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    Gym Gypsy

    "WTF" Half Marathon

    Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot! "WTF" ....A Review of My First Half Marathon

    by, Tina Smiley 

    Self-proclaimed "Gym Gypsy"...visiting and reviewing one gym at a time 

    “… gorgeous trails, epic water crossings, hoodies, mega finisher’s medals, bumper stickers, fun prizes, great food and beer!  What better way to enjoy a mid-winter day!”

    I’m sure you’ve all heard the term, ‘bucket list’ which is defined as “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.” Well one of the things on my list was finishing a half marathon race, a 13.1 mile run usually on pavement or road of some sort. This particular race however was a trail run …..a very muddy trail run. It appealed to me though when I signed up because I figured the pressure was off so to speak, and instead of  actually running I'd simply take my time navigating the wooded trails of Northeast Park.  Let's be honest…who really “runs” through the woods, right? Seemed pretty chill to me, a piece of cake. No problem.  Little did I know what I got myself into.  This race wound up living up to it’s “WTF” acronym and then some!

    Last Fall I talked my veteran running friend Dena to do this race with me. She’s participated in a slew of races over the years including several half marathons as well as a full marathon. (Although she claimed the full didn’t count because it was more of a walk, not a run. As if “walking” and “running” 26.2 miles both add up differently. Lol) Anyway, she agreed and we both eagerly awaited the up and coming morning race the end of February.

    Over the weeks leading up to the race, the two of us managed to train a few times together at the park on the trails. The first morning was bitter cold, below freezing actually. That day we barely lasted ninety minutes in the woods. I remember thinking to myself how in the world I’d be able to survive 13.1 miles of that come race day!  Lucky for us, the temperature never got quite that cold again!  Dena was more persistent regarding keeping up with emails and details about the race, even printing out a map of the trails! I on the other hand, took more of a nonchalant approach because again…this wasn’t gonna be that bad, right? Nothing to worry about. 

    In the meantime, I was reminded that my dear husband had bought tickets for he and I to go to see "Rock of Ages" at the Durham Performing Arts Center the evening before the race. Durham is like an hour away, so with an 8pm show, it'd be a late night.  Thankfully the race wasn't super early...starting at 9:30am. 

    While I realize winters in the south aren’t extreme like they tend to be up north, we still get low temps, ice and even snow on occasion. What we got this year however was rain. A lot of rain.  So much rain that our trail run basically turned out to be a mud run come race day.  We both noticed over the weeks how the trails were getting worse and that the organizers had in fact re-routed the run a couple times.  Thankfully the creek crossing was taken out as it was extremely high and deemed too dangerous to try and go through.  When race day arrived, as we stood there waiting for the start, they warned us of possible falling trees and limbs due to heavy rains and soggy ground conditions on the trails.  Dena turned to me and joked, “oh great…like we’ve got nothing else to worry about.”

    The temperature was in the low 40’s and it was raining slightly at the start of the race. I had thankfully put on a pair of leggings underneath my running shorts, and was wearing a light-weight jacket over my tank top. I didn’t think I would be needing my gloves, so I left them in the car.  

     Now since the race route was changed due to the trails being a mess, we had to basically run "loops" around the park.  Neither Dena or I could remember if it we were to run three or four loopa...so after we finished our first one, we were both a little concerned if we could last the rest of the race!  Lucky for us if wound up being only three. That first half of the race though, I was pre-occupied by the fact my hands were cold and I had to pee. We were originally told there would be port-a-johns along the trails, so I figured I’d just hold out until I came across one. I never did. Thankfully, as if by some strange phenomenon, my urge to go somehow disappeared as I managed to make my way along the trails.  At one point,  Dena pulled so far ahead of me that I lost sight of her.  I then picked up my pace, eventually catching up. 

    As the temperatures rose, my hands warmed up and I also decided to shed my jacket half way through the race.  This particular action I think led me to somehow contract poison ivy or oak or sumac.... it's still unclear which one it was.  Honestly, I believe there were more than one as the multiple rashes on my arm and other parts of my body were indeed different from each other. I wound up making an appointment with the dermatologist two days later. Ironically though, the meds I was given turned out to be worse than the rash itself, so in the end good old salt water and calamine lotion were my best friends for three weeks until it cleared up.  Unfortunately for me however, I had to cancel a photo shoot I had made months prior...something I was looking forward to. But getting my picture taken covered in poison just didn't sound like a good idea. 

