Gladiator Assault Challenge

picGladiator Assault Challenge

All my life I’ve been pretty mediocre at sports. That’s probably not the best way to start a fitness blog, but it’s the truth. Everything I tried seemed to not be a fit for me, so I started running. Running is the ultimate body workout where I never have to worrying about getting hit in the head with a ball. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of friends and families get into not just running by themselves, but doing races. The color run, Tough Mudder, Glow Run, these are all races I’d like to do… but getting the courage to actually sign up took a lot longer then I expected.

Two weekends ago I finally completed my first 5k. No, it wasn’t a marathon, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? I chose to do the Gladiator Assault Challenge, which is by far not your average 5k.  With 30 military style obstacles interlaced into the run, there is something surprising around every corner.

The race took started on top of a ski hill. Yes, on top of a ski hill. At the top, there was a DJ and loud music playing to pump you up and get you going. When the horns went off, myself and 50 other people in my heat headed down the hill and into the woods. Right off the bat we were met with a pile of mud that we had to crawl through while a military official sprayed us down with a hose. It was at this point I realized that this run was going to be a dirty dirty 5k. We climbed up wooden structures, over rope walls, through mud up to our ears, and under barbed wire. We jumped through fire, ran off a 15-foot structure into a lake, and crawled through black tubes. This race was intense.

Although the race was nothing I’d ever experienced before, the whole time I was more excited to complete an obstacle than worry about getting dirty. With each challenge, I felt stronger and more confident than the last one. I kept thinking, if I can complete this I can complete anything. After running up and down the ski hill countless of times, the race finally came to a finish. There to greet our muddy and soaking wet bodies were loud music and volunteer workers handing out beer and fruit. They also had a gear tent where you could buy different t-shirts and athletic gear at the finish line. The weather that day was in the high 50s, so after running a race in mud and water, our main mission was to dry off and change clothes. Once dry, we ate a banana, finished our beer and headed out. Although the weather didn’t allow us to stick around for very long after the race, with our participant medal in hand we marched proudly to the car.

Over all I think that the experience of doing a mud run is something you cannot describe. It is dirty and challenging, but once in the moment all that is going through your mind is “I can do this.” I felt more accomplished after running those 3 miles than I did running any of my runs over the last year. If you are someone who wants to start challenging yourself to a race more intense than just running, I strongly recommend a mud run. There are plenty of different options to try out!pic 2

Another recommendation is running the race with a buddy. Not only does it keep the race fun, but also having someone there to help push you along the way makes the whole race seem easier. Plus you can laugh at each other as you’re trudging through mud.

If you have any more questions or comments about the Gladiator Assualt Challenge check out their website!

Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.

Mary Marren

Sun, Sand, & Safety – A guide for Spring Break Survival

Spring Break Safety PhotoBy: Kenzi Weidman

Who is excited for some sunshine, beaches, good beverages, and good company? I sure am. Spending a week with new people, new surroundings, and new experiences is exactly what Spring Break is about! But don’t forget one thing…. SAFETY! Here are some things to remember in order to survive Spring Break and come home in one piece!

On the road Make sure you buckle up! Wearing a seat belt can be uncomfortable if you’re in a car for a very long drive, but it’s better than what would happen to you if you get in an accident. Make sure you are also switching off drivers every couple of hours. The front seat passenger should also stay awake to keep the driver company and to also help with directions.

Booking your hotel room – Try choosing a room that is above the 1st floor but below the 6th. According to the article Fight Back on Spring Break, First floor rooms are easier to break into, and rooms above the sixth floor are sometimes too high for fire ladders to reach. Take advantage of the safes the rooms might include. You never know what the cleaning person might take, or if someone does break in, your stuff is locked up.

Laying on the beach – Pack your sunscreen and use it! Many people like to tan before they head somewhere warm so they do not have to wear sunscreen. This is a no-no! Any tan or darkened skin pigmentation due to light–fake or real–is a sign of damaged skin. Don’t use “vacation” as an excuse to tan beforehand. You can avoid sunburn on vacation by applying the necessary amount of sunblock regularly.

When drinking – Do yourself and everyone around you a favor, and at least “try” to be responsible. Pace yourself and avoid hard liquor all day. Also, make sure you are drinking LOTS and LOTS of water.

Going out – Remember to party smart. If you go out with your friends, then go home with your friends. Take the phrase “no man–or woman–gets left behind” seriously. This means your friends shouldn’t leave you no matter what the situation is, and vice versa. Also, keep your drink in your hand and don’t accept open drinks from strangers. Moral of the story–don’t become a statistic.

So many bad things can happen if you “switch off” the good ole noggin as soon as spring break starts. Here are some statistics that will hopefully scare some sense int you:

  1. At least 1 college student dies every Spring Break from falling off of a balcony. 11 Great and Terrifying Facts About Spring Break
  2. In 2013, authorities confiscated over 20,000 fake ID’s and arrested over 2,000 people ages 15-21 in Panama City Beach and Daytona, FL.  Teens and Spring Break: A Dangerous Mix!
  3. If caught drinking underage, you can charged with a misdemeanor which means you MUST appear in court. Teens and Spring Break: A Dangerous Mix!

The moral of the story here is to have fun, but be safe! If you use your head and make some good decisions, your trip will be not only successful, but also an absolute blast!

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”
~Kenzi Weidman

I’m on tonight, you know my hips don’t lie

I’ve spent years idolizing the way Shakira can shake and shimmy her hips, so I finally decided to learn how to do it myself.

Ah, belly dancing! I was a little scared to try it, but it is so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, the moves are anything but easy. When you’re introduced to a move you can hardly believe your body is capable of moving like that.

However, it is so rewarding when you finally get the hang of “isolating your upper abs” from the rest of your body or shimmying so fast you feel like you’re going to take flight.

If you’ve read my story about Pilates, you know I am always on the lookout for new, fun workouts.  I actually stumbled across free belly dancing classes online while looking for new Pilates videos. I watch the “Guide: Belly Dancing 101” videos Howcast.com, a website that streams a variety of how-to videos, to learn individual moves. The introductory text on this video reads, “Do you want to shake it like Shakira?” My answer to that was, “Heck yes!” I was immediately hooked.

Once I master the moves, I scoot over to freebellydanceclasses.com. An instructor named Tiazza Rose leads most of the videos, and she is incredibly talented. She makes videos that incorporate hip hop, Zumba and just about anything else into the ancient art of belly dancing. I also like doing the belly dance workout titled “Flex Appeal,” which can be found on Youtube. This video is a little more basic, but it’s great for beginning learners.

Not only does belly dancing give you confidence, but it is also a great workout! The morning after, my love handles scream they hurt so bad. This comes from the hundreds of hip drops, pivots and shakes I do during a workout.

 Belly dancing can improve your health in seven ways:

  1. It can improve muscle tone– regular and consistent belly dancing requires the movement of the legs, arms and just about every muscle in between.  This leads to an improvement in overall quality of tone.
  2. It can help strengthen your core– the moves required in belly dancing automatically create a strong core. A stronger core means fewer back problems, and a greater posture.
  3. It promotes flexibility– learning how to belly dance means flexing and stretching muscles you’ve probably never used before.  Increasing flexibility decreases risks of injury and makes moving in general a little easier.
  4. It burns fat and calories– while belly dancing includes the movement of the hips, arms, legs and core, it also an aerobic activity. The combination of these elements creates the burning of calories, shedding fat and building muscle tone.
  5. It reduces stress– men and women who belly dance are often said to be bitten by the “belly dance bug.” This bug transfers into a constant outlet for stress because it’s a workout you don’t spend dreading all day.
  6. It increases self esteem– once the graceful and flowing movements are mastered, you learn to feel more in tune and at peace with your body. This promotes confidence and a sense of content with your appearance.
  7. It increases joy– when the art of belly dance is learned, your muscles naturally become more toned and strong. This also helps aid in daily confidence and self esteem.

The only have one recommendation for someone who is just starting out with belly dance- give yourself some time. I would often become discouraged when my body wouldn’t move like the instructors I was watching, but it takes a lot of time and effort to build that flexibility.

 Like I said before, your body can’t do most of the moves naturally. You have to train your brain how to move specific parts of your body that have previously been neglected. As long as you have patience, you will master this beautiful, eloquent art form.

Good luck, and happy belly dancing! :]

 ~Remember, you have to learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else~

Abbey :]