Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mixing Releases?

On some weeks when I have to miss a regularly scheduled class, I will go to the gym after work on Saturday and do an Attack DVD by myself. This is kinda fun for me. I take the class from Lisa (who always motivates me), and I do lots of mirror work for technique. Also, when I do the class as a participant, I force myself to do all high/as much high as possible. But lately I've been thinking about something, and that's mixing releases.

Obviously, when I do a DVD, I do one entire release start to finish. This is a large departure from how I normally teach, or how most of the instructors at my club teach for that matter. I would venture to say that most of us (myself included) are driven by the music, so we pick the ones we like most and that's what we most often teach. It makes sense, as Attack is the most challenging format... especially when teaching. It would be difficult to "get into it" with songs you don't love, or don't even like.

As I go through my back catalogue, it's really interesting to see which tracks people loved vs hated. For example... yesterday I did Attack 52. Obviously the majority of that release rated well with the instructors at my club. We do 3-9 all the time... in fact I didn't even have to learn Round And Round when I made the jump from participant to instructor because I already knew it. However, with that said, I have only done track 10 maybe once or twice, and I had never seen 1, 2, or 11. I'll discuss this further in my 52 review (whenever I write it), but that mixed impact track is arguably the hardest of any release I've ever done. You are galloping for 2/3rds of the track, the arms are almost always up high vs most tracks where they are extended out. It probably didn't help that my shoulders were still toast from the week (and subsequently, most of track 5 was done on my knees). But now I'm getting sidetracked... I'm wondering if sometimes certain tracks get lost in the mixing... tracks which some participants would love. And maybe we owe it to them to show them all their choices and let them choose.

Essentially, most of the Attack classes at my club are team-taught, and most of them have random track mixes of whatever the instructor likes (plus, obviously, any requests). You might do 12 different releases within the same class. I have noticed a small handful of instructors who will teach any tracks they do from the same release. But I don't think one time have I ever gone to another instructor's class that wasn't a launch and they did a release in its entirety (I have done it a few times in my own). And as I do an entire release as a participant, it's fun to see how Lisa puts different pieces in different tracks that tie the entire thing together. For example, in Attack 46 there's modified squat tap where you rotate your torso and punch to the side in both the warmup and the leg track. In 62, you do a one-leg tap in front, on side, then in back in both agility and the leg track. In other releases, she will vary the moves... 53 doesn't have Supermans in track 3, but it does in track 9. I just feel like there's a certain message or quality present in doing an entire release that sometimes gets lost in the mixing.

What are your guys' thoughts/opinions/feedback about this topic? Do you teach entire releases, or do you mix all the time? Do you think it matters? And, in addition... how often do you change your mix? I've heard the gambit of responses (and subsequent reasoning). Leave it the same for 3 weeks so they get the hang of it, then switch... switch every time so no one gets bored... blah blah. I will admit I tend to switch it depending on how many new people I have. But what do you guys think?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Career Growing Pains and other Life Happenings

Hi Readers/fellow Attackers.

I wanted to drop a quick post and apologize for the lack of happenings on my blog lately. As anyone who writes a blog comes to discover, life often gets in the way of things. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but we all have to figure out a way to get everything done within that time. It's not always easy, and there are often many obstacles along the way.

With that said, these past few months have been extremely trying on me for personal reasons. I don't want to spend too much time dwelling on what hasn't been right, but basically my life has been in a state of flux. I had a couple of job opportunities that came up... which all would've been amazing. My ultimate goal, which I haven't really shared with anyone (but which will come as no surprise to anyone) is to move into Group Fitness full time. Not just as an instructor, although that will always be the first love of my life. But I'd like to manage the Group Fitness department at a club that has Les Mills programs, or work for Les Mills directly (most likely a US agency). I also want to become an Attack assessor/trainer/presenter, and just get really involved on a larger scale.

