December Travel Workouts

This weekend was rough. I don’t know about you people, but there was a lot of football disappointment this weekend in my house. Between the Badgers losing to Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship – for those curious, Clay and I are still speaking, even though he cheers for the Buckeyes – and Clay’s Cleveland Browns losing another heartbreaker (and Ohio State not making it into the College Football Playoff), there’s been a lot of frustrated sighing.

This time of year may be the most wonderful, but it’s also the most stressful when it comes to sports. Uff da.

I guess it’s also stressful because somehow my schedule for the next two weeks is non-stop. Between work travel and personal travel, I’m going to be spending just as many days away from home as I will be at home. Consequently, I know I’m going to be tired and it’s going to be difficult to get to my gym. Or any gym. That is, unless I make it happen. Typically, when I travel, I try to figure out ahead of time if there will be a gym of some kind available to me where I’m staying. My first trip this week will be to Las Vegas and I’m certain there will be a hotel gym – but there’s no guarantee I’ll have a variety of equipment to use.

In situations like this, I try to put together workouts that are simple body-weight movements that can be adapted to use weights or other equipment if available, but can easily be completed with nothing extra.

Thursday evening, after my meeting, I’ll probably try to find a half an hour to get this little burner in:

In 20 Minutes, do as many reps as possible of:

5 Pull Ups

10 Push Ups

15 Air Squats

If there isn’t a pull-up bar available, I’ll probably change this to 5 sit ups, 10 push ups, 15 air squats.It’s a pretty straightforward workout, no special or high skill movements… just straight conditioning and going balls out for 20 minutes. Similarly, this weekend, we’ll be in Cleveland to watch football (Go Pack Go!), and will have to see what the hotel gym has to offer and see if I can hit this one:

As many reps as possible in 15 Minutes:

50 DB Snatches (50/35)

40 Burpees

30 Pull Ups

20 Hand Release Push Ups

10 Jumping Air Squats

The following weekend, we’ll be in Florida visiting family. One of the cool things about CrossFit is that we can drop in at pretty much any gym anywhere. That’s our plan while we’re in Orlando… drop in to a couple gyms in the area, join in a WOD and call it a day. The CrossFit community is really awesome like that – and certainly makes some travel easier if you’re trying to get workouts in. For some folks, vacation means no workouts – and sometimes that’s me, too. When I’m on vacation, I try to listen to my body and do what feels right… workouts or not.

While this month may be starting out a little crazy, I am looking forward to some travel, getting to see my favorite football team play, and enjoying some warmer weather… and finding the gym when things allow. December might be stressful, but I’m not stressing about working out – I’ll do what I can, when I can, and the rest is whatever.

Do you workout when you travel? What are some of your preferred methods of breaking a sweat while on the road?

Finally. CrossFit.

I’ve been reading fitness blogs for the past five years or so. Running, mostly, obviously. But, way back in 2012, I also stumbled across a few blogs that kept talking about CrossFit: sharing workouts, talking about weightlifting, looking totally jacked and badass and strong. As an athlete, I was immediately intrigued by these workouts. They incorporated so many movements and skills that it seemed impossible to get bored.

I immediately started looking for CrossFit gyms near me – unfortunately, I wasn’t in a position to pay for a membership. So, I put it off. I continued lifting weights and running and following CrossFit from afar. Trying some of the workouts here and there, but that was about it.

This continued until, finally, this past July, I bit the bullet. Clay was on board, too. I’d suckered him in to watching a couple documentaries about it (on Netflix, The Fittest on Earth), and a whole bunch of YouTube videos of past Games’ events and competitions and he was sold.

We’ve been going consistently since July – and consequently my entire fitness mindset has changed. I wrote a little bit about it in my last post, specifically as it related to my diet. I feel like I’ve been able to stop worrying so damn much about what my body looks like (it’s so hard to escape that mindset) and just focus on working hard in class and fueling my body appropriately.

