Thursday, May 30, 2013

Zombie Survival and a Video

So first and most certainly foremost, I heard my first ad for World War Z on the radio on Tuesday, and I was like,
I don't want to see a single preview for it because I just want to show up at the theater with no idea what to expect and hope to have my mind blown. So here's a fun fact about me and zombies. I'm obsessed with zombies. I HATE zombies. Zombies, in my opinion, are the straight up worst case scenario because they are horrible and disgusting and sometimes their intestines are hanging out and they don't kill you, they EAT you. EAT YOU While you're still fucking alive. Now Dr. Alan Grant has taught us that we will meet a similar fate at the jagged maw of a raptor. BUT DO YOU BECOME A RAPTOR WHILE IT'S EATING YOU?! DO YOUR FRIENDS BECOME RAPTORS? If you cut off a Raptor's arm does it keep coming at you while black viscous fluid oozes from the hole in its festering body?!

The answer, my friends and Dr. Grant, is Fuck No. Raptors are seriously badass and if they were here today I hope someone would train them to be ridden, but Zombies are a thing of sheer horror and nightmare on an unfathomable level and they are the reason I lost weight. Kid you not.

There's a longer story behind all this that I really ought to write, but basically I started going to the local YMCA in the late summer of 2010. At first I tried to read Sookie Stackhouse novels while working on the elliptical, but I just didn't have the eneger to last for than about 10 or 15 minutes. But one day I realized Sookie Stackhouse is a goddamn vapid idiotic bitch, so I dropped the book and picked up World War Z instead. My world changed. Suddenly I couldn't get off the elliptical trainer because I needed to keep reading. I lifted weights and did crunches and tried to work on my boxing moves (mostly me punching a bag until my knuckles bled/I injured my wrists) because I knew that there was going to be a Zombie apocalypse and I needed to be fit and ready. I wish I was joking when I say that I started making plans for how to board up the farm and preserve supplies for an outbreak, all the while hitting the gym and eating salads so that when the inevitable happened, I wouldn't be one of the first to be eaten. 

Almost three years later I haven't completed my survival plans yet (though I have ventured into prepper territory a few times), but I've managed to keep my weight off pretty well. Thank you Max Brooks. You dedication to Zombie Awareness has made me a stronger person.

In other news, my good friend Kristin showed me this really awesome trapeze manual over the weekend. I decided to use it to practice moves I have no business working on without a spotter. True Story: I attempted a Backward Roll from Sitting and slipped, which resulted in a trapeze bar to my throat. I will not be attempting that any time soon without a professional watching me. But I also worked on moves I'm more comfortable with and capable of performing. They all need a lot of work, so I took videos of myself to see what needs improvement and also to keep track of where I am now, so that as I improve I can look back on how far I've come. My knees, ankles, and hands did not appreciate this trapeze-focused workout and have begged me never to do it again. Too bad! I'm probably gonna work on it again on Monday. 
Anyway, here's a video I made of my work! (the parts where I looked cool, anyway). I start with the trapeze stuff then review some moves on silks (again you're only see the parts where I looked nice, not all the times my knees wobbled and I looked stupid) and finally a little bit of the conditioning I worked on at the end. Hope you enjoy!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Red Room Training: In Defense of Pole Fitness

So let me start off by saying that, while I could not retrieve any photographic evidence, I'm quite certain that Natalia Romanova has at some point performed a pole dance while operating under cover. And she probably did a damn good job. 

Insert a picture from your imagination here.

