Extreme Training for the Body and Mind

She pulled, and felt the muscles in her back contract.  Her lats fired every time her body went from a squat to standing.  She was then instructed to go from a one legged squat to a one-legged plyometric jump.  Seriously?  Four on the left leg and then four on the right.  She then straightened her back and started the rows - again, muscles in her back fired.

Chest - presses as she held herself up with her hands fixed into the straps of the nylon bands that were hanging from the ceiling and initiated creaks every so often that gave her a sense of insecurity.  Beads of sweat started to run down her face and pool in the small of her back.

She then lay in a supine position, looking up at the ceiling, and hooked her heels into the foot straps.  She lifted her hips up off the ground, bent her knees, and curled her heels into gluts.  She felt the burn in her hamstrings.

Prone position - face down - and push-ups with feet suspended off of the ground.  One push-up, and then she brought her knees into her chest.

And on it went, dozens more exercises each one more interesting than the next working her body in ways that she had never worked before.

She couldn't help but think that some of this might never have been possible had she not recovered from the stroke and heart surgery - but she did, and with every muscle fiber worked on controlling and stabilizing her core time and time again.  Some of the moves were rather reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil, which she did not mind.  In the end she took a TRX suspension system home with her.  Oh, she could not wait to bring it to the park for her first workout.  Although it would all depend on how much Tylenol she would need tomorrow...

Trx (participants at the TRX training)

Running for women

There were 7000 women all running together through the streets of Boston.  The race has been going on for more than 30 years, and on Columbus Day the streets fill.  Down Beacon Street, around Charles Street, then over the Salt and Pepper Bridge onto Memorial Drive in Cambridge.  The loop on Memorial Drive is a back and forth loop that ends by going over the Harvard Bridge back into Boston.  Last year was my first year, and it was because of the American Heart Association.  They encouraged me to run... to run for me and my heart.  In 2007 when I stood on Beacon Street and looked around the women that surrounded me, it turned into an emotional event.  This year was similar.  Again, asked by the AHA, there I was, but it was different.  Last year I ran for the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.  It was the first time I participated in an event since my stroke and surgery.  I was interviewed, photographed, and stayed for the awards ceremony at the end...

(from the Tufts Website)

But this year, the running was for me.  There were no cameras, no interviews, and no press tent.  When the race ended, I went home, and did not stay for the awards ceremony.  This year, the sun was out, and there was no rain.  I ran for myself, I ran for my mother, and my grandmother.  I ran for the amazing women in my life who support, inspire, and pick up pieces that fall.  That is why I ran.


"How do you find time to do it?"  That is a question I have been asked on many occasions as I balance my full time job, teaching fitness, working with the American Heart Association, writing, etc.  I am still not really sure what "it" is.  If it means living my life the way that I want to - well, it is not really finding the time, as much as it is making the time.  Something happened to me after I had my stroke and then my heart surgery.  My priorities shifted, as did my goals. Instead of doing some things in my life at 50, 40, or even 30%, I decided to do things at 75, 80, and 100%, and do more of what I like and less of what I did not like.  Realistically, there are those moments and days that everyone faces when you have do undertake certain tasks that are unpleasant.  But I have found (more often than not) it really comes down to choice and attitude.  If I am having a crazy work week, and have had three weekends in a row of plans - great plans mind you with amazing friends - then there are those weekends where I do not want to make any plans, and I do not even make excuses.  I just need to take a break from everything - from the people around me, and that is what re-energizes me to get back up and going full force on Monday morning.

I started to really think about all of this after reading an article about Dara Torres in the New York Times today.  She is someone who is truly an inspiration (or should be) to everyone.  She probably gets asked that same question:  How do you find time to do it... train for the Olympics, give inspirational speeches, be a single mother.  Not that I would know, but I am going to guess that she simply loves what she does.  That is the key - loving what you do and having an underlying passion for it.  This combination becomes inspiration to those around you.  It is putting in that extra effort that becomes inspirational to those around you.  Believe me, those little things do count.

In health,