CrossFit catches a lot of flack for being a fad or being too dangerous – none of which I think is true. CrossFit is simply defined as “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” Functional movements performed at high intensity, from varying fitness modalities, such as running, olympic lifting, gymnastics, rowing, biking and more. Pretty straightforward. What I like best about it, is that any CrossFit workout can be scaled to fit an athlete’s skill level – literally anyone can do CrossFit. Whether you’re a collegiate athlete in peak shape, or you’re a 70 year old who just wants to be able to bend down to pick something up off the floor, CrossFit could be for you.

I love being challenged every day when I go to the gym. Granted, I sometimes read the workout and crap my pants for half a second thinking about how smoked I’m going to be afterward. But. I still enjoy the feeling of being humbled by something as simple as box jumps. Or rope climbs. Or, as we did on Saturday, a 5K row paired with a gnarly barbell complex.

I’ve learned a ton of new skills since starting CrossFit – and improved many others. I’ve surprised myself. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve been nervous. I’ve overcome fears.

All in the confines of a gym, surrounded by other sweaty people going through the same progressions I am.

I still have so much to learn, so many skills to develop and improve – but I’m so glad I’ve finally made myself CrossFit legit. There is just so much opportunity for growth and I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

 

Review: Gainz Box

I don’t know about you, but I love subscription boxes. There’s just something fun about a box showing up on my doorstep with cool, curated stuff just for me. I’ve previously done Stride Box, I’m a frequent Stitch Fix-er, we currently subscribe to o the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Loot Crate, and I recently signed up to try gainz box.Gainz Box delivers a number of specially curated CrossFit and weightlifting products to your door – now, disclaimer, I don’t do CrossFit. I enjoy following CrossFit athletes and many of my workouts use elements, but I’ve never been to a box nor have I ever done a class. That said, I still felt like gainz box has products that were for me! I was thrilled to receive mine this week and was excited to see how the products could work in my gym life.

Each box could contain the following elements: apparel, supplements, equipment, snacks, collectibles, and since the boxes are curated by different experts each month, you also get a bit of their knowledge.

The February box was put together by Julian Alcaraz and Miranda Oldroyd – both well-known and seasoned CrossFit Games athletes. The products included are some of their favorites and the included write up gives you details about what’s included, as well as some discount codes if you want to buy more!

The first thing I pulled out of the box was WOD Welder hand cream. This moisturizer is supposed to increase the elasticity of your skin and help repair your callouses, ultimately protecting them from nasty rips and tears. I have some gnarly callouses from all of the barbell work I do, and I can tell you I need all the help I can get. Plus, it smells good and isn’t too heavy or greasy. That’s a win!

You guys. I love tea. A lot. I drink tea every day – usually hot, because it’s the easiest to make at work. But yeah, tea is great. I was super excited to see this in this box and I was even more excited to see that it was just that: tea – nothing extra added, tea and water. Paleo, no added sugar. I had this at work yesterday, and omg. It was awesome. I need to get my hands on more of these, because it’s starting to get warm in Virginia and iced tea is my jam. Gimme.

Also included? A shaker bottle. I probably have… six… seven shaker bottles? Clay and I use these daily, whether it’s for preworkout or protein shakes. One can never have too many. I threw this one in my gym bag, where it will probably live permanently, or get migrated to my office, so I have one there. 

Getting new workout clothes is maybe one of my favorite things ever – and this box had not only this v-neck tee from Wod Gear, it also included a pair of socks. I haven’t tried those yet (I’m picky about my socks), but I wore this shirt to the gym yesterday and it was great. Typically, I don’t wear sleeved shirts when I work out, but this one’s sleeves are short enough that I didn’t get too hot. It’s a nice add to my collection. All in all, I was really pleased with what I got this month. This box is a little pricey – for the month to month subscription it’s $32, but the value is great. You’re getting approximately $75 worth of gear for about half the cost. And with the coupon codes included as well? Yeah. I approve.

