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pools, bikes, and ellipticals oh my

Chapman’s Peak

I feel like cross training is always and adventure.  When you don’t have college workout facilities at your disposal open 24/7 to cater for crazy schedules, there really isn’t a surefire place to find a pool, bike, or elliptical to use when you want it. My realization last week: one should never underestimate the convenience of just being able to lace up your shoes.  A bit of tendon pain has made me choose to cross train a few days this week and allow for some rest.  This Sunday I was able to figure out with enough time that a pool was available for long enough to do my entire “long run” in the water.  At times it was a little overwhelming trying to share the deep end with overzealous children and a beginner class of 20 scuba divers, but it sure did make the two hours anything but mundane.  After a week of cross training I have been reminded of the importance of building the other muscle groups important for running, and to not ignore what my body is trying to tell me when it starts to twinge.  It has led me to looking up more youtube yoga videos for core and hip strength, taught me that it is nearly impossible to do a fartlek on the elliptical (I would just suggest trying the pre programmed hill workouts instead), and also that you inadvertently entertain people trying to run around the pool decked out in a headband, k tape and an aqua jogger.

 

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Yoga for You

Sunrise in Kleinmond, Western Cape

I love my yoga Mondays.  Despite being the first day of the week it can also be one of the most stressful, so I often schedule this to be my rest day for training (which sometimes includes a run, but relatively short). I happened to find a wonderful free (donation requested) yoga class given at the Kalamazoo Gazelle sports. It’s wonderful the cross-section of individuals that turn up for the practice, I am the youngest by about 5 years, and the oldest is pushing 60, with every age and athletic type in-between.  

It is wonderful to get together with such a loving group once a week and de-stress together. Some are training for marathons, others want to feel strong in their bodies again. We all are very comfortable with each other, after weeks of  being scrunched together in Gazelle’s multi purpose room (our instructor never likes to turn away anyone from our practice, so on occasion our space gets limited 🙂 But sometimes I enjoy the energy of others so physically close, it really rejuvenates me when I am feeling a little low, as if I am soaking up all of their energy like sunlight. Not to mention it keeps you from not getting to serious, allowing for a giggle or two when you accidentally whack your friend during a flow sequence.

This week, after a particularly relaxing session (I think I even fell asleep for a few minutes during Shavasana) we decided to take our community time past the yoga mat and walked across the street for some dinner and more chat time.  Over a $3.50 pasta special we shared more of our lives that hadn’t been touched on during the pre-class chats. It was fantastic to learn more about my classmates, finding out that my teacher did an apprenticeship for herbal/food medicine or that someone else makes their own jewelery while another actually grew up in my home town (this last one is seriously amazing if you know how small of a town I’m from)! That evening reminded me of how much more yoga can be, besides an extra stretch or strength routine. It can be great community, sharing energy with some wonderful people brought together by our practice.

If you are in the area and want to look up our instructor, her website is here http://www.liveloveyoga.net/

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New spandex sportswear: This dream is no stretch By JA Staes


Are there any dreams that would make you would work next to the Arctic Circle in Alaska for months, virtually alone, at a fish cannery? Where, when you take your morning run, there’s a good chance you’d run into a bear or a moose?

Metro Detroiter Jackie Gross braved that environment to fulfill her dream … about spandex. Not just any spandex. It’s called UR Sportswear. She self-funded the development and prototypes through her Alaska trip and then went to Kickstarter to make it possible to ramp up production on sportswear that actually fits right.

As an avid runner and former college coach, Gross found most of what’s out there for runners, climbers, yoga enthusiasts and other active women takes away focus from the athletics. It doesn’t fit well, it’s unattractive or a combination of the two. So she reached out and asked people who are actually working out, running and being active what kind of sportswear they wanted. For the first product line she surveyed more than 300 women athletes. By directly asking those who actually are going to use the clothing, she was able to find out what they’re really looking for and develop a unique product.

Whereas companies like Nike and Reebok are generally top down in their approach, UR Sportswear is aiming to be the clothing choice of those who are the doers … the athletes themselves. UR Sportswear is starting off on the right foot. Social interaction is part of its DNA and it has a constant feedback loop between customers and the company.

“I think people want to be in control of what they wear and feel like what they have to say should be taken into consideration in designing their workout apparel,” says Gross. “They want to have confidence in what they’re wearing.”

The Michigan State graduate is now taking the project to Kickstarter to raise $35,000. Admittedly that’s a hefty sum but this kind of project uses a high-tech material. That requires capital to buy a special fabric that cannot be purchased in small quantities. It’s smart thinking to ask for that money since one of the top reasons businesses fail is underfunding.

“The goal is to keep everything in the United States, Michigan and Detroit … the manufacture, the design, the marketing, everything,” says Gross.

She is already planning a factory visit in the next couple of months to personally ensure the working conditions and quality of a potential supplier.

Once UR gets funded, it plans to expand into menswear and is already are surveying men about their needs.
If you’re interested in helping establish a new business that will help diversify the Detroit economy you can pre-purchase a pair of the first line of UR spandex shorts or contribute in anyway comfortable for you.

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The Posture Predicament By Tiffany

Once an obscure meditative practice, yoga has become as mainstream as sports drinks in the last decade, and for good reason: Studies are showing that yoga can enhance your strength, flexibility and balance while relieving stress and even lowering your blood pressure! But before you roll out your mat and jump into a sun salutation, there are a few things you should know.

Like any exercise, yoga is a technical practice which must be done correctly in order to reap the benefits. As more and more people jump on the yoga wagon, doctors are seeing an increase in yoga-related injuries, mostly sprains from overstretching. Some common culprits are lotus pose, plow pose and pigeon pose but hyperextension at the elbows can also occur in upward facing dog. Proper warm up and alignment are critical to prevent muscle strains and sprains.

Do not do poses that are painful, especially for your back or knees. These are common injury sites since the tendons and ligaments around joints are susceptible to micro tears. Also talk to a doctor if you have medical conditions such as carpal tunnel, rotator cuff injuries, or a herniated disk. That being said, there are several ways to prevent yourself from winding up a yoga casualty.

First of all, find a teacher! Yoga videos are a great way of enjoying yoga on your time schedule but they are not the way to go if this is your first time. The best way to get the basics down is to attend a few beginner classes at a studio. A yoga instructor will be able to help with positioning and correct any postures you are doing incorrectly.

Next, do not compete! As an athlete, you probably spend a better part of your life pushing your limits. In yoga, this will land you in the waiting room. The point of yoga is to explore the movements of your own body, not to out-pose the girl on the mat next to you. So close your eyes and enjoy the process, your muscles will thank you.

Overall, the benefits of yoga far outweigh the risks, especially if done safely. Make sure that you are properly warmed up, listen to your body and start with the basics and yoga can be a great asset to compliment your training.