Category Archives: Workout

Orange is the New Workout

A while ago I mentioned that I had signed up for OrangeTheory Fitness, since a new studio was opening in my neighbourhood and I was looking to try something new. It opened for a two week trial period just after we got back from Florida, so that worked out very conveniently. Since the summer I have been less active and giving less of a crap about what I’m eating so the pounds were accumulating and I feel like once we arrived in Florida everything caught up to me and I just BALLOONED.

At least, that’s how I felt. So I was excited to have something to motivate me upon our return.

Motivate me!

OrangeTheory is relatively new to Canada but has been around in the US for a few years now. I have seen several bloggers mention how much they love it so it’s been on my radar for a while and back in the summer I started looking around for a studio that would be convenient for me to get to.

One day on Facebook an ad popped up for an OrangeTheory that was opening in my area offering two free trial weeks and a discounted monthly rate (called the founders rate), so I immediately jumped on that and signed up. It’s still pricy even with the founders rate, so I initially signed up for 8 classes a month – I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it enough to go for the unlimited package. But I FREAKING LOVE IT. I can’t say I’ve loved many workouts in the past (or any workouts really) so I’m surprised at how much. I love it so much that I’m planning on switching my membership to unlimited because I don’t feel like going twice a week is enough – I actually want more!

One of my classes. And I look like I stole the legs from the woman in front of me.

OrangeTheory is basically group personal training. The studio space is dimly lit with orange tinted lighting and has treadmills (and they are fancy ones with fans which makes me so happy!), water rowers, and then a free weights section with benches, TRX straps and bosu balls.

Not my studio but it looks like just this

Each day is a different workout and focuses on endurance, strength, power, or all three (called an ESP day). An instructor leads the class through a workout rotation on the treadmill, indoor rower and weights and offers form correction, demonstrations, encouragement and cues.

So for example, my first day was an endurance day and we first spent about 25 minutes on the treadmills running (or power walking if you’re not a runner) at different paces – your personal base pase, which is an active recovery, push pace, and an all-out pace, with a walking recovery after each all-out.

For the next 3o minutes we did sets of rowing followed by a series of weights and TRX exercises. I HATED HATED HATED the rower at first and I found it so extremely hard and thought I would just suck at it forever, but I’m actually getting better and find it motivating to see my improvement! Though I still don’t love it. My class tomorrow is rumoured to have a 2000m row so I’m definitely not looking forward to that. I might die.

Each workout ends with a five minute stretch.

The weights part of the workout is crossfit-esque in my experience but the difference is everyone is focused on their own workout and no one is paying attention to you. What I didn’t like about crossfit is that once people finish what they’re doing they tend to watch and cheer you on, and although it’s supposed to be motivating and encouraging, I would prefer to not have people looking at me while I’m doing my flailing version of burpees. I like that this is more anonymous.

What I also really enjoy, and what I think is the most motivating for me, is that everyone wears either a chest or wristband heart rate monitor, which you buy from the studio (or you can bring your own as long as it works with their equipment). I bought the wristband monitor from them as I don’t trust my chest to not mess around with the chest strap, dem nungas be pesky. During your workout you are trying to push yourself hard enough to maintain certain heart rate percentages (like your push pace on the treadmill). Heart rate levels are represented by colours and the “orange theory” is the idea that you are trying to spend parts of your workout in the “orange zone,” which is 84%-91% of your maximum heart rate. You earn a “splat point” for every minute you spend in the orange or red zones, so basically you get a splat point when you are really busting your ass.

Our instructor said that ideally you’ll spend most of your workout in the green zone and about 12-20 minutes in the orange or red zones. Everyone’s heart rate levels and splat points are displayed on a monitor and I find this seriously motivating because I can see exactly how hard I’m working. It has encouraged me many times to push myself because I’ll notice my heart rate isn’t in the orange zone yet so I’ll bump up my treadmill speed and give ‘er a bit more.

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I’ve even worn the heart rate monitor for my own treadmill workouts at the gym (using the OTBeat app) and I’ve noticed that my usual pace has my heart rate at like 75% my entire workout so I haven’t been pushing myself like I thought I was. Now that I can monitor this I’m making myself go a lot faster and I notice my running endurance increasing more quickly than it has in the past. And obviously I’m getting a better workout.

Each OrangeTheory class I’ve participated in has kept me engaged and interested, I think because we are switching it up all the time. If I push myself really hard and I start feeling like I’m going to die (happened a few times) I know that we’ll be moving on in a minute and I’ll be doing something else. Also, if you go definitely bring a towel – I have never been so sweaty during a workout!

Seriously.

Another favourite thing for me is when you’re finished your workout, your stats are emailed to you. Mine arrive in my inbox before I even get in my car to leave.

That was a big treadmill day. When it’s a day with more weights and rowing and less treadmill my stats are a bit different.

But the best is the way I feel after I’m done, like I’m a SUPER badass. During the workout I may have moments where I feel like I’m going to die, but they’re brief, and afterwards it is so worth it for that feeling.

Sometimes I feel like strutting for the rest of the day.

So, I’m loving OrangeTheory. I am the type of person who gets intimidated by new workouts and gyms but I am so glad I checked this out. I hope in a year from now I’m still as interested!

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Running and Workout Stuff (and a new playlist)

So it’s been a little over a month and a half of running three times a week, about 5k each time, and I gotta say…I am feeling pretty good about it.

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How long do they say it takes to make something into a habit? 21 days? Nailed it! I am not getting too excited though…because this has happened before (many times) and then I inevitably fall off the bandwagon. This is the reality.

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I mean, you guys know. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know my cycles with running. I start out feeling super motivated about it, kill it for a few weeks, start feeling all self-congratulatory about my running efforts, give myself all the pats on the back, write a grand blog post about how I’m back to running (this, by the way, is not going to be that blog post)…and then I inevitably slip back into not running. For months. And then I get into it again, and the cycle repeats. The worst is that every time I stop running for a while, when I start again it’s like starting over from the very beginning. I lose all my progress.

When I started six weeks ago I hadn’t been running since the fall, so I was pretty rusty. I would run for 2-3 minutes, walk for a minute, repeat. Then gradually I would up my running time, so run for five minutes, walk for one minute, repeat. The last two weeks I have been running for 10 minutes, walking for one-two minutes, repeat twice. Yesterday I ran for 12 minutes, walked for one, repeat twice. I am surprised at how easy that feels from when I started just a short while ago. I still don’t enjoy it all the time, but I am proud of myself for keeping with it and it’s motivating to notice improvement in myself. Once again I wish I could bottle up this feeling so that I remember how good it feels later when I’m back to being unmotivated. And the thing with running is, it totally changes my body composition and keeps things in check so my eating doesn’t have to be perfect. Wine and pizza on a Friday night? No problem.

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Also, last week Evan, our roommate (Evan’s friend Ian is living with us for about six months or so, not sure if I mentioned that yet) and I started going over to the gym before work and lifting weights. Just weights, no cardio (so actually last week I only ran twice and then did the weight thing with Evan twice). I started this on my own but when I’m by myself I really tend to half-ass the weights.

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So it’s much better having Ian and Evan as buddies. Evan is our “trainer” and put together a full body weights workout for the first couple of weeks that he calls the Noob workout.

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(He got the exercises and reps from here and put it into that spreadsheet). It’s going well. And can I just tell you how amazingly wonderful it feels to work out in the morning before work? When it’s 8am and I have already accomplished something that I will be feeling the effects of every time I move for the rest of the day, and the next day… That makes me feel pretty hardcore.

And I definitely like to be sore after my workouts, because if I don’t I feel cheated. There is no better feeling than that workout sore.

Evan and I are going to Cuba for a week next Friday, so I think the biggest test will be if we keep this up when we get back. Last year I had been decent with the workouts leading up to our Cuba trip around the same time, and when we got back I completely fell off the wagon. That needs to not happen.

Anyway, back to the running, just quickly. I absolutely cannot watch TV or read while running on the treadmill. I don’t know why, but I’d really rather stare at the wall/myself in the mirror/out the window and try to zone out. For the first month or so lately I was really into the podcasts while I was running, but the last couple of weeks I find myself drifting back to my old faithful music. So I’ve made a new playlist! You can find all my past playlists here.

Spring 2015 Playlist

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(clicking on any of the links will take you to the song’s YouTube video)

Best Look Lately – Dear Rouge

Black Sun – Death Cab For Cutie
Black To Gold – Dear Rouge
Budapest – George Ezra
Get Out The Way – Mother Mother
Harder Than Stone – City & Colour
Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) – AWOLNATION
I Bet My Life – Imagine Dragons
I Heard I Had – Dear Rouge (on a bit of a Dear Rouge kick)
Let’s Fall In Love – Mother Mother
Mess Is Mine – Vance Joy

Lucifer’s Eyes – T.O.L.D.
Riverside – Ages Obel (I love this song, but it’s slow so I usually use it for a warm up or walk break)
Sacrifice – Zella Day (from the Insurgent soundtrack, I like a lot)
Shaky Ground (Hey Na Na Na) – Freedom Fry
The Nights – Avicii
The Way Around Is Through – Live

Don’t forget music works best if you save those songs to listen to only when you are running, so then you are excited to listen to that music!

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Bahama Mamas

Ahoy ahoy! I am back! We arrived home from the Bahamas (or The Pajamas as Evan likes to say) on Thursday evening and I immediately showered and slept for nearly 12 hours. It was back to work yesterday for me so I wanted to make sure I was in tip-top condition for that. It’s a busy time of year and I had a ton to catch up on.

Our trip was really great. We were only gone for four days, and technically only had two full days there, so I knew going in that it was just going to fly by, and it did…but I found there was still ample time for adventuring.

I think I am going to keep with my standard vacation blogging protocol. I like to ease you into things with the highlights and then get into more detail on our resort, the food, the shenanigans, etc. It may have been a quick trip but I still have a ton to talk about. And yes I sure will milk it for blog content.

As I mentioned, I was vacationing with all my coworkers and their spouses/friends. Our entire trip was a Christmas present last year from my CEO to us.

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Because we look like the type of group who you’d want to give a very fun Christmas present to.

He must really like us all to want to hang out with us for four days straight (he is the one holding the wine bottles). We all became very close on this trip. My fellow coworker and turquoise twin in the front with me just started with us two weeks ago and we are already clutching hands. And before our trip I didn’t even know who this person is.

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But now she is my new bff. That is what happens when you take an all-inclusive vacation with your coworkers and their spouses/friends. Not to mention all the food and all the alcohol. You have much intensified bonding time. And EVERYTHING will be hilarious. Watching my boss with his two brothers who were also on the trip (they are very involved with our company and I have met them many times before) was like watching a comedy show. Actually, the one-liners from everyone in attendance were a’plenty. It was impressive. We were all comedians and I loved it.

At first I wondered what the protocol was for hanging out with your coworkers outside of work. Did they want to? Are we excited when we see each other at the airport, or do we try to avoid each other? I learned pretty quickly that yeah, we wanna hang out and get to know each other, because this is not work and we’re all pretty cool people and we might never again all be together in a place like this in this sort of situation, so we better take advantage. Or at least that is how I felt.

The trip is hands down the most extravagant gift I have ever received and believe me I know how lucky I am. I am not sure I can even put into words how grateful I am that this happened to me. I probably thanked my CEO a million times, and I doubt I am even close to being done with the thanking yet.

Anyway, let’s get to some details. We stayed at the Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas and it was as beautiful as you would expect a Sandals in the Bahamas to be.

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The photos look like professional resort photos, but that is from my phone. It is just that nice.

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Paradise and a half. But more on that later.

My boss also, as a surprise, got us all gift certificates to use at the spa while we were there. A Sandals spa, which I will probably never have the opportunity to visit again so I was pretty excited. And also apprehensive, since I have never actually been to a spa before (I am not really a spa person and to be honest I feel weird about strangers touching me)… Evan was in the same boat so we had a hard time deciding what to do. I knew I had to get something besides a pedicure though. Eventually we decided to go with the 60-minute “Scents of Love” couples massage because why not?

It was interesting. I felt weird at first and for the initial 10 minutes I wondered how I was going to last through another 50 of a stranger vigorously rubbing me. But I relaxed pretty quickly and actually at one point was enjoying it so much that I started drooling.

The most awkward thing was in the beginning before the massages started we were instructed to light candles and to “make promises to each other,” which may be the cheesiest thing I have ever been asked to do. But I promised that I wouldn’t laugh during the massage, and I kept that promise and did not even let out one tiny giggle when my masseuse was essentially tickling my feet (I am VERY ticklish).

And near the end of the massage our masseuses tried to get us to hold hands while we laid on our separate tables, but we were both blindfolded and they just started mashing our hands together and we didn’t know what was happening and I thought my masseuse was trying to get me to hold her hand so I was all stiff and awkward… And then they said “So we are putting your hands together right now…” Ohh, okay. We get it. We’ll hold hands.

Anyway, it was an experience, and we received those promise candles as keepsakes so we can “scent your bedroom” (direct masseuse quote) so I guess that’s a good thing. Who doesn’t enjoy a well-scented bedroom?

Um, what else.

We ate a lot.

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Enough for an entire post about food? YUP.

In four days we squeezed in a significant amount of beach time…

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Pool time…

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I may be a bad influence… and no we are not peeing, there is a yellow design on the bottom of the pool.

Social time…

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Evan and his new buds.

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Me and mine. Again I might be a bad influence.

And also alone timone.

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We had absolutely perfect weather, and I was never at any point the drunkest.

It was amazing and I feel like I love everything right now.

I will be back with some more deets on Monday, but in the meantime have a great weekend!!!

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All Aboard the Gill Train

Sadly, I have officially finished my sessions with Gillian. For anyone who missed my first post about this, a personal trainer in the midtown Toronto area, Gillian Thomas, contacted me a little while ago and asked if I would be interested in complimentary personal training sessions with her twice a week for four weeks.

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I said yes please. So I had eight sessions in total (it ended up being over five weeks), four times in her studio, Inspira Athletica, and four times at the track near both of us. The studio is just north of Yonge and Lawrence, so just a quick subway ride away from me. It was pretty convenient.

I really enjoyed my sessions with Gillian, a lot more than I thought I would. And I was surprised how much I still liked her while she was making me do exercises that made me want to cry (I almost did cry once, though she told me I must have a pretty good poker face because I kept looking at her and smiling so she thought I wanted more). I didn’t know it was possible to hate what she was making me do while liking her so much. She was just really awesome to hang out with. Sometimes I was just excited to see her, so then when I got there and she put me to work it was a rude awakening that I actually had to work out. Rude, Gillian. Rude.

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I have also definitely been seeing some improvement over here. I still can’t do a proper push-up (all in good time, my friends), but I am getting better. And the first time I did a plank for her I could only hold it for 36 seconds. By the time I finished my sessions with her I could hold my plank for a full two minutes!

I think 2.05 was my longest time. Not too shabby! I was very proud of myself, and it’s motivating to see results like that.

I have also discovered that I have a new least favourite exercise. The inchworm. You start standing, then bend over and walk your arms out until you are in a plank, and then you bring your arms back in. If you are a visual learner like myself, perhaps pictures will help you. It basically looks like this.

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I was supposed to do 12 of them and I could only do 8 before I nearly collapsed. When Gillian did it she made it look so easy.

I have also discovered that kettle ball swings make me feel like this:

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I don’t hate them, but by the end I wanna die.

I was sore after each workout (which I always think is a good sign because to me that means it’s working) but I was never as sore as I was after the first time. Which, good thing, because not being able to walk properly for three days wasn’t very practical. But all of her workouts were intense, and there was one particular studio workout where I was the sweatiest I have ever been in my entire life. I left Evan at my pad while I met with Gillian and I came back all red-faced and sweaty and he looked at me and said “I feel like Gillian is taking your workouts to a whole new level…” I felt like that too.

So I guess the two main questions here are, can I feel/see a difference in myself, and am I going to continue with it?

First of all, yes to the difference. I haven’t weighed myself in about two years because I really don’t care to get obsessed with that number, and I am tall and big boned anyway so I am always going to weigh a lot. When I was at my most fit I didn’t really lose any weight, I was just noticeably more toned and I dropped a couple sizes. So in that regard, I have definitely been feeling more svelte lately. I seem to be fitting into my clothes better and my muffin top has not been spilling out all over my pants quite as much. So good news! I think the most noticeable differences are in my limbs though. I thought that might be my imagination, but the other day I was wearing shorts around the house and out of nowhere Evan said that he could tell my legs were looking more muscular. I hadn’t even asked his opinion. It was nice that someone else noticed and confirmed what I thought might be happening. I may have started strutting around after that.

And I can notice a difference in my strength. I mentioned the plank thing, but my squats and lunges were far better by the end, and I could lift a lot more weight with my legs.

Now…will I keep up with it? Many of the circuits Gillian put me through used only body weight resistance, so I can do them right in the comfort of my own home, which is very awesome. In theory. Have I done them in my own home? Nope. Apparently it only works for me if someone makes me do it. I may have been cursing Gillian’s name during my workout, but after each session I would feel so incredibly motivated that I couldn’t wait until my next one. But then that feeling faded and the next day I just wanted to leisure. It’s difficult to keep that motivation going. I’ve had a lot going on this week, but when things simmer down a bit my plan is to regularly start hitting the gym.

The personal training thing is nice because all you really have to do is show up and someone is there to kill you in the best way possible. If you are in the area and are looking for one, I highly recommend Gillian. She really was awesome.

Gillian does have drop-in boot camp classes on Sundays at 10am at her studio ($15 or 10 classes for $100), so I want to start going to those. If anyone wants to come along with me I am all for that! We can have a bootcamp party.

Overall it was a really great experience and I am sad it’s over. But I know Gillian and I will remain friends.

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So I am looking forward to seeing her in a more leisurely setting!

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Push-ups and a Playlist

Big surprise, I haven’t gotten any better at push-ups since not attempting them in about a year.

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I didn’t expect to suddenly be good at them or anything, but I thought maybe I wouldn’t be so horrible. Nope. I had my second session with Gillian last night and this was pretty obvious when I tried to do my first push-up on a small step (so my body was inclined, which is apparently easier) and my arms buckled and I nearly fell on my face. I  did get slightly better, bit definitely nothing impressive. So it would appear this would still be me:

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I drew this a while ago. If you like you should check out my cartoon stories.

Luckily, Gillian doesn’t judge like the musclemen at the gym. And to be fair I have a pretty heavy chest region. I would say it’s probably the heaviest part of my body. Whenever I gain weight that’s the first place it goes! So we will just say that is the reason for my lack of upper body strength. The good news is there is a lot of room for improvement, so hopefully I can step it up. I will keep trying.

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Last night’s upper body party with Gillian wasn’t quite as hardcore as the lower body stuff on Monday (lower body is always harder in general I find). Lots of push-ups and push-up-type activities and resistance and core work going on. It was still tough, and my arms are very sore, especially when I attempt to lift them over my head. And my legs are still sore, so just hurting everywhere over here.

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But the good kind of hurt. The kind of hurt that means it’s working.

Anyway, I mentioned that I have still been running once or twice a week, and I have mentioned many, many times that a good playlist is very important to my running. And also that I try to save all the songs on my running playlist to only listen to while I am actually running, that way I am excited to run because I am excited to listen to those songs. It works in theory. I am constantly on the lookout for new songs to listen to, so I thought someone might be interested in my playlist. If you dig my jams the rest of my playlists are conveniently located on my playlists page.

Clicking on any of the songs will take you to the YouTube video:

Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Demons – Imagine Dragons
Get Lucky – Daft Punk
Hopeless Wanderer – Mumford and Sons

(best video I have seen in a while, just kills me)

I Love You – Said The Whale
If So – Atlas Genius
Infinitesimal – Mother Mother
Out of my League – Fitz and the Tantrums
Pompeii – Bastille
Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
Stubborn Love – The Lumineers
Tiptoe – Imagine Dragons
Trojans – Atlas Genius
Wake Me Up – Avicii

Again, I am always on the hunt for new music so feel free to leave me suggestions! Any push-up advice is welcome also.

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I’m having a hard time walking this week, and this is why

Last week I was contacted by Gillian Thomas, a personal trainer in the midtown Toronto area, who said she was a fan of my blog and noticed that I had written recently about wanting to work out more regularly. She asked if I would be interested in complimentary personal training sessions with her twice a week for four weeks.

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I know, right? Huge score! I was so excited to receive her email because I have still been feeling very unmotivated this summer when it comes to exercising. I do try to squeeze in active activities like walking around the city and hiking, but I have only been running one to two days a week, about 5k, at a pretty leisurely pace. I know it’s better than nothing, but strength training? Forget it. I haven’t picked up a weight or done a squat in at least six months. Gillian seemed like just the motivation I needed.

So on Monday after work I headed to a park close to both of us with a pretty awesome track (Gillian’s suggestion) to meet up with her for a session. She was a stranger, but don’t worry parents, I googled Gillian and confirmed she was who she said she was and her plan probably wasn’t to murder me.

But she may as well have. My lower body has been dead since.

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Sitting down, getting up, and stairs are just the worst.

You know how when you hire a maid you pre-clean your house before the maid comes because you don’t want the maid to see your house all messy? Well I thought about pre-training before I met up with Gillian so she wouldn’t see how horribly out of shape I am, but our appointment happened so quickly after her original email I didn’t have time. After really slacking on exercising over the past year, I feel like I’m starting over from square one, am now a weak fool, and I am pretty sure Gillian got me at my worst. Well, four years ago probably would have been my worst, but it still wasn’t ideal conditions.

We mostly worked on my lower body, with a bit of running, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and core work thrown in. I struggled with absolutely everything.

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It probably didn’t help that I was eager and running late so I half ran/half speed-walked to the park so I was already tired, but my legs were jello after about 3 squats and my lunges were shaky to say the least. Near the end of the workout she got me to sprint for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, then repeat twice more, and by that point my “sprint” was a slow jog. I could barely stand.

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I have also never really had a personal training session before (once when I signed up for my gym, but they didn’t seem into it and they didn’t really push me). I have only done group exercise classes and a few bootcamp classes. With Gillian, it was really noticeably obvious that I could not slack. In group classes I am embarrassed to say that I am sometimes a bit of a slacker because there are so many people that the instructor can’t pay attention to me all the time. When they’re not looking I tend to half-ass things. Or just lay on the ground when I am supposed to be doing pushups.

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No one sees me slacking…

But of course, the only person I am hurting by slacking is myself. Gillian was ON me. She got me to do things that I never, EVER would have done myself. Never. I never would have pushed myself that hard. It was the hardest and best workout of my life, and during I felt like I might die several times and I did debate just quitting right there and telling Gillian thanks, but forget it, I’m not coming back, and then running (or slowly hobbling) away.

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See ya, sucker. I’m outta here.

But somehow I powered through, and I am so glad I did because I felt amazing afterwards. Like instantly more svelte. I know it doesn’t work like that, but if it’s possible to take inches off your thighs in one workout that workout would have done it. So I walked home afterwards feeling really happy and proud of myself. And kind of like an invincible beast. And then I got home and I immediately faceplanted into my bed of pain.

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Gillian herself was extremely cool and friendly. I liked her instantly. She was the type of person I felt like I could be friends with, so all good on that front.

I am meeting Gillian again tonight to do the upper body thing. Thank God, because my butt is on fire and I can still barely walk. I told her that lunges are my weakness, but I conveniently left out that I can barely do a pushup, so…tonight should be fun. I’ll let you know how it’s going over the next few weeks.

If you live in Toronto and are looking for someone to kick your ass workout-wise, hit Gillian up. I know I’ve only had one session, but my thighs will vouch for me here…she knows her stuff.

Oh, and Cely, Gillian said she originally found my blog through you linking to me, so I am blaming you for all my pain. Muahahaha. My buns of steel may be thanking you in a month though…

Oh, and Gillian…THANK YOU!

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