I’m going to keep my subscription for another month or two for sure – I’d like to see what other boxes look like and I definitely don’t mind getting some new swag in the process. I’ll say it again, you don’t have to be a crossfitter to subscribe to gainz box – honestly, I found everything in this box useful to me as someone who weight trains regularly. If you do, too, check it out! You’ll get some great products, and maybe you’ll be exposed to something you haven’t tried before.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

With the beginning of the new year, I’ve got yet another new fitness regimen. We’ve worked up some new strength programming and have put a new focus on some HIIT-inspired movements.

Sweating for the wedding is real right now.

In an effort to stay inspired in the gym and feel good about the work we’re putting in, in conjunction with Clay’s new role at work being very focused on helping lead PT for his unit, our workouts have started to look very different.

It’s awesome.

What’s even more awesome though, is that Christmas meant new fitness accessories – and consequently better workouts. Its always interesting to me how having the right equipment can make such a big difference in how efficient your movements and lifts are. I feel so much better in the gym now that I’ve solved a couple of workout woes.

So what am I loving right now?

Nike Metcon 2

These shooooesssss you guys. If you’re doing weightlifting and cross-training workouts, these shoes are going to be your jam. I’ve read about them for a long time (I read a lot of fitness blogs, okay) and many athletes have shared how much they love this shoe. It’s an ideal cross-trainer, because while it’s the tiniest bit weighted and flat-soled for lifting stability, it also have a flexible forefoot, which means running and agility drills are comfortable. (I was going to say no sweat, but that is not the case at all. There is a lot of sweat.)

I’ve been using these bad boys for a couple of weeks and I’ve already noticed a significant difference. Squats, thrusters, push presses, and deadlifts all feel better – the flat sole of shoe connects me with the ground, and the solid heel helps keep my form correct. Workouts have gotten harder, but my feet are happier.

Nordic Lifting Wrist Wraps 

Originally, I bought wrist wraps and straps for Clay for Christmas. He was about them and has used them pretty much every day he could since then. Of course, his raving made me want to try them… and I borrowed his wrist wraps on days when we were bench pressing and immediately I noticed the difference. I’d never really thought I needed or wanted more wrist support, but the added stability has really helped me to continue to move heavier weight at higher reps. My wrists feel safer all around.

Qalo Ring

I’ve written about my Qalo rings before, but I can’t stress enough how much I love them. Qalo offers silicone rings to wear in place of your wedding or engagement rings while you workout, work or play outside. Throwing around weights and barbells can do gnarly damage to your jewelry AND your fingers if something gets caught wrong. Not to mention all that sweat. No good can come from that. I have a couple of these rings and I wear them a lot – always when I’m at the gym, sometimes when I go to Kazaxe and on days when I’m doing a lot of cleaning or hiking or playing outside. They have a ton of fun colors and styles, and even some rings whose proceeds go to charitable organizations.

It’s important to remember, thought, that at the end of the day, fitness equipment is just that – equipment. It doesn’t work unless you do. It’s not meant to turn you into a super athlete, its meant to help you be more efficient, more effective and safer in your workouts so that you can get the most out of them. So, lace up, strap in and get going!

 

Mixing It Up

Ahhh… Summer. It’s been a bit of an exciting one so far. As Meridith mentioned last week, I got engaged a couple of weeks ago and have been kind of basking in that glow for a bit. Being the planner that I am, I have to fight my urge to jump in and start planning all the things right away, and remember to just enjoy being engaged. Which I’m not so good at, because I love list making and researching and all of that nonsense. Clay has had to reign me in a couple of times. Oops.

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Love this boy – so excited for what we have coming up!

But, there are definitely other things I need to focus on in the mean time, like making sure my bod is hotttt for my wedding day – it’s never too early to start that work. To do that, I’ve been trying to ramp it up and keep things fun and spicy in the gym.

I’ve been working on programming a healthy mix of HIIT, strength, and cardio into my training. This keeps me engaged and allows me to work on certain skills and endurance at the same time. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get bored when my workouts are the same every other day. I need variety. And so, this is what happens:

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That middle workout? Smoked me the first time I did it. Heavy sled pushes into burpee box jumps are no joke. Leg days have left me jello-legged and sore. My favorite kind.

