Kids Reactivation

The kids have been in camp for the past week: gymnastics camp. All day from 8:30 until 4:00 they have been moving their bodies. Rest periods are built in, but still that is a lot of physical activity. One child woke up with a sore leg that she refused to walk on (she could still crawl and hop, so I knew the injury wasn’t ultra serious, most likely an overtireFront supportd body). The other complained of a sore back from picking up a springboard the previous day in camp. Both kids requested ReactivationFeeling better post-Reactivation, they completed the full week of camp.

I am very fortunate that I met Andy Langberg, the founder and developer of Reactivation, when I was dealing with major pain issues in my body. I am thrilled that I was able to take the marvelous training in Reactivation Level I, followed immediately with the Level 2 training in 2014. When a body is pushed physically, even when just keeping a body active, injury or excess stress to the body can occur. Extra care is sometimes needed. Reactivation is an amazing form of extra care. Aiding a body to heal itself, giving just a bit of energy to change the vibration of a muscle or energetic system; it’s a marvelous thing. As my son asked as I worked on him, “It’s sort of like magic?”

Yes, it is.


My Exercise Partner and a Tough Trainer

exercise partnerI’ve been exercising off and on for over 6 years with my daughter, well almost 7 years if you include my pregnancy when I exercised a lot and had an amazing level of fitness. My daughter is energetic, flexible, strong, and constantly moving or climbing, and she likes to challenge me. She has many of the desired qualities of an exercise partner or a fitness trainer. She loves to exercise. She loves to stretch. She loves to relax. We do sprints together in the local park. We do all sorts of strength and flexibility competitions. “Mama, look how high I can kick my leg! Could you kick your leg this high when you were little? Can you do a straddle like this?” She mostly wins the competitions. To be honest, I can still kick my leg high, but I couldn’t when I was six.

On Saturday I did a number of sets of rebound box jumps, using my step, and my daughter joined in. I’ve been doing rebound box jumps, a type of plyometric training, with my clients recently. The idea with rebound jumps is to spend as little time on the ground as is possible, hence the “rebound.” The ones I’ve been doing myself and with my clients are low rebound box jumps, working with a range between 3 and 6 inches in height. As with any new type of training I begin modestly with limited repetitions and progress slowly. The rebound jumps have been a welcome addition to both my personal workout and my clients’s sprinting workouts and the rebound jumps compliment the jump rope, jumping jacks, and burpees that we already do.

My daughter decided to give the rebound jumps a try and she did 2 jumps the first time before belly flopping onto the couch. She repeated the couple of jumps followed by the belly flop a few more times before her neuromuscular system kicked in and she developed the rhythm and coordination necessary to complete 50 jumps, albeit under tempo. (Each complete jump ideally takes just under one second.)

We alternated jumping for a while. I added a side to side rebound jump, something for my clients to look forward to, then my daughter upped the ante: she picked up a 5 pound weight and did the rebound jumps. Then she doubled the ante with an additional 5 pound weight. She weighs under 40 pounds, so this was more than a quarter of her bodyweight. I did give this a try holding two 8 pound weights. It’s hard! My daughter is one tough trainer.


I had planned to write more about the Fitbit this week, but this past Saturday I ended up going for a bit more of a sprint than I intended on doing. My daughter and I were running late for her ballet class mainly because I was trying to do too many things. She took her bike which allows us to get to class on time. Last wAnalupe bikeeek she was just remembering how to bike, and I had a pleasant jog keeping up with her. Now she remembers how to ride her bike. She can bike fast! Luckily I knew I would be jogging a little so I had worn my back pack instead of a shoulder bag, and I had on my sneakers, but it was not a jog; it was a sprint. Longer sprints than I’ve been doing when I do my wave workouts.

Unfortunately with the busy morning and the too many things to do, I forgot to put on my Fitbit HR so I have no idea what my heart rate went up to, but pretty high I would guess as I was breathing hard. I also forgot the bike lock and my daughter’s ballet shoes. Too many things to do, not enough time being in the present.

This summer it will be a huge challenge to keep up with both my kids when they are on their bikes and I will be wearing my running sneakers a lot. Or I’ll just have to learn to bike in NYC, which is not high on my list of things I wish to learn.

A New Exercise Tracker and Watch: Fitbit HR

photo by Guillermo Murcia

photo by Guillermo Murcia

I have been wearing the Fitbit HR for the past week. I’m enjoying it very much. Adapting to wearing a watch again has been the main challenge; my wrist is not used to the constricting feeling of a band around it. The LED lights felt painful, like a burning sensation, the first time I wore the watch. Now my skin has desensitized. I don’t notice any burning sensations anymore from the pulsing green lights penetrating my skin, measuring the flow of blood under the surface. If I am already wearing the watch when I turn on the heart rate function I feel a tickling sensation when the lights first come on. When I put my awareness to that area of my body I can still sense the lights flashing, but when busy or otherwise engaged I do not notice the lights pulsing. Because of this I choose to turn the heart rate function off for most of the day and use it mainly when exercising, to watch the heart rate recover. It works well in this function to track the general tendencies of the pumping of the blood. I receive an instantaneous report, as opposed to the 30 – 40 second delay experienced using the sensors on a treadmill, which of course aren’t available in the comfort of my living room when I am running in place, doing jumping jacks, or stepping.