    Anyway, surprising enough with all the mud and slick trails, I did not fall!  Neither of us did, thank goodness.  Although I came close to biting it once or twice, my feet never gave way underneath me and I remained upright the entire 13.1 miles. I held onto countless branches and tree trunks as I “jogged” through the treacherous terrain.  (Which by the way,  is probably how I wound up with my rashes.  And since I never took the time the learn the botany science, every leaf looked the same to me so I didn't think twice about grabbing onto whatever I could.)

    There were plenty of other folks though, who weren’t so lucky. One friend of mine wound up breaking her arm because she apparently fell somewhere along the way.  I don’t think she even finished the race, as she had to be assisted off the trails.  There were areas roped off along the paths where the creek had overflowed, flooding sections of the park.  It was kind of surreal actually, because just weeks before Dena and I had run through those sections while training.  We knew it'd be a little muddy, but we didn't expect it to flood! 

    It's hard to imagine how the elite runners finished in less than two hours…some close to an hour and a half… but they did.  A few had passed us on our third loop around the course as we had a good hour or so left to go.  How they were able to literally run through puddles, small streams and mud; over rocks and tree roots, dodging everything from holes to brush and branches, and then come out unscathed….I’ll never know.  I’m convinced those people just weren't human.  My partner and I were just happy to be able to finish the half and come in under the maximum time allowed. We were worried we'd have to exit the trails because we couldn't make the cut-off time.  That last mile or so was extremely welcomed but also it seemed to take forever lol.  

    All in all, Dena and I finished the WTF Half with smiles on our faces. We earned ourselves bragging rights as well as a cold beer a cool sweatshirt, and a nifty medal.  Neither of us were too interested in sticking around afterwards though. We couldn't wait to get out of our mud-soaked sneakers and socks as well as our sweaty running attire.  After rinsing off my shoes, a nice warm bath and hot cup of coffee was my true reward when I finally got home. 

    My hair though.... OMG! I should've taken and picture. Thank goodness I never took my hat off the entire time. I looked like a Wildling from Game of Thrones. Yikes!  It took me more than half an hour to just detangle that mess. I may have lost a few decent strands too in the process. Ugh.  :(

    So...my "review" of my first half marathon is a good one.  Not only did my Fitbit record me at over 40,000 steps for the day, (a personal PR lol) I did something I've been wanting to do for a while...and something that I'll probably do again sometime. And as my bucket list seems to keep growing, what's another half added to it? I mean, why the f*** not, right? Glad I had a running partner too....it was certainly more "fun" with a friend. Besides, Dena is always up for a good race. Perhaps I can talk her into doing the WTF Half again next year! Maybe....  :) 

    Gym Review: Complete Fitness For Women

                                             Review of Complete Fitness for Women

    by Tina Smiley....                                                                                                                                    A self-proclaimed Gym Gypsy visiting and reviewing one gym at a time.

     

    “We are an all women’s gym dedicated to helping you reach all of your fitness goals. We specialize in a wide variety of areas such as weight loss and muscle gain.”        ...Complete Fitness for Women.

    Not every woman enjoys working out in mixed company. That is, doing your thing on the elliptical all the while trying to avoid the inevitable awkward stare from the guy in a tank top doing dumb bell curls.  Well ladies, if that describes you, then may I suggest you try Women’s Complete Fitness in Burlington? Currently located off exit 145 of I-40 in the old Burlington Outlet Village, this well-kept gym is perfect for women who like a lot of class variety, as well as clean machines and workout equipment to use.  

                                                                                                                                                                     "Women's only gym...

     ...Affordable pricing...

     ...Goal  oriented...

    ...You are completely covered...

    ...Knowledgeable coaches....

    ...Friendly environment...

    ...We train you!" 

    - Complete Fitness for Women.

