March 16: 20 minutes with Billy Blanks … on mute

The need to jump around was strong today, so I thought a Billy Blanks workout might be perfect. As long as the sound was muted of course! I just do not understand how people can be so robotic and chant the numbers one to eight while exercising. It’s almost like they’re in a cult. I’m sure Billy’s fans would say it’s a wonderful fitness cult.

I’ve never done Billy’s Tae Bo before. My friend Sandra suggested him a while back (here’s a previous post with links to his longer cardio workouts) but when I saw how little time I had this afternoon I had to find something shorter.

Luckily, his 20 minute Body Shape workout popped up on YouTube and it was just right. Not much jumping around though, as the focus was on burning the arm muscles and that was fine by me! It’s still a problem area and I’ve just about had enough of the wobbly bits.

The 250g baked bean tins got a workout today, but I couldn’t help wondering how hard it would be to do these exercises, and how much more I would gain (or, in fact, lose!), if I had heavier weights. So I’m finally off to the city this afternoon to have a look at some hand weights. Just a look at this stage. If I buy them I’ll definitely try this Billy Blanks workout again, as some of the comments talked about how hard it was. I raised a slight sweat but my arms weren’t shaking at the end. Not good enough, me thinks!

My morning routine stays the same (unfortunately the time I do it varies quite a lot! I’m not quite springing out of bed at 6am when Leo’s alarm goes off) and I’m constantly surprised at how stiff I feel when first sitting on the floor to do the 10 minutes of meditation. Eventually my hips relax and it all feels quite nice.

Then I stretch out my legs for five minutes. At the beginning, the idea of resting my elbows on the floor is ludicrous – they’re almost a ruler’s length away from the ground when I first start stretching. Slowly, everything limbers up and just before the time’s up, I have my elbows on the floor, even just for a few seconds sometimes. Knowing this is the result, most days, keeps me motivated to hopefully be able to do the splits again. Will my 43-year-old hips let that happen?!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 23: The need for cardio

After running on Friday, I wanted to recreate that enjoyable whole body moving feeling today. Saturday’s arm workout and Sunday’s walk were nice, but now that Leo’s not around to laugh at me, I mean, now that it’s the start of a new week, it’s time to sweat! It’s raining outside, so that was my perfect excuse to look for a cardio workout video on the internet. There are so many, it’s a matter of knowing what you do and don’t like.

Initially I searched for Billy Blanks, on the suggestion of my friend Sandra, as he does Tae Bo routines, some focusing on cardio. But I quickly worked out what I don’t like about his workouts – the back-up athletes’ incessant counting did my head in just previewing these videos. Close to an hour of that stuff? No thanks. If you can handle listening to people count from one to eight non-f’ing-stop then, please, check out his Bootcamp Cardio Sculpt, his Bootcamp Cardio Inferno or this older cardio workout. They look like great workouts but I just couldn’t subject myself to that noise. Maybe I’ll try doing one of the classes next week, with the sound down. Maybe.

I ended up going with a 30-minute fat burning cardio workout from Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu. It’s the first time I’ve done one of her Good Health 24/7 videos and I was struck by how much she looks like Angelina Jolie with her hair up. Incredible!

At the beginning, the workout seemed quite tame (neck and ankle turns in the warm-up and so on) but when the proper workout started, my goodness, Basu and her team had me moving! The music was a bit techno-ish, but with the sound down you can still follow her dubbed instructions (it seems exercising and talking at the same time, a la Jillian Michaels, is not her thing).

There’s a water break which is needed, but other than that it’s go go go, with marching in between exercises to let you catch your breath. You don’t need any equipment, except maybe a mat for the push up exercises, but you will need a bit of space as there are forwards and backwards jumps and walking lunges.

Now that the routine is finished, and beads of sweat are still trickling from my forehead, one question needs to be answered. How did Basu not sweat?! Was her studio air-conditioned? Did she have someone pat her down between takes? She was a vision of concentration and perfection the entire time!

Speaking of concentration, do you think you’d have what it takes to run a marathon? I’ll sign off now and leave you with my second guest contributor, Karie Parker, who in less than five years has gone from being an occasional treadmill jogger to a marathon runner. Take it away Karie!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

p.s While watching the last Inspector Montalbano episode yesterday (sob sob!) it felt like two earthquakes rocked our neighbourhood. The whole ground and front side of the house shook with the impact. Hours later, once we could be bothered to move off the couches, we saw what it was – the new snow from Saturday on top of the old snow became too heavy, and three quarters of it slid off the roof in two thunderous movements. It’s incredible how such a small amount of snow shook the house so much and made such a racket.

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New snow on old snow became too heavy for our roof – nearly all of it was dumped on our doorstep. What a noise!