Tag Archives: The Sweat Life

Up Close & Personal

I just came back from a workout after driving home and crying to my mother on the phone. I walked into my apartment, ate the remaining half of Greg’s gluten free marble brownie (sorry, Greg!), and started to feel bad for myself. As a matter of fact, over the course of the last 2 hours, I have mentally and verbally beaten myself up so badly, I am ashamed. I received a work-related email in which my boss would like to speak to me. I should have known better than to read the email 30 seconds before my workout, but I did nonetheless. Thinking my emotions associated with the contents of the email would motivate me, they did the contrary. I completely shut down.

I walked onto my treadmill feeling deflated, worthless, fat, ugly, and hated every fiber of my being. I gazed into the mirror in front of me and the negative self-talk didn’t stop. It was a barrage of fire and I was assaulting myself. As class started and hit its flow, the emotional and mental onslaught didn’t let up. The entire workout, I was distracted, angry, and lacked focus. I was so stuck inside my head that every step while running, every pull while rowing, every weight I lifted was sheer agony. I just wanted to scream in frustration for myself and my emotions that seized control of my mind and now robbed me of my workout [Damn it, there goes my money. Wasted money and a wasted workout].

While working out at Orange Theory Fitness I always run my ass off on the treadmill. I have always logged mileage and speeds in the ‘Runner’s Category’ and I have been happy with my progress. Never walking during a workout, I always push myself by amping up my speed just another .1, then another, then another, and I empower myself. Typically, I am fueled intrinsically but today in the last set of my treadmill work on a 9 incline, I lost all my steam. For the first time ever in one of my OTF workouts, I gave up in the second to last set and walked. As if I hadn’t endured enough of a battle thus far, now I was reduced to walking. Oozing with self-hatred and fuming from my self-perceived defeats of my workout, I came back for the final 30 second all-out push at an incline of 11. While I didn’t succumb to my initial defeat, I spent an entire hour of my workout loathing every minute of it and every part of my physical and emotional-self.

If you’re wondering how this happened, it’s really very simple. I am very sensitive. Yes, me—very sensitive. While I present rough and tough, I am a ball of mush, hormones, tears, and all that gooey shit. I was ‘that’ kid that cried if a teacher yelled at me or if someone hurt my feelings as a kid. So the email that I read before class completely got me off kilter because it played into my insecurities and inadequacies as to what I am offering people as a fitness instructor. At three years into this industry, I have learned lots and lots of things: what I like to teach, where I like to teach, for whom, when, etc. I have also met some amazing people and have great friends as a result of my classes. But there is also a very ugly side to this industry. While I try not to get caught up in the fact that I am short and muscular and will never be a ‘fitness model’ or personality, I have always stayed true the fact that I am a bad ass, period. I work hard, teach hard classes, care deeply about my work and participants in my class and that’s that. BUT when others perceive those efforts differently, or class attendance is low, it hurts and I take it personally because this work IS personal. There is no other way to say it. Each and every song on my playlists are designed to evoke emotion and to enhance class. Every ride is mapped to offer an intense experience and a workout to blow your mind. Every yoga class is taught with my heart to challenge your body and soul. So when someone doesn’t like my work or stops coming to class—it hurts.

You would think that over time, some of the realities of the feedback and people outgrowing me as an instructor would get easier, but it doesn’t. My husband and others have told me for years to stop making everything so personal, but how can I not take it personally? I am responsible for helping people reach goals, get healthier, become fit/more fit, work on challenging asana (yoga poses), empower themselves, cultivate strength and confidence, redefine commitment, help them find the light, and I am not supposed to take this work personally?!?! As a fitness instructor I am entrusted with people most often at their most vulnerable. Subsequently, my work IS personal and I take what I do as instructor very seriously because I care. Every single bit of my work is personal because people trust me to guide them, support them, and keep them safe during a workout. As far as I am concerned, that is a pretty tremendous amount of responsibility I do not take lightly.