Every Thursday I leave work and go to Diva Fit Studios in Herndon. I change into a tank top and a pair of booty shorts that barely cover my goods and enter a room with twelve poles lined up in two rows in front of a wall-to-wall mirror. I choose mine. The music starts, and to the instructor's cues we start moving. Like many (I might argue all) good fitness classes, we begin with a warm-up before moving on to stretches then finally getting into the meat of our workout. We learn some new moves, go over the dance routine for this level, and finish with some extremely cruel conditioning exercises and some stretching. Here's what makes it so damn interesting (I mean besides the fact that I'm dancing on a pole):

Chest Up, Booty Up: Don't be afraid to look like a girl
Since high school gym class, one of my biggest enemies has always been the squat. In face, for years I thought I couldn't do them, and when I realized I could, I refused to. The problem is that I have a great big badonk, and it quite literally follows me wherever I go, and I quite literally am extremely self-conscious about it when I work out. Squats are awful. When I do them correctly it's basically an announcement to anyone within sight that my BUTT is in the room and it's DOING STUFF.  Don't even get me started on dead lifts and how my friends The Boobs On My Chest like to get involved. 
At pole, rather than feeling like I should hide my curves and maintain gender ambiguity, I'm encouraged to flaunt everything I've got. It took some getting used to, but I can look in the mirror and be proud of what I see, rather than panicking and trying to hide it all.

Dance, Magic Dance
After a warm-up and stretches I put on my shoes (oh do I love pole shoes (also right now I can't wear them because of my ankle injury QQ)) and get to work. Listening to songs like Crazy Bitch by BuckCherry while my instructor calls out moves, I march around the pole, dip, spin, flip upside down, and basically do everything you see on TV (because of course you've never been to a strip club). We even do a song each class with no instruction where we just creatively come up with our own moves. For me, dancing is actually a lot like LARPing. At a LARP, I get to fully immerse myself, body and mind, into a different character. At pole, I get to pretend to be this beautiful diva dancing up on a stage. I also like to pretend that, like Black Widow, I'm undercover and trying to identify the target and information on the environment while occasionally relaying information back to the rest of the Avengers. Ironman and Hawkeye are going to break through the door at any moment and it's going to be aaaaawesome. The point is, it's a lot of fun. It's also...

A Damn Good Workout
Yes, she's wearing underwear. Source
The difference between Black Widow and myself... Ok. ONE of the MANY differences between Black Widow and myself: she probably wouldn't get that winded while performing her undercover pole routine, but damn do I. "Body waves" of which we do like 100 per class, are not just for show. They require a cruel combination of tight, flexing core muscles, quads, glutes, pectorals and biceps. In a single sway of my body I'm engaging everything I need for a squat and then some. Oh sure, it's fun. But by the end I fucking want to cry and my quads are threatening to secede from the goddamn union. Inverts, climbs, spins, even lying on the floor kicking my legs in the air, it's all exhausting work on my muscles. I'm burning calories and building muscle and teaching my hamstrings that, "no, no, no, you really can stretch farther, I promise." That's why the class is built the way it is: warm-up, stretch, work out, learn a new move, work that move into a routine, work out more, agonize through conditioning, stretch and cool down. Most martial arts and dance classes are built much the same way because most are making similar demands on the body. 

I'm certainly not the most graceful girl in my class, and I never will be, but I'm more graceful than I was before I started. Pole has provided me with a way to work out and display my strength in a feminine way. It's a fun, challenging sport, and there are a lot of awards. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to do what that chick's doing. I'll probably wear a different outfit.

P.S. I tried to write this post so that it would be safe for my dad to read. Not sure if I succeeded or not...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sprains, Hoops, and Big Explosions: This Past Week Has Been Interesting

**NOTE: This should have gone up on Tuesday. Sorry.***

So to go in completely the wrong order, let me start this recap of how things are going by telling you, Internet, about what happened last night. I was just settling down to play League of Legends for the first time when there was gunshot in my kitchen. Naturally I screamed, and then looked for the gunman, which turned out to be my stove. The BF had (very responsibly) set it to self clean, but we left a can olive oil spray on top. In a pretty goddamn big explosion, the can managed to completely destroy our microwave (buy cannonballing the top into it) and spray oil literally all over the kitchen, including the counters, all food on the counters, the fridge, the entire surface of the floor, and walls. Oh, and the stove, which was still self-cleaning so that the heat caused the oil to smoke up our entire apartment, setting off every alarm we have. After about half an hour of coughing, choking, and clutching our ears, the situation finally began to subside. Two things were learned from this misadventure.

