also significant that she is a friend who knows me – my work and enthusiasm. What I thought would be a quick and easy exercise (since I had done plenty of groundwork prior to our first meeting), turned into months of give and take, trial and error, introspection and expression.

Professionally I have altered my course. Yes, I am still a dedicated Personal Trainer working with individuals and small groups. Yes, I have untold hours of continuing education and training in many aspects of fitness, sports performance and rehabilitation. And while I am still passionate about cycling, I am no longer teaching multiple Spinning® classes per week or spending hours and indeed days on the road riding and training.

My life has taken a turn that perhaps is more a continuum, bringing me back full circle to my early days. As a 13 year old, I began a series of 3 summers on scholarship at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Lee, Massachusetts. (I went on to have a long and successful classical dance career performing and later teaching.) When I began the study of yoga in January 2015, I attended an eye-opening workshop, Yoga for Athletes, with Sage Rountree, at Kripalu – just a stone’s throw from Jacob’s Pillow. Full circle?

In any event, I am now a dedicated Yoga practitioner, thrilled to be a student, and, with my RYT 200 completed, am on my way to 500 hours. I am also eager to share what I am learning, to enrich the work that I do with my clients and classes, and perhaps more. I am also passionate about family, Vermont, the outdoors, and well-being in its broadest sense.

Linda Freeman Fitness logo designed by
Carrie Baker Stahler, 2017.

Therefore my logo embodies more than a superficial business. Hopefully this one small design suggests life, health and wholeness as organic – to be lived, loved and savored.

The central design suggests an athletic body in a yoga pose that is part of the Dancing Warrior sequence, a composite of strength and grace. The mountain is Camel’s Hump, Central Vermont’s well-loved and well-hiked mountain.

The rings represent miles of cycling as well as full circles or life’s spirals. The colors? Spring green is all about newness, freshness, birth, curiosity and possibilities. Shades of blue touch on the spiritual. And orange? Orange, of course, is all about fun: laughter, playfulness, the ability to let go, be spontaneous, recognize happiness, honor joy.

It is quite possible that when I look at this logo, only I know what brought this design into being. That’s ok. It works.

What about you? You may well have a professional or business logo with which you work day in and day out. But what about yourself? Given the opportunity, how would you design a logo for yourself? What would you like to put out there for others to see? What would your logo say about you? Are you willing to expose yourself, to share, to relate, to touch?

Designing a logo can be fun/meaningful; frivolous/intense; disturbing/satisfying….

“Given the opportunity?” Well, why not? Maybe it will be just for you, tucked away in a journal or the wallpaper on your computer screen. But I suggest that the process of conceiving a personal logo is an act of self-awareness, identification and perhaps meeting yourself as others might meet you. Go ahead. Take the “opportunity” and have a go at it. What have you got to lose?

SUMMER ACTION

Summer is here and summer sports, vacations and events are in full swing. Here in Vermont, summers are beautiful and often too short. Who knows what this summer will bring? And, as always, outdoor activities are at the mercy of the weather – cold, cloudy, hot, humid, windy, rainy, foggy, and of course those T-storms! Athletes (i.e. all who are active) do not stop, they adjust. 

Add or subtract layers as needed, add on the bug repellant and/or sunscreen, dial it back/drink plenty of fluids in high humidity, and get the heck out of the way when the thunder rumbles. Other than that, grab the fun, play the play, indulge and enjoy.

An obvious way to beat the heat is to head for water. When a boat, paddle or swim is not an option, it’s time to be creative.

Summer Solstice SUP Yoga photo by Merin Perretta

Last weekend I participated in a beginners’ SUP Yoga Workshop. Wow that was fun! (Trust me, if I could do it, anyone could!) We celebrated the change of season as we neared the Summer Solstice and talked about the need to realign, change gears and get onboard with the new season. Simply being on the water in a meaningful and mindful way can be profound.

Hiking trails abound* and right now there’s plenty of water continuing to run off and swell the brooks and water falls tumbling down the hills. Late Sunday afternoon I had guessed correctly and my pup, Sophie, and I spent a few hours on the Cotton Brook Trail in Moscow, Vermont. It’s an easy walk/hike and, if there is no one else around, I can let her off leash. Whenever we approach some water she sweetly looks back at me as if to ask permission.  “Go swim,” sends her straight in. This particular time she found a deep pool at the base of a small falls and joyfully swam round and round in circles. Happiness is where you find it – even for a dog.

