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The Surprising Benefits of Beach Running

Sometimes, a girl just needs some sunshine.img_1264Well, to be perfectly honest: for this girl, that’s pretty much all the time. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from Texas, I was born in the summer, or my freckles are just hungry for sunlight, but I am enamored of warm weather and sunshine. I know this partially has to do with the fact that I need at least an hour of outdoor activity to function at my best. Humans aren’t meant to stay indoors all the time! Spending time in parks, going for long walks, and…running (ding ding ding!) are my favorite outdoor activities.

I have not always enjoyed running. In fact, I used to hate it. I’m vertically challenged (read: short) and my little legs have to work extra hard to get farther distances. Middle school and high school gym class were my worst nightmare; an athletic child I was not.

Then: I got a job working in Japan. As a singer. A country western singer. Belting up and down stairs and running around the theater like a mad woman. Having been a dancer for most of my life, this felt like a gargantuan feat; I needed breath control. I’ve known singers over the years who have belted entire scores while running on the treadmill to prepare for more athletic roles, so I followed suit. I had done Couch to 5K the summer prior (on recommendation; then I ran a 5K and didn’t totally hate it) so I wasn’t starting from scratch, but I was still VERY new to running.

Kat in a former life, belting country western songs at Tokyo Disneyland.

Kat in a former life, belting country western songs at Tokyo Disneyland.

Running became training for the show, but also a means of getting to know my new neighborhood in Tokyo. I ran along the seawall of the Pacific Ocean, to the grocery store (and walked back, obviously), and throughout the streets of Tokyo. Running became interesting, meditative, and once my muscles had adjusted to the movement, I started to crave it. I have a hard time staying present, and running forces you to stay in the moment. It’s explorative. It’s adventuring. It’s a built-in me-party with awesome health benefits. Suddenly and bizarrely: I began to love it.

Fast forward through a 10K and half marathon later, and I got a job on a tour. I was living life on a bus (hours and hours a day) and desperately needed to move my body. Lunch break? Go for a run. Early morning bus call? Run before we leave. I ran in dozens of states, in all kinds of weather. Now, it’s safe to say: I love running.

But nowhere do I love running more than on the beach. After tour, the job had a sit-down (stayed put) in Florida. I began running barefoot on the beach. This sounds like a breezy cliché. It is definitely a cliché, but let me assure you: it is not a breeze. Beach running is HARD.

 

BUT It is joyous and an excellent workout because:

  1. Sunshine
  2. Water
  3. Did you know your body exercises on average 1.6X harder on a beach run than a standard run on pavement or a treadmill?
  4. You’re doing resistance training as well as cardiovascular training.
  5. You’re using a whole new set of stabilizing muscles to anchor your ankles and feet as you run on uneven surface.
  6. Free pedicure
  7. Jumping in the ocean after a workout? I mean: come on.
  8. Did I mention sunshine?
Sweaty Katharine looking at the wrong camera, per usual.

Beach run blissed out sweaty Katharine looking at the wrong camera, per usual.

Basically, it’s great bang for your buck. If you find yourself near a beach (winter escape, anyone?) in the coming weeks, lather up your SPF 70, grab your sturdiest swim top (the one I’m wearing here is specifically for water sports and it’s amazing!), take off your shoes, and hit the beach! You may not run your normal speed, but I promise it’s worth the extra effort.

I love how many Challengers have come to love running over the past year–truly, it’s amazing. I’m such an advocate of the meditative and cardiovascular benefits. Here’s one more running challenge to add to the list 🙂

Have a beautiful weekend, Challengers! Cheers from Cancun!

Captain Kat

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The 13 Things You Forget About Life in New York City

The first day back in Manhattan after a sizable stint away is typically a hilarious wakeup call.  My Ninja-Turtle shell of New-Yorker-disposition is nowhere in sight, and reality deals revelations swiftly and certainly throughout the day.

 

get-prepared-for-winter-in-nyc-2

The 13 Things You Forget About Life in New York City (after some time away)

