I recently read this post in The Cut: I spent Two Weeks Working Out ‘Like a Man’ and I was slightly annoyed.
The author writes about a 14 day period in which she tried out a bunch of different workouts she determined to be ‘manly’, like Crossfit, P90X, Martial Arts, and Bootcamps.
Showcasing to women these workouts that traditionally appeal to men is an awesome idea. The author could have done so much to encourage women to add them to their fitness regime.
For one, she could have refrained from defining male and female dominated exercise styles as mutually exclusive. She might have highlighted all the great fitness and women’s health benefits that come with these workouts, or the fact that women are often welcomed and made to feel comfortable in male dominated fitness environments, or the fact that the challenge of trying new workouts can be extremely rewarding.
But she doesn’t. So, to me, the article is a total failure.
Instead the author draws the line in the sand about what makes a workout ‘manly’ (we’re trying to break down these stereotypes and she just sustains them). She complains about the smell of the mats in a Muay Thai gym, laments about how she couldn’t keep up in many of the classes, and dramatizes about how her unbearably soreness is making simple daily tasks impossible for her.
Even I don’t want to try any of these workouts after that sort of review. Evidently neither do some of the commenters:
“I’m pretty happy with Tracy Anderson‘s workouts”
“I will stick to my yoga, spinning, and elliptical circuit, thank you. Just reading about not being able to put my shirt over my head is not appealing to me personally.”
Men should feel comfortable in a yoga studio or aerobics class. Women should feel like it’s okay for them to lift weights or kickbox. Can we just stop with the stupid exercise stereotypes already?
I think it’s awesome that the author tried out so many new exercises (and I’m kinda jealous too). Trying new forms of fitness is a great way to learn new skills and discover a new passion. But by framing the article around the fact that the workouts she chose to try are traditionally preferred by men does nothing to encourage women to try them out.
She missed a great opportunity to get women excited about trying something new.9 Comments
I’ve been feeling a bit bloated lately in a way that always makes me totally uncomfortable with how I look and how I feel.
It makes me start to second guess myself and all my healthy living progress and think things like
I’ve probably been eating too many cookies
I must be slacking in my workouts
I shouldn’t have cleared my plate at that restaurant
So before I start on a downward spiral toward fat talk and bad self-esteem I need to regroup, refocus, and reflect on all my healthy lifestyle habits as a reminder that, hey, I’m doing ok!
I eat breakfast every day.
I load my cart with vegetables at the grocery store.
I cook dinners from scratch at least 4 days per week and I eat leftovers for lunch every day.
I eat out once and maybe twice per week.
I prioritize exercise and do it regularly and consistently.
I keep variety in my workouts with heavy weightlifting, interval training, yoga, and steady state cardio.
I life-hacked a standing workstation at my office to reduce my sedentary time.
Given all that, I think I’m doing a pretty good job at maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Of course, no one is perfect and some bad habits have been starting to creep up that might need to be nipped in the bud:
I have been drinking a lot more caloric beverages lately– lattes, sweetened coffee, hot chocolate, or beer (umm… ’tis the season?)
I haven’t been taking the dog for as many long walks.
My fat consumption lately has been more bad fats (mmm. . . butter) than good ones (still mmm, but not quite so much. . . avocado)
Slowly I’ve been incorporating more processed grains into my diet whereas I was trying to focus on solely unrefined ones.
It makes me feel better to pause and say, this is what you’re doing right and this is what you’re doing wrong, rather than just flying off the handle and telling myself I’m a failure at being healthy just because I feel a little bloated. I’m not a failure. I’m doing a lot of the right things.5 Comments
In keeping with the theme of crazy conditioning drills last night I decided to bust out Terrible 20s.
Terrible Twenties – a sprinting drill sandwiched between a shit tonne of push-ups and sit-ups.
You need a space of at least 50 metres to do this drill, so I jogged over to a portion of the trail near my house that’s a bit quieter so people wouldn’t see the crazy girl running back & forth a million times.
I guesstimated and marked off a distance of 50m which, due to my poor distance perception, I later discovered was actually 150 metres. Blast! I worked harder than I had to (no wonder the sprints were so tough!).
