Quarterly Recap – Part 2

Hi Friends!

Sorry to leave you at a cliff hanger with the last post, I promise I’ll pick up right where I left off!

So after RPM, I had about an hour and 15 minutes of a break before Attack was due to start. I wandered down to the food court with my friend Maggie and got some veggie pasta salad and a chicken wrap to eat, realizing that I hadn’t eaten a darn thing all morning after 3 hours of crazy intense exercise.

As soon as I started eating, it was like my body started responding instantly. Everything perked up, the lactic acid in my legs started to subside, my upper body felt looser, everything just felt freakin’ phenomenal. I was reminded yet again how powerful of a tool proper nutrition is for endurance sports.

It’s really very simple. I eat well, I perform well. I don’t eat well, I don’t perform well. There is no gray area. So why can’t I get it into my thick head to put down the damn chocolate cookies and pick up the protein bars?? Seriously?? What the heck is the matter with me??

Anyways, as we went back up to the gym, I felt like a freakin’ powerhouse. I was ready to absolutely CRUSH Attack, and lucky for me, it was starting just after a quick education session for BodyPump.

I spent most of the education session drooling over the International Trainer from the USA Justin Sanchez. He’s dreamy.

Attack got under way, and I was reminded (for the 1000th time at least) how much I just adore this program. I’ve been to a lot of these workshops in the 6 years that I’ve taught for Les Mills, and it never ever fails. BodyAttack always brings the house down. There’s this raw, animalistic, totally insane energy that just takes over the master class when the Attackers hit the floor. I swear it’s like a drug, it just takes over. I can always tell that something really special is happening because when you look to the back of the room, there is always a huge crowd of people just watching the class. Members, National Trainers, other instructors, you name it.

But I may be a little biased.

Anyways, this release didn’t disappoint. I thought they did a really great job of dialing back the lead-up tracks, and then just smashing it for the big plyometric peak tracks. In one of the tracks there were 7 tuck-jumps in a row. Holy catfish.

Check out the pictures that my friend Kelly managed to get of Kathy on-stage!! She was INCREDIBLE and looked like one of the presenters herself up there!! Way to go girl!!

Towards the middle of Attack, I started getting acutely aware that as I was asking my body for more and more, it was responding so well. I’m not sure if it was the food or what, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so strong in a class. I finished after 60 minutes and about 1 million tuck jumps absolutely exhausted, but feeling like a million bucks.

I felt like an athlete.

Once Attack was done, and I had showered/changed clothes for the 4th time that day, it was time for Sh’bam and BodyJam, Les Mills’ two dance fitness programs that for today they were combining 30 minutes and 30 minutes to make “Sh’Jam”.

Hehehe. I thought that was funny.

So here’s the basic difference (as I see it) between Sh’bam and BodyJam. Sh’bam is a dance class for non-dancers. Choreography is simple, easy to follow and more repetitive so that newbies or people that were born with two left feet (like me) can follow along and feel successful. “Come as you are, leave as a star” is the catch phrase.

BodyJam is a bit different. Jam is a dance class for people that can at least kind of dance. The choreography is a little more complex and there are more advanced moves that losers non-dancers like me would struggle with a bit more. I know that Jam has fairly recently come out with a “simple” version and an “advanced” version in an effort to reach the non-dancers as well. The two programs DO NOT compete with each other. That’s not the intent at all. They are really meant to be for different target markets and both classes are wide open and could appeal to ANYONE from non-dancers to dancers and beyond.

Let’s get one thing very clear before I go any further: I am NOT a good dancer. When I was 4 or 5 my dance teacher told my poor mother who wanted so desperately for her blonde little girl to be a prima ballerina that she just “didn’t think that dance was for Sara”.

Ouch. That hurts Mrs. Ballet Teacher. That really hurts.

Oh well, I had more fun with my sweaty, gross bag of ringette gear and boys skates then I would have in a fluffy old tutu anyways. Hmpf.

All that being said, even though I’m no good at it, I really do LOVE to dance. Sh’bam was perfect for me when it came out because it’s simple and easy to follow and I actually felt (somewhat) successful at it! I do have to avoid looking in mirrors. Sometimes what I think I look like doing Sh’bam and what I actually look like are two different beasts altogether.

I had an absolute BLAST for the first half hour of Sh’bam, there was some really cool music and fun moves and after doing about 30 billion squats and lunges and tuck jumps over the course of the day, it was so nice to just let our hair down and shake out our poor tired legs.

After about 30 minutes, BodyJam took over, and then the wheels started to come off for me a bit! Usually I can kind of stumble through a Jam class (embarrassingly, but still), but by that point in the day, my brain and body were just exhausted and I decided to pull myself out and watch this one from the back.

Remember how I said that Attack always brings the house down at these things? BodyJam is exactly the same way. I always absolutely love to watch Jam because the instructors and the trainers are total animals. They’ve got this raw, kind of reckless, dangerous energy about them that is TOTALLY infectious. They crank that music so loud that it makes the mirrors shake and turn the lights out and it seriously is like being in the middle of a rave at midnight, not like being in a dance class at a fitness club. Jam always draws a crowd to watch too because they just look so freakin’ phenomenal when they move. Trust me; you haven’t lived until you’ve seen one of these big BodyJam classes for yourself.

