Striptease and Athletic Endurance Events

This is a post for anyone who watches a burlesque performances and thinks, “I can do that!” Well, it’s not as simple as just shaking a pelvis in the general direction of strangers. Besides, have you ever watched someone finish a Marathon and just flippantly claim, “I can do that!” Well, Burlesque and endurance events have more similarities than many might think.
 
I dance, therefore, I am an athlete. I am an athlete, yet I also dance. Whether I’m training for an event or rehearsing for a show, there are some similarities between the two worlds.

The Costume Is More Important Than You Think
 
On stage, your costume will help tell the story of your performance piece just as much as, in some cases more than, your choreography. You’ll spend time, money, and creative energy making sure that it fits right, looks great, and tells the story you want. As a burlesque performer, part of the fit is making sure that it comes off at just the right time and in just the right way. You don’t want to ruin the tease with a surprise reveal!

On the field, your costume will show your allegiance with its flags or color scheme. There will also be messages of love and support to/from your crew. Maybe a patch sewn in to remind you that you’re hoping to win this competition for a loved one who passed away or an injured teammate. You’ll spend time, money, and creative energy making sure that it fits right and keeps you warm/cool/dry when you need it most.

The Audience Is Your Fuel

On stage, making eye contact and flirting with the audience as you tease them into a frenzy is crucial to a burlesque performance. The louder they scream, the stronger your adrenaline will pump.

On the field, not every sport has an audience. As a distance runner, you’ll find yourself on mile 10 with no voice other than the one in your head or the voices in your headphones. But, even as a runner, hearing people cheer you on as you near the finish line will help you to sprint when you thought there was nothing left in the tank. If you’re the partner of someone who is an athlete, supporting them as their biggest cheerleader means more than you can ever know.

Rehearsing & Training

For the stage, even if it’s not a scheduled rehearsal time, you’ll find yourself listening to the music for your act in the car, on the train, at home, and anywhere there are speakers. You go over the steps and the reveal in your head only to constantly tweak and adjust the performance up until the moment you set foot on the stage.

Training for the field could mean weights, cardio, massages, nutrition, the list goes on. Your life has been consumed by this event for which you’ve committed. Even when you sit still, you salivate at the thought of crossing the start line.

Prep Time vs. Event Time

Prep time for a stage performance could take weeks or months. There’s costuming, choreography, and nerves to manage. Once the song begins on night of show, it’s all over in six minutes or less.

Prep time for an athletic event could take six-nine months of training. Once the start has been signaled, it will all be over in a few hours.

Food On Event Day

When taking the stage, no one wants to dance with that full feeling. I normally eat something light before a performance and have food backstage for afterwards. Some people have trouble eating the entire day before performing due to nerves.

When prepping for race/competition day, no one wants to compete in an athletic event with that grumbling belly feeling. But, you never want the wrong thing in your belly either. I once made the mistake of eating pasta for breakfast before a 10 mile run. I’ll spare you the gory details. I’ll just say, “never again.”

Exhaustion
 
On stage, thanks to adrenaline, I never feel tired during a performance. When I come off stage, I can barely speak. Sometimes I’m breathless, sometimes I’m shaking, and sometimes I’m crying.

Off the field, after the event. I’ve cried after crossing some finish lines. Shaking, breathless, tears of joy as I silently celebrate my accomplishment.
Advertisements

Tough Mudder Training

If you’re reading this, it’s because someone (hopefully the person in the mirror) has convinced you to participate in an adventure race. Maybe it’s a Spartan Race, an Urbanathlon, or a Tough Mudder. If you think it’s just a mud run, please keep reading. (Spoiler: It’s more than that!) I’ve finished a few Tough Mudder events and I wanted to write this up to (at least mentally) prepare people for the event. None of the aforementioned events compare to the Western States 100. But, Tough Mudder isn’t easy. You will be sore, but the event can be fun! So, you’ve signed up for a tough, fun adventure race that will make your body sore? Congratulations! Here’s how to survive it.

I’ve participated in Tough Mudder 2.5 times, all in Tahoe. I ran it in 2011 at the Squaw Valley resort. I broke my foot while training for the 2012 event. I still went up to Tahoe to give my friends the moral support they needed. I finished the Summer event on July 13th at the Northstar resort in 2013. Does that make me an expert? No. But, I can share some things with you that have helped me earn 2 orange headbands.