If you run, ride or swim, here are some local options for you. (see below) Choose one and go play. Or find other ways to connect with family and friends, head out solo, or join a team. Maybe, just maybe, this is a good time to leave the gym work for September and build your strength, endurance, skills and aerobic capacity in other, outdoors, ways.

A sign on Camel’s Hump.

*NEVER forget the many safety precautions for hiking adventures. Be prepared, plan ahead, carry emergency layers, food, water, first aid, and flashlight. Tell someone where you are going and, best of all, hike with another. Assess your fitness level and avoid extreme fatigue. Have a great time but be alert and sensible. 

 

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2nd Elmore Triathlon of 2017 this Thursday June 22

I’ll still allow a duathlon option for those who choose not to swim, but encourage all who can swim to try the whole thing.  The water has warmed up and the forecast for Thursday is great right now! I hope to see you Thursday for a 6:30 pm start.  Based on last event’s observations, we will have a bike mount/dismount clinic at 6:15 for all who are there and have their transition set up in time.

For Results from 6/8 and all race info see
  http://www.donnasmyers.com/elmore-triathlon-series/

Training Opportunities!
Central Vermont Runners Fun Runs are every Tuesday at 5:30 in Montpelier From the Dept of Labor Park & Ride on the bike path. 1, 2, 4, or 6 mile options–run for distance or for speed! CVR also has interval speed workouts on the MHS track every Wed at 6 pm. www.cvrunners.org. All are welcome at both workouts!

The Stowe Bike Club Time Trial series every Wednesday evening at 6:30.  I promise that it is the best way to improve your bike time in a triathlon (of course just biking more helps a lot). All are welcome for free the first time, membership requested for multiple time participants. http://www.onionriver.com/stowe-bike-club-time-trials/

For replies: My best contact remains, dosmyers@gmail.com 

 

FITNESS WORKS BEST WITH FUN

Fitness goals are more achievable when their pursuit is injected with fun.

Earlier this year I struggled with my fitness/sports/lifestyle choices. For several years my cycling season dominated my entire periodized year of training. For a few seasons I piled on the miles and the hours and over the course of a few years completed 15 centuries. Then last summer I chose to focus on shorter distances and participated in a Time Trial series that made me the strongest and fastest I have ever been. (Mind you, I am NOT an ace athlete! I am a fitness professional who thrives on putting into practice the techniques and strengths I both learn and teach. So zero bragging rights here!)

Bottom line: I have been, for about 6 years, a serious if not gifted road cyclist glued to my heart rate monitor, power meter and gps.

So it has been stunning for me to decide to give it a break this year. In doing so I have battled many varieties of guilt.

But here’s the thing – this year I have a dog. My chocolate Lab is starting her 9th month, weighs 61 pounds and is possibly all muscle. She and I have made it outdoors every day since she came home with me at 7 weeks, and she has achieved exactly what I had hoped she would do for me – led me into new avenues of exercise and injected my fitness life with that elusive but oh so important quality of PLAY.

Now I must do the same for her and provide her daily opportunities for adventures in the woods and on the trails (not to mention in the ponds!) Since I also work full-time, there are limits on the hours I can spend in pursuit of strength, balance, coordination and aerobic conditioning. This year I choose to spend them with my dog.

Are these hours different? Yes. Will I become as fit as I was last year? No. And do I question my plans? Yes. But I’m just having so much fun hiking with my dog!

A few days ago, a trusted cycling partner and friend reminded me of the “F Rules”. (Thank you Frank – another FJ)

Here’s how it goes. For several of my most intense training years I had the privilege of working with Joey Adams, a metabolic specialist and coach whose theme is “Getting workouts on target and making your time count,” and who signs off with “Miles of Smiles.” Joey’s expertise is equally teamed with compassion, skill and humor. He has that unique ability to bring out the best in his athletes while keeping everything real. https://www.intelligentfitnessvermont.com

Below is what Joey has to say about his “F RULES.”

“The pursuit of fitness has varying “rules”. Do this, try this, don’t do this, eat this, not this. Yet, where is the fun in any of that – in following someone’s dogma? So, without being dogmatic, I’d like to start with the concept of FUN in re-defining the pursuit of fitness.

.When I think of the concept of fun, and the creation of my F rules (Fun-Focus-Flow-Fit-Form-Fuel-Fitness to avoid Fooey!) in pursuing fitness, I always use fun as the litmus test. As a true Vermonter, I think of Ben and Jerry and their famous quote, “if it is not fun, why do it?”

