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i am so very pleased and privileged to have had Amber Petersen come into my life. this woman is strong and capable, definitely an individualist but at the same time an amazing and supportive part of a team. by day, Amber pays her bills by reproducing oversized things. enough said. but, i’d guess her daytime persona simply provides the means to her passions – woodsmoke and cold beer, atv’s and cabin living, snow mobiles and chainsaws, self reliance and sheep in need of shearing. she is fiercely active, perhaps a tad hard on herself, and smart as a whip. amber started kbell jam with the very first session i launched in january 2013 and she is still around, tossing big ol’  kettlebells, and spreading work-hard love and the essence of effort. i love her.

amber shears

Amber shearing sheep. A highly skilled and dwindling art which requires strength and stamina.

I have been aware of the need to work out since a fairly early age. I’ve never been greatly overweight but always a little chubby, so I have always been aware of the need to stay active. In recent years I was doing a lot of at-home workouts (P90X and the like). However, in December of 2012, I found myself in a slump and I was struggling to get motivated, so I decided to try a new class. That class was called Kbell Jam.

I was completely new to Kettlebells and to the whole way health & fitness and Wendy. I took one kettlebell skills clinic to get acquainted with a kettlebell and decided to sign up for 8 weeks to see how it went.

I’m a pretty outgoing person, not exactly the shy type. But all the same, I was a bit nervous starting out. I was grateful to be able to “blend in” in the class at first. I was able to pick a spot and a kettlebell and stay in my little area to complete the guided workout. Wendy was awesome, she’s encouraging and she’s knowledgeable especially about kettlebells and movement techniques. Right away I clued in to the combination of cardio and strength that kettlebells provide. As someone who enjoys strength workouts but could really use more cardio, I much appreciated that! More bang for your buck!

I think it was at week 5 or 6 that I had decided I needed to extend my 8 weeks to the full 12 weeks. You see, in week 5 the format changes, we were separated into small groups. And the change also . It forces you to use the heavier ‘bells for certain exercises; it challenged my body in a new way. I also was able to get to know some of the other people in class thanks to the small groups. Fun, friendly competitions were born as we egg each other on (even to this day) to push ourselves to a healthy limit. Every class is something different and although I have read about muscle confusion and why it is important, I more just appreciate this out of a LACK OF BOREDOM … you just never know what to expect.

After the 12 weeks were done I immediately signed up for another 12, and now I can’t seem to stop! Although it is sometimes offered at different times, I love the 6 am session: get it done and out of the way, ready to start the day type workout. I love the girls in class. I enjoy watching the others grow as they move through the 12 weeks, starting with small ‘bells and progressing to using some of the heaviest ones!

amber push up

push ups with meticulous form

This year I signed up for 2 concurrent Kbell Jam sessions, putting me at 4 days per week. I have lost 7lbs in the 12 weeks. And one full size. This may not seem like much, but as someone who loses and gains quite quickly, and also was not dieting at ALL during that time, I think it says a lot. In fact, I credit Kbell Jam alone for this weight loss.

new to the game but still playing hard

new to the game but still playing hard

I find the functionality of kettelbell workouts to be amazing. I’m pretty physically active and find that training with kettlebells has made my day-to-day activities much easier.

Last week I finished off another 12 weeks of Kbell Jam and now am trying a NEW Kettlebell class. I’m quite excited about it, and more than addicted to kettlebells!

chi-runningi first read ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer in 2005. i have spent parts of the past dozen years of my life running, but i am not a runner. when i would run consistently and attempt to add volume to my weekly distances, i inevitably would experience injury, of some sort or another. my shift into easier running came when i began barefoot running and worked at changing my running style – my gait, my foot fall, my cadence, my mindfulness. i still am not a runner, but i do love running.

i recently came upon ChiRunning Coach Eric Collard on twitter when there was a feed about him offering a ChiRunning Workshop in Halifax which i wanted, but was unable, to attend. one tweet led to another, and Eric Collard will be in Charlottetown on February 23rd serving up 4 hours of running sweetness.

EricCollard-ed-200x300Eric Collard is one of 11 certified ChiRunning instructors in Canada and has taught the technique to over 350 people from coast to coast over the past two years. he is also an NCCP-certified triathlon coach, a Running Injury Prevention Specialist and a lululemon Alumni Running Ambassador.

for more information, you can simply check out his site at www.ecinc.ca or better yet, contact him at info@ecinc.ca

here’s what he has to say about ChiRunning and his workshop:

What is ChiRunning? Why should I care?

A lot of folks ask me what ChiRunning is all about. No, you don’t do Tai Chi while you run and no, it’s not that you move around with a chai latte in your hands either!

ChiRunning combines the principles of tai chi while teaching proper running biomechanics. It simply goes back to basics, moving the way we used to when we were kids. It’s a great way to get started as a runner and if you’re experienced, to simply improve your technique. Everything in ChiRunning goes back to the guiding principles of energy efficiency and injury prevention.

With proper posture (aligning your shoulders, hips and ankles all in a straight line), a slight lean and relaxed ankles you can start to feel the pull of gravity when you run. It makes a huge difference in terms of efficiency and injury prevention, as you will not be relying on muscles for the main source of propulsion. One of the great benefits of the technique is that it really teaches participants how to be gentle to the body, as there is less pounding on the joints. If you’re lighter on your feet, not only will your body thank you down the road but you will also enjoy your activity a lot more and more likely to incorporate it into your day-to-day.

Another great advantage of the technique is the mind-body connection. It changes running from a sport to more a practice, very similar to yoga. It also makes you go inside yourself so you’re more aware of how your body moves, instead of muscling the miles away.

***
the 4 hour workshop will be held

1pm  – 5pm

saturday,  february 23rd

at

the whole way health & fitness studio

306 university avenue, charlottetown

registration is on line at Eric’s website

ChiRunning helps all runners, even those of us who are barefoot

ChiRunning helps all runners, even those of us who are barefoot runners

chris1

this guest post is by the most amazing Christine Gordon-Manley. as you are about to discover, Christine is a fit mama awaiting babe number two. in addition to being mom to the sweetest of little girls, Christine is a partner-owner at Manley Mann Media where she spins both amazing word webs and amazing web words. as a strong woman who challenges herself physically, she is known around the studio as the Shame Machine – you best be doing full push ups if that pregnant lady Christine next to you is! i am blessed to know Christine, inspired by her inner fire, and so grateful she is today’s guest blogger!

I became pregnant for the second time in May 2012 and immediately decided to sign myself up for an experiment. I don’t know if you’d call it a social one or a psychological one, or heck even a valid one, really, since I am both the subject and the conductor of this study, but an experiment it is.

Research Context

 My first pregnancy, five years ago, saw me lethargic, sore, cranky, and basically a lump on the couch for 42 weeks. My physical activity levels basically consisted of floating in a pool 1-2 times a week, pretending to swim a lap or two whenever a fellow swimmer would join me (but, mostly, I just enjoyed floating), and walking in grocery stores, malls, and big-box stores that consumed much of our weekend schedule back when we lived in Ontario.

My daughter was born almost 2 weeks past her due date (ouch), after approximately 33.5 hours of labour (but who’s counting?). I experienced back labour and some pretty graphic internal stuff I shall spare you from reading about. Let’s just say that I still haven’t forgotten the experience despite common folklore suggesting I should have long ago replaced these details with visions of rainbows and sunshine.

Recovery was a bit on the slow side, and it’s safe to say that the shell-shocked state of New Parents Syndrome kept me housebound the better part of a year. It took me forever to get back to the gym, to become fit again, to feel like me.

 In 2010, I found myself looking for a new fitness routine. My family had settled into some state of normalcy after a few years of chaos, and my half-ass gym workouts and infrequent running schedule just wasn’t cutting it. Kettlebells was recommended and so I signed up to try.

Two years later and I am addicted. Not only is kettlebells a fantastic workout and not only does Wendy continually mix it up (it’s safe to say we’re never bored), but the mix of camaraderie and community that is experienced at Wendy’s studio is something I’ve never experienced before. I’ve long ago given up my gym membership (where I often felt alone and intimidated). With Wendy, we’re always challenged, and even when we grumble (and do we grumble!), it’s usually with a smile on our faces. Usually.

I’ve never been happier with my physical appearance and level of fitness than I have been this past year. I credit Wendy and kettlebells for this.

 Research Participants

So, when I decided to add Child #2 to the mix of my already busy life, it was with the caveat that I try as hard as I could to maintain my sanity. I did not want to lose myself, and for me, this meant maintaining my fitness levels as much as I could. I was curious as to just how long I could continue swinging with a growing belly, and if doing so would affect my overall well being.

Methodology

I’m proud to say that, other than a few weeks at the beginning, where constant nausea plagued me and my level of physical activity consisted of keeping my eyelids open, I have managed to maintain something of a regular kettlebell schedule.

Push-ups. Swings. Jump rope. Even burpees. So far, I’m doing it all. I’m now in trimester #3 and have started making some modifications. Not really because I can’t handle it . . . but moreso that there is a certain obstacle in my way. (Ever try mountain climbers with a giant belly in the way? Case in point.)  I’ve also cut out attending circuit classes now that I get winded by simply walking up stairs (thank you unborn child for squishing my lungs), and some moves present additional balance issues that I didn’t have to adjust for before, but other than that, I continue to go and swing with the rest. My stubborn l’il self refuses to modify too much, as part of the fun of the class is keeping up with everyone else!

Preliminary results

 This pregnancy has been so much easier than the first and I credit placing such an importance on my physical activity levels. I’m not known as the “lump of the couch” around the house and I generally have more energy than I did when pregnant the first time around. I honestly can’t believe that I’m 30 weeks pregnant already! I also like the way I look, which didn’t happen much during pregnancy number one, where I often felt clumsy, large, and ugly.

So far, the experiment is working. I still have 10 weeks to go and I’m sure more modifications will have to be made along the way, but my original goal of “let’s just try kettlebells until Christmas” has already been changed to “let’s keep going as long as I can.”

fit5Significance of Study

 My fellow kettlebell swingers joke that this child will emerge looking like a bell and swing right on out of me. I’m not quite sure about that, but I do hope I have an easier labour this time around. I’m being realistic with that expectation, but I do know that my overall health is much more positive and even maintaining a good mental health can contribute to the birth experience. And, once baby is born, I plan on returning to Wendy’s studio as soon as I can, swinging my way back to the pre-pregnancy body that I was so proud of. Pregnancy is no reason to stop being active, especially if fitness is already part of your life. Sheesh, if those ancient women in the rice fields could keep on working right up until they gave birth, there’s no reason I can’t swing a bell (or two).


jaz krautwurst, rhn

i’m really pleased to present today’s guest post, the first of many i hope, by jaz krautwurst. jaz is a registered holistic nutritional consultant living in halifax, nova scotia. she has a passion and talent for living with ease, prefers dancing to walking and walking to wheels, and does  a darned fine job of  practicing nonattachment. a lover of food, drink, people as party companions, acrobatics, fire, and coffee, she is mistress to living with love and compassion. sometimes she yells at her roommate. 

(note: i am privileged to have birthed jaz and am grateful for all the ways she has danced my life)

When you hear the word ‘cleanse,’ what does it make you think of? I think it’s pretty easy for people to perceive a cleanse as intense and restrictive, something unpleasant ‘healthy’ people do in the name of being ‘healthy.’ Literally, the word cleanse means, ‘Rid (a person, place, or thing) of something seen as unpleasant, unwanted, or defiling,’ and that is the purpose of a cleanse: to facilitate the body’s natural detoxification processes through diet, exercise and often the use of herbs or vitamin/mineral supplements. It is a process unique to each individual — there is no single ‘correct’ cleanse or cleansing diet that is right for everyone. It is dependant on the individual’s goals as well as their everyday lifestyle.

For myself, a cleanse is a way to tune up my habits. Knowing what is right and applying it can be two different things and I, personally, am easily swayed by temptation. The treats aren’t treats if you have them every day and a party isn’t a party if it happens every night!

A cleanse is an opportunity for me to make lasting change in my lifestyle and instill new, positive habits (and remember my old, positive habits)… it’s a gratifying feeling!

A cleanse is a way for me to get in tune with my body. It is a time for me to know myself further, treat myself gently and remind myself what a gift I (and all of us humans!)  have been given: a beautiful, resilient, capable body that contains incomprehensible wisdom inside of it. We carry within ourselves not just the potential to be well but the ability to achieve it. A cleanse allows me to see this very real ability in action.

A cleanse during the season’s change prepares me for the shifts of nature. The temperature, weather, amount of daylight, even the quality of the air and direction the wind comes from all change. Simple food, simply prepared, coming from this corner of the world (as much as I am able) prepares me, body and spirit, for the shorter days and cooler temperatures upon us. I am aware of the shift from watery fruits and vegetables to root veggies as much as I’m aware that it now gets dark at 5:30 in the evening. Squashes, sweet potatoes and other foods of the season warm me up from the inside out. A cleanse attunes me to the planet.

With these things in mind it is with great pleasure and a healthy sense of challenge that I begin my own 21 day cleanse. Today is day two! During this time I am saying goodbye to my non-food of choice: coffee. So far I don’t miss it but talk to me tomorrow afternoon after I’ve finished serving brunch to a hundred people at work! Herbal teas, pure water and scalp massages are among my methods of handling the cravings. I give myself a personal bonus if I can get someone else to deliver the scalp massage!

Have you ever done a cleanse before? What do you do to diffuse a craving for something you want to avoid?

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