  1. Snow stays white for about 4-5 hours.  After that, it’s a mud-slush-porridge of trash, melting snow, dirt, and…various unpleasant miscellany that best goes unmentioned.
  2. You can get almost any service in the world done or buy anything you want or access anything you want within about 20 minutes.  It is empowering and it is glorious and it’s so deliciously dangerous and expensive.
  3. Smiling is an invitation.  Careful.
  4. The happiest people in New York are tourists.
  5. Speaking of tourists: winter is for the die-hards, summer is for the tourists.  A woman in the nail salon dubbed me her best friend for about 10 minutes and we jointly lamented the sludge snow and difficulty of life in New York in the winter.  As Darwinian as the city can be is as tribal as it can be.  New Yorkers gotta stick together, man.
  6. What constitutes as suitably warm clothing in a driving-city is not warm enough for walking around in New York.  Overprepare.
  7. All shoes are not created equal.
  8. Never forget your chargers.
  9. Never forget your umbrella.
  10. All coffee shops are not created equal.  Though there are a handful of diamond-in-the-rough coffee shops that contain the precious trifecta of ample seating room, wifi, and dependable bathrooms (the coffee is secondary, though a few coffee shops have this, too–looking at you, FIKA, Taszo, Joe’s at Columbia University), the most dependable of coffee shops is sadly Starbucks.  The UWS Joe Coffee may have delicious espresso, but their tables are laughably small and there’s nary an open wifi signal in sight.
  11. Central Park is beautiful year-round.  It’s more comfortable at certain times of the year, but unless it’s super swampy or blizzard-ed over, there are few better places to take a walk in the world.
  12. The best way to experience New York is knowing you are going to have to leave soon.  When I’m trapped on this island without an end date, the day in-day out of dayjobbing and hustling dream-pursuing and avoiding eye contact and avoiding puddles and walking your legs off gets unbelievably tiresome.  But here I am, for 36 hours, brimming with joy and excitement and dreams and plans like the stupid naive optimistic Kat who arrived here over 2 years ago.  When your time to allow the magic the city offers is limited, it helps you realize how precious it actually is.
  13. It is the greatest city in the world.  I SAID IT.  I wouldn’t say it if I were living here right now…I don’t think.  I have had the roughest back and forth of affection with this silly place.  It’s mostly been a matter of reconciling expectation with reality.  In a few ways, this city has been a brutal slap-in-the-face and, frankly, a disappointment.  In so many other ways, it’s exceeded my wildest expectations and allowed me to pursue projects I never would have elsewhere.  The opportunities are limited.  The opportunities are limitless.

 

Hope you’re all having a beautiful start to February–I sure am.  Here’s to new opportunities.

 

xoxo,

Captain Kat

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The Super Mario Brothers of Fitness Programs

I invite you to think of the Better Body Challenge as an Accelerator towards achieving sustainable change–and, in turn, your better body–every single day.  Do I want you to only do my workouts while you’re a Challenger?  Only if that’s what you want!  Do you have a favorite dance, yoga, zumba, bodypump, kettlebell, jillian michaels, fitness blender class that you LOVE?  DO IT.  Do you want me to prescribe your workout schedule every day?  No problem.  It works either way; The whole point of this program is to eliminate obstacles in the way of your fitness goals.  There are so many ways to get there, so we’re going to find out what works and is fun for you.

 

Let’s talk about this in N64 terms.  You’re Mario.

mario

You are a) ADORABLE b) eager to change.  Fortunately, with Captain Kat’s Better Body Challenge (henceforth referred to as “CKBBC”) you have ample tools in your arsenal.

First, you have your “why.”  On day 1 of the Challenge, I invite my challengers to post a selfie introducing themselves to the group and sharing their “why.”  To watch a very smart man explain the psychology of “why,” click this.  Otherwise, take my word for it and read on.  “Wanting to be healthy” or “wanting to be skinny” ARE NOT SPECIFIC WHYS.  When you are tired, sore, and lacking enthusiasm to workout before work in the AM, these whys will not pull you through.  “I want to make my ex pissed at how fabulous I look,”  “I want to have arms like Michelle Obama,” and “I want visible abs in a bikini” are excellent “whys.”

unnamed

Remember these fierce little dudes?  These are your power ups.  When you’ve powered up and a baddie knocks you down, you stay up because you had extra powers.  That’s what your “why” does.

 

Secondly, you have a map.

Mario_World_world_map_(assembled_by_Piken)

Some days you don’t want to go to yoga class.  Some days you walk into the gym and think “I don’t even know where to begin.  Treadmill, I guess..?”  Some days you want to work out at home.  CKBBC eliminates the excuses and–even better–the wasted time so that you can maximize your workout time.  Thanks to a daily workout schedule (that you can move around as needed), workout videos to explain each movement, and constant access to Captain Kat, you don’t ever need to feel lost or bored at the gym.

Speaking of the Captain–she is/I serve as THIS:

Question_Mark_Block

Ask a question, tell me your troubles, stress out to me about foods, celebrate your suggestions, AND I GIVE YOU COINS!!!

