Spiders and Balls – What do they have in common?

Hey everybody, it’s April. Today I experienced two amazing ways to get your heart rate going. The most recent was just now. Deep in thought of how to start this blog, I reached for my 1/2 bag of peanuts to snack on and pondered how I should start. As I reached across my desk, past my ignored Algebra book and directly onward to the land of salty-calorie dense goodness that my body so badly needs after today, I felt a little tickle. Responding quickly to the tickle, my hand twisted around to reveal A SPIDER frantically trying to make a landing on my math book. That spider dropped as quick from my hand as the amount of faith I had in the citizens of California when we chose to elect an action hero for a governor, deny gay people their rights to love, and allow fracking for natural gas in a state with extreme earthquake potential!

Anyway, after I kindly brought the spider to a place where it could be happy and free, I took my pulse after this occurance and it was definitely way above my target heart zone… so that’s cool… I guess.

And it gave me a great way to open up this blog post to talk about my SECOND way of getting my heart going!

Today, dear readers, I want to talk about BALLS.

No, not the kind of balls that never get cleaned in a child’s ball-pit, you dirty, dirty mind!

I want to talk about exercise balls. Stability balls. Balance balls. Fitness balls. Torture balls. Whatever you want to call them. Here’s an example: Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit (65cm)

For Wednesday in Pilates our teacher had us using balls in a way I never had before. I’ve done crunches, push-ups, and horrible leg lifts with the ball between my legs going up and down.. up and down… up and down… but never like this!

This exercise is AMAZING for your abs and back muscles!

We started the class out bouncing our ways to fitness doing what seemed like easy and basic moves at first… until you did a few of them and realized that lifting both your arms up as you used to legs to balance yourself was much harder than it seemed. I also realized that I definitely need to make sure that I *always* wear a sports bra to class because it figures the ONE time I didn’t, those balls had me bouncing more than my checks did when I was living on my own for the first time.

Jumping jacks on balls!

The pace was as fast as we wanted it to be as we did a variety of lifts with our arms and legs while still bouncing up and down on the ball. If you guys have a ball at home, I highly recommend just sitting on it, bouncing around while lifting up your arms or legs at the same time for fifteen minutes. It’s quite the work-out!!!! We even were doing jumping jacks on the balls! Check out the picture for an example of the way your body should be but imagine that image while bouncing your butt up and down on the ball at the same time. It took me a few tries to be coordinated enough to manage it but once I got it, it was actually fun!

After our time bouncing on balls was over, we went back to our usual spot on our mats, panting and dreading what came next. I glanced over at my classmate, Daniella, and we gave each other fearful looks but then were followed by big smiles because we KNEW we would get through this.

Our teacher had us do moves one would expect with a ball, like I had mentioned before with sit-ups and push-ups. One of the moves that I found challenging but amazing was a “hip lift” where you lay on your back with the ball at the base of your feet. You pull the ball towards you while inhaling, and then push the ball back out with your feet but also use the ball to help LIFT your hips and butt off the ground. Repeat 1o times. Then switch. (lift as you pull the ball forward, lay flat as you push the ball out). Repeat 10 times. Then pant on the floor like a dog who just got home from the dog park.

Pilates hip lift

After Pilates was over, even though my next teacher SAW me doing those jumping jacks on the ball AND gave me a thumbs up, it was time for yoga. My yoga teacher announced to the class that we would be doing yoga with the ball and immediately, the few of us who do both classes let out a loud groan that echoed through the gym. I swear my Pilates teacher and yoga teacher arrange things like this.. haha.

I survived through yoga and made it home without passing out from exhaustion.

And one of the best parts of today is that I weighed in after the classes for my weekly WEIGH-IN WEDNESDAY and lost 3.8 pounds since last week’s weigh in. YES! Now, I did have some factors contributing to that as my “moon” was last week and this week I’ve just been ROCKING my fabulous habits for eating and working out.

I’m incredibly hopeful that I’ll be able to win the dietbet that ends this weekend. I’m also feeling quite happy that I’ll be starting off my 30’s (my birthday is in a month!!!) as a much healthier, flexible, and happier person. I hope you guys like my Pilates posts and let me know if you are interested in learning more poses! I was always pretty afraid of Pilates for some reason but now that it’s been almost three months of it, I believe this will be a type of exercise I never stop doing.

But tell me, do you have any experience with exercise balls? What are your favorite moves?

I hope everyone has a lovely “Pi” day!







Musical Medley

Tonight I took a Boot Camp Class. We sweated it out military style with agonizing sets of things like bicep curls, squats, lungues, and knee raises. The music throughout the class was pretty consistently pop-workout stuff, like remixes of Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” and Brianna Feat. Flo Rida’s “Boom Shacka Lacka”. (I admit it – hip hop is growing on me as a result of all these group fitness classes I’m taking. I guess I’m a natural born rump shaka!)

No big surprises there, right? We’re all used to that type of music in a fitness environment. The surprise comes at the end. I’ve taken two other classes with this teacher, and while her in-class music is spot on, the cool-down music is… creative. Like “Paint with the colors of the wind” creative. I’m not kidding. We had just finished 50-minutes of pure, heart-pounding cardio, huffing and puffing and dripping sweat like savage women warrior beasts. And then… freakin’ Pocahontas.

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?┬áNot in a freakin’ body blast class, I haven’t. The first two times that this happened, I thought that the teacher was just in an Uber Disney mood or had forgotten her CDs at home, but tonight, as we cooled down from an exhilirating workout filled with musical medleys of popular hip hop and top 40s, she busted out the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. This song, in particular.

Now I’m sorry – but when my endorphins are swirling around like magic mushroom hallucinations, I don’t want to hear downer breakup music. Especially PIANO SONGS that make me want to relive my first break-up and scarf a pint of Chunky Monkey. When that song ended and “A Whole New World” from Aladdin came on, I took a ride on my own magic carpet (ie my crazy brain) into a whole new world of immature 14-year-old me, delighted at the ridiculousness of the situation. I started giggling, and soon, I had a full-fledged laugh attack, thinking of my sister and her propensity for bad, cheesy music. In high school on our way home from school, she used to drive around and around in the cul-de-sac with me in the car, playing horrible Toni Braxton or Gloria Estefan songs over and over, singing so loudly that I would beg her to let me out. The tiny white Toyota Tercel would turn into a little spinning dreidel of awful music, her roaring with laughter, me roaring in agony at the pollution in my ears. Ah, memories.

I eventually had to feign coughing to get out of the class without distracting the teacher, where I went into the locker room, still snickering, my face red from a lethal mix of heart-rate targeting and laughter. I like this teacher and her class, but I might have to do a cool-down on my own, because working out with Pumba, Jasmine and Pocahontas just isn’t really my style.

When it comes to music for exercise- can music make it or break it for you, too?