Check this footage out from one of the Super Quarterlies down in the States last year. Totally unreal.

After Jam, that was it for my day. I love BodyFlow (yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates) and lord knows I could have used the stretch, but by that time I just couldn’t ask my body for anymore. I left the gym tired, but so re-energized and motivated at the same time. I love my job so much!!

After the Quarterly and another very busy day on Sunday, I’ve been taken down (I’m talking full body tackle) by a cold this week, and it’s been all I can do to just get through my classes. I’m hoping to be feeling better by this weekend so that I can get some running and an RPM class in. The Eggnog Jog is coming up in just 2 short weeks and I’ve got some training to do!!

Happy Wednesday – we’re over the hump and cruising for the weekend!!


Quarterly Workshop Recap

Happy Wednesday All!

It’s been a crazy insane weekend, I’m just catching my breath now, and unfortunately have come down with a bit of a cold (likely because I spent most of Saturday evening walking around outside without a coat on – I so refuse to accept winter).

There is SO MUCH to tell you, but I’ll keep focused on the topic for today, and that’s my recap of the LES MILLS QUARTERLY WORKSHOP!!

*cue fanfare*

This past Saturday, I spent about 10 hours at the gym going through each of the 8 Les Mills classes with about 75 other instructors and our National Trainers. The way it works is that each quarter we get a “new release” of each program. This means new music, new choreography and new innovations/developments to the program that make it better, more challenging and more cutting edge each and every time. They’ve got this huge massive team of professionals (think everyone from sports medicine doctors to physiotherapists to personal trainers to choreographers to music industry experts) that work on putting together the BEST class ever for each discipline each release.

Once the team has each discipline absolutely PERFECT, the Program Directors (the people in charge of the discipline) and a team of super-star international instructors film the class in Auckland, New Zealand in front of a 700 person class, package it up, write out the choreography and education notes and then the releases are distributed around the world to 77 countries, until they end up at the doorstep of each international instructor.

Let me tell you, when that lovely yellow DHL envelope shows up at my door, it’s like Christmas came early. Every single time.

Most of the time, we’re on our own to watch our DVD’s, read our choreography notes and dream wistfully of one day making the pilgrimage to Auckland, New Zealand to participate in a filming class for ourselves. But usually once (sometimes if we’re lucky twice) a year, we are lucky enough to have “Quarterly Workshops” where our Canadian National Trainer team gets altogether at one of the clubs and will TEACH US the new releases so that we can actually participate in them for the first time like a member would.

The National Trainers are those super-star instructors that you may one day see on the actual DVD’s themselves. They are beyond amazing, incredible instructors and just people in general. I always feel like they are total celebrities when I see them, even after getting to know several of them quite well over the years that I’ve been around!!

So ANYWAYS, Saturday we held a Quarterly Workshop at one of my home clubs!! I volunteered to help out with set-up and so spent most of Friday night assembling 75 BodyPump bars with 8.5kg per bar. We were all so excited about the workshop the following day that we didn’t even really notice how many sets of weights we had picked up and moved from point A to point B.

Needless to say, I got my workout in that night.

I was SO beyond pumped on Saturday morning; I was up and at the club by 7am (yea, try to get me out of bed for work before 6:45am? Forget it. I seem to morph into this chipper “early morning person” when there’s something exciting going on though….)

In one of my previous posts, I posted a picture of me on stage during BodyAttack at one of the previous Quarterly Workshops. That was a total dream come true, and a total stroke of good luck. Last year they started a new trend where at the opening ceremonies, they would pick an instructors name out of the hat for each discipline, and that lucky instructor would get to shadow the presenting team on stage for one track! I got picked for BodyAttack last year and was in sweaty plyometric heaven. It. Was. Awesome.

This year I was busy helping out with a couple of tasks, and barely even heard my name being called. But sure enough, I got picked AGAIN for BodyAttack.

Can you believe it?! I swear I should have gone out and bought a lottery ticket that day.

In the spirit of sharing the love, I asked them to draw someone else’s name so that another instructor could experience the same sweaty, plyometric heaven that I did last year. Who’s name did they pick??

My very good friend Kathy’s!!!!!!!

Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways doesn’t it???

So after having a big screaming hug/dance with Kathy, it was straight into the BodyPump master class.

The new BodyPump release was INCREDIBLE. Lots of new innovations, killer music and intensity and that made my upper body in particular cry for mercy. Look out for the Bicep track. We don’t use a bar. That’s all I’m sayin’. 😉

From BodyPump, we went right into BodyStep since we had the steps out already. I mentioned in my Spotlight on BodyStep post that BodyStep has taken a huge step in the “more athletic” direction recently. It’s always been a tough class, but more “tough with a smile” kind of intensity.

There ain’t no smiling anymore.

The new BodyStep release totally destroyed us all. It was INSANE. Burpees, Mountain Climbers, two foot jumps over-top of the bench, scissor jumps on and off the bench, weight work thrown into the mix……we finished the class in a sweaty, disheveled heap wondering what the hell just happened.

I would have LOVED to be a fly on the wall in the room when the team put this release together. They must have had a good laugh “this is going to DESTROY everyone”…*insert Dr. Evil laugh*.  

Usually at workshops like this, there’s one program that is kind of the “show stopper” for the day that everyone is buzzing about in the changerooms and while they’re eating lunch (I know, we’re nerds, we really can’t help it). This time it was BodyStep for sure.

