Hot Yoga Anyone?

19 Nov

Hot Yoga is a workout that I’ve been trying to develop a liking for. I’ve done it in the past, however I was never able to stick with it for longer than a few sessions. I have mostly experimented with Bikram Yoga which is a 90 minute session consisting of 26 postures in a roughly 105 degree fahrenheit room. Translation: hot as hell.

The reason I want to develop a liking for it is that I’m notoriously horrible at remembering to stretch before or after my cardio workouts. Though I always feel fine, I’ve been reading many articles recently that suggest that as I approach my 30’s and 40’s, my lack of stretching will have an adverse effect of my muscles and flexibility. By the time you notice the problems, it might be too late to fully reverse them.

Do any of you practice Hot Yoga regularly? How long did it take for it to become enjoyable? What tips do you have for getting motivated? I want to know!

How Businesses Use Pinterest

18 Nov

Pinterest is a fun and engaging tool that I use personally to collect a wide range of online links that I find interesting such as recipes, fitness tips, style options, pictures of owls, and embarrassingly enough, wedding planning ideas (I’m not engaged). With millions of users, the amount of visually stimulating content being shared is astounding and because of the “pretty” interface of the site, I don’t ever find the process of hunting for items to pin overwhelming, instead it’s actually quite delightful.

Organizations have also latched onto the power of Pinterest and have found ways to use pins to drive business to their sites. I came across an article from Entrepreneur that highlights some common examples of how organizations have used Pinterest to their advantage:

Pinterest as an online catalog for an organization’s e-commerce site
Carl Christopher is a photographer who sells his work through Etsy. He uses Pinterest as a catalog where pinners can click on image and get directed to the Etsy platform where they can choose to purchase items. “The combination of Pinterest and Etsy accounts for about $60,000 in annual revenue, he says.”

Building web traffic and profiting from the ads
PopCosmo is a teen trends tracking site that derives its revenue from web traffic. The site’s creator pins photos that she takes that are interesting in her hometown. Those pins drive traffic to her site which has largely contributed to the 120,000 visits her site receives per month.

Pinning images to inspire consumers to use the company’s products
Freshfully is a local and online food distributor focused on local and fresh products. Their pinboards provide recipes that use the season’s freshest ingredients and drive traffic to Freshfully’s site encouraging them to purchase their produce.

Pinterest as a method to keep the brand/organization in consumer’s thoughts
Mr. Rooter is a plumbing franchise that uses more traditional advertising methods for driving business, but they created pinboards to help keep their brand name on the top of consumer’s minds. They have a DIY board for home maintenance tips and a fun “Where in the World…is Mr. Rooter” board that shows their Mr. Rooter action figure in various locations.

Is your organization thinking of using Pinterest to help drive business or awareness?

Stressed? Punch and Kick it Away!

17 Nov

This week I’ve been a little stressed. Okay, super stressed. It’s getting to the final stretch of the library school quarter and the pressure is on to mentally push my way through the last few projects and readings. At one point, my boyfriend good-naturedly asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner on a Wednesday night. I snapped back, “Go out to dinner? Do I look like someone who has time for dinner?!”

I needed to relax. Fortunately, I discovered this great Turbo Kick class at my gym. Turbo Kick is a combination of kickboxing and dance moves set to high-energy music. Though I’ve never taken a formal kickboxing class and had no idea what the differences were between jabs, hooks, crosses and uppercuts, I found that it really didn’t matter for this class. It’s all about high-energy, having fun, and making up moves when you don’t know what’s happening.

The “dance” portions of the session were way more basic and easy to follow then my Zumba experience which I appreciated. I actually felt relatively coordinated which increased my enjoyment. The parts that I wasn’t able to follow, I would just jump around excitedly and throw air punches as intensely as possible.

Here is a taste of what these classes are like:

Best of all, after the class I was so exhausted and happy that when I returned home, I took the time to take a long hot shower, eat a good meal, and realized that I still had a few days before my next big assignment was due and that the reading I had planned could probably wait. Life is good.

Online Social Tools for Motivation

9 Nov

For motivation to achieve my fitness goals, I created a fitness themed Pinterest board in the hopes that images of healthy food and fit women would help me overcome my end-of-workday lethargy.

Pinterest is basically a social bookmarking site that allows you to manage and share theme-based images. You can create a board about anything: crafts, food, travel, or in my case, fitness. It was really easy to browse through the Pinterest site and re-pin images that fit within my theme and I quickly accumulated a wide variety of quotes, workout plans, and healthy recipes.

For the social media class I am currently enrolled in, I wanted to find and explore other social bookmarking sites that might also help me manage and discover items online that would provide inspiration. Pearltrees was mentioned briefly in an article I read, so I decided to create an account and compare it to my Pinterest experience.

