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Gym Belle  - noun  one who enjoys pull-ups, push-ups, lifting things up/putting 'em down, PRs of all kinds, racing, jumping, spinning, daring and blogging re same (more here)


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Game Face: Ninja Classic Competition Edition

Last week's competition was a lot of fun.  You probably wouldn't know that from the pictures.  Here are some of my best game faces:

"Rx?  No big deal.  I can do this this with my eyes closed."

"Hmm... maybe doing doubles yesterday at my 1RM was dumb."

"You know, this looked a lot easier on paper."

"Seriously, would anyone notice if I just put this down and went home?"

 "Houston, we have a problem.  And is that guy checking out my butt?"

"Think long thoughts..."

"Kettlebell > .5(Gym Belle).  Crap."



Hitting Things is Fun

Last week, the new UFC gym down on John St. invited me to come try out a few classes.  That sounded badass, and I immediately said yes.  At their suggestion, I signed up for two back-to-back classes: an MMA conditioning class and an advanced MMA class.  

Over the next few days, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  The skeptic in me wondered if this "fighting" that I was all excited about would turn out to be just the latest gimmicky veneer on otherwise generic gym fare.  The weenie in me wondered if I was in over my head.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I was nervous and excited.  I arrived at the gym a little early, and got to observe some private sessions going on on the MMA mats and in the ring.  The gym has an open floor plan, so you can see everything that's happening, which is fun.  In addition to the mats and the boxing ring, they've got a classroom-sized setup of rows of heavy bags.  There's also small weight area and a few treadmills.

The MMA conditioning class was tought by Aires in the bag section of the gym.  He gave me some gloves and helped me wrap up my hands.  There were about 10 of us taking the class, and two other people were new.  The hour was fast-paced and totally engaging.  We punched and kicked the bag, and practiced sprawling and getting up MMA style - think burpees and situps, but like you would do them in a fight.  We did endless circle-crunches and chop-kicked the bags while lying on our backs.  (A word of caution - don't wear Lululemon pants/shorts with the zipper in the back to this class - it will dig into you!)

I realized three things duing class.  First, I really am in great shape.  While other people were slowing down, I just kept powering through.  I punched and kicked hard and fast - and I had already lifted that morning.  (So, thank you CrossFit.)  Second, I realized that I'm actually not totally clueless about this stuff.  In my mid-twenties I spent about a year and half taking every Powerstrike cardio kickboxing class I could.  I was a total Steve Feinberg junkie.  We'd punch and kick the air in choreographed combinations set to up-tempo Euro dance music.  I had forgotten how much Steve focused on form and technique  even though we were just going through the motions.  Nearly a decade later, I remembered what he'd thought me and had a great base to work from.  (So, thank you Steve.)  Third, I realized that hitting things is really, really fun.  Really.

When the conditioning class ended, my nerves kicked in again.  The advanced class was next, and that would involve actually hitting people.  I've punched a sum total of one person, once in my life twenty-something years ago in self defense.  I didn't know how I felt about hitting people.  And I didn't know how I felt about being hit.  Standing on the edge of the MMA mats, fighting suddenly seemed a little... violent.

Once the class got going, though, I got into it.  I had to be reminded to breath and to keep my chin down, but I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it.  And once I had thrown a few punches aimed at someone's face, I lost a lot of my initial hesitation.  It became 100% about the skill.

Throughout class, we rotated partners for a series of punching drills.  One of us would throw a jab or a cross, and the other would "catch" the punch, or block it or punch back. Until one woman arrived late, it was me in a sea of dudes.  Some of the guys clearly didn't like being paired with me (I got a lot of "I can't hit her; she's a girl"), but most were cool about it.  At the end, people with the right protective gear sparred while the rest of us kept going with the drills.

UFC's classes left me totally exhausted and exhilerated  If you're at all intrigued, I'd highly recommend checking this place out.  Both of the coaches I had were excellent.  They know their stuff and they're engaging and very welcoming and encouraging.  You will definitely get a good workout in.  And the first class is free!

-Gym Belle-


Fire, Ice and What I Wore

I did more in Iceland than just drop in at Crossfit Reykjavik (although that was pretty awesome).  I went whale watching...

... and saw two humpbacks (one above) and a minke (below).

I walked on a glacier.

And drank from it.

And drove on another.  (Ok, I didn't actually drive, but I rode shotgun!)

I chased waterfalls...

.... and rainbows....

... and ran behind them.

I hiked around crazy hot sulfur mud springs.

I walked along the edge of the American tectonic plate.

I hiked to and then bathed in a hot spring.

I zipped around a glacial lagoon in a zodiac boat.

And more.  It was an amazing, amazing trip.  And I pretty much spent the whole time in Lululemon's Studio Pant.  I brought the lined, unlined and the cropped versions with me in various colors (read: black and gray) and was always super comfy.  The Studio Pant is easy to layer - which is important when you're hiking around a volcano one minute and walking on a glacier an hour later.  And I didn't feel like a total schlub walking around the city between adventures.  Score!

In related gear news, I continue to adore my Inov-8 Terrafly 297's for hiking.  They're so light that packing them didn't weigh down my suitcase, and I could easily wear them all day long.  

The other star of my vacation wardrobe was a Cintamani fleece that I bought mid-trip.  I had brought an adorable pink Northface with me, but after a long day of hiking, it was done.  Fair enough. The Cintamani one (which I purchased in all black) has lycra mesh at the top, both in the front and back, and down the undersides of the arms, so it breathes really well.  It's also very thin, so it was easy to layer under my windbreaker or over an Under Armour base layer.  Cintamani is an Icelandic brand, but their online store ships all over.  

On that note, I need to stop dwelling on vacation and suit up for work!  More later.

-Gym Belle- 

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