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She Flies Through the Air With the Greatest of….Plop

Published March 5, 2013 by Susan Woodward

HangTonight’s first assignment was to hang from an aerial hoop and do an “L” sit.  We have been doing that all along hanging from a trapeze, but this hit a whole different muscle group!  As you will see, I am straining to get my legs up!  But they are off the ground, which is a lot better than I did when I first started with the trapeze!  Yup that’s the face of one who is saying, “I am not going to let this get the best of me!”  Problem was, and you can probably tell…I was holding my breath.

One note…breathing is good.

Because I’d held my breath while trying to hang on, I got light-headed when I finally let go.  Ooops.

I think I managed it three times and then tried to go back on the trapeze.  Well, the arms weren’t having it.

And then it was time to get on the silks!  And not just climbing and hanging…it was time to LEAP on them a la Tarzan!!

Yeah…the idea was to take a running leap and fly onto the fabric, trusting that your hands would catch it like a rope and then hang on to swing back and forth.  Looks great when Will does it!  Or Katie or Annmarie or Michelle… ummmm…not so for me.  The first time I didn’t even get a grip on the silk.  It was like I took a running leap to see how hard I could land on the mat.  It took till the third or fourth attempt to grab it and hang on long enough to swing three feet before flying off.

No relation to Johnny Weissmuller here!  And for those of you not old enough to know who the heck that is, let me share this with you:

the-best-tarzan-johnny-weissmuller-pic2-c1942

Yeah…not seeing any resemblance.  Well, maybe the one on the end… on the right.  (Look again at my face above and you’ll see what I mean)  However, when I look at Jane on the left, I have a question for her: Where are your guns, Jane?    It doesn’t look like she could hang on for too long.  I mean, she’s got nothing on some of the ladies at silks!  Sorry, Jane, but just sayin’…

As for me, ok, so I’m not much of a swinger.  Yet.  Give me time!  I am at least off the ground in some fashion, and I do love going to class and working out!

This is really a great experience for me!!!

Rough Time After Missing One Class…

Published March 4, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Oy.  Take one day off from Saturday’s Cirque Fit to go to a Shakespeare competition, and my body wants to know what the hell is up tonight!  Ok, so I was trying to make up for the lost day and really threw myself into it tonight, and I mean I literally tried to do everything without a break (ok, I snuck in ONE break…) and with as little modification as possible.  I even tried the hopping and “leaps” across the floor.  Umm… yeah.  This is more of what my hopping looked like:

One of my favorite Everybody Loves Raymond episodes, by the way…

We had to hop forward twice and then hop once back…and then drop for three pushups.  I was bound and determined to do full plank pushups all the way across the room.  And I (sort of) did it!  Ok, so the push ups didn’t go all the way down, but at least I wasn’t on my knees for them!

And, oh, are the shoulders feeling it tonight!

I was told (I can’t remember if it was Patty or Will or one of the websites I was reading) that protein is a good thing after a hard workout because it feeds the muscles.  So I am making it a habit to eat protein after these classes (a late dinner because I certainly cannot eat BEFORE class… tried that once and it was an unqualified tummy disaster!).   The best thing I have found so far for this time of the evening (when I am too tired to cook much else) is mashed avocado and scrambled eggs.  I know I have mentioned it once before, but I bring it up again tonight because I added a modification.   Tonight I topped it with a bit of black beans and cayenne pepper.

Maybe it’s an acquired taste…I’ll have to try it again to see if I really disliked the combo as much as I think I did.   Maybe it was the cayenne pepper…I have a tendency to have a heavy hand with the old spice jars.

In any case, I hope the protein helps with the screaming shoulder muscles because they are bitching up a storm right now!   But I know that building these muscles is the only way that I am ever going to get to the point of performing my someday-routine… and nothing else matters!!

Oh, and by the way, my student, Stephanie Bertman did me proud at the English Speaking Union’s Shakespeare Competition!   Way to represent Webster Schroeder, Stephanie!

stephanie-bertman-and-me

Past the Challenge Halfway Point…

Published February 28, 2013 by Susan Woodward

We are now nearly at eight weeks of our twelve week Challenge… two thirds of the way through!  I cannot believe how fast the time has gone.  I also cannot believe how much I have accomplished so far…and I look forward to continuing!