IMG_8062So while my skin is certainly not any thicker by working in this industry, I am going to continue to bring love and light to my work. I am going to continue to fight my demons and re-commit to my work and hope that while I am on this path, others will join me. I am going to continue to work on inner-cising to build myself up, the same way I help bring up those around me and own every single bit of my greatness. After all, I do have an obligation to the people who take my classes to be there for them—so this is for you. And though this industry doesn’t love me back because it tells me I’m too short, too fat, too muscular, too purple, too rogue, not yoga enough, too ‘Schwinn’, or don’t focus enough on alignment, and the list goes on, what I am is ME.

I am vibrant. I am real. I am true. I am me.

And whether you want to admit it or not, I am you.

Sweating, my religion; My body, my Temple

My wedding is in one week.

There has been so much anticipation, drama, excitement, and PLANNING that has led to this upcoming week. Though my schedule has been crazy with yet another school year coming to a close, teaching my fitness classes, and running around town to finish buying everything that must be purchased; one thing has remained constant: My laser-like commitment and focus on my fitness and journey with my physical-self.

Aside from my soon-to-be husband Greg, fitness is my other love. Well, it’s a love and passion we share together but sweating is my religion. I feel prettiest when I sweat. More specifically, I feel strong, sexy, and liberated when in my Lulu’s, sports bra, and sneaks.

Here I am outside the house I grew up in on Long Island. I was in 7th grade here, going to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. I was so overweight that juniors clothing didn't fit and my mother had to buy me Ladies attire.
Here I am outside the house I grew up in on Long Island. I was in 7th grade here, going to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. I was so overweight that Juniors clothing didn’t fit and my mother had to buy me Ladies attire.

Despite always being considered athletic and having played Lacrosse in college, my battle with the bulge has been never-ending. Recently, while looking through childhood pictures to make the slide show for my wedding, the pain of my childhood resurfaced. Uninvited, emotions about my childhood darkness as ‘a fat kid’, condemned to heinous clothing, and social suicide came flooding back. The bouts of excessive exercise, anorexia, bulimia, laxatives, diet pills, and endless journaling about how much I hated myself remained a deep secret that most (including my parents) had no clue was a battle I was fighting. And while I was waging a war within myself, in spite of my seemingly extroverted and ‘I could give zero fucks what you think of me attitude’; I was terribly insecure in my youth and that self-hatred poured over into adulthood.

I would have to say that until very recently, while I helped bring others up around me in all of my classes, I looked in the mirror in horror at my physical-self. Nothing seemed to work and I mean nothing. I tried it all: Isagenix, My Fit Foods, going gluten free (which I still am but that’s another conversation), The Master Cleanse, cayenne pepper pills, psyllium husk, you name it. Finally, at the urging of my chiropractor and friend Lisa, I caved and tried the Paleo lifestyle [I caved, get it?]. Really, what did I have to lose? [And yet another pun] While my initial results being Paleo weren’t earth shattering, the science had me sold and I felt better in my body so I decided to stick with it. Although I am not strict Paleo, I like to say I am mostly Paleo and fully committed to it and it has been 8 months. So now that I got a handle on my nutrition and found something manageable that worked, it was time to line up my fitness for me. This meant giving up some fitness classes I taught in order to ensure there was time for me. Resistant to Greg’s suggestion to do this at first, I finally decided that I needed to make myself a priority so I scaled back on my classes and got my ass working out for ME.

I’m now about 5 months into my rediscovery of health and wellness for no one other than me and I am down a substantial amount of weight. People have noticed the changes in my body, its performance, and my demeanor. For whatever reason, I just feel better in my skin. But for me the biggest transformation isn’t in my physical-self. Albeit a nice perk, the greatest victory are the thoughts I have when I look in the mirror.

Eka Pada II like what I am seeing. Not only do I like myself, I am truly starting to fall in love myself and not just for the badass woman I am on the inside, but for all of my badassery I rock physically too.

I love my thighs. They are meaty and they are strong. Legs house the largest muscle groups in our bodies and well, that’s apparent in my legs. I can squat like an animal and I have my glutes to thank for that.

Forearm standMy booty. Now considered in style via society’s pop culture my booty has always been one of my best ASSests. It looks great in short, tight dresses, and while my legs and booty make buying jeans a challenge, I wouldn’t trade their strength for anything.

My arms. They lift, they pull, they push, they hold, and they reflect my power. My triceps have elevated my yoga practice by helping me soar in arm balances. My biceps add definition to my arms and hopefully someday will help me in my quest for ‘man arms’.

And finally, I love it all, for without it I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the BEST MILE TIME of my life while in class tonight. One week away from 33 years old, I ran a 7:31 mile. I was aiming for 7:30 and while I am annoyed by the one second that I missed my goal, I know that I am stronger and faster than I imagined. But what is so awesome about goals is once you achieve them, there’s more to work to do be done! I now know that not only can I hit 7:30, but that 7:15, even 7:00 are within my reach because there isn’t anything I cannot do.

Edited Sage's poseSo why has it taken me so long to reach what I call greatness? I think it’s because I lacked the discipline to be great. While I have always ‘worked out’ and I am a fitness instructor, yadda yadda, I think I lacked a sort of maturity and mentality to really put me in a place to capture success. Now, 6 days from my 33rd birthday and one week from my wedding, I am in the best mental and physical place I have ever been in my entire life.

What are you waiting for? Get out there, Own Your Awesome, capture your greatness, and unleash that shit on the world and let’s take it over together in The Body Movement—a self-love revolution where we harness our emotional, mental, and physical-selves and love the shit out them. Are you in, or are you in? Yes or yes?!

Life Beyond the Comfort Zone

If you’ve ever taken any type of group fitness class, you will hear instructors spouting dogmatic clichés like: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” and “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Now, there certainly was a time that though I may have heard someone say this, I did not have the courage to listen to them say it. What’s more is, I have also taken too many classes where these phrases are disingenuously talked at participants. For me as an athlete, trainer, yogi, English teacher, and fitness instructor these phrases are personal, deeply personal. I take them seriously, not just in the capacity of offering a kick-ass fitness class to break people down only to build them back up. For me, the concept of challenging myself to catapult towards success in any arena is what fuels me. Motivates me. Shouts to my soul. So when I tell students or participants in any of my classes to get uncomfortable, I mean it because I live it.

I guess to really understand what I mean, it’s important to look at my relationship with my physical-self. My relationship with my physical-self has been [and shall remain] a tumultuous one. Stemming from my early youth I always struggled with my weight. I yo-yo dieted, flitted from one diet pill to another, never really gained any sort of footing with anything other than my interests in softball, lacrosse, and later soccer. Even during my collegiate years while playing lacrosse, I was still unfocused and overweight. I ate poorly and drank, a lot. That said, I lacked the mental capacity to push myself in team runs and workouts, and ultimately I didn’t get much playing time. However my lack of playing time didn’t seem to bother me so much as I felt entitled to playing without really earning it. I felt that I deserved to play. Now looking back, I recognize  my need to place blame and my sense of entitlement were a projection of my inadequacies. While I played a college sport, my life really hinged upon my close circle of friends, my job as a hostess at a steak house, and partying. I partied with reckless abandon. I experimented with bleaching my hair blonde [and a bad shade of blonde at that], cutting up my clothes, and wearing every conceivable color of eye shadow one could buy at Sephora (probably all at once, eeekk!). Nightly, the pre-gaming began, music vibrated throughout Grove Street and I looked in the mirror. Not only did I like what I saw gazing back at me—I LOVED IT. That’s right. At a hefty size 12 and only 5’0, tipping the scales at upwards of 160-165 pounds at times, I thought I was the hottest gal in town. Simply put, I owned my awesome for all of its tubby glory.

But as years wore on, this self-confidence would be squelched by my desire to whittle my waist to fit in and be accepted in the fitness community in Los Angeles. My self-worth became [and sadly in some respects is still] associated with how fit I can become, how much weight I can lose, how much faster I can run, and so on…And then something hit me. I suppose you can say it literally hit me [there’s a pseudo long digression here, but I’m going somewhere…]

11164639_10100727137527601_7925525871855849797_nIn an effort to take on something new in my life, to push myself beyond anything I already know, I have started boxing with my personal trainer. First things first: I know nothing about boxing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Tantalized by the heavy bag hanging in my trainer’s home-gym, I asked her to teach me.

