Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm interrupting this guest blogger program to update you on Me! Below are my last 10 workouts. I've been focusing on one of my weakest links...Running!

20 squats
20 seconds rest
20 squats
15 thrusters with 12k KB (Right arm only)
20 swings
run 400 with my old slow dog
20 box jumps
run again
15 thrusters
20 squats
20 swings
15 snatches
1 min rest
10 high pull L/R with 12k KB
10 thrusters R
10 high pulls L/R
Rest 5 or 10 mins
4 TGU's each side with 12k KB
It was the first time I've done TGU with the 12k KB on the left side...really hard..really!

Ran 1 mile
5 front squats with 45# bar
5 front squats with 75#( These both hurt my shoulder a little.)
50 swings with 20k KB
15 High pulls each arm
15 SDLP's
15 Goblet squats
Run 1 mile

I just did not have it today. I had to push myself just to get up and do this little number.
It does feel good to hit the Met con again. I will do this for the next two days or so. Then go heavy at the gym on Sat

Warm up
Row 400m (with care to the left shoulder)
Snatch work with 16k KB ( just for form)
Front Squat form work 45#x10
Worked on not collapsing on the bottom for the squat.
Row 400 Just slow and easy
Front squat with 65#x5
Deadlift 135x5
Row 400 Slow and easy
Front squats 35#x5
DL 175#x3
Rest 5 mins
DL 204#x2
My old PR was 240#
Would like to get 250# or so by end of June

Warm Up:
Run perimeter of basketball court 4 times.
100 jump ropes
50# Sandbag carry perimeter of basketball court twice(walk one side lunge other side)
Sandbag pull full court 4 times unsure of weight of bag (I think it's at lest 85# or 90lbs)
50 air squats

Main workout for time:
50#Sandbag Carry and lunge perimeter of court
Sandbag pull up and back full court
40 air squats

Yesterdays Workout
6am at Crossfit Challenge
1000 meter Row
50 jumping slamballs.
It took about 8 mins or more. I cleared my watch and can't remember.

5 rounds for time
20 wallballs at 10 foot target
20 KB swings
9mins 20 seconds.

I'm in a piss poor mood. This week has been smashing. It was my first week back to work after more then two months. 12 hour shifts are hard, I seemed to have lost my legs as we say at work. My knees are sore. Not to mention that I got the shit shifts of 11am to 11p and I live an hour from work. So I crashed the first nigth at my friends house who is an 86 year old physics prof from Austria. He keeps his house so fucking the 80's. I was up most of the night.
Jerry of Crossfit Challenge is being kind enough to let me come to his 6am class for free. So I'm not going to miss it! Today I'm unsure what I want to do, that's another post.
Also, after two months off a few of my kind hearted co-workers felt the need to tell me I've gained weight....I fucking know.....Jesus Christ! You're killing me! Watch out world I feel the need to punch!

Felt shattered today. It took me all day to get my ass in gear and do a little something.
Sprint repeats(I say sprints...but to the rest of the world it may look as if I'm walking in slow motion!)
20 Seconds sprints with 10 seconds rests 10X
I did this on the end of a soccer field that has a hill. The hill kicked my ass! My lungs are burning!

AM warm up workout:
KB body Halos, Just to get me moving and loose.
5 mins of swings with 12k :165
Put the KB down at 100 and twice more in the last two mins. My forearms locked up.
Music: Squeeze

PM workout:
5 Renegade rows with two 20# DB's
5 KB highpulls each arm with 20k KB
5 figure 8's each direction
Finished in 10 Min's
No music, just the sound of myself suffering.

8am Balance gym DC
Warm up: Jump rope with weighted jump ropes. I don't know what the weights are but they're color coded. I stated with Yellow, Orange, blue and Red twenty turns each.
150 wall ball shoots for time with a 6# ball. 8:43
Rest 5 mins
power shrugs: 5x45#, 5x65#, 5x95#
OHS: 10X15# bar, 10x35#, 10X40#
5 Sots press with PVC
5x2 Sots press 8k KB left and Right
5 Side presses 8k KB
5 side presses with 16 right and 8k left
5 side presses 16k KB right and 8k left

Today at Crossfit Challenge:
20 mins how many rounds
5 TGU's each arm 16k KB right 8k KB left
10 pushups
15 jumping ball slams
Five rounds

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How does one introduce Krista of Stumptuous? From my Internet point of view she's a wild women who can write like Cyber Fire! Her website is loaded with fitness information. Which may paint a picture of another boring fitness information site that you have to trudge through to find that golden nugget that your looking for...not so at stumptuous. Krista has the amazing ability to convey humor and wit over cyber space...Sweet Jesus there is a goddess!

Folks this is my first attempt ever at a interview. The questions being asked are not all my own. They came from a group of women here locally in the DC area. Thank you Andrea, Adrienne and Karen to name a few. I've mixed your questions into the batch to spice it up a little;)!