Will took our pictures last week at the seven week mark, but before I post that, I will re-post my “Before” picture.  This was me at the very beginning of the Challenge:

susan_woodward_Cirque Challenge Before Pics

Ok…so this is as of last Saturday (Feb. 23):

seven weeks

It’s a start!!!

And speaking of starts, tonight I actually started climbing with my arms!  I pulled myself up a couple of times, using my arms only!

I also tried combining moves on the silks in preparation for my someday-routine.  I did a roll-up and then went into an inverted stag.  I did both moves without falling, and I even held the stag for longer than I have before!

So, my three surprise successes this week are:

1- beginning to climb, even if it is just with my arms!

2- combo moves!

3- getting into a layout five times in a row without falling…and I have the boo-boo to prove it!

Once the twelve weeks is up, I plan to sign up for continuing with silks and Cirque Fit (although I do not know if I will be able to commit to CF twice a week); however, I will be looking to take a Zumba class and swimming at the YMCA (I have to check to see if they have an AARP discount).

The harder I work, the closer I get to that first routine!  I have been playing the music video for “Nothing Else Matters” as my motivator!

Nothing Else Matters

Published February 26, 2013 by Susan Woodward

A whole lot of things have been changing for me…for the better.  Right now, I feel stronger than I have in — well, I can’t even remember when I have felt this strong.   I’m not just talking about physical strength here…that’s coming as I continue through the Cirque du Rochester Challenge.   I mean, I feel like a stronger person overall.

I had the strength of will to quit smoking;

I’ve had a strong determination to change my eating habits;

I’ve had the strength to begin going to the Fitness Center on a regular basis after my aerial arts classes (while I am already in workout clothes and in need of a shower anyway);

I’ve had the strength to walk away from what I know is not good for me, and never will be…

and with strength comes confidence.

I feel more confident at my job, in spite of the strain of the APPR, Common Core Standards, and PARCC national testing looming;

I feel more confident in attempting new moves at silks, in spite of my fear of falling;

I feel more confident in taking some personal risks that I formerly would have shied away from;

I just plain feel more confident and happier as a PERSON…

And nothing else matters.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get to the point where I will be able to complete an aerial silks routine, but I am making that one of my goals.  You know, the ol’ Bucket List.  I will work until I am finally able to fly for just over three minutes.  And I know that three minutes is the target because I have already selected the music I want to use for my someday-routine.   Click below to hear Apocalyptica play a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”:

And so I will continue to work hard to get to the point where I can actually “fly”… these are a couple of tonight’s attempts (thanks, Jen, for playing videographer for me!):

I managed to get into the side plank position…briefly…before plopping out of it.  But I got in by myself for the first time!

The Layout turned out to be a rather painful move to hang in… I guess I have another area of this body that requires strengthening!  I have to hang with the silk tucked into the crease of my…ummm… let’s say upper thigh area.  That led to a pretty nasty bruise.   No pics will be appearing on the Aerial War Wounds page, but this would qualify…ouch!  In spite of that difficulty, I DID actually “climb” out of the move with my arms.  My first climb!!!!  And Will even verifies it as an actual climb in the video!

And finally, my first attempt at an aerial flip.  Well, on the mat anyway!  Will models for us what we will be working toward, and then I gave my first try… and here it is:

As you can see, I have a long way to go before I will get to performing a routine…but I will one day get there.

I will keep getting stronger, physically and emotionally.  I will keep gaining confidence in all that I do so that I will continue to be happier and healthier in the second half of life.

And nothing else matters.

Willisms: “The Easiest Way to Make it Harder…”

Published February 25, 2013 by Susan Woodward

…is to drag my sleep deprived ass onto an elliptical after a crazy hour of Cirque Fit! (But I DID it!)

And where in the world would we Cirque Challengers be without our Willisms?

Will at CF

Meet Will:

Hi, Will!

William D’Ovidio is our trainer and the co-owner (with his wife, Jennifer) of the Aerial Arts of Rochester.

See Will run…actually, it’s hard to see Will run, or hop, or leap as he moves faster than the camera can capture him.  Notice that the others in the picture are not as blurry.

Will likes to see just how hard he can push us.  We have crawled like crabs, leapt like frogs and kangaroos, hopped like rabbits, lifted like dogs at a hydrant, stretched like snakes, and I am right there with my menagerie of animal grunts and other noises as I strive to keep up.

In the middle of each challenge across the floor, he adds things like, “And if you want, you can add a clap to that push-up” or “If you want, you could do that push-up on two fingers”… in other words (to coin Will’s phrase), “The easiest way to make it harder…” and he’ll just fill in the blank for us.

Cirque Fit 1

Meet Susan:

Hi, Susan!

Susan is the confused looking one saying, “You want me to do WHAT??”  half the time in class.  That is her go-to-response when Will utters his Willisms.

Will wants Susan to drag Jennyfer across the room.

See Susan wondering about the exercise, but not just for the initial trip…Susan is thinking ahead about Jennyfer dragging Susan back again!

The easiest way to make this harder…for Jennyfer!!  Pair little Jenn up with Susan!

And that’s how Willisms become our reality every time we enter Cirque Fit!

Cookin’ With Jojo

Published February 23, 2013 by Susan Woodward

What a busy Saturday… Wegman’s tour with Patty to see the best that Weggies has to offer Health-wise, Nutrition class with the girls, Cirque Fit (with Patty, too!!), and then open aerial practice.   I am sore, sore, sore…but in a great way!  While I might have trouble making a fist (achy hands), I know that my hands are stronger than they have probably ever been in my life.  I do not want any of this to end!  Well…maybe the aches and the soreness can go away, but I want to stay committed to being physically active!

The Challenge Ladies have been great!  We are already planning a 5K in June, and there is talk of joining the Dirty Girl 5K in September!  (I’m not exactly sure what that is, but it apparently involves teamwork and obstacle courses…)  I will be researching that one more!

After a grueling workout and with arms like rubber, I left the studio with my granddaughter Jojo in hand to go shopping for dinner ingredients at Trader Joe’s and then head home to cook with my little Munchkin.

She really is a good little cook!

After a hard workout (Will my abs hurt, and so do my ARMS!!!), protein was definitely on the menu.  Patty had whet my appetite with the quinoa salad she made for the Challenge Girls, so I thought about cooking with it.  I was feeling creative, so while Jojo and I were at Trader Joe’s, I concocted a stuffed veggie recipe:

First, I prepared the raw vegetables:

– 3 large green peppers, halved and cleaned for stuffing (so that will make six)

– 1 medium eggplant, halved and hollowed, ready for stuffing (that will give me two)

We (Jojo and I) then mixed in a large bowl:

– 3 cups cooked quinoa

– one 8 oz. package Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Grain Tempeh (crumbled- Jojo had fun doing that part)

– one 10 oz. package Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burgers (crumbled- Jojo broke the burgers into chunks, and I crumbled the chunks for the stuffing)

– the chopped up innards of the raw eggplant

– one 10 oz. jar Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade

After mixing all ingredients well, we stuffed the six pepper halves and the eggplant halves.

Jojo cooking 2

Jojo cooking

It looks a bit like she’s trying to make me an offer I can’t refuse, but after four pics and she kept doing that, I guessed that a smiling picture wasn’t going to be part of the deal today.  She said she wanted to make silly faces.  Ok…so I will publish the silly face.  When you look back on this at 16, Jo, you will thank me for publishing it!

Back to cooking…

After we stuffed with veggies, I poured a bit of  Trader Joe’s low sodium vegetable juice over the top before baking.  Popped it into the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes, so that the veggies were tender.  Voila!  Dinner for the family for a couple of days!

The spices came from the Tapenade, the juice, and the veggie burgers.  No added spices (including no salt).

We had supper ready when her mom came to pick her up after she had been teaching silks at a birthday party.  Protein was on Mommy’s menu, too!

This has been a great family thing, joining the Aerial Arts program.  Once I sign up for classes after the 12 Week Challenge is over, Illy will keep me motivated (as my future teacher, she will kick my ass if I miss class), and we can both eat healthier while cookin’ with Jojo!

Finally in an Inverted Position!!

