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Close Your Eyes and Stand on One Foot

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Can you stand on one foot for 15 seconds with your eyes closed?

Before you even think about answering, try it. 

How did you do? Were you able to last 15 seconds without opening your eyes or holding on to anything? Were you surprised that it was more of a challenge than you thought? Here’s the facts: After age 25, our sense of balance slowly begins to decline. Standing on one foot may seem fairly simple. At age 45 the ankles start to shake and you may find this a bit more of a challenge. When we reach our 60s, balance declines rapidly. Standing on one foot for 15 seconds with eyes closed without holding on is tough.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States and 20 to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.

September 22 kicked off Fall Prevention Awareness Week. Why set aside a week to bring awareness to falling down? Because preventing a fall is much more effective than treating a fall; a public health problem that is largely preventable. A fall can change an individual’s life instantly and although associated with getting older, a fall is not a normal part of aging.

Our bodies have an amazing and complex balance system that requires attention throughout life to keep it healthy and maintained. Most of us don’t think about exercising our balance when we think about healthy aging. In fact, balance is the most overlooked element of fitness; overlooked until we have a problems.

So what’s the easiest way to reclaim balance and prevent falls? For the most part, it’s child’s play. Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember challenging friends to see who could hop the longest on one foot?  Or who could walk on the edge of the sidewalk the longest without falling off? Hopscotch, jumping rope, tossing balls…we didn’t call it exercise or balance training as children, but that is exactly what we were doing. Those activities helped us develop our balance and stability as children, and similar activities can help keep the brain and muscles working together as we age.

A favorite part of my week is teaching the Better Balance & Movement Workshops here at Ballet Austin. The participants range in age from about 40 to 80. I love it! Together we challenge our brains and our muscles to do what we want them to do. And then we laugh when they don’t always cooperate. I especially love to see people coming back each week sharing how they practiced at home, and the improvement they notice in their balance.

Thanks to partial underwriting from Scott & White Healthcare, Ballet Austin is on a mission to bring better balance to adults as part of its core value to encourage lifelong health and well-being. We desire to provide programming that will motivate and encourage people of all ages to be active! I once read this quote, “Movement requires balance. Sitting does not.

On September 13, 2012 the US Senate passed a resolution declaring September 22, 2012 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, a day set aside to promote and increase public awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults.

Keep moving!

There are many ways for people of all ages to stay active at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. Interested in the Better Balance & Movement Workshop? A new session begins October 31.

Are You Half Done?

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

A good workout is better than a half done workout and a half done workout is better than none at all.

We live in a time when it’s all or nothing. We apply the “all or nothing” mentality to how we eat, sleep, and work out. This past week there was a day I was not able to go for my 60 minute. Instead of going for 20 I stayed home and sat on the couch.

Think about that for a minute. For example, does it really make sense that if we eat healthy all day and then blow it with a gooey candy bar in the afternoon, we just throw up our hands and say, “oh well, I ruined my diet for today so might as well eat junk the rest of the day”?  Does it really make sense to commit to exercise every day, do great for weeks, and then laziness sets in so motivation goes out the window and you turn into a couch potato again? It happens so quickly! We miss a workout, eat unhealthy, and so on. Defeat leads to derailing.

It’s easy to make excuses not to exercise. Even when we know how good it is for us, we just find it easier to not. We’re too busy, too tired, too…whatever to exercise. And rather than put in even half the time or half the effort, we do nothing.

I know how easy it is to get trapped into the “I give up mentality. If I can’t do it all, then I will do nothing.”

So let’s flip our thoughts.

What if we look at it this way: In stead of focusing on a goal to exercise for one hour a day, we focus on a goal to limit our sitting and sleeping time to 23 hours a day!  Sounds a bit ridiculous but it just might work. Out of 24 hours in a day I can only sit or sleep for 23. Maybe I’m not too busy!