Jen: If you had to pick five exercises as your "desert island" exercises- meaning they're the only five you could do for the rest of your life- what would you choose and why?

Krista: Sandbag stair carries - probably the most functional thing in existence, and hits everything you have. Helpful for burying bodies and wife carrying races.

Sledgehammer swings - in case you ever find yourself on a chain gang; also
works just about every muscle there is. Gives wicked core strength. Plus it looks cool, or crazy.

Squats -'cause nothing satisfies like the thwack of your butt hitting
your calves, and the knowledge that 99% of people are doing this one like wimps.

Sprints - have you ever seen sprinters' butts? Do I need to sell these any more? Gets you fast AND lean, which are two great tastes.

Pullups - you just never know when you might be hanging off a cliff; in the meantime build a back big enough to land a 747.

Jen: How does menopause effect working-out? Do you know anything about this?

Aside from a possible line on some "replacement" testosterone, winkwink,
menopausal training is a lot like premenopausal training. One of the big
issues for women as they age is heart disease; estrogen appears to have a protective effect, and as the endogeneous production declines the risk of
CVD goes up. Thus exercising with CV health in mind is key as women age.
Insulin sensitivity is correlated with CV disease risk, so managing insulin levels is important.

Another important goal for postmenopausal training is bone density, which
means incorporating load-bearing and if possible impact-based elements.
Bones need to be loaded along their length, as in a squat, and ideally there is also some impact in moderate amounts. Now, the square-ass ageist
trainers of the world will probably hand the average 60 year old woman a 2
lb dumbbell and tell her not to hurt herself, or send her to a nice gentle yoga class. Personally I'd rather see the ladies running, jumping, and
punching things. We know, for example, that judicious use of plyometrics
provides a stronger stimulus for bone remodelling than just about any
other movement. A trainer I used to know would have his older clients in
Japan smack a wooden mallet into a barrel of rice for a few long sets,
which always struck me as both satisfying and therapeutic.

As people age, their balance and overall mobility decline. It's essential
to retain functional movement for daily life and prevent falls. A hip
fracture in a 30 year old is horribly painful but not life-threatening; a hip fracture in a 75 year old can be a death sentence. Any routine for an
older person should focus on daily-life, integrated movements: hauling
loads in and out of awkward positions, climbing stairs, gripping things,
moving when balance is challenged, etc. Obviously this isn't such a
concern for, say, a 50 year old, but the "use it or lose it" principle
applies -- the sooner you start, the better you retain it.

Finally, there's no reason why older women should accept immobility and
fat gain. Sure, gravity gets the better of us all, but much of "normal"
aging is simply disuse. One can stay relatively lean and fit at any age
simply with careful nutrition and regular training. Adjust goals upwards
and don't accept the status quo -- my 82 year old osteoporotic grandmother hiked 2.5 hours a few days ago.

Jen: What kind of carry over do you get from being fit. As in do you see how it's made a difference in your work life/home life?

It's hard to say where the boundary is. I don't think it's an
overstatement to say it's changed my life. It's changed my whole physical
experience of living in my body and being out in the world, and my whole
concept of who I am, and what's important to me. I was trying to figure
out why I enjoyed BJJ so much, aside from the fact that it's a good
workout and a fun mental puzzle. My coach pointed out that BJJ is one of
the few sports that truly unifies all the aspects of oneself: physical,
mental and emotional. The physical demands are obvious and varied, but
there is also the mental component of strategy, planning and learning; and
the emotional component of learning not to freak out when you're being
crushed or choked by someone.

But many challenging physical activities are similar to some degree. You
have to learn to be scared or insecure about it, and do it anyway. You
have to learn to try new things and new ways of moving your body. You end
up with a sense of confidence and "body partnership" -- that you and your
body are working together rather than in opposition.

Jen: What are some creative ways you "fit" your workouts into your busy life?

Krista: I like to play "I'm late". This involves pretending to be late and just
rushing from point A to B: scurrying to the bus, running up stairs, etc.
When there isn't snow on the roads I commute to work by bike. When the
weather's crummier I'll often walk home from work, or at least part of the
way. I'm lucky to live in a city so most things are within a 30-45 min
walk. I find ways to get little bits of exercise: I take the stairs; I
rarely drive (I walk, cycle or take transit); I step out at lunch for a
10-min head-clearing constitutional; etc.

I try to train daily even if it's not a perfect opportunity. 10-15 min
here or there adds up. I'm also lucky now to have some stuff in my
basement. Before I moved, I was doing things in about 10 square feet of
space in my living room, trying not to smash the coffee table.

I also prefer to train in the morning. When you train in the morning you
have the benefit of caffeine, and once you're done, you're done. As
motivated as I am, I still can find excuses not to train in the evenings
after I've worked a whole day.