Here’s how the drill goes:
It took me about 50 minutes or so to finish the whole thing for a total of:
2000m of sprints (6000m in my case)
*Math Nerd Alert: It is exciting that my knowledge of the ‘sum of consecutive integers’ formula finally could be put to use in the real world.1 Comment
Saturday April 21 marks the date of the 22nd Annual CN Tower Climb for the World Wildlife Fund of Canada.
In 2008 I was unwed and was working and living in Toronto. Coming from a very small city myself, here were a lot of things that I disliked about living in the big city. But I did appreciate a lot of things about it too—the holiday window display at Holt Renfrew, the eggplant sandwiches at the St. Lawrence market, Hallowe’en in the gay village (and the neighbourhood in general, for that matter), getting free swag daily at the corner of Yonge & Dundas Square, and seeing Dallas Green on my walk home from work to name a few.
One thing I especially loved about living in Toronto was having access to so many different events all year round. There was always something going on. Things that I wouldn’t necessarily travel all the way to Toronto to do, but that I took full advantage of while I lived there.
The CN Tower Climb was one of them.
1,776 steps (144 flights of stairs) to the observation deck of a Canadian landmark and the world’s second tallest building.
I took part in the challenge in 2008 after about 30 minutes of undemanding and lax training on the gym’s stairclimber. So with my only experience based on a set of stairs that rotated on a belt under my feet and daily practice in my fourth floor walk-up apartment, I hadn’t the slightest idea of how long it would take for me to climb 144 flights of stairs.
I gave myself a general goal of 30 minutes and hoped for the best.
When I got to the event I learned that you’re not allowed to carry anything while you climb. Nothing. At all. No cell phone, cameras, iPods. Not even water!
I was determined to bring my camera up with me though because I did the climb by myself and I wanted a picture at the top to prove I did so I hid it in one of the millions of pockets in my cargo pants and figured I’d be okay if it were hidden.
Once I finally finished the trek from the event check-in to the start of the climb I discovered that we had to go through a security checkpoint and guards with metal detector wands. This was not going to bode well for me. I contemplated turning around and heading all the way back to check my camera, but I decided I would take the risk.
When it was my turn to be wanded, a combination of sleight-of-hand, misdirection, and my irresistible charm miraculously keep the guard from noticing the camera in my pocket. Phew! I was in the clear.
I made it to the stairwell and got started.
The stairwell leading to the observation deck was dark, narrow, and windowless with a dampness from the sweat of the climbers that made me feel like I was climbing the General Brock Monument, except this stairwell never seemed to end.
The number on each flight of stairs was stencilled on the wall so you could keep track as you went up. For the life of me I couldn’t remember how many flights there were, so I tried not to pay too much attention to how many I completed because I had no idea how many were left to go.
I had a solid pace going. One step behind me the entire way was a very fit woman whose own pace was the keeping me motoring. I wanted to be fast enough so she wouldn’t have to bother going around me and that she wouldn’t step on my heels. And I didn’t want to let her down since she spent much of the climb cheering on the people that we passed on the way up (and frankly we passed a lot of people).
When it got to flight 135 I was starting to tire. I called out to everyone around and no one in particular
“135! How many more flights?!”
“30!” Some woman responded.
30?!? I couldn’t keep this pace for 30 more flights, I knew that much so I let my partner pass even though she encouraged me to “keep my pace, almost there!”
In 9 more flights I was at the top. Only 9. Bitch! I cursed the girl that told me I had 30 to go. I could have kept my pace for 9 flights of stairs.
But I made it in 18:32. Not too shabby I daresay and well under my ambiguous 30 minute goal.
And I got a picture of myself at the top of the tower in all my sweaty glory!
Would I do it again?
I can’t decide.
I found the stairwell itself to be uncomfortably hot and dark, and very confined.
When finally you get to the observation deck there are a million people there which makes it tough to appreciate.
It was nice to do once, but I don’t know that I would care to take part in the event again. Maybe for the sole purpose of improving my finishing time.
1) I apologize if it is arrogant of me to post an event recap 4 years after the fact. I guess I should take it as a cue to do something fun and exciting now in 2012.
