The balance of two great loves

For whatever reason, this post has sat in my drafts folder for the past six weeks.  WordPress tells me I’ve revised the post 25 times over those six weeks.  Today’s the day though, and I’m ready to share what I’ve been up to lately…

For the past five weeks (well, actually, since the blog’s inception), Peanut Butter Kait has been full of crossfit, crossfit, and more crossfit.  But behind the scenes, I’ve been working a bit on the yin to the yang (or something like that.)

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, or know me in person, you definitely know that I’m a crossfit junkie. I’m at my happiest and strongest when I’m at CrossFit Sunalta four or five times a week.  I love the workouts, I love how it makes me feel, and I love the community and the friends I’ve made – basically crossfit can do no wrong.

Now here’s the surprising part: I also love yoga, probably equally as much. So you’re probably wondering why the hell haven’t I blogged about it before!?

Well grab your cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a 900 word visit.


I started doing yoga probably nine years ago.  My cousin Vicky brought me to a class her friend, who was new to yoga teaching, was offering.  She played good music and I learned a few things, like not to wear socks while doing yoga as well as an introduction to the postures.  When summer rolled around, we did classes outside in the park.  For me, then, yoga was a workout to do with friends.

When I moved to Calgary to go to university, I immediately signed up for yoga and spin classes at the university rec center.  I’ll be honest that I started prioritizing the spin, and skipping the yoga.

Eventually in my third year of university, two things happened that were influential in my pursuit of health.  Firstly, I started working with a personal trainer who designed crossfit-style workouts for me, and secondly, she invited me to go to hot yoga with her.

That first hot yoga class was everything: exhilarating, sweaty, rewarding, and also completely shocking.  I was hooked.  When I graduated from Mount Royal and had my first job, I bought an annual pass for a hot yoga studio and took as many classes as I could.  Again, yoga for me was about the workout and the sweat!

Notably, with my poor diet and lack of other forms of exercise, I didn’t become the smoothly muscled, lithe yoga body type that I aspired to at the time.  I got chunky.  But I felt pretty dang good about myself, so that was an interesting combination.

Right about that time [five-ish years ago], Dana and I got married, and then a few months later, I started drinking the HIIT/crossfit koolaid at 2110 Fitness, and then CrossFit Sunalta.  I lost a bunch of the weight I’d packed on, and instead put on some muscle.  But it wasn’t about weight gain or loss anymore, I went because I loved the fitness!

But what about yoga?  I did a handful of classes over the years, but it wasn’t a central element in my life anymore because with both the cost of a crossfit membership and limited time, I couldn’t prioritize both fitness loves.

But I kept thinking about yoga.  How I felt after a sweaty flow class.  How focused I was when I was on my mat.  How great it made me feel about myself and what my body was capable of.

Around the end of December 2016, Meg and I talked about having an epic day of awesome together.  We knew that day would include crossfit (duh), brunch out, a pedicure, and a chickflick with loads of popcorn.  I had been missing hot yoga so much by this point that I said we should crossfit first, then head to a hot yoga class with one of my favorite instructors.

We had an epic day!  The hot yoga class was so amazing that we both bought one month passes and agreed we needed to fit more yoga in our lives.  The weekly yoga ritual throughout January added value to my life in so many ways: time with a friend, flexibility, sweat, happiness, and so many other positives.

It turns out, my old friend yoga was right where I left her.

Because of the happiness and mindfulness I’d recognized since I’d returned to my mat on a regular basis, and conversations my therapist and I had this year, I was finally able to vocalize something I’ve mulled over internally for a very long time: I wanted to take a yoga teacher training course!

I did my research and picked a school in Calgary to attend.  Conveniently the school offers a few public yoga classes every week, so I’ve really enjoyed taking restorative classes there.  Although I do love hot sweaty flow classes still, I have really started to appreciate the benefits of slower, gentler yoga on my crossfit-weary joints and muscles.

My adventure started March 29 at the Alberta Yoga College here in Calgary.  It’s a Yoga Alliance-certified 200 hour teacher training spread out over Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons for three months straight.


