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5-50s – Day one/June 1.

So here is the workout for the June challenge. See below for modifications.

  1. 50 air squats. Just basic but fast squats
  2. 50 situps. Any kind that you can do well!
  3. 50 pushups. I’m going to do floor pushups but you could do countertop or dining table height pushups or wall pushups at the studio
  4. 50 dips or tricep dips. Hands on the edge of a chair (make sure the chair doesn’t slide away) or full on ring dips (I’m gonna do ring dips but with a band for full depth)
  5. 50 oblique scissor legs. Both arms to the side of one leg. Scissor legs – each leg up counts as 1/2. Do 25 on each side.

Go for time. These are not overly complicated exercises so you can get some speed on them if you wish. Post your time (with any modifications) to our FB page.
Should take maybe 15 minutes max. Easy schmeasy.

Ellen’s Fitness 50 Challenge for June

One of our clients – Ellen – has a daughter getting married at the end of June. Naturally she wants to look her best (many of you will remember my own fitness challenge before my wedding) and, since June is the perfect month for a little challenge, I’m using her event as a challenge for all of us.

5 exercises – – 50 reps each – – every day until June 23 (which, coincidentally, is also Gay Pride here in Seattle).

The fine print.

  1. If you commit, you have to commit to EVERY DAY for 22 days.
  2. 1- upper body exercise. 1 – lower body exercise. 1 – ab exercise. And 2 choices. My personal emphasis will be arms, abs and ass – AAA.
  3. The exercises must be done in one session. However, you can break the exercises up however you wish. For example, you could do 10 reps of each of the 5 exercises and go through that cycle 5 times.
  4. You can choose any exercise you want. I know, I know. Most of you want to be told what to do so I will post my suggestions daily on the Blog. You, of course, have veto power of any exercise based on fatigue, time and other factors.
  5. THIS IS IN ADDITION TO YOUR REGULAR WORKOUTS. I will not be doing this during classes at the studio.
  6. You can make it as easy or hard as you want. 50 jumping jacks, 50 situps, 50 squats, 50 countertop pushups, and 50 cross changes would work just fine for a lighter day.
  7. It shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes max and more likely close to 15 min.
  8. You could substitute a row, stairs, run, jump rope. I figure it needs to be 3 minutes of those type of activities.
  9. You will get the most benefit if you do all of one exercise before moving on to the next but this is not required.
  10. You could come early or stay late after class to do your 5 50s – time and space permitting.
  11. I’ll have a form for you here to track your workouts and your time. It is kind of fun to repeat a workout and see if you can improve your time.

It would be great to get 50 people to commit to the Ellen challenge. Are you up for it?

Rhubarb and Mother’s Day

Today, May 13, was Mother’s Day. But it was also the first harvest of my Rhubarb for the year. This is a happy coincidence for 2 reasons. One is that I was able to make my Rhubarb Muffins for our workout today (complete with Mother’s Day Music). But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Rhubarb reminds me of home in Minnesota and all of the Rhubarb dishes my Mom as well as my Aunts make. And so, in honor of my Mom, on to the Rhubarb.

For those of you who don’t know rhubarb, it grows very well here in Washington as well as Minnesota. It’s easy to grow, pretty to look at and has lots and lots of uses. I have 4 plants in my yard that look quite terrific mixed in with other perennials. Just cut or pull out the stalks and cook away.

The Rhubarb Muffin Recipe here is the one I used in my Cafe – 21 Union Cafe- but it originally came from my Aunt Darleen’s muffin booklet – Muffin Magic. Yes, REALLY. I add more Rhubarb than she did and use some cardamom as well. They are very moist so it may appear that they are not done. Since they are so moist, I err on the side of overdone. This makes around 18 muffins, I think. (I am always doubling or tripling the recipe for quantity).

