Exercise: No Play, No Gain

This is another post based on the speakers I attended at Paleo(fx) in Austin.  There were a few speakers that focused specifically on exercise, and I’ll be touching on the more complex theory behind Mark Sisson’s talk, but for now, this is all about a reality check for trainer, Darryl Edwards.  I really connected with his story because, like most of us, I have fallen out of love with exercise at points in my life.  Most people who are active will get really pumped at some point about a new sport, a new workout routine, a new fitness regime.  They will go all in, 110%, cult-syle.  To be honest, I did this with Crossfit!  I loved the competitive feel of the workouts, the opportunity to push my limits, an entire community of people doing what I was already doing alone (functional movement), and the new-ness of it all.  After a couple years, I fell out of love.  Not because anything had changed.  Nothing had changed but my own pressure around it.  I wanted to keep getting better, I was getting more competitive, I started placing expectation around my performance.  At the same time, I wasn’t focusing enough on fueling and recovery, which meant instead of building, I was breaking down. This environment I created around my workout was forcing me to dread going to the gym! I took a little time off, but never gave it up completely.  I just needed a moment to breathe, to redefine what mattered to me, to be realistic about what I wanted out of it, and to allow it to be fun again.  It could only be fun for me if I dropped my performance expectation and focused on the real goal, which was “funning” with awesome people to maintain my functional abilities.

Darryl also fell out of love with exercise…and he was a trainer.  Ooops.  What now?  As he sat on the couch one day, he wrote a letter to exercise.  His letter mimicked that of a breakup letter to a lover.  He related it to the cycle of a relationship and even though I couldn’t take notes verbatim that quickly, here is the gist:


We started off so strong.  I fell in love with you almost immediately.  I looked forward everyday to spending time with you!  I told everyone I ran into about you, how much fun we were having, how great you were.  As the weeks went on, I started to resent you.  You kept demanding more and more from me.  You were taking all my time.  You were keeping me from things I enjoyed in life.  No matter what I did or how hard I pushed, I was never good enough. I’m sorry to say that it all began to wear on me.  I have strayed.  I have been seduced.  I have fallen out of love with you.  You no longer provide me with those feelings of strength, self-worth, and joy.  I am breaking up with you, and I have found another.  She calls me daily and I have decided to give in to her.  You may know her, for she has stolen many of your other lovers, her name is Couch.

Exercise starts so rewarding, you feel invigorated, you tell everyone about it…until one day it becomes too demanding.  It keeps expecting more from you, it doesn’t feel as good.  You may break up or be seduced by your couch.  How do you fall back in love?  Play.

Having fun is the only way exercise remains enjoyable.  For some people, its engaging in a sport, some love dancing, some love being on a team.  I feel as though in adulthood, groups are great because exercise, activity, and movement are always more fun with you are doing it with other people!  It quickly turns into just another childhood night after school when you ask mom if you can go play.  Create fun in your exercise, and you will be must more apt to continue to move.  That is why I never left Crossfit; I love the people.  It never feels like a chore when I show up to Crossfit Michiana and see the faces of all my peeps.  Some days we are team members working with each other in a workout, other times we are fresh and excited about some friendly competition, and other days we are all “just there.”  Maybe the days we were “just there” weren’t our best performances, but we all left feeling better than before we walked in.  We probably laughed, joked, and for a short moment, forgot about the stresses of the day.  Find your play.  Make it fun.  Exercise for our body is as essential as water.  It’s a daily requirement in some shape or form.  It creates the environment around your genes and encourages healthy genetic expression.  We were meant for movement, and it might as well be called “play.”

Darryl runs a website : primalplay.com

Orange Theory: The Pros and the Cons

I make it no secret that I love working out at Crossfit, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate and like other workouts, too.  I never recommend anything to anyone without having some personal experience myself.  So, I took the opportunity to go to a free Orange Theory class and let you guys know how it went!
Let’s start with the fact that right now, you can try a class for FREE!  There’s no excuse not to take advantage of that if it’s something you may want to do.
I am looking for a few things from my workout:
1. Sweat- I like to sweat.
2. Programming- I don’t like to wander into a gym and decide what to do on my own.  I’m too lazy.
3. Range of motion- I think full range of motion in movements is important if there is no reason to shorten them.
4. Fun- There’s nothing better than movement being FUN!  When you’re having fun, you always want to come back, it never feels like work, and it soon becomes a healthy habit.
5. Intensity- I like yoga sometimes, but I really like expending energy to make me feel good after a workout.
I went to the Orange Theory in Granger, and the staff was really welcoming, the facility was clean, and the trainer was energetic.  All good to start.  Since I was new, the trainer brought me into the room before everyone else to show me how things work and get me acquainted. Everyone else filed in and our heart rates were all up on a large monitor in the room.  We did a warm up, then a partner workout for rowing distance.  The workout was:
Partner 1: row while
Partner 2: runs .15miles and cycles through stations of lateral step overs, push ups, mountain climbers, squat jumps, ring rows, sit ups….
This back and forth went on for about 45 minutes until the class ended and we did a quick 5 minutes stretch post-workout.
How did the workout stack up:
1. I was SO SWEATY.  It was mostly cardio in an indoor room with lots of people, so that makes sense.
2. The workout changes everyday and they tell you what to do, so I liked that.
3. The movements are not full range of motion.  I’m used to a “chest to the deck” push up, hip crease below parallel squat, etc in Crossfit.  I noticed the majority of people were not doing a full range of motion on anything and I was actually stopped in the middle of my pushups and told not to go all the way down.  No worries.  Instead of doing push ups in sets, a shortened range of motion allowed me to do 20 without stopping every round.  They also have modifications for anyone who needs them, so injuries should not be an option.
4. I had fun!  I noticed lots of people came with friends, so I’m sure it was even more fun for them!  Usually the workouts are not partner workouts, but I love partner workouts.  So, that was right up my alley.
5. The workout is as intense as you make it.  Since you are wearing a heart rate monitor, you can constantly see where you are in terms of work.  I stayed in the orange zone the entire time and never reached the red zone, but the red zone is something the trainers keep an eye on to tell you to back down if you stay there too long.  There is also a green zone that tells everyone (including the trainer) that you are not working that hard and you need to pick up the pace!  I thought this part was interesting because I am not one to push my limits in a workout because I just don’t like to feel like death.  However, when I would hit a moment of “man this is kinda hard,” I could look up and see where I was on the monitor.  It kept me accountable in the sense that if I wanted rest but wasn’t even close to the red zone, I knew I could probably keep pushing and be just fine!
Overall, I had a good experience at Orange Theory and I think it would an ideal workout scenario for those the need trainer motivation, want mostly cardio,and like a group class.  You do have to buy a heart rate monitor which runs 45-90 dollars depending on which one you buy.  The monthly membership fee is also more than a regular gym, so cost comes into play, as well.  Since they are trainer-led classes, you have to call and schedule to be put into a class, which means classes fill up, too.  I wasn’t able to get into a class until 7pm because the other ones were full. No reason not to try it when they are letting you do that for free!!!