Published February 19, 2013 by Susan Woodward

After last night’s Cirque Fit and subsequent extra workout, I was pumped for tonight’s aerial silks class!  While there may be a lot of moves I cannot yet do because I am either thinking too hard when trying to do them, or I just don’t have the strength yet, there ARE moves that I am able to do…and those are what keep me going.  For me, my successes outweigh my “failures” (if you want to call them that… maybe I can just say “failed attempts that have not materialized into successful moves yet”), and that is HUGE.

A year ago, I never would have imagined that I would even attempt what I am doing.  Circus moves…me?  Really??

Well, guess what!!  HELL, YES!!  I am trying, and I am going to KEEP trying till I get it!!  And I DID learning something new tonight!

Woo Hoo!!  I may not be able to get into a ball position yet, but I managed to do an inverted stag!!!

Inverted Stag Me2

Ok…here I am just flipping back for the first time, preparing to get the leg up in the air…

Inverted Stag Me1

And I did it!!

What I need to do to improve the move is to grab down lower on the silks, and then arch my back more, bringing that leg higher.  But for a first try…pffft!  I am upside down, and I am happy with that!!!

And my arms are killing me right now…time for a bit of ice and rest.

OHHHH… AND I did a roll up all by myself, and I know that Will didn’t help because he was across the room!!  AND I ROLLED OUT OF IT SMOOTHLY!!!!!   No falling and no face plants!  🙂

solo roll up3solo roll up2

I can’t type anymore tonight… even my hands hurt.  But I am feeling GREAT about what we have been able to accomplish so far!!!!!!

Guess What I Did After Cirque Fit….

Published February 18, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Yeah, Cirque Fit was its usual killer class…complete with 51 pushups for my birthday, and an extra held down in place before pushing back up for good luck.  Thanks, Will!!  🙂

However, tonight was very, very different for me.  I don’t know if it was because I was pumped from red meat for dinner (Illy took me out for my birthday…thanks, Illy!!) or from the chocolate mousse dessert, but whatever it was, I wasn’t ready to settle down when I pulled into the parking lot at home.   I decided to…gasp…use the apartment complex’s fitness center!!!  AFTER Cirque Fit!!!

I have been at the Westview Commons Apartments for three years, and this is only the second time I have used it.

I ran my purse and bags up to my apartment where I discovered that my son, Joe, had forgotten to take out the garbage like I’d asked.    We usually drive back to the dumpsters in the back of the complex (about a quarter mile from our apartment) on our way out, but I decided to walk it back there tonight.

So I walked the quarter mile in the snapping cold air to take out the trash.  While I was walking, I looked up at the stars… the sky is pretty clear tonight.  I saw Orion with his bow and thought about the endurance of a hunter when stalking his prey.  I remembered when I had NO endurance whatsoever, and the thought of walking to the dumpster was unheard of.   I also thought about how clear my lungs felt in the cold air now that they aren’t saturated with smoke…and I felt even more pumped to stop at the fitness center.

I just happen to have one of those little key bob thingys on my key chain to get in!

fitness center

I started out on the elliptical, thinking that getting my heart rate back up was a good idea.  I was already pumping a bit from my walk across the complex, so why not keep going.  Guess who did one mile in 12:15??  ME!!!  That has to be a personal record for me!!!  Once I finished that, I thought to myself, “Well…why not keep going?  You’re here…”

fitness center 2

You see that machine in the back?  That’s what I did next.  First, I got up on my forearms to do leg tucks and lifts…to practice L-sits for tomorrow.  Will, I did 15 tucks and 15 lifts!!  I then went to the rear of the machine where you pull weights in with your forearms.  Since we’d been doing lots of upper body stuff in Cirque Fit, I thought 30 pounds might be a good place to put the metal peg.  I managed 10 reps before my arms said, “Ok, you fool…that’s enough!”  So then I moved on to the last part of the machine: pushing weights with the arms.  I also did 10 reps in the two different positions offered on the machine.  I couldn’t figure out how to do the leg lift part of it, so I figured I’d just wait till another day.

I was pooped by then.

A hot shower and hot cinnamon/honey water later, here I am to tell the tale!

Oh…and by the way… I purchased an Aerial Arts of Rochester sweatshirt today, and it’s TWO SIZES SMALLER than sweatshirts I have purchased in the past ten years (I had been purchasing men’s XL sweatshirts…can you say men’s MEDIUM, please??).

