Otagenki Report 2: Fit Expo 2014

I really was not expecting to enjoy myself so much at Fit Expo 2014, because Fit Expo 2013 was such a lame experience. I don’t know if the people who run the show read my piece on this blog, but this time it was a big difference.

It seems like a new, and very welcome IMHO trend is REAL FOOD. Yes, you now can get a fair choice of nutrition bars and other fitness goodies that have ingredients you know and can pronounce. The only food like that you could find last year was at the Ralphs booth, and from a small company that sends a box of organic produce to your house every month. Yes, the frankenfood peddlers were still there, as were some very questionable supplements, (Ephedra? Oh really?) but there were a lot more items that were labeled organic, and a lot more with identifiable ingredients.

Another difference was a lot more experiential stuff…a lot more exercises to try, and mini-classes. The exhibitions were more interesting too, including some amazing feats of strength by professional athletes and very well trained amateurs.

So yeah, here’s another Otagenki Report. This doesn’t have any commentary…my goal with the Otagenki Reports is to tell the story with footage, not with words. I want to create something universal, that’s understandable in any language. I’ve always loved video essays and photo essays, they’re a real art form, and narration sort of breaks the mood.


Assessing things, two days after the ride

(click on the picture to see it full size)

Wow. I did NOT expect to see those kind of results. I knew that I got off to a flying start out of Chatsworth, considering that it’s a real grade and I had the wind at my back. But dang… (@_@) . I did that??? [keanu]Whoa.[/keanu]

How am I feeling? A lot less sore than I thought I’d be. Plantar fasciitis is not acting up. My first steps this morning were not painful at all. I have a bit of knee soreness, but it feels “exercised,” not injured. I got some laundry done…everything is out of the washers and there’s one last load in the dryer. It’s not even noon.

Goal for next year: the coastal trail. What better way to give a beach cruiser a workout than at the beach?


Keeping my promise, sort of…


Last year at this time, I mentioned my intent to walk across the San Fernando Valley in honor of my late husband and to raise funds for the International Myeloma Foundation. Richie was given his diagnosis of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, on the day after Christmas, 2006. Then I got plantar fasciitis in one of my feet, and had to back off on walking long distances. I was told that cycling would be a good alternative to walking, and that it can sometimes serve to rehab the plantar fascia because pedaling stretches the very tendons in the bottom of the foot that get stressed walking.

Anyway, I’m really enjoying riding, and I realized that I could do the same route as a cycling route. The route is illustrated above. It’s 18 miles. I have done two 10 mile rides already, so I don’t think it’s so far fetched. And of course, there’s always the option to bail and catch a bus along the way…perhaps not along the Orange Line because of the scarcity of bike racks, but along Burbank Boulevard. I will also have my mobile phone with me, a first aid kit, and bike tools. I will have two liters of water on me in a “Camelback” type arrangement, and also some munchies. I intend to get lunch at the end of my route.

18 is a good number: in Jewish tradition, Hebrew letters also have numeric value, and Cheth-Yod, Chai, the Hebrew word for “Life” is valued at 18. I’m doing this to celebrate the lives of family and friends who have been taken from me by blood cancers, and to support a friend who is currently fighting blood cancer.

I intend to set out at 10am on December 26th, and if my figuring is right, I will likely be in North Hollywood at the end of my route around 12:30 or 1pm. If you want to join up on the ride you can meet me at Chatsworth Station at 10am, or if you want to donate to the International Myeloma Foundation feel free to visit them at http://www.myeloma.org/ . I also support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society because they are involved with both research and patient support not only for the leukemias and lymphomas but multiple myeloma as well.

I will document my ride, of course.

Exercise Discovery–Finding Your Fun

Yes, exercise can be fun. Getting my bike back in working order and riding around has been a learning experience. Why did I wait so long? I missed this.


Naturally a lot of people ask me what I do.  And very often when I tell them, they say, “Oh I hate to exercise.”  And if they seem happy with the idea that they hate exercise, I leave it at that.  People are allowed to love exercise or hate exercise or do exercise despite the fact they hate it or start a small hat shop.  It’s not my job to tell them what to do.  But sometimes people ask me how they can stop hating exercise, and that’s what this blog post is about.

Because as the graphic says above, exercise is like sex, if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.  And if you flipped that slide over, you would come to the second part of that statement which is, “sometimes you’ve got to kiss a few exercise toads before you find your exercise prince or princess.”

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Monster WOD…a little too much for me today.


I only got through one set before realizing that I was totally wiped out by this WOD. Will have to work up to this…deceptively difficult.

“Ali” WOD
Based on Ali Vincent’s motto, “I can do anything for a minute.”
5 rounds in honor of having been formulated 5 years after Ms. Vincent won The Biggest Loser, the first woman to win the competition.

1 minute alternating lunges
1 minute butt kicks
1 minute sprint, as fast as you can, 0:30 out, 0:30 back (I rowed at max intensity instead)
Samson stretch

All exercises are in minute increments, with a minute to change over to the next
All exercises are either AMRAP (As many reps as possible) or at max intensity over the minute they are performed.
5 rounds

(only completed one round this first time)
1 minute medicine ball slams (6# medicine ball, the only one I have)
1 minute rowing at max intensity (or a minute sprint like in the warmup)
1 minute front squats at 80% of PR weight 45# in my case
1 minute stepping or box jumps
1 minute kettlebell swings at 80% of PR weight 14.4# in my case

“What you should fear is being old and weak.”

Grandma sets a World Record

This, in a nutshell, is why I’ve gone whole-hog for weight training. I’m almost 50. I have observed my grandmothers and my great aunts as they aged and died. Most had osteoporosis to some extent or another…grateful for the fact that my bones are pretty damn dense for my age. Fat chicks tend to preserve more bone mass than skinny chicks. And I want to keep my bones that way.

Right now, as I write this, I’m still sore from the WOD I programmed and followed through on last Thursday. I am sore in places I’ve never been sore in my entire life. However, it doesn’t feel like injury sore, unlike that one time when I worked with a trainer who really didn’t do his job and I injured myself during the session. Gotta hand it to Golden State Crossfit in Sherman Oaks: every trainer there is really good about preventing injury and teaching the right way to do things. I still have tons to learn, but at least what I know, I know the correct way to do it. I can’t afford continuing there but they are a top-notch box and I wish them the best.

I am sure that I have been beat up more by distance walking than by weight training. You don’t get plantar fasciitis from lifting weights. Yes, I have to be more careful than a teen or a twenty-something when working out with weights. And if I do injure myself, it takes a longer time to heal up. But the more I learn, the more I realize a balanced approach to fitness that comprises both cardio and strength training is the way to go.

BTW, the quote referenced at the top is from this excellent article. If you need more info about why strength training is important for women, read it and internalize it. The pictures are pretty unrealistic, and send the wrong message, (Lift weights and be HAWT!) but I cannot disagree with the text.

Vera Cosa The Barbarian!

And no, you won’t wind up looking like “her” when you do this.

Home WOD: Planks and deadlifts and steps oh my!

I can do anything
Just give me a minute, please
Ali is right on target.

Home WOD 11:15 to 12:00, Thursday August 29th
Plank, held 1 minute
Speed Skaters, AMRAP 4 rounds 0:30 on 0:30 off
Deadlift 60# (80% of PR) 15 reps, 3 rounds
“California” Apple Box (12″) Stepping AMRAP 1:00 on 1:00 off, 3 rounds
Dumbbell Goblet Squats 22.2# 15 reps, 2 rounds (Intended 3, hit the wall at 2)

Notes: an Apple Box is a standard part of a Hollywood Grip‘s kit of stuff. It is an 8″x12″x20″ wooden box that is designed to bear a metric crap-ton of weight. Since I don’t have a Plyo box (yet) and I live here in the Thirty Mile Zone, I got one for my very own. It also doubles as a night stand next to my bed!

Slowly but surely, progress is being made.

Yesterday I did an orientation class at a local Crossfit studio. I have 10 classes at Golden State Crossfit North in Sherman Oaks, which hopefully will bridge me up until the new gym in Panorama City, Universal Fitness, opens. Universal promises to have their own Crossfit program amongst the amenities there, which will be very cool for me.

Crossfit is very, very intense…and we only really did 10 minutes of it. But it kicked my ass. I am not able to sustain a running pace…part of the mini-WOD (Workout of the Day) we did required running 200 meters. I maybe was able to do a 100 meter dash the first round but I found myself having to walk on the way back during the first round, then walking that distance the other two rounds I did. We also swung kettlebells around. I have kettlebells, but easily the one I was using was twice as heavy as the ones I have at home.

So yeah, lots of work to be done. This is the next level. Looking forward to the Fundamentals classes.

Looked in the mirror today to assess myself. I can see progress now. It’s like looking at a statue emerging from a block of raw stone…my calves look pretty good, my thighs, butt and belly not so much. Still, the fact that it’s visible to me makes me very happy. At the Doc last week they weighed me and I was down four pounds from the last weigh-in. OK, my scale weight is oscillating in a range of 4 pounds or so. It doesn’t make much difference though…I may disappoint myself from time to time but progress is being made.

Image by Michelle Klein-Hass, taken at Art Of Fit I, Titmouse Studios, Hollywood, CA, US