Over the past 4 months (well... a year and a half would be the very beginning, but that's a different story) there has been some almost-opportunities for me to actually make that happen. I spent a good portion of my time in a holding pattern. I kept waiting for answers, and also tried to figure out how to have the rest of life in order should such an opportunity present itself (some of these opportunities would've involved moving to a different state). On top of it all, my lease at my apartment was due to expire so I've had to plan lots of different locations for moving, try to plan life out around different jobs... a couple other personal things happened which I will not share at this time, but which further complicated things... (they aren't bad, they just mean life will change.)

Long story short? None of it came to fruition. At the end of all the waiting, all the stress, all the fighting... life stayed exactly the same. I am moving to a different apartment, but in the same city. I will continue at my same job for now. In the first few days following all of this hooplah, I was a bit depressed and sort of feeling like I had gone through all of this for nothing.

But I'm taking from this something larger. I'm a firm believer in listening to God/Higher Power/whatever you want to call it. What I come away with is the firm decision to make a career change, and I now have a (somewhat fuzzy) roadmap on how to get there. It's no longer a matter of if, it's simply a matter of when. It's amazing to me how, when you finally get on the right path in life, things immediately calm down and work together with you. It's sort of like getting lost on side roads or within a subdivision while looking for the main highway. Once you find it, all the stress goes away... even though you have yet to arrive at your destination.

I think back a few months, or even a year, to when I didn't even think this was within the realm of possibility. I thought I'd just work an 8-5 day job and teach on the side and that would be it. I was working towards a different degree in school, and I was busy. What did I discover? Life kept getting in the way of Group Fitness. Work gets in the way of me taking the class I want to take, I find myself scheduling other appointments and social events around gym time, and I get sad and depressed when I can't go.

I was busy, but I wasn't fulfilled at all. Teaching wasn't enough. If I could, I'd live in a group fitness room. I'd never leave. I'd continue to refuel and just keep taking classes/teaching classes. But I want more... I want to take care of the sound system, and make sure the floors are clean. I want to stand up at the front and ask every person if they have ever tried a group fitness class, and encourage them to join one. I'd love to meet new instructors and help mentor them on their journey. I want to do all of this because I care that much about it. It's not about me, it's about making sure that it gets taken care of by someone who cares. At my current job, we have a manager who literally brings a banjo with him to work and takes 2 hour lunches. He does not fight for us for anything we ask for with his superiors, and he is set to retire in September, although he is already retired... I want more than that for Group Fitness. I want to contribute on a larger scale, or on multiple scales. I love what Group Fitness has done for me, I love what BodyAttack has done for me... and what they continue to do for me. I've now determined that this is it... this is what I was meant to do, and there's no turning back. It feels Right with a capital R. I'm finally in my truth.

And in the meantime, I have been so blessed. Many of my strained relationships at my club have been nourished and are now fantastic. I'm teaming 3-5 times, I've networked some amazing professional connections for the future, and I've also gained one of the best friends life could offer through the whole process... I know where I'm headed and sort of how I'm getting there. I'm set up for success, and life is good.

So, I promise to now be more present on this blog. Thank you all for your messages, thoughts, and urgings to get me writing quicker because you love reading. I'm honored and flattered! I've got a list of posts to get up here and will get cracking. Keep staying tuned, keep turning it up!

Kia Kaha!

BodyAttack 101 05: Upper Body Conditioning

Ahh... first cardio block finished!!! Time for some active recovery for the heart (although most of the time you don't really feel like it's a recovery). One thing that's really pushed/emphasized about BodyAttack is that it's an overall body workout including strength training (this track clearly fits into that dimension under 3D). For our first round we hit the upper body, including arms, chest, (and more recently) the core. The past few releases Lisa has really bumped of the level of challenge by including core work. Now stabilizing and bracing the core are essential to pushing yourself through this track.