Lesson 1: Don't leave cans of non-stick oil on the stove.

Lesson 2: Don't trust your neighbors for shit. I mean, what the fuck dude?! The entire fucking building must have heard a gunshot, a woman screaming, and then alarms going off as smoke escaped from the windows and yet no one did anything. Thanks guys. Thanks for everything. I now know who not to rely on in a home invasion. Assholes.

Anyway, so on to the rest of my life. So when last you heard from me, I was talking all high and noble about not giving up no matter what. Well Life GM decided it would be really fun to test my resolve. On Monday night, short hours after writing my blog, I decided to work on my sweet parkour moves, and I was doing pretty well, if I do say so myself. Until I landed poorly on my ankle and completely tore one of the ligaments.  (FOR THE WIN!)
After a great deal of sorrow and discouragement I went to silks on Wednesday and only worked on moves that didn't involve using my feet. It went all right. I was disappointed that I couldn't work on any new moves or even practice most of my old moves, but this forces me to build my strength in other areas. For the next few weeks I won't be able to do my traditional climbs or holds, so I guess I'm going to get very good at doing things like the hawk climb, hip key, windmill, and all the miserable strength and invert exercises I need to do well. Hope to have videos up soon.
I also went to pole on my non-functioning ankle, which went well. My instructor was extremely encouraging and told me I shouldn't feel bad simply because I can't wear heels for a while. Apparently the professionals (not those professionals, she means competitive dancers) usually work barefoot, so my next four to eight weeks without any shoes should be good for me. Personally I hate dancing without heels because I feel short, fat, and ungraceful, but I did a nice job on Thursday, and I felt good about myself, so that won't be a huge loss after all. I've got a complete physical scheduled for May 22nd, and when I go, I'm going to ask for a referral to see an orthopedist (or whoever) and see if there's some way I can keep this goddamn ankle from giving out on me again. In the meantime, I plan to keep on working.

In other news, this weekend I went to a bachelorette party where I learned to hula hoop! I also learned that I'm terrible at hula hooping!! It was great. We had lots of delicious food, and there was music, and I didn't kill any of my friends, despite repeated hurling a hula hoop at them and yelling, "JESUSCHRISTSORRY!" just in time for them to duck out of the way. (True story, kids. If your friend invites you out hula hooping, there's a small but significant chance they actually want you dead. Proceed with caution.)

That's Lauren, our Instructor. She also teaches me silks. She's stupid good, I know.

I'm sorry there are no pictures of me from the hula hooping party. I was too busy taking pictures. And sucking so badly that no one wanted to capture me on film. Oh wait, yes they did. Please listen closely to the commentary.

Sigh...I should have deleted them all.

And finally, I OFFICIALLY BOOKED A HOTEL FOR DRAGON*CON!!!  Why yes I have started on my costumes already. Oh yes, I have thought about what events I want to go to. Of course I do plan to buy tickets to the aquarium and then go to the aquarium wearing a pirate outfit and freak the fuck out because I goddamn love aquariums and take 5,000 pictures and videos of me in front of a fish tank making stupid faces and pointing at the fish and skipping drunkenly down the the hallway and demanding to see the sting rays again just let me fucking see the sting rays you're being a jackass you can't tell me what to do i'm going to see the sting rays again shut up.
Sorry that broke down a little at the end...Anyway, I'm working on costume already for 90's Rogue from the X-Men. I'm also probably going to do X-23 and possibly a female Stormcloak Soldier from Skyrim. My cousin is also sewing me a corset, so I might don a steampunk look one night. I'm going to all kinds of writing workshops and games and I'm planning to party as hard as my little heart can stand and buy all kinds of LARP gear. Maybe a signed book or two. Who knows. I'm just a little excited.