I like circuit training a lot too. It's efficient, gives you variety, an
be a form of interval or cardio training, and you can make it time-based.
Or go for total reps. For example, try 1 full clean every 30 seconds (I
generally use only the clean b/c the jerk grinds my elbows into powder).
Once you hit 50 cleans in total, add weight. If you can do this with 90%
of your bodyweight or more, you are officially a mean motherfucker and
nobody should screw with you. (One of my goals for 2008 is a 100-rep clean
workout. Because it's there.)

Most importantly, I make working out a priority. It's right up there with
food, shelter, subsistence income, basic hygiene and family. It's the only
thing standing between me and certain decrepitude so I take it very
seriously. We all age and we all lose function. You can go out quietly and
get stuck on the john one day, or you can go kicking and screaming all the
way, ending up as the toughest old broad in the retirement home at age
105. No matter how you're starting out: young, old, disabled, pregnant,
chronically ill, whatever -- there is almost no situation that regular
exercise doesn't improve.

Warning: rant ahead. When people say they're "too busy" to exercise and
eat right, I have to throw the bullshit flag. 2006 data shows that
American women spend about 0.19 hours a day on exercise and sports, but
between 2.2 and 2.7 hours a day on watching TV. In fact, TV far outweighs
any other leisure activity -- socializing, reading, etc. So, women are
spending over 10 TIMES MORE HOURS on TV than on their friends/family or
themselves. Now that's screwed up.
(Data here:

Sit down and make a time diary of how you're spending your days. I think
you'd be shocked at how much time you waste. There are 168 hours in a
week. Let's say 50 are for paid employment, 5 for commuting, 56 for
sleeping, 7 for grooming, 20 for domestic tasks like housecleaning and
prepping meals. That's 138 hours. There are 30 hours left. Nuff said.

Jen: How do you get through the days or weeks when you have no motivation?

Krista: I don't rely on motivation very much. I rely on structure and routine, or
making myself accountable to other people. If I don't work out, I feel
like crap and I'll get my ass kicked at my next BJJ competition by someone
who did take the time to train. I plan and prepare so that I don't have
the option to wuss out: I book training sessions with other people; I
schedule time for training; I make my lunches for the week on Sunday; I
pack my clothes (a bodybuilder friend of mine and I like to joke that we
now carry around a spare pair of underwear and deodorant at all times--you never know when you might get sweaty!).

I definitely find that having a plan gives vastly superior results. I fell
off the wagon with having a set training routine over the holidays -- I
stayed active but I felt unfocused and disorganized. Spending 30 min on a
new training spreadsheet got me right back on track. Now I know I have to
go do workout X on day Y, just like I know I have to go brush my teeth
first thing in the morning.

Mike Mahler said recently that successful people do what needs to be done
regardless of how they feel about it. Waiting for workout motivation is
like waiting for creative writing genius to strike. You'll still be in
front of the boob tube a month later, putting in your 2.7 hours a day, and
your Great Novel won't be more than a blinking cursor.

Jen: Have you over trained before? How did that present in your body and life? How did you recover.

Krista: I have never truly overtrained in the most accurate sense of systemic
failure. (Most people never do.) However I have often overreached, and the
usual result was something like tendonitis.

Currently I'm nursing a little owchy from too much front-facing and
scapular-elevating work (Olympic lifting, BJJ, and handstand pushups).
There are a few basic elements to preventing and treating overreaching:

a) Catch it early, and don't be a hero. In the past I'd just soldier on
through pain. That's stupid. Now, I know what it feels like to have my
body working at 100%, and I prefer it that way. I'm sensitive to when
things are even a little bit off. I had this shoulder tendonitis for a
couple of weeks, and it was probably about a 2 on a scale of 1 (pain free)
to 10 (arm falling off). After it didn't self resolve I got right on it
and visited my favourite sports med docs. By the way, ART and sports
acupuncture are awesome for just about any soft tissue problem that ails you! I can't say enough good stuff about ART in particular.

b) Make recovery a priority. People eat, train and supplement for
"muscle building" and "fat loss" but rarely for "recovery enhancement". I believe
this is a mistake. First of all, anabolism IS basically optimal or
augmented recovery in a sense, but more importantly if you can't recover
you can't train to your fullest potential. If you aren't recovered then
training becomes a catabolic, rather than an anabolic, stimulus -- it
breaks you down rather than building you up. Sleep, take your MSM,
glucosamine and fish oil, and eat your antioxidants. Don't drop your fat, calories, or
essential nutrients too low. This is especially important for female
endurance athletes but true for anyone with a higher training volume;
there is a risk of subclinical anemia and things like respiratory tract
infections if nutrition isn't enough to meet training demands. Recovery is
systemic, not just local -- in other words, for the muscles in your arm to
recover, your whole body needs to chip in. I basically subsist on good
fats, colourful fruit and veg, and protein sources including lots of fish
and seafood. I have made 8 hours of sleep a priority. As a result my
immune system is rock solid; I rarely get viruses that are going around
and even things like bruises heal more rapidly. (My BJJ team provides a
good control group for this hypothesis.)