Thus far it has only been a few short weeks. Boxing is sweaty and deliciously frustratingly fun because it’s SO DIFFERENT than anything I’ve ever done. Nothing like yoga, nothing like lifting weights, nothing like indoor cycling–my body feels awkward. My feet are heavy, I forget to protect my face, I’m not turning out enough, I’m still not staying on my toes, and at times I feel like I have no body awareness. My trainer says the same things to me over, and over, and over again. And while the process is slow, I am learning and loving every bit of shaking up what I thought I knew about my body and myself. Breathing new physical strength into my body is what I think it means to really live.

Sweat dripping down my face. I lick my lips and taste the delightfully salty reward for my efforts hitting the bag. I step back, heart racing and reflect:

While I don’t love myself as much as I would like physically, I sure as hell do LOVE the woman I am today. I am fearless. I try new things without hesitation. ‘NO’ has absolutely zero place in my vocabulary. As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t anything I can’t do. So unlike when I was in college and I peer into the mirror and my reflection doesn’t quite love me back yet, I see that this body and mind are pillars of endless strength. And despite my life’s trials, and dark periods filled with negativity, like the Phoenix, I rise again because in my life there is only room for I CAN, I WILL, and I AM.

So the next time you are in my class, or anyone else’s fitness class for that matter: Listen to the person nudging you to push a little harder. Look a litter closer and listen to your authentic-self. Are you really pushing yourself in all arenas of your life? Ask the hard questions and know that you won’t get the answers right away. Relish the process of self-discovery, for something new is waiting up ahead to teach you something about yourself.

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Inner Monologue Of A Spin Class Student

Arielle:

As an indoor cycling instructor, I know what it’s like to be in class and in the zone. Like any fitness activity one engages in (like running) the inner-dialogue and journey is often hilarious. Seriously, the things I tell myself while running or riding–if someone could record my mind it would make you wonder and laugh at my expense.

This was certainly a funny read, enjoy!

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Oh man, why is it so early? Better not look in the mirror. Yep that’s definitely a bad idea. It’s WAY too soon for that. Wait, what is that smell? (*looks down*) Wow, is that coming from my spin shoes? Must address this after class. (*creates new iPhone “note”*). Why is the woman next to me shouting at her friend? It’s 7 a.m. Why is she even making noise? Isn’t the first rule of spin class NO talking? Let’s kick her out. I guess class hasn’t officially begun. Damnit. Can we get this show on the road? Oh crap, there’s a sub today?! Alright, I’m leaving. No, NO. You’re already here. Stay put. This is only an hour of your life. Stop whining. (*takes a sip of black coffee*). Alright, which bike am I? Number 13? Shit I totally forget. Why is this old man looking at me funny? 

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I Don’t Like Showering

There, I said what many of you already think about showering! It’s time consuming, my skin gets really dry, and frankly I would rather spend that time sleeping. All the same, I suppose it is a necessity.

Below is an excerpt of a conversation I shared this on my Facebook. Based on the likes and comments, I decided it was just too honest and awesome not to share here. Enjoy!

Over-share:
This conversation happened between my bf and I last night after we both made our playlists for our cycling classes:

Me: “I’m not going to shower. I didn’t sweat that much today and I’m teaching early in the morning so why bother?”
My bf Greg: “You taught two class AND took a Pilates class. You ARE showering.”
Me: “Oh, yeahhhhhhhhhhhh. I forgot I took class–You’re right, I should shower.”

‪#‎sweatontopofsweat‬ ‪#‎confessionsofafitnessinstructor‬ ‪#‎whyshower‬‪#‎tootiredtoshower‬

Commit to Yourself

Day 3: Wednesday, June 11, 2014:

I woke up today and my right arm was numb. I figured it was numb because I had been sleeping on it. So while trying to settle back into sleep, I stretched my arm into full extension and my arm just wasn’t having it. In a sleep fog, I attributed this pain in my arm to it ‘still being asleep’ and I crashed out again.

I woke up shortly thereafter and my arm still hurt. Except this time I realized why it hurt. I am not in pain, I am sore from Crossfit! Ahhhh, it hurts so good.

Slowly, I made my morning drink and shake while moving like the Tin Man before oiling. I glanced at my schedule to see what classes I was teaching or shall I say NOT teaching for the day. Ah, it felt good to not have to teach a million classes. It felt good that I was starting to make sure I had time for me.