Choose your teammates wisely. Don’t choose your teammate based on fitness level. This isn’t the grade school playground. Don’t pick the tall kid, the fast kid or the “climbs stuff good” kid. Instead, choose the team member that will stay positive and smile when they are cold, wet, getting electrocuted in the face, getting barbed wire snagged on their booty cheeks or running five miles up a hill that never fucking ends. Never. Fucking. Ends. When you’re going through obstacles like that, no one gives a shit about how much you can bench press. When you’re going through obstacles like that, the attitude to get up and keep going is the only thing that matters. Complainers, settlers, and whiners should never be on your team. Complainers will find something wrong with every rock on the mountain and they’ll tell you all about it! They will not shut up! Settlers will settle for the bare minimum. No, we didn’t come this far just to fucking go around it. Tough Mudder is a challenge not a race. That’s part of the Tough Mudder pledge. Settlers will sing those words all over the mountain as they stroll along, claiming to be in no rush. It’s true. This event is not a race. But, it’s not a damned crawl either. We didn’t come all of this way to go for a stroll in the woods. Hustle up! Whiners will be afraid of every obstacle no matter how much you’ve prepared for it. So, having super heroes on your team is great. But, if any one teammate is a complainer, settler, or whiner, the whole team will get dragged down! Choose wisely. At some point, all of you will need to mentally or physically uplift the other.

Don’t just train, train with specificity. “How does somebody even train for that?” is the question that I hear the most. Well, isn’t it obvious? Go to the nearest mountain, build 20 obstacles that are spread over 10-12 miles, invite some friends, add beer, shake well, and giddyup! Okay, so that’s a tad impractical. Here are some other options. Run on trails with hills (no exceptions). If you’re new to running, start on flat asphalt and gradually move to grass, beach, then trail (in that order). But, hills and rocks need to be under/around your feet in order for you to prepare for this event. The biggest challenge will be running downhill on loose footing for 5+ miles with switchbacks. Get wet, run until dry, repeat. Find some little kids and fill up their inflatable pool with ice water. (Please, warn the kids first.) Jump in, fully clothed in your event day gear, stay in for at least 10 seconds, get out and run until you’re dry. Then do it all over again. Wear the right clothes and train in them, first. Old school rules state: Never do anything new on race day! That includes those special Underoos that you bought for the event. That ballerina costume fits great and looks great with the group photo. How will you feel after mile 5 when that glittery thong is in the crack of your ass? Wear things you are willing to part with (and that includes your GoPro-people lose shit all the time in these events). Remember, there is barbed wire. Do NOT wear shoes that are almost dead, you’re going to need some good brakes heading down hill. Do NOT run this race in Vibram Five Fingers. I don’t care how many people you’ve seen do it. I don’t care if your badass friend did it. I have two words why not, puncture wound. The TM staff doesn’t go through and pick out all of the pointy rocks so that you can have a safe run. One sharp rock can end your race. In both events that I’ve finished, I’ve seen people bounding up the hill in those shoes at the beginning of the race. By the end of the race, they were all limping due to rolled ankles, toe injuries, etc. Train in what you plan to wear on race day. Costumes are encouraged, just be prepared for what it’s going to feel like. Be mentally prepared to bleed. No matter how covered you are, there’s a good chance that you will bleed. In 2013, I wore a full body compression suit and I still walked away with three scars and a bruised rib. In 2011, I did this run in shorts and a t-shirt. Ha! The rocks enjoyed tearing up my skin. Crawl around on the ground. Learn how to crawl on grass, dirt, and rocks without terrorizing your knees. Find some monkey bars, learn how to hang from them without injuring your shoulders and get mobile using just your arms. Make muscle-ups your friend. This exercise will help you with a lot of the obstacles. So, to sum up your training. Be able to run in cold wet everything. Be able to crawl under anything on any terrain. Get over your claustrophobia. Learn how to hoist yourself up and over things. Learn how to run after unexpected pain zaps you. During training, I was stung (twice) by a Yellowjacket. While that wasn’t planned, we had to keep running (mostly out of fear). Nothing could have prepared me more for getting shocked in the face with 10,000 volts with 5 miles left to go. Yes. That’s a thing. That can and will happen. Which brings me to my next survival point.

