GO TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

HEART. Synonyms include core, mind, soul, spirit, compassion.

HEART. Defined in part as a muscular, blood-pumping organ; the center.

To keep your heart happy is to keep it healthy, strong and efficient. Sure, genetics play a role, but so does lifestyle. What you eat, how you exercise, how you relate to the world around you and how you love all affect the health and well-being of your heart.

Get the idea? This is one enormous, vast subject – researched, discussed, cheered, cajoled, and handled with care in more ways that one from poets to scientists, athletes to teachers, and Hallmark to the American Heart Association.

Physically, the heart as a muscle, needs to be exercised. It needs to be clean and lean and function with strength and precision to keep the body supplied with blood, oxygen, nutrients and life support.

Emotionally the heart that is open, generous and kind guides a life lived with enthusiasm and joy.

Blurring the line between the two, it is well-documented that stress, anger, depression and a host of negative thoughts and behaviors are as destructive to the heart as inappropriate ingestion of food, drink, drugs or inappropriate amounts of physical taxation.

But today, on the eve of another Valentine’s Day, consider this. Life is challenging, to be sure. You and I will experience difficulties, loss and great sadness. You and I will also experience inexpressible joys, pleasures and giggles. You and I are human.

As human beings, then, let us celebrate what is central to our being, what drives us, sustains us, encourages us and loves us in return. BLESS YOUR HEART.

Yoga for Athletes, Sage Rountree

Once again I am headed to Kripalu for another Yoga for Athletes workshop with Sage Rountree. It is impossible stay current with the ever changing, exciting and expanding body of information flooding the fitness world. We need help sorting out the new findings and choosing that which is specific to our own individual needs whether we seek health and well-being or athletic achievement.

Rountree, the author, is prolific. Her books are direct connections to her wisdom and work. I encourage you to take a look.

Sage Rountree is a smart and personable athlete, business woman, wife, mom, coach and teacher. Rountree has put Yoga for Athletes on the map and made her practice and the science behind it available to everyone. She likes to quip that Yoga for Athletes is for “tight and tired people.” Her books are not only readable and easily understood, they provide tangible mentoring for anyone’s individual practice.

As a fitness professional, I consider anyone who intentionally exercises to be an athlete and therefore recommend to all my students and clients ALL of the writings, videos, workshops, classes, and website (http://sagerountree.com) of Sage Rountree.

To understand the importance of Yoga for Athletes, read:

The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga: An Integrated Approach to Strength, Flexibility, and Focus Feb 1, 2008

The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga: 50 Routines for Flexibility, Balance, and Focus Jul 1, 2009 …is a handy collection of practices for those times when you really don’t want to develop your own and just want to follow the dots.

Though I love all of Rountree’s books, perhaps my favorite – or at least the one I go to most often whether teaching or snagging time for my own home practice – is: Everyday Yoga: At-Home Routines to Enhance Fitness, Build Strength, and Restore Your Body Jun 4, 2015

There are plenty more where these came from as well. Rountree, after all, has been there/done that as competitive runner, cyclist and triathlete. See also: The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery: Rest, Relax, and Restore for Peak Performance Apr 1, 2011

Racing Wisely: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Performing at Your Personal Best Aug 8, 2013

Lifelong Yoga: Maximizing Your Balance, Flexibility, and Core Strength in Your 50s, 60s, andBeyond Aug 1, 2017 NOTE: this book is coauthored by Alexandra Desiato, long time associate of Rountree.

The Runner’s Guide to Yoga, 2nd Edition Oct 24, 2017. NOTE: this is an updated version of one of Rountree’s excellent Runner’s Guide to Yoga originally published 2012 – perhaps the best go-to book of them all for all athletes.

To learn more, go to http://lindafreemanfitness.com/2016/02/ where you will find a post of my initial encounter with Sage Rountree at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This article was originally published in the Rutland Herald and Times Argus, Active Vermont page.

[All books are available at Amazon or through your local bookseller.]

INTENTION

Whether unrolling your yoga mat, unzipping your gym bag, lacing up your running shoes, clicking into your pedals, or tapping ‘start’ on your fitness computer of choice, what is your intention? Why are you about to do what you are about to do?

For many years I have urged my students to define their goals, be able to explain to themselves just why they are trying to manage heart rate, increase flexibility, build strength, achieve quickness and agility. Furthermore, what is the purpose behind each training session, each exercise? OK, you might be trying to tweak your fuel, increase your sleep, include Yoga in your training – but why?

Of course there is science behind all of it, but perhaps the more significant element might be why do you WANT to do___________________ (fill in the blank)?

Are you seeking happiness? According to Bridget Jones in her Diary, ‘Happiness does not come from wealth or power, but from the attainment of reachable goals.’ (paraphrased)

Each January 1st I ask my clients to hone in on a goal or two for the coming year – specific and attainable. This year the stars came out and I was able to post an entire board of wonderful, meaningful and achievable goals.

There were specific goals such as more ski days this year, prepare for knee replacement surgery, develop a home Yoga practice, improve my golf game, mountain bike 3x per week, improve posture, ride the Kelly Brush Century, hike some of New Hampshire’s 4,000’ers, run a faster 10k.

There were generalizations such as enhance balance, maintain ability to work in the woods, continue with personal training, increase arm strength, build core stability.

I received a card that read: “Live with Intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you like. Live as if this is all there is.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)

This morning I attended a Yoga class that was packed to capacity. It was sheer joy. Our mats were nearly touching and our limbs moved through space with the exquisite awareness of our neighbor’s nearness. Cognizant of each other’s tiniest movements and aware of each subtle nuance and breath, I felt as if I sank ever more deeply into my own practice, my personal and individual experience.