I then immediately think of the experience of watching my own children at play and now pursuing their own fitness passions. I’m captivated by their total immersion in their sports. It LOOKS like fun. You can see it on their faces and in their bodies’ expression.

So I offer you this, when it stops being fun, when you don’t look forward to your wellness pursuit in whatever form, it is time to stop and change course, shake it up, try something new. Get outside, try a new sport, take a new class, dance, move, play, create!”

Joey goes on to discuss other Fs (FOCUS, FLOW, FIT, FORM, FUEL), but ends with: Your F rules are in line. You’ve mastered and embraced FUN. You’ve discovered FOCUS that led to FLOW. Your gear finally FITS because of the guiding hands and eyes of a specialist. Your FORM is impeccably evolving and you are continually vigilant. You honor your FUEL needs. You have created a deeper FITNESS FOUNDATION.

The other choice, when any F gets out of balance is to just say Fooey (you could put in your favorite F word), but there’s good news. You then go back to FUN and start again, maybe in a new direction. When I was out of balance, I found yoga and meditation in my arsenal and I’m sure I will discover other fun things in my future.

Wishing you miles of smiles down your personal road to wellness, balance and peace…and as always, lots of fun!”

So, yes, I will suffer pangs of guilt and a bit of loss. I will ride the short rides but hike the long hikes this year. I will enjoy the growth, development and companionship of my pup, and I will see Vermont’s hills and trails with new eyes. I will learn to balance the outdoors with the studio, intensity with ease, and sound with silence. I will trade in workouts for wanderings, groups for solitude shared with my dog, and lean energy for solid endurance.

I will seek fun and play and find what I find. After all, fun is where you find it.

SPRING CLEAN: REPRIORITIZE FITNESS & LIFESTYLE

         It’s that time of year again – time to do our spring cleaning. I suggest that here we are talking about more than our house – though that’s nice to do as well. Spring is a time of renewal, a time to organize and order, a time to review everything from fitness goals and nutritional plans to budgets and vacations. It’s a time to pick and choose, eliminate and supplement, take stock and plan ahead, and perhaps most importantly, to embrace change, prioritize and balance.

         This is all personal stuff. Only we know what we want most out of our training and out of our lives. Somewhere deep inside of each of us is the flame of passion. That flame should be protected as carefully as a Faberge egg or the Olympic torch. It is both fragile and fierce. It is alive and must remain so or we will shrivel up and die.

         When we spring clean we must do so without disturbing that flame. As each year passes, we define our goals differently. We have more or less to assess. With practice we develop the skills necessary to review, reevaluate and reorganized. To these we add others: refuel, recover and regenerate. Can you apply these concepts to your training, to your fitness, to your recreation, to your passion?

         When planning our training and slotting it into our daily and weekly schedules, we often find we have limited time. Considering training options, intensity, duration, etc. (Don’t forget time to recover, regenerate and renew.) Take whatever time we can and MAKE THE MOST OF IT.

         Spring clean. Make a bucket list, if you will. Strategize. Allocate. Practice. Honor stillness as well as action. Embrace hopes, dreams and passions. Consider ways to grow, connect, thrive. Eliminate what does not work and try something new. Spring clean thoroughly and effectively, with head and heart.

Fitness, My Pup, and Trails in the Spring

FITNESS FOR YOU AND YOUR PUP. We need to be oh so careful about hiking New England trails in early and mid spring. Mud season is more than a messy time, it is a time during which the trails desperately need protection. Damage done to cause further erosion, destroy fragile plant growth or, at best, create ruts, might impact future enjoyment of the trails by walkers, hikers, runners, mountain bikers, etc.

Signs of spring in Vermont – with my 7 month old Lab pup.

In fact, where I live in Vermont, you will find signage that certain trails are closed until a specific date. Each year it is expected that popular hiking trails are off limits until after Memorial Day.

That being said, there are places to go – some private, some in communities. When the sun shines and the snow melts it is almost impossible to resist heading into the woods. I am fortunate and have some woods trails available to me. This year I have enjoyed them more than ever. Why?

Well, you see, I must confess that I hate the cold. I am basically an indoors athlete during the winter months (except, of course, for legitimate snow sports) and prefer to log my hours and work my training plan in warmth. But this year was different. The timing couldn’t have been better. I deliberately chose a Labrador Retriever puppy (http://heatherhollowlabs.com) anticipating that she would help me break out of my icky weather lethargy. I was right.