Be strategic with those obstacles. Each obstacle will have a few lines so that everyone can get through. When you go to the grocery store, don’t look for the people that have the fewest items, look for the most efficient cashier. The same logic applies here. If you’re about to get into a dark underground tunnel and crawl behind someone, don’t get behind the person that seems uncoordinated and uncertain. You’re asking for a traffic jam. Further, give some space between you and the Mudder in front of you. Don’t go in on their heels, unless it’s your teammate and they want you close. During the Electric Eel obstacle (slip and slide + live wires + tight space = HTFU) I heard about this one Mudder that froze and curled up into a ball. The Mudder behind was stuck, getting zapped, repeatedly. Don’t slide into a traffic jam! Also, FFS, listen to the volunteers. They will be giving you coaching points on how to complete the obstacles. Don’t try to do it your way. Let go of your ego. You may be a badass, but you’ll be a tired badass. Play it smart.

FAQ
“Can’t I just walk around some of the obstacles?” Sure. You can also be locked in a room with a willing <insert your favorite celebrity> and give them a handy instead of going all the way. Come on people, you didn’t train, drive a few hours, and dress like a Liger just to walk around obstacles. Real talk, don’t be stupid. If you can’t swim, don’t jump in the deep water. Walk around the obstacles that could get you fucked up in the game. But, otherwise, go for it.

“What should I eat?” Eat a proper breakfast. Don’t eat a peanut butter sandwich and try to run 12 miles on a mountain. You’re an adult, you should know what a proper breakfast is, for your body. I’m not going to tell you to eat 4 eggs, 2 sausages, toast, coffee, juice, and a banana like I did. You might be a Vegan. Besides, I eat that same breakfast quite often. Remember, nothing new on race day. So, as part of your training, start eating a “proper” breakfast and see how far it will get you. If you run 2 miles and pass out, that’s not the right breakfast for your body.

  • Invest in some trail running shoes. Make sure that the laces can be tucked somewhere other than inside the shoe.
  • Don’t pin your bib number (and safety pins) on your chest/stomach. Did I mention that you’ll be crawling around, in mud, a lot. Unless you want to get a safety pin jab in the belly, just put the number elsewhere.
  • Gloves. You don’t need them, but should you wear them… They can be your best friend or worst enemy. If you buy the right gloves (that stand up to varying wet/dry conditions and still provide grip while hanging by your finger tips) then you’ll be happy. If you buy the wrong gloves, you’ll be pissed. Why would you wear gloves at all? NONE of the water is even 45 degrees. ALL of the water is finger-curling cold. After the 10th cold water obstacle, you’ll need to hang by those finger tips. So, of course you don’t *need* gloves. But, they’ve done me right.
  • Eyewear. Just don’t. Unless you wear contacts and you’re trying to protect your eyeballs, any eyewear will be a detriment after the first mud splash. They don’t provide Windex on the course.
  • GoPro. Prepare to lose it. That is all.
  • Underwear. Buy some moisture wicking draws or your underwear will become an under war.
  • Sunscreen all of your bits. There are some compression suits that have sun protection. But, your head and other bits of skin will burn like bacon. You’ll be out there for 2-6 hours. That’s not a typo. You will NOT leave your teammate behind. So, if you need to carry someone (yes, that is one of the obstacles) it may take a while. Waterproof, sweatproof, 10,000 volt proof sunscreen. Do it!
  • If you can find someone willing, get a Sherpa. Some teammate’s lover, friend, or roommate will (hopefully) be willing to hike the spectator trail and schlep some supplies for you and take pictures. Make sure that person (or your bag that you should leave at check-in) has a dry change of clothes and some comfort food for the finish line.
  • Lodging. Stay as close to the start/finish line as possible. Book your stay the minute they announce the venue. You’ll be happy when you wake up stress-free and happier when you can shower immediately afterwards. TM crew will hose you down at the end. The water will not be warm. Did I mention that all of the water is cold? So, choose your event date wisely! There’s an event in Toronto in Autumn. Ha! No thanks!
  • Create a team chant or call. When someone gets too far behind, they can call out the code word for “Wait for me!”

So, I hope all of this helps you to prepare for your first Tough Mudder. Don’t be afraid of Mudder. Make it YOUR Mudder. Enjoy your training.

Here are some pictures before, during, and after the event in 2013 with my teammate, Sae. Good times!


Image
Image

ImageImageImageImageImage

Pardon My Catharsis

I’m in the middle of a workout. To be more specific, I’m in the middle of my workout. As a member, client, class regular, friend, co-worker or otherwise, I hope that you won’t take it personally when I ignore you. I’m in this line of work because I want nothing more than to help people. Before becoming a fitness coach people started asking me about my workout plan because they watched me gain 40 pounds of muscle in about 8-10 months. I was happy to share my workout plan. (I have no recollection of what that, circa 1997, plan was.) I just wanted to help people. Years later, I was working out at the Gold’s Gym in Las Vegas (before becoming an employee) and I was giving unsolicited advice to people with poor form. I was trying to correct their form and warn them against injury. They would nod and smile only to go back to poor form after I walked away. So, I earned my certification and got the red shirt with “TRAINER” stamped on the back so that people wouldn’t think of me as some random knob that was posing as Nick Know-it-all. I just wanted to help people.

I’d like to think that I speak for all fitness coaches when I say that we want nothing more than to help every person that we coach. Fitness coaches also need time for our own self-care. We need the emotional space to practice what we preach. There will come a time when you see your coach wearing headphones and in the zone of their own workout. There may come a time when I’m about to lift something heavy and a familiar face approaches me for a chin wag. Pardon my catharsis, I’m practicing self-care and my hope is that you won’t take it personally as I ignore your attempt to chat. I need this time for me. I could write pages about the physical benefits of exercise. But, my hope is that you experience those, improved energy – better sleep habits – mental clarity, benefits already. I’m writing all of this to remind you of the emotional benefits to exercise. If you’ve ever began a workout while angry, you know exactly what I mean.

Over the years, my anger has generated enough adrenaline for me to lift heavier, run faster/farther and to feel less pain during my workouts. By the end of those angry workouts, my serotonin levels had been boosted enough for me to find myself *insert OK Computer voice* “calmer/fitter/happier/more productive”. Wait, now what was I mad about? I’ve never been able to hold on to anger through an intense workout. Pardon my catharsis, I need to sweat this out. Let me be clear, lifting the heavy things doesn’t automagically make you happy and calm. It’s not that simple. If it were, we wouldn’t have such disdain for moving day! Deliberate physical activity (exercise and making sweet love) will boost serotonin levels. However, there is a second-step that I recommend. Ask yourself the tough questions during your workout. Why am I angry? Why am I sad? Why am I tense/anxious/annoyed? Ask those questions and let the answers come to you as you challenge yourself with your next exercise. “Jet, I’m not mad. I’ve got no drama in my life. Do I need anger in order to have a good workout?” No, silly goose, of course you don’t.

Evander Holyfield once said something I’ll never forget. When asked about his music selection for entering the ring (he chose Gospel music while his competitor chose Rap music with aggressive lyrics) he responded with this to say. “I’ll never understand why you have to get angry to do something that requires skill.” I’m paraphrasing this quote from memory. But, I’ve used this as a reminder that anger is not (and should not be) the only fuel for a workout. The music doesn’t always have to be aggressive. [
Challenge: Change your workout music selections. Try a completely different genre. Run to classical music. Lift weights to old soul (Ray Charles/James Brown/et al.). Perform Plyometrics to Ska or Swing music. Try something new with your music this week.] The workout will always act as a catharsis. Start your workout in a good mood and feel even better afterwards. There are no bad days, but any day can get better. So, excuse my headphones, pardon my catharsis, I need to work through this hour of my own self-care. I hope that you (fitness enthusiasts, fellow coaches, and clients) don’t take it personally if I ignore you on the workout floor. I’ll answer any questions you may have sooner than later. Until then, work hard until the work isn’t hard and then make it harder. #GetUp

Ambition: A Fear of Mediocrity

Ambition is the fear of mediocrity. Ambition is the fear of being mediocre. You can apply this mantra to many aspects of your life. Fitness training: Did you put on your snazzy minimalist running shoes, moisture wicking shirt, and hustle to your favorite fitness class or training session just to put forth a mediocre effort? No. You didn’t. Don’t just show up, put in the work and reach your goals. Career path: Did you work over time and sacrifice your personal life to hate your job as it subtly sucks away your soul? The harder you work, the richer you’ll make the owners. You have to honor your gifts and talents by shunning the mediocre path for a path that ignites your fire inside. Educational efforts: Did you pay all of that tuition just for a class average curve or would you rather excel and learn something? Be afraid of the class average, embrace ambition and be a better student. Romantic efforts: Was there ever a time when you looked at your partner and thought of how lucky you were to have her/him in your life? Do you honor that lucky feeling with mediocre effort or do you express your love in ever-evolving ways? Steer clear of the mediocre love path. The path of ambitious love will help you to treat your partner the way THEY want to be treated instead of treating them the way YOU want to be treated.

You should be afraid of “good enough”, “getting by”, “just fine”, “alright”, and other synonyms for mediocrity. Step up and deliver more. I want to be clear. I’m not suggesting that you change your expectations of others. Don’t be that prick that expects above/beyond mediocre from other people after reading this post. When it comes to how we see others, tensions would ease up if we all chose to love more, judge less. That applies to how we feel about ourselves as well. Shunning mediocrity isn’t about judging ourselves harshly because any aspect of our lives is “normal” or status quo. That’s not what this post is about. I’m planting a seed that I hope to grow into a tree of stronger efforts from any and all who read this. What if good enough was no longer good enough? What if we tried harder by working smarter? What if we reduced the peripheral noise, static, drama, beeps, and buzzes from our lives in order to be better at the things we’re passionate about? Embrace your ambition. Step away from the crowd. Everyone has something that sparks their fire. Determine what that something is for you and burn, brighter.

Common sense disclaimer. Every corpse on Everest was once filled with ambition. Don’t be a dumbass. Use your ambition to improve the world, not to stroke your fucking ego. The pic you see of me sky diving was my own search for an adrenaline rush. I don’t (usually) take pics of my philanthropic efforts. Peace.

Accidental Motivation (Placebo Training)

Due to an injury, I’m not running ATM. So, this post (written about four years back) spoke to me today and I wanted to revisit it. Enjoy!

I’ve never met my favorite running partner, we go on long runs all the time. It happens without planning or engagement. I set out on a run and before I know it, I have a shadow on my heels that I can’t shake.

Sometimes, I run two laps around Lake Merritt. It’s 10 kilometers. Once, I set out for a run after doing some push-ups, I felt the blood pumping before my stride began. It had been two weeks since my last run. So, around mile two, I still hadn’t hit my rhythm. I kept pushing through it, thoughts scattered, lacking focus, then I caught a glimpse of orange in my peripheral vision. “Oh, this dude wants to pass me”, I thought. “I need to run faster” and “this ‘running partner’ has been sent here to motivate me”, was my second thought. My final thought was to run faster, smile and say thank you to whatever cosmic running coach sent this running partner to challenge me.

Orange shirt ran with me, pushing me to run faster as his pace was equivalent to mine, for about a mile and a half. Realistically, he probably never even realized that he was my source of motivation. We never spoke, we never engaged. I imagined that he was there to light a fire under my heels. Around mile 4, his run was done and mine still had 2.2 before completion. So, even though, I turned and realized that he had stopped running altogether, I imagined an orange shirt challenging me to run stronger up to the very end. There are times when fake medicine cures symptoms when we are told that it will. There are times when we are sent the motivation that we need because we believe that the ego stroke of winning will help to shake off the demons. I call it placebo training and you can write your own prescription. What do you need to see, hear or connect with in order to get you to push beyond your perceived limitations? When you’re lifting weights alone, do you imagine someone you trust spotting/encouraging you? When you’re on a long ride, do you imagine that you’re in competition with the other cyclists on the hill? When you go for a run, do you try to catch up to the pair of shoes in front of you only to run faster and try to catch the next pair of shoes beyond that? What’s your placebo for challenging your body through the power of the mind?

You’ve often heard me suggest that you create a training mantra. I still encourage that. (Think of a set of rhythmic, positive words that – when repeated – will help you conquer any obstacle, with your mind. Your body will soon follow.) This week, I want you all to practice your visualization techniques. See the person motivating you, make it real and break through your previous limitations. Set some new personal records. Motivation is all around us, it comes in all forms. It’s our perception that differentiates between obstacle and opportunity. Tap into the abundant motivation that the world has to offer and take flight.

Any of you that have trained with me, one-on-one, know that I don’t listen to excuses. There is always a way to reach your goals. Watch this 2m:30s video and remember, YES. YOU. CAN.