Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.

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Taking the plunge


In late December of 2015 I was asked to write a “guest post” for Save The Bay, an organization that works to protect, restore and celebrate San Francisco Bay. My “topic,” how has the bay played a part in my life as a trainer.

Save The Bay (SF)…

I have always loved the water. Growing up in San Diego, I spent time most every day at the beach. Going to the beach is what we did.

When I moved to San Francisco, I missed the beach. Sure, we have Baker Beach and Ocean Beach, but it’s not the same. It’s cold and windy; folks just don’t go hang out at the beach. It’s not what we do here. Sadly, I had lost my connection to the water.

Over the years, I found ways to enjoy the waters of San Francisco without freezing my butt off. I would run along Crissy Field or ride my bike up the hills of the Marin Headlands just so I could look at the water; it made me feel connected, proud. I especially liked the days when the water was calm, striped with currents and vessel traffic. Riding my bike over the Golden Gate Bridge as an enormous freighter passed beneath me was thrilling.

Gazing at the Bay was nice and certainly helped to satisfy my craving for the water, but something was missing—I was just a spectator.

Taking the plunge…

Then one day a few years back, I received an invitation that would change everything. A friend invited me to join him for a swim in the Bay. “No wet suit, they’re frowned upon,” he said. I didn’t want to go, I was afraid, but figured I’d better dig deep and go… “Okay I’ll do it!” I said.

The water at Aquatic Park was cold—very, very cold and seemed wild and scary. The second I fully submerged myself in the Bay, my heart rate went through the roof and I couldn’t breathe. I was sure I was going to die, but miraculously, I didn’t. My heart rate eventually went down, and I realized that I was swimming in San Francisco Bay, sans wet suit! I was really swimming in the Bay! The water was shocking, like cool silk on my skin. Turning on my back, the sky was bright blue, dotted with puffy white clouds. It was exhilarating. Cold, yes, but absolutely exhilarating.

Ever since that first swim, the Bay has wedged itself deeply into my soul. I am no longer a spectator—I have grown into a full-fledged participant in all that our Bay has to offer. I swim a couple times a week and have inspired others to join me so that they, too, could experience the water’s cool embrace. I also glide across the currents of the Bay with my crew as we row vintage wooden boats while being chased by playful harbor seals. I cannot describe the joy I feel when their smooth, round heads and huge, black eyes pop up just next to my oar. Lines of pelicans soar by, and remind me how lucky I am to be out there. Just seeing the animals and natural beauty of the Bay makes my heart swell with love for this special place that is our home.

How has the Bay inspired my workouts, my clients, and me?

San Francisco Bay is a vast, ever-changing element. It can be wild, thrilling and cold, but it’s special: there’s only one San Francisco Bay. Even on its crankiest days it is a magical, inspiring backdrop for a workout of any kind—mental or physical.

People often ask me why I don’t work in a gym. I tell them because there are no wild parrots, pelicans or blue heron at the gym. There are “treadmill bunnies,” but you’ll never see fluffy brow bunnies hop past. At a gym, you’ll never experience the magnificence of a pod of whales coasting by, or inhale eucalyptus-scented air after your run, or discover puddles to jump in.

As for my favorite Bay locations to workout, I like to take advantage of the views from above—especially the Marin Headlands. Your reward for ascending all of those rugged hills: the best views and the best workout ever. Lands End is the best place to workout during whale migration season. It’s hard to stay focused though; you won’t want to take your eyes off the whales. I also really enjoy the Presidio; it’s become a lovely place to workout or just be—whether you’re running, riding a bike, or walking, there’s something very meditative about being amongst all the trees.

Life-changing love…

My love affair with the Bay has changed my life. Not only has it taught me to go beyond what I thought was physically possible (or sane!), but the Bay has also rewarded me with great friendships and an appreciation for all that is connected with it. I have gotten up-close and personal with harbor seals and sea lions, and I have met some wonderful, caring people. And, while I hope to never meet a great white shark, I know they are out there and I will do my best to respect their home and do all I can to keep it healthy.

My advice? Hike up into the headlands and gaze at the Bay. Dip a toe in the water. Or better still, be brave and take a quick, cold, exhilarating dip. Our greatest reward for living in the San Francisco Bay Area is our Bay. Submerge yourself in all of its glory.

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I love green

I'm exercising!

In case it’s not clear, I am attempting to encourage you to exercise in ways that are fun and interesting so that you don’t even notice that you’re exercising. The key to becoming and staying fit is to become naturally active.

Ever hear of the Green Hour or Green Exercise?  Green Exercise is a term used to refer to exercise obtained while outside in nature.  The Green Hour refers to being in nature for one hour. If you haven’t guessed I am a massive fan of Green Exercise, lots of Green Hours and pretty much everything green.

When I first started working on my fitness I spent a lot of time in the gym as well as outside, working out. Eventually I gave up on the gym because it stank and I didn’t like weird guys watching me in the mirror and trying to chat me up.  I didn’t go to the gym to make friends I went to chill out and get my sweat on. This experience brought me to where I am today.

Did you know that abundant scientific evidence shows that activity in natural areas decreases the risk of mental illness and improves your sense of well-being? With just 5 minutes of Greenness (that’s my word) you’ll receive both positive short-term mental health and long-term physical benefits.

It’s really easy, all you gotta do is make sure you get outside during your lunch break, walk to work or to the bar if that’s what it takes.  All natural environments are beneficial including parks in urban settings. Apparently, green areas with water add something extra and a blue and green environment seems even better for health. That’s pretty darn cool don’t you think? Plus you get fresh air and furry critter sightings. What more could you want?

Fyi – Approximate calories burned per half hour if you’re a 150 lb person.

  • Badminton 133
  • Gardening 114
  • Golf 133
  • Hiking 191
  • Home repair 76
  • Horse back riding 114
  • Kayaking 152
  • Kick ball 229
  • Lawn mowing 171
  • Sex 170
  • Walking 88

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Psychedelic saddlebag

Psychedelic Saddlebag

Yes Marc you are correct. That image I sent you in the form of a birthday card is in fact, a close up of a hematoma I suffered recently (and yes I am testing you to see if you’re reading my blog).  Since I trust that you are religiously reading my posts, you will remember that I recently mentioned needing to replace my bike helmet. With that I should admit that I was reminded once again not to attempt cornering at high speed, on a frozen roadway while attempting to obtain a date.  This maneuver did not work for me in the past (hence a broken collar bone in ’98) and it did not work for me last week. I hope that you appreciated your very colorful birthday card as no one but you can fully understand what a gifted cyclist/crasher I truly am.

Quick reminder: The more you move, the more you fall.  When you fall, and you will fall. Don’t try to stop your fall by putting out your arm or your hand. That’s how people break their arms and their wrists. When you’re going down, think tuck and roll. Tuck your arms and legs in and lay/roll down. No matter which direction you’re flying in, tuck and roll baby!  Seriously.  It works. You gotta trust me.  I may be a shitty speller but I’m really good at falling.

Keep moving!

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I may be bad but I’m perfectly good at it

If you’re going to do something, anything, do it to the very best of your ability. You may find that no matter how hard you try, you just aren’t good at some things. Don’t let that stop you, do them anyway.  Just be sure to give it 100%.

For instance, I know that I can’t spell.  I have never been good at spelling. It used to really bother me. My mom was an english major in college, my step mother is a former teacher, my father is “type A” to the 10th degree and my brother has both athletic abilities and spelling skills.  It seems everyone can spell but me. If you’ve been reading my blog then you know that I can’t spell.  All I can say is I’m sorry. I wish I could spell better but I simply cannot. I’ve spent years stressing over my poor spelling and holding myself back because of it. I realize now that it’s just one of those thing that I need to come to terms with. Like having a big nose.  I’m over that too.

Rihanna (you know…the singer) says, “I may be bad but I’m perfectly good at it.” I love that.  Acknowledge who you are and then be the best you can be.