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Cardio has been alternating between spin, running, and Kazaxe. I used to spin all the time, but back in December I changed gyms, which meant leaving my favorite spin instructors. Womp womp. It’s been hard to get back at it and find new classes that I like as much. But, I’m giving the new place the benefit of the doubt and trying out a few instructors – hopefully I’ll find some that I like!

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Don’t want to wear your fancy jewelry at the gym? Get a Qalo ring!

I’ve been trying to find the motivation to run outside, but the forecast for this week has the highs in the 90s and humidity at swamp-like levels… running mostly sounds terrible. I’m not training for a race right now, so convincing myself to get out there is tough. But, I am in the gym every day, and I don’t feel bad about that.

Cheers to summer and sunshine and sweaty workouts and exciting life events. I’ve got a lot of reasons to smile!

Finding Motivation in Unexpected PRs

I’d be lying if I said that the last couple of weeks in the gym have been stellar. In fact, the last couple of weeks have been anything but stellar, from both a gym and nutrition perspective. Have I been working out? Yes. Have I been eating healthy? For the most part. Have I also been totally exhausted and consequently lacking motivation? Oh yes.

It’s been really difficult to push myself on days that I have to work out by myself and even more difficult to convince myself to go run or do any kind of heavy cardio workout. I couldn’t even.

So, it was a really pleasant surprise that after my weekend away (hiking and camping and watching baseball), getting back in the gym this week felt good. It probably helped a lot that we mixed up our workout routine again – instead of lifting heavy, we’ve transitioned into more HIIT-inspired workouts with elements of CrossFit (kind of). The boyfriend is currently training for his next Physical Fitness Test, so we’ve put more emphasis on those elements: running, pull-ups, crunches, and supplemented with other conditioning and weight training.

These workouts remind me a lot of what I used to do in high school and college basketball practices. Lots of conditioning and strength training that kicks my butt and simultaneously humbles me and reminds me how strong I am. That’s an awesome feeling.

Never was this more evident than earlier this week: I hit a massive PR on my bench press and then cranked out more pull-ups than I ever have.

image1It was really the pull-ups that got me though, because we did them at the very end of our workout and I was totally gassed. We pyramid them, starting at 6 and going down to 1, before working our way back up to 6. That ends up being 41 pull-ups.

As a kid, I used to do gymnastics and could do pull-ups and chin-ups no problem. I would actually do them all the time in my backyard. But, add about 20 years and 100 pounds and pull-ups got really, really difficult. Last summer, I could barely do one. But, this winter and spring I worked hard on the skill and now I can string them together much better. So, it was a huge win for me the other day when I did our 6-5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5-6 pyramid without failure.

They might not be the prettiest, but I’m proud of them and the hard work that I’ve put in to be able to even do this many. Seeing how far I’ve come in less than a year gives me the motivation I’ve been lacking to keep pushing myself, to keep programming workouts that challenge me and force me to work on my weak skills. To turn those weaknesses into strengths.

Moral of this story: sometimes we have down weeks. Sometimes we struggle to find our stride, literally and figuratively. Sometimes, we just want to eat ice cream and cake and sit on the couch and watch the NBA playoffs. But, sometimes, looking back at where you were and the progress you’ve made can be just the kick in the pants that you need to get your head and your heart back in it. Our bodies are capable of really amazing things – I’m excited to see what the next amazing thing is.

 

Road Tested: FrogFuel

Chicks Cam and Mer are always down for trying new things so when Mike from PartnersHub sent out the signal to try FrogFuel, we said, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send FrogFuel on over!”

frogfuelAnd they did! Cam and Mer each received three FrogFuel protein shots and a FrogFuel sticker. FrogFuel was created by Navy SEALS, Alex and Jeff.

Now, let’s be perfectly clear, the Chicks are nowhere close to being Navy SEALS. However, FrogFuel is now being geared for the “everyday athlete” and we do fit into that category.

frogfuel1FrogFuel currently has its patent pending. It boasts 15 grams of liquid protein with no banned substances, sugar, fat, carbs, gluten, or lactose.  So what’s in those little packets? Amino acids, including Taurine, which is said to help muscles rebuild faster so that you have quicker recovery.

