What Koh taught me.

I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving.  I went to Charlotte to have Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law’s house, and spent a few days hanging out.  I’m actually writing now from the kitchen table in her house!

So, Thanksgiving day, I manged to not do a ton of damage – I ate a good bit, but broke up the day with a lot of walking, so I didn’t feel AS slobby as I could have, but nevertheless, I went ahead and poked around on some of the local Y sites to see what classes they were running on Black Friday.  I stumbled across a super familiar name – Koh – for Zumba, and immediately set my alarm so I could go to hear class on Friday morning.


If you sorta remember that name, it’s because I ran into Koh at DCAC, and she was the first person in the history of the world that I ever took Zumba with. I went Zumba->get licensed->teach at State->teach at camp->decide I wanted to do something with my life that involved group fitness->the Y, which I love, so as I planned to go to this class, the weight sort of started to hit me, that all of this was coming full circle.

I got to the Harris Y, about 30 minutes from Sharon’s house, about 10 minutes before class started.

First, as an aside, the Harris Y is the most monstrously huge Y I have ever seen in my life. And I’m very familiar with Siskey. But this Y had a separate building for youth programs, and the grownup side kinda seemed like a small city. But in a good way, because the guy in membership who helped me come in and get settled was absolutely as sweet as pie.

Anyhoo, I got to class, and once we got started, I felt completely in my element. Koh really likes to pump her music, so once you got into each of the songs (that she ended on a pose, mind you), it was sort of like being lost in your own fitnessy world. I smiled, clapped, and at one point when we were dancing salsa, she pulled me to the front of the room with a few folks, smack-dab in the middle, to dance, while she attended to the other side of the studio.

I left that class sweaty, happy, and ready to go for a little longer. In fact, we were able to convince her to let us repeat a Michael Buble song because we’d all enjoyed it so much and felt like we could do it better than we had the first time. So she obliged!

I think the cool thing about returning to a teacher that you went to way back is that you begin to remember how it feels to be a student, and you remember the subtle nuances that you’d like to incorporate into classes to make people feel as good as your instructor is making you .

Koh Taught (still teaches!) me:

  • Be happy.  Every movement she hits, Koh acts as if it’s the most wonderful thing she has ever done.  This spreads to the class.  Maybe it’s a complex movement.  Maybe not.  Maybe it’s really really silly and might look a little funny.  She still executes it with the best attitude ever.
  • Keep it simple.  Koh is great.  BUT, she waves her wand over the classes, and it lets you know that you don’t have to be the best dancer for this class to work its magic on you.  But just in case you do want to be the best, she communicates through really really simple movements.  Things are logical – a move for the verse, a move for the chorus, and a move for the bridge.  No real rocket science there.  But it works!  So no one feels like an idiot in class because things are SO ridiculously easy to follow!
  • It’s not about you.  I’ve phrased this 60 million different ways irl and on the blog.  And I’ll say it some more.  But there is no one on earth more entitled to a big fat head than someone like Koh, who was a master presenter for Zumba® Fitness for a long time.  Her classes are consistently packed.  She could regard it as the Koh Experience.  But instead, she has made it so that you leave the class feeling like you were the star.  She’ll dance with students.  Point out when someone is doing awesome.  Allow the veterans to lead class for a little while.  Mingle during.  And generally, make it an unspoken point to communicate that she’s here for your workout, not her own.

Of course, I totally wanted more after because I was just buzzing with excitement, but I checked the schedules of the 3 Ys around, and there’s nothing super interesting going on.  Which means I’ll have to bite it and actually pay for a class and run tomorrow instead of getting into a class at the Y.

And with all that sweating, I’m not absolutely terrified to look at a scale sideways on Monday.

How did you stay fit this Thanksgiving?

Why do you work out if you’re a fitness instructor?

First things first though, I can honestly say I had a new experience yesterday.  So, I was contacted by another group fitness director sort of out of the blue a few weeks back.

“Do you teach total body strength?”

I answered yes, and especially since I started taking on a regular Toning since I got my Body Pump cert last year, I feel super comfortable with the format.

What that ended up meaning is that I was signed up for a shoot for the association where I would have to teach a pretend class.  The BEST part about it though, was that since we don’t have the rights to any of the music, I  had to teach the class in silence, and they have to go back and dub the music in later.  So for 20ish minute, I danced and bicep curled and squatted to NO MUSIC.  The weirdest experience of life.

12208383_10100666199338163_938420875333157995_nI also was told by the photographer (very politely) to put my boobs away. I forget these things get out of control sometimes, and since I don’t necessarily want my boobs plastered on the January mailer, I’m appreciative.  I can chalk that up to a new experience.

Why do you work out?  You’re a fitness instructor.  Doesn’t your class just count as your workout?

Switching gears a little bit, but I get this question a lot.  Sometimes when I mention to folks that I’m going to try to sneak a run in or hop on the elliptical for a few minutes before I teach my class (after is usually no good for me), they ask why I bother.

It’s true, when I’m up there leading a class, I’m sweating, and I’m moving, but I promise you, it’s not the same as the workout the participants in the class are getting.  My energy is 100% fixed on facilitating a good, safe, fun class, and when your energy isn’t focused inward, you don’t benefit as much.

Secondly, and this one is the big one, as an instructor, we shouldn’t be relying on our 5:15pm Zumba for our workout because the class (I’ve said it before) IS NOT FOR US.  The purpose of you teaching should never be to get ripped, and honestly, if you rely on your class to get your exercise in, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Fun fact: I was at my heaviest while teaching the most BALLER class every at NC State.  You have to do more.

What workouts have you done this week?  Try anything new?

Pole Fit

In case you were wondering, per one of my last posts, everything is still freezing and miserable, complete with the schools here doing a two-hour delay.  Brr!

I went for a run with my headlamp on the trails this evening (the sun went down about three-fourths of the way through the run), and my hands are still frozen.  I got home like a half-hour ago.  Double brrr.

Anyhoo, I hope you all are attempting to stay warm and snuggling under lots of blankets – I feel like life has reached new levels of sadness when a high of 47 gets me hot.

Reminds me of this guy, who said “I am too cold, take my ass back to jail.”  That’s where I am right now.

But I digress.

Pole Fit

So, I have been teaching at a Pole Fitness studio for a few years, but I’ve been strictly teaching off-the-pole classes, meaning that I stick to what I know.  I’ve taught Zumba® Fitness classes, and boot camps and things, but as of December, I’ve started my training to teach Pole Fitness classes at Aradia Fitness, and Saturday morning, I assisted at my first “Teaser” class, the class meant to entice you to take more and more classes and to get to those classes that will get you poling for real for real…

Aradia Fitness
Our shiny new poles!

I guess what I’m really starting to love about this type of fitness is really two-fold.

Number one, you are really doing a lot of bodyweight stuff, something I think that a lot of folks tend to skimp on – rather they just go doing a million bicep curls and thinking that they’re rocking out.

Two, it’s so cool to lead a class where women are actually getting a chance to be aware of their bodies. Because in a lot of classes, that just ain’t happening. But it’s cool to strut around, be sexy, and allow other women to do the same. It’s always funny because in the first few minutes, you hear the giggles, and the nervous laughter – it’s almost as if they’re – we’re – nervous to have a good time with our bodies.

Have you ever taken a sexy-fit class?  Want to?  

Miss Manners

I wore full makeup to work the other day.

And most of you that know me know that I’m a very strictly BB cream and mascara type of girl. And that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with cosmetics – I absolutely love them, however, in my job, it really doesn’t make a ton of sense to do much more than the BB and the mascara.

I spend the daytime part of my job in business casual as much as I can, and then the other part of my job, especially when I’m running or teaching classes, is spent sweating up a storm, and if you’ve ever seen someone in full makeup after a good sweat session, it looks silly.

[Disclaimer: if you feel more comfortable wearing makeup while you work out, that is completely up to you, and I totally get it. Judgement-free zone.]

So all of that to say is that I rock a pretty natural look during the day. But last week, after a night of interrupted sleep thanks to the cats, I decided that not only would I go a little more heavy-handed with the tinted BB cream, but that I would even go for my liquid eyeliner, just to wake those eyes up a little bit.


As I walked through the doors at work, someone remarked with utter shock and amazement, “Cheri’s wearing makeup!!” loudly enough for everyone on the floor to hear. She accompanied this with her mouth hanging wide open. I was really embarrassed. I get it, maybe I looked a little different. But is it absolutely necessary to point out that I look scary without makeup (evidently) and that I put in a little extra effort that day?

Two things I think Miss Manners wants me to tell you if you’ve ever been guilty of making a statement like that one…

  • Don’t comment on when you feel someone looks “tired”.  They might be tired.  They might look like shit.  But they certainly aren’t being told anything they don’t know, and are most likely hoping that no one notices how rough they’re looking/feeling.
  • There is a way to compliment someone if they put on some extra makeup and stuff.  You look really nice!  Period!  End of story!  Reminding someone that they usually come to work looking like Shrek, but today, things are different, which is a pleasant change for you, is not helpful. It’s actually rude.

So – just curious. How much, or how little makeup do you usually wear?

Serial (OMG!)

First and foremost, I hope your Christmas was a good one.  I spent my first Christmas with my husband as a married couple, and it was really very nice!  We were able to sneak in a run downtown, and spend some time with one another, which is not something we get a whole lot of time to do together.  Fun fact:  you would think as a married couple you’d be all up in each other’s grill all the time, but when you both work full-time, and you both work out an have to manage four pets – sometimes spending time can be tricky.  All that to say, our time was lovely and very, very much needed 🙂

So, I’ve taken to listening to podcasts while I’m running.  I love, love, music, and am constantly reworking my running playlist on Spotify so I’m not horribly bored, especially on long runs.  But truthfully, I’m starting to feel like there are only so many times you can listen to Chandelier…

…before you can sing every ad lib on cue, and you can perform the music video, frame for frame, on a long run.  I know this because I did it in Vegas when I was running my first leg at the Ragnar Relay.

So I started by downloading a few of my faves.  Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, This American Life, and The Read, a podcast so funny, that I’ve had to stop myself from falling off of the sidewalk from laughing so hard.  So I started on the hunt for some more podcasts to keep me entertained, especially considering that training for Rock ‘n’ Roll starts in like two weeks.  And I found two that were like omg, the funniest things you have ever ever heard of in your entire life/the most riveting pieces of literature (?) I’ve ever heard.

Psychobabble with Tyler Oakley

So, if you’re into hystericalness, this is the podcast for you.  This podcast is done by Tyler Oakley, a YouTube celeb, with a wicked sense of humor.  Often he and his friends discuss pop culture, his love for Lady Gaga, and the epi is sprinkled with wise little nuggets of feminist goodness – which you don’t think you could typically get from two dudes, but they’re very socially aware.  My only complaint is that it’s only about 30 minutes.


Serial Logo

I just finished the last episode of Serial, and all I can say is OMG. Slash, I need someone to discuss it with. Slash, what is going to happen to Adnan?

So if you’re a fan of the storytelling style on This American Life on NPR, you will most likely be a fan of Serialwhich is an amazing story of a murder that occurred nearly 15 years ago in Baltimore Country, Maryland.  I promise, you will be hooked.

And if anyone is done with Serial and would like to discuss it with me here the comments, please feel free to do so.

So these are the ways that I’ve managed to keep my mind occupied while working out – how to you keep your mind active while you work out?

Did you/have you/are you listening to Serial?  

Tips for Managing Your Anxiety

I have been pretty open here about dealing with my anxiety.

To look at me, you wouldn’t know that I ever struggled with anything like that – people tell me that I’m fun, confident, and I can have fun on any dance floor that you put me on.  But despite all of that, I have struggled with anxiety, for the better part of 5 years.  Honestly, I know I dealt with it before, but I didn’t really have a name for it, and didn’t think that I needed to get help for it until I literally felt like it was running my life, and that I would need to go to rehab to get rid of the horrible feelings that accompany anxiety – the chest pains, the false sense that everyone doesn’t like you, the obsessive and repetitive thoughts – you get it.

Anxiety is one of those things that makes you understand why someone might self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.  At the point at which you’re starting to become afraid to leave your house or to interact with others, the only thing you can think of before it’s time to admit there’s a problem is to do something, anything to make the feeling go away.  Thankfully for me, I had the benefit of studying  human behavior, and knowing that if I tried to treat my anxiety with anything illicit, that nothing good could come of it.

So anyhoo, I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure that anxiety doesn’t run my life, and for the most part, I really enjoy my life.  A little spoiler alert, however, like a lot else, anxiety is one of those things that doesn’t ever completely go away.  It sort of lays in wait, however, there are things that you can do to manage, not to avoid, your anxiety.


  1. That weird feeling creeping up?  Chest tight?  Feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin?  Workout.  Workout HARD, whatever that means for you.  Maybe that’s a long run, a long Zumba ® Fitness class, a bike ride, or a long walk.  Do not use this workout time to indulge your obsessive thoughts, rather, consider this time as spa time for you.  It is your time to treat yourself.  This is a treat. [Warning: Don’t let this develop into an obsession either.]
  2. Stop binge drinking.  Though drinking is an excellent way for you to sort of get your mind off of what it is that you’re doing at the moment, once you come down (or are facing the hangover from hell), you’ve really knocked your body off-kilter.  It’s a good time to take a little break from drinking all together actually.
  3. Skip the caffeine.  Caffeine can be extremely useful for your productivity, but it also can contribute to that horribly jumpy feeling.  If you’re addicted, try to go with a black tea, which just feels more relaxing to drink for me, or go half-caff (less shots of espresso) when you order your coffee.
  4. Cry.  Don’t like, insanely cry at inappropriate times or in inappropriate places, but if you feel like you need to cry, cry.  I am a firm believer that sometimes that lump in your throat, also rudely known as globus hystericus in mental health circles might just be tears stuck back there.  Sometimes you really need that release, and if you need to cry, go somewhere where you feel comfortable doing so, and let those tears flow!
  5. Take a break.  I hadn’t taken a day off of work in a really long time – and I love my job – but I completely forgot to take some time to recharge for me.  And for the sake of my family.  On my day off I ran, I watched The View for like 5 hours (I DVR every episode), I slept a ton, and caught up on some of the blogs I haven’t read in a while.  It was glorious, and the following day, when I went into work, the sun was shining brighter, I felt more rested, and my office looked more inviting.
  6. And finally, if you’re on medication for your anxiety, take it!  I am not a doctor, however, I do know that that stuff takes forever to get into your system, and when you forget a few pills, you’re screwing yourself up.

Like I said, I’m no doc, but these tips have personally been tried and true.  How do you manage anxiety?  Or are you one of those lucky sons that have lived a life without it? 

Owned by a box jump.

I have been working hard hard hard, trying to get the group fitness schedule out, because once Christmas comes, I don’t really want to do JACK.  So when I got sick of sitting in front of the computer (which doesn’t really take that long), I hopped off my desk, and went over to the treadmill.

For one, there was this gorgeous tall leggy thing beside me who was running like a beautiful gazelle.  Now I am a lot of things – I leggy and tall, but I’m over 99% sure that I don’t look as good as she does on the machine.  And I completely own that.

For two, the gym is starting to get really really crowded, so the treadmills have started to do this weird thing where they sort of get overwhelmed and short out, so I was really getting it during Uptown Funk [see below]

I’m sort of addicted to this song – love the 70s theme, and once again, Mark Ronson kills it!

Anyhoo, so I’m really getting it during this song and the treadmill just CUTS OFF. I kind of just stopped, looked around. The girl next to me continued to run in her beautiful way, and I just tried to avoid eye contact with everyone else on the floor.

I finished up the run, and went over to the functional fitness area and did some clean and presses, dead lifts, and decided to quickly top that off with a little bit of box jumping.

Have you ever tripped while box jumping?


Mid-jump, I found myself preoccupied by something, and my shin caught the box.


Of course, at that precise moment, I turned behind me to see who might have witnessed the foul, and my boss was standing behind me, mouth completely agape. Go me!

BruiseLong story short, my legs are just not cute at all – but at least I managed to sneak my workout in during such a busy busy week!

How are you sneaking in your workouts during this nasty (weather-wise) week?



Before we get all silly –

I alluded to this last week, but unfortunately, at the close of this week, I will have attended two funeral services.  Cancer absolutely sucks, and prayers for folks that I consider family would be greatly greatly appreciated.  And forgive me if I’m extremely weepy this week.


So, the other day, I posted a photo from Buzzfeed’s timeline of Jennifer Lopez.

I’m gonna let you feast your eyes for a second.

Jennifer Lopez 45If you’re not aware, this is Jennifer Lopez, of “In Living Color” fame.  She also was partner to Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, had an excellent MTV diary, married Marc Anthony, and starred in Selena, Enough, and The Wedding Planner.  I still have questions about the vocals from time to time, however, J.Lolas doesn’t have student loans so I’m just being a hater.

One thing I’m not hating on?  Her body!  At the age of 45, she looks better than I do having had 0 children.  To review, Juannifer has a set of twins.  That grew inside of that stomach.

But, upon checking out some of the Facebook comments on the picture, one of my biggest pet peeves started to rear its ugly ugly head.

Catherine Claridge REMINDER: Jennifer Lopez is a celebrity with a team of nutritionists and personal trainers on her payroll. Fuck off BuzzFeed.

Okay.  A few questions for this charming commentator.

  1. Does Jennifer’s team of nutritionists force her to eat the right things?
  2. Do Jennifer’s personal trainers run on the treadmill for her?
  3. How about her lifting?  Does someone else do her lifting?
  4. And under this assumption, this would mean that all famous folks with teams of personal trainers and nutritionist have similar bodies and never struggle with food.  Stars that have had very public battles with food, our Carnie Wilsons, our Janet Jacksons, our Oprahs, are just not a thing?

Laura Miller It’s also her only job too.

  1. Jennifer Lopez has no other job than to work out and look amazing?
  2. Isn’t she a mom?
  3. Isn’t she an actress?
  4. Isn’t she a singer?
  5. Isn’t she a judge on American Idol?

The point of this is all to say: working out and staying healthy is hard, AND we should give credit where credit is due.  Mama looks good, and we should celebrate that.

Do you look up to any celebs for their exercise and healthy eating habits? 


I blogged a few weeks ago about how I was in a little bit of a running slump.  And almost as soon as I wrote those words, I went on a run the next evening that felt like my breakthrough.  A friend and I comfortably ran nearly seven miles and chatted, and I felt a little bit of my old running self coming back.

I’ve also found that sometimes, when I’m in a slump, if I buy myself a new toy, I seem to be able to overcome the slump rather quickly, since I’m focused on whatever new pair of shoes/jacket/shorts/watch, and it kind of kicks my motivation back into gear.

Well I’d been thinking about a Fitbit for a while, and going back and froth on weather the purchase would be a worthy one, since I’m pretty active.  But last week, after a particularly rough day at work where I’d received a ranty email (is ranty even a word!?), I was feeling very sorry for myself, and went and picked up a Fitbit off of my wedding registry at a cool 15% off (yay!) and I got to setting it up.


I think the original reason why I went back and forth on the Fitbit is that I wasn’t sure what it could offer someone like me who’s super active – buuut I will admit, the thing is pretty darn cool.  A few points?

  • It comes in a pretty sleek design, and isn’t super obtrusive, which is one of the main reasons I can’t wear my GPS constantly.  I don’t feel uncomfortable popping it on with my business casual during the day, and it fits in with my workout clothes just fine.  (As a point of reference, it sort of looks like one of those Livestrong bracelets folks were rocking in the early 2000s, and it’s not a whole lot heavier).
  • It was really really easy to set up.  You take it out of the box, put it on, and you just kinda go!  There’s a little dooder so you can sync it with your computer, and there’s a super simple app for your phone.
  • On aforementioned app, you can track your calories that you’ve eaten.  Not that I’m a super-stickler about my caloric intake, but it’s something that I loosely like to keep an eye on, and that tool was invaluable when I was losing some college weight – being able to keep track of everything I put into my mouth.
  • If you’re at all competitive, or like big round numbers, Fitbit sets a goal of 10,000 steps per day for everyone, and it encourages you – even on a day where you’re taking a break – to get up and move.  Just because it’s your day off doesn’t mean sit around for hours and hours, and Fitbit sort of reminds you of this.
  • …But I can see how this amazing little piece of technology can make obsessive folks such as myself, well, a little more obsessive.  If I feel like I haven’t hit my steps, I will move heaven and earth to make sure I hit those steps – I have to watch that in myself.
This is not indicative of my usual - I'd run over 7 miles, taught a class, and worked at the store that day!
This is not indicative of my usual – I’d run over 7 miles, taught a class, and worked at the store that day!

So overall, I’m loving this little gadget that I’ve thrown into the mix.

Do you have an Fitbit?  An app?  How do you keep track of your activity?