c) Cycle your training load, intensity, exercise choices, etc. Think of
overreaching as a dimension that good training seeks to prevent through
its organization. Tom Fahey, one of the great veterans of sports science,
said, "Competing while injured is a training mistake". Conceptualize
overreaching as a training error and adjust accordingly. Think
proactively: if you do a sport consistently you know that certain parts
are going to get overworked and tight, so include some "prehab" in your
program that works on the parts likely to be inhibited and weak, frees up
the restrictions in the tight parts, and generally anticipates problems
before they occur.

d) Bust ass, but leave a little bit in the tank almost every time. If you
keep hammering away at your maxes each workout, you'll eventually pay the
price. If your sport involves lifting heavy, that's great. But you don't
need to test out your 100% at each training session. Training is training-- motor learning, capacity enhancement and skill building -- not all-out
performance, all the time. Many coaches feel that one should save the
maxes for the platform or whatever sporting venue is appropriate. I say
that now and again, a max can help you test your limits and judge
progress, but such things should be relatively rare. If you train at 80%
to 90% capacity, and even have occasions when you do 50%, then you'll
recover more effectively and rapidly -- which means in the long term, your
outcome will be better.

Jen: Do you keep a training log? How and why?

Krista: Oh yes, absolutely. It's essential for fully realizing progress. Unless
you're Rain Man you won't remember all the stuff you need to remember to
stay focused. I have a multi-sheet spreadsheet that tracks the usual stuff
like reps and sets but other things too.

1.Improvement from last workout. I jot down how, if so, I have improved
since the last comparable training session. Did I add weight? A set? Reps?
Did something feel easier? Etc.

2.Goals for next time. Maybe during this session I felt like I could
have done a little bit more but didn't want to exert an all-out maximal
I just make that a priority for next time. Or I have accomplished a goal
and it's time to move on -- ok, I got X reps with Y weight, now let's
start working towards X reps with Y+1. Or maybe those 10 reps felt
pretty hard, so I think next time I'll just stay at that number.

3. Bodyweight. On a short person, a few pounds make a big difference so
I keep a tight leash on this. Also, I may have to make weight for a
competition, although in BJJ the weight classes for women are usually
ridiculously broad because there are still so few competitors, so it's not
usually an issue for me.

4. Minutes per day. I add this to a cumulative total of weekly hours.
This builds on John Berardi's G-Flux concept -- identifying total time spent
per week as a training variable, esp. for body composition.

5. Which workouts go where. I block it all out and colour code different
workout types, so at a glance I can tell what I'll be doing all week.

6. Any notes about how I'm feeling. Is this body part a little achey? Did
I have enough to eat? etc.

7. My period.

Jen: Which brings me to the next question...Working out during your period or while your PMS can be difficult for some women. Some women even feel like they lose a week or more of training. Any advice?

Krista: Many women find that their menstrual cycles affect their training,although the exact effect can vary from woman to woman. I'm not as strong
for a few days when my period starts, so I just factor that in and
schedule lighter training sessions. It's nature's periodization. :) So
let's say you have a week when you know you'll not be at your best --plan
that in as a "deloading" or "active recovery" week.

Another risk, though slight and the evidence for this is mixed, is joint
injury during the premenstrual period. There is some evidence that joint
laxity increases a little bit, and typical injuries include ACL ruptures
and low back injuries, but again, the studies have shown inconsistent
results. Personally, I find that sometimes pain perception is enhanced
premenstrually. I feel the soreness more -- suddenly it feels like I've
been worked over by Laila Ali, even though the achiness might not match my
actual training stimulus. I recognize it as simply an increased
perception, rather than an empirical reality. To some degree many of the symptoms which women find objectionable can be
managed through nutrition. Since I cut out dairy (good ol' age-related
lactose intolerance) and, for the most part, grains, and started trying to
get plenty of fish in my diet, I've noticed a major difference in how I
experience my period. I used to be one of those women who'd live on
Tylenol for a couple of days, cursing my evil uterus as it tried to crawl
out my bellybutton. When I changed my eating I actually had months where I
had no cramps at all. Colour me astonished.

Jen: What are your physical goals for 2008?

Krista: To continue to develop my overall skills in BJJ and to learn some
gymnastic/acrobatic stuff. To stay committed to my active existence
despite life's obstacles. To cycle 100 km in the summer... or more. 100
rep cleans, as I mentioned. To get in the best all-round shape I've ever
been in -- I keep trying to do this and haven't hit my limit yet, so I'll
just keep on trucking and see where it ends up.

Also, to be a ninja, but that's really an ongoing thing.

Jen: What's your biggest training mistake?

Krista: Right now, too much front-facing, scapular elevation work without enough
scapular retraction-depression work. I used to think that pushing :
pulling should be in a 1:1 ratio but I'm coming to believe that given the
habitual movements and postures of desk work it should be something like 1:2.

