Category Archives: working out

Getting in Touch with My Inner Stripper

After almost two years of not going to the gym, I’m finally back in the habit (I hope) of going to the gym. What motivated this slacker to return to working out?

I was discussing with a friend different ways of working out that would be more fun. One idea was belly-dancing, which I heard was great for abs. Instead of paying for a class when I already had a gym membership, I checked out the Group X schedule of the nearest 24 Hour Fitness. They didn’t have a belly dance class, but they had something called 24Tease. Here’s the description of the class:

Jeff Costa, creator of Cardio Striptease introduces 24Tease, an electrifying 30-minute striptease aerobics workout exclusively at 24 Hour Fitness! 24Tease provides a safe environment for members to get in touch with their inner stripper, while taking off pounds, extra clothing and even some inhibitions to reveal a healthier body and stronger self-esteem. 24Tease is low-impact contemporary movement that makes you sweat and feel good.

I think the class lives up to the description, except for the part about taking off extra clothing. I mean, I wear minimal clothes anyway when I work out because I get so hot.

I had wished I could drink some alcohol before taking the class to loosen up but since I had to drive home afterward, it wasn’t an option. The second time I went, I did a few minutes of cardio on the treadmill, with a cool down period. I think it helped me to be more relaxed mentally and have the blood pumping through my body so I was not so stiff.

I’ve taken step and aerobics classes before but would quit after one class due to frustration of being unable to follow. I figured I would get the hang of things if I went on a regular basis but I wasn’t motivated enough. At least a stiptease class teaches a useful skill. :D You know, for sexy dancing in a club.

It’s a pretty low impact way to exercise, but I was sweating a lot. It made me wonder how professional strippers do it. Not that I’ve seen a live stripper. Despite it being low-impact, it’s a fun class that at least gets me into the gym at a specific time.

One drawback is that the room in which the class is held is right in front of the cardio machines, where people can see inside the room through glass windows. Fortunately, since the class has so many people, I don’t worry so much about it. If I were one of a handful of dancers, then I’d be a bit self-conscious.

My Workout Routine with Dance Dance Revolution

Last week, I had my physical examination where my doctor asked me what I did for exercise. I told him Dance Dance Revolution for the Wii. He asked some additional questions and said that that’s fine to use DDR for my exercise routine as long as it got my heart beat up and I sweated.

My current routine is to do 30 minutes in Workout Mode in the morning before work. Since it is quite cold in the mornings now, this routine has the additional benefit of warming me up. The time limit prevents me from losing track of time.

The following may be too much information for the people who don’t want to know about female issues so you can stop reading now. :)

If one of the symptoms of PMS that a woman experiences is breast tenderness, it makes certain exercises, like jogging, quite painful. DDR is no exception due to the jump steps. However, unlike jogging on a treadmill in the gym or outdoors, dancing in the privacy of one’s home has the benefit of making it possible to minimize the cause of the pain in a way that would be inappropriate to do in public. I remember going to the gym during the days before my period… ouch! In DDR, there’s an option to turn off the jump step but I haven’t tried it yet since I want to maximize the health benefits to the best of my abilities.

Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party on the Wii

I stopped by Toys R Us tonight to see if they had Dance Dance Revolution in stock yet. I called on release day, yesterday, and they still didn’t have it. I checked on the website and did not see the DDR Bundle (which has the game and dance pad) for the Wii. I just saw a listing for the game by itself, which doesn’t get released until November. I was quite bummed that I wouldn’t be able to exchange one of my three games during the 45 day exchange/refund window. I figured I’d stop by TRU anyway to see if there were any other games I could get instead. Boy, was I surprised and happy when I saw the boxes of DDR for the Wii.

While I was at the customer service desk to return one of my games, one of the employees said he was so jealous of me that I was getting DDR since it looks like so much fun. I was so anxious to get home… good thing I’m not too far from TRU.

It turned out to live up to my expectations for it and I had a blast. I struggled in the beginning, though, so I wondered if I could continue playing the game. Eventually, I found the correct beginner mode that taught me some tips to improve my skills. Something I didn’t know before playing was that I wasn’t supposed to return my feet to the center of the pad after/between steps. That reduced the awkwardness of not knowing what to do in between steps. Another thing was that I didn’t realize that I was stepping on the arrows in the level selector screen, which resulted in my inability to select the beginner level using my Wiimote. This resulted in me ending up in a hard level and that was really frustrating since I didn’t realize that was the hard level… I just thought I was totally incompetent. Once I got a better grasp for the controls, and stuck to beginner level, I had a lot more fun.

I like the Workout mode where it keeps track of the calories I burn. I’m particularly motivated to lose some fat since I will be going to Maui in November. Wheeee! or Wiiiii!

I felt the dance pad was of decent quality… at least better than I expected it would be for a soft pad. After a few rounds, I noticed the pad shifted from where I had placed it on my carpet, but I don’t think it was bad enough to affect me during the dance rounds; I didn’t even notice it.