Just thought I’d throw that out there…

On the Other Side of That Half-Century Mark…

Published February 18, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Today I enter the realm of the “other side” of the half-century mark… I am 51.  While I did have my six months of “dark time” this past year, there were also some great things to celebrate:

– I went to California for the first time ever (and I even went TWICE!)

– I spent my 50th birthday on the beach of the Pacific Ocean in San Diego;

– I attended and presented at an international Symposium on Mythology in Santa Barbara;

– I helped to coordinate the Celebrating the Mythic Life Conference in memory of Joseph Campbell and his work;

– I survived the sinking of the Titanic as Charlotte Drake Cardoza;

– I took on the Cirque du Rochester 12 Week Challenge and am doing things I NEVER thought I would be able to do (even if they aren’t perfect);

– I QUIT SMOKING!!!

– I actually lived up to my Mayan Sized promises that I made to myself in an earlier post last year… maybe I didn’t have them completed by December 31, but I have done them before hitting 51!

And so I continue with the work I am doing to make a healthier, stronger me!

Even though the workouts are grueling, I do notice that I don’t take as long sit-out breaks that I had been.  I guess I am building some stamina!

stretch

Here I am getting a bit more flexible… I am able to grab and hold my feet during this exercise!  I couldn’t do that at the beginning, so I am feeling happier about that!

swimming

Also something I could not do earlier… get those feet and arms in the air!  It may look like my hands are on the ground, I am in the middle of a “swimming” stroke, kind of like the breast-stroke.  My intention after the Challenge is to join the YMCA around the corner from my house because they have two pools.  I like swimming because it’s easier on the joints.

pulling

Poor Jenn!  I was dragging her across the room, but even worse for her, SHE had to drag ME back!  One thing to point out, though… I could NOT put my arms behind me at the angle when I first started.  I have greater range of motion in my shoulders now, and the pain has gone away.  In December, I could not write on the chalkboard at school because it hurt too much to raise my arms long enough to write anything.  Thank God for LCD projectors and computers!  But if I was to go back to using the chalkboard, I could do it now!

L sit
The face says it all.  It’s really hard to hold that weight off the floor, let alone with legs extended.  This is my first truly successful L-sit… more than just millimeters off the floor this time!  I am able to now hold them up about 10 seconds.  When I first started, I could barely hang on let alone raise my feet at all.

Tonight I tackle Cirque Fit from the other side of 50!  I am determined to keep making changes in my life to make the second half full of health, stamina, and strength!!

My Bathing Suit Thanks You in Advance, Will!

Published February 11, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Change begets change, and so far, 2013 has been a time of changes for me!  It has only been six weeks since the beginning of this new year, but I have felt better in these six weeks than I have in the past TEN years!  And today is the best I have felt in these past six weeks!!

I am in NO PAIN of any kind!  Soreness from exercise is not pain… it’s a reminder that I am alive and transforming myself.  My back does not hurt; my knee is a little wobbly, but it does not hurt; my neck does not hurt.  I FEEL GREAT!

Ok, so Will really kicked up the ab work tonight… AND the butt work…but like I said in class, “My bathing suit thanks you in advance!”  and I came home still feeling great!  (And ok…there was another reason for the smile on my face tonight!)

The Menagerie Workout instead of Cirque Fit tonight!  Duck Walks, Frog Leaps, Doggie Hydrants, Mule Kicks… and no menagerie workout would be complete without grunts and barks (and even some quacking).  Grunts and barks mostly came from this animal; however, I was really into it tonight…and I had some incentive.  😉

I did mention that 2013 is a year of changes.

So far:

I am a non-smoker;

I have lost some weight (not sure how much because I don’t own a scale, but I can see it);

I am eating much healthier and there are no fatty snacks in my house;

I am drinking only one cup of coffee a day;

I have energy;

I feel more confident, even to the point of taking some chances that I would not have done a few months ago (ie. going on a date– JUST in case anyone was wondering what that smile on my face and the incentive I mentioned earlier was);

I am more social (I went to see a show, am going to the Rochester Brewfest, have gone out for coffee);

I feel my creativity returning;

and I am writing regularly.

Yay!!!!!

On Saturday, we will reach the half-way point of the program, and if I feel this great at half-way, I can’t WAIT to see what twelve weeks feels like!!!  🙂

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