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Brandy Tries... Yoga!

Brandy Tries1

Brandy Tries… Yoga!
Thoughts before the first class:
Ahhh, I cannot WAIT to switch from all of this cardio and strength training to yoga. I could use some soothing music and stretching exercises. I could use something easy. People who pamper themselves do yoga. I can do that. I could use some pampering.
First Day of Class:
OK, so yeah, it IS relaxing. BUT, it’s also challenging. And apparently, my sense of balance is so bad that I’m surprised I’m able to walk upright on a regular basis. Wow. I’m sure that will improve.
When I think of yoga and when I watch people doing yoga in movies and on TV, I’m struck by the graceful lines of it. It’s beautiful. So tonight while in some pose that pulled my body into long lines, I closed my eyes. My kind, self-loving mind thought, “I’m a swan. I’m a swan!” Then I lost my balance, my eyes flew open, and my brain said, “You’re a baby elephant!”
As far as flexibility goes, yes, it’s a very bendy class. In one way, I have an advantage. I’m what doctors call “hypermobile.” That just means I can do the splits, touch my thumb to my forearm, and do a few other party tricks. I should be able to fold my body in half. But, the weird thing about bodies is that sometimes, they get in the way. Like, I’m sure I could touch my chin to my knee if my entire midsection were missing. But, it’s there and I have to do yoga around it. And that’s okay. The instructor, Deb Patacsil, showed us how to literally move our flesh around if we needed to. Yep, this means grabbing a handful of butt and pulling it out to the side so you can sit flat on the floor. This is very much a no judgment kind of class. I mean, let’s face it. At some point when you’re bending yourself into a pretzel, someone is going to pass a little gas. Hey, guess what. You reside inside of a human body. Human bodies do gross things and the insides of them smell pretty bad. We deal.
We did a few poses that were really REALLY hard for me. Oh, I forgot to mention that I also did Deb’s abs class just before her yoga class. Between that and those more challenging poses, I’m starting to feel a few early hints of what is likely going to be a very, very sore day tomorrow. We’ll see. I’ll let you know!

Brandy Tries... Cardio Blast!


Day 1sweat
I’m writing this from beyond the grave. I’m kidding of course. Dead people don’t sweat. But, it’s entirely possible that what I’m feeling in my inner thighs is the early onset of rigor mortis. So, the jury is still out on this whole alive vs. dead thing. I’ll let you know tomorrow.
In all seriousness, this first class was intense, but also a lot of fun. I’ve taken a few Saturday sessions of Cardio Blast before, but they didn’t prepare me for this Monday class. I have two words for you. Step. Aerobics. Did you know that a six inch plastic platform could kick your butt? Sure, it looks innocuous enough. It’s actually kind of cute with its purple body and gray base and reassuring black non-slip surface. Its corners are rounded and it has little rubber feet to keep it from slipping. Everything about it says it’s safe. It wants to protect you. It would never hurt you. It’s your friend.
Do you have one of those friends who is well liked by your family, has a steady job, good credit, and is generally just a stand up guy? But, then when Friday night comes around, this pillar of the community talks you into drinking way too much, singing karaoke, and dancing too hard and you wake up feeling like you slept in a pothole on the New Jersey Turnpike. That friend is that cute little plastic platform. I’m mad at it. I don’t trust it. But, I know that when I go to class on Wednesday night, I’m going to look at it and say, “Aww, it’s okay, little buddy. Let’s do this!”
Our instructor, Lu.
Let’s talk about the instructor for a minute. Luann Schroder teaches Cardio Blast here at the YMCA. As a matter of fact, she’s been teaching aerobics at the YMCA for 35 years! In her spare time (ha!), she also teaches 3rd grade at Columbia Elementary full time. Everything about Lu is geared toward motivating unruly people between the ages of 8 and 108. She’s energy incarnate. I’m not kidding when I say this: She posted a sticker chart for the month of February. A sticker chart, people! We got stars for every day that we came to class. We entered our names into a drawing for goodies to be given out on Leap Day. She smiled at each of us when we lugged our bodies through the door every day. If you have a favorite teacher from elementary school, one who made you feel real excitement about what you were learning, one who served as your cheerleader and who had faith in you even when you didn’t, you have some idea of what kind of instructor Lu is.
Now, even your favorite teachers made you do work, right? Lu gave us a 29 day challenge that involved doing an increasing number of squats, leg lifts, and pushups every day for the month of February. On days when we had class, we’d do our reps here at the Y. On days we didn’t have class, we did the reps on our own. Yep. Homework. The month started with a day of 50 squats, five pushups, and 25 leg lifts. The month ended with a day of 250 squats, 40 pushups, and 100 leg lifts. If you don’t think you could possibly do that, I can assure you that you are mistaken. I did it. I did reps before bed on some nights. I did a few reps before leaving for work. And if you had access to the YMCA’s security footage, you’d even see me squeezing out 80 squats behind the front desk during a lull. But, you don’t have access to that footage, and I’m forever grateful for that! And if you can’t do squats (or step aerobics, or jumping, or any particular kind of movement), that’s not a problem. Every single movement/activity in the class can be modified. For example, I don’t jump. I just hurts too much right now. So, I didn’t jump. Simple. I moved in other ways while others jumped. And I wasn’t alone. There are plenty of modifiers in the class. That’s totally ok.
I missed about a week of class because I caught the plague a cold. And coming back after that down time was a little rough. But, there was Lu, fighting the same crud and she just kept on keeping on. The step aerobics got easier as I built up more stamina. I won’t say that I’ve become friends with that cute little platform, but I don’t actually hate it anymore.
Final Thoughts
I survived! Given the buckets of sweat that poured off of me during every class, I’m surprised that I’m not a large piece of Brandy-shaped jerky. I haven’t weighed myself because I’m trying not to make it all about numbers. But, I can tell you that I feel fantastic and my clothes fall a little differently than they did before I started the class. Bottom line, if you’re looking for a fun class with a fun instructor and really great classmates, this is the one for you. It’s adaptable, has great music, and WILL make you sweat it out!

Brandy Tries... Zumba!

Brandy Tries


Brandy Tries… Zumba!

My name is Brandy Kizer and I’m the new face on the Cass County Family Y staff. As the new Marketing and Membership Director, I think it’s important that I be able to bridge any gap between our members and our programs and classes. And the only way to do that is to really know our programs and classes. And the only way to do THAT is to take part in every program and class we have. If you’ve been into the Y and laid eyes on me, you might have an idea just what an undertaking this is. I’m… how shall we say?... not athletic. I’m somewhere in my latter 30s. I have Hashimoto’s, a thyroid disorder that makes it easy to gain and hard to lose weight. I have a temperamental knee and an ankle that is just plain tired of hauling my heftiness around. I have asthma. I work fulltime. I have kids. If you’re short on excuses, feel free to borrow one of mine.

The only hard thing on my body is my elbow. I love food. I love sleep. And I secretly wish our ellipticals had weight limits. I’m not the only fluffy person wandering the halls of our local Y. There are plenty of us trying to get healthier. But, most of us are more than a little nervous about doing anything more than hopping on the old trusty treadmill.

So, let me be your Cass County YMCA programs and classes ambassador. I will write about my experiences and you can feel free to stop by and ask me anything. Better yet, join me for a class or two. I can assure you that with me in the room, you won’t feel alone when you’re just trying to keep up.

First up: January is Zumba! month.

Let’s be clear about something. I don’t dance. You won’t find me in a club on the dance floor no matter how much liquid courage I’ve had. Ballroom dancing requires grace. I don’t have it. Hip hop dancing requires rhythm. I don’t have it. The Hokey Pokey has that whole turn around thing. It’s just… too much. So, Zumba classes were going to come nearly last on my quest to try all of the YMCA programs. But, then I met a member who really wanted a partner for last night’s Zumba class. I hemmed. I hawed. I pouted a little. And I went.

The class was split. About half of the people were groovy Zumba veterans and the other half of us were nervous, fumbling newbies. Introductions were made. Cindy Haggerty serves as the wildly colorful and enthusiastic instructor. (She has her own weight loss success story. Ask her about it!) We newbies competed for the back row and tried to strategically place ourselves behind someone else so that we couldn’t see our rhythmless reflections staring back at us. And then the music started. Cindy and the veterans were off! We newbs were stepping a few beats off, clapping a few beats off, and generally making fools of ourselves and laughing. At one point during a tricky dance move, my partner gives up and starts doing the robot. And that’s totally allowed! Just keep moving and throw a hip thrust into it every now and then. The mantra is “Don’t Give Up.”