FAQ’s

Kait, I didn’t know you were super flexible?!  Well, friend, I’m not!  Take that preconceived notion about all yoga teachers being bendy pretzels out of your head (don’t worry – I thought this too!), and replace it with the idea that everyone’s body is different!  Bodies can be super flexible, or super strong, or anywhere in the middle of that spectrum.  I am definitely on the strong end.  I am increasing my body’s mobility with yoga; however, my body type is more prone to muscle and I’m cool with that.

So you use props?  One of my favorite aspects of my yoga college is that they embrace the concept that everyone is capable of yoga, no matter how flexible or inflexible their bodies are.  As a result, I’ve really embraced using props (which previously I mentally put in the category of “must be for beginners.”)  I was wrong – props can help yogis at any level get into yoga postures with healthy alignment.

Does this mean I want to teach yoga?   Very possibly!  I have a few ideas rolling around in my head about where yoga could take me.  At the very least, I’m learning a ton about myself and my own yoga practice.

Does this mean I love crossfit any less?  Of course not!  If anything, I think pursuing my yoga passion will only make me a stronger, less injury-prone, more focused crossfit athlete.  And as I’ve been busier with school and apprenticing, I haven’t been able to attend crossfit as frequently, and miss class and my crossfit pals unbelievably much!  Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.


I’ve been learning so many wonderful and interesting things over the past month and a bit, and I’m excited to learn more about myself, my yoga, and yoga itself.  Although settling into being a part-time student with a full-time job has been a balancing act of its own, I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to explore one of my passions in depth.  Thanks for reading!

17.4 Accomplished

Thanks to CrossFit Sunalta for the pics this week!

Finally! An Open workout where I feel very pleased about my finish.  17.2 and 17.3 were not my jam; however, 17.4 (16.4) was definitely well-suited to my abilities and short stature.

Although I’m anticipating DB thrusters and double-unders for 17.5, I’m taking a moment to enjoy the feeling 17.4 provided.

Dana, Megs, and I went in the first heat. Carol kindly judged for me (thanks Carol!).  Before I started, I asked a few friends to keep an eye on me, and to come yell if they saw me pausing on the rower.  Laura made especially good on that promise.

My warm-up felt a little frenzied – I could have used another 5 minutes – but 10:55 arrived and it was go time.

With my belt on, I stuck to my sets of 5/5 seconds rest strategy for 7 rounds for the deadlifts. Then I hit the wall, and elected to do quick singles to finish up.  I kept reminding myself to breath because I could tell my nerves were kicking in.

I popped off my belt and headed to my wallball. I think I managed two sets of 10 before I did a whole bunch of smaller sets.  My focus was to keep moving and keep breathing.

Somehow I was on the rower before I knew it. When I was warming up, I had done :30 easy, :30 hard for four rounds and coincidentally rowed 55 calories.

For 17.4, I decided to test out a different strategy than my usual “Get on rower.  Pull hard.  Get tired.  Stop rowing.” (patent pending).  Instead I rowed easy (~650 cals/hr) for :15, then hard (~900 cals/hr) for :30 or :45.


I probably looked like I was dogging it, but instead, my psychology change worked!  I could faintly hear Laura, amongst others, yelling at me to keep rowing, but the calories were adding up and I wasn’t dying!  Success!


I was off the rower in 4:10 (11:10 was my tie breaker time, compared to 16.4’s 12:59).

My only goal for 17.4 was to get to the wall for handstand push-ups (HSPU). AND I GOT THERE.  My heart was pounding pretty hard from the row, so my first HSPU was a failed attempt.  Carol clarified that I needed to keep both heels on the wall to complete a rep.  Then I got the hang of it and knocked out 7 kipping HSPU!


My momentum was a bit lost then, and I managed to only squeeze in 2 more reps before the 13:00 was up.  It’s hard to be upside down when your heart is racing!

My score for 17.4 was 174 reps!  (Yes, the number-loving accountant in me was happy for the symmetry of that score.)

Dana enjoyed 17.4 too. I mean, look at this row face:


As usual, I cooled down a tiny bit then judged a few heats after with friends.



I wrapped my day off with a relaxing float at Clear Float, and today my back only feels slightly tight (nothing compared to last year’s can’t-tie-my-shoes). I’ll take that!

Any last bets what 17.5 will be? I’m both terrified and excited for Thursday’s announcement. Thrusters and…?

Girls Gone Rx: Calgary Recap

On Saturday, Meg, Anna, and I competed at Reebok CrossFit Ramsay’s Girls Gone Rx: Calgary event. Although we didn’t podium – despite the many jokes that were made beforehand that we would – we all had a very fun day of fitness and I’m proud of team Sunalta Strong’s performance in the four events.

girls-gone-rx


Of course because of my excitement about the competition, I was awake at 5 AM Saturday morning. I tried to sleep until 6, then got up and had a larger-than-normal breakfast of smoothie and oatmeal.  Meg picked me up and we were at Ramsay by 8 AM for check in.  I’d never been to CrossFit Ramsay before and WOW the facility is beautiful and huge!


Anna arrived shortly after, and then the organizers held the athlete briefing and discussed movement standards. We were feeling a bit nervous as we were in the first heat, and by the time the briefing wrapped up, we only had 7 minutes to warm up for 1 RM (rep max) cleans.  Luckily they delayed the start a few minutes, but I was still a bit frustrated by the lack of warm-up time.

Event 1


Fortunately, the lack of warm-up didn’t seem to hold Sunalta Strong back! Meg PR’ed her power clean, Anna PR’ed her hang clean, and then I PR’ed my (full) clean by 15#!


I had went into the event hoping to PR my clean with 135#, but of course with competition adrenaline and some awesome crowd support, I somehow managed to clean 145#!  I was so happy with the first event.

 

Event 2


For the second event, an 8 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible), we beat our previous trial score by 9 reps. We flowed smoothly between wall balls and power cleans, and then I smashed out the last 15 power cleans to give us a score of 5 full rounds.


We finished the event feeling very sweaty and pleased with how well our plan had worked out.

Event 3

The third event was our best finish – 6th place!  It was a “for time” chipper event featuring double unders, lunges, and burpees, while two athletes hang from a pull-up bar.


Luckily, from our trial, we knew our forearms would take a beating and we were prepared mentally for the challenge.


And perhaps the burpees made the event a shorter athlete’s game (which was definitely in our favor, as we three girls were on the more petite end of the spectrum for the competition).


Regardless, we finished in around 9 minutes, which cut a whole minute off our previous trial time.  Yay!

(Somehow all the photos I have show Anna doing the chipper while Meg and I hang out… I promise we all participated!)

Event 4

We were all dreading the fourth event – the 100 calorie row for time, and it snuck up on us because our heat started before the scheduled start time (meaning I didn’t row at all before the clock started!). Definitely not ideal to go from cooled down to 110% effort in zero seconds!  We stuck to our plan of each girl rowing for :50 seconds at a time and helping each other transition, and finished around 5:10.  I felt horrible after the row – calves and forearms cramping, and extremely nauseous.


We hung around for the big group photo and the awards ceremony after, and I managed to down some food which helped with the desire to lose my breakfast.


I wasn’t sure what caliber of athletes would show up for a “fun” competition like Girls Gone Rx (where the prizes are loot, not cash). Turns out, the competition was full of very strong, competitive ladies!  To give you an idea, Alex Parker was in attendance.  In the end, we finished 17th out of 21 teams.  But it goes to show how fierce the competition was!

Overall, despite the rough last event, the competition was a fun one and I’m very proud of how hard all of us worked. We beat all of our trial times, and PR’ed our cleans.  We gave each event our 100%!  It was a great day and a positive, challenging competition!  Thanks to our family and friends who came out to cheer us on. ♥


Thoughts for future competitions:

  • Pack a proper lunch because snacks all day won’t cut it
  • Ensure there is enough time for warming up
  • Team comps are so much fun!

As a final note, I’d like to give a shout out to my physiotherapist Gina of Action Sports Clinic here in Calgary.  She’s been treating my right shoulder for several weeks (for a prior self-inflicted injury) and my shoulder’s happily on the road to recovery.  I can’t say enough good things about Gina and her physio skills!