I had entered the studio thinking that my Sankalpa would be something along the lines of practicing more expansively, enhancing strength and balance, moving fully extending my flexibility and skills as I stretched my heart and mind.

And then it shifted. My intention became itself – simply to practice with intention. And to share the 90 minutes with those with whom I also shared space, and oxygen, and the practice of Yoga. Lovely.

As I ponder the concept of intention, I think that Confucius had it right way back when … “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

LINKING THE HOLIDAYS TO YOUR TRAINING PLANS

Depending on where you are in your annual cycle of training (periodization); depending on your priorities and goals; depending on your personal commitments and family obligations; depending on your profession, the climate, and just about anything you can think of (or excuse), your fitness or sports training plan may be blown out of the water during extended weeks of holiday celebrations.

However, look at some of the elements of the season that directly link to the subject.

HANUKKAH. The word literally means rededication. Though the eight days of celebration in the Jewish tradition relate to the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt, an athlete might ponder the general concept of rededication as applied to his or her training goals, motivation or even values.

ADVENT. The word literally means coming. In the Christian tradition the Advent season is a time of waiting, preparation and patience. Aha. Once again there are significant associations to be made. Whether one’s exercise and healthy lifestyle lead to fitness or performance, preparation and patience are integral parts of the whole.

HOLIDAYS. A long time ago, (maybe as early as 1659), someone wisely remarked: “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” A more modern translation might be “all work with no recovery/rest makes Jack or Jill both bored and boring!” A blatant symptom of overtraining is declining performance. So, look ahead and give yourself permission to take that break.

CELEBRATE! “Celebrate good times, come on!… Let’s celebrate, it’s all right.”

OK, only some of us of a certain age start singing the song when we think the word celebration, but the message is ageless – “it’s all right.” Why do we need permission to stop what we’re so earnestly doing and take some time off? Maybe this is one of the most important seasonal connections for an athlete or fitness enthusiast to make – it’s OK to be spontaneous, to have fun, to play, to relax, to read a book, eat a cookie or test a new microbrew. Just don’t celebrate beyond the appointed time – usually January 1st.

New Year’s RESOLUTIONS? Forget it. Rather than setting up for failure with extraordinary aspirations of goodness, why not pull out the 2018 calendar, research the events you’d like to do, write them down, and work backwards. Note when you should begin to ramp up your training or exercise in order to compete or complete your goals and send off NOW any entry forms, hotel reservations, etc. that you might need to do.

BOTTOM LINE. Holidays can play havoc with one’s fitness, performance, health and self-respect. Run amok, overindulgence, under-activity, inappropriate ingestion, too much/too little of anything has an adverse affect on well-being. Better to enjoy, have fun, honor the season for personal reasons, value time spent with family, friends and loved ones, pause to savor the moment – rather than sabotage present gains. Seek balance in all of its facets – and shine.

As 2017 closes, I wish you days to cherish with loved ones, hours to regenerate and moments to hold in your heart.

SHARING GIFT GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over and done. Cooked. Now it’s time to get really serious about holiday shopping and/or winter equipment to gift oneself!

A little help here, please? Give me a shout out for some of your fav gifts or gear and I’ll be sure it gets a post.

Let me start with a few of my tried and true besties:

YOGA

MAT

Jade Yoga for best all around mat – www.jadeyoga.com – Harmony Mat

Manduka for tough and dense – www.manduka.com – any

Sankalpa for amazing graphics – www.livesankalpa.com – oh so many

ATTIRE

PRANA PRANA PRANA – love it all – www.Prana.com

Fav leggings or capris – Roxanne!

EXTRAS

Again Manduka – especially

Weighted cork yoga blocks

Enlight ® round bolster – delicious color – thrive

Align yoga strap 10’ (currently out of stock but hopefully  returning soon – extra length is useful)

There’s a chance you just might be headed to Freeport to do some outlet shopping before the year ends. If so, DO NOT MISS a Saturday morning class with my fav instructor, Terry Cockburn, at my fav studio – Freeport Yoga Company – www.freeportyogaco.com

OUTDOORS

Last night the temps here in Vermont dropped to single digits. Might be time to think more about staying warm in the outdoors.

My BEST find this year has been La Sportiva! Mind you, I haven’t gotten past the footwear, but the trail shoes have saved my life – or at least they have been so awesome they have pushed me out there more than ever. I prefer any shoe that gives me good traction as I have a way of shooting my feet out from under me on just about any vertical adventure. Log on to www.lasportiva.com, be sure you are in the US site, and check out Bushido trail runners. I hiked a fair amount this year and these babies were so confidence inspiring that I climbed outside my comfort zone.

I looked for other models for the fall season and struck out on a few that were too narrow in GTX. And then, after a long conversation with a customer service rep at LaSportiva, I took the plunge and tried the Women’s Crossover 2.0 GTX.

LaSportiva W Crossover 2.0 GTX

This boot/shoe looks like a Nordic boot with lacing and a zip closure, ankle high, warm, great traction, and instant comfort. Pricey but this will be my go-to boot for a long time, I’m sure!

PATAGONIA – Is there anything that Patagonia doesn’t have? Well, I LOVE vests – so great for layering. My 2 favorites from P. are the Nano Puff which comes in awesome colors and a very rugged, warm, weather and abrasion resistant vest called the W’s BIVY hooded vest. Check it out at www.patagonia.com.

There are SO many manufacturers and SO many places to shop. I can only scratch the surface and share my personally tested and recommended gear.

Furthermore, because they are “personally tested,” the items above are primarily for women – but there’s a man’s version of just about everything so have at it!

This is truly just the beginning of a list and, frankly, a list for someone special as one must dig deep to make these purchases. So, what about you? What can you add? Let me know. And happy shoppingJ

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.

*****************************************************************

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