…just kidding.  I don’t give you coins. But I do give you knowledge bombs, a high five, a kick in the pants when necessary.  I give you a daily pep talk every morning at 7am eastern time to start your day with some body mindfulness and positivity.  I share recipes, workout hacks, and my favorite athletic wear.  I’ve been known to give challengers quest bars just for their feedback on the program.  I am your biggest cheerleader.  I want you to succeed.  Sure–it’s my business.  When you succeed, it means the service works.  But more importantly, I legitimately care about your experience.  Fun fact: I’m still in the phase of this business where I am losing money and a TON of time to run it.  I’m not doing this for the big bucks; It’s a passion project.  Let’s achieve the body of your dreams–okurr?

TOOL #4: THE COMMUNITY

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You know that pal who will, you know, occasionally take class or go to the gym with you?  And some day you’ll feel kinda inspired to go but you bail when your buddy doesn’t join you.  BYE FELICIA.  CKBBC has a whole GANG of ladies ready to support you.  Post that stress on the facebook page and you’ll get likes, comments, AND BETTER YET real live people caring about your success.  I cannot impress the importance of this factor of the program enough.  The private facebook community is GIANT.

REALISM: SMALL SUCCESSES ACHIEVE BIG WINS

super-mario-bros-end-flag

You have to achieve levels to win the world.  There’s a lot of flag-jumping to be done before you get the big wins.  This is real life.  You know what isn’t real life?  Violently restricting your diet for a small period of time, dehydrating yourself, hurting your joints overdoing it at the gym.  We want sustainable change.  We want something you will be excited to do.  We want to see accelerated, real, sustainable results.  We want ALL da flags and ALL da castles.

BOTTOM LINE:  This program makes it as easy as humanly possible to commit to your health.  Obstacles are removed, rewards are in store.  Don’t stand in the way of yourself, and I guarantee you will find success and results in the Challenge.

I’m so gosh darn excited to start February I could burst.  Today is the LAST day to register, so if you’ve been waiting–this is the final opportunity.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!!!!

xoxo,

Captain Kat

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The Beauty of Taking Class: When Others Know Best

Yesterday was a doozy of a day. For a control freak hellbent on success, optimism, and achievement, I’m at a temporary (I hope) phase of life where there is more-than-normal outside of my control.  So I have buried myself in my work on Captain Kat–which has brought me genuine joy along with some equally genuine stress–and thoughts of the future.

 

And I’ve completely forgotten how to live in the now.

 

My boyfriend is kind of a genius.  Beyond the fact that he’s about to officially publish his first book (and has others on the way), he puts his phone on airplane mode when we’re together.  And it’s not just when we’re doing long distance.  And it’s not just when we’re on a date.  Unless we’re having a specific “work date” where we simultaneously work on our projects in the same space and allow phones, he doesn’t even look at his.  Which–for a 26 year old in 2016–is pretty amazing.  I’m certainly not as diligent as he is about this, but I’ve improved. And in turn: we’ve improved.

Right now I’m so concerned with what is next–and frankly a bit dissatisfied with where I am now–that I’m escaping into every mobile/web device/youtube vortex/work escape imaginable before I allow a minute to take inventory of my mental state, my physical state, and just be calm.

 

So, today I landed at the gym pretty tired and slightly uninspired to workout.  I worked out twice yesterday because frustration, because eating naughty things that gave me energy that I needed to burn, because cabin fever, and today: I am unsurprisingly tired.  So I put my stuff in the locker and wandered into the sauna for some glorious, sweat drippy magic, and walked into the gym and found myself in a BodyFlow class.

 

I’m kind of a class snob.  I’ve taken a lot of classes all over the nation–heck, all over the world–and you know what I’ve learned?  Much like the inexplicably entertaining astronomy class you had to take for a science credit with a particularly charismatic professor or the should-have-been-awesome theater class taught by a lazy professor–the teacher makes or breaks the class.  Corinna at Gold’s Gym Fredericksburg is a total boss.  First of all: she’s ripped.  Second of all: she’s a smart lady who teaches a killer class.

 

BodyFlow, as it turns out, is a combo of Yoga/Pilates/Tai Chi–just what the doctor ordered today.  The whole class is set to music, involves a super groovy tai-chi based warmup (that is a true warmup–in that it settles you in for the class, gives you a nice thorough stretch, and eases your muscles into activity) and then 7-8 tracks of music taking you through sun salutations, balance activity, strength activity, and stretching.  And then: stillness.  My favorite least favorite.  As one who struggles to rest on vacation, it takes someone else instructing me to be still before I’ll actually do it.  And it is such a practice.

