22 Push Ups in 22 Days

I just completed my first 22 Push Ups Challenge. This viral campaign started in 2013 to raise awareness for Veteran suicide prevention. The number 22 is based on a VA study about the number of Veterans who commit suicide every day.

The 22 Push Ups Challenge is also for honoring military service members and Veterans. Various organizations promote this activity during the month of November to commemorate Veteran’s Day.

This goal has been on my bucket list for a long time.

The terms of the challenge vary, just depending on how each person chooses to complete it. Some people practice 22 push ups throughout a single day. Other people practice 22 push ups (and/or variations) at one time. While some people dedicate one day to the challenge, others perform 22 push ups for 22 days. Everyone posts a video of their efforts on their social media.

I’ve tried this challenge in the past and failed, due to a herniated disc injury from 2015. It took many years to rebuild my body, but through consistent effort I built up the strength to do ten triceps push ups in a row.

My goal was to do 22 consecutive triceps push ups in full plank position.

In order to more than double my number of pushups I had to do quite a bit of base and cross-training. Before the November 1st start date, I spent six weeks focusing on foundation. During the seventh week I increased my upper body training frequency by alternating my standard routine with Ballet Barre push up variations.

I also added some explosive strength training.

I started attending boxing classes once a week and also practiced on my own. This was my first attempt at boxing and it has been wonderfully challenging. I can understand why boxing is considered to be a form of mindful exercise.

In order to stay on course I used a training technique from my first 100 Days of Meditation marathon. I made a promise to myself that if I missed a day I would have to start over. I also made sure to stick to my clean eating routine and slept an average of eight hours every night.

You are welcome to learn more about my progress on my Facebook page.

Interested in taking your training to the next level? Book a free no-obligation consultation to discuss how I can help you reach your goals.

Five Animals Qigong Online Class Series

In this 3 min video I share a little of the history of the Five Animals and play with the first animal form ~ Dragon

Registration is now open for this lively 5-part series of adult martial arts classes. The Five Animals is a dance-like form of medical qigong. Qigong translates as qi (life force energy) and gong (cultivation practices). The purpose of the Five Animals is to enhance health and longevity. These low-impact movements increase strength, flexibility, and balance. Each class will focus on learning one of the animal forms.

Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Cost: $25 for the series
Minimum 3 people/Max 10
When: Mondays, Nov 15 – Dec 13
Time: 4pm PST/5pm MST/7pm EST (40 minutes)
Where: Zoom

What to Bring: Water bottle. Athletic wear. Tennis shoes or yoga mat. Insight Timer App installed on your phone.

Pre-registration is required and ends on November 14. Contact Emily to discuss payment options.

I reserve the right to cancel if less than 3 people sign up.

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Outdoor Fitness Classes – Parker Tai Chi and Qi Gong Club

Outdoor training season is one of my favorite times of year. Navigating the weather can be a bit of an adventure here in Parker, Colorado. We get flash hailstorms all summer and it can get pretty windy at times. Which is a big reason why I’m so grateful to have a new indoor training space.

On nice days it’s amazing to train outside here. The sunsets are gorgeous and the skies are incredible. And after a long winter it feels so good to soak up the warm sunshine while exercising.

One of my local outdoor training spots is the Parker Norwell Outdoor Fitness park. Park gyms are a very cool phenomenon. I’ve seen a few of them in my travels around the country. This one was designed by the Barkholt family from Denmark:

During travels in Asia, the family experienced how the public outdoor fitness parks everywhere offer easy access to exercise, and the perfect supplement to the family’s walking and running routines.

This experience inspired the Barkholt family to develop their own unique line of outdoor fitness equipment, expressing the very best of Danish Design: quality, functionality and aesthetics.

There’s one piece of equipment that I really like – the curved pull up/stretching bars.

It’s perfect for practicing a full range of strength and flexibility exercises. A few of my favorite exercises include:

  • Hamstring Stretches
  • Flat Back Stretch
  • Hanging Spinal Stretch
  • Leg Lifts Series (for core and leg strength)
  • High Bar Stretching

These exercises are highly beneficial for all levels of experience. If there was one thing I could recommend that people do for themselves this summer it would be to train outdoors 2-3 days a week.

I’ll be co-hosting a series of small group sessions at the Norwell Park Gym and other local outdoor training spots. Contact me if you’re interested in attending a free seminar on how to do these exercises.

For more information visit the Parker Tai Chi and Qi Gong Club’s Facebook page.

 

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Body as Clay

Body as Clay

Imagine holding a ball of clay. It’s damp to the touch, cool, heavy for its size. Press your fingers into the surface. They leave a slight indentation. Press again and again. The outer layer begins to soften from the warmth of your palms. The surface glides with the motion of your fingers. Your hands grow tired but you keep working. The middle layer softens but the inner core remains solid. You dig in to reach the center, pulling the ball into new shapes. The clay is pliable, ready to be molded.

It’s the same with warming up our bodies in yoga, where we start with gentle poses before diving into more dynamic ones. With class sequencing the basic rule is to warm up for five minutes in an hour-long class. A personal practice allows for much more flexibility and the freedom to decide how long you want to warm up on any given day. Which is, in my humble opinion, absolutely essential.

A proper warm up is a very personal process. 

Most adults have developed some level of compression in their bodies, either from an active or an inactive lifestyle, or simply from the continuous gravitational pull of the planet. Yoga helps to realign our bodies into a state of balanced, expanded strength.

Think about your normal routine: which “postures” do you spend most of your time in? Sitting, standing, sleeping, and any number of repetitive movements all create imprints on your body-memory. Stress patterns (physical and emotional) are another factor, as well the effects of diet and lifestyle. Sam the carpenter would do well to warm up in a way that is very different than Susie the weekend-warrior-waterskiier. While Sam might need to warm up for forty five minutes, Susie’s ready to dive in at the ten minute mark. No matter what our level of experience may be we all have our own unique learning curve.

One other thing about the importance of warming up – consistency is KEY. Even five minutes a day is going to make a huge difference. What doesn’t amount to much is dabbling here and there. It’s like the clay ball analogy; if you stop working the ball loses its malleability. Starting over is okay, but when you decide to gain some traction you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make.

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Safety Tips – Cross-Training with Yoga

Emily Seymour Cross Training With YogaCross-training with yoga is a popular discussion topic these days and people will sometimes ask me if I lift weights or do cardio. There are ways to effectively combine Eastern and Western forms of exercise but there are a few common mistakes to avoid.

To be clear, when I’m using the word yoga in this context I’m talking about the physical practice of asana, not the 5,000+ year old tradition. Asana-based yoga classes are the most recent evolution of the 1980’s aerobics fad and most YMCA’s, gyms and health clubs offer a variety of them. Yet many of these businesses do not educate their clientele on how to safely incorporate yoga into their work outs.

Contractive vs. expansive strength training.  

Free weight training is designed to build strength by repeatedly contracting the muscle towards the central axis of the body. Yoga poses such as Warrior 2 build strength by holding the posture and lengthening the muscles away from the central axis of the body. Contractive strength training shortens the muscle whereas expansive strengthening promotes a balance of strength and flexibility.

People who practice routine contractive strength training (such as bodybuilders) may have a tough time holding poses like Warrior 2. If you’ve been weightlifting regularly and want to start practicing yoga it can helpful to switch to lighter weights. There are some corporate yoga studios that offer classes that combine light weight training with yoga.

Asana and Cardio.

Any kind of joint impacting exercise should be done BEFORE practicing yoga. Asana opens the joints so it’s counterintuitive to run on a treadmill after practicing yoga. While there are cardio machines like exercise bikes and ellipticals that don’t impact the joints they do tighten the muscles. It’s a good idea to stretch for five minutes before doing cardio and then do an extended yoga practice afterwards.

A good warm up is key.

It’s worth mentioning another potential safety issue that frequently happens in gym settings. Oftentimes members arrive well after a class has started, sometimes as much as a half hour into the class, or else they might leave early. Many instructors don’t say anything as the success of a class is based on attendance numbers, but this can be quite dangerous.

For your safety you should plan on attending a group yoga class from start to finish. You wouldn’t jump on a treadmill and start out at peak speed, nor would you end a weight lifting session without a little stretching. Just like any other system of exercise there is a formula to a yoga class, and this formula is designed to give you optimal results.

Thinking about cross-training with yoga? I’d love to speak with you. Book a free no-obligation consultation today.