My chocolate Lab came home in late October and immediately we, my pup and I, were thrown into a daily schedule of frequent periods of outdoor play, training (https://www.facebook.com/One-Paw-at-a-Time-Dog-Training-423502691077111/ or see Kas Fleury https://centralvermonthumane.org/trainer-bios/)  and little walks around the neighborhood. As she grew (rapidly) our walks grew into hikes and long snowshoe outings. My challenge became finding ways to schedule my clients around outdoor exercise with my pup and not the other way around. And, if I didn’t get those hours outside, I’d pay the price with a restless Lab all night long.

Now it is mid April. She has let me know that she will dearly miss the snow as there is nothing she likes more than sliding and rolling in whatever icy patches she can find. Though she is substituting with splashy puddle play from the spring thaw, nothing will make my “hotdog” as happy as the first snowfall next autumn.

But what about me? I can honestly say I have loved being outdoors every single day in spite of temperatures, rain, wind, snow or whatever. My daily time with my pup (including her training times) has been a joy. Any time I can steal an afternoon or claim a weekend day, we head off for an adventure. She waits patiently in my office during client visits, loves to go with me in the car and makes herself quite agreeable to all we meet – sometimes a bit over the top, but always with tail wagging.

Has your fitness commitment stalled? Has your life changed and perhaps you have a vacancy somewhere or a little more time? As a fitness professional, I highly recommend adding a canine to your days (and nights), and your training plan. Your pup will require a great deal of you and no excuse will work. He or she will drag you out of bed, get you out the door and ultimately delight you with laughs and companionship as you find yourself reaping the rewards of consistent training. After all, you will have no choice in the matter – you WILL get out.

Please note – the exercise I’m talking about is not a matter of having your dog tag along with you on long training runs, but, as with children, finding ways to coordinate your work with your pup’s play. If he or she is choosing the pace, chances are you are doing it the right and safe way.

This is not to say you won’t achieve fitness gains. The unquestioned dedication to each outing combined with lengthening days and therefore lengthening times outdoors combine to enhance you and your pup’s endurance. Exploring new terrain – sometimes with unsteady footing – increases balance. Increased pace addresses cardiovascular fitness while trails that go up as well as down add to strength. You and your pup will intuitively charge ahead or relax back as needed. In your pup you will have the perfect training partner. (except, of course, when he or she stops to savor deer poop or bounds off after a skunk or porcupine – training, training, training, leave-it, leave-it, leave-it…)

 

Spring thaw.

This year I have welcomed spring anew, noticing sights, sounds and smells as my pup explores. Just today we took an afternoon off, hopped in the car and drove to some appropriate trails and dirt roads to explore. I always stop to record our outings with a few pictures and am always surprised by how big my girls is. And she is happy. Very happy. So am I.

Yes, I am committed to protecting the trails during what I hope will be a short mud season, and I will cooperate with any postings I may encounter. But I will head out the door every day. How about you?

EVERYONE DESERVES YOGA

 

While at Kripalu in January, I picked up this post card.

EVERYONE DESERVES YOGA. courtesy of Kripalu

EVERYONE DESERVES YOGA. courtesy of Kripalu

It is a request for donations to help share the Yoga experience, but the message is an apt reminder that Yoga is, indeed, for everyone. Whatever one’s age, physical ability, educational, social or political beliefs, anyone and everyone has within his or her reach the practice of Yoga.

Full disclosure. Oh how I resisted Yoga! With a long-ago professional ballet career in my resume and a boatload of training and certifications as Personal Trainer, athlete and Fitness Professional, I was sure that, in addition to strength and cardio training, a sensible, flexibility routine was all that one needed to remain healthfully fit and functionally sound.

Then, just two years ago, I woke up one morning and thought “Yoga is missing.” A quick check on my computer identified an attractive Yoga studio just minutes from my house. “Serendipity,” I thought. And I was off.

I began with a one-hour class each week. Then two. Then I explored classes in my area and while on vacation. I started to read. And read. Bottom line, I was, and am, HOOKED. Within weeks I will have completed three certifications including my basic 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, Teaching Yoga to Athletes, and level one of YIN yoga.

I am fully cognizant that this is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, the scratch on the surface. Yoga is so very much more than the asanas (the Yoga poses) and the “workout.” Yoga is the epitome of mind-body connection. In fact, it sounds trite to say even that. I am humbled by all that Yoga is. I do not have enough years left available to me to learn enough about Yoga to teach the many aspects of the practice, but I can share what I do know and share my respect for this ancient wisdom.

