Tag Archives: athletics

Step Aerobics

people's feet doing aerobic exercisesWhen I was in high school, I had to take step aerobics. While I did varsity swimming and fencing as well as synchronized swimming, there was just something about step aerobics that was hard for me to grasp. Perhaps I should say there was something about step that was hard for me to grasp. Try as I might, I just wasn’t very coordinated when it came to step aerobics. Part of the problem may have been that “try as I might” did not always mean that I truly “might try.” It was a lot more fun to exercise my mouth and chat with friends than to walk on and off the step.

My gym teacher, who was also my synchronized swimming coach, gave me numerous warnings about my attitude and commitment to succeeding in the class. My parents told me that if they had to come in for a parent teacher conference over step aerobics, they weren’t going to be happy. I walked away with a B in step aerobics and swore off the step for a long time.

On Friday mornings I do group training with a 3 other women. The trainer is also encouraging us to fit in an aerobic workout later to round out the weight work we do with her. A friend of mine had suggested going to the step class at our gym. I thought it might be a nice change of pace.

At the beginning of the class the instructor asked if there were any new people. After I raised my hand she asked me when I last did step. I answered that I had done step the other night on my Wii Fit. She rolled her eyes. I then admitted that my last real step experience was from high school. She thought I meant I had just graduated from high school and was confused because I clearly do not look 18. I said that no, I graduated in 1994 and clarified that I hadn’t done step since. She looked pretty surprised. Hey it’s the truth.

The class started, and I was proud of how well I was doing. I may have, dare I say it, scoffed a little bit at the workout intensity…until I realized it was just the warm up. Once the class started, I was sweating away like everyone else. I had my heart rate monitor on and while my heart rate wasn’t as high as when I run, it was pretty close to it. It certainly equaled my spin heart rate. It was a really good workout. I did feel like I should have worn a sign on my back telling people not to follow me. Then again, the number of times I fell off my stop doing some sort of around the world half shuffle, probably made it pretty apparent. In fact I even wondered briefly how many people sprain their ankles every year from falling off their step. Then I tripped on my step, which ended that thought. Overall though, it was fairly easy to follow. We even did weights.

There was just one little problem. I had already lifted weights at 5:45 am that morning so by the time this 9:15 class rolled around, I was a little bit sore. The 5 pound weights suddenly felt like 25 pound weights. So while the class was worthwhile, I’m not sure that I would do it every Friday. I would prefer to do it on a different day. Unfortunately though it’s not offered until later in the day.

by Alex Elliot

Photo graciously provided by stillinberlin.de, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

The Pitter-Patter Of Size 11 Feet

a soccer ball in the grassLast week, I wrote a screed about the evils of games. Funny how life works out. See, this past week, my sixteen year-old made the varsity squad for his high school soccer team. So, um, yeah, that was kinda ironic.

And so I have to go to the games and watch him play with guys who are playing hard, and sometimes not by the rules. I mean, elbows are thrown and shoving is shoved and it’s rough out there. In fact, this weekend, in the last match, the guy he was covering was throwing so many elbows that it forced my son to lift his head when he could. Except that made him an easier target and the opponent connected the elbow to my son’s teeth, tearing his lip. So, y’know, the bleeding and such.

There weren’t any stitches needed – he just sat out for a few minutes with some ice and paper towels to staunch the blood enough to appease the ref.

Lots of fun for me to watch.

Still, I know my job is not to make him into what I want, or to shape the world into a soft pillow, but instead to just be there for him. So I’m there on the sidelines, cheering through clenched teeth.



by Stu Mark


Photo graciously provided by Marty (S), through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Is it Really that Time again?

funnel cakeAbout 11 months ago, I went from joking about doing a triathlon to actually training to do a triathlon followed by doing some triathlons. I remember the time because I announced that I had been in training for a few weeks to my family during a reunion in Disney World over Columbus Day Weekend. All right, I also remember thinking that most triathletes probably didn’t eat funnel cakes while they were in training but hey I was in Disney World and I hadn’t had one in about 10 years. Unfortunately this mentality seemed to apply to many desserts. While I have yet to find funnel cake recommended by any triathlon training book, by the time I did my first triathlon in May, it was a forgotten memory.