In the past one of my biggest mistakes has been constantly trying to push
and push and push at the max lifts. You can't do a new 1RM every workout.
You can't even do a new 1RM every month. Get over it.

Also, in the past I've focused too much on the low-rep heavy work. Over
the last few years, since I had a back injury that started with an
overenthusiastic stiff-legged DL and ended with a fall on the ice, I've
come to recognize the importance of endurance-based work for both rehab
and overall conditioning.

But you know, I have to say, all things considered, I've done pretty well
and have stayed relatively sound and healthy.

Jen: There are so many methods of fitness. So many ideas of what fitness is. Everyone thinks their way is the right way. You know all these arguments. Swing a KB this way not that way. Kipping pull-ups are cheating, deadhang pull-ups are the only goes on and on. How do you view, deal this way of thinking?

I say two things:

a) Steal from everyone and everywhere. Yesterday while working takedowns
in BJJ I realized that the principles were the same as ballroom dancing--you lead and follow and shift your weight depending on what your partner
does. The grrls at my next tournament are gonna feel that foxtrot.

b) Use the right tool for the job, Beavis. A hammer is great. A
screwdriver is great. Using a hammer to do a screwdriver's job is kinda
dumb, as is proclaiming the overall superiority of the hammer. Nobody
would try to build a house with just a hammer, so why try to build
physical abilities with just one tool?

Jen: Does working out make your sex life better?

Krista: Yes. Unless you are having sex while bench pressing. This carries a higher risk of sports injury.

Jen: Tell us about your personal workouts, how there going what your doing? What are you experimenting with?

Krista: Right now for me, the biggest priority is building a broad base of
physical abilities -- speed-strength, agility, active flexibility, work
capacity, integrated full-body movements, etc. I like to think that I
could try a new sport at any time rather than having to "get in shape" to even start it. I divide my workouts into A, B, C and D workouts. A are heavy workouts
-either something like a 5x5 protocol or extended "sets" of singles with
the basics: squats, OLs, weighted pullups, etc. B workouts are
speed/agility/conditioning workouts - circuits, something resembling
Crossfit, longer sets or sets focused on explosiveness, etc. Here I choose
exercises such as pushups, jumps, swings, and various other
conditioning-type things. For A and B workouts, I generally organize
them into supersets or circuits, e.g. a squat-push-pull sequence. C is cardio,
mostly short-duration interval-based stuff with one longer session per
week (usually a 5k run). D is grappling skills training, either classes or drilling.

I have 2-3 each of A and B workouts per week; 3-4 C workouts, 4-6 D
workouts. Few workouts are longer than 30 min, except for D which is often
class-based so it can end up being something like 2 to 3 hours long(but in reality, one spends quite a lot of time lying on the floor in BJJ:)).

Thank you Krista for taking the time to do this. Your truly a women of creativity and strength!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let me introduce you to Carta my next guest. I've been going to her blog for the last year or more. She has a way of staying positive and strong that is contagious. I'm so glad she took the time to stop by Jen's Gym and do a post. thanks Carta! Enjoy her post folks!

My name is Catra Corbett I am an Ultrarunner and crossfit junkie.
I have run over 250 ultramarathons since 1998.
I was never an athlete I was a little tiny thing. I was such a girlie girl growing I took dance class and loved it. My parents decided I need to play sports since that's what my little brother did. They had me playing soccer & softball which by the way I hated both. They involved running and I hated running. I pretty much sat on the side line. I had fear of getting hit my the ball in both sports. Once you get hit your afraid. I got hit in the face with the softball and soccer ball.
I hated that time of year in through Jr. high & high school where you are tested on your physical fitness which I had none. Couldn't do a pull-up. The run on the track forget it. I never ran a full lap.
Started hanging it in the club scene in the 80's and halfway through the 90's. Dancing and party we're my exercise.
My life came to a screeching halt 13 years ago when me and an X-boyfriend got arrested for selling meth. aka speed. They dropped the charges on me and got me for under the influence since I never had been in trouble before. I spent one night in jail and was scarred straight.
I decide to get my life back find something else to do so started walking and joined a gym. I also decide to become a Vegan. I went from one extreme to the other not healthy to super healthy.

I ran marathons for two years then found out about Ultramarathons. In my first 3 months of running Ultras I ran my first 100 miler. I'll telling you running and complete a 100 miler is better then any .
high I got doing drugs. I have run 52 100 milers.
Ok so the question is how do you do it?? How do you train where do you find time??
To do it you must have discipline and dedication. You make time , if I have to work I get up early and run before work. The weekend are always long runs. 30-40 miles. I know I must do my long runs to prepare for an ultra.. I make time in my life for running and crossfit. I'm single and I have no kids so it's much easier for me then most woman who have a family.
I started doing crossfit in August of 2006. I went for 4 months and feel in love with it. I tell people you walk out of crossfit realizing how unfit you are because it kicks your butt every time. I quit going for 3 months and start again at a new crossfit facility close to home. I feel in love with the energy of all the trainers at one world crossfit. I felt like I fit in.
I have been at one world since March 07. I hiked 2000 mile of the Pacific Crest trail last Summer and I don't felt I would of been strong enough to hike with a pack 30-40 miles a day. It was my training at crossfit that helped me.
I never had a strong upper body but I feel like I do know. With running your not developing all the muscle groups like you do when you do crossfit.
My running has improved with crossfit. The most noticeable difference is on the up hills. I feel stronger especially during the night in a hundred mile race. I use to just crawl up the hills, now i power walk up them because I'm so much stronger.
I love crossfit so much I will be getting my level 1 cert. in March. I will also be going to the crossfit running & endurance training cert. in Newport beach in February.

