Archive for March, 2012

Music Motivation – It’s the Climb

Posted in Health/Fitness, Motivation/Inspiration on March 31, 2012 by mistransformation

Okay, I’m not a huge  fan of Miley Cyrus.  I did indulge in an episode of Hanna Montana or two when my nephews (who are soon to be 18 and 16) were preteens and still young enough to watch that sort of thing.   Okay, I lie – I watched that damn show in rerun on Saturday morning TV quite frequently and damn it if I didn’t enjoy it.  I’m busted!  That shit was cheesy but it sure was funny!  I’m just not that impressed by her music.

Sometimes music speaks to us in ways that we don’t understand.  That is where her song, The Climb comes in.  When that song came out, I was going through a hard time in my life and there was something about that song that was like a salve to my broken and battered coal black soul.

This was a few years ago and while not at the beginning of my fitness journey, it certainly isn’t where I am today either.  Something about the song just said, “Sure you’ve got a long way to go but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself along the way – so buck up chica and get your ass moving.”

Driving down the road about a week ago this song came on the radio and normally I would have turned the channel to a rock station but I sat and listened to it again with tears in my eyes realizing just how far I had come from that original point in my life.

THE CLIMB – Miley Cyrus

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there’s a voice inside my head saying
“You’ll never reach it”

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I’m not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

‘Cause there’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody’s gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

Then and Now – Jillian Michaels Cardio Kickbox and Kickbox Fastfix DVD reviews

Posted in Health/Fitness, Motivation/Inspiration, Workout DVDs, Workout review on March 30, 2012 by mistransformation

Before Jillian Michaels released her 30 Day Shred phenomenon, she had a line of workout DVDs in a series entitled, “The Biggest Winner” – clearly a wordplay on The Biggest Loser.  This series included a Cardio Kickbox DVD.  This line is from 2005.  Fast forward to 2012 and Jillian has released a new Kickbox workout DVD called Kickbox Fast Fix.  I am going to review both of these on this blog and see how far Jillian has come.

The Biggest Winner (How to Win by Losing) Cardio Kickbox – this is roughly a 20 minute workout.  At first it was almost painful for me to watch.  This was clearly a “scripted’ workout session and the clothes everyone was wearing were almost “costumish.”  The workout is a basic intermediate level intensity that a beginner could do.  Jillian does offer a modifier.  There isn’t a lot of kickboxing here but nonetheless you never stop moving so you will work up a sweat.  There are a few punches, a few kicks, some jumping jacks, jumping rope, etc.  There are no punch/kick combinations – not even the basic jab, cross, hook, uppercut – the only thing that comes close is the front kick/back kick “combo.”  There is a warm up and about 3 circuits in this workout.  It’s hard to tell where a circuit even ends and a new one begin because she repeats some of the movements almost randomly. At the end of this workout a background performer says, “that’s it?”   That pisses Jillian off and she makes them do an additional 30 seconds of jumping rope, 30 seconds of jumping jacks and 10 pushups to end it.

This may have been the “birth” of the tough Jillian that we saw in her later DVDs. You could definitely tell that Jillian was a lot more unpolished and unsure of her on screen persona than she is today.  Sure she still acts tough in her latest videos but she carries a different kind of confidence that she doesn’t in this video.  It could be maturity, it could be her huge success.

If you are looking for a quick workout that doesn’t require any equipment or a lot of thinking then this is for you.  I used to do this one in the morning before work.  I’m glad I revisited it.  It was nice to compare her to the new workout.

Kickbox Fastfix – Unlike the earlier kickbox DVD the new release contains 3 20 minute workouts and also offers a tutorial for those who are unfamiliar with kickboxing terms and movements.  Each 20 minute workout follows the same formula.  There are 4 circuits.  They begin right off the bat without a warm up so if you feel the need, remember to warm up on your own.  There is a short cooldown/stretch at the end of each workout.  The workouts have a certain focus within each Number One is for the upper body, Number Two is for the lower body and Number Three is for the abs.