2) I cannot believe how small my arms were in 2008. I still have that climb t-shirt and it is much tighter on the biceps these days. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
3) The fact that my ass is also bigger than version2008 is definitely a good thing.9 Comments
Don’t be fooled– a 16kg kettlebell is heavy. I was just barely able to squeak out a solitary Turkish get-up in poor form. I definitely can’t bicep curl it. I can, however, swing it with relative ease.
The kettlebell had been in the back seat of my car, but the thumping it made when it rolled around made me think I hit a pedestrian, so I moved it in the house and got it as far as the front door where it’s been for the last few days.
The other day when I came in the house I did 12 kettlebell swings and decided to make it a thing for Lent– do 12 kettlebell swings whenever I get home.
Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width, each foot pointed outward.
Keep your shoulders pulled back and down to avoid rounding your back.
Squat down and swing the kettlebell back between your legs.
Thrust your hips forward, straighten your legs, and swing the kettlebell up overhead, keeping your arms straight. (I couldn’t get a picture right at the very top of the swing, so this is my progression up to the top)
I get random, unforseen urges to test my fitness from time to time. I’ll be sitting in my cubicle at work fighting off the compelling impulse to get down and do as many pushups as I can. I could be at my dad’s house and I’ll absolutely need to go into a headstand. I will get up from a cozy reading spot on the couch to do a wall sit for as long as I can. It’s really a curious behaviour of mine.
Tonight before my leg workout I tested my push-up ability. It wasn’t a compulsive impulse though, I was checking my progress toward my 100 push-ups Beast Mode goal.
Drumroll please . . .
I can do 28 push-ups before crashing. I still have a lot of work to do!
Today was the last day of my most recent 4 Day Upper/Lower Body Split Weight Training Plan (download here). I noticed that I had lost a bit of strength when getting back into it after the marathon but I’ve made pretty decent progress and I’m pretty happy with how the last 4 weeks have gone.
Particularly for these exercises:
Squats: increased from 155lb to 165lb
Bench Press: increased from 105lb to 115lb
Turkish Get-Ups: increased from 10lbs to 25lbs (<– HUGE!)
Close Grip Bench Press: increased from 50lbs to 80lbs
Here’s my Week 1 vs Week 4 progress for all exercises:
I’m going to keep with the same exercises for the next 4 weeks, but make a few changes to how I do it.
1) Do push-ups first
2) Superset the arm (ie. biceps & triceps) exercises
3) Superset the shoulder exercises
4) Increase rest time to 2:00-3:00 rather than my current 1:00-2:00 for the heavier lifting (squats, bench, deadlifts, etc)
It’s been over a month since I’ve recapped a kickboxing class.
The classes have been going awesome and I have to say that kickboxing just might be my favourite activity of all time. More than curling even! (I used to be an avid, albeit unskilled, curler in high school and university)
I thoroughly enjoy all the classes, even when I’m getting my ass kicked. There are so many things that I like about the sport.
I like being able to release all my energy.
I like punching things and, even more, kicking things.
I like that I am learning something new and I like getting pointers from other people in the class.
I like improving and I love getting positive feedback when I do.
In Monday’s class I was getting a lot of positive feedback about how my form has improved quite a bit since I started and it made me feel pretty good about myself. It made me want to keep coming back to get even better.
I wanted to recap last night’s class because it was such a good cardio workout so I thought I would share.
This class was heavy on cardio and endurance work.
We spent lots of time on the punching bag with a partner, alternating rounds of punching and holding the bag for the partner. I chose the most helpful person in the class because I knew he would give me lots of pointers while he held the bag for me. It’s like having my own personal trainer.
Move of the Day:
Hooks: We did about 8.5million power hooks in class and my partner gave me lots of hints for my atrocious form (I don’t do hooks often for a reason). I learned to wind up my body because the force comes from rotating the hips and shoulders. I also learned to keep my elbow close to my body and keep my arm loose until right before I release the punch, rather than tensing it up early. I’m not sure if my form was really any good, but at least I have the pointers in mind so I can practice them.