I believe crossfit has changed my body & mind. It has helped me not to be stuck, and just run, run , run all the time. I feel like I don't have to run 120 miles a week to do well in an Ultra. I can get by on running 80-100 miles and do just as well if not better.

"Lifes a journey not a destination"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's 6:30am and I'm awake because our two cats start to play fight at about 6am. It's their way of telling us, it's time to eat! They really go crazy running around the house hissing and yelling, tumbling around. It's like the wrestling match of the year everyday! Geeesh!
Anyhow my next guest is the Mighty Kat. We bumped into each other via She can write beautifully and hit the Iron with passion! She's also a workout outside kinda landy and you know I dig that! I hope you enjoy her as much a I've enjoyed getting to know her. Take a trip to her website to look around and read some of her work.

I am The Mighty Kat.

I am an explorer by nature. This means that not only do I tend to move residences every couple of years and change jobs, I continue to evolve in the fitness world. And I love it. The journey is as exciting as the highlights.

Sports was never my thing, and it can be tough to stumble into a fitness discipine. I had a few early inclinations. I picked up my father’s dumbbells when I was a kid, and carefully followed the exercise diagrams for building shoulders. I noticed people’s musculature and admired fit bodies. I called a gymnastics place and asked about the rings, but was told they didn’t teach girls the rings.

In elementary school, I was the only girl who could climb the knotted rope at the fire station, and I did the flexed-arm hang for longer than any girl in the county, they said. I did the hand-over-handle bars until I grew too tall.

(I mention these things because there are kids out there like this right now, and maybe you can spot them and guide them to opportunity. I think adults take kids’ playing for granted, especially girls, and can overlook natural inclinations that could blossom with the right environment. So I pass on this tiny flag.)

Fast forward to college. The one good thing to come of a terrible romantic relationship was that a guy introduced me to weight training and running. It clicked. It outlasted him. I bought a bench and used it (the same way any untrained guy would – lots of bench presses and curls).

Eventually, I became a gym rat, and naturally got drawn into bodybuilding.

The training waxed transcendental at times. The work outs demanded every bit of effort I could give. I loved the sensation of specific muscle failure, the “pump.” The dieting, while no picnic (yuck, yuck), was easier for me to handle than most, because I’m phenomenally stubborn.

I hired a “cool” trainer for my first competition. He trained me the traditional way – like a 200-pound guy on steroids (although I was none of the above). On contest day, I found myself lying on the floor of the men’s room, surrounded by people icing me and trying to forcefeed me Gatorade. I had done everything I was told, and I nearly died. I nearly died.

I abandoned the trainer, but not the exploration. I wanted to know if bodybuilding could be done in a way that was physically and mentally healthy. I discovered “natural bodybuilding” – a world apart from the conventional gymrat bodybuilder world, and I found Dr. Joe Klemczewski (, a fabulous guy with a unique, pioneering approach to bodybuilding dieting, and he brought my experiment to fruition.

When I walked out of a show at midnight hugging a trophy sword, feeling healthy, happy, with my husband still smiling, I knew I’d achieved my goal in bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding has a lot of drawbacks and demands. I felt ready for my next adventure.

Then I discovered Olympic lifting through Mistress Krista’s, and it was off to the (next) races. My split training has made way for multi-joint strength training. The lifts are at the heart of it, coupled basic strength exercises – pull-ups, chin-ups, dumbbell bench pressing, stuff like that. Now I warm up by walking around the yard with a bar held high over my head and swinging dumbbells and odd items. I’m thinking about the rings again, now that I’ve bumped into people like Jen, who demonstrate that girls can indeed do the rings. And the journey continues.

I think part of being an explorer means that you make connections with people, and communities, and traditions. But ultimately it’s the journey that drives you. I tiptoe around training disciplines that label themselves, and I dance away from ones that seek money in exchange for participation. Because the physical practice of moving and honing one’s strength is as sacred as the spiritual, and once institutionalized, traditions can go awry.

So I walk my unchartered path freely, stopping to enjoy what there is to enjoy along the way, and savoring each special tradition for what it contributes to my being as a whole. I love this adventure, and look forward to what lies ahead.

In strength is joy, and I wish the joy of strength to all, and the joy of the journey to all the explorers.