So while still licking my wounds from BodyStep, I realized that RPM was coming up fast and furious, and I had better move my (sore) bum and get into the cycling studio if I wanted to get a bike.

I’ll be totally honest and say that as I walked past the main studio, my heart hurt to walk away from BodyCombat. Sadly they have to run the RPM classes at the same time as a non-cycling class because there just wouldn’t be enough time to stack them one after the other in a day.

I love RPM, but I definitely feel more at home in the main studio then I do in the cycling studio, and it was hard to leave!

We had a great ride (minus some stereo issues, honestly, sometimes I feel like taking a baseball bat to the stereo and then looking around with wide, innocent eyes saying “what?”). Our super-star presenters pushed through two entire tracks with no music and no microphone. Oh, and of course they were the big mountain-climbing tracks as well.

Go figure.

By the time we were done, I was ready to collapse off the bike after having done Pump, Step and now RPM back-to-back-to-back. I knew that BodyAttack was coming up, and had been waiting for it all day.

After BodyStep, I had had a quick conversation with the National Trainer who trained me in Attack and Step many years ago (his name is Fred). I had said “Fred, I think that this BodyStep is even harder than BodyAttack”.

Fred grinned at me and said (in the way that only he can):

“Wait until you see BodyAttack.”

God help me.

I’ll pick up here tomorrow – this is getting to be a long post, but before you go, tell me how YOUR weekend was?! What did you get up to?! How did your workouts go?!

Happy Wednesday!

The Epic Race

Hi There!

Sorry for the long hiatus, this week has been insanely busy! My parents are away on vacation in Hawaii (I know right…whatever happened to taking your kids on vacation with you?), and so I’ve been running the roost in terms of taking care of my cat Blake and my 16 year old brother Andrew.

It’s a toss up who is more in need, honestly. I’m pretty sure if left to his own devices, Blake would find a way to get himself fed and watered. Andrew? Not so sure….;)

My kitty Blake!! 🙂

With my parents being gone for over a week, I got a really good taste of what it will be like to run my own house. I like to think that I share in a lot of the responsibilities around my house already, but when it really is just you and you alone, you realize how much you start to take for granted things like taking out the garbage, going grocery shopping, planning meals, re-filling the toilet paper, picking up the mail…all of that stuff takes time! And this week, it certainly took time away from triathlon training.

My last “triathlon workout” was a killer run last Friday night. Pay attention folks, I won’t often describe one of my workouts as a “success” (I tend to pick apart things even when on the whole it was pretty decent), but this one was a good one.

Let me set the stage a bit for you by giving you the context for this run. It’s Friday night. I get home from work around 5 with the idea of ordering pizza for my brother and his gaggle of high school friends that have moved in and totally over-populated our house. I’ve always said that when I have kids one day, they won’t even know what fast food is. I’ll make all of their meals, teach them about nutrition and make sure that they grow up eating a nutritious, balanced diet.

Isn’t it funny how fast all of that goes to hell when you just need to get the little buggers fed so you can get on to the next thing you have to do?

So anyways, Andrew informs me “Yo, we need the pizza here by 6, we gotta get to a movie and will DEFINITLEY need to leave by 6:15”. (That was my best Andrew impression). He then disappeared down the stairs again into the abyss that is our basement into the group of rowdy 16 year olds.

Looking at my watch, I quickly deciphered that we were going to have a problem. I needed to get a 40 minute run in, and it was already 5:10. Pizza takes about 40 minutes to arrive…so if there was any hope of me getting back in time to answer the door for the pizza guy, I needed to move it. After placing the order, I got changed in lightning speed and entered the fray to deliver a very important message to Andrew in the basement.

Answer the doorbell when it rings, or die.

With that settled, I finally got out the door and on my way.

Tell me if you relate, but I can tell within the first 20 steps or so how my run is going to go. I’m either fighting it, or I’m rocking it.  I could tell even sooner on Friday night. Within 5 or 6 strides I knew that for whatever reason, I just “had it”.  

I was listening to my iPod. I can’t quite bring myself to let go of it just yet, but I’m working on it. During this run, I forced myself to listen to an entire song and not switch it before the song was over. I have a bit of “Song ADD” and usually get bored of them pretty quickly. Usually I just skip ahead to the next song halfway through and carry on. The whole purpose of making myself listen to the entire song was for about 4 seconds: the 4 second gap in between songs on my iPod. Usually as each song ends (if I even make it to that point), I immediately skip ahead, like I’m in a panic to get something else in my ears before that silence takes over. On Friday I approached it a bit differently, and just let that 4 seconds linger.

Would you think I’m crazy if I told you I actually started looking forward to the 4 second gap in between songs? The girl who wrote a Haiku about not being able to run without her iPod…who woulda though!  

Anyways, I still have a long way to go on the whole learning to run without music front, but I’m taking Friday night as a huge victory. Maybe I’ll do a few minutes entirely without it the next time.

Towards the end of my run, I started to get conscious of time, and the impending arrival of the pizza delivery guy. For some reason, I got it in my head that I had to beat that pizza delivery guy to my house, or something TERRIBLE was going to happen. I so did not trust Andrew to hear that door down in the basement. My watch said 5:55 and I had a feeling the pizza would arrive at 6:00. I had a little over a kilometer to go. So I did what any serious, Half Ironman athlete on a regimented training plan would have done.