I would have like this better if it had been one or two longer workouts with an option for premixes to break them down if you wanted. When I do these, I do them altogether for an effective workout or I do one as a finisher to my normal routine. The workouts are intense enough but sometimes she cuts combos out and I suspect it is in an effort to keep within time constraints. I do like that Jillian changed things up with the set (as opposed to her last several) and gave us more background people (familiar faces at that). Please watch your knees whether on carpet or not. I have hardwood floors and still could feel a twisting in my knees on some of the combos.

After reading several other reviews of this workout DVD, a huge complaint among others is that Jillian does not work both sides of the body evenly – mostly on the combinations.  I know how much of a pet peeve this is for some.  It doesn’t completely ruin it for me because it’s more of a cardio focus than strength but I did want to point it out so everyone is aware of it before they make a purchase.  You could modify that by switching sides each time you do the DVD or if the combo is repeated on the workout just switch sides at that point.

I think this kickbox workout DVD was a good try for Jillian but I just don’t think it quite hit the mark.  Given that Jillian’s specialty is martial arts, I really think that she could have done better. If I had to rate, 3 1/2 stars.out of 5.

Women’s Health 15-Minute Belly Butt & Thighs Workout DVD Review

Posted in Health/Fitness, Workout DVDs, Workout review on March 13, 2012 by mistransformation

Above is the ad and a link to the video that got me excited for an intense new workout DVD from Women’s Health.  I already own one from Women’s Health with the beloved Jessica Smith that I totally love and take with me on the road for when I visit my folks.  I was hoping for something as good and intense as that one.  This is my review:

Women’s Health 15-Minute Belly Butt and Thighs Workout DVD is three separate 15 minute workouts.  I pieced them together for a 45 minute workout.  I was hoping for intense but the video must have shown the most intense parts because even after 45 minutes I didn’t feel it was at the intensity that I like it at.  I felt that it was a great workout for intermediates but for an advanced level exerciser I think the intensity just isn’t there. The day I did it, I had even been sick in bed all day and was able to complete the whole thing.  I can’t say there weren’t some movements that weren’t challenging (especially the balance work) but on a whole, it just didn’t do it for me.  Trainer Jennifer Widerstrom was pleasant enough and her background girls (one is a modifier) actually impressed me the most.  These girls looked like high school age girls but were very articulate and professional.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of them in the future!!!

Workout One:  Bodyweight Workout – This workout is exactly how it sounds, all bodyweight challenged – no weights needed.  She does some swivel squats and follows it up with some quarter turn squat jumps.  The rest is some additional bodyweight movements that will challenge the core and follow them up with some plyo moves and dynamic movements to get the heart rate up.

Workout Two: Stack It Up Workout – This workout uses progressions from two different movements combining both for the third movement.  Some of these are balance challenged.  I liked the thought of the progressions but I just didn’t feel that the dynamic movements between them were intense enough.  This workout uses dumbbells.

Workout Three:  Back To Basics Workout – This workout is to familiarize yourself with the four most basic movements – The Push, The Pull, The Squat and Stability.  She does a circuit of each type of these movements and then adds a dynamic movement between to get the heart rate up. This workout uses dumbbells.

I am sending this one back and am going to try the Men’s Health 15-Minute Abs, Arms and Chest Workout DVD instead.  Unfortunately, sometimes the men’s workouts are amped up more than the women’s.  Hopefully some day they will be on the same level.

I like to be out of breath after a short workout and if you want an intense 15 minute workout do Bob Harper‘s Bonus Workout on his Total Body Transformation DVD (I did this one tonight).  That was the intensity that I was hoping for with these.

Weekend at Bernie’s – – EXCUSES, EXCUSES

Posted in Health/Fitness, Motivation/Inspiration on March 9, 2012 by mistransformation

People like to give excuses why they don’t workout.  I don’t have time.  I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not motivated. I’m too old.  Yada, yada, yada……

Well, today, I am going to dispel the latter excuse.  I have a special guest on my blog.  It is my cousin, Bernie.  Bernie is a spin instructor for Bally Total Fitness in the Maryland area and I am going to let him tell you in his own words why the excuse, I’m too old is bull$hit.


How long have you been a spin instructor? 

6.5 years (I teach about 215 classes a year on average)

What made you want to be a spin instructor?