Let’s see what Mer and Cam experienced with FrogFuel!

Mer:

Tuesday and Thursday mornings I’m up by 5am and out the door soon after. When I started working with my trainer last year, I needed to eat something prior to going there or risk fainting from hunger about halfway though my two hour session. Usually it was a banana or apple sauce.

However, my body has since adjusted to the more demanding workout and lately I’ve been lax about fueling prior to working out. I know, not the best plan of attack. And since I need to basically shut my mind off and get my workout done once I’m at the gym, thinking about fuel while I’m there isn’t really an option. Therefore, FrogFuel works well in regards to both time and what it can do for my body.

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I took my “shot” at 5:16. The taste reminded me a bit of medicine (which might be why I have an aversion to berry flavored supplements and gels) but nothing that I couldn’t handle.

Headed to the gym and did my warm up on the elliptical and stretching. After my trainer arrived it was continuous “fun” for the next hour and fifteen minutes.

Five sets of twenty tire jumps (which I just recently conquered, thank you very much), twenty pushups and parking lot sprints. 80 crunches, 70 legs raises, lat pulldowns, squats, rows,  deadlifts, lunges, burpees, non-stop action.

I felt good throughout! Recently I’ve been pushing myself with the amount of weight I use. For my lat pulldowns I’m easily able to do a set of 20 at 55 pounds; if I want to push it, I go up to 65-70 pounds. This time I was able to do all three sets at 65 pounds. I’m not sure if that’s a testament to the FrogFuel, my strength improving, or at little bit of both. Let’s go with both! I repeatedly reminded myself that I was using a supplement created by Navy SEALS. They are superhumans! Therefore, so am I.

I finished up at 7:21, as seen by my lovely car clock. (TAPE? I’m not sure why it says that. Does anyone still have tapes? Apparently my car has a player if you want to sent me a mix tape.) Took another FrogFuel once I got home and before I got in to my much needed shower. FrogFuel can be taken before, during and after a workout and be beneficial. I’m a fan of benefits!

Cam:

I’m not good with routine. It’s kind of my nemesis. I try to stick to a good fitness regime but I tend to slack off right when I get a good stride. And summer is the best excuse to slack. Let it be known that I have not adequately stressed my muscles in three weeks. Unless walking from my beach towel to the shoreline counts. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.

This week, however, I’m back in the swing. I FrogFueled on Tuesday before my Boxing/Boot Camp doubleheader. My classes are in the evening, so I had all day to prepare my body with good nutrition. I started off the day with juiced veggies and oatmeal. And it was all downhill from there. Movie theater popcorn and Sour Patch Kids for lunch was a bad decision. I knew this workout was going to be a beast. Luckily, I had a nifty little secret weapon in my purse!

FrogFuel literally saved my ass. I took the supplement about 15 minutes before beginning the first of two very strenuous workouts. It’s not tasty, but I’ve yet to find a supplement that satisfies my palate. I did like the consistency, though. Much lighter and easy to swallow. And I definitely felt energized, despite the poor food choices. After sixty minutes of jump rope/sprint/crunches circuits, shadow boxing and sparring, and three, 3 minute rounds on the bag, I was dripping with sweat and ready for the next class.

Boot Camp started out heavy. 10, one minute exercises, followed by one quarter-mile lap. Times three. By the second round of Super Burpees, I was definitely burping up my FrogFuel. I finished the session, but with great difficulty.

Given my poor food choices and lack of practice, I think FrogFuel came through in a pinch. I want to try it again, when I’m back in my stride. I liked how easy it was to drink due to its thin consistency and I found it comparable to other supplements I’ve taken in the past. Given the TWO Ragnars I have coming up, I may be switching out past favorites for the FrogFuel. Like I said, routine is my nemesis! I’m always in the mood for something new.

What do you use to fuel before a grueling workout? Have you tried FrogFuel before? Talk to us in the comments!

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Disclosure: We were given FrogFuel samples to try. All opinions are our own and we were not compensated for this post.