Weekend Workouts, Events, To-do Lists & Relaxation

This weekend was a mix of everything.  Seriously, I think I did everything.  I worked, I played, I worked out, I relaxed, I soaked in the sun, and was soaked by the rain.  As I mentioned in my last post, this week was the first Friday’s After Five, which pretty much signifies the start of the summer season in Charlottesville.


 For those of you who don’t know much about Charlottesville, it’s an amazing town that has an intense focus on community, a love for live music, and an absurd amount of amazing local beer and wine vendors that come together every friday from spring through fall to present a free concert series at the n’telos wireless pavilion on the Downtown Mall.  It’s amazing, fun, and completely taken for granted by those of us who no longer remember a life without Fridays.   Friday was sunny and beautiful, so needless to say the live music only made it perfect.

Saturday was a windows and doors open (but screens closed) kind of morning.  With coffee in hand I was able to get work done at a relaxed and pretty enjoyable pace.  I love having time to relax in the morning and use the weekends to prioritize my to-do list and schedule for the next week.  Since this week is shaping up to be particularly crazy (read: exciting), it was invaluable for me to have the time to get things organized.  The rest of the afternoon was pretty low key including dog walk + hill sprint adventure in the park that doubled as Tank’s 7th Birthday outing (and the best shot at tiring Bug out, even if just for a second).

bug says IMG_3262

Both dogs have 50′ leads instead of short leashes so they can have more freedom to run, but not enough slack to take off towards the street (or an appealing looking dog).  While the main purpose is to give them exercise and expend some of their pent up energy, let me assure you, it never fails to leave me winded as well.  As someone who typically prefers longer distance running (at least 3 miles), the short bursts chasing the dogs helps me to get in the sprints intervals that don’t make it into my routine nearly enough.

The rest of the night included dinner at Bella’s with great friends, and then the most entertaining parking lot event that I’ve been to in quite a while: CLAW.  I have heard about the Charlottesville Ladies Arm Wrestling group for years, but somehow never actually made it out to witness it first hand.  It was nothing like what I had imagined and was, in fact, amazing. 


I had imagined pairs of super serious arm wrestlers sweating it out at tables, fully engrossed in the fiercest battles of strength.  And I imagined it was going to be scary, like sumo-wrestling scary.  It was neither.

CLAW is mostly theatrical, and fiercely entertaining with each competitor fully engrossed in their own special ‘persona.’  The wrestlers are escorted by full entourages of complimentary characters that tell a story sparing no cheeky (or blunt) innuendo or four letter word.  It’s fantastic.

The event always benefits a cause, this time supporting Common Ground Healing Arts, and was followed by a full fledged dance party.   There are 20 different leagues across the country now, all spin-offs of the original group here in Charlottesville (co-founded by Jodie, pictured on the right with the cowboy hat), so if you don’t live here, check to see if there is one near you.  It is more than worth your time.

Today was just as grey as the forecast predicted, which actually helped me to buckle down and crank out a few more of the tasks on my to-do list before getting in a short workout in the late afternoon.


Dar had done this workout just before I got out there, so those are her numbers for each round written in under each exercise.  Per usual I made a few changes to the program, this time simply using both arms for the swings, and replacing the Turkish Getups with plank variations keeping little to no transition rest in between variation changes or intervals.

One thing to remember with swings (which I don’t have the best or most complete or professional pictures for from today) is that it’s a hip hinge and extension.  It’s a common misconception to bend the knees to a near squatting position rather than focusing on the hinge and keeping an engaged and stable core.  It helps to start with the kettle bell in front of you just far enough that you can reach it from that hinge position without a deep knee bend.

KB swing setup

If you train with Dar on kettlebell technique, she usually refers to this position as the football hike position.  For girls that’s usually met with a sort of blank stare, but for guys it’s more like a perfect english translation to their understanding.

KB swing

To start the swing keep focus on the hinge and swing the KB high between your legs and then drive your hips forward to a full extension position, keeping your arms straight (holding ON TO THE KETTLEBELL) launching them up to eye level as you snap your hips forward.

KB swing KB swing

Dar is working on a series of kettlebell posts to help translate common misconceptions into proper technique, so hang tight, it’s coming to you soon.  As someone who didn’t start using kettlebells to train until the last two or three years, I have to say it is my favorite and most versatile tool for everyday workouts.  (If you don’t own one already, get one.  You can get them for cheap at target, and they fit in your closet.)