 

My favorite things about class in general:

  1. It’s disciplined.  It’s a practice.  There’s measurable improvement–or not.
  2. You have no choice but to be present.  You’ll fall over if you aren’t.
  3. It’s a physical-mental pairing.  It’s the two working in tandem, when so often I find mine work in opposition of one another.
  4. It’s give and take.  It’s allowing someone to teach you.  It’s being vulnerable.  It’s putting forth effort.
  5. If it’s a good one: there’s almost a story to it.  There’s rising action, climax, denoument, and a coda for stillness.

 

At any rate, if you come across an opportunity to take a BodyFlow class, I highly recommend it.  It’s such a gift of a presence check-in.  Get into it.

 

As always, be good to you today, challengers.

 

xoxo,

Captain Kat

 

 

———————-

Captain Kat is a personal trainer based in New York City and the founder of the Better Body Challenge.  LesMills didn’t pay for or ask Captain Kat to review BodyFlow–she just loved the class so much that she had to write about it!  The beauty of Captain Kat Fitness and the Better Body Challenge is that they can work in tandem with just about any fitness class or product.  The whole point is simply to be active and eliminate obstacles in the way of daily achieving a better body!  Want Kat to try out your class or product?  Shoot her a line at kat@kinektfitness.com

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When is it okay to CHEAT?

A challenger messaged me such a beautiful question today. Where do CHEAT DAYS come into play here?

Storytime. You all know my day-gig is acting. Well, yesterday we had a rather rocky tech rehearsal that stretched super late at night. I came home to the hotel and some folks wanted to hang. I was *ravenous* and instead of my typical late night go to–a protein brownie (because it’s immediate, so tasty, and filling, and…protein!!)–I told myself I could curtail my snack eating(their snacks) whilst hanging with my cast. I 100% failed. I absolutely overate, and to make things worse, I ate things I absolutely *Never* eat–chips on chips on chips. I don’t even LIKE chips that much!!! This is an example of a TERRIBLE cheat. It wasn’t worth the calories or pain, it wasn’t mindful or planned, and it gave me a rough night of sleep and a giant bellyache.

Challenger Jillian (unaware of this) messaged me this morning and shared that she had some ice cream (at the Ben and Jerry’s factory, no less!) and another treat and was nervous about any damage this had done. Eating Ben and Jerrys AT the Ben and Jerry’s factory? YES YES YES perfect reason to have a cheat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my mantra is *SUSTAINABLE CHANGE.* I do not want you or expect you to give up ice cream for the rest of your life!! This is not a 6 week starve yourself and yo-yo back to your weight afterwards diet. This is not a juice “cleanse” ie sugar overload. This is not dehydrating you to make you feel skinnier. This is meant to create sustainable habits that you can realistically carry throughout your life but that will BETTER your health and 100% lead to physical results in the meantime.

Make sense?

You’re all rockstars. Everyone hanging in there? Fill me in. And don’t eat the chips.

xoxo,
Captain Kat

Are Rest Days That Important?

Rest days are every bit as important as workout days.

restday

If your muscles are exhausted all the time, you will not perform your best and you will therefore not get your desired results.  Depending on your personal goals, I advocate for 1-2 days of rest.  My favorite (what we’re doing this month in the BBC) is one day of active recovery–so, you’re not just sitting around, but you’re still giving your muscles a break–and one day of full rest.  If you skipped a workout day, you can fill it in here or do a bit of work.  If you’ve been sticking to the schedule, give yourself the day.  Maybe treat yourself to a new recipe!  Cooking, I’ve found, can really be therapeutic and strangely artistically satisfying.

I hope you’re all having a fantastic third week.  Enjoy your day off and get psyched for arms tomorrow!

xoxo,
Captain Kat

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New Year, Better You

What the heck is this New year, New You business about?

I’m interested in a New Year, and a Better You.  We don’t get to re-invent ourselves every year–that isn’t sustainable.  We get to improve, learn from past mistakes, get wiser, and do better.  So, Captain Kat is promoting the #newyearbetteryou and I’m so excited to have this new batch of challengers along for the journey.

The Challenge has 3 basic components:

  1. Daily Emails:  These are for you, but they’re not mandatory.  The emails are mind snacks that are meant to start your day with some health-consciousness, a time to prioritize yourself and your health, and occasional downright silliness.  These are just an extra treat for you.  Sometimes they’re recipes, sometimes they’re pep talks, sometimes they’re just check-ins.  Use as you please.
  2. CaptainKatFitness.com: This is home to your weekly workout calendars.  My at home-worker-outers, I DO reccommend you have at least one set of weights at home (5-8 lbs min.), a mat if that’s helpful for you, and an optional resistance band.  Amazon is a fantastic resource, but if you want specific recs on equipment, please email me and I’m happy to chat with you.
  3. The Facebook Group: I can’t overemphasize how useful a tool this group can be to your health and happiness.  It is a judgement-free, 100% safe space.  Gratuitous gym selfies are encouraged.  Food pictures are encouraged.  Recipe sharing and Pinterest shares are encouraged.  Even if “facebook oversharing” isn’t your norm, know that this little group is 100% private and is only as vibrant and as strong as you’re willing to commit to it.  Also, it’s moderated 24/7 by a personal trainer (…moi!) who truly cares about your success in this journey.  Use it.