Yesterday, I touched upon commitment and wanted to explore it further tonight.

Commitment is honoring oneself. Commitment is saying “NO” to carve out space for YOU. Commitment is doing you so that you can better serve yourself and those around you.

My recent commitments include myself. Yes, that’s right: ME, MYSELF, and I. This commitment to myself includes two things:
1. My 30-Day Super Foods Nutritional Cleanse
2. Daily workouts for ME: Crossfit, yoga, running, etc.

That’s it. So in order for me to make space for me that means attacking my nutrition with intense ferocity and making no excuses. So far, I am doing great and feeling successful with my program. I can feel my body adjusting as my hunger sets in later and I relish how I eat, when I eat, and what I eat.

With respects to my workouts, admittedly I was discouraged yesterday by my progress (or lack thereof) but today I went back for more and performed surprisingly well. There is no quit in me, there can’t be. Bottom line:

“You can have results or excuses, but you cannot have both.”

In order to be the person I want to be inside and out that means I MUST nourish my soul. As a fitness instructor, the best parts of my job are motivating, coaching, inspiring, elevating, and helping others find greatness. But after a while of giving, giving, giving, and giving, I need my cup to be filled, and for me, that replenishment comes from things that fuel my heart and soul: Ass-kicking workouts.

Right now my commitment to myself looks like this: Turning down [some] opportunities to sub classes and maintaining a laser-like focus on my nutrition. What I have also done to ensure I set myself up for success is I have written into my planner when I would like to take fitness classes and/or workout. I think of it as scheduling a daily date with myself. The times on my planner represent sacred time that I simply do not take on classes and that is that–I have committed to myself.

How will you commit to yourself?

It’s Not About What You Can’t Do, It’s About What You Can Do

Day 2: Tuesday, June 10, 2014: Lots of Sweat and Still Hungry

I tossed and turned last night. I think partially it may have had something to do with my nerves of starting up at Crossfit again, but aside from that I felt pretty good this morning.

I choose to blend my shake with ice to make it more substantial and feel like more of a meal. It turned out to be a delicious success! I opted to keep it to plan with ice and water whereas my boyfriend Greg added some berries to his.

I am sitting here writing part of this post when I should be getting ready for Crossfit. God help me.

Let me state the obvious here, Crossfit is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I went today praying my strong cardiovascular platform as a cycling instructor would carry me: NOPE. It was still as hard as I remember it being.

At the end of the WOD (workout of the day) as I tallied up my numbers for reps and the coach wrote them on the white board, there it was: How I measured up to everyone else, emblazoned for all of the Studio City Crossfit to see. I am not going to lie. I felt like crap. I’m a fitness instructor. Why am I towards the bottom of this list (no, not last, thank you very much)?! Shouldn’t I be higher?! Wait, come to think of it–I know some people cheated! Finally, this dialogue in my head was interrupted by something I recently said in my yoga class:

It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can do.

Not only did I show up, but I did the best I could after taking months off from Crossfit. My boyfriend killed it and took second in the WOD but he’s just not human and I am not him. Yes, Crossfit is hard. It’s supposed to be. Like anything else in life, the hard is what makes it great. Every day I show up for myself is one day closer to a stronger, better, more fit me.

So am I where I want to be? No.

But if I sat at home thinking about what I couldn’t do verses actually doing it, then I wouldn’t be making any progress–would I?

I became hungrier later today than yesterday, I am thinking that’s a good thing showing that my body is adjusting to the new nutrition program. I housed veggies and humus, some raw almonds and walnuts, drank lots of water, laid in the sun, and then took a yoga flow class. Pre and post class: I WAS STARVING. But then again, I also had 2+ hours of intense physical activity today which certainly contributed to my hunger.

Being mindful of a potentially epic meltdown from not eating, I hustled home after class and immediately made dinner: Chicken, brown rice, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, baby kale with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. It was decent and filling. Though I will admit that some froyo would really hit the spot right now, I grabbed a glass of water and sat down to finish writing this. I am making moves and I am committed because it’s not about what I can’t do, it’s about what I can do.

Tomorrow we discuss commitment, oh lala.