Perhaps the first thing I want to share is this – whoever you are and whatever you do, wherever you are in life’s journey, I encourage you to cast aside preconceived notions, find a legitimate Yoga studio in your area and begin at the beginning. Check in with the studio, introduce yourself as a newbie, ask about an appropriate class to attend, and then attend several. Give it a chance. Take time to openly experience breathing techniques, flexibility, balance, and, yes, strength challenges, honor Savasana (you might welcome the stillness at the end of the class or be popping to get on with your day, but stay…) and listen to the cues flowing from your instructor. Then pay heed. How do you feel later the day of your class, the next day, the day after? Do you notice a change in your energy, your mental acuity, or your spirits? Does your body feel leaner, primed? (Over time you will even note that your performance is enhanced and you acquire tools to help you get through your days, activities, workouts, meetings and competitions.)

Remember Yoga has been around for thousands of years. You are not going to take a big bite out of it in just a few weeks. Become an observer, a participant and a friend.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), “Everyone deserves a few moments when life is quite perfect.” Might those few moments be found in Yoga practice? .imagesYes, Yoga is for everyone and Yes, EVERYONE DESERVES YOGA.

YOGA FOR ATHLETES revisited

January 2016 I attended a weekend workshop at Kripalu that set me on a new course. I wrote of my experience for Active Vermont. You can read it again here if you’d like:  http://lindafreemanfitness.com/2016/02/09/yoga-for-athletes/ 

IMG_2028That was my first visit to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. I vowed then it would not be my last, and so it hasn’t been.

When attending a workshop or training program at Kripalu, the participant has the option to enjoy privacy and personal space or to engage in community whether choosing to bunk in a dorm setting or eat alone in the silent dining room. Furthermore, there are multiple daily classes from which to choose, discussions to attend and indulgences to be savored such as massage, facials, and Ayurvedic or Yoga personalized private consultations.

In 2016 I thought perhaps I had simply dropped into a happy coincidence of people and events when my experience was as good as it gets. I learned ever so much, appreciated the opportunity to meet and interview Sage Rountree, and bonded with my roommates to the extent that we have continued to keep in touch since.

Having also vowed to return in 2017 for the longer training “Teaching Yoga to Athletes,” you can imagine my delight when I checked in and found that my bunk mate was none other than one of my 2016 friends and another roommate was a professional and personal friend from my home state. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. As the week progressed, all of us in the training connected on what I feel confident will prove to be a deep, meaningful and lasting way.IMG_2060

I tell you this because connection is perhaps what our training is all about. Whether we are competitive athletes or individuals seeking health and fitness, training must be about ever so much more than running faster, lifting more, or achieving maximum performance while letting everything else fall by the wayside.

Here is what Sage Rountree wrote in part in her Manifesto: Yoga for Athletes:  “Yoga aids athletes by increasing holistic, organic strength; by creating enough flexibility in the muscles and range of motion in the joints so that they can move fluidly; and by sharpening mental focus. Yoga, then, is an approach to balance: balance of the body in space; balance between strength and flexibility, sthira and sukha; balance between work and rest, doing and being; balance of mind, body, and spirit.”

Yoga for Athletes is NOT athletic Yoga. (We quipped that Yoga for Athletes could also be called Yoga for Tight and Tired People!) An athlete’s training schedule is periodized to functionally perfect his or her sport and sport’s season. The practice of Yoga during that cycle must not compete with the sports specific training, but balance and enhance it. Sage continues: “Yoga offers a system for connection, not just exercises or workouts.”

In the weeks and months ahead I will continue to blog about Yoga – Yoga for every and any body, for every and any purpose. I am new to the practice of Yoga, having begun only two years ago. I could not presume to have more than scratched the surface of this ages old practice, but what little I have learned, I am eager to share with you.

The practice of Yoga, as Rountree points out, connects opposites that need to be connected: stress and rest, strength and flexibility, stability and mobility, what we want and what we need, to name just a few factors of duality.

If you have not already added Yoga practice to your life, I encourage you to do so. Won’t you join me in this journey? Once begun, we will connect the dots: explore the relationship between practicing Pranayama, or breathing, Asanas, or physical poses, core strength and stability, meditation, and Savasana – how all integrate to enhance what is perhaps the ultimate connection of mind and body. Then we will begin to explore the possibilities that our newfound connections present to us, the opportunities heretofore limited and the goals and objectives we dare to dream.IMG_2048