While Dar loves the turkish getup since it falls into her beloved ‘kettlebell movement’ category, I love planks.  I love lots of planks, for long periods of time, with little rest and lots of variations.

standard plank

Maybe it’s my pure barre background, or maybe it’s the plank holds we used to do in my ‘younger’ days, but forearm planks are a happy comfort place for me, relatively speaking.

side plank 1

I started to love side arm plank variations when I got into yoga.  My alignment isn’t quite perfect in these pictures, and my spirit fingers are sub-par, but the basics are there.  Since I was holding the plank series for nearly 4 minutes straight I transitioned through center with a slight rest in a straight arm plank until I was ready for the other side.

side plank 2

For the last 45 seconds I played around with a borderline mountain climber prep position, alternating sides for a knee to elbow movement that really helped to keep a more than steady burning through my core.

mountain climber

All in all this weekend somehow managed to be productive and relaxed, while also being activity laden and highly social.  I’m not sure exactly how that happened, but I’m not complaining.  The week starts for me bright and early tomorrow morning at the 6:15 bootcamp class, followed by a full day of task mastering so it’s time to shut down and scoot to bed.

Tomorrow we’re going to kick off a new (modified) real food challenge, so expect a little more nutrition talk complete with grocery lists and meal planning.

Garage Workout + Some Kettlebell Moves

Last week Dar and I hit her garage gym on a particularly awesome (first day above 80) afternoon.  As you will soon start to figure out, we have very different preferences when it comes to designing our own workouts, but what that means for our purposes here is that you get two full circuits today instead of one.

My circuits are typically time based rather than chipper style, but I changed things up today to just give myself a little consistency.  I’m not a fan of counting on timed workouts, or timing counted ones (which is just one of many reason’s I don’t love CrossFit), but rather want to focus on consistency, length, and form.  Here’s what I settled on:

val workout

I’m really loving kettlebells right now so there are a few movements in this workout, balanced out with some really effective bodyweight movements that can be incredibly effective.  Step ups are always a good option for anyone, and any fitness level.  When I’m feeling good I’ll crank up the step ups to box jumps, but as I’m still recovering I happily rocked the step up.

The other bodyweight movement in here was an ad-hoc, chalk drawn agility drill that I called the ‘dot drill’ but drew with x’s on the driveway.  This seems like one of the most fun sections, but I assure you, it will fire up your quads before you know it.  Here are the basics:

Start in the center.

dot drill center

Jump feet forward onto front 2 x’s

dot drill front

Back to center:

dot drill center jump

Jump back:

dot drill back

Jump back to center, and that counts as one.

Staying in a low stance with bent knees and an engaged core help to make the movement most efficient, but as you can imagine, it cranks up the burn a bit.  It’s a good burn, so jump right into it!

If you want to scale the workout down I recommend taking the reps down to 20, and/or take it down to 4 rounds.

As I worked my way through the reps, Dar went with a little more aggressive circuit for herself, less reps and higher weight, all for time.



Since Dar is pretty abbreviated with her descriptions, and skilled with her movements, here is some clarification:

  •  DU’s are double unders (when you jump rope and it makes two full revolutions around before your feet hit the ground again).  They can be challenging and definitely take a little practice, so if you’re not advanced with that skill, just triple the number and do single jumps.
  • Kettlebell snatches: these are a little more complicated, so Dar let me take pictures of her doing a couple so you can get the basics.  If you’re not experienced in kettlebells, you can (should) substitute in a dumbell snatch.

At any rate, here is what it looks like in action:

Dar KB swing

Dar Snatch

Dar KB snatch

Dar KB snatch


Dar KB snatch end

Again, the KB snatch is very difficult to learn and do correctly, so don’t try to do it without having a solid background of instructional training with kettlebells.

Both of our workouts were great, and left us happily sweating (and puffing) afterwards.  Since then we’ve done several more workouts we will share with you, including a simple barbell workout and the first bootcamp workout from yesterday that kicked off with 20+ campers.

Until then, I leave you with your moment of zen (aka one of Dar’s mobility stretches):


Dars moment of zen