All that said, what it basically boils down to is pushups... a lot of pushups. Now it's no secret to anyone who knows me that my upper body strength is my current weakness (along with flexibility that effects my kicks in track 8...) so this track... not such a favorite of mine. I often feel weak and inept. I have come a LONG way since I first started... I can now do every chest pushup in a track on the high knee option, and am doing about 1 full round of tricep pushups on the high knee option as of this posting. I'm fairly certain I could start doing some of the chest on my toes. The problem is that I sweat buckets all over the floor, and my hands start slipping. I have injured my shoulder in the past, and can't afford to re-injure it. So I'm trying to figure out some sort of solution against that. But I'm determined to progress, so it's definitely a goal I'm actively working on.

Bare all of this in mind as you read my top 10. They may not all be the hardest, they may not be the most popular... but it all comes down to song for me. What song is going to push me to actually try harder... to actually push myself and not just quit when I hate the vast majority of the track and would rather die. A lot of people have this same feeling with the cardio blocks... for me it's the pushups. So, here are my top 10: Love me or hate me, but yeah!

Edit 6-13-11 This post has been near completion for two months. The last 4 tracks were added today, but the descriptions are all similar. I do apologize for that, but when almost every track is all push-ups, and the only way I get through them is to pick the cheeky songs... not much else to say!

  1. 64 - Hot N Cold - Ahh the one that started it all... (64 was the first new release I launched as a participant). For one thing, I just really love this song outside of the BodyAttack world, so it only stands to reason that it's a good choice for me. I really like walking planks, so the crab crawl is a good move for me. The track alternates between crab crawls and tricep pushups, and then a round of chest pushups at the end. Lisa also presents this one (and might I say... she looks phenomenal) and she gives really great cues for pushing yourself to the end. It's my favorite song out of the pushup tracks.

  2. 57 - Beware Of The Dog - He's comin to getcha!!!! This one features an alternating hand walk and both types pushups. No surprises... just a fantastic beat, very gritty sound, and catchy lyrics.

  3. 65 - I Don't Care - Basically the exact same as Beware Of The Dog in both music (they sound very similar) and moves... This hand walk is a walking plank where only your hands move. 4 steps backwards, 4 steps forwards. The rest of us can find happiness in misery here... :)

  4. 69 - Sexy Chick - Enter the core punishment. Each round starts with tricep pushups, then the new move which is a plank-twist (while in a plank, you rotate your body to one side or the other, alternating) and then chest pushups. 3 rounds. Done. Fun top 40 song, especially when there's lots of ladies in the room, and I like the twist on typical chorey (no pun intended).

  5. 67 - Boom Boom Pow - A whole lot of pushups with a single step version of the crab crawl put the boom boom pow into the chest. I trained on this release, and I really like this track.

  6. 60 - Kiss Your Mama - Na na na na na na na... A one-hand tap, lots of rhythm changes to work the muscle at different angles, and plenty of bottom halves. The song is cheeky, and everyone seems to enjoy it in the audience. Yay!

  7. 72 - Drummer Boy - It's hard, but the song has attitude... do you see a recurring theme for push-up tracks? This is the only way I get through them! One hand-foot stomps, then 12 singles... 3-4 times doing both chest and triceps. It's long, it's hard, and it's fun!

  8. 58 - Walk This Way - Who doesn't love Aersomith? This one is always a crowd favorite. Somehow I find myself wishing that the remix had male singers instead of female, but it's still fun. One hand taps to the corner, lots of chest pushups with alternating taps. This is one I get lots of requests for, which I always appreciate.

  9. 59 - Dirty - Oddly, it's not the participants that particularly love this one, it's all my fellow instructors. The lyrics are fun but a bit risque, so we only teach this one to certain classes. A teeth-clenching beat that helps you force your way through some serious work.

  10. 56 - Lolita - I put this one in here just because I had several participants who read this blog who specifically said it must be here. The main thing about it is the corkscrew move which is different from most of these tracks. The bad side of this? The corkscrew is HARD!!! Any of these tracks that require both lots of upper body strength PLUS core... a great workout, but a really hard time for Chad!!!

And there you have it! First half of the class? CHECK!!! Give yourself a big pat on the back... most beginners walk out during track 3. Next up? Running!