  • 3 C. Flour (I use 1 C. whole wheat and 2 Unbleached white)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 C. packed brown sugar
  • 1 C. buttermilk
  • 2/3 C. vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla (don’t overdo the vanilla like we all normally do)
  • 3 C chopped rhubarb (maybe 1/4″ or less dice. I think they are better with not too fine a chop so you can get some of that rhubarb ‘bite’. I will even use 4 C. rhubarb although the original only calls for 2 C.
  • 1 C. chopped nuts
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 2 t. Cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 t. cardamom.
  • 1/2 C. finely chopped nuts.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Combine Flour, soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Make sure the brown sugar is not sitting in lumps at the bottom of the bowl. In a third bowl combine the last 4 ingredients together for the crumble topping and set aside. Combine, a bit at a time, the wet with dry flour mixture. Try not to over mix but do get it blended. Fold in the rhubarb and the nuts and scoop into muffin cups or greased muffin tins.Sprinkle the tops with the crumble and bake for 25-35 minutes. Take out when the toothpick comes out clean and relatively dry. Let cool.
There are many Rhubarb recipes but I’ll add one more and then link to a couple more of my friend Tom Conway of Vashon Island and his wonderful Tall Clover Farms.
Rhubarb Crisp of course is a staple in many Minnesota farmhouses but Rhubarb sauce is my dad’s favorite. We had it a lot for dessert, occasionally with ice cream. My Dad always would dump a bunch of heavy cream over it instead which we thought was gross because we thought the Rhubarb would curdle the milk. And he loved teasing us and urging us to try it. We never did.
But Rhubarb Fool is a layering of rhubarb sauce and whipped cream in a dessert dish. Amazing and pretty to boot. The sour/sweet of the rhubarb and then the creamy smoothness of the whipping cream make it a real treat. I occasionally add some frozen blueberries to my rhubarb sauce which turns it from pretty pink to magnificent magenta. Tastes great and easy to make. And talk about beautiful presentation. (I know. So gay. Lol)

  • 2 1/4 lbs rhubarb – ends cut off and cut into 4-6″ lengths
  • 1/3 C. orange juice
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 C frozen blueberries (entirely optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 C cold heavy cream
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T vanilla (or less)

Dump the trimmed rhubarb in a bowl of cold water to leach out a bit of the acid and remove any grit. Drain and chop into 3/4″ slices (cut the stalks in half if they are enormous)Combine orange juice, only 3/4 of the cup of sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan (large enough that will hold the rhubarb) and bring to a boil. Add the rhubarb and bring back to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.Stir only occasionally (otherwise the rhubarb looses all shape completely) just until the rhubarb starts to break down and is tender – 7-10 minutes.Transfer to a glass bowl to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until cold (at least an hour)
One half hour or so before whipping the cream, put the bowl and the beaters in the refrigerator to chill. Beat the cream and the remaining 1/4 C. sugar and vanilla in a mixer starting on low speed and gradually increasing speed until you have whipped cream in soft peaks.
To serve, layer rhubarb, whipped cream, rhubarb, whipped cream, etc. depending on the height of your dessert dish but ending with whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Tom Conway has a terrific and entertaining blog about his farm – Tall Clover Farm. There are tons of recipes and gardening information and some of the most beautiful food and garden photography I have seen. (It is his photo that I stole at the top of my post.) Here are links to a couple of his Rhubarb recipes:

If you had been doing Pilates . . .