September came and my triathlon training buddy and I decided to cut our working out back a notch to give ourselves a little bit of break. Thankfully there weren’t any funnel cakes around this year! Many other people I knew from spinning were also cutting back. In fact it didn’t really dawn on me that at this point last year I had already begun my training until a got an unexpected email: the 2009 schedule is out for one company’s triathlons in New England. Are they kidding? I’m mean it’s ages until Thanksgiving! Except obviously it’s not.

Furthermore, it was around this time last year that I actually signed up for my first triathlon. While I was processing this information, I realized another feeling was starting to take form: it’s a whole new season! This time I’ll have old times to compare to my new times. I dive into a new year of training as the cycle of excitement begins again, running forward to the next triathlon season. Sure I may have just eaten Halloween candy. I’d like to apply my Disney rule to it though!


by Alex Elliot


Photo graciously provided by joits, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

You Learn Something New Every Day

a woman powerlifting in a gymThis past week, my triathlon training buddy and I were discussing how exercise was just not as much fun and exciting as it was this time last year.  We think it’s because this time last year, exercise was new to us!  Alright, we had worked out before, but since having kids the intensity of our workouts had certainly fallen.  Unfortunately our gym only offers spinning classes early in the morning, and it does not offer alternative exercise classes like aerobics that we can do for variety until far later in the day.  We’re going to suggest this to our gym.

Anyhow, I’m still alternating between spinning, running and swimming and of course incorporating weight lifting.  Last week I substituted eliptical for running just to try and change things up a bit.   I wasn’t expecting any change to come from spinning class itself.  However, I had forgotten that periodization does not start until November.  Hence when I went to spinning class today, I felt ill from the exertion.  No, it wasn’t as strenuous as I had done before, but it was challenging to change from emulating going steadily up a very steep “hill” (by putting a lot of tension on the bike) to emulating biking on a flat road by cycling incredibly quickly for a long period of time.  My big lesson learned was that you can change things up within a form of excercise.  Did I mention that I was wiped after it?


by Alex Elliot


Photo graciously provided by hrtmnstrfr, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Gym Membership Or Stationary Bike?

a man on a stationary bike in a gymMy husband and I have been married for 7 years.  We dated for three years before we got married.  We each owned one stationary bike that we brought with us when we got married causing various people to wonder if we race each other on our stationary bikes in the basement.

My husband loved his stationary bike.  Before having kids (isn’t that always the key phrase?), he used it all the time.  Mine was used as a drying rack for my shirts that couldn’t go in the dryer. After, we had kids my husband’s bike joined mine by taking a part-time position as a drying rack.

We have two different viewpoints on exercising.  My husband doesn’t like going to the gym because he feels it’s a waste of money; he wouldn’t go.  Mainly he feels uncomfortable exercising in front or other people.  I can understand that.  Particularly when I first started going to the gym, I felt uncomfortable with it as well.  I would be trying to figure out how to program a machine, not be able to figure it out, and then either loud beeping would occur and/or I would have to get a staff member to help me.  Plus I had this sense of not being a real gym goer and thus feeling like everyone knew that I was just a poser.  However, my husband is somewhat committed to using the bike: more than he would be to gym membership anway.

I have the other point of view that if I’m paying all this money for my gym membership, I’m going to make it work.  That fact alone can get me to the gym some days.  It’s been working well for me for about 3 years now.  Which leads to today when I once again posted a notice  that I’m selling my stationary bike.  Hopefully this time it will sell.  Mainly I just want to get it out of my basement, but a little money for it would be nice too.  As much fun as it may sound to some to race on stationary bikes in the basement, I’d rather use the money to do something.  Plus, we have never actually had such a race.


by Alex Elliot


Photo graciously provided by dead_squid, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved