Happy New Year’s Eve! What do you have planned to ring in 2015?

I started off my day with an awesome circuit workout at the gym. A few of the instructors (myself included) set up a 90 minute workout series, moving between 30 minutes each of treadmill, spin, and boot camp classes. We had about 30 people turn out for the event. I co-taught a treadmill segment and also did a boot camp session on my own. It was a ton of fun, and I think a great success! Can’t wait for next year. :)

I have the day off from work today, so my plan is to chill out and relax, possibly catch up on some reading (I’m working on Eat, Pray, Love right now). Oh, and definitely a nap in there too! Tonight we’ll be taking it pretty easy. A couple friends are having a get-together at their apartment, so we’ll be ringing in the new year there.

To celebrate the upcoming year, I wanted to share a fun 45 minute treadmill workout with you all! I used this workout for one of my classes a couple weeks ago, and it was a big hit. It combines a mix of both incline and speed work, which is perfect for training for your next race (or just for your general well-being). The variety of the workout really makes the time fly (you might even forget you’re running on the treadmill).

You’ll move through several circuits of hills and speed. Modify your speed as needed to maintain a comfortable pace, but make sure to challenge yourself too.

If you try it out, let me know what you think in the comments!

Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer. Please consult your doctor before starting this or any other new exercise program.

Have a very happy New Year! See ya in 2015.

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Happy Friday, everyone! What activities do you have on your radar for the weekend? I’m looking forward to some downtime, planning a lunch menu for Christmas Day (we’re hosting Christmas for our families this year), and polishing up my Piloxing moves (I start teaching the beginning of January!!).

I’ve put together a quick list of some of my favorite things from around the web and beyond this week. If you’ve come across anything cool/fun/awesome recently, please share in the comments! :)

 

Favorite Workout: I love workouts that mix cardio with strength exercises. Not only do you get the best bang for your buck, it really makes the time fly by. I had my boot camp class do this workout a couple weeks ago, and I think we were all feeling the burn by the end of it. We did the circuit 3 times total, but you could also just do it 1-2 times depending on how much time you have. The best part is that the exercises are completely customizable, so you can switch out different moves to keep it fresh or if you don’t have any equipment available (we used medium to heavy weights and a bench with 1-2 risers).

Disclaimer: I’m not a certified personal trainer. Please talk to your doctor before starting any new fitness program.

 

Favorite Pizza Topping Combo: I just made this incredible Autumn Apple Pizza for dinner last night, and it was the bomb!! (Forgive the horrid photo lighting.) Tons of cheese, apples, bacon, oh my gosh, you should make this right now. The pizza dough is actually also a new favorite. It’s about half/half whole wheat and all-purpose flour, and I really liked the texture of it, plus it was easy to work with when rolling out. Score!

pizza

 

Best Ginger Beers: I only discovered ginger beer within the last couple of years, but it quickly become my favorite mixer and, well, all-around beverage of choice (it’s not alcoholic as-is). This is not even comparable to a ginger ale, and depending on the brand, the ginger can be incredibly potent. This article gives a great overview of 11 of the very best ginger beers. It highlights two of my favorites (Fever Tree and Barritt’s), and I’ve added a few new ones to my list of must-tries if I can get my hands on them!

 

Alternative Gift Wrapping Method: I am the world’s worst gift wrapper. I have no patience for cutting out the right size of paper, nor do I enjoy getting the folds just so. Luckily I have a very kind boyfriend who has handled most of my holiday wrapping this year (I even had him wrap his own gift. :) ) Given all that, I was quite intrigued when I saw this video demonstrating a new to me method of gift wrapping. I haven’t tried it yet, but definitely will be the next time I (actually) do my own wrapping!

 

Favorite Pasta Dish: I always love the recipes posted on Iowa Girl Eats, and this delicious looking Bacon Brussels Sprouts Spaghetti Carbonara is no exception. Plus I was instantly intrigued by the photo and mention of Rome in the post. I want to go back to Italy so badly! Definitely going to be making this soon.

 

Favorite Comfort Food: I’ve had this Hearty Beef Stew bookmarked for ages, but had never gotten around to making it. Luckily that was a mistake I rectified this week! I did a half batch, which provided enough stew for dinner and leftovers. The apartment smelled amazing while the stew was stewing in the slow cooker all day. So good!

 

Favorite Seasonal Salad: Omg I just love everything about the look of this Balsamic Butternut Kale Panzanella Salad. Kale is one of my favorite greens right now, and the panzanella takes me back to a salad I had while we were in Florence. Plus the sweetness of the squash and the flavor of the balsamic really bring this together. Must make, soon!

Happy Friday, friends! How’s your week been? Too long, too short, or just right? Mine has felt like it just flew by, every day was jammed with something or other to keep me busy!

My Monday and Tuesday nights tend to be the most set in stone: Mondays I have rehearsal for a local choir I’m a member of, and Tuesday nights are reserved for watching the Bachelor or Bachelorette (whichever happens to be in season ;) ). Usually another friend hosts, but this week everyone came over to our place for homemade pizza and (lots of) wine.

Is anyone else a huge Bachelor fan? It’s definitely a bit of a guilty pleasure for me (catfights between twenty plus women, all fighting to take one guy home, no big deal), but it’s become a bit of a ritual for our friend group and is the perfect reason for us all to get together on a weeknight to enjoy a glass of wine (or four. You think I’m joking…)

Sadly there isn’t a season running constantly throughout the year, and we’re currently in a Bachelor break right now. To fill the void, we’ve started catching up on old seasons while we wait for a new one to start. Tuesday we just wrapped up the final episode of season 1 of the Australian Bachelor(!!). The American version of the show is usually entertaining enough, but with the addition of Australian accents (“Tee-im” is apparently the appropriate Australian pronunciation of Tim), a new continent, and new rules to add to our Bachelor drinking game, this show is where it’s at. See below for the main attraction:

bachelor

Anyway, we don’t take ourselves (or the show) too seriously, but we nonetheless have a great time hanging out on Bachelor nights.

So while Mondays and Tuesdays are pretty predictable, the rest of the week is always up in the air (and this time of year usually involves cuddling up on the couch with a book or tv show). This week we went to the annual dinner for Downtown Madison, Inc, which is an organization in Madison that promotes the growth and sustaining of the downtown area. I don’t go to a lot of events like this (someone happened to have a few extra spots at their table), but it was cool to have the opportunity to be there and hear more about the organization and those involved in it (especially since I both live and work downtown). The keynote speaker was R.T. Rybak, a former mayor of Minneapolis. It was entertaining to hear him poke fun a bit at the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry, but also share some of his own thoughts on how Madison can further grow and prosper. Even though I’ve only lived here about 2 and a half years, I love this city, and am so glad that there is such a strong sense of direction for how we can continue to add to the already vibrant area that Madison represents.

Thursday morning I woke up with a case of the butterflies… because you guys, I finally got the chance to teach a fitness class at my gym! I’ve been a member at this gym for about two years now, and the motivational atmosphere and energy has always kept me coming back. I find it so incredibly helpful to have others around me during workouts to drive and push myself, plus I love the variety of fitness classes available, and I decided that the next step I wanted to take was to give some of that positive energy back by teaching myself. That’s why I became certified as a Piloxing instructor, and why I also reached out to the coordinator at my gym to get involved with teaching other classes too.

The class I taught today was a 45 min treadmill class, and I had about 8 people join me in the studio. I definitely have some points to improve on teaching-wise, but overall it went well! The hardest part for me was talking/yelling loudly enough for everyone to hear me over the music. The studio is set up in a long, narrow area, with the treadmills lining all sides of it, so some people end up far enough away that it’s difficult to hear. I’m hopeful that as my confidence in teaching grows, that part will get easier too. The class seemed to get a good workout (we did several sets of hill intervals, plus a few sprints at the end), so I’m calling it a success! I teach another treadmill class today, and soon I’ll also be teaching a treadmill/bootcamp combo every other week or so.

Started off the morning with this green smoothie (milk, chia seeds, oats, frozen tropical fruit mix, and a handful of spinach) to power up for class and soothe my nerves:

smoothie

(You’ll notice the smoothie is hanging out in puzzleland because some of the better lighting in our apartment happens to be on this currently occupied table.)

It was such a relief (but exciting too!) to have gotten through that first teaching experience, so after finishing up at work at my day job, Aaron and I headed to Cooper’s Tavern for dinner. Cooper’s is located right on the Capitol square (their upstairs bar area has one of the best views of the Capitol around) and is one of our favorite restaurants in that area (although it is pretty hard to narrow down, Madison has so many good restaurants downtown).

I got a Monk’s Sour to drink (sour beers are one of my all time favorite types of beer!). For an appetizer, we split an order of Belgian frites, which came with a vinegar aioli on the side. For my entree I ordered a chicken sandwich (topped with bacon, cheddar, and avocado) with a greens salad. Yum yum yummy!

coopers

The rest of the night was spent peacefully at home, and now I’m looking forward to even more downtime this weekend! Planning to do some more preparation for teaching classes, and I also need to settle on an appetizer to bring to my family’s Thanksgiving celebration next week, which my aunt is hosting (we have 25 people coming this year, holy cow!).

Hope you have a wonderful start to your weekend!

What’s your favorite class to take at your home gym? Instructors, what’s your favorite class to teach?

Happy weekend! What fun things have you been up to so far? Or maybe it’s just been a much needed couple of recovery days after a long week. I’m definitely feeling the whole cuddling up on the couch thing today!

Saturday I spent most of my day at a training session to get certified to be a Piloxing instructor! I’ve loved taking the class myself through my local gym over the past year and a half, and now that I’m becoming interested in teaching myself, this seemed like a really fun one to start with.

For anyone unfamiliar with Piloxing, the class is a cardio fusion class that blends Pilates, boxing, and dance into an interval training format. The boxing portions are the highest intensity, interspersed with segments of standing Pilates and dance for lower intensity active recovery. The format for each class includes a warm-up, 35-40 minutes of standing work, 10 minutes of floor work (abs and butt), and a cool-down. Several segments of choreography are required to be taught in every class, and the rest is up to the choice of the instructor (so every Piloxing class will be a little bit different).

As someone who enjoys taking a wide variety of fitness classes (I get bored really easily!), I’ve really enjoyed including this class in my routine. The floor work especially is a killer abs and glutes workout, and I love how strong I feel during the boxing segments. Plus the class can also be done with a pair of 1/2 pound hand weights for extra burn. Comparing it to other classes I’ve taken, I’d put this somewhere in the middle intensity-wise. Not as intense as a bootcamp workout, but more intense than doing Zumba. If you’re familiar with Les Mills classes, I’d rank it a bit easier than those (at least cardio-wise). But for me the most important thing is that it’s fun! If I don’t enjoy my workout, I’m of the philosophy that I need to find another way to be active that I do enjoy.

Anyway, back to the certification: the closest training I’ve been able to find was two hours away in Zion, IL. Not the most convenient, but since it’s just a one day commitment I wasn’t too worried about the drive. So Friday after work I packed up my workout clothes and a lunch and drove down to Zion to spend the night at a hotel (I’m not a morning person and knew having to wake up at 5am prior to a long day of training wasn’t going to work for me).

After an evening in my hotel room reading the latest issue of Wired magazine and watching a couple episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, I hit the hay early. Wake up call at 6:50am!

Power-up breakfast of oatmeal (with all the fixin’s) and a mug of lemon tea. And a banana to snack on later.

breakfast

My hotel was conveniently located just a few blocks from the studio hosting us for the day, so I had just a short 3 minute drive to Joiwithfitness for the training.

joiwithfitness

The morning started off right away with a good sweat sesh in a Master Class taught by our trainer, Leslie Benson Grosshauser. Several of the 11 people in our training had never taken Piloxing before, so this was a great intro for them, as well as being a fun start to the day for everyone. Classes typically last about an hour, but Leslie extended ours a bit to an hour and 15 minutes since we were having so much fun. :)

manual

After the Master Class, we grabbed snacks and water, changed (there is nothing more uncomfortable than having to stay in your sweaty workout clothes any longer than necessary), and settled in for about an hour and a half of overview about the program, the format, and the basic principles of technique used in the class.

Quick break for lunch, a little more lecture, and then it was time to go through a sample class structure and polish up our boxing technique. As I mentioned before, there are several “Signature” Piloxing segments that are required to be included in each class, so we spent a lot of time running those and making sure we were using proper form for the moves. Our instructor also took us through example segments that we can use if we choose or replace with another segment of the same type (the blocks always cycle through intervals of Boxing, Pilates, and Dance as you move through the workout).

The day flew by surprisingly quickly. The longest part (which of course also coincided with that dreaded time of day–the afternoon slump) was definitely the afternoon segment when we were up on our feet actually learning and practicing the moves. We made it through though! Everyone in the class was super friendly and excited to be there, and it made for a fun day.

Below is a photo of the other trainees, plus some of the other ladies from the studio that participated in the Master Class with us in the morning.