I sprinted the last kilometer as fast as I could so that I could try to beat the pizza delivery guy back to my house.

When I finally got to my house, I was gasping for air, heart beating out of my chest, and had an acute pain in my stomach that I attributed to the fact that in all of the chaos before my run, I hadn’t had a chance to eat anything, and hadn’t since lunch!

I burst up the stairs and into my house, only to find Matt had arrived on the scene and was running the show, doling out pizza, plates and drinks to the ever-growing group of 16 year olds in the kitchen. My love for him had never been stronger.

I hadn’t beaten the pizza guy. But he had.

Number 1, All Day, Every Day

With one crisis out of the way, I turned my attention to the second crisis, which was my stomach moaning in protest that I hadn’t fed it since noon and had just ran 6.5km. I literally started devouring the pizza while I was still breathing hard from my run. I then felt totally sick for about an hour, and then life carried on. The pizza guy had forgotten our Chicken Bites, so I ended up getting to meet the nice young man that I had raced to my house when he came back to drop those off about half an hour later anyways. A worthy opponent indeed.

Lessons learned:

1) Always eat a small snack before heading out on a run

2) Never eat pizza within 2 minutes of finishing a run… and perhaps the most important of all…

3) Never try to race your pizza delivery guy to your house. The car will always win. Always.

All in all – a solid Friday night run and I’m giving it a huge thumbs up in the ‘ol training log.

It’s going to be an exciting week here on Going The Distance! I’ve got a huge event coming up at the gym on Saturday to tell you all about, I’m going to be kicking off a brand new mini-series and I’m attending my first 6am RPM class tomorrow morning!!

Tell me before you go, what’s in-store for you this week? Any exciting workouts or plans for this weekend?!

Have a terrific Wednesday afternoon!


Sorry about my temporary loss of sanity with that last post. Did I seriously write a Haiku about not being allowed to wear my iPod?! I need professional help.

Today’s post is all about goals. And in particular….


No, I didn’t just smash my hand down on my keyboard to come up with a jumble of letters (although sometimes I feel like doing that when I just can’t find the right words). Those 5 letters really mean something!

I’ve mentioned BHAGs before on my My Story page, but never really got into what the heck they are in too much detail. BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These aren’t goals like planning to read 2 books this month, or vowing to cut it out with the chocolate after every meal dinner.

These are goals that scare the crap out of you, make your stomach feel a bit queasy, get your heart beating faster and get other people to raise their eyebrows. I like to think of BHAGs as a “transformational” goal. Rather then simply being the goal to “do something”, I kind of see BHAGs as the goal to “become something”.

The Half Ironman is definitely a BHAG for me. The goal, yes, is to finish the race (preferably in one piece). But more then that, the goal is to become someone who finishes what they start.

This week I did some serious thinking about my training plan for next year, and (drumroll please), I’ve officially picked out my 2013 races!! The topic of BHAGs came up for this post, because in picking out my races for next year, I’ve inadvertently put yet another BHAG in my path. 2013 is going to be a wild year (unless those Mayan people were right and the world is really going to end in 4 weeks. If so, then I’m off the hook for all of this.) 😉

So here we go…in chronological order, here are the races that I’ve signed up to do between now and September 9th 2013:

Eggnog Jog 10.8K – December 9th 2012

I figure this one will be a good “kick in the pants” to get my running going, and get me training more consistently as we head into the winter months. Plus it will be right in the middle of holiday season, and I’m sure I’ll have some nanaimo bars to run off.

Frosty 5K – March 3rd 2012

Matt is planning on running the “Chilly Half Marathon” (it’s March….I’m anticipating it will be a little colder then “chilly”) on the 3rd, so I figure what better excuse to do a 5K! I actually really wish that there was a 10K run for this event, but there really aren’t very many 10Ks between December and March! I wonder why…;)

Here comes the big one. The one that makes my stomach queasy and gets my heart beating faster. My second BHAG for 2013.

Around the Bay 30K Road Race – March 24th 2013

Funny story about this race. I was re-reading some of my old journals from 2011, and came to a full stop at one of the pages where I was writing about my new years resolutions for 2012. One of my goals for this past year was to complete the Around the Bay 30K race. It’s funny, and a little sad, how quickly we forget and just move on isn’t it? I didn’t even remember that I had ever considered this race before. But I did. I considered it seriously enough to write it down actually. And then life carried on and it just fell off the back of the barreling train that is my life; disappeared into wherever it is that forgotten dreams and dismissed goals go to.

This year, I’m coming back for it.

I’ve never run one step further then 21.1km in my entire life. Some people do training runs that are longer then the actual distance of the race they’re training for, but I’ve never done that. I’ve only ever run half marathons, and 21.1km was always (more then) enough for me. It’s kind of elating (you know, in a terrifying way) to think about breaking that barrier. Is there something beyond 21.1? What happens after that last 100 metres? Do you turn into a pumpkin? Stop breathing? Do your legs just fall off?

I guess there’s only one way to find out!

Milton Triathlon – June 2nd 2013

My very first triathlon! This was the first one of the season and it happens to be very close to where I live, so it was a no-brainer.

Iron Motivation Muskoka 70.3 Training Camp – June 21st 2013 

This isn’t an actual “race”, but it is a training weekend that I stumbled across in looking online for triathlons and race events for next year. It’s run by a guy and his team of triathlon coaches, and it’s basically a weekend of training out on the actual race course. I thought this would be a really important thing for me to do, and was planning on going out to Muskoka to do some biking on these wretched hills anyways, but doing it with a group should be a lot more fun!

Kingston Triathlon – August 4th 2013

It feels a bit funny and very surreal to say that I plan to do the Kingston Triathlon next year. For two years now I’ve gone to this race and watched Matt’s brothers Neil and Scott race. Getting the opportunity to share in their successes in this race was a big part of my inspiration to want to do a triathlon in the first place. It seems only fitting to finish off my year of training with this one.

God I hope I don’t die. That harbour is ferocious.

So there you have it! Looking at the races I’ve laid out, I know that I’m on the right track, because I feel excited looking at them all. It will be a lot of hard work, but at this time next year, look at what I’ll have to show for it all. It gives me goosebumps to think about, and that’s how I know that I’ve chosen a BHAG that is important to me.

So my question for you my friends as we head into a beautiful, cool, early winter weekend is this:

What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?



You Can’t Stop The Beat….or Can You??

Good Morning!

I’m in mourning. Today is my last day of vacation. Where does the time go, seriously?! I had a great week off full of rest and relaxation, and I’m actually a little excited to get back to my crazy life tomorrow.

Today I’m going to be hitting up an RPM class at noon, my last “day time” class for a while, and I’m hoping to get there a few minutes early and nail the bike setup. This time I’m also coming prepared with a towel and a squirt waterbottle so that I’m not fumbling with the screw-off top of mine while we’re struggling up a mountain.

Even the fictious mountains are NOT pleasant. Who ever decided that humans should bike up mountains anyways?

This weekend Matt and I spent probably a solid 4 or 5 hours in total talking about the state of the cycling industry since the ugly truth has come out about Lance Armstrong’s long history with doping and the rest of the professional bikers as well. We are totally enthralled by it. It’s like the darkest, seediest, most twisted, incestuous soap opera you’ve ever seen….

Except it’s real.

Matt’s been reading an absolutely fascinating book called “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-Ups and Winning At All Costs” written by Tyler Hamilton, one of Lance Armstrong’s teammates on the U.S. Postal Service team. I highly recommend it!

Anyways – today’s post isn’t actually about cycling, RPM or biking up mountains. It’s about running. And in particular, a realization that I came to this weekend.

I slept in on Saturday morning (slap my wrists) and missed my scheduled RPM class. Rather then get really discouraged and beat myself up, I decided instead to go out for a run.

Side Note: Pre-Ironman training Sara would never have thought to do that. I used to get very rattled when my plans went off the rails, and kind of thought that if it wasn’t how I had originally planned it, then it was doomed to be a train wreck. I’m totally loving this new-found flexibility and willingness to bend.

The first 20 or so steps of my run, I knew that it just wasn’t going to be a good one. My body felt heavy, sluggish, tired. I also picked a route that starts out up-hill, so right away I felt like I was labouring. As I struggled along, I was fumbling desperately with my iPod. I knew that my only hope of continuing to run was to find a great song that I could fill myself up with and disappear into.

Sure enough, I did come to a good song (it was the song “So Good” by B.O.B. in case you were interested!!), and then my run really began. I disappeared into the song, cranked my iPod, and ran for 45 minutes without looking back. The only moments that I really struggled, were the moments in between songs when I had to fumble around for another song to carry me through. I realized in that 45 minutes exactly how much I lean on my music and my iPod.

I’ve had this god awful, sick suspicion that’s been brewing in the back of my mind for a while, but I hadn’t officially confirmed it because the thought of it being true made me want to throw up.

Yesterday I finally faced up to it, went online and scoured the Athlete Guide for the words that I feared most. Sure enough, there they were written in Arial Bold font plain as the nose on my face.

“No iPods allowed”

What am I going to do? I am totally freaking out. I’ve been trying to get my head around the idea of biking for 90km and then running a half marathon with nothing except the sound of my ragged breathing in my ears, and it just seems insurmountable.

You know what’s funny? I don’t miss my music at all in the water. I actually enjoy the chance to let my mind wander a bit while I’m swimming and daydream about things. I’m not 100% sure about the bike, since I’ve never really done a “training bike ride” in my life (oh God…oh God…), but I would anticipate that my biggest struggle without music will certainly be the run.

I intended to write this post about “my game plan to learn to run without music”, but if I’m being truthful, I don’t have one yet.

So instead, I’ll share this list of 10 ideas that I’ve brainstormed for what to do while running a half marathon in silence to keep my mind occupied.

1) Solve world hunger

2) Try to recite the alphabet backwards and forwards 26 times increasing speed each time

3) Play that “animal” game by myself (where you say an animal, and then think of another animal that begins with the last letter of the previous animal)

4) Think about how much my feet hurt and how silly it is for humans to do events like this

5) Look at the spectators and make up stories about why they’re there and how they could secretly be a superhero in disguise

6) Bird Watch

7) Day dream about the absolutely enormous hamburger that I’m going to eat if I survive

8) Sing

9) Pretend that I’m Usain Bolt and repeatedly do the lightning pose as I run along

10) Draft Haiku about running

Sara’s First Triathlon Haiku

Dear Race Officials

Why oh Why Must You Forbid

iPods. That is mean.

