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Animal Desire

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

We often get asked whether our pets are as fit as we are. Maybe… How are you defining “fit?” So in a departure from our usual format, we focus our experienced laser beam on the pet world this week. In fairness to our exercising animal companions, Fun and Fit present SOLID, DOCUMENTED proof that animals love to move and be active. One thing we learned, they enjoy yoga moves and incorporate them into their daily regimen. Let’s take our example from our fab felines and caring canines. They consistently exercise and reap the benefits that intense workouts bring.

Caturanga Pose
What can we say. Bella has reached nirvana as she salutes the sun and welcomes the asanas ahead. So active; so devoted; so inspiring!

Bella mastering the look and feel of the Caturanga asana

Down Dog
Chloe loves her yoga practice and is getting really good. She was able to hold this pose for half an hour.

Great extension from Chloe practicing the Down Dog for her yoga class

Up Dog
To novices this may look a lot like the Down Dog pose, but yoginis and discerning readers can see that Chloe has elevated herself to the “up” level of enlightenment.

Chloe wants to finish strong with the Up Dog pose

Puss-in-BootCamp Pose
Carrot is getting ready to rock it at Puss-in-BootCamp. Just thinking about the exciting workout ahead gets her super fired up!

Carrot prepping for Puss-in-BootCamp

Catboxing Workout
After an intense hour of kicking, biting, scratching, and clawing his way through his CatBoxing class, Zorro is ready to check his heart rate. He knows he put it all out on the exercise floor.

Zorro takes a quick break from his CatBoxing class

Max Tracks with TRX

Max knows how to throw his body weight around when he suits up for his TRX workout. Long tail for balance; great alignment and focus; sleek workout gear. He knows what it takes to reach his resistance training goals.

Max Tracks TRX

So there you have it: the motivation and inspiration you need to get your tail a’ waggin’ and your fur all fluffed. Now get out there and have some workout fun people!

Legal disclaimer and nod to pet lover advocates: No animals were exercised in the making of this post.

Readers: What exercises and workout classes do your pets love? If you’re going to claim it, better prove it! Oh Meow!

From reader Kathleen: See her comment below. Admire her cat, Bailey right here!

Bailey doing spider curl-ups.

Bailey getting ready for her whirlpool bath.


Go Ahead. Motivate My Day!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I am relatively healthy, but over the years I’ve developed arthritis and diabetes…. I have meds that have added to my weight gain…. Although I have access to a gym, I don’t have workout clothes. As someone with chronic pain, any suggestions on how to motivate myself to exercise?

Liz, Alexandria, VA

A: I’d say you motivate yourself the same way as those who aren’t in pain – by yelling, guilt, comparison with others, negative self-talk and a serious taunting of your mirror! Oh, wait (hits brakes and skids into ditch), those are actually found to NOT be motivating. Oh, that’s very different. Never mind.

1. Go with friends.

2. Wear comfortable clothing (doesn’t have to be “workout” clothes), but not ugly, baggy stuff that makes you feel frumpy.

3. Research has shown that arthritis pain is ameliorated by exercise.

4. Some interesting news just came out a few weeks ago showing that diabetes can be reduced or even reversed in combination with a good diet.

5. Only do a few minutes at a time. You will be miserable and unsuccessful if you try too much.

6. If your club offers a free intro session with a personal trainer, take it. Make sure it’s someone with knowledge of medical issues. A good trainer will be encouraging and give realistic, achievable goals.

Kymberly: I am pretty sure Alexandra was talking about her parenting techniques in that first part. Finally she can put her Master’s Degree in Counseling to some use besides making us all crazeeeee!. More to the point, I want to add a few points:

1) Wear whatever will get you to the gym. Except the MC Hammer pants. So last decade or two. Believe me, everyone else is too busy with their own workout and body image to worry about what you are wearing….unless you are not wearing anything. Guaranteed attention getter. For more on this plus a laugh or two, check out our post from waaaaaay back when we were the same age and weight as now: Do Sexy Clothes Make The Workout.

2) Ask yourself: “What is the LEAST amount of exercise I can do today and still feel I made some progress and did not aggravate my pain?” Whatever the answer is–5 minutes, 12 minutes, 49 seconds–commit to this least amount and revel in accomplishing it. Keep asking this question every day. Lo and behold, you will find the minutes adding up, the guilt and overloaded feeling going down, your pain levels dropping, and your gym fees worthwhile. But not going up. One hopes….

Photo credits: Photobucket

Dear Readers: What skills do you draw upon to motivate yourself to be active? What is your favorite motivational quote?


Spin, Rinse, No Wash Out Cycle

Kymberly Williams-Evans,, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I want to amp up my old ass metabolism. I spin 3x a week for an hour. Would it be better for me to go every day and do cardio for a half hour instead? I have been spinning for years. Doing an hour is easy for me heart wise, but still tires out my legs. Molly,  Dayton, OH

Alexandra: The very short answer – 30 minutes 5-6 days  a week, but push the intensity a bit – in little bursts. And you need weight training to kick-start the donkey pulling your metabolism. Your mission is to read No Hulk, No Bulk.

Kymberly: Two words for you Good Golly Maxed Out Molly: Interval Training. Ok, two more since I am feeling generous: Routine Variation. You are spinning… your wheels. Any activity, no matter how great, is going to offer diminishing returns if you do the same thing week in, week out. Wait, are we talking about my investments all of a sudden? Change up girl. Is there another cardio activity you can switch out for one spinning workout? You want to force the muscles (the heart being one) to constantly adapt upward which occurs when you have something new going on. New workout gear does not count.

Regardless whether you are spinning, cycling, rinsing, washing, running, treading, stepping — pick cardio activities and classes you enjoy — you can implement Interval Training to boot your booty into the spin-o-sphere. In short, alternate 3-10 minutes of your regular pace with 1-2 minutes or so of a high intensity, all out, “if my mom could see me now,”  “balls dolls to the wall” burst. And we have eyes in the back of our heads so don’t think this means suddenly cruising at low intensity for the “recovery” or “regular” part of the ride.  Start with the pace you usually handle, and try to go right back to that pace after each interval burst.

A: If you follow our advice, your “old-ass metabolism” will be so energized that you’ll be able to do this:

Dear Cyclists and Old-Asses: Have you had a fitness routine that left you feeling like you were spinning your wheels? What did you change up to re-kick start yourself?

Photo credits: Photobucket.com


Pregnant, Physically Phit, and Powerful

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: My wife is incredibly active, and pregnant. She is strong and not the type to consider a walk exercise but the doctor’s advice has been too generic.  “Don’t do more than you can handle” type of answers. What are the best activities for her, activities that are still challenging? She’s at the end of her 1st trimester; has been running, biking, and swimming. She used to do Triathlons. Didn’t do one this weekend because she’s been zapped of energy lately.

Jeremy, Goleta, CA

Kymberly: Good thing you came to us, since we were once fetuses AND pregnant moms. Yup, revel in those credentials! And we have some super specific, non-generic, targeted advice honed from years hours minutes of checking with the real experts. Listen to your body. If an exercise feels good, it probably is; if it feels like too much, it probably is. Seriously! Read this article, The Pregnant Athlete and see for yourself. Show your wife when she is not having any kind of hormone surge. The bottom line, or would this be the “middle line?” — is that a woman who is fit and active prior to pregnancy will have a good sense of her body and therefore be the best judge. In general, she could continue with her activities, reducing intensity when her energy is low and changing position or exercise when she feels uncomfortable. The American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Guidelines put the kibosh no-no on just a few activities: downhill skiing, contact sports, and scuba diving. Whew! Looks like triathlons are fair game if she wants. What the heck, looks like parasailing is an option. Basically, medical advice is that common sense takes over as MD (Most Decisive).

Alexandra: When your wife hits the 3rd trimester, she will probably not find the swimming too much fun. Not because of the exertion, but because those pregnant-lady swimsuits are so ugly simply lovely.

If she doesn’t mind looking like she’s sporting her own personal life ring in the pool, then she’s active, strong and deluded courageous! Truly, I’d rather give you advice. No matter what, even if she asks and looks oh-so-innocent, you are to say, “You look absolutely fabulous,” as the answer to any question that is even remotely worded like this – “Do you think I look big/huge/large/different/unappealing/unattractive?”!!! And look be sincere!

K: When I was pregnant and teaching 8 group fitness classes a week, the activities I found “best” yet still challenging were buying cute outfits that were gender neutral; holding myself back from snapping at my husband for good no reason; and avoiding hot tubs. No, no, not because the heat was too high for the developing baby, but because I kept displacing too much water.

Physically phit moms: When you were pregnant, what did “active” mean to you? And what did you do with your maternity swimsuit?

Photo credits: Creative Commons


Stretch Before or After a Hike & Fight?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit Gals: We believe that the couple who hikes together, stays together. This morning on a lovely hike, we found ourselves debating the truth of exercise advice ONE of us learned long ago: to leave the deep stretching until *after* the heavy workout — as opposed to stretching before a hike or run, when muscles are cold and maybe a little cranky.

Is it still considered wise to stretch after (not before) vigorous exercise?
Thanks from your fans, Gordon & Erika, Goleta, CA

Kymberly: The couple who debates together stays together … until one of them loses this bet. Yes, we’ve been around this hiking block and see the dangers that lie ahead. But we persevere anyway to bring righteous truthiness and stretchiness to the active world. Once we answer will one of you be cranky even though your muscles will no longer be?

And the winnah winnah winnah is …………….. ONE of you is correct. Ok, I’ll give. Stretching is best done when muscles and the core body temperature are at their warmest. And that spells “post activity.” Is ONE of you hot under the collar now?

Alexandra: We covered some of this (including a lovely picture) in our post Stretch it or be Wretched. But the full truth and nothing but the truth is essentially whatever Fun and Fit say it is, for the simple reason that we sprinkle a light dusting of truth over nothing everything we do, so we’ll give you even more info. While doing your post-exercise stretches, please argue, yell and scream politely discuss your differences of opinion for at least 15-30 seconds so that you can get improved active range of motion, rather than a quick 5-second dish-throwing tirade discourse about improved passive range of motion.

K: Let’s divide and conquer – umm, this is the segment that is not couple’s advice. To prepare to move,(i.e. hike, run, walk) you need to actually move. Yes, indeedy. A warm-up needs to literally heat up the body by mimicking the workout to come. That is, in your warm-up, do the type of movements you will be doing in the workout, but at a lower intensity and graduated pace. Holding still and stretching statically would be the opposite of this. The muscles are most helpful when warm, pliable, extensible, and juicy. Also, all the latest research concludes that static stretching before exercising offers no injury prevention protection. Nor does pre-activity stretching help minimize muscle soreness. ARE YOU LISTENING PEOPLE AND COACHES?!  ALERT ALERT –EXIT THE 80’s DOOR AT THE END.

A: This post took us 15-30 hours to write in a non-passive way because that’s how long it took for us to conclude that no stupid, **&^*^%$ reputable research exists about “cranky” muscles. As a sop, though, here is a nice, compassionate saying regarding cranky, angry people.

K: So who won the bet, G or E? And where’s my cut? Huh? Huh?

Dear Readers and Crankyfoos: What is your favorite stretch after a long hike? What do you argue about during long, romantic strolls along the beach?

Photo credits:


I’m Pregnant, in Pain and Want to Work Out

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Greetings! I have patella femoral syndrome in my right knee. I am 3 mos. pregnant now, and therefore cannot do core strengthening exercises to help my knee out. What are some safe forms of exercise that I can do to alleviate the pain in my knee? Thanks, Sarah, Brooklyn, New York

A: You have PFS? I have SFS – Sistella Femala Syndrome. That’s when you have a female twin who can’t (or won’t) help a sister out! I have found nothing, but nothing, to alleviate that particular pain. As to your knee…you could do these knee exercises while balancing against a wall (and holding a delicious pregnant-lady snack), yet we suggest avoiding #s 3 & 8 and maybe 4. We love the advice on familydoctor.com, but we also suggest you talk to Real Life Doctor dot Brooklyn Ob-Gyn. Of course, we could suggest you take a break, but you are a pregnant lady, which means you feel impelled to do stuff. But really, your knees would feel fine if you sat down and let the bad boy who got you pregnant do all the work!

K: I think you are secretly asking two questions: “what exercises can I still do to stay fit while pregnant?” AND “what exercises can I do to help with knee pain?” Well, we are offering a two-for-one coupon special (kind of like you and your baby-to-be). Alexandra already addressed the knee situation. Gotta ask — any chance you could and would get into a pool and swim or do aqua classes? You can keep up the workouts with minimal knee loading. Just no peeing in the pool, pregnant personage! For overall activity check out the ACOG Guidelines for exercising during pregnancy. Keep in mind that the guidelines are for the “average” pregnant person, which means averagally inactive and kinda sedentaryish, which you are not. So you and your doctor may free you to do more (we are just in a link crazy kind of mood here).

Once you have your baby, you can enroll in the exclusive fitness training program for parents: lift your baby over your head 10 times per day…..until he or she is 18. After that, employ your baby to do all housework and anything else that might hurt your knee. That should free you to get back to those core strengtheners.

A: We hope these exercises help you get to the end of your pregnancy in more comfort. And peace. And joy.

K: (And that’s just what the baby’s dad will experience once you are out of pain).

Dear Mom Readers: When you were pregnant, what pained you the most? The least? What did you do about it besides taking it out on the partner?

Photo credits: Creative Commons (Editor B)