    Last Fall, I was given the unique pleasure of winning a two-month membership to Complete Fitness. It was the first-place award for my age group in the “I Will Survive 5K” in Downtown Burlington. What a great race and a very good cause!! It was the second time I ran this particular 5K, and the second time I won. Maybe I’ll go for the triple crown this year. Ya never know. 😊

    Well the holidays came and went, so in January I finally decided to try out my free 2 month membership.  The first class I signed up for was the Thursday evening yoga class. Now, I have taken yoga classes before…actually I have a punch pass for a local yoga studio (which I’ll also be blogging about in the upcoming weeks!) …so I’m not a complete novice at the act of Vinyasa and Ujjayi.

    The yoga instructor at Complete Fitness is very nice and she holds a pretty effective intro class.  She likes tree pose, so be prepared to practice your balancing act! 

    There are usually about 5-8 people who show up for yoga and we all meet in a large multi-purpose studio room.  If you do not have a mat, no need to worry because there are plenty of extras along with some blocks and straps as well. Class runs just shy of an hour, and it goes by pretty quickly.  The only downside to this class is that the room can be a little on the chilly side…something I’m def not used to especially compared to “hot yoga." So you may want to bring a sweatshirt, especially in the winter. 

    Complete Fitness offers it's members a wide variety of classes, and with the exception of the boot-camps, they're all free with your monthly rate.  Those classes include yoga, barre, pound, kickboxing, Zumba, and so much more!  I would have liked to try more of them during my temporary membership but not many of the offered classes seem to fit my schedule. Which brings me to another "downside" if you will.  Complete Fitness does offer a lot...yes. However, because there are so many, the class times and availability are a tad scarce. But have no fear, if none of that appeals to you (as Zumba did not appeal to me lol) or if a class doesn't meet your needs then you might enjoy their gym section.  In this room, you will find a nice selection of cardio machines including a Jacob's Ladder and a Concept 2 Rower!  You'll also see various weight-training machines, an assisted squat rack (otherwise known as a Smith Machine) as well as a cable training system, a nice set of dumbbells and other accessories.  Heck, there is even a daily workout written on the board for those who aren't sure what to do when they get to the gym!  So no excuses here... there is something to do for everyone. :) 

    As it is with most gyms, evenings are pretty busy especially if there are boot-camps going on. You will hear the music playing loud and those ladies sure look like their having fun AND getting a great workout! While I've not had the  pleasure of meeting the entire staff, those I have come in contact with all seem to be extremely pleasant and friendly. 

    So... whether you're a woman who is wanting to begin your fitness journey or one who is simply looking for a nice environment to continue your daily workout routine, may I point you in the direction of Complete Fitness for Women in Burlington.  You will find a staff that is very friendly and pleasant, a gym that is neat and clean, and you'll surely fit into one or more of the wide selection of classes they have to offer. Go ahead...give them a try.  I think you'll feel right at home. 


    Complete Fitness For Women

    1228 Plaza Drive, Burlington, NC 27215

    (336) 228-0088

    **An important note: Complete Fitness for Women in Burlington will be relocating soon, although not far from their current location. They are expanding their gym and will have even more equipment to offer members. You can keep up with all the latest updates via their social media sites.  Go to completefitnessnc.com

    Gym Review: CrossFit Simplicity

                                                   Gym Review of Crossfit Simplicity

    by, Tina Smiley 

    A self-proclaimed Gym Gypsy, visiting and reviewing one gym at a time.                           

    “Crossfit Simplicity was created on the belief you shouldn’t just live to workout, but should workout to live!”

    If you are looking for an energetic Crossfit experience, a place where you can get in a good hour-long workout with a fun and lively class (whether in between work schedules or even on your lunch break), you may want to try Crossfit Simplicity. It is currently one of two Crossfit affiliate gyms in Burlington, NC.

    Like many crossfit gyms (aka “boxes”) their “WOD” or ‘workout of the day’ is pre-programmed and members sign in to their Wodify account where they can find the specifics for the day’s workout. Each class is an hour long, consisting of three segments: a warmup, the workout, and an “after class” or cool down.  It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran crossfitter, or just a beginner, you will be able to modify each workout to meet your individual needs.  And if after class you need to freshen up (because chances are you will break a sweat), there are two clean bathrooms, one of which is fully equipped with a shower and fresh towels. This comes in handy for members who need to get back to work!

    My personal experience with Crossfit Simplicity is an overall positive one. I have dropped in many times since they’ve opened and have attended various classes, but the noon class seems to fit best with my schedule.  My most recent visit was a Friday 12pm class where there were 8 of us altogether….6 women (including myself) and 2 guys plus Daniel as the coach.  This was a fun workout, but an exhausting one at that! The WOD was a two-part workout which included rowing for calories, barbell thrusters, and barbell clean/jerks.  And since I had already worked out that morning, I chose to scale my workout which is in fact something I commonly do. Scaling or modifying a Crossfit WOD is a smart way to workout especially if you’re unsure of the prescribed weight and/or specific movements but are still wanting to get a workout in. I mean honsetly, not all of us can comfortably throw around twice our body weight and swing from bars like a gymnast.  

    At the end of class, everyone helps each other wipe down their equipment and put things away. Don’t be surprised however, if you spot Coach Daniel helping with clean up and wiping down the barbells before you grab for the spray bottle.  We often tease him about how tidy he is with his gym. I remember one time we rearranged the kettlebells and it probably gave him a minor panic attack the next day. Ha!  Don’t even get me started on how he loves chalk all over his floor!                          There is also time during the day in between classes for members who may have missed a workout, or perhaps just want to focus on a certain skill to do so with the supervision of a coach. This is great for those who may want to take the day’s WOD at their own pace without the pressure of having to be in a class. It’s also a good opportunity for a member to ask a coach for help on technique.


                                                                      >>>Fun Facts<<<

    **Located in the heart of downtown, Crossfit Simplicity’s 5000sq ft facility is a bright, open and airy gym, equipped with plenty of equipment to workout with and share during your visit. 

    **Since they opened their doors in February of 2017, Crossfit Simplicity continues to grow and expand, accepting new members on a weekly basis.

     **The average class size is typically between 5-7 athletes during the day, and 8-10 in the evening.  

    **You can check their easy-to-navigate website for class schedules, workouts, drop-in rates, and other information at www.crossfitsimplicity.com  as well as their Facebook and Instagram pages.


    It was hard to think of any possible downsides to Crossfit Simplicity, but outside limited parking as you find with most crossfit boxes, a few things did come to mind. For example:

    This gym likes to focus a lot on barbell work, and if that’s something you enjoy then by all means you will not be disappointed! Others however, may feel a tad intimidated by not just the extreme weight that is thrown around during a class or open gym, but by the intensity of the workouts.  Some members seem to concern themselves more with “RX’ing” a WOD with poor form, than they do with working out with a lighter weight or modified movement. Which brings me to what I mentioned above regarding “scaling” the workouts. I personally think Simplicity does not always live up to its “simple yet effective” slogan because at times the programming seems to be a little on the extreme side when it comes to the weight used for many of the workouts. But hey, that’s just me. What do I know?  To be fair however,  they're really not any different than other Crossfit gyms in that most boxes have that same attitude.... they just want to "lift heavy shit."  It is cool though when you realize you can infact lift something you otherwise thought you couldn't. Even if it was only for one rep. :) 

    On the flip side though, Daniel sure brings a certain energy to his classes. His spirited personality brings a sense of enjoyment for those working out under his guidance. He is enthusiastic, funny, and he loves to engage the athletes by cheering them on, encouraging them all the way ‘til the end. As for the staff, there are five Certified Level One coaches (including Daniel) at Simplicity…three male and two female coaches. While I’ve not had the privilege of taking classes with all of them, I do personally know each of the coaches and find them enjoyable to be around. I believe you will as well.

    So...as for my recommendation,  I suggest you put Crossfit Simplicity on your list of gyms to visit.  Hopefully you will leave there knowing you gave your best effort, got a great workout in, and perhaps even made a few new friends. 😊

                         
                       

    Check them out!

    CrossFit Simplicity
    240 W 6th St, Burlington
    NC 27215
    P: (336) 516-3735

    Daniel Blackwell
    daniel@crossfitsimplicity.com