Pearltrees is also a social bookmarking site but they market themselves more as a “social content curation tool.” Their interface allows you to collect, organize, and share things you like on the web. Unlike Pinterest, you aren’t limited to just images, you can save all links and even create your own notes around a given subject area. As you can see below, you can create a Pearltree on any topic and every link you find related to that topic can be saved as a “pearl.”

What sets Pearltrees apart from Pinterest is that more time and effort is placed into curating your pearltrees. You can have an unlimited amount of pearls, but a limit is placed on how many pearls you place on a given “ring.”

To better illustrate their differences, I have provided examples of the same links presented on both Pinterest and Pearltrees platforms.

My Fitness Board has the broad fitness category, and all the images are stored within it. The images have links to quotes, blogs, and company sites.

My Pearltree experience was much more involved. First, I gathered all the links from Pinterest and uploaded them to Pearltrees. Now, as I mentioned before, there is a limit to the number of pearls for a given topic so I couldn’t have made all the links simple extensions of my Fitness pearl. I needed to create relationships.

I examined each link and saw the following relationships: recipes, exercises, videos, and motivational posters/quotes. I decided to make sub-pearls, which are basically sub-categories and filed them away accordingly. Clicking on a sub-pearl will provide further links. In this example, I am showing my the Exercises sub-pearl of my previous Fitness pearltree:

I can see pros and cons for using one platform vs the other. Pinterest is fun, easy, and to be honest, “pretty.” Because of its ease of use, it has a wide audience.

Pearltrees allows you to collect more than just images. You can save links to anything, even if it doesn’t have an appealing image. However, it does take time for you to examine each pearl and decide where you want to place it and which relationships you want to display on your tree. However, the end product is much more thoughtful and the ability to find and share pearltrees of that same quality on their social network can be quite valuable.

So what are your thoughts? Which do you think you would prefer, Pearltrees or Pinterest?  Can you see any pros/cons beyond what I have listed? Feel free to discuss below!

Giving the treadmill another go

8 Nov

Once upon a time (well earlier this year), I was a treadmill fiend. I was training for a half-marathon in May and because Seattle in the winter and spring is not conducive to outdoor activities unless you like the whole, soaked to the bone, feeling, I needed to perform all my training on the treadmill.

Because of this, the minute I completed the event, I started eyeing the contraption with dread. It was case of “too much treadmill.” This may seem obvious to most of you, but running in place for longer than 10 minutes is REALLY boring.

The other day though, I decided to give it another go. However, to keep myself occupied and interested, I decided to try watching a TV show using the Netflix app on my phone. I wanted something that would keep me going for longer than 30 minutes, so I randomly landed on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

It turns out, there’s nothing like the suspense of seeing if a criminal get his comeuppance after committing an unspeakable act to keep me running for an effective period of time. I started at a decent pace, 6.3 mph, and gradually increased it by .1 every ten minutes just to switch things up. I ran through the whole episode before I even realized it, a whole 42 minutes!

Even better, I figured out there are 8 seasons of the show available with translates into lots of ways to motivate myself to continue with the treadmill. Joy!

Spinning? Sounds fun enough…

2 Nov

So despite my best intentions for rejuvenating my fitness routine by starting this blog, I have been finding myself making excuses all the time for not going to the gym: “too much rain,” “too dark outside,” and of course, “I’m just tired.”

However, on Monday I determinedly picked up my gym’s class schedule for the week and immediately decided on a class that seemed doable: spinning!

Getting a good workout while sitting? Sign me up!

For those of you who don’t know, spinning is an instructor-guided fitness session involving stationary bikes and loud music. There’s a great article from About.com that details the pros/cons and description of a typical session.

I also watched the following video to get myself pumped:

The class went exactly how I thought it would. I entered a room with three rows of bikes. I was 10 minutes early but there were already students inside pedaling away. I started pedaling too just to fit in. Finally the instructor arrived and with a peppy, “Are you ready for this?” (which seems to be the common mantra for all fitness instructors) he turned on his iPod to some pumping techno and we began!

Throughout the one hour session, you are constantly adjusting the resistance to simulate biking outside. When you “go up the hill,” you increase the resistance, and vice versa. You are also switching between fast and slow pedaling to keep things interesting.

I must say, though I enjoyed the music and the enthusiasm of my instructor (it really is an art to look that involved in biking through an imaginary outdoor course) I lost interest about halfway through and uncomfortable from the seat.

Perhaps spinning just isn’t my thing, but I’m glad I finally tried it!

How I got free chocolate

26 Oct

Fitness has been on my mind and naturally, so has chocolate.

Because of this, I would like to describe my recent experience with Lindt Chocolate via social media and how they got me to Like them on Facebook during a particularly vulnerable time in my life…a week ago…whilst working out.

The events began at 6:40am. On my laptop, I had just started my Jillian Michael’s DVD ab workout while watch the morning news on my TV (yes I mute the DVD, I can’t handle all the peppiness first thing in the morning).

About 10 minutes in, a commercial for Lindt Chocolate came on and at the end of the delectable segment, they played the fateful line, “Only today, like us on Facebook and receive a free bag of Lindor truffles!”

Well that sealed it. I immediately paused my workout, ran too my phone, pulled up my Facebook app and searched for their site. I dutifully “liked” them and waited and scoured the screen trying to figure out where the free chocolate was. Would a pop-up appear with a coupon? Would a bag physically manifest itself in my presence? I felt a little insane.

After a rather frustrating and unsuccessful few minutes, I decided to access Facebook via my laptop thinking that would somehow make a difference. It did! When I accessed the page again, I found that many other customers had complained on Lindt’s wall about confusion over how to access the coupon and a rep had already responded saying the coupon was only accessible on computers, not mobile phones.

I was impressed with how quickly they had addressed the issue and proceeded to follow the links to obtain my coupon. But alas! The page I was taken to was blank. I toggled back and forth between the previous page and the new page with no success. Finally I went back to the main Lindt page and found that, yet again, more people had complained, and a fix had already been posted by the reps: “we are experiencing higher than normal activity with the application, please let the page load, it may take a few extra minutes.”

I decided to be patient and let the page load as they suggested. After 5 minutes of staring at a blank screen, my coupon magically appeared and I printed it straight away in case it disappeared.

Lindt Chocolate did a couple of things right with their marketing campaign:
1) They used a traditional advertising method (television commercial) to draw consumers to their Facebook site

2) They had reps immediately ready to handle troubleshooting issues in real time which quickly appeased irate customers like me

3) Their goal with this campaign most likely was to widen their reach and influence and gain more likes on Facebook

4) Their goal was successful because a few days later they announced that they had reached 1 million fans

By the way, in case you are curious, I picked up a wonderful bag of free, irresistibly smooth, dark chocolate truffles.

It’s Zumba Time!

14 Oct

For months I have watched crowds of women of all ages lining up for this Zumba class at my gym. From my lonely treadmill, I see them laughingly enter the closed off studio and leave an hour later sweaty, laughing still, and sometimes even high-fiving each other.
I decided Zumba would be my first experiment. I needed someone to making working out “fun.” For those of you who don’t know, Zumba is a latin-inspired dance-aerobics class led by highly energetic instructors and an awesome combination of latin and hip-hop music. I’ve always shied away from it though because I’m convinced that I was born with two left feet.
However, after work Thursday night, I bravely laced up my sneakers and entered the long mysterious studio that seemed to transform all participants into smiling, fit individuals. There were three rows of us and at first, I felt horribly uncomfortable. I made sure to take note of the nearest exit in case I needed to escape and slowly sidled closer to it. As more people entered the room though, I noticed there were much older women around, some likely in their 60’s. Okay, if they could do Zumba, I needed to quit my whining and stay put.

The instructors entered and started excitedly yelling things like “are you ready for this?” and whooping.

“Yah!” I shouted equally excited. I was determined to have fun.

Turns out, I am just as uncoordinated as I suspected.

When following the instructors and their moves, I felt like I looked like this:


But when I actually turned my glance to myself in the mirror, it was more like this:

However, despite my obvious lack of coordination and rhythm, I had a great time! The hour went by quickly, the music was a great mix of Latin and American pop, and even had some Gangnam Style mixed in!

I’m going to keep going at least once a week and will hopefully manage to look coordinated at least for one of the songs. Wish me luck!

The First Step

7 Oct

Welcome First Time Visitors! Welp, it’s that time of year again: crisp cool fall air, trees transitioning to their fall palette, peppermint mochas, and the sudden inclination to bake all the time. Oh yes, and the addition of grad school coursework to my full-time librarian schedule to further test my patience and sanity.

It began innocently enough after work a couple of weeks ago. Monday: “Maybe I’ll skip the gym today, I’ll just work extra hard tomorrow.”

Tuesday: “Ugh, didn’t eat enough lunch, it would be irresponsible to run on an empty stomach.”

Wednesday: “I need to make that Nutella Banana Bread I discovered through Pinterest, no time for the gym!”

It has been three weeks now and I have suddenly gone from someone who ran a half-marathon earlier this year after training by running 25 miles a week, to an insulated couch potato.

Around 11:30pm on Thursday night of last week, I realized that I had literally spent 15 of the 17 hours I had been awake that day in some form of sitting activity: sitting in front of a computer, sitting through traffic, sitting on my couch rushing frantically through readings for class, and the occasionally “laying” during periodic naps.

This is completely unacceptable. I blame the cold weather, my overworked schedule, but mostly I’m just lazy. It’s time to take the first step back to fitness.

How you ask? By making it fun again, You ask again, how? By doing new activities. I will participate in things like Zumba, yoga, bootcamp, kick-boxing, basically take advantage of all the free classes my gym offers but never had the motivation to try. I will document my experiences with these new activities in the hope that I will find “the gym” a welcome mecca once again.

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