Mighty Kat: live a little from The Mighty Kat on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tracy Fober is the Iron Maven! Have you seen her videos on Youtube? Or checked out her website? If your saying no to both your really missing out. Tracy's videos are are not only helpful for Oly lifting form they are truly inspirational! For a while I watcher her videos without knowing what she was all about. Then I found her website and blog and said to myself, well shit how come all these people live so far away? This lady is into Olympic lifting and that's cool! Anyway thank you Tracy for coming to Jen's Gym.

I’m not your typical physical therapist. My goal is to teach people to know their bodies, move well and be strong—to really educate them about their physical health and keep them out of the clinic. I am not afraid to ask the human body to move and adapt to the real world. And trust me; I practice what I preach on a daily basis. How can I ask others to move if I cannot and do not move myself?

I have always been athletic, so the thought of using exercise to promote health appealed to me, versus using surgery or pharmacology as a physician. The value of movement in health became very apparent after my father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (chronic progressive type) in his early 40’s. There wasn’t much medicine could do for him; but movement was therapeutic. I liked the idea of the top-down approach versus the reductionist, Western medical approach, and chose a career that would let me affect physiology and anatomy through purposefully applied movement.

During my professional journey, I have been privileged to learn from and be mentored by many bright people in the worlds of applied exercise science (Robert C. Hickson), physical therapy (Shirley Sahrmann), weightlifting (Harvey Newton) and athletic development (Vern Gambetta). Yep, I’m a geek who has put in my time in the Ivory Tower. But I come to this physical health gig honestly, honing my experience and skills (and calluses) over the last 10 years through hard work in the clinic, the gym, and in the athletic arena. And I view every day as another opportunity to evolve, learn and grow. I feel one of my greatest strengths is the ability draw from, interact with, and move among any of these subject areas, integrating concepts and communicating them to a wider audience. Thus, I started my blog and my private practice.

I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Derrick Crass, physical therapist and ‘84/88 Olympian in weightlifting. Derrick gave me my first outpatient physical therapy job in 1998. He taught me the basics of barbell movements and weightlifting, and provided a work place where new ideas in patient care and athletic development could be explored. He didn’t flinch when I returned from Vern Gambetta’s “Building and Rebuilding the Complete Athlete” seminar with a new sense of purpose and suitcase of ideas. Every day at MECCAH was R&D for my current ideas about physical health.

And the best thing about it, was that this accomplished strength & power athlete left his ego out of the mix. Yes, he had been an elite athlete, but he backed up his training methods with sound principles and a mind open to lifelong learning. The barbell was one tool in his arsenal, not the only tool or the magic tool. He educated, mentored, and motivated everyone, of any ability, with kindness and humility. And he respected me for my knowledge and ability. I believe it is more challenging for a woman to earn respect and build credibility in the fitness or athletic development arena.

Thank you to Derrick, Harvey, Vern, and Mike Burgener and others who have supported me and given me, and other women, the opportunity to participate and prove our worth in this field.

That said, I hope to be a role model or mentor for any woman, and help her develop physical health and self-confidence. I have played and participated in everything from competitive roller skating and flag football (one of two girls in the league) in grade school, to high school and collegiate basketball, volleyball, track & field, to the 1989 Olympic Festival, as a member of the silver-medal winning North team handball squad. But I never really new how to properly prepare for those activities—didn’t know how to do my first proper squat, lunge or press until I was 28, and didn’t do my first pull up until I was 30. I didn’t know how I moved or that I could move better. And it is these foundations—and the appropriate application of their respective modalities—that are missing for so many women, whether in sport or life. It is time to change that. We can do better. We must smash the myths and stereotypes.

So that’s a bit about the Iron Maven. I want to thank Jen for giving me this opportunity. Thanks to those of you who subscribe to my videos and chime in on my blog. I look forward to more constructive interaction, fun and new ventures in 2008. If you ever have any questions or suggestions for topics, feel free to drop me an email (tfober AT gmail DOT com). Now, I gotta email Catherine Imes and schedule that kettlebell lesson!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My next guest is Catherine Imes. You may have seen her on the Crossfit form or maybe at an Event with Steve Cotter.
Over the last year or so I've read her posts and seen some of her videos along with reading her training logs. Anytime I've read her posts or training logs I'm blown away by the information she passes forward. I'm constantly educated by her training knowledge. Thanks for stopping by Jen's Gym!

Jen was kind enough to invite me as a guest blogger to tell my story as to how I started in Kettlebell lifting for fitness and competing.

For a little background, I have a moderate athletic background. In elementary and middle school, I played soccer and basketball. I threw shot and discus in high school until the 11th grade. I played no sports in college and aside from maybe some recreational softball teams did no other sports.

In the summer before my 9th grade year, I participated in a weightlifting camp. What I quickly found is that I loved lifting weights and I was decent at it. So, throughout high school especially when training for Track and Field, I really got into weight training. Most of it was comprised of squats, bench pressing, and some very ugly power cleans.