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It’s official! Obviously there’s still a lot of work to be done before I’ll be ready to teach (memorizing the choreography, practicing cuing, etc), but I’ve already got some test subjects lined up (you know your bf is a keeper when he’s willing to try Piloxing ;) or maybe he just doesn’t know what he’s getting into…) and am excited to get going!

certificate

My overall impressions about the program are mainly good. I had read another blogger’s experiences with a Piloxing training before I took mine, so I was prepared for the format of the day and also knew in advance about the instructor association we’d be encouraged to join. The certification earned from the training is good for one year and allows you to teach Piloxing anywhere you choose. However, to maintain the certification, you either need to re-certify every year or maintain a membership through PIA (Piloxing Instructor Association). Since I’d read about it already, I was already prepared to join, but coming into it without knowing about the additional cost already (it wasn’t well explained when signing up for training how the membership worked) would have turned me off a little. PIA provides additional instructor resources, new quarterly choreography and music, and products at wholesale, so overall it does seem like a good deal (just one of those things you’re not necessarily prepared for when you already paid upfront to take a training).

I made it back home around 6:30pm. There was no way after the long day that I was going to make it very far into the evening, but Aaron and I did go out for a quick bite/celebratory dinner at Cafe Porta Alba before I crashed. (How apparent is it that we’re having a bit of a love affair with Italian food right now?) We started with an order of Impepata di Cozze (mussels in a tomato and white wine sauce–delish), and then shared a Gorgonzola salad with walnuts and dried cranberries and a BURRATA pizza for our main course. Omg, yum. And this wasn’t just your typical Neapolitan-style pizza with a bit of mozzarella for flavor. Oh no, they really piled on the cheese. Oh, how I love burrata.

portaalba

And that was my Saturday! We snuggled up to watched the latest episode of Grimm after we got home, and afterwards I promptly passed out for the night.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

What are your favorite styles or formats of fitness classes? If you’re an instructor, which are your favorite to teach?

Happy hump day! (a Wednesday is truly not complete until you’ve watched that video at least once five times.

How’s your week going so far?

My Tuesday started off with an early morning (at least for me) workout with a personal trainer. I recently had to resign my membership at the gym I go to, with the perk of three free personal training sessions. Not one to turn down a good workout, and eager to learn some new exercises I can add to my own workouts, I was really excited to give it a go.

A little pre-workout fuel: a banana with sunflower butter drizzled on top.

breakfast1

 

This was my second session with the trainer. The first week we focused on lower body and abs, and this time we did abs followed by upper body. Man oh man are my arms sore now. Typically when I workout I try to do a mix of everything (cardio, lower and upper body, and abs), but focusing on just your upper body for an hour is hard! Even though I’m already in pretty decent shape, by the third round of shoulder/arm work I was feeling pretty shaky. The exercises we did included walking planks, military push-ups, chest press, hammer curls, low rows, chest flys, and tricep dips, plus a few others that I have no names for. ;-)

Post workout fuel: half a bottle of chocolate(!) coconut water + yogurt with granola.
breakfast2

 

Lunch was a small dish of delicious Penne Rosa from Noodles & Company (no photographic evidence because I didn’t have my phone on me. I’ll catch on to this food blogging thing eventually!). I end up walking somewhere nearby for lunch about half the days during the week, and the other half I’ll bring my own lunch. Going out to eat ends up being a good excuse for me to get out of the office for an hour, and there are a lot of places to eat within the Capitol area, so there are plenty of options within walking distance.

An apple for afternoon snack time and then pizza at a meeting I went to over dinner. Not my greatest day veggie-wise, but always room for improvement, right? :-)

 

Getting over the hump of Wednesday always gets me excited for how close the weekend is. What’s your best day of the week?

Happy autumn! It’s so rare that we have ideal fall weather for more than a week or two in the Midwest, but (knock on wood) things are looking promising so far this year! We had beautiful high 70° weather all weekend, so we took advantage of the warmth today and went on a 3.5 mile hike at Governor Dodge State Park, which is about an hour west of Madison.

fall

 

If you’re in the Madison area, I highly recommend checking the park out. There are 30+ miles of trails, which include a stop at this awesome waterfall. I pulled this hike out of the book 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Madison (they have them for other cities too), which I inherited from a friend who recently moved. We did a 12 miler a few weeks ago, so this short hike was a cakewalk :-)waterfall

 

I started off my day with this guy: milk, oats, spinach, frozen mango, banana, and chia seeds. Green smoothies have been my favorite way lately to get some veggies in first thing in the morning!

smoothie
After our hike we stopped at a local brew pub, the Grumpy Troll to replenish after our hike. I snagged one of these, a Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, to drink. Ginger beer is my faaavorite and you can’t go wrong with a little alcohol in there too.

gingerbeer

 

We ordered a BBQ chicken pizza to eat (the tomatoes on this thing were so fresh and delicious!). Slices missing already because we couldn’t wait to dig in!pizza

 

And ordered a salad to share on the side.salad

 

The rest of the day is looking to be a lazy one. I’m thinking nap time!?

 

What’s your favorite place to go hiking?