Ready to commit to a better you today?  Click above at “Tell Me More” –> “Register” to get this party started.

So thrilled to share this challenge with you all.  LET’S DO THIS.

xoxo,
Captain Kat

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Transformation Tuesday: On Loving Your Body and Leaving Shame

This is one of the scariest and most vulnerable things I’ve ever done.  I never thought I’d share these photos–much less post them to the world wide web, but I know what I want to say is important enough to merit any embarrassment or shame it may cause.

#transformation #transformationtuesday

#transformationtuesday

#transformationtuesday

I took the photos on the left just as I hit a breaking point–a point where I knew I needed change and a sense of control.  This before/after has obvious physical changes, but the most drastic changes between the Kat on the left at Kat on the right aren’t strictly visual.

 

My body image issues stemmed from a lack of understanding of how to fuel my body, a competitive environment, dance, my own perfectionist tendencies, an inability to control emotional eating, a sense of powerlessness and lack of athleticism, and–frankly?–from small, seemingly insignificant comments that are made to girls growing up by all kinds of people that I guarantee don’t think about when they say them.  And I also guarantee that any woman reading this knows exactly what I mean and has had these comments made to her at one point or another. (Boys, I’m aware that you get it too–just the other way around: size = masculinity.  And that’s not any less damaging, I know.)

 

I struggled with body image issues and eating disorders for nearly a decade–beginning around age 12 until I was 21 years old.  This happens to so many girls and affects them long after they become women.  I was a slave to the scale, to what I put in my body, to beating myself up every time I looked in the mirror.  I felt less-than, insecure, and miserable; it is every bit a mental disease as it is physical.  I yo-yod back and forth about 20lbs–which, for someone who is 5’5″, is a lot.  The photos on the left were taken shortly before I graduated from college, when I knew I had to make a definitive change and find a different solution because–honestly–it felt like I was killing myself.  Or–at the very least–living a half-life.

 

I did not enjoy the practice of working out even once I made the change, but I was desperate.  Habits hurt.  Habits are hard to form. I kept going to the gym and I began voraciously reading anything I could find online about health and fitness–fueling your body, building muscles, building performance.  I’m a creator, an entrepreneur, an achiever.  I began to find excitement in increased endurance, the drop of pounds on the scale, the ease with which I began to fit into cute clothing.  I began to enjoy the challenge.  Most importantly–I was enamored of the sense of control I was finding.  My body and I had been at odds with each other for as long as I could remember, and for once we were working in tandem.  I was learning how to fuel it, how to stave off spikes and crashes, how to mold it into something that achieved performance.  I felt like I had cracked some code that I never could unlock before.  I had the tools, the road map, the answers, and could break it down to a science.  Fitness became demystified.

 

That was 5 years ago.  I’ve been described as religious regarding fitness–this is not a deeply inaccurate description.  I believe in joyful physical fitness.  I believe it should be accessible to everyone.  I believe everyone deserves this sense of control, of achievement, of pride in their body.  Does my weight still fluctuate?  Sure.  Do I still have insecure moments?  Absolutely.  But they don’t crush me, and I know how to fix them.  And I genuinely feel pride in the body I have built.  I love my body, and it feels like the most beautiful blessing in the world.

 

This is why I am a personal trainer.  This is why we must inspire confidence and courage in one another.  This is why I must build what I am building.

 

Let’s be kinder to ourselves and to our girls.  Let’s establish a healthy dialogue about what it really is to be strong, healthy, and beautiful.  Let’s change ourselves, and–in turn–change the conversation.

 

xoxo,

Captain Kat

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Looking for resources for disordered eating and positive body image?  I highly recommend the following:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
www.webiteback.com
www.eatingdisorderhope.com
nedic.ca
Celebrities Promoting Positive Body Image:
Jennifer Lawrence
Amy Schumer
Kate Winslet
Amanda Trusty
Rihanna

Have another resource?  Another favorite positive-body-image role model?  Interested in sharing your #postivebodyimage #transformationtuesday? Email kat@kinektfitness.com or share using the toolbar to the left.

Interested in Captain Kat’s Better Body Challenge?  Visit here.