Archive for April, 2013

Stronger in the Sun

Feeling weak and fatigued? A little glum and sluggish? Maybe like your 7-dehydrocholesterol is not hydroxylating and then binding with receptors to stimulate proteins that regulate calcium absorption and muscle function?

It may be you’re low on vitamin D. We all have an inert cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol ) in our skin that just sits there until it gets hit by ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun. Then boom! The cholesterol turns into vitamin D3, which gets hydoxylated into a feisty little hormone that does all sorts of awesome, important things like make you stronger, less fatigued, and a better athlete.  According to a fresh new study, a shot of vitamin D even improves the recovery of skeletal muscle strength after an acute bout of intense exercise.

It’s no wonder vitamin D has been getting lots of attention lately. An increase in vitamin D is being prescribed for everything from depression to auto-immune disease to muscular sclerosis. High performance athletes are starting to take seriously the advantages of including vitamin D in their training regime.

You can try to up your vitamin D by taking expensive supplements, or by eating beef liver and cod liver oil. But who wants to do that? Especially when the best way to get your vitamin D on is to get outside on a sunny day. Even when it’s cloudy, more than enough UVB rays get through to turn your skin’s stores of 7-dehydrocholesterol into mighty little shots of energy serum.

The bottom line is this: working out outside makes you a lot happier and even a little stronger than working out inside. The benefits of vitamin D are so profound that even coming and sitting on the curb to cheer on a queerfit workout is, on balance, more beneficial than spending 45 minutes inside a gym on an elliptical machine.

So come on out, ch’all – it will be 77 degrees and partly cloudy (which, confusingly, is sunnier than partly sunny) today at 6:15. We’ll meet up at our usual spot near the Inman Park MARTA station and, powered by the mighty sun, lift heavy things.

Back to Basics: Why We Squat

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[location change tomorrow: Candler Park in the McLendon Ave. parking lot, right in front of the playground]

Swimsuit season is upon us. Time for women to Reduce Your Thighs! Men must Pump Your Guns! Everyone needs to Chisel Your Abs! Excuse me while I Toss My Cookies! at this seasonal blast of faux fitness drivel.

For whatever reason, the it exercise this year seems to be the air squat. That’s good and bad. It’s good because air squats are good. It’s bad because, done badly, it’s bad. We do a ton of squats at Queerfit. Here’s why…

An Olympic weightlifting coach once told me that China dominates the sport because its athletes are so comfortable at the bottom of the squat. He continued on to let me – me! – know that Chinese people are great squatters because “there are no chairs in China.” Perhaps there were just no chairs in the weightlifting facility you visited? No, he let me know: there are “no chairs anywhere in China – none!”

Well, um, that’s not quite right.

But even if the idiot coach was wrong in fact, he wasn’t totally wrong in spirit.

Unlike the idiot Olympic weightlifting coach’s version of China, there are a lot of chairs in America. And we sit the hell out of them. We tend to sit in the car in order to go sit somewhere to work, after which we go sit down to eat and/or sit on a couch to watch TV.

Is this a problem? You betcha. Read more…

Cheering you on

The best thing written after the bombing at the Boston marathon has been this, about The People Who Watch Marathons. It’s great – I won’t summarize, just go read it. Bring a tissue.

For those of us who are not one of the people who watch marathons, there are few opportunities to cheer for someone else. Sure, there are plenty of professional sports stars available for your huzzah and hurrah, but when was the last time you cheered on someone who wasn’t getting paid to do what they were doing?

That’s not to say you’ve not been encouraging. This past week, you’ve probably sent a text with lots of exclamation marks, or clicked a thumb-up “like” on Facebook. You may have written an email letting someone know you’re thinking of them. You may have even bought a drink and commiserated with someone who’s needed a boost.

But did you shout, throw confetti, or jump up and down with a clever sign? Did you thump a kickboard on the side of the pool and yell at the woman in lane 5 to swim faster? Did you jump up and do a cheer before your co-worker got up on stage to give his presentation?

Cheering each other on in helpful and creative ways is a skill that we have few opportunities to practice. Which is too bad, given how clearly it’s been established that encouragement increases self-efficacy (a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation).  One place you can get your practice in is at Queerfit.  Come on out, good people. We’ll cheer you on and, just as important, you’ll get a chance to cheer on everyone else. 10:00 tomorrow at the usual spot. Goooooooooooo Queerfit!

Location change!

My bad for not getting this out sooner – location change this Saturday (4/13): meet up in front of the Irwin Street Market, near Studioplex. Shae “the Hammer” will take you through your paces. There’s a wall there, so you may want to bring gloves in anticipation of some wall jumping. Same 10:00 start time. Have fun and kick butt!

Throw a gator in it

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I was writing a short story that was lacking in energy, so I threw in an alligator. It worked. The story livened right up.

It got me thinking about energy. Or, as my mother calls it, ernergy. (Chinese lacks r’s, making it hard for adult learners of English to say words containing r’s, like “words.” It took my mother 20 years to finally got her ‘r’ down, and now she inserts them wherever she sees the opportunity, to make up for lost time, I suppose. Or as mom now says, surppose.)

Ernergy is the reason we queerfit. Even though we’ve built the programming around short, high intensity workouts, we should be clear that intensity is part of the process; it’s not the goal. Vitality is the goal. That is, life energy.

Over the past week, I’ve had people tell me they want to: squat 200 pounds, be a more mobile sex partner, run with some speed and dignity, completely change their body, get more flexible, rehab a joint, and do a pull-up. All great goals. How about one more – how about adding vitality as a goal? I would be ecstatic if someone told me their goal for the spring was to become a jumbo fireball of radiant ernergy.

Spring is such a good time to become such. The season is lousy with little fireballs of radiant ernergy. Living things are bursting forth all around us – thank the pharmaceutical gods for Claritin – demanding that we get in on the action and grow! create! change! burgeon! flourish! do foolhardy things we’ve not done since we were 16! Who are we to say nyet?

Should becoming a jumbo fireball of radiant energy become one of your season’s aspirations, here are four ways to help make that happen: Read more…