I’ve set the watch to show the heart rate when I tap the watch so it’s very convenient to read. For instance as I sit typing my heart rate is a 76 beats per minute, that’s a bit higher than it ought to be but as my sleep was not so restful last night I’m unsurprised.Being able to view my resting HR is fun. It will be interesting to see if I can drop it below 62 for my average resting rate if I was too increase the consistency of my cardio workouts. Three or four times a week, instead of on to three times plus a few sprints to keep up with kids on bikes or trying to get to the school bus stop on time.

As I do the waves having a stop watch on my wrist is so much more convenient than using the stopwatch located on my phone and much less obtrusive when working with my clients. Also having the tap function set to heart rate makes accessing my heart rate instantaneous rather than needing to scroll through the time of day and the steps taken first.

Ever since my Polar Heart Rate monitor watch broke about 8 years ago I have been using my phone as my watch. After having children, I needed to be available if a caregiver or now the school needs to reach me in an emergency, and the phone has been ever present. I have never enjoyed doing this, as I do find phones and especially smart phones can be unduly distracting whether it is my phone or a clients phone. It’s also cumbersome and obvious when I’m checking the time in the middle of a session. With the Fitbit HR I can leave my phone in my bag or tucked away in a pocket when I am with a client. If I have an incoming call the watch vibrates and shows the caller id. I can put the distraction of the phone further away from myself. It would be nice if text messages could appear on it (after all more people seem to text than call these days) like a caller id with the message too, but for that I suppose I’ll need an apple watch. For a thorough review of the apple watch as a health and fitness tracker click here.

An additional function that I really enjoy is the sleep mode which does not need to be put into sleep mode; no button to push or tapping to do to get the device to record or come out of sleep mode. However, if you get up in the middle of the night like I sometimes do, the Fitbit will call that the waking up and you then need to add a second sleep log for when you fall back asleep until final wake up in the morning. During sleep I find that the weirdness of wearing a watch becomes more pronounced. I rarely wear jewelry or anything so I find myself wanting to remove the Fitbit HR in the middle of the night. It feels constricting and bothersome on my wrist. Needless to say on the nights when I remove during my sleep the results are not so accurate, but as with the pulsing of the LED lights my body is becoming acclimated to wearing a watch.

The rest of the Fitbit HR functions are like the Fitbit One, which my son and husband are both using when they can. I will post about their experiences in the future.

For more detailed reviews of the Fitbit HR you can go here and here.


Last night was a fun evening that reminded me of previous nights, where dinner was interrupted with a cartwheel competition, or just a “look at what I can do” moment of physical activity. My husband was finishing preparing dinner as my daugRelaxationhter began doing her moves. She showed how she now does her arch (wheel for us yoga folks) based on what she had learned in gymnastics class that day. A large, full, energized wheel, that after holding it for an extended amount of time left her tired. So, I showed her how to relax her body fully in Savasana. From there I recalled the relaxation assists that I had learned over the years and performed a few on her. She loved it, the feeling of caring from her mother, but also the wave like motion from the thoracic into the cervical spine with a very gentle traction of the head, and working from the other end, a gentle traction of the spine. In my work I have recently not been performing these sorts of hands on assists with my clients very often as the cause of the body being tight is a decrease in stability and the worst thing for that is for an outside force to create further instability. However, watching her as she melted and the deep relaxation that she was able to attain, it was beautiful to see and a reminder that relaxation is an important skill to learn at any age.

Waves Next to Waves

My newest workout consists of intervals, but not traditional intervals where a short burst of cardio activity is used to elevate the heart rate followed by a conditioning exercise where the heart rate only partially recovers. In these intervals I want my heart rate to reach close to maximum and then have a full recovery between before I begin the next interval. This means standing, or preferably sitting, catching my breath followed by a bit of yogic breathing to slow the heart rate. I do a total of 5 or 6 intervals. The idea is to create a wave with my heart rate: crests and troughs.

Beach in Santa Marta, ColombiaThis past week while the Northeast and my home in Brooklyn was enduring an arctic blast, I had the luxury of spending some time on a beach, creating waves next to waves. The kids mainly wanted to spend the days in the pool, but I convinced my daughter to join me one morning for a walk to the beach with the intention of a bit of exercise. We arrived, took off our sandals and set our goals: I would sprint down to a red tent on the beach and back, she would sprint a shorter distance to the unused volleyball post and back. I took off at a sprint while she stood with our sandals, bag of towels, and her doll that had joined us and was taking a nap. It was wonderful: the sound of the waves, the bright sun, the feel of the sand under my bare feet but also the extra focus and attention that was required to choose the best path so as not twist an ankle on the loosely packed, damp sand, very different than running on a treadmill in the depths of winter. I raced back to my daughter sufficiently winded to conclude that the distance I selected took about a minute round trip. As I recovered my daughter took off on her sprint, down to the pole and back. She was ready for me to go as soon as she returned, but I wisely listened to my body and we talked and rested a bit first and then I ran again. We continued this process until I had completed five sprints and my daughter four; that was more than enough for her little legs, and it was getting hot.

I enjoyed the sprints on the beach with my daughter as it is always wonderful to have company while exercising. In addition we both discovered that cartwheels are fun to do on the sand and looking at the ocean while upside down in a handstand is quite disorienting.

Workout run with kids!

I planned to do a run around Ft Greene with just my eldest, he’s seven. I figured if I paced him we would manage two loops. My youngest insisted on getting out of the apartment too, so I decided to give it a try. It was actually a very successful run. Just over one lap completed but the (almost) 4 year old ran pretty much the whole way. She collected a few treasures along the way, flowers, a pine cone, a branch of a tree, but she ran a lot. The eldest walked more because the pace was slow, but he also sprinted bits. I had a super slow jog, jogging in place at times just to keep my heart rate up a bit, but it still was exercise as I’m in the getting-back-into-shape-post-injury phase. Did a set of pushups after the loop while the kids snacked on the Climbing Tree.  Did the second set of pushups after playing “Try to catch me” with the eldest in the playground. It’s nearly impossible to catch him around the playscape. He’s quick and agile and impossible to trick.

Guidelines for running with kids:

1) bring snacks. We brought a banana and an apple. Light fruit good for continuing exercise after consumption.

2)Make sure water is available. The water fountains are turned on so we did not need to carry any.

3) Be flexible.

Eventually the kids will be bigger and the good habits started already. Halfway through the loop I was wondering why I hadn’t started my eldest when he was 4, I should have but at that point in my life I just wanted to exercise by myself for that 20-30 minutes of alone time.

A New Method of Transporting Kids

My son and I have a new method of transportation for kids. We did not play to develop this, in fact he wished to prevent my movement. He locked himself around my leg and I dragged him along as I went on my way mildly fettered by the 7 year old latched onto my lower leg. The almost 4 year old decided that this looked like so much fun that she joined in the fun by latching onto my other leg. So, there I was dragging my kids from one end of the apartment to the other wearing my 45 pound “shuffler” magnetic boot on one foot and my 27 pound magnetic boot on the other. This is an excellent balance challenge although an uneven workout. Next time I’ll need to switch the kids to opposite legs! It’s a good exercise for the kids too, maintaining their grip on a moving leg. And fun too!

The Wheelbarrow

Exercise of the week: The wheelbarrow

This is one of our new favorites and for some reason it is also very effective as a tool to get my children into the bathroom to take their baths.

Begin by having your child place both hands on the floor. Instruct your child to lift one leg while keeping their arms straight. (Yoga: downward dog split position). Hold that one foot and instruct your child to lift the other foot. Now you are holding both feet. Have the child begin to walk on their hands. Caution: go slow so you do not throw your child forward off balance.

To come out of the wheelbarrow instruct your child to lift their hips and belly (serious belly strengthening). As the child lifts, you lower their feet onto the floor and under them, they end on hands and feet.

Excellent for strengthening your child’s arms and abdominal muscles and more importantly, it’s fun!

A blank page.

Our children come into the world, much like a blank page but with personality. A blue page, or a pink or a textured page but blank. The underlying being is there but the words have not been written, and especially not engraved in stone. What do we decide to teach them? There are so many possibilities, important things like, numbers, letters, names for things, to get along with other kids, look both ways when they cross the street, and to not pick their noses in the middle of ballet class.

I believe that for me the most important thing I can teach my children is a love of physical activity. Except I didn’t need to teach them this, they were born with it. (The way I may have influenced my children and their physicality was by being as physically active as I could be while I was pregnant. I ran, I stretched, I did yoga, push-ups, lifted weights, and walked many miles a day. So, my kids came out running give or take about 9 months. Check my fitness pregnancy blog if you want more details. An excellent resource if you are considering being active during your pregnancy is the book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James F Clapp III MD and remember to consult your ob/gyn or midwife.) I’m sure most, if not all children, are born with this love of being physical, the need to explore the world around them and the only way to do that is by moving.

Let the crawlers and toddlers be active, get out of their way, be close, spot the adventurous ones, but also let them fall, let them climb, pick them up, let them explore some more. And so quickly the toddler years are over. Preschool years begin and we, as parents, begin our anxiety about schooling our kids. Relax. Let the preschool years and early elementary years still be about motor skills, both fine and gross motor skills. You can focus on their “schooling” from first or second grade until they are through high school and into college. School will not keep your kids active, in fact it’s the beginning of a decline into adult sedentary living!

So let your kids be active! Have a cartwheel competition, a handstand competition, a jump on one foot competition, a bridge competition. Just do it with your kids! Let them see your love of being active, of sweating, of exercising, of playing a sport, and then give them an airplane ride or wrestle a bit.