I saw some pauses during some of the dances… the arrow would be going upward and then hang for a second and then resume. Since this is the first DDR game I’ve owned, I don’t know if that’s part of the game or a symptom of a defect. (Update: After playing with it more, I think it is a part of the game. It’s tricky though and throws off my rhythm. I guess that might be the intention. :P )

Update 2007-11-28: I think that the addition of the hand gestures isn’t that great, and I’ve made it a habit to turn it off. Part of the issue is that I have trouble getting the rhythm correct and it messes up my score. A more serious consequence is that the cord connecting the Wiimote and nunchuck could and did whip me in the face. Additionally, sometimes, I have to make wide flailing arm movements to maintain/regain my balance. The cord wouldn’t be long enough to accommodate my arms’ range of motion. If it were longer, it would increase the likelihood of me getting whipped by it. It might help if the nunchuck functioned wirelessly.

Tried to Swim @ the Gym

On Sunday, I decided to take the plunge–almost literally–since diving isn’t allowed in the gym pool. It took me a while to get started. I had to buy even more accessories: the goggles and a swim cap. Then I had to shake out the sand from my slippers, which was textured, so it took a while to get the sand out of the grooves.

I finally got to wear the bikini I bought to wear to a beach party in Santa Cruz the previous week (it ended up being too cold that day).

What’s up with the pool being a hangout for older people? I felt out of place.

It had been years since I had tried to swim… at least over two years, since that was how long I had my dislocated shoulder. I didn’t want my shoulder to dislocate while I was in the water. I was really anxious because I had had a terrible experience a few years ago…

When I was a sophomore in college, I took beginner swimming, which was the very first time I learned to swim. I almost drowned in that class. I was trying to swim from the deep end to the shallow end. One of my classmates was coming toward me from the shallow end toward the deep end, and fearing a collision, I panicked. Then I lost it. I looked down, and thought I could kick myself up to the surface. However, the problem with water is that it creates optical illusions, so the pool floor was actually further away than I thought. So I was actually forcing myself deeper and deeper than I wanted.

I was so afraid that the lifeguard would not rescue me because she might have thought that I was practicing, since we do practice keeping our heads under water in class. While I was submerged, I kept swallowing water, and I think that was what saved or helped me. I don’t know if I knew this at the time, or learned it afterward, but when we swallow, it suppresses the urge to breathe.

Finally, after probably 10-15 seconds, the lifeguard pulled me out of the water. Fortunately, things weren’t so bad that I needed CPR.

As soon as I was physically recovered, the instructor gently urged me to get back into the water. The reason was that the more time passed before the next time I tried to swim, my mind would develop a greater fear of water. I was able to get into the water before the end of the class.

Although I never fully developed my swimming abilities, and could not breathe while swimming, I did continue swimming in pools. I even helped teach my little brother to swim. :)

Because it had been so long since I last swam, it made me so afraid to swim again because I feared that I had lost my skills, though little were they anyway. As I got into the water, I felt the anxiety that people afraid of heights would feel as they went upward to a high place. Once I was in the water, I couldn’t get myself to swim because I was terrified to get my face in the water. I guess I didn’t trust the goggles to keep water out. The memory of the near-drowning also replayed in my head.

Since I had spent so much time preparing, I didn’t want to quit so easily. In a standing position, I would gradually put more and more of my body under water. This was in the 3 1/2 feet end of the pool, and I was already feeling panicky about letting the water go over my neck. When I let the water finally go up to my chin, the fear was like that of an acrophobic starting to peer over a cliff. At last, I had my entire head underwater, but my eyes were squeezed shut. Finally, feeling confident that the goggles were keeping the water out, I opened my eyes. Whew!

With that being the hardest part–psychologically–I was able to start swimming, though not very gracefully. At first, I would only go as far as the part of the pool that was 4 1/2 feet deep, because I could stand there and still be above water. I can’t breathe while swimming, so I didn’t want to have to come up for water at a point where I couldn’t stand up above the water. The more I swam, the further I was able to go, until I was able to go pass the 5 1/2 feet point to get to the 4 1/2 point on the other side of the pool. I couldn’t go the entire length of the pool because I couldn’t hold my breath long enough.

It was such a relief, and accomplishment, to be able to swim again. :D Hopefully I can develop my skills enough so that I can join in water activities. I had to forgo going on a rafting trip because I couldn’t handle a class V level because it required swimming ability.

no more class dependency

When I first joined the gym, the only times I went to the gym was when I had a group class to attend. I didn’t have the discipline to go to the gym on my own. Having a class schedule forced me to commit to a workout schedule.

After awhile, I started to drop some classes, and since I couldn’t just not go to the gym on those days I didn’t have classes, I went to the gym without needing a class on those days. Now, I have gone two weeks without taking a class, not even a hip hop one! It was just too difficult making my schedule fit the class schedule, so now I no longer force the class schedule upon myself.

This is a good thing for me, since it shows that I now have the discipline to get my lazy butt to the gym although I don’t have a class with a specific time to make me be there on time. However, it does make it harder for me to stick to my target workout time… I will put off going for about an hour or so from the time I intended to go. I do eventually go, because I like how exercising makes me feel afterward.