I assume that by now everyone has heard of Pilates and even tried some version of it – especially the mat work. The core work, the flexibility and the larger range of motion make it a natural supplement to many other forms of fitness and sports.
Apparently not. Today at Crossfit, we were warming up with some simple hamstring stretches – the kind of thing that we do regularly in Pilates. (The single straight leg pull/stretch, for example, combines hamstring stretching along with abdominal strengthening). One of the Crossfit clients remarked “If I had only know about this (these stretches) 10 years ago. . .”
My thought bubble – which fortunately never made it out of my mouth – was, “If you had been doing Pilates for the last 5 years, these stretches wouldn’t seem so painful or surprisingly new!” Pilates, especially among men, has had the reputation of not being hard enough. Too much breathing, too much slow movement and too much stretching. That may be partially true. But in too many cases, it is not strength that is holding a client back but flexibility and functional flexibility at that (the ability to actually go to that larger range of motion with support and control).
Pilates would be such a great help to so many athletes. The awareness, the core and the stretching are critical to ongoing athletic endeavors for aging athletes. I wish I could help athletes outside our studio see that. At Mind and Body Pilates, we may say ‘because strong doesn’t just happen’ but that strength is tested and challenged in ranges outside of normal activity so that you have control of your body in all you do.
Pilates will help you play your sport better, do Crossfit faster, help you eliminate or minimize your injuries. But you have to get yourself to a class. Then we’ll show you how we can ‘Kick your abs’

Fitness over 50.

I am 51. I am in better shape today than I was in my 20s and even 30s. I want to continue to get stronger and more fit as I age as much as possible. I have concluded however, that there are a few principles that I need to adhere to in order to keep moving forward. Most people start giving up at this point in their lives and conclude that they can’t do more and so they do less and less. I reject that concept and believe that it is a matter of working out smarter without giving in to popular wisdom. So here are some of my guiding principles at this point.

  1. Above all, do not get injured. Getting injured means you have to back off, take some time off and, since recovery is longer, you find yourself farther and farther behind the starting line:
    1. I’m judicious on how heavy the weights are.
    2. I try to be very, very mindful when I am working out – checking in with how my body feels.
    3. If I feel anything odd or ‘tweaky’, I immediately evaluate and try to change modify the exercise until if feels painless.
    4. If I, by chance, end up tweaking my body, I stop, take immediate action to keep any injury from expanding.
  2. If I get injured, I do NOT stop everything. I have a pain-free policy. I do not allow my injured area to be painful. However, I keep working out other areas as much as possible. And I back off on my affected area as much as I need but still try to do something.
  3. There are always going to be at least a half dozen ‘hot’ spots that I am going to be monitoring over the course of a day or a few days. If it starts getting worse, I really need to take action of some kind. Yesterday it was my thumbs but they feel fine today. Today my right knee (from a junior high wrestling injury) is a little odd but maybe it will feel fine tomorrow.
  4. When one of my hot spots flares up, I usually stretch first. Sometimes some of my affected areas feel like ‘arthritis’ type pain. But if I stretch, they always feel so much better. And I usually find that the muscles around that area are tighter than I thought. I explore the stretches in all directions to see which feels more effective.
  5. Stretch. My body is not as elastic as it was so stretching is more important. I will stretch my hands and forearms in the car. I’ll stretch my calves for a moment or 2 going up stairs. I move around in my desk chair and stretch my back and arms. Stretching is as important as strength.
  6. Recovery is, naturally, slower. I work out 7 days a week and would like to get more than one workout a day in if possible. While everyone may not want to workout that much, I listen to my body. If it is too sore or, more likely, too tired I just have to accept that and not worry about losing ground.
  7. I try to push how heavy I lift but I am now trying to lift based on 6-8 reps in a set rather than the heavier weights at 2-6 reps/set. It feels safer and better to me,
  8. Drink water, drink water, drink water. The process of aging is, sorry to say, the process of ‘drying up’. Cells lose their ability to retain water but we don’t have to help that process along. Even if you have to force yourself to drink water.
  9. Food, stress, energy depletion, and any kind of debauchery are going to have greater consequences than they did earlier in our lives. Most of us recognize that and give up the late, late nights but all of the things that keep us functioning optimally, while they may be fun, have a great price.

I know it’s a lot to think about but really, it’s just about being smart and aware and listening to your body. Today (Saturday), I am a little too sore from a workout I did on Thursday (which is a little unusual) but I’ll be out in the garden today, so I’ll keep moving and then tomorrow, on Sunday, I ‘ll get a Pilates circuit workout in and also hopefully, swimming in the evening.