- Jogging around the gym, sprints
- Jumping Jacks
Punching Bag Drills:
- Cardio: 1 minute rounds of speed punching (+1min rest) x 5
- Power: 1 minute rounds of power hooks (+1min rest) x5
We partnered up to practice punch and roundhouse kick combos for three 3min rounds.1 Comment
I just finished 4 weeks of the High Repetition/Low Weight routine that I set out for myself in September.
My plan was to switch up more normal heavy lifting/low weight routines with something a bit different. I liked the routine because even though I lowered my weights to I could hit 10 to 12 reps I was still pushing myself hard. Plus, doing 3 sets instead of 4 and doing some supersets makes the workout go by so much faster.
I made sure to track my progress for the last 4 weeks (I was a little lax about doing this in the summer) and found that I improved on most things. Sadly though my squats stayed pretty much the same.
High Rep Weight Training Routine
Click the image for full size:
You can get a printable pdf version of this workout here
Medicine Ball Launch
In today’s kickboxing class, after being exhausted from ten 3 minute rounds on the punching bag we grabbed a partner and did this awesome exercise.
Grab a 15lb medicine ball and stand about 8 feet from your partner.
Stand with your left foot slightly forward and you right foot back.
Hold the ball to shoulder height with your left hand
Using the palm of your right hand, thrust the ball the forward at your partner twisting your right hip forward as you do so, as if you were throwing a punch. Try to keep the ball travelling in a straight horizontal line as much as possible, not a parabolic trajectory.
You partner will catch the ball and thrust it back to you.
Repeat for 2 minutes before swtiching to the left hand.No Comments
Day 21: Faceless Self Portrait
Photo Taken October 21, 2011.
I suspect this was the result of a very good midsection roundhouse from my kickboxing class on Wednesday, although I don’t quite remember which blow caused the bruise.
In In spite of the bruises and the repeated punches to the head and the exhausted intervals of all out effort, I come home from kickboxing classes happier than ever.
It’s a satisfying feeling of learning a new skill, getting a killer workout, and releasing all my anger.
I don’t think you can get that from any other form of exercise.3 Comments
This week meant sparring in kickboxing class.
I decked myself out in as much padding as I could to avoid getting hurt. Wrist wraps, gloves, shin pads, mouthguard, helmet. Check, check, check, check, and check. I was excited for a little light sparring.
I nabbed my partner, a nice little high school kid who looked unassuming. But looks can be deceiving, as the saying goes.
I was expecting light sparring—a little practice of our punches and kicks along with our blocking (of which I am in desperate need of practice). Instead I got an all out brawl. My opponent was, balls to the wall, attacking my head.
I tried getting in some punches to his head, but really I spent most of my time trying to prevent the incessant fist-to-forehead contact that I was experiencing. It reminded me a lot of our punching bag drills and this time I was the punching bag.
I should have told him to ease up, and that we clearly had different definitions of ‘light sparring’ but I just kept on keeping on as is the way I do things.
And I started kicking a lot more since I couldn’t get close enough to punch him.
And the more he punched the harder I kicked.
Until I kicked him, with considerable force, right in the ballsack.
Yup, I kicked a boy in the testicles. How’s that for a knock-out?
I felt really really terrible. I definitely wasn’t aiming for that area, but I instantly knew the pain that would be caused as soon as I saw where my shin landed.
He was out for the rest of the round and there was really nothing I could do but watch him doubled over in pain and embarrassment.
My instructor (the same one that told me how to break someone’s face) came over and said to me “Now THAT is what you want to do on the streets.” (Why does he always think I’m going to be brawling in the streets?! I live in the suburbs forgodssakes.)
Eventually my opponent was able to shake it off and partner up with me for a few more round. I lightened up on the kicks and I continued to apologize to him over and over but her still delivered far too many very painful punches to my forehead.
Eventually we switched partners. I ended up with a boy who was taking it easy on me and said “no offense, but I don’t feel comfortable hitting girls.”
Normally, I would have taken offense to that and my initial reaction was to say “No offense, but I know how to kick you where it hurts”. . . But I didn’t because, if we’re being honest here, it was a nice relief from all the head shots I had just taken.
Moral of the Story: If you have testicles and try to fight me, please wear a cup.No Comments
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Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
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Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
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Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb