The Boot Camp Diaries

In an effort to ditch the baby weight, I recently started taking boot camp classes.

The classes take place in one of those industrial, open-space gyms that I thought only existed in my nightmares, and are a mixture of crossfit and pure, unadulterated hell.

Nestled above a Chinese restaurant on one of Toronto’s busiest strips, the gym is a large, windowless box with concrete walls and little ambiance. Across the rubber-padded floor rest various, increasingly imaginative torture devices- from giant tires, to sledgehammers, to dangling gymnastic rings. A thick strip of astro turf runs inexplicably, terrifyingly, down the middle. 

The central radio unleashes a steady onslaught of adult-contemporary hits, and a single metal fan provides the only, pitiful source of ventilation. Near the front of the room is a chalkboard, listing each day’s unique menu of misery. Exercise terms like “Power Cleans” “Weighted Jacks” and“ “Inchworms”  taunt you like creatively-named death sentences, exacerbated by the insane numbers of repetitions scrawled in the margins. 

Needless to say- the combined effect is my own, personal torture chamber.

My general philosophy

Alas- this baby belly isn’t going to eradicate itself, so twice a week at 7 am, Stephen- a fiery welterweight with seemingly boundless energy- leads us through an hour of cruel and unusual punishment while I internally weep and say silent prayers to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

A typical workout consists of three “rounds”, and although they vary each day, it’s a pretty safe bet that each will contain some combination of the following exercises:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-Ups
  • Pull-Ups
  • Lifting heavy sh*t
  • Some form of Crawling or jumping;
  • generally wanting to die; and- the WORST:
  • BURPEES.

My boyfriend and I (yes, he’s in on this too. Misery loves company, people) have been going for a few weeks now, and we’re starting to recognize a regular cast of characters. There’s the overly-opinionated middle-aged lady who unreasonably believes everyone is “stealing her free weights”, the tatted-up gay couple who are impossibly ripped (and impossibly cute), and a few former university athletes who boastingly sport the swag of their respective alma matters.

And then there’s us. While we’ve run a few 10ks and consider ourselves reasonably fit (mistaken pregnancy notwithstanding), we certainly weren’t prepared for this type of workout. After our first class, we both couldn’t move for nearly a week. (Although, I do consider the time we spent massaging one another’s calves and writhing in pain while watching Diners Drive –Ins and Dives a true bonding experience.)  

To his credit, Stephen, has been incredibly patient and encouraging with both of us; explaining each exercise and instructing on proper form. He’s also been a terrific cheerleader- especially with me.

Guys, I am not exaggerating when I say I am the WORST at boot camp. I am invariably the last one finished each round, and that’s even AFTER modifying all of the exercises. (Don’t look at me like that. I’d like to see YOUr a$$ do a real pull-up).

Given I am competitive in nature and generally think I am the best at everything, being confronted with my own inadequacy is somewhat devastating. It would be OK if I thought I was getting better, but I honestly feel like I might be regressing. Every week I seem weaker and weaker. I’m like the Benjamin Button of exercise.

The other day in class, I was sitting on a giant tire lamenting my inadequacy, when Stephen came over to me. “How you doing?” he  asked “good?”

“Yeah…” I responded quietly

“It’s ok to take breaks. Don’t worry about what they’re doing,” he said, pointing to my fellow boot camp members, “don’t compare yourself to them. Just think about you. If they’re not taking breaks, they’re not working hard enough. I think you’re doing great”. 

It felt like I had somehow been transported into a scene from a motivational sports movie. Like Mr. Miyagi to the Karate Kid- Stephen had inspired me to get up and flip that tire once more- this time with the heart of a champion.

The whole thing was sort of emotional.

Anyhow- I still suck at boot camp, but now when I want to give up, instead of doing this:

I just listen to Stephen’s voice back in my head saying:

… and if that fails, I just close my eyes and think about pizza.

Mmmm. Pizza.

Question of the Day: What is the most challenging workout you’ve ever done?

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Friday Five

So it’s only my fourth day of consecutive posting, and I’m already exhausted. Remind me again why I signed up for this??

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Since writing a post about one coherent topic feels like A LOT right now, here instead are a bunch of random things I’ve been thinking about lately, all wrapped up under one alliterative title! Enjoy!

1. SNL

(and the amazingness that is BLERTA)

This past Saturday, SNL debuted for it’s 39th season; and because I’m kind of a loser die hard, I skipped out on a party to stay home and watch it. (Yes, I am aware I’m dying alone.)

Hosted by Tina Fey, it was the first episode in what has been dubbed a “rebuilding year” after the departure of Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and mah boo Jason Sudeikis, and the addition of 6 new white guys cast members.

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Although I expected the night to be a total disaster, there were actually a few standout moments – like this parody of HBO’s “Girls” introducing Blerta, the Albanian refugee who keeps all those whiny white b*tches in check with her truth-telling. (and should 100% be made into a full-time cast member.. just saying).

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(Canadians can watch the full clip here)

Blerta is seriously my homegirl.

Side note: does anyone else remember those t-shirts?

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I bought one circa 2004 pretty much solely to shock my Catholic parents, and when I wore it I thought I was the SH*T. I also had a t-shirt with Jimi Hendrix’s face on it, despite never actually having listened to Jimi Hendrix. All of this serves as further proof that I am, in fact, a fraud.

2. Fall Weather

I hate to be one of those girls who just can’t S.T.F.U. about fall, but guys, I honestly can’t help it. October is f*cking amazing. Thanksgiving, Halloween, my BIRTHDAY, pumpkins, not sweating Whitney Houston styles on the subway every morning.. I mean, life really doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

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Plus, with this weather I am actually motivated to get out and run for a change. You see, since the Treadmill, Cold Weather and Too Hot Weather are BreezyK Public Enemies #1, 2 and 3, there is really only a short window of opportunity during which running doesn’t completely make me want to kill myself.

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Since we’re currently in the sweet spot, the other day, I decided to go for a run on the Lakeshore path in Toronto and it was glorious. I of course had to instagram it to show all of my friends how superior I am for exercising:

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And in doing so, nearly fell into Lake Ontario. Don’t ever let anyone tell you karma isn’t a b*tch, kids.

3. This

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4. The Return of Primetime TV

With the notable exception of Big Brother, it was a long, dry summer for TV up in here. I was seriously beginning to worry I was going to have to find a hobby or something… Or worse, actually leave my apartment.

On a weeknight?!

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Alas, I can continue my sloth-like ways, because all of my stories have returned to their rightful place inside my dream box. There’s

The New Girl,

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The Mindy Project

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Parks and Recreation, X FACTOR. I could go on. There are also a few new shows that I think might have potential- like Seth MacFarlane’s Dads starring Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg as a wise-cracking cop.

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I can’t tell if it’s going to be good or garbage but I will support the co-creator of Laser Cats until the day I die.

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5. Fresh New Tracks

Besides just being the season where outfits look the best on me and my skin glows most luminous, fall is also an amazing season for music. Some of my favourite artists are out with new stuff, like Arcade Fire, and Drake (even though he jacked my outfit) as well as some cool new bands I hadn’t heard before, and I’ve got a few sweet concerts lined up. Here’s a track I’ve had on heavy rotation lately to help carry you into the weekend…..and also make you vaguely crave a pumpkin spice latte.

No? Just me on the latte then?

Question of the Day:

(get ready- because it’s a really deep one)

What’s your favourite season?

Dude, Where’s My Karma?

This past weekend, I attended my first hot yoga class.

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Trust me- it was way less sexy than it sounds.

Despite the fact that Yoga is so hot right now, I’ve never really gotten into it. When it comes to exercise, I’m a complete cradle-to-grave treadmill enthusiast. (And by “enthusiast”, I mean I hate it marginally less than every other form of physical activity). I like running because it’s intense, high impact, and I can zone out for 30 minutes without having to listen to an annoying instructor.

Except her, who I would clearly make an exception for.
Except her, who I would clearly make an exception for.

Lately, however, my patience with the dreadmill has been waning. The whole Watching The Food Network on closed caption and trying not to look at the anorexic b*tch to my right, lest she give me a complex  routine was starting to get old- real fast. I needed to make a change before I turned the treadmill emergency cord into a weapon of self-harm.

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Also, if the paragraph above didn’t adequately convey this, I could use a little more zen in my life.

So I asked a friend of mine who is a regular Yogi if I could attend a class with her. She was all for it, and suggested a Saturday morning hot hatha yoga class for beginners.

Hatha what now?

Hot Hatha Yoga is a challenging series of hot yoga postures and breathing exercises conducted in a heated room to systematically warm, stretch and strengthen the major muscle groups……All internal organs and glands are stimulated, balancing the body’s natural chemical and hormonal levels.”

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Kinda sounded like new age mumbo jumbo to me, but I agreed to give it a go.

I woke up Saturday morning immediately regretting my decision. I had been out late the night before, overindulging in way too much prosecco, mini cupcakes, and cheese. Oh God the cheese.

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The last thing I wanted to do was contort my body into pretzel-like positions in front of total strangers.  But I had to blog about it committed to my friend, so I peeled my ass out of bed and got ready.

I knew I was in trouble the second I walked into the room. Not only was it approximately 40 degrees celsius in there, it was also filled with hard-bodied, lululemon clad 20-somethings. I shot my friend a look that said “I THOUGHT YOU SAID BEGINNERS, B*TCH??” before finding a spot to lay down my mat.

While we waited for the class to start, I gave myself a little pep talk. You are a runner. You exercise on the reg. You got this.

If Adam Levine can do this- so can you.
If Adam Levine can do this, so can you.

I tried to take my mind off the stifling heat by focusing on the indie slow jams drifting over the speakers and imagining I was on a relaxing tropical vacation. With 25 other ripped, beautiful strangers.  Wait, wasn’t this a reality show?

Before I had a chance to consider it, the class started. Almost immediately, I began to sweat. And I’m not talking  a little bit of “healthy glow” – I’m talking a full on, tomato-face, soaked clothing, worst fever you’ve ever had type situation.

It was less “Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon”:

Russia's Maria Sharapova serves to France's Marion Bartoli in Carson

More “Whitney Houston meets that Pilot from Airplane”: 

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Since I could literally reach out and touch the people to my north, south, east and west, I started feeling really self-conscious about my sweat situation. I was sure the hot Australian guy to my left (note: I have no reason to believe he was Australian, other than his tanned skin and tighter than regulation t-shirt) could definitely smell the booze and Gouda fumes wafting off me like a nuclear cloud.

I tried to forget about it and focus on my poses. Which was no small feat, because as I quickly discovered, Yoga is HARD, yo. Not even 5 minutes in my calves were barking, my arms aching, the inside of my tank top becoming my own personal version of Niagra Falls.

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No matter how hard I tried to keep up with the rest of the class, I was always at least a half-step behind. I’d descend into downward-dog a second too late, and end up fielding flying arms and legs like a real-life game of Mortal Combat.

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…..Oh and there’s also the fact that I have no balance whatsoever. I have known this about myself since I was 10, and careened into a tree during my first skiing lesson. Apparently I thought Yoga would be different? I thought wrong.

I spent 80% of the poses feeling like Lucille 2 during a particularly bad bout of Vertigo.

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I blame it on an undiagnosed inner ear problem.

Mercifully, the last 10 minutes of the class involved laying on the mat doing some light relaxation and breathing exercises. Minimal chance of embarrassing and/or hurting myself –> This, I could do.

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When it was over, I felt exhausted, but also exhilarated. I was proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. Plus, sweating that much is sort of an intoxicating feeling. Like some ancient form of blood-letting, where all of the demons, toxins and mini cupcakes are cleansed from your body forever. Sweat-letting. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Question of the Day: Are you a Yogi? Ever Tried Hot Yoga?

How I Learned to Love the Gym (Or at least not completely hate it)

My gym has been a bit of a madhouse lately.

Yesterday, I went for my usual lunchtime workout, only to discover that all of the treadmills were occupied.

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Since I will use almost any excuse to skip a workout, I thought about calling it quits right then and there. But I had made a killer new running playlist that morning; and I did have a pretty cute outfit on. So I decided to stick it out.

As I waited in line for a machine, I couldn’t get over how busy the cardio room was. There were even lineups at the water fountain.

This, my friends, is what’s known as the “January Gym Rush”. Membership sales surge as eager new members seek to carry out their New Year’s resolutions to get healthy. I call these newbies the “Resolutioners”. They’re sort of like One Direction’s “Directioners”, only about 10-15 years older, and 50-75% more annoying.

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Resolutioners file into the gym on January 1st like a bunch of nervous, high school freshmen: so eager, yet so, unbelievably scared. While generally well-intentioned, Resolutioners can wreak havoc on your workout routine. They crowd the change rooms, take up all the good parking spots and steal your favourite treadmill. They don’t know where anything is or how to use it, and they frequently disobey the most basic rules of gym etiquette; like “always wipe down your machines” and “Treadmill #15 belongs to BreezyK”.

I quickly found myself becoming impatient and cursing these Resolutioners for messing up my workout chi. Then I remembered that back in 2005, I was a Resolutioner myself.

(Cue the flashback)

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After spending the first half of my freshman year at University subsisting on nothing but Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Little Caesar’s pizza and dining hall hash browns, I inevitably gained the Freshman 15. Plus 5. Unhappy with how I looked and felt, I signed up for a membership at my school’s athletic club and resolved to lose the weight in January.

At first, I had no idea what I was doing.  Despite being a high school athlete, I knew shockingly little about fitness. I spent a solid month trying to figure out the settings on the treadmills, not realizing they were measured in miles rather than kilometres.

I set a routine for myself, waking up at 6am every day to hit the gym before my 8:30 classes. I’m not going to say it was easy; I was hopelessly intimidated by all of the fit, beautiful football players and Volleyball chicks with mile-long legs and perfect ponytails. There were days where I  wanted to end it all by fashioning a noose out of the treadmill emergency cord.

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But I put my head down, listened to some more JaRule and kept going.

By May, I had lost almost all of the 20lbs I had gained. I felt awesome.

For the next three years, I stuck to my fitness regime. Things dipped off for a bit in 2008 when I started law school and became convinced I was “too busy” for the gym. Incidentally, however, I was not too busy to drink copious amounts of alcohol and devour muffins the size of my head. When my “fat clothes” started fitting a little too well again, I quickly sprang into action. I trained for my first 10k and hit the gym before class in the mornings. I read my notes on the treadmill and highlighted cases on the upright bike. I’m sure people thought I was crazy, but what they didn’t know, was that all of this was actually keeping me sane.

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I graduated law school fitter, of sound mind, and with only a few more grey hairs than when I started. Success.

3 years later, I am still a regular gym-goer. And while at least 75% (ok, 90%) of my motivation can be attributed to vanity, the other 10% can be chalked up to enjoyment.

While I often joke about my disillusionment with the gym and how the treadmill is ruining my life, the truth is, the gym is actually sort of a happy place for me.  It’s a time to be alone with my thoughts; where no one bothers me. The treadmill doesn’t yell me for drafting a document incorrectly. I don’t get scolded by the elliptical for taking too long to respond to an e-mail. They are just there for me. Whenever I need them. For as long as I want. (Except on statutory holidays. Or between the hours of 11pm and 5am.But you get the idea.)

The gym is a place where I feel confident even when I don’t anywhere else. Plus, I’ve really come to know and like all of the staff and the regulars there. Even if we don’t always talk, I can still feel a sense of mutual respect and admiration between us. The warm smiles, the supportive nods; it’s like “hey, we’re all in this together”.

My gym has sort of become my home-away-from-home. My second family.The treadmills are like my siblings; the free weights those weird second cousins I only see once or twice a year.

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Let’s face it, working out is hard. So hard, in fact, that a lot of North Americans just don’t do it at all. But if you’re thinking about taking the plunge, I promise you it’s worth it. You can even join my gym if you need moral support. They totally gouge you on monthly fees, but the hairdryers are top-notch.

And if you’re a seasoned gym vet frustrated with all of those newbies, just remember: You, too, didn’t know the difference between a deadlift and a power lunge at one point. Be Patient. We’re all in this together.

Question of the Day: Did you make a new year’s resolution to get healthy? Are you a regular gym-goer?

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