Adding a bit of practical advice to this thinking; when you are in a slump, catch yourself quickly and choose to get back on track right away. So you have slacked off a bit lately; no big deal! It happens to all of us. Accept it as a part of the ups and downs in life. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The key is to get back on track before it becomes a lifelong habit. When it comes to food, instead of eating the whole carton of ice cream, feel terrible, defeated, and give up, realise you made a bad choice, and then follow it up with a new one; a better choice. Put a stop to your defeated thoughts before they stop you! Sometimes it’s harder to do than others, but once you recognise it’s a problem, it gets easier.

Start again and move on. Your success is the accumulation of continual good choices and effort over time. The key is to make sure you have more good days then bad ones! Don’t let a bad moment, day, week, or month undo all your hard work. Start each day fresh. And remember, doing half as much is still better than doing nothing at all.

What kind of a workout will you have this week? What will you do each day to limit your sitting and sleeping to only 23 hours?  Make a choice!

 

Looking for something new and fresh to motivate you this week? Check out Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School’s dance & fitness classes and state-of-the-art Pilates Center!

A Conversation Between My Brain and My Body

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Vicki Parsons, Director of Schools Operations & BCS Program Director

You have heard from several Ballet Austin staff members about their likes and dislikes and challenges when it comes to working out. Now it’s my turn.

Let me go on record. I do like to work out. My story begins with a quote I posted last month on the BCS facebook page: “Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it anyway.” 

The quote was for me. While my body loves a good workout; needs to be challenged physically, my brain and my body don’t always agree. My brain has a mind of its own. My body loves to move anywhere. My brain knows the importance of a good workout, but has a people and group exercise fear. The staff fitness challenge to get Ballet Austin staff into BCS group classes was my idea. I went into it knowing that I am not a fan of group exercise. I love to run and hike, but I go solo. I exercise for the physical benefit, the stress relief, and time to get away and think. I don’t need people around when I sweat.  It’s out of my comfort zone. But…I had committed to this challenge.

Dreading it for a week, I finally went to Turbo Kick®. And that’s when the conversation began between my body and my brain.

Brain: “Will they wonder why I am there, try to talk to me?” Out of my comfort zone; I felt the fear.

Body: “Do it anyway! Yes, there were other people in the studio, but stand in the back and nobody will notice you.”

I tried hiding behind Kody Jauron, Ballet Austin II dancer and BCS instructor. Music started, instructions were shouted out, and there we went…hard core cardio-burning 45 minutes!

Body: “Doing okay…although this is a mean workout.”  I discovered I am a bit uncoordinated (my colleagues might laugh at the phrase ”a bit”) I was definitely challenged!

Brain: In intimidation and resist mode, assuming that everyone already knew what to do, “Turbo Kick® is easy for them; they are probably laughing at me.”

The intimidation factor is why I dragged not only Kody, but my husband Mark to the class. We could all struggle together; I would not be alone in my inadequacies. Brain winning the battle? Almost! But Brain begins to come around…

Brain:  “Everybody else in the studio is far too busy worrying about getting it right to notice me. No one is trying to talk to me. Maybe if I am so self-conscious, imagining every eyeball is focused on me, somebody else might be thinking the same thing.”

About halfway through the class I looked around and realized that everyone was sweating and breathing hard. We were all in the same place…sweat dripping, muscles screaming, dying!

Brain overcoming! “WHO CARES what other people think?  Maybe in their heads they also hear, I’m embarrassed! I think I may throw up! I can’t do the moves right. Is everyone staring at me? Why am I here?’

Brain and Body: “In the end it doesn’t matter. I got one of the most awesome workouts of my life! I felt the fear. I kept kicking and boxing and pushing my muscles. I burned hundreds of calories.”

The 45 minutes flew by and at the end…I was ready for the end…I walked away with memories of the fun music, the encouraging and challenging words of Tara, BCS Turbo Kick® instructor. I survived! And I felt a sense of camaraderie with my fellow survivors. Admittedly tired, my body felt great. When I stepped outside and felt the 100 degree heat hit my face it crossed my mind that an indoor workout is a great thing during summers in Texas.

Whatever your challenge, find the workout that fits your fitness personality, your interests, and your schedule. The workout where your brain and body will agree.

Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it anyway.” 

Do You Listen to The Voice in Your Head?

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I do not have another colleague at Ballet Austin who has more enthusiam than Eric Caruthers. Eric worked in the Schools Office at Ballet Austin as the Registrar for several year before recently joining the Production Department, but not before winning the staff “Woo Hoo” award! But Eric is the first to tell you that the spirit of “woo hoo!” is not enough to conquer his many excuses for not working out. As a participant of the ”Get Moving Challenge” Eric figured out what it would take to get his workout in…

Eric Caruthers, Ballet Austin Production Assistant

“I am too busyI don’t have a clean workout outfit…I just ateI’ve done enough exercise this week…I’ll start tomorrowI’ll start next week…”

These are my excuses. I own them. I use them daily to tell myself to avoid or put off exercising.

Funny thing is, if I don’t listen to myself, and I actually do workout – whether Zumba®, running, yoga or biking – I love it!
I especially love group exercise. This might be partially due to the fact that I am an extreme extrovert. A room full of people completely energizes me. But if that’s true, then why is it I’m hardly ever in class…a room full of people exercising? Because there’s a voice in my head. It feeds me excuses – and I listen! It’s that voice that stops me from getting my move on.

So knowing what I know about myself – that I love people and that when I actually begin my workout I have a great time – I have figured out how to conquer the voice. People! If I invite a friend to go with me (or 2 or 3 – the more the merrier) it not only makes it a whole lot more fun, it adds accountability to the mix. I am not going to let a friend down!

That became my strategy during the staff “Get Moving Challenge“. I roped in Melissa, Tim, and anyone who would join me to take a class. And it worked! I went and had a blast!

Now I have figured out that is what makes the BCS a perfect place for me to exercise! It’s full of people! I have taken Beginning Ballet, Feldenkrais®, Theater Dance, Zumba®, Jazz Fit, Body Sculpting, Ballet Fit, and Turbo Kick®.  My personal favorites are Zumba® and Turbo Kick® because of the energy and sense of fun.

I am not the most graceful person when it comes to dancing, but that’s ok because for me it isn’t about grace – it’s about moving! It’s about having fun! It’s about moving and having fun with friends. I love it! That’s what I love about taking classes at the BCS.

It is time to STOP the excuses, call a friend and commit! Dial 512…

Want to come take a class with me?

Moving Downtown Has Increased My Opportunities For Fitness

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I’m a bit envious of my colleague Pei-San Brown, Ballet Austin’s Community Education Director. Besides being able to walk down the hall from her office to take a class, in the evenings and on weekends she just walks across the street for a great workout! No excuses for her! And as you will see, she takes advantage of every opportunity to take a class. See what Pei-San has to say about living downtown and working out…

Pei-San Brown, Community Education Director

Moving downtown was the best thing I ever did to increase my opportunities for fitness. Everything I need on a daily basis is within a 15-minute walk of either work or home, and because I’m a person who prefers taking dance and fitness classes to working out on my own in a gym, having access to classes and workshops at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School is absolutely ideal. There are so many different kinds of classes and workshops at various times of the day, I’m always finding new ways to challenge myself and to work out muscles that I never knew I had…I get to do so with my neighbors, who are a lot of fun!

It’s hard to pick my favorite class. I love Ballet Fit, Zumba®, Turbo Kick®, Below the Belt, and Arms & Abs. The best part is that because they are drop-in classes, anyone can attend them at a moment’s notice! Ballet Fit appeals to me because I can take a basic ballet barre and get my abs, arms, and glutes worked out at the same time. I love Zumba®  and Turbo Kick® because of their strong emphasis on choreography (although they’re easy because you don’t have to memorize anything – just follow along!). Turbo Kick® is especially good for increasing my stamina – it’s my new favorite class! And I’m a die-hard fan of Below the Belt and Arms & Abs! I would NEVER work out these groups of muscles by myself for 45 minutes straight – it’s so much more motivating to work out with a great group of folks like my fabulous neighbors, and an instructor who pushes you to challenge yourself!

I also love all of the Pilates workshops, which are offered in 4 to 6 week increments. Pilates Mat Workout, Pilates Theraband® Stretch, and Pilates Ballet Barre Workout are staples in my weekly fitness routine. The great thing is that they are offered 4 days of the week, so just like the drop-in classes, I can pick the workshops that fit my schedule and simply walk over to Ballet Austin just a few minute before class starts.

My personal fitness goals are to walk everyday for at least an hour, and to take dance or fitness classes five times a week. Because of my proximity to the BCS and the dynamic class and workshop schedule offered at the BCS (including Saturdays and Sundays), I’ve found that fulfilling (and sometimes exceeding) these goals is a piece of cake and a lot of fun!

Do you work or live downtown? Join me for a class!

Baby Steps Toward Motivation

Monday, July 9th, 2012

The Ballet Austin staff “Get Moving Challenge” ends this week. It’s been fun watching staff take a variety of classes, and especially fun to receive the photos of staff in a class.  I am also enjoying the blogs as well!  Check out what LuAnn has to say about her experiences…

LuAnn Glowacz, Ballet Austin Communications Manager

A body in motion stays in motion. I have to remind myself of Newton’s law every day as I contemplate the endless excuses I have to skip that 5:30 am power walk or noontime Pilates class. Working at Ballet Austin, I’m surrounded by elite athletes. And I can’t help but covet the apparent gene they possess that keeps them craving blood, sweat, and tears (while I much prefer the couch, kolaches, and pedicures).

So it’s as if the Staff Challenge was custom made for me. During June, I used the opportunity to take Ballet Fit, Pilates Ballet Barre Workshop, and Feldenkrais. I also had the chance to duck into a few minutes of Videodance™ and Brazilian Samba…WAY outside my comfort zone. And here’s what I’ve learned on the road to better motivation.

  1. Don’t be intimidated. As someone who doesn’t exercise regularly, I’m always the “novice” in most classes that I take. What I’ve learned with near certainty is that your fellow classmates are not there to watch you or judge you. If you don’t believe me, ease your nerves (and paranoia) by bringing a friend or by arriving early and seeking out another person in the studio who seems terrified to be there (introduce yourself and make a quick comrade).  Just knowing that someone else in the class who feels as if a big “A” for “Amateur” is written across his or her forehead can be a huge help.
  2. Commit yourself. While signing up for a full workshop wasn’t requisite for the Staff Challenge, the commitment of a multi-week workshop (as opposed to relying on drop-in classes) did wonders for me. While I struggle with motivation, I do not take accountability lightly. Having a reserved spot in Pilates Ballet Barre Workshop kept me motivated to show up, week after week.  And how was the workshop? If you’ve never taking a Pilates course led by a former Russian ballerina (in this case, Pilates Program Director Vlada Sheber), you haven’t truly taken a Pilates course. My body transformed within minutes (as well as my ability to gracefully descend Ballet Austin’s grand staircase).
  3. If you want to dance, dance! I’m not a dancer and anyone who has taken a dance-based fitness class with me can attest to that (Can I hear an “Amen!” my Ballet Fit and Videodance friends?). But dancing fills an hour’s worth of exercise much easier for me than any other fitness class or routine can. Concentrating on choreography or ballet positions takes my mind off of the fact that I’m [gulp] exercising. And the added responsibility of not tripping the person next to me helps. That type of trickery is really the only way to keep me moving for any extended period of time. So if you’re not a dancer but you feel like dancing…congratulations! You’re a dancer! Don’t allow anyone to convince you otherwise.

My Motivation: Easing Into The Golden Years Gracefully

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Ballet Austin’s Director of Operations & Finance has become famous during the Staff “Get Moving Challenge“. She has been to many of the classes. I love it! See what she has to say…

Gail Romney, Director of Operations & Finance

First class – Turbo Kick. I am alive. That is good news because there is a chance now I can finish the Staff Challenge. You know me, I’m the busy downtown professional who is in the second half of a century of life and would like to ease into the golden years gracefully. Ha. I am motivated by the fact that my mother and mother-in-law are in their 90’s and, as my mother puts it, still running around loose. My mother-in-law is 95, can walk 3 miles without breathing hard, and takes Pilates once a week. Who needs a staff challenge when I have her around? I tell myself there is an outside chance that if I exercise and keep in shape, the reward will be a long and mobile life and perhaps I won’t lose my marbles too soon. So, back to Turbo Kick…this is a fun and energetic 45 minutes and if you take it for the first time, don’t worry about the jabs and hooks, punches and kicks. If you keep moving, you will sweat – and that is a promise. I can see that after a few classes, the moves become second nature, as evidenced by the synchronized movements of everyone but me.  And instructor, Tara Shakleford, is adorable (in sort of a drill sergeant way). But it was fun, and I will definitely come back to it when I am done with all my other adventures at the BCS.

Second Class – Zumba. A terrific class and again, a great cardio workout. Rebekah Fowler is a fantastic instructor and makes all the steps easy to follow, although I am sure I dislocated both hips with all the sultry Latin moves!

Third Class – Elementary Contemporary. I took this even though I wasn’t exactly sure what I would be getting into. The description sounded intriguing but I was a bit leery of the hour and a half class time since I nearly expired in the previous two classes that were half as long. Not to worry, there was a lovely warm up involving aspects of Yoga and ballet along with abs and arms work. Then instructor Dane Burch got us moving with choreography that was challenging, but doable, in a jazz/lyrical/modern style. It was great fun and Dane was very patient with us newbies.

Truly, all the classes at Ballet Austin’s BCS are wonderful, my favorites over the years have been Ballet Fit, Arms & Abs, and Body Sculpting (love this one), as well as doing the Pilates Reformer classes. The Staff Challenge was a blast and I even got my picture taken several times – I could get used to this paparazzi thing…

Yes, Gail found herself in front of the camera several times over the past week or so. Check it out on the BCS facebook page! You too could win a FREE class. Staff sightings are everywhere! Love the “Get Moving Challenge“!

Never taken a class? Get Started!

Working Moms and Working Out

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I asked several of my colleagues to join the Staff “Get Moving Challenge”. Two of them are busy working moms of young children. What I love about both of them is that they don’t pull the ’mom card’ as an excuse to not work out. Look what they have to say. Can you relate to their story? Besides finding classes during the day that fit their busy schedule they seem to have figured out the “buddy system”!

Brooke Holmes, Senior Development Associate:

I fall into the category of ‘like to work out, but don’t have much time for it’. I’m a mom of a 3-year-old, work full time, commuting from Cedar Park to downtown Austin. I leave my house before 8am and don’t get home until 6:30pm. It’s then my second job kicks in. I begin the evening routine of making dinner, a little playtime with my daughter and then get her ready for bed. By the time she is asleep and the house is cleaned up, it is 10:00pm. I am tired.

Working out is important to me; it makes me feel good. I have to find time to make it happen. Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School daytime classes are perfect; a mix of cardio and strength training which I love, and both are available during the day. My favorites are Arms & Abs, Below the Belt, Pilates Ballet Barre, and for cardio I like Pilates Cardio Workout and Turbo Kick® (love, love, love this one!).

I think it is really important to take care of yourself even when you are a mom, especially when you’re a mom; really busy and working a lot. When I don’t work out, I feel more tired and more stressed out. When I do work out it makes me a better person and a better mom. So, I make the time during times when I can, and am always glad when I do.

Christi Cuellar Lotz, Development Director

As the mother of an 18-month-old daughter, working out has found its place in many different places on my priority list over the last year and a half…including the bottom of the list. Last summer she loved riding in a jogging stroller and was up early enough in the morning to allow me the opportunity to get a good 30-45 minute walk in before work. NOW, however, she’s a fantastic sleeper, and you know what they say…”Never wake a sleeping baby!” So, with a travelling husband, those early-morning walks are a thing of the past.

Though I’m not opposed at all to a post-work-day workout, as we enter the 100+ degree days of summer, I’m also not crazy. There are times I’ll brave it, but mostly not. The Butler Community School daytime fitness classes are such a blessing! I try to take at least 3 per week, and my favorites are Arms & Abs, Pilates Ballet Barre, Below the Belt, occasionally Turbo Kick®, and Pilates Cardio. All allow for a great work-out, targeting various sections of my body, and don’t get me too sweaty to get back into work clothes 20 or so minutes later.

I also find, like my colleague, Brooke, that I feel more alert and less stressed when I work out… Sometimes when that 45 minutes is the absolute only gap in my day, and I feel like I should sit and answer email instead of take the class, Brooke talks me into going and I don’t ever regret it!

Join Christi and Brooke in a class soon. Working mom near downtown? Check out some of the dance and fitness classes and workshops offered at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School.

Now I’m Afraid

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

I place all the blame on my colleagues here at Ballet Austin. I was doing just fine with the Staff Get Moving Challenge idea, and even scheduled my first class for this Sunday. Turbo Kick®. Then I had a conversation with my colleagues Gail and Brooke. Now I’m afraid.

I like to exercise. I feel good after I work out. I love to run. No matter how tired I get, or how much I sweat on a 6 mile run, nobody sees me. I die alone. That’s how I like it. Now I’m worried.

Gail and Brooke probably don’t have any idea how much their comments affected me; comments like, Turbo Kick® is the hardest class I have ever taken,” and “I am so sore. Every muscle in my body hurts. I was dying!” While I don’t mind pushing my body, I struggle with the intimidation factor of doing this in a group setting.

Seeds of doubt poison my mind so easily…. “What if I look stupid because I don’t know what I’m doing? What if I can’t keep up? What if I look totally out of place? What if my sweat drips everywhere? What if a BCS student has a “Staff Sighting” and takes my picture for social media? What if…?”

Between now and Sunday I have to conquer my fear, and I will conquer it! I am saying to myself, “Just do it! Commit!” I am going to attend the BCS Turbo Kick® class on Sunday at 2:00. I have butterflies in my stomach. That “do you really want to do this?” feeling is nagging me. Of course I know it is not based on anything aside from a fear of the unknown.  So I won’t chicken out. I will go. I will not die.

Want to join me? You could be rewarded for your attendance!

Reward Offered for Ballet Austin Staff Sighting

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

This week Ballet Austin kicks off the staff Get Moving Challenge!

I have rounded up a few of my colleagues at Ballet Austin to begin a fun and friendly summer fitness competition to encourage and promote active life; more specifically…to challenge us to get moving right here at the BCS in the 60 plus dance and fitness classes we have to offer on site 7 days a week.

During the challenge, which runs June 18 through July 12, participating Ballet Austin staff will be challenged to commit to taking a minimum of 3 different BCS classes, and to set their own personal goals; and what they hope to accomplish through this challenge. Every one of us has a story that you can relate to. Working moms, busy executives, commuters, not motivated, to look good for a daughter’s wedding, too many excuses, and so on…

We will each blog about our participation and experiences in the classes. Keep reading the BE ACTIVE! blog over the next few weeks for some fun and funny stories about how the challenge is going; how our bodies are feeling.

But here’s the best part. You can participate in the challenge and win free classes! Receive a reward for staff sightings! That’s right! You could win single classes (up to 3), enrollment into a BCS Workshop, or up to 10 FREE BCS classes when you sight a Ballet Austin staff member in a BCS class…and report it to me!

Wanted! Photos of staff, dead or alive, tweeted or emailed to me, or posted on the BCS facebook page. Sight a staff member in a class? Take a picture with your phone and send it to me. Each legitimate staff sighting sent to me will reward you one free BCS drop-in class (limit of 3). At the end of the challenge, if you have sent a photo, you will be entered into a drawing to win 10 BCS classes or a BCS Workshop.

Sound like fun? Of course it does! But one more thing…who are you looking for?

The wanted staff are: Gail Romney, Director of Finance and Operations, Christi Cuellar, Development Director, Brooke Holmes, Senior Development Associate, Pei-San Brown, Community Education Director, Timothy Dillon, Marketing Director, LuAnn Glowacz, Communications Manager, Eleanor Bartosh, Digital Media Manager, Eric Caruthers, Schools Registrar, and me, Vicki Parsons.

See you in a class soon…I’ll be watching for the camera!

Vicki

 
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