Throughout my 20s, I was in the gym on and off. Consequently my weight and diet fluctuated. When I moved to St. Louis from Oklahoma for a job, I quit doing any sort of exercise for nearly 2 years. I finally crawled back into the gym in 1998. I met a friend there who introduced me to a Martial Arts school. This is a mixed martial arts school, they do boxing, Kali, BJJ, Sambo, ect. I loved the training, but I quickly realized that brute strength didn't serve me that well and that I really wasn't very mobile or coordinated. Furthermore, I realized that my bouts of cardio on the elliptical or the stationary bike following my strength training didn't really provide me with the conditioning required for that environment. So, I started looking for different training ideas...

Like many, I found out about Kettlebells through Pavel Tsatsouline. Pavel was a contributor to Muscle Media 2000 magazine. I saw the Kettlebells advertised in the magazine, and even though I found Pavels books like Power to the People very useful and saw very good strength gains as a result, I refused to fork out money for a Kettlebell. In one issue, Pavel wrote an article related to doing KB swings, snatches and Clean and Jerks with dumbbells. So, I started working these at the end of my strength practice. I would do very high rep sets usually switching hands. What I liked is that these lifts forced me out of my comfort zone which had consisted of lower rep strength training.

In 2003, I finally forked over the money for a 12kg and 16kg bell. I knew right away that they were definitely more suitable for swings and snatches than the dumbbell versions of the lifts. After getting my bells, I joined the forum at Dragondoor. There were discussions on the forum that pertained to competitions with these things. Long story short, I decided on a whim to drive to Chicago in January 2004 to compete. I was hooked. It was a very fun time, and I met some very cool people in the process.

For a little background. The competition consist of Jerks (One arm for women and two arm for men). These are performed for up to 10 minutes. Once you rack the KB, you cannot drop it out of the rack. After the Jerks, you rest for usually an hour and then you do 10 minutes of KB Snatches with one hand switch. Once again, the bell cannot touch the ground. Women typically use 16kg bells. Men use 24kg and 32kg bells.

In late 2004, I saw my performance with the KB lifts stall, not just in terms of competition, but I found I couldn't snatch very often because my hands would get blistered. I certainly could not make it the full 10 minutes. In early 2005, I met Valery Fedorenko. Valery is World Champion KB Lifter from Eastern Europe. His biathlon total for his weight class (< 80kg) still has not been beaten.

Valery showed me some technique changes. I didn't pick up on these right away. What I did utilize was the information he gave me regarding how I structured my workouts. He introduced me to the concept of "pacing" and working for time. I saw my snatch numbers go from 140 in December of 2004, to 183 in 10 Minutes in May 2005.

After a competition, I would stop the high rep KB training and do something else be it my own workouts like some brutal met-con workout or the Crossfit WOD. Consequently, I didn't improve much between competitions.

This last year, I made up my mind that I was going to get significantly better at these lifts. I realized after a so so performance at the 2006 World Championships in Latvia (partially due to a change in the bell that we used), that I really needed to focus on improving my technique.

In 2007, I committed myself to learning the techniques. I attended the AKC Certification in Jan 2007 and became a AKC Coach under Head Coach Valery Fedorenko. I had the opportunity to work Valery once again. This time I paid attention to the techniques and took his advice to heart.

By May 2007, I hit 208 snatches. The AKC Introduced the one arm Jerk for the WKC Championships. So, I worked all summer at bettering my Jerk Technique. By November, I had improved my snatch numbers to 221 and hit 202 one arm Jerks.

Things I learned through this experience: High rep KB Lifting has taught me body awareness. While not everyone wants to specialize in something, it is important to do it at certain times so that you learn how to move and become aware of movement. That doesn't mean it has to be KB Lifts, it could be Weightlifting or Martial arts as long as you've got access to good capable instruction.

I've still maintained my strength all while lifting primarily a 16kg weight. I can still press, squat and deadlift as much weight as I did when I was doing more pressing, squatting and deadlifting. I've rowed a 1:45 500M. I can run even though I'm still a good 30-35lbs overweight. I have lost 35lbs since 2006 while doing this training and of course making some much needed dietary adjustments.

I've got mental resolve now that I never had with anything else. When you can't set the bell down, you have to get accustomed to discomfort. It's not a dangerous discomfort, but you have to learn how to breath and not panic.

I'm looking forward to starting back to the Martial Arts training. After I attended a few classes this year, I realized that I moved easier and I'm now a bit more athletic.

I've also realized this year how much I enjoy teaching these lifts in workshops and one on one training and how much I have to offer in terms of coaching these lifts.. I worked with Kelly Moore and she became the first American to achieve the Master of Sports World Class ranking in Miami.

I'll wrap this up now. I've got no shortage of things I could say on KB Lifting in terms of health benefits. Thanks Jen for inviting me to Guest Blog!