Class Review – August 2018

This year, one of the things I wanted to do is try new things in the fitness world.  I am always reading and researching and learning from the other therapists and trainers at my studio.  I also try to soak up as much knowledge as I can when talking to the great practitioners in my network, but I haven’t actually been out there to try what the other guys are doing in a while.

So I have committed to trying something new each month and to write a review about it.  By no means do I pretend that these are objective reviews.  Think of this as more my opinion as a fitness expert (it does say opinionated fitness guru in the title).  Also, there may be things I don’t like that you do.  I am not here to debate, just stating my thoughts because my name is in the url.

Yoga Loft, Gunbarrel – Avita Yoga

I have known for a while now that the folks over at Yoga Loft are almost as obsessed with alignment and good form as we are at my studio, Koa Fit.  A lot of my private clients also attend classes at Yoga Loft, so I have been hearing about this studio and its staple class, Avita (formerly Kaiut) for a couple of years.  In full disclosure, I did take the Kaiut class at the Yoga Loft in Boulder about a year ago, but since that time, they have change a things up a bit, opened a 2nd location, and renamed the class Avita.

Since their 2nd location and newest studio is a only about a mile from where I live, I figured it was the perfect place for me to start taking some yoga classes.  I dabble with a yoga practice.  I have an online membership with Gaia and like to start some of my mornings with their shorter classes, but I have never regularly practiced.  I like the idea of “live” classes.  It is nice to be in a space built for the purpose of yoga instead of pushing furniture aside to make room for your mat.

The new location is, of course, new and beautiful.  It is bright and full of light when you enter.  Our check-in process was a little bumpy.  It seems our instructor wasn’t totally familiar with the software and it took a while to get everything processed through.  Even though this was a bit unorganized, everyone who helped did so with a good attitude and a smile.

The actual yoga studio has a great, soft floor.  For the Avita class, you do not bring your own mat, they provide the mat and additional props.  Everything is set up prior to you walking in, you just have to choose your spot.  The atmosphere is quiet and calming, really nice after a full day of work.   I immediately laid down on my back, propped my head up with a bolster, and fully relaxed.

Our instructor started the class on our stomachs, with our heads turned to one side.  We spent a few minutes at each side, allowing our necks to relax into the rotation.  We then flipped onto our back and proceeded to add some shoulder opening to the neck rotation.  We moved our way from head-to-toe, coming into a standing balance pose as our last “work” pose.  Each pose built upon the last one and was precise and well-cued.

The class moves very slow (I affectionately call the class “Laying Around Yoga”).  It moves slower than any other yoga I have ever done – yes, slower than a Yin class.  I enjoy the slowness both for what it does for my mental state and because it allows me to soften into the position we are holding.  However, I know there are people out there where this would not work.  In my class, I could tell there were a few people who came ready to move and were a little stunned at the pace of the class.

I am a defender of the slow.  Even in my training I am always slowing people down.  When you are looking to break down compensation patterns and retrain your movements, slow is where it is at.  It allows you to make micro movements and adjust your regular compensation as you move through so you can train your body how to move correctly.  Also, sometimes your body doesn’t want to “let go” when you move fast, making it hard for you to perform a movement correctly.

Summary:

Pros: A great class to unwind the body and the mind.  Allows you to “feel” your body and slowly move into certain spaces.

Cons: The new studio’s schedule is a bit limited with the availability of classes and the instructor/front desk people seem to need a little more training on the software.  My guess is both things will improve as the studio matures.

Save Time and Stack Your Life

Recently, a client of mine came in for a session and just looked beat-down.  I asked him what was going on and he explained that deadlines at work had caused him and his team to work long hours, miss summer vacations and weekend trips, and basically rescheduled their lives.  He felt overwhelmed and stuck.  There was no time to exercise or take care of his personal life.  His energy was so low that by the time he did get home, he had nothing left to give to his family.

It seems most of us are having a hard time squeezing in all we want to do in the short 24 hours we get each day, myself included.  There just isn’t enough time to get it all done, so we end up prioritizing and letting things slip to the back-burner while we feel a lack of accomplishment at the end of the day.  This can’t be the best way to go through life, but what are the options?  Let me introduce you to the idea of Stacking.

“I aspire to achieve the efficiency of a worker honeybee.  A worker honeybee has one of those jobs with all-day movement packaged in.  The work necessary to meet it’s personal needs for food and movement and to perform it’s particular job on behalf of its community are happening simultaneously.” – Katy Bowman

I was first introduced to the idea of Stacking when I read Katy Bowman’s book, Movement Matters.  She describes, much better than I can, how we humans have lost our natural way and started to separate and segment our lives.  At one point in our existence we needed to forage for food (exercise + grocery shopping), build shelters (learning + problem solving), and we usually did these things with a community or tribe (socialization + babysitting).  In our modern world, all of these needed parts of our lives have been divided out, leaving us with no time to spare.

While it is unrealistic for a lot of us to start growing or foraging our food by tomorrow, we can apply the principles of Stacking to our everyday lives.  In the simplest of terms, we can find a way to accomplish two things at once.  I am not talking about checking your emails while you are eating breakfast.  I am talking about changing your mindset so that you are actually doing less but fulfilling your needs more.

“Multi-tasking involves trying to accomplish many discrete tasks at once.  Stacking your life involves the search for fewer tasks that meet multiple needs, which often requires that you’re clear on what your needs actually are.” – Katy Bowman

Assuming we already have shelter and sleeping pretty much requires that you are only sleeping, let’s look at some of our other basic daily needs:

  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Transportation
  • Family/Friend Time – Childcare, dog care, parent care, etc.
  • Employment
  • Play

Now, I am a person that always goes for the low-hanging fruit first.  I am a believer that small accomplishments are the only step-stools that will get you to the large accomplishments in life.  So let’s start easy…

Let’s look at the idea of a “play-date”.  It is the epitome of Stacking.  Parent’s socializing, children playing.  However, what if we could also do a play-date on our bikes?  Or at the park?  Now we have stacked socialization, childcare, and exercise in one.  Now, why don’t you all bike down to the local fruit stand?  OMG – Socialization, childcare, exercise, transportation, and grocery shopping all in one!

Now, I know this is not as easy as it sounds, but you will be surprised at how many options there are to Stack your life if you just start getting into the mindset.  Opportunities will arise without a lot of work.  Let’s go back to my client that I mentioned at the beginning…

During our session, this same client mentioned he would be traveling to California on business and he was even more overwhelmed by the idea that he would lose more time to work.  I mentioned to him to look for ways he could make his day better.  So, I asked him what CA had that CO does not.  Easy answer – the Ocean.  We decided he could rent a bike to get him from his hotel to his work each day, taking a longer way home that would go by the beach.  Just the thought of getting a little play and exercise into his day, seemed to relieve some tension in his shoulders.

One little adjustment in our days can completely change our attitude.  That change in attitude has an exponential effect on our perspective, our approach to our lives and our interactions with others.  Bottom line, stop getting less and doing more and get more by doing less.

“Thinking differently is a process not so distinct from learning to move your arm or leg in a particular way to get a muscle to grow; your thoughts shape your choices.” – Katy Bowman

 

Bike Retreat in the San Juan Islands

Every year, I have the fortunate opportunity to take people from all over the country to play in my home state.  I spend a week biking, hiking, and kayaking all around the San Juan Islands with the most amazing, interesting, and strong women.  It is an annual tradition that reminds me that we are stronger when we lift each other up than when we tear each other down.

This year, I had the added pleasure of having 4 people from my studio join me.  To have people on the trip that our close friends and clients, gave the trip an extra special feeling.  It warmed my heart to see these women out of the gym and in nature, challenging themselves, and allowing themselves to have new experiences.  I believe it takes a lot of guts to head to a destination you have never been, with a group of almost all strangers, and attempt things that are unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone.  I also believe that it is in these spaces and experiences that we grow and surprise ourselves.

To say that this trip is just a biking trip, would not be complete.  Yes, we bike.  We bike everyday, but that is just a catalyst to the magic that actually happens.  If you are a cyclist, you have already experienced the intimacy you feel when you discover a place on two wheels.  On a bicycle, you experience everything.  The change in temperature, the smells, the mist on your face, the sounds of the birds, the sunshine and the shadows.  You see the landscape at a slower pace so that you notice painted mailboxes, a small metal statue, old-growth forests, and in the case of Orcas Island, faces on trees. Riding a bike gives you the feeling of being a kid and the independence to move at your own pace.  This feeling creates the foundation for the retreat, a space that is about your feelings in the present, the amazing qualities of the people that surround you, and the joy that can be found when we remove the daily stressors from our lives.

This year, our group was one of the most humble and strong groups we have ever had.  They were understated and kind.  Helpful and supportive.  Grateful and generous.  It seemed that each woman’s personality and natural character lifted and supported the group as a whole.  One woman mentioned that she was starting to get tired on the hike, so decided to start a conversation with the woman next to her to take her mind off of the work.  That sparked an incredible story about travel and adventure that energized both ladies to make it to the top.  On another day, at the end of a long day, one woman’s energy burst and laughter made the ride home from the ferry feel like a breeze.  There are dozens of these stories from the week.  When we allow ourselves to be true and allow others to be themselves, we lift each other up without even trying.

6 days with these ladies felt like 6 years, and I mean that in the best way. It felt as if we were old friends, like we had accomplished and done so much together (it may be that we do A LOT on these trips), that we knew each other so well that we could make each other laugh with just a look.  Biking around these stunning islands, having conversations about our thoughts not our to-do lists, and playing with the whales, the seals, and all of nature brings you back to a place of joy and opportunity.  Every day feels like a new occasion to celebrate rather than time to just get things done.  For me, this acts as a reset button.

So THANK YOU to all the women who joined me this year and to Colleen Cannon, Jacqueline Stanford, Tracy Byrnes, and Women’s Quest for helping make this dream trip come true.