Archive for January, 2012

Adding a few details from my last post, here are some suggestions for the gym.  By the way, most people save the hot shower/sauna/hot tub etc. for the end of their workout, but in the winter time I like to jump right into the hot tub first.  It’s a great warm up for my cold muscles in the morning.  Try it, it’s lovely!

I started with 12 minutes on the stair climber.  That’s how long I’m hoping it will take me to get to the top of the Columbia Tower during the Big Climb in March, so I’m practicing indoors.  I did 68 floors at an average of 90 steps per minute.  The actual climb is 69 floors and 1,311 steps.  I’ve got 2 months to work on getting faster.

After that, it was all abs and upper body.  As far as my ab workout, here are a few things to try:

Start with about 5 minutes of Around the Worlds.  Stand with your feet together and then try standing on one leg.  Alternate legs, this will help with balance and obliques.

Head over to the mats with a kettlebell for a series of sit-ups and crunches:  Take no breaks, do all 7 sets for a total of 125 reps, and consider the crunches to be your “rest time”.  (Start and end with crunches, mixing in the kettlebell sit ups.)

The main difference here is that w/a crunch, only your head and shoulders come off the ground.  If these are easy for you, go to the rack and add a 10 or 20 lb. plate behind your head.  (I’ll try to get pics of these).  With the kettlebell sit ups, you are coming all the way up, holding the kettlebell cradled in both hands in front of you, and lifting it high above your knees.  (Again, I know pictures would help.)  roll back down, one vertebrae at time, until you are all the way back on the floor and the kettlebell is just above your chest.  Here we go:

1. 20 reps: crunches (no weight)

2. 15 reps: kettlebell sit ups

3. 20 reps: crunches (no weight)

4. 15 reps: kettlebell sit ups

5. 20 reps: crunches (no weight)

6. 15 reps: kettlebells sit ups

7. 20 reps: crunches (no weight)

Then go back to your obliques with a few more kettlebell twists.  You can try these sitting and standing.  Hold the kettlebell at different levels on each set to work your entire torso.  Next, do some twists on the Captain’s Chair.

Finally, end your workout with a few sets of the low Figure 8’s with the side lunge.  You’ll need to be low and in a good side-lunge position to effectively work your abs.

By the way, if you don’t feel this in your abs the next day, then bump up your weight and reps.  You should roll out of bed the next morning and get a good reminder of this workout!

Tomorrow I’m off to burn a bunch of calories on the slopes at Crystal Mountain… then back to kettlebells on Sunday.


Abdominal workout at the gym

Posted: January 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

The lower abs tend to be a weak spot for many people… especially now, post-holiday.  I’ve got about another week of solid ab work, and then I figure I can get back to my usual routine (The Big Climb is exactly 2 months from today… so I need to get back to stair running) …but here’s what I’m up to in the gym:

Grab a couple of kettlebells off the rack, seek out the Captain’s Chair and an exercise mat, and get ready for a great abdominal workout.

The Captain’s Chair (which I have always mistakenly called the Roman Chair) is actually that bottomless chair with the padded arms rests.  The Roman Chair is great too… but that’s an entirely different piece of equipment in which you lay face down and bring your upper body back up into an arch.

Starting with kettlebells, I did a few Around The Worlds to get warmed up, and then some Standing Kettlebell Twists for my obliques.  When I’m feeling good and limber, I move over to the Captains Chair for a series of exercises.

The Captain's Chair






Standing on the Captain’s Chair, lift your upper body up a bit and press onto the back of the chair, legs hanging straight down.  Your weight should be on your forearms.  This is your starting position.

Then I do three versions of ab exercises:

1. Basic: lift knees up and back down

2. Twists:  lift and bring knees up and over to one side, then back down, and then up again over to the other side.

3. Leg Raise: lift knees straight up, and then straighten your legs out in front at a ninety degree angle.  Bring back in, and go back out again for as many reps as you can.

Unlike kettlebell swings, just make sure you’re not using momentum to raise your legs.  That’s cheating!

After the chair, I get out the exercise mat and a good-sized kettlebell and head over to do some kettlebell crunches and sit ups.  There are several versions… my suggestion is to add some variety and knock out as many as you can, alternating with and without the weight with no breaks.  (consider the sets without the weight to be your “break”).

I’m going back again tomorrow for another abdominal showdown… I’ll post more details of that workout tomorrow.


You already know how I feel about yoga and kettlebells.  Yin and Yang… perfectly matched, each one helps achieve a higher level of success at the other.  Today, I’d like to discuss a few things from my yoga practice.  At the start of every yoga class we’re always asked to set our intention. Our intention is something that will resonate through our practice.  It’s quite often something we want to work on… and then we are reminded to think of our intention throughout the class.

I always appreciate this part of class because it forces me to focus on something and be very present.

Today my intention was strength and compassion. I often feel like those are the yin and the yang of life.  I merge these two into a single phrase I can repeat: “Be strong, be compassionate, and be sure of yourself and your convictions.”  If there’s one thing that resonates true for me it is this and it goes for everything… in your business life, in your social life… and, yes, at the gym!  If there is room for doubt, explore it, and then decide.

I’ve complained in past posts about the “busy” excuse. People are too busy these days for their own damn good, and quite often to their detriment. If we don’t take the time to understand people and issues at a deeper level, not only are we doing ourselves a disservice, but we’re quite often cutting others off as well with our “too-busy” attitude.  But this soapbox I’m on goes for understanding oneself as well.

How can we remain strong in our convictions if we don’t truly take the time to understand ourselves?  Understanding yourself well enough to be strong in your convictions takes time, dedication and courage.   It’s worth it.  Once we have achieved a strong sense of self, then we are not shaken by others opinions.  We wake up, we look in the mirror and we know who we are.

My New Year’s resolution last year was to attempt a deeper level of compassion, and learn how to do a free-standing headstand for 1 minute.

With help and encouragement, I accomplished the headstand.  I’m thrilled and have made it part of my daily routine to stimulate my 7th chakra with a headstand.  I think it has helped inspire my thoughts and my writing.  Compassion is back on my list for 2012.

As the yoga class comes to a close our instructor says: “Let the fruits of our practice benefit not just ourselves, but benefit all of those around us.”  So here it is… be strong, be compassionate, and be sure of yourself and your convictions!   On the mat, we learn how to breathe through some difficult poses.   As we emerge from the studio, I believe we are better equipped to navigate difficult situations.  Breathe.  The fruits of your practice will follow you throughout your day.

Peace Out,