I was a distance runner for many years and began to have knee problems because I wasn’t prudent about my training and racing.  After my third arthroscopic knee surgery, my orthopedic surgeon said I was looking at a total knee replacement.  Later that week, I was working out at my local fitness center and was somewhat reluctantly talked into taking a spin class by a friend.  After two or three classes, I was hooked.  Spinning gave me the workout I craved without the impact on my knees.  (Riding a cycle is, after all, one of the rehab exercises after knee surgery.)

Within three months after starting to spin, I decided I’d like to get certified and become an instructor.  I saw a chance to be of service and have fun doing it.  There is so much to like in spinning: I liked the camaraderie of the group, the wall-to-wall energy in the cycle studio, and the option to go hard or easy to suit oneself.  But most of all, I liked the music and the juice-you-up effect it has on the riders.  It’s a true ergogenic aid.  Bottom line: I decided to make it my mission to nurture the physical and spiritual well-being of my riders through music and sweat.


Should someone have a certain level of fitness before they start a spin class or could a beginner level do it?

Like any exercise program, a person should get cleared by his/her physician first.  And I suppose it would be prudent to be fit enough to be able to walk a half mile at a conversation pace.  And they should have enough balance and strength to support their body weight out of the saddle (if they want to have the option of peddling up a hill standing up; i.e., out of the saddle).  That said, the only difference between riding as a beginner and as an experienced spinner is how hard you want to push or go easy during various segments of the ride.  The class typically occupies the better part of an hour: 7 to 8 minutes warmup (two-songs of increasing intensity in my class), 37 to 38 minutes of hills and flats of various speeds (riding to the beat of the music…dancing on the bike, if you will), followed by 8 to 10 minutes of cooldown and stretching on and off the bike.

What is your age? 68   (YES FOLKS THAT’S A SIX AND AN EIGHT!!!! That’s Bernie on the left.)


What is the age range of the people in your spin classes?

Mostly 24 to 55, but I’ve had some people in their 60s, a few folks in their 70s, and one in his 80s.


What would you tell someone who says: I can’t do spinning because I’m too old?

If you are ambulatory, and can peddle a bike safely without a major health concern, you can take a spinning class.  It’ll take you back to the days when you went out to ride bikes with your friends.


How does music motivate the people in spinning classes?

Good music is paramount in cycle class.  I spend an inordinate amount of time listening to and selecting music for my spin-class playlists.  In my particular class, the five-word philosophy is “The Music Is the Road.”  And so it is.  We ride to the cadence of the music that I’ve preselected for various segments of the class: warmups, slow (steep) hills, fast (less steep) hills, flat road, sprints, surges on choruses.  We not only use the cadence of the music as our guide, but also take a cue from the vocalist’s intensity.  The best music has an appropriate cadence and also makes an EMOTIONAL connection with the riders.  So there is an art to selecting a mix of classic rock, R&B, even classical music to make a connection with the riders.  Like a good author, you have to know your audience.


How do you come up with your playlists?

When I began teaching I began to parse music into the aforementioned categories: warmups, fast hills, slow hills, sprints, cooldown and stretching, etc.  I auditioned over 12,000 songs.  About 600 songs made into my “best cycle songs” database.  I still add songs that I hear on oldies radio stations or songs that are popular now.  That makes me stay current and helps me reach a wide audience.  I select songs from each category at whim and according to whether or not I’ve used any of those songs recently with that particular class.  I develop a “lesson plan” that goes with each playlist as a reminder to myself what I want to do with each song and to be able to coach/cue the class accordingly.


What are the benefits of spinning?

Spinning is a good cardiovascular workout and (depending on the intensity) burns up to 700 calories per class. It principally works the lower half of your body (legs and butt), [and] when you are out of the saddle and riding with good form, it can work the core muscles.


What does spinning offer that other forms of exercise do not?

I’m not sure spinning is alone in this, but it offers the opportunity for an intense, easy-on-the-knees workout.  The intensity is, of course, ramped up by the music and the co-action effect of being in a room where other are going a little crazy doing the same activity.  A person should still do resistance training for the major muscle groups, other forms of cardio like Zumba, core strengthening, and flexibility classes like yoga.


What would you tell someone who is on the fence about taking a spin class?

