Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cleo's Rock N Pole

Last month, I took on the challenging of trying Cleo's Rock N Pole website.  In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided a free month of lessons in exchange for reviewing the site.  My plan was to approach the lessons from the perspective of a plus-sized pole dancer who no longer has a pole at home.

Cleo's Rock N Pole is a combination of Cleo's previously-produced DVDs, as well as new lessons and challenges by Cleo, in addition to some videos by guest instructors.  I like how the lessons are grouped.  There are clearly marked sections for the warm-up, fundamentals/pole (broken down by level), floor/chairplay or strength/flexibility training.  In the Rock N Pole section, you can find cute choreographed routines.  I found there were plenty of lessons for someone who does not have a pole at home.  I especially was interested in flexibility and strengthening exercises as I feel like I am constantly battling weight issues and injuries.

I enjoyed the Rockin Legs N Abs (RLNA) daily challenges (found under flexibility).  I was able to follow the videos fairly easily, although I have to say that Cleo moves really quickly.  I would sometimes catch myself trying to keep up, but felt like I was sacrificing my form.  I noticed that when I did some of the moves at half time, I was still sore and sweaty at the end, so it was good to listen to my body.  I really appreciated that Cleo's voice overs often offered modifications and encouraged beginners (or inflexible people like me) to be careful about pushing themselves into moves for which they aren't ready.  The lessons are also accompanied by specific hashtags so you can take to social media to search for others who may be doing the same challenge if you have questions or need motivation.

I would say the hardest thing about doing any kind of home workout is the fact that you are trying to do it alone.  It can set you up to injure yourself, it can be lonely, and it can be hard to motivate yourself to continue the program.  Cleo has a really active group on Facebook called Rockin' Legs N' Abs.  It is a great place to connect with others to receive the moral support that you may sometimes need to motivate yourself to bang out that late night workout even though you're exhausted.  With members from around the world, you will probably always find someone online and willing to chat.  Cleo's site also offers a blog and community tab to help people connect as well.  My biggest concern with any DVD or online workout videos is that those new to this kind of workout may injure themselves.  I believe if you have spent any time in group exercise classes, though, you usually know well enough if you are doing something you shouldn't.  If it hurts, stop.  Definitely talk to your doctor if you are just starting up a workout program for the fist time.

I am an extremely inflexible human so a month of working on my flexibility didn't really give me noticeable results.  I am 18 years into doing yoga and the fact that I can now touch my toes in a forward bend is a huge accomplishment.  However, I did really enjoy Cleo's workouts.  I hope that you will check out her site and then come back and tell me what you thought!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Body Alignment

I think I first heard Katy Bowman on the Joe Rogan podcast.  Those podcasts run three hours so you really get to know a lot about each guest.  So much of what she said about pain in the body and body alignment made sense.  I immediately got on her website and started downloading her podcast.  

Katy is a biomechanist, and she basically tells people how to move properly.  From walking to sitting, she has interesting information on what we are all doing wrong.  Cavemen weren't used to sitting in front of computers 12 hours a day.  Our bodies are made to move freely, not sit captive.  She doesn't have a couch in her house (she sits on the floor).  She doesn't even sleep in a real bed!  

Katy has written several books, including Move Your DNA, Whole Body Barefoot, and Alignment Matters.  She has a blog on her website and also offers exercise videos (for a fee).  

From her post about "Diseases of Captivity:"

It’s so much easier to see diseases of captivity in other species. In my next book there’s an entire section that explains the floppy orca fin, how it occurs in captivity, how to recognize your own “floppy fin,” and why exercise does not replace movement.
From SeaWorld: “While a killer whale can and occasionally might travel as much as 100 miles in a day, it should be said that swimming that distance is not integral to a whale’s health and well-being. It is likely foraging behavior. Given the challenge of finding and killing as much as 300 pounds of prey every day, killer whales in the wild — like any species — conserve energy and move only as much as necessary. Killer whales living in our parks are given all the food they require. They also exercise, receive veterinary care, live in the company of other members of their species, and receive mental stimulation. They adapt very well to life in a zoological setting.” Anyone else see the similarities between what SeaWorld is telling us and what we are telling ourselves?
Or a post about exercise:
Exercise is convenient, for sure, but it can also be a highly processed version of what our body requires from movement. Exercise can fall way short of the nutrients movement provides. In short, exercise is the junk food of moving.
Katy believes in eating well and moving naturally.  I've never heard anyone take it to the level she does, but it is all very interesting to me.  
There's almost too much information to digest on her website.  I'm thinking about picking up one of her books.  I am still on the hunt for a permanent fix on a lot of my body issues, and this is just another step in the right (I hope) direction.  I won't be getting rid of my bed or anything, but I am interested in being more aware of my alignment and adding more natural movement to my day.  Has anyone else heard of Katy or her natural movement?  I would love to hear about your experiences!
Not natural movement but still much enjoyed pigeon pose

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sixth Annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser

Last month, Twirly Girls hosted the SIXTH annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser to benefit the National Kidney Foundation.  It does not seem possible that we are six years into throwing these events, but we are!  Late last year, I asked the other instructors to do one long instructor piece instead of each of us dancing separately (this is a popular show, and we could very easily end up with 25+ performances if we aren't careful).  They said yes!  (Although not everyone was excited about my song choice.)  If you want to donate to the cause, please visit THIS link.

Then watch our video and leave a comment with your thoughts!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Chunky Girl Comics at Big Wow Comicfest 2015

Chunky Girl Comics has returned to Big Wow Comicfest!  [You can see photos from last year's adventure HERE.]  In addition to Marisa's table, we were privileged to sit on a panel: Fierce, Fab and Fluffy, which discussed body diversity and plus sized issues in comics and pop culture.  It was another amazing event.  It was so much fun, seeing old faces and meeting new ones.  We ran into Damion Poitier again (who makes me turn into a bumbling idiot who can't find their words, and who is one of the nicest celebrities I've ever met).  The day ended in a mechanical "bull" ride...in a corset.  I have much love to those guys for helping me not fall off.  It's hard enough to ride that thing...it was even harder when you can't bend!!  Video does exist.  Check it out on the fan page:

Riding the bull. In a corset.
Posted by Confessions of a Twirly Girl on Saturday, April 18, 2015

Thanks again to Marisa, Gia and Jess for another awesome Chunky Girl event!

Getting ready

lil bit helping me get ready

The amazing Ray of Tragic Hero Comics

Saw my friend, Jenna!

Prom pose!  Again.  

Damion Poitier


Best day ever

Thank you, Marisa for catching these awesome shots!