I have completely and totally freaking lost my mind.

Les Mills International Series Part 4: Spotlight on BodyPump

Happy Friday!

I love Friday’s even when I’m not working and they signify the end of my luxurious week of vacation. There’s just something about ’em. I have to admit that I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I would have liked on my week off. I’m actually seriously concerned that I’m going to crash and burn next week after living life in the slow lane for the past little while!

What I HAVE got done this week is lots of work on Goal # 3 to get started on my Christmas shopping! I’m still way out of ideas for what to get for Matt and for my family…but I’ve got most of my friends and extended family done, or at least started!

My Visa is feeling very fit and strong after it’s week of hardcore training. It is now in need of a “rest day”. Or a “rest year”.

If only I could ride my Visa card all the way to the finish of the Half Ironman.

On the topic of training, this week I’ve taken some detours from my Training Plan, simply because I just didn’t feel like doing the workouts that I had scheduled. I know, I know.

I did get out to RPM on Monday morning, and I did get a swim in on Tuesday morning, but Wednesday I replaced my run with an extra BodyStep class, and yesterday I replaced what was supposed to be another RPM with a CXWORX class. (Stay tuned for a run down of CXWORX and what it’s all about as part of my Les Mills International Series). I do have plans to get out for a run today, and I’ll get to another RPM tomorrow morning, so all is not lost. 🙂

Today I want to give you a sneak peek into the last Les Mills program that I trained in back in January 2009. That would be the grand-daddy of all LMI programs, the one that started it all:


If you missed any of the prior posts in the LMI series, you can catch them here:

Part 1 – Les Mills International Series

Part 2 – Spotlight on BodyAttack

Part 3 – Spotlight on BodyStep 

You may recall from my first post in this series that BodyPump was the first Les Mills program to catch fire back in the early 90’s. First launched as “Pump” in the late 80’s, “BodyPump” was officially launched under it’s new name in 1990. It was trialed in Australia and New Zealand over several years before it was showcased globally in 1997. BodyPump paved the way for all of the other Les Mills programs to follow, it set the bar (literally ;)) for Group Fitness, and it’s still a total industry leader today.

So, what the heck is BodyPump anyways!?

BODYPUMP™, the original LES MILLS™ barbell class, will sculpt, tone and strengthen your entire body, fast!

Great bodies aren’t born, they are transformed, using the proven BODYPUMP™ formula: THE REP EFFECT™ a breakthrough in resistance workout training. Focusing on low weight loads and high repetition movements, you’ll burn fat, gain strength and quickly produce lean body muscle conditioning.

BODYPUMP™ is one of the world’s fastest ways to get in shape as it challenges all of your major muscle groups while you squat, press, lift and curl.

Essentially, BodyPump is a 55 minute weight-training class that focuses on low weight-high repetition training to give you long, lean muscles, and burn fat along the way. The Rep Effect is a fairly new term that they just introduced in the past year or so. They figure that we do approximately 800 repetitions in a 55 minute BodyPump class! Oh mama.

A typical BodyPump class is structured like this:

Track 1 – Warmup (a couple of reps of each move that you’ll see throughout the rest of the class)

Track 2 – Squats (just what it sounds like. Load up your bar, and squat until your legs fall off)

Track 3 – Chest (laying down on the bench top in bench press position)

Track 4 – Back (lots of dead-rows, dead-lifts and the big calorie burning Clean & Press move)

Track 5 – Triceps (extensions to the fore head, presses to the ribs, tricep push ups, tricep dips, you name it!)

Track 6 – Biceps (get your tickets to the gun show. That’s all I’m sayin’ ;))

Track 7 – Lunges (kind of a combination of lunges, squats and more recently propulsive lunges and squats to really smash your legs for the last time)

Track 8 – Shoulders (pushups, side raises, over head presses, and a bunch of variations in between)

Track 9 – Abdominals and Core Strength

Track 10 – Beg for mercy Cooldown

Each track is choreographed using different tempos, different weight loads and of course different music to keep us energized and motivated. Oh yea, and I guess the instructor should help with that too 🙂

Strength training is so important for us as we get older. Did you know that after you hit puberty, you begin to lose about 1% of your bone and muscle strength every year?

I don’t know about you, but that scares the hell out of me.

Strength training helps to combat this loss, and even reverse muscle and bone loss that has already taken place. It also goes without saying that strength training improves overall muscle strength and body mechanics. Think things like posture, balance, coordination. So in addition to looking great in your jeans, you won’t be tripping over your own two feet walking down the driveway while you’re carrying all of your groceries in in one trip.

Not that I’ve ever done that or anything….

Strength Training has also been shown to improve energy levels and improve your mood (although I think this goes for all exercise). Finally, if weight loss is your goal, strength training realy contributes to calorie-burn because your body continues to burn calories at an elevated rate even after you stop working out in order to re-build muscle fibres. That means, while you’re sitting on the couch with your feet up an hour after your strength training workout, your body is still reeping the benefits of your hard work. Everydayhealth.com calls this “physiologic homework”. I call it awesome.

BodyPump was the last program that I certified in. I’ll confess right now to you that I am a “cardio junkie”. I love sweaty, go-go-go, plyometric, screaming cardio workouts that make you want to cry while you’re doing them. Switching over to teach a weight-training program was a little hard for me at first. I kind of felt like I was just standing there. I very quickly discovered however that you can still get that “I want to cry”, pouring sweat, over-the-top, go-go-go kind of workout from weight training. Boy, did I ever discover that quick.

I adore BodyPump now, and I owe all of my strengh gains to this program! You will never find me in the weight room, or lifting free weights on my own. Ever. I just find it hard to stick with, for me, I need the group atmosphere, the pounding music and the challenge set out for me. I teach BodyPump twice a week, and have noticed enormous improvements in my strength and body composition since I picked up the program back in 2009. I foresee BodyPump playing a big role in triathlon training as well.

If you’ve never done a BodyPump class, you’re missing out BIG TIME. If you do nothing else, please, I beg of you, stop what you’re doing right now, call me right now and I’ll make sure you get what you need to get out to one. Check out the sizzler for our upcoming release, but be careful…BodyPump fever is highly contagious!!!

700 BodyPump Instructors in one room at the Can Fit Pro Conference – Summer 2012

Push The Tempo

Hello Friends!

I’m extra pumped this week because…..I’M ON VACATION!!! WAHOO!!!! I’m not going anywhere or really doing much of anything in particular this week, but I had some extra vacation days banked and our company policy is “use ’em or lose ’em”, so use ’em I shall.

I’m so used to going at mach speed all the time that I sometimes find it very weird and unsettling to just slow down. Yesterday I spent most of the day lounging around and it was so unnerving. I think I’ve gotten so used to mach speed that it’s not even really “mach speed” anymore. It’s just my speed 🙂

That being said, I don’t plan to spend much time lounging around this week! I have huge hopes this week for my triathlon training, I’m hoping to make some good progress on my November training goal of doing two RPM classes a week and get a couple of extra swims and runs in as well.

After going to bed at 9:45pm…(moment to appreciate THAT please; I don’t think I’ve gone to bed before 10pm since I was 5!!), I was ready to rock and roll this morning for RPM class at 9:30am.

My timing is kind of terrible with this whole thing, I should really have done a “Spotlight on RPM” post to give you a better idea of what the class is all about! Here’s the quick description from the Les Mills website:

RPM™ is the indoor cycling workout where you ride to the rhythm of powerful music. Take on the terrain with your inspiring team coach who leads the pack through hills, flats, mountain peaks, time trials, and interval training. Discover your athlete within – sweat and burn to reach your endorphin high.

Think sweating from your kneecaps. Yea.

My mom came along with me for class this morning, and we were running late. Anyone who’s ever driven in a car with me when I’m running late for something…..I truly truly apologize. I’m a bit of a stress basket looney tune. Anyways, after a bit of mild stress, we made it to class, and sprinted across the parking lot to get in and on the bike in time.

I should have known I was in trouble when I was gasping for air at the doors to the gym.

So some joker decided it would be hilarious to put the cycling studio in this gym at the top of this enormous, steep set of stairs that make your legs weep before you’ve even gotten onto the bike (and don’t even get me started on walking down the stairs AFTER your done), so up the stairs we went, and got there just as the instructor was introducing herself.


My first observation is that I seriously, seriously need a lesson in how to set up my bike. I know that the saddle should be at about your hip height when your standing at the floor, but I have zero clue where the handle bars should be in relation to your torso, how far away, how high…I’m really just guessing. I find it very uncomfortable to have the handlebars too low so that when you lean forward all of your body weight is basically over your upper body. I think I had kind of messed up my seat position too because it was tilted forward slightly so that it was almost tipping me forward out of the saddle!!

What a comedy of errors.

We got started on RPM Release # 56. This is the “new music” or the new choreography that is released every quarter in all Les Mills International programs. I had heard that RPM 56 was a killer release, and I had actually done the class at the Can Fit Pro conference back in the summer with Glen Ostergaard (the RPM program director from New Zealand) and our Canadian National Trainer for RPM Rene, but truth be told, my body was kind of numb at Can Fit, and I don’t think I fully experienced the workout the way it was intended!

I was sweating through the warmup. And I don’t mean a delicate trickle of sweat. I mean pouring off of your nose sweat.

Seriously, what is with the abundance of sweating!??!?

The first two tracks in an RPM class are warm up tracks to get your “base resistance” on the bike, get your legs spinning and to get on the beat. Or in my case, your working somewhere close to your max, gasping for air and sweating like you’ve just worked out in a sauna. After Track 2, the hammer goes down, and it doesn’t let up until the end of the class.

Track 3 is a hill climb, so you’re up and out of the saddle lots. My observation from my first “training RPM” class is that when I’m standing up, I’m able to take quite a lot of resistance, stay on the tempo and kind of “suck it up” even though it’s hard work. Seated climbs? Forget it. I won’t lie, it is a little bit frustrating that after doing approximately 1,000,000 squats and lunges every week for the last 6 years, my legs still feel shaky and weak on the bike when I’m seated. I know, I know, different muscle groups…..but still. You think that all of that leg work is good for something?!

Anyways, just as I was starting to feel a bit frustrated with myself, we ran full speed into the Interval Training Track. And then my brain turned off and I stopped feeling anything.

Good on ya for picking this song for the Interval track Glen. Holy crap.

Music is so powerful. Honestly. There is no way on earth I would have been able to push so hard in that track without this insane song. Our instructor was absolutely fabulous as well. Anyone who can keep their composure enough to talk through exercise like this is just a super human to me. She was also really good at getting her head up, looking at what was happening in her class and speaking directly to her participants, connecting with them, telling them what they needed to do to make it through. At one point, she locked eyes with me as if I was the only person in the room, and said “turn that dial up, you can do more”.

From one instructor to another – mad respect girl. You freakin’ killed it.

So we finished the interval track completely smashed and then went through a couple more hill/mountain climb  and racing tracks, and just like that it was over.

Remember those damn stairs that I told you about? Yea. Not so fun walking down them after a workout like that.

I think #1 lesson that I learned from my first RPM class of training is to BRING A TOWEL!!! Wowza…I didn’t think it was possible for a human to sweat as much as I did in a 60 minute class!! I could probably also use a better water bottle, one without a screw-off top would be nice. I’ll be interested to track my improvements over the coming month with getting out to at least 2 classes a week.

Any thoughts on how an indoor spinning class translates into biking on the road? Similar? Not so much? Ever had an AMAZING spinning instructor that was really able to connect with you?

Enjoy your Monday!!

November Goal Setting

Oh my dear sweet lord.

I’m registered. Like, actually registered.

I feel like I’m going to puke.

On Thursday, registration opened up for next year’s Muskoka Half Ironman, to be held on Sunday September 8th 2013.

Despite the voice in my head SHRIEKING at the top of her lungs that I would certainly die, throwing herself down and beating herself against the inside of my skull….I registered.

So I guess this is really happening eh???

Anyways, I’m trying to just forget about all that, and carry on with what I intended this post to be about, and that’s the beginning of my monthly goal setting! A new month always feels like a clean slate to me; a chance to kind of “start fresh” and tackle some of those things that have totally fallen off the wagon as the previous month got old and stale.

I want to get into the habit of setting 3 goals at the beginning of each month.

The first will be a “training specific” goal. That includes everything from eating more efficiently to a specific swimming, biking, running goal, to a rest/recovery goal, anything related to the Half Ironman. I think I’m going to start referring to the Half Ironman as “the beast. That sounds much sexier than “the half Ironman”.

The Beast

The second will be a “class specific” goal. This includes things like putting together a theme class in one class a week, learning my choreography on the weekends so that I have weeknights free, doing a full set of pushups on my toes, eating better post-class to help in recovery, rolling out with a foam roller after class and more.

The third I would actually like to be a personal goal. That can be anything from learning how to braid my own hair to spending more time with friends/family, to sticking to a budget.

Good luck on the budget thing – but you get the idea. Balance is important. Or so I’ve been told.

Footnote: I firmly believe in the SMART goal setting principle, and all of my monthly goals should follow this format. That means that they should all be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Lululemon has also taught me over the years to express goals using positive affirmation. Replace wishy washy words like “try”, “wish”, “maybe” with “will”, “do” and “certainly”. Oh the wisdom. Lulu is so much more then pants that make everyone’s bums look good…..

I wish this was me. It’s not.

So without further ado, I bring you:

Sara’s November Goals

(please, hold your applause)

“Beast Goal”

1. I attend 2 RPM classes per week for a total of 8 classes this month and improve my overall confidence on the bike.

“Class Goal”

2. I improve my recovery after class by experimenting with different post-workout recovery meals (full of protein!). I drink 8 glasses of water per day.

“Personal Goal”

3. I complete 50% of my Christmas shopping by December 1st!!

The reason I’ve chosen to focus on RPM and biking as my training goal for this month is because that’s the part of the triathlon that scares the crap out of me.

After just about a full month of swimming at least weekly, I’m actually feeling much more comfortable with the idea of the swim. I know swimming in a freezing, cold, sea-weedy, dark lake isn’t quite the same as swimming in a heated pool with a line on the bottom, but every time I go swimming, I feel like I’m improving, and I get a little bit more sure that I’ll be able to do a 2km swim.

I’ve run half marathons in the past (never following a 2km swim and a 90km bike, but let’s just ignore that for now), and I’ve also got a couple of races planned between now and the start of next spring to keep me running over the winter months, so I’m actually feeling a little more assured about the run as well.

I’ve been avoiding the bike like the plague. I have these god awful flashes where I see myself crash on a bike and shatter my elbows (possibly one of the least feared, but absolutely most devastating injuries that any athlete could sustain), smash my face, damage my brain…..*shudder*

Anyways, I figure in a nice safe environment is the right place to start. Maybe by the time spring rolls around I’ll be feeling a little more confident….at least that’s my hope.

As for my class goal, I’ve found that this month my body has really taken a beating with all of the teaching that I’ve been doing, and I sure haven’t been doing anything to help my recovery. Think meals comprised ENTIRELY of mini chocolate bars post-workout. Yea. Believe it.

This month, my goal is to wake the hell up start treating my body a lot better post-workout by eating better, drinking more water and even taking more time to stretch and ice when needed.

My personal goal needs no explanation. IT’S FREAKIN’ NOVEMBER!! Time to start Christmas shopping!!

My Visa just winced. Poor thing, doesn’t even know what’s about to hit it….:)

Happy November – may it be a month full of personal growth and development for all of us!!