My first night at Zumba probably looked like some kind of wacky interpretive dance. The hour consisted of more laughing than keeping up and lots and lots of sweat. More than once, I clung, dripping in sweat, to one of the support pillars in the room and panted like a Saint Bernard. Then, I’d catch my breath and get back to dancing poorly. The music is popular and I could sing to most of the songs in between fits of giggles. The floor is bouncy so my knees didn’t hurt and the fellow students are all bright and shining examples of acceptance, so my pride didn’t hurt either. I go again tonight.

Night Two

I would have to say that the best part of my second night was that the other people in the class were happy to see me return. They’re so supportive! Some of the other first timers returned, too. Tonight, I decided to wear a tail. Let me explain. The instructor has these sparkly fringy belts and tails that you can wear. If the fringes aren’t bouncing and swaying, your hips aren’t moving enough. It keeps you mindful of your body. The tails clip onto your waistband if, like me, you don’t really feel like trying to get anything to fit around your belly. If you set aside your adult face for a moment, you’ll remember that it was fun to pretend to have a tail when you were a kid. And it still is! Getting your tail to wag means you’re shaking that booty. Shaking that booty means you’re burning calories. And chances are that you’re also laughing. So, it’s really a win/win/win.

Update: I still dance like a baby deer on ice.

Week Two

This is getting easier. The instructor, Cindy, tells me that they change up the songs and choreography every few months to keep things fresh. So, there are some songs that get played and danced to on multiple nights, which gives me a chance to learn the moves. And an old song from a previous choreography period crops up every now and then and gives me something new to dance to.

Occasionally, Cindy lets one of the seasoned students lead us through a song or two. Let me tell you, these girls are GOOD. I swear that one of them has an extra joint in her lower back that I just don’t have. I can’t move like that. So, I just do my best and embrace my lack of the ability to twerk. I sweat and my heart rate gets moving and that’s what matters here.

Skip forward to the end of week three.

Wow, it’s been three weeks already? I’m learning the steps! But, it’s definitely still not something I’d bust out on an actual dance floor. There’s one dance that feels a lot like a Polynesian Haka to me. It makes me feel powerful and gets me sweating. You really just have to throw yourself into it. I love it! Another is done to a song called Metela Sacala. That is my booty shaking song, for sure. It’s my favorite! I may not be able to actually dance, but I can make myself sweat and still laugh about it for the whole hour. My stamina is definitely improving. Sometimes that hour goes by so fast! Next week is my final Zumba week and my weigh-in. Stay tuned.

Final Week and Closing Thoughts

I did it! I did a full month of Zumba and while I still can’t dance, I feel great. And the music rattles around in my head uninvited at all hours of the day. The other day, while standing in line at the grocery store, I noticed my sons giving me that look that says, “Please mom. Please stop doing what you’re doing.” I was humming the tune of Sean Kingston’s “Somebody Call 911” and sort of dancing in place. “Mommmmmm… Ugh.” I guess I’ve lost a little of my inhibitions along with a little weight.

Speaking of which, I lost nine pounds over the course of the month. 

Bottom line, it’s so much more fun than I expected it to be. I thought you had to actually like dancing or be able to dance to enjoy a Zumba class. You really don’t. And I didn’t feel like I wandered into some pro dance studio either. Nothing but love to my fellow Zumba classmates, but I’m not the only clumsy baby giraffe in that class. Make no mistake. There are some girls in that class who are GREAT dancers. The rest of us just try to emulate them and laugh together when we fail. My stamina is improved.  I’ve lost inches in my legs and waist.  And I’ve learned that I actually CAN learn some basic dance moves.  I’m so glad I gave Zumba a shot.


4 weeks

3 times a week

9 pounds lost

Next Up:

Cardio Blast with LuAnn Schroder

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The CASS COUNTY FAMILY YMCA is committed to providing programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. We make every effort to ensure that no one is turned away due to inability to pay. Financial assistance is available please contact us for more information.
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