Saturday, May 14, 2011

Indoor Wall Climbing - Vertical Endeavors

My first time wall climbing was just a few months ago. It was an awesome time! I was excited to go back today.

Vertical Endeavors is located inside the Lifetime Fitness facility in Warrenville, IL. The entire place is huge. There's workout area with stairmasters, basketball courts, showers and lockers, salon, spa, juice bar and the climbing wall section. There's probably more stuff I haven't discovered, but it is pretty inclusive of just about anything you want to do to your body.

The staff at Vertical Endeavors is nice and clearly into climbing. On your first visit, you sign a waiver and go through a short orientation on how to properly climb. There's an auto belay section as well as a section for bouldering and leed climbing. The entire space is huge. Very cool.

The walls are labeled and numbered according to difficulty. The higher the number, the greater the difficulty. A 5.6 is supposed to be pretty basic, but I've had trouble with a particular 5.6 that is just out of my reach. Each hold is labeled with a color. If the 5.6 is marked yellow, then completing that course would mean you only use the holds marked with yellow tape. On the difficult walls, I just used whatever holds were available.

Auto Belay
The auto belaying system is pretty cool. It is on a hydraulic system that has a minimum resistance of 40 lbs. As you climb up, it's almost like you're slightly buoyant. When you're ready to come down, you just let go and it releases you slowly back to the ground.

Bouldering is where you traverse laterally. You're free climbing, so you're not allowed to go any higher than shoulder height (to minimize injury from falling). I like bouldering because it works the core and obliques in particular. It's kind of fun to try different holds and swing from side to side.

By the end, you're all full of chalk dust and sweat. Wall climbing is an excellent workout. This particular place is great for all levels. It's also an awesome alternative for kids to get exercise. There's a positive vibe throughout the whole place which I really enjoyed. If it tells you anything, I purchased the 10-visit punch card and will be going back tomorrow morning with a different group of friends.

I really dig Vertical Endeavors. The only downside is that it's not very close to my apartment. But it's worth a trip out there every once in a while. Give it a shot! Let me know what you think.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Insanity - Day 6: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

Here we go again. This cardio circuit went a bit better than the first time around because I knew what to expect. Once I was past the warmup and into the stretching, I was getting sweat all in my eyes and up my nose and all over the floor. This is ridiculous. Who does this?

Definitely saw improvement on my suicide drills, heismans, butt kicks and mummy kicks but the 123 and mountain climbers are still tough. The second part of the workout where we started doing pushups, ski abs and in and out abs was particularly difficult. The workout ends with jabs and uppercuts which utilize almost all the muscle groups. By the end, there's barely any strength left to lift the arms much less use them to punch. It's definitely a burn all the way through!

A few more of these, and I'll be ready for another fit test!

Insanity - Day 5: Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs

Did Shaun T really put "pure" in front of cardio? And did he really have to mention how scared he was of this workout? Haha!

Today was a really good day for me. I've been noticing that my appetite is increasing as I'm going through the program. I'm following the nutrition guide as closely as possible and keeping in line with lean meats, veggies and nutritious snacks. I started drinking a full serving (rather than half) of Shakeology and that has made a huge difference in my energy levels throughout the day. So, now that I have fueled my body, I am ready for these workouts.

Pure Cardio reminds me a bit of Plyometrics in P90X. It's intense and gets the heart pumping. It's also very difficult to master in the beginning. I took lots of breaks, which is fine, and struggled with a few moves such as Switch Kicks. I decided to modify them by doing ball kicks instead of jumping from leg to leg. I think by doing it this way, I will work my way of to proper switch kicks.

Cardio Abs are sort of like the Ab Ripper X of Insanity. Amazingly, I was able to get through most of the moves without pausing. I say "amazingly" because I haven't kept up with ab workouts in a while. I liked the different moves Shaun T incorporates into the C-sit. One of the slight shortcomings, in my opinion, of Ab Ripper X is that the obliques are not focused on very much. Cardio Abs definitely works them out.

During my stretches after Pure Cardio and even Cardio Abs, I felt my body sinking more and more into that groove. My soreness was not there and even my left hip flexor (which has been extremely tight) is beginning to loosen up and feel a lot better. I think the intimidation factor is decreasing and my motivation is getting stronger. I hope your's is, too!

Pure Cardio is giving Plyo a run for it's money! Data here.

Insanity - Day 4: Cardio Recovery

The name Cardio Recovery didn't really ease my apprehension about pressing play for a 4th day in a row, but I did it anyway. While this workout was low (or lower) impact, it was still challenging.

Is he recovering or getting ready to keel over?
I liked that it incorporated yoga stretches and still worked various muscle groups. Although my heart rate was not through the roof, I was dripping in sweat by the end.

Honestly, there were some poses I couldn't hold. It reminded me of the first week of P90X when I could barely get through all of the vinyasas and balance postures in Yoga X. But I know time and consistency are all I need to be as successful with Insanity as I have been with P90X.

While still a good workout, the recovery was definitely well received. I had been feeling sore since Day 1. Must be doing something right! Here's my heart rate data.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Insanity - Day 3: Cardio Power & Resistance

I really understand the need to eat 5 small meals throughout the day now. Drenched in sweat! Slightly less cardio and more focus on power with pushups and squats. Tough cookies. Data here.

Insanity - Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

I'm so tired, I'm just gonna link the heart rate data. No explanation for now.

Insanity - Fit Test #1

Insanity has you do a Fit Test every 2 weeks throughout the 60-day program so that you can track your progress. I decided to follow both the exercise and nutrition guides as closely as I can. Here are the results of my first Fit Test...

Insanity Fit Test #1 reminded me of when I started P90X and couldn't do jack! Back to square one. These moves are definitely advanced and will take some getting used to.

I wore my heart rate monitor and found that my bpm were not as high as when I go running or do plyometrics. This is because I was on the floor half the time. Here's the heart rate data.

Switch Kicks were horrendous for me! I had to step in between each kick rather than "switch" from kick to stand to kick to stand.

Power Jacks were a bit more familiar for me but started to burn after about 10 of them.

Power Knees work the obliques as you're supposed to do them at super high speed.

Power Jumps were similar to Jump Knee Tuck in Plyometrics. These are really tough.

Globe Jumps are definitely an area for improvement. I'm looking forward to increasing that number next time around.

Suicide Jumps are aptly named. These work your core as much as they work your legs.

Push-up Jacks. Seriously? As if regular push ups aren't hard enough.

Low Plank Oblique is nitty gritty. This is another move I plan on crushing next round. It definitely killed my sides.

I'm glad I didn't skip the Fit Test. It's important to gauge yourself, especially through a strenuous program like Insanity. It definitely gave me an idea of how hard I have to push and what my limitations are. It also reminded me to keep a towel nearby because these exercise sessions are perspiration city!

Nutrition - Pro Oats

After my 6 mile jog down to Oak Park, I ran into a convenience store for some water and a banana. Hidden in the corner, I saw Pro Oats. It caught my eye because one of the meal options in the Elite Nutrition guide for Insanity included a "pro oatmeal" which has you add whey protein. Pro Oats already has the whey protein in it, so that cut out step number 1.

Pro Oats
I followed the instructions on the bag to mix 1/3 cup of oatmeal with water and added a "splash" of soy milk. This tasted pretty bland and was not all that. The next time I had it, I mixed closer to 1/2 cup of oats and 1 cup of soy milk, added a dash of cinnamon and a bit of salt. This was much more satisfying. I guesstimate my recipe was about 450-500 calories while the original recipe would be closer to 300. My math is awful and I am not a nutritionist, so don't quote me on that!

The bag cost me $5 and has about 7 servings. That's not too bad considering what's in it. It also comes in a peach flavor. I'm not sure whether I'd buy it again because it is almost like an instant oatmeal - finely chopped. I will have to try out making old fashioned oatmeal and adding my own whey protein to compare before I declare a winner. BUT, this was definitely an interesting find.

If you're curious as to what soy milk I buy, I only ever get Pearl Organic Soymilk by Kikkoman. It tastes AWESOME! It's way better than Silk or those other imitators and hators. Jewel used to carry it without fail until recently. It may be easier to find at local produce marts. I like the creamy vanilla flavor. There is also chocolate (it's ok), green tea (looks pretty gross and tastes a bit weird), and original (it's ok). If you've tried soy milk and hate it, try Pearl just one time. Do it for me! It might change your mind.