Ironstrength: Strength Training for Runners

Dr. Jordan Metzl
Dr. Jordan Metzl

Lately I’ve been focusing my yoga practice on strength training. We yogis tend to be a flexible bunch, and we don’t always know how to support the joints we’ve so arduously opened. (Remember, once you get that Monkey you have to take care of it…) So I was uber-excited to have my friend Laura invite me to a free “Ironstrength” class. She’s a marathoner, suffering from hip pain; her sports medicine doctor Jordan Metzl offers these classes, “a one hour, intense session of plyometrics and strength exercises designed for runners and triathletes,” for free, as a service to others. How awesome is that? (He’s finished 8 triathalons and 28 marathons, btw. He knows what he’s talking about.)

The class was hosted at the gorgeous Equinox gym on the Upper East Side. 60 people filled the classroom, equipped with hand weights and yoga mats. Dr. Metzl blasted music, and cheered us on the whole time. The routine was:

  1. Warm ups — Jumping jacks, etc (I was late, I missed this part)
  2. Jump squats — Keep arms forward, butt back, squat down and jump up. With a smile! (15 reps, EIGHT sets)
  3. Rotation 1 — Go straight from pose to pose (15 reps of each, repeat to fill 6 minutes)
    1. Pushup pose, arms straight, grasping weights — roll onto right hand, lift left weight to ear, repeat other side
    2. Pushups — knees bent if you have to
    3. Situps — standard style
  4. Rotation 2 — (10 reps of each, repeat to fill 5 minutes)
    1. Lunge plyos — right foot forward, both knees bent, lightly hop and switch feet, repeat other side
    2. Hamstring circles front — with one leg lifted slightly forward, bend down and touch other foot, repeat other side
    3. Hamstring circles side — with one leg lifted slightly sideways, bend down and touch other foot, repeat other side
  5. Rotation 3 — (15 reps of each, repeat to fill 5 minutes)
    1. Mountain climbers — in Low Lunge pose, hop and switch feet
    2. Leg drops — flat on back, legs together, raise to 90Ί and lift hips, lower hips and lower legs almost to floor
  6. Rotation 4 — (15 reps of each, to fill 5 minutes)
    1. Deadlifts — holding weights, squat and drop arms towards floor, straighten and lift weights by ears
    2. Overhead press — holding weights, turn palms up, press towards ceiling
    3. Curls — holding weights, elbows by sides, flex biceps and curl fists towards shoulders
  7. Ring of Fire — little squats (10 in each position, then 8, then 6, 4, 2, 1)
    1. Lunge facing forward
    2. Turn feet parallel
    3. Lunge facing the other way
    4. Step feet together
  8. Squat Thrusts aka Burpees — (10 reps, 4 sets)
    1. Squat and touch floor
    2. Jump/step back to Plank
    3. Pushup
    4. Jump/step forward
    5. Jump up to sky
  9. Planks — hold for 1 minute each
    1. Side Plank, right forearm down
    2. Forearm Plank, both forearms down
    3. Side Plank, left forearm down
  10. Stretch

So you strengthen both the muscles used (or overused) by running, and the accessory muscles that help you stay balanced. I was ready to PUKE by the Burpees. I hadn’t done most of this stuff since college (crew). It was a great workout. The rotations mean that you’re exercising one muscle group as you rest another. My friend and I were sore for days afterwards.

The next class is January 22nd at 3pm at the 85th St Equinox. If you’re a member, you can go ahead and sign up; for everyone else the RSVPs will open a week beforehand. Stay strong!

Wanderlust #3 to Launch in Miami

Wanderlust at the Standard Miami
Wanderlust at the Standard Miami

We just received word that Wanderlust, the yoga + music festival started by Schuyler Grant, is branching into a THIRD location this year. The Standard Hotel, which is quite the patron of cool yoga and design events, will be hosting Wanderlust Miami. So the full calendar for 2011 is now:

Lake Tahoe, July 28–31

Vermont, June 23–26

Miami, March 17–20

The lineup is smaller for Miami — 4 yoga teachers instead of 10. In Miami you’ll have:

Schuyler Grant, director of Kula Yoga (Kula Flow, in Tribeca and Williamsburg)

Elena Brower, director of Vira Yoga (Anusara, in Soho)

Barbara Verrochi and Kristin Leigh, directors of The Shala (Ashtanga and Vinyasa, in Union Square)

And for music you’ll have Bonobo, Garth Stevenson, Prasanna, Shaman’s Dream, and the Mayapuris. [I’m only familiar with Garth, he does some of the live music Fridays at Tara Glazier’s Abhaya Yoga. Stand-up bass, AMAZING for yoga.] They’re also featuring a “theatrical performance” by Jenny Zebede.

I do have to say it’s kind of hilarious that “your Wanderlust adventure” is going to take you to a designer hotel in South Beach. The call of the wild has definitely evolved.

Check out the official site for more information

Russell Simmons Wants You to Be Super Rich

David, Russell, and Sharon
David, Russell, and Sharon

Last week I got to attend one of Jivamukti’s Master Classes at the Prince George Ballroom. Three hours with David Life is like solid gold. (Talk about an intense guy! He looked straight into my eyes, and I thought the back of my head might catch on fire.)

We had a(nother) special guest in class: Russell Simmons. He stuck around for a Q&A after class, and even gave us all copies of his latest book, Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All. It’s a great overview about the state of consciousness — not the financial strategy — that will bring you infinite rewards.

Who wants a free copy? I read mine in two days, it’s ready for a new home! Just post a comment by tomorrow, 1/11/11, telling me the best thing you’ve ever given away. I’ll randomly choose a winner and pay for the postage. Be sure to include your email (I won’t spam you) so I can get your mailing address.

Read my extended notes about A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life and Sharon Gannon on MindBodyGreen

A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life & Sharon Gannon

New Year’s Eve 2011 Yoga

A new leaf?
A new leaf?

Super late on posting this, but I wanted to share some healthy New Year’s Eve options! I’ve done yoga on NYE for the past four years (at home, in the Bahamas, and here in NYC), and it leaves you WAY less broke and hungover than the typical celebration. And if your New Year’s resolution is to do yoga, you’ve started the very first minute on the right foot.

From sweaty vinyasa to silent meditation, here are some favorite activities for the night.

Continue reading

Personal Training Part Two: The Gluteus Medius

Gluteus Medius (cut)
Gluteus Medius (cut)

Happy holidays, for and from me. My back and hip pain are just about gone; I’ve been doing the physical therapy exercises that Claes Passalacqua gave me just about every day. Week one, I’d learned his Core series, week two he increased the core work, added some spine and shoulder stretches and introduced some gluteus medius work. I had to suck it up and buy a foam roller (the thing takes up half the room), but I have not woken up with a frozen back in weeks. So. Happy.

Exercising while laying on the foam roller is interesting, it forces you to balance using deep core muscles. It can also be used to massage (roll out) the IT band and the quads, so it’s a good investment.

Claes says that a lot of people have week gluteus medius muscles — the quads and the hamstrings are often overdeveloped, while the hip ab/adductors and rotators are often weak. Especially if you do running or cycling or other exercises in a repeated linear plane. And if the muscles attached to your pelvis are imbalanced, they’re going to tip or twist your hips — hello back pain. We often think of “the Core” as just our abs, but it actually includes your inner thighs, outer thighs, and butt. The medius helps your legs move away from each other, back, or rotate outward. Mine was so weak that I was yelling OH MY GOD by the middle of the exercises. (I guess they’re used to that at Crunch?)

And check this out: just a few days after my session, the Times posted an article on “Dead Butt Syndrome.”

“A new thought in running medicine is that almost all lower extremity injuries, whether they involve your calf, your plantar fascia or your iliotibial band, are linked to the gluteus medius…”

So, for posterity (and healthy posteriors), here’s Claes’ Gluteal series. It helps hip and lower back pain, and is great for runners and other linear athletes. Do it every morning, it only takes ten minutes. Combine it with Jill Miller’s Lower Body Series (deep tissue massage) once a week and you will have the happiest hips around.

1. Pilates stance — lying on one side, legs straight, hips slightly bent for balance, bottom hand supporting the head, top hand on the floor in front, keep hips perpendicular to floor, feet slightly turned out (unless it makes your hip click like mine)

  • 10 leg lifts, foot flexed — just up 12″ or so
  • 10 leg lifts, foot pointed
  • 10 heel touches — foot flexed, tap top heel in front and behind bottom foot
  • 10 infinities — make figure 8 with top foot
  • 10 circles forward — imagine you’re drawing on the far wall with the toe
  • 10 circles backward

2. Fetal position — lying on one side, bend the knees to 90Ί, support head with bottom hand and balance with other

  • 10 book covers — lift top knee about 12″
  • 10 seesaws — rotating hip/femur, tap top knee down (heel up), then top heel down (knee up)
  • 10 circles forward — small, imagine you’re drawing with a pencil
  • 10 circles backward

So! Miracles do happen. Hips and back are healing! Just have to tackle (I mean nurture) the shoulders and wrist and I’ll be swinging again.

Look for Claes at Crunch and beyond…

Mirror Meditation for Pain

Mirror the other
Mirror the other

I got a cute tip from the lovely Amanda Zapanta this weekend. She said she’d had a hip injury, too. But instead of focusing on the bum hip, she made sure to focus on the good one, and then imagined herself blowing the sensations of health over to the bad side. She did it all the time — on the train, on the couch, in class — and the pain went away!

Reminds me of the New Yorker’s article on the use of mirrors to cure phantom limb pain. (A reader followed up that article with a story of their own cure.) Very cool.

Winter Hiking and Camping

Hike Mt. Wittenberg
Hike Mt. Wittenberg

Last week I was accosted outside the Food Co-op by one of those flyer guys. I managed to shrug him off, but as I glanced at his flyer I realized I actually wanted one. So I went back.

Brooklyn Outfitters, based in Williamsburg, is leading some cool outdoor adventures throughout the winter. This weekend there’s a 7.5 mile hike up Mt. Wittenberg, “the highest vertical ascent from base to summit” around. Later in the month they’re doing an intro to winter camping, and then a door-to-door ski trip for the same price it would cost to buy a lift ticket.

Get out into nature this season, check out their website:

Tips for Winter Biking

Bike Shoveler Needed
Bike Shoveler Needed

So I’m guessing a lot of you yoga lovers bike. Are you getting depressed because the cold weather is forcing you onto crowded trains, and stealing your endorphin buzz? Let’s find some other options! I’m a fair-weather biker, and I’m fascinated by year-round riders. So I’ve been asking each one I meet for their secrets. Here are my favorites, as I remember them :)

On the rain:

“Rain jacket, detachable rear fender.” Ben, Manhattan

“I just wear a poncho. My legs? I don’t care if they get wet.” Ippou, Brooklyn

On the cold:

“Tights and dresses are good, then you can add as many layers as you need. Legwarmers are key. Shoes? I’ll wear anything that doesn’t have a heel. Look at my boots!” Anna, Manhattan

“Wear two layers of tights. No one will notice.” some YouTube video

“Get the ninja mask.” Shelley, Brooklyn [She means this thing.]

“The most important thing is a neck warmer. Sometimes I just wear like three of them. And don’t be afraid to stop, and take off a layer, and put it in your backpack. If you wear too many clothes you bike too slow, you won’t warm up.” Prem, Brooklyn

On the snow:

“Biking in the snow is fun! You slide around everywhere.” Andrio, Brooklyn

“Do you have health insurance yet?” My dad

Do you have any tips for winter biking? Please share them below!

yoga for lightness