Try a class.  If it doesn’t appeal to you, try another class with a different instructor (like having the right therapist or hair stylist, the instructor can make all the difference).  If it still doesn’t appeal to you, move on to another class or activity that grabs your soul.

Some clubs have beginners spin classes, but I’ve never been to one. I assume they give a tutorial as they go, and give a shorter class.

Since my clubs don’t have beginners classes, I set newbies up on the bike, give them a 10-minute tutorial, and tell them to ride as easy or as hard as they want. And I make sure I explain myself in detail during the class and keep an eye on them. Make sure they drink too.

Good reason to get to class early: I never know when I’ll have new people to set up beforehand.


Bernie is truly an inspiration to all of us who try to give the excuse that we are too old to do something.  I bet Bernie gives those in their 20s a run for their money in his spin classes.


Take a Look Into What’s In My Gym Bag!

Posted in Health/Fitness, Motivation/Inspiration on March 7, 2012 by mistransformation

My Fitness Blogger Buddies co-part does a feature on what is in different people’s gym bag.  She recently took a look into mine.

Tony’s blog is at:


This week’s “What’s In My Gym Bag?” post features a fellow blogger who has made an amazon transformation losing over 60 pounds since starting her blog!!!  Missy from Mistransformation is an inspiration to us all!!!!  Thanks for sharing with us what’s in your gym bag!!!

What’s In My Gym Bag?  
  • Water bottle
  • hairspray
  • body spray
  • paper plates (for “slider” work)
  • MP3 player armband
  • hair rubber-band
  • workout booklet
  • timer/clock
  • sweatbands for head and wrist
  • resistance band
  • extra socks
  • extra change in case I forget my water bottle
  • My Exercise TV towel (this towel has special meaning to me now that the Exercise TV channel is now defunct).
missy Whats In My Gym Bag? featuring Missy from Mistransformation
My blog is:
About Missy:
missy2 Whats In My Gym Bag? featuring Missy from MistransformationI made the decision to begin my weight loss journey after I became “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of feeling bad about my weight. My energy level was low and I wanted to have a healthier, happier lifestyle. There were a lot of personal struggles in my every day life because I was overweight. I hated having my picture taken, finding the right guy to date was like finding a needle in a haystack, and I just felt older than my years. Refusing to continue in my old ways, I started working out at the local YMCA and started to see the pounds dropping.
I have since lost over 60 pounds and have built a lot of muscle and pretty much changed my body composition. While working out I felt my body changing, I had more energy and soon was able to buy clothes that I wanted to wear—not just what fit or was comfortable for my size. Seeing these results motivated me to keep working hard to continue to my body transformation success. I lost over 4 clothing sizes and have given over a dozen huge garbage bags full of clothes to charity.
My initial fitness goals have come and gone long ago but I still continue to strive to the be the best I can be. I am constantly trying new challenges and pushing myself harder to reach new fitness. Greatest challenge/struggle: Breaking plateaus. What has been most positive about my weight loss journey: Being told by others that I have inspired and motivated them to begin their own journey into a healthier lifestyle. Top tips for readers and favorite exercises: Variety, variety, variety. Don’t let yourself get bored with your workouts. Step outside of the box, push yourself and try something new and fun. I did this by adding dance into my fitness routine.
Thanks again Missy for sharing what’s in your gym bag with us!!!  You can find Missy on her blog and on Twitter so stop by and say hello!!!

It’s a Long Way To The Top

Posted in Health/Fitness, Motivation/Inspiration on March 4, 2012 by mistransformation

This song is great to work out to.  It’s very motivating.  I have it on my regular music playlist and my cousin, Bernie, who is a spin instructor has told me that he uses it in his classes.

Besides the fact that the beats are great to get you going and motivate you to go all out, the premise of the song strongly resonates in the fitness world.  It’s not always going to be easy and you are going to have some challenges along the way, but, in the end, meeting your goal is going to make all the struggles seem worth it.


Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the byways
Playin’ rock ‘n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up
Broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you think it’s easy doin’ one night stands
Try playin’ in a rock roll band
It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

Hotel motel
Make you wanna cry
Lady do the hard sell
Know the reason why
Gettin’ old
Gettin’ grey
Gettin’ ripped off
getting gad
getting took
I tell you people, it’s harder than it looks

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll