Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2016-05-04

Six Reasons Why I Love Aqua Jog

Hey there! I’m doing a pre sale for my Reiki Infused Tea Line now through May 10th. I have some important financial goals for the sale that also affect this website–I really need to move my blog to a new host and install a new theme because of these ongoing back end buggy issues that are not yet fully resolved. I also need to begin the build out for the website for my tea line, so this is all very tied together. The whole project will cost thousands of bucks, but I’m tackling it one thing at a time. The tea is delicious and supports me living my dream to support my art and activism through healing work. Please consider buying a tin for you or a gift, or sharing about the sale on social media!

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I approach all exercise from a Health at Every Size approach. Since this term has been co-opted by so many folks, I’ll tell you what it means to me. It means that all people, no matter what their size, should be able to have access to good, nutritious food and should have access to move in ways that make them feel good in and about their body. Health at Every Size to me includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. The way I feed and move my body affects all of those things for me.

Given that I am in a state of transition, having moved to the West Coast recently, it was super important that I find ways to move my body. There was a while where working on the house was all about the body–the renovations on my attic were so corporeal. In my last update on the transition post I talked about how I started swimming in the local pools. I am okay to swim laps but I find it a little boring. Really using a HAES approach means I want to be excited about the exercise I’m doing.

Since the local community pools have lap swimming and recreational swimming together and very few rules about what you have to be doing in the lanes, you can totally do aqua jogging instead of just swimming laps. Once I realized that I went for it.

I started aqua jogging at a class at my former gym the Bed Stuy YMCA. It’s taught by a community volunteer every morning at 9AM who has a spinal issue that really benefits from her exercising a lot but does not allow her to exercise on dry land. Aqua jogging takes water aerobics to a new level. Other than aqua boot camp (also at the Bed Stuy Y) I have not felt such a complete workout from water aerobics.

Here are all the reasons I love to aqua jog:

1. Working out in water is great low impact high resistance activity.
For folks who are recovering from injuries or who have tender bodies for a variety of reasons, the pool is awesome for movement. As an efficiency loving Capricorn, I also appreciate that I can work out in a pool and get more results than from the same period of time on land. Also, if you are the kind of athlete who is often nursing injuries that keep you from staying in shape, aqua jog is a great tool in your repertoire to help!

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2. The movements are really easy and help you diversify your workout so you don’t get bored.
Here’s a basic primer on aqua jogging. It includes instructions on how to do it if you don’t have any equipment.
This is not the workout I do but it is one to consider using the shallow end for part of it.

I learned to aqua jog from my instructor in Brooklyn so I do different movements based on what I learned from her, including backwards jogging, cycling, and different arm movement intervals with water weights. There are SO many videos on you tube to learn techniques for aqua jogging. I work hard not to link any videos or web content that have a weight loss focus because that is not the tone for my blog. (No shade to anyone who has weight loss goals–you do you!) If you can “take what you like and leave the rest,” there’s a lot out there to sift through in aqua exercises. I couldn’t find any videos that did what Dinette does but if I ever do find them I’ll come back and edit this post to include them.

3. You can listen to music.
When I was aqua jogging at my Grandmother’s pool it was amazing because I just threw on a Spotify playlist of songs I could sing along to and would enjoy working out to. Since she doesn’t have a clock outside I timed my workout based on how many songs it took to get to 35 minutes or more. (My personal workout timing goal is 35 minutes or more. On days I don’t feel like going past it I don’t, on days I have more energy I just keep going.)

waterdumbellWhen I finally got my dumbbells to add to my aqua jog workouts it felt so nice to get back to them! I didn’t realize how much I missed having my dumbbells after I moved away from the Bed Stuy Y!

4. It helps save your hair!
Swimming is great but I have high maintenance, tender, color-treated hair. (I’m not naturally Ginger Spice haired–my pals Garnier Nutrisse and 20 vol + bleach help me look this fabulous.) It is really difficult to keep hair dry even in a swim cap. “It is a fact that no swim cap can keep your hair 100% dry every time” says Swimcapsguide.com. The best you can do is a harm reduction approach to keep it kinda dry.

Mine is a cutie pie vintage rubber hat. When I’m swimming I manage to get about 50% of my hair wet which is better than no protection. I also have a classic Speedo cap (they come in so many colors) I got when my vintage swim cap was on a moving truck going from Coast to coast. The same exact results from swimming–about 50% hair wet.

Thus I prefer to work out with my head above water 100% of the time and aqua jogging helps me do that. I still wear the cap in the community pool because of splashing children and sloppy swimmers in adjacent lanes. My hair stays 100% dry that way. At Grandmother’s when I was just using a top knot to keep my hair out of the water it got damp around the hairline by my neck.

5. It’s easy to mix in ab and core work to an aqua jog routine.
I find it way easier to do sit-ups and crunches in the water than on dry land. This helps me strengthen my core and helps to alleviate back pain and lots of other barriers to dry land exercise. I do a version of this without the barbell under my knees.

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6. The equipment is pretty inexpensive and not a barrier to activity.
I did aqua jogging with no equipment for the first three workouts in our local pool and that proved to me I was serious about moving forward. I get paid a gift card every few months thanks to thoughtful blog readers (THANK YOU!!!) who buy their Amazon products through my affiliate links. Even if you don’t buy what I link, if you buy anything at all I get a tiny percentage commission and then that comes in the form of a gift card. I keep a link on the sidebar in case you’re ever interested. I usually use the money for something I want to try for my blog, so this time I bought aqua jog equipment.

I totally love what I got. In my Brooklyn aqua jog class we used water weights and floatation belts, so I got a six piece aqua fitness pack that included those plus some resistance gloves for only $29. I was nervous about the floatation belt being too small (some of the ones they had at the YMCA were not made for a plus size waist), but this one had plenty of room to spare on me and my waist is about a size 22/24.

The kit even comes with a routine! I’ve incorporated some of those moves into my workout and enjoy it!

I’ve used the weights and the gloves to jog and prefer what I can do with weights but the gloves are a good alternative for certain exercises.

aquaglovesThese are the gloves that came with it–kind of like having duck feet for your hands.

Another alternative piece of equipment I found in my aqua jog class that some of the folks brought in addition to what the YMCA supplied was Aqua Runners which provides more leg resistance for a harder workout. I look forward to stepping up my game (pun intended) at a later date with these $25 babies. They come in lavender!

It can be a little bit hard to be the fatty at the pool swimming laps and it can be even a little bit harder being the fatty at the pool doing weird water exercise with weird equipment. However, I try to mitigate my intimidation by not concerning myself with what people think, recognizing that every young person that sees a hot fat girl with tattoos and a pin-up girl bathing suit and vintage swim cap doing her thing and working out is possibly empowered. And also, because my self care is waaaaaay more important to me than what people’s judgments are.

As Prince said, “I don’t really care so much what people say about me because it usually is a reflection of who they are.”

PurpleReignVery excited about my Prince memorial teas (one caffeinated tea and one herbal tisane) and the wisdom they will include is going to be a prototype of how I will do the wisdom component for my teas in the future.

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How I Decided to Join a Gym

Up until October of 2011, I had never once joined a gym.* I debated for a long time joining the Bed Stuy YMCA before I took the plunge and I had a pretty detailed thought process that might help folks out there deciding whether to join a gym.

COST
There are a million gyms in New York City and they all vary wildly in how much they cost. In 2006 I was thinking about joining a gym because I wanted the benefits of an elliptical machine but I decided that buying an elliptical would cost me less than three months of a gym membership so I did that instead. I got a machine that was pretty good and $100 used on Craigs List. But when I moved to Brooklyn I no longer had space for it and had to let it go (and was able to sell it on CL for what I bought it for, thanks used marketplace!). I’ve also used the same logic before to buy home video workouts that I do enjoy but there’s something about the seriousness of going someplace to workout and using the nice machines and classes.

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Me and Hana at Brooklyn Pride.

What really pushed the decision forward for me was that the YMCA offers yoga classes and water aerobics. I love to swim and I love low-impact workouts and hadn’t done water aerobics for years. I figured at $45 a month** it was worth the membership if I attended three classes a month, since the NYC street value of a yoga class is about $15 now and water aerobics is impossible to find outside of a gym. Also the Y offers financial aid for folks who qualify.

It was helpful to me to determine the value in a realistic timeframe. Before I joined the gym I was going to yoga 2-3 times a month (with desire to do more but not the cash). It was not realistic to say I was going to go to the gym three times a week when doing the cost analysis because that’s not where I was in my fitness lifestyle at the time. I wasn’t trying to get “wishful thinking” value out of the gym, I was trying to see how it fit in financially with my lifestyle at the time. (Now that I am a member I often do go three times a week.)

FACILITIES
With the value factor figured out just from the classes available at the YMCA, I was leaning towards it. They had a member drive in September 2011 (with no joiner fee) and I went on a Saturday and took a tour of the facility. I really recommend letting people “sell” it to you, even if you’re already pretty sold because you’ll find out even more about the place than you would on your own.

The Bed Stuy Y is dope! Lots of new equipment, a ton of rooms, childcare, an indoor pool, giant locker room and showers, the aerobics/dance/yoga studio is really nice. It’s also a community place with a lot of activities and seemed really unpretentious.

For me the facilities that were most important were a pool, plentiful ellipticals so I wouldn’t have to wait, and a rowing machine because I am rowing machine curious. Also, those recumbent bikes, I saw a fat person using one on a reality show once and I thought it seemed like a good bike alternative. It helped to have a list of what I was looking for and ask the tour guide to show me.

I discovered they had Bravo on the machines so it was a great way to get some Real Housewife action and I’ll be honest, sometimes I time my workouts with Shahs of Sunset.

There is also a “family” locker room for folks to use that might not feel comfortable in either gendered locker room. Most of my pals on the trans spectrum who work out there feel okay in one or other of the locker rooms but one time Glenn Marla and I had a really frank discussion about being fat and gender variant folks who work out at the Bed Stuy Y with the Membership Director. I had a really positive experience from that conversation and I think if folks have questions about multi-gendered folks using the Y’s gendered facilities they would feel comfortable talking to her.

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Singing Father Figure at a Fuck You Dad Father’s Day Event last summer.

GYM CULTURE
I think the culture of the people is so important to whether you and your gym will be compatible. I researched the culture of the Bed Stuy Y very diligently. The biggest thing that influenced my opinion was how many great Yelp reviews it had. Yelp, and other consumer review websites, can really give you insight into the culture of the place.

There were a lot of things that made me hate the idea of going to the gym. Not the least of which is being a fat person exercising. I don’t love to exercise but I do love how it makes my body feel and it is essential to my mental and emotional health. I need my exercise to happen in a fat positive or at the very least, fat neutral, environment. I combed the Yelp reviews and interviewed my friends who went there about how many fat bodies were working out and what it was like. Other than a slew of diabetes prevention program vis a vis weight loss flyers (which thankfully does not have a targeted fat body on it, the person’s face is thin-appearing), the focus of the gym environment there seems to be on fitness rather than weight loss.

On the other hand I would never consider the NY Sports Clubs because they specifically use fat hate speech in their advertising, which is gross and tells me everything I need to know about their culture!

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Damien goes to my gym.

I have heard about “cruisey” gyms and I also can’t stand the idea of someone hitting on me while I’m working out or anywhere close to about to work out. I’m not wearing make-up, my hair is sloppy and I’m in a comfy gym outfit. My mind is anywhere but on getting dates. I like that my gym is not cruisey at all and every now and again I get compliments on my leg tattoo when I wear a sweatskirt and my hair even when it’s all riled up and ridiculous from the pool. But they are nice compliments and not sleezy.

I’ll be honest, one time I saw a really hot queer working out on one of the weight machines and I briefly considered introducing myself and then I remembered by staunch opposition to gym cruising and decided to “let it begin with me” and trust the Goddess that if I was meant to meet this person they would end up crossing my path at one of my parties or something.

PALS THAT GO TO THE GYM
One of the biggest factors that went into it was whether or not there were folks I knew at the gym. I thought I would really need a buddy for those first few workouts to help me get over my intimidation at being a gym newbie.

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Glenn Marla is my favorite gym buddy. We aqua jog!!

It turned out it was really hard to schedule so I just started going on my own, but it was an incentive. It also gets me to go to some of the classes more when I meet up with a friend for a “good decisions date” where we attend a class and then gossip in the steam room afterward. But you can’t gossip too hard because basically all the queers in a 2 mile radius go to this gym. At any given time I’ll see a famous self-identified trans queer rap artist working out or a queer performance artist pal in the locker room.

The last 15 months at the Bed Stuy YMCA have been pretty boss and I am looking forward to getting pals to come with me to check out the other YMCAs in town. I hear the Vanderbilt YMCA is “so nice you never want to leave.”

*For awhile in the mid-aughts I worked out at Curves but I don’t think that counts as a gym.
**The Bed Stuy Y went up to $47 last Fall but still remains worth it.

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