Saturday, January 11, 2014

Today's Workout - Aerobox

Today I repeated the Aerobox workout.  I haven't done it since last time, but it went much more smoothly in terms of improved sequencing.  I'm glad that I wrote it down and followed along.  It was still a killer workout.  41 minutes, 610 calories.  THAT is a job well done!  I'm taking it along with me this week in the hotel to do in the mornings, and I bought some 2lb hand weights.  I've been using 3lbs, and that's just a tad bit too much for the speed of the combinations.  I feel great and am so glad that I got it in!  Whoop Whoop!

Good night!

Truth Moment: Health is always a Top Priority Task

I was about to logoff when the title of one of Ross Enamait's recent blog posts caught my eye.  It was called "Prioritize Your Training".  It definitely struck a chord with me, because I recognize that I have not prioritized my training over the past 3 days.

As I wrote earlier, I've been sick for the past 7 days.  My first 5 days were really bad (Friday, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues).  They truly did warrant taking time off from the gym, especially since I was going to be working out at home and not going to the big box. At home, I obviously have my garage gym.  It is insulated, but not heated.  So, it's still cold as sh*t in the winter.  This is not ideal when one is sick.  Anyway, I went against my better judgement and did a light workout on Monday night.  I paid the price on Tuesday (fever came back, more coughing, still no voice, etc).  However, I resumed my work schedule at home on Wednesday (from my bedroom, which served as my makeshift office while I was sick).  I put in 14 hour days on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, even with my voice not being restored!

However, I did not work out during either of those 3 days.  I fully intended to.  Even on Wednesday when I was still slightly feverish, I probably could have done a 15-20 minute walking workout in my bedroom.  But I didn't.  I took the necessary preparatory steps each of those days.

* I turned on the heater in the garage to let it warm up as soon as I woke up in the morning.  It was so cold that I thought it best to try for a lunch time or early evening workout.
* I put on my workout clothes and wore them all day.
* My backup plan was to do the day's boxing workout in my bedroom if the garage was still too cold.  I even brought my boxing gloves and hand weights into my bedroom and placed them on the chair in plain sight.
* I told myself that even with a 14 hour work day, I still need to carve out an hour to get my body moving. A little bit of something is better than whole lot of nothing.
* I planned how to be remain active during next week's business trip.  I worked on converting my DVD library so that I could take them with me.

Regardless of all of that, I failed to execute. Not because I wasn't capable. I was sick, but not completely incapacitated.  The truth is that I failed to prioritize my training. I failed the simple task of getting it done.  I had all sorts of reasons, but at the end of the day, it didn't get done because I didn't make the time to do it. I don't have anyone else to blame but myself.  I put other things in front of one of the most important goals that I've set for myself in quite some time.  I have 82 days left, and I failed to take advantage of 3 of them.

I'm not going to give up on myself or on reaching my goal.  I am simply acknowledging that I can execute in a more consistent fashion, reduce distractions, and stop placing other tasks in front of my top priority.  In all honesty, my photoshoot in 82 days is really just a culminating event. The bottom line is that I still have quite a bit of fat to lose in order to reach my true goal of improved overall health.

Are you putting your wellness goals at the top of your list?  Only you know if you are truly giving your best effort.  You are in control.  Find a way to make your personal wellness paramount!  No excuses.

"No one will remember how bad you wanted it. They’ll remember what you were willing to do to get it." --Ross Enamait ‏

Random Tech Post - Converting my Workout DVD Library

I have a longer term goal of building a Linux based home media server, which I've been too lazy to do in the past.  I want to be able to create more ways to utilize my very expensive and extensive library.  In the past, I've ripped the audio from a few select kettlebell DVD workouts so that I could use them at the track or at the big box gym.  That has been a good option for me, but I also want to have access to the actual video workouts when I'm not working out in my garage.  The first step is to get my media in a format that allows me to start experimenting. Time to digitize (is that a word?) Then, I can explore avenues for serving up the digital files while inside and away from my private home network.  I hope that you find it helpful if you dig this kind of stuff.

Step 1. Rip & Convert DVDs into digital video format
I found a timely discussion on turning DVDs into mp4s on the video fitness forums.  Another great resource has been the "How to turn your DVD/CD Library into a Digital Library" article that I found online.  I've been experimenting with various software products - both freeware and licensed software.

DVD Ripper Software - Freeware Options
1. Handbrake: Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck using Handbrake.  I have an HP laptop running Windows 7.  Every time I rip a DVD, the application causes my computer to shut down abruptly, similar to a power surge.  For some reason, it seems to cause the computer to run really hot and the fan is not cooling it fast enough. I read that other users had the same issue, which is unfortunate since alot of people like Handbrake since it's freeware.
2. MakeMKV:  MakeMKV was a pretty good solution for me. It ripped dvds in about 20 minutes and ouput them in MKV format.  I can't play MKV files without a converter.  I couldn't get VLC to work on my system, and I didn't want to have to find another product to convert MKV files or play MKV files.
3. Freemake: This solution did not bode well for me.  I gave up after waiting for almost 45 minutes for it to just analyze one DVD. I do not have that kind of time or patience.

I decided it was time to invest a little in order to get what I needed.  Most fee based ripper applications also convert media into many formats (tablet, phone, tv, general video, etc) and provide the option to extract the audio, which is great for using just my headphones.  I gave myself a price point of $40 or less.  I tried several demo versions of software, but they typically limit the output to 5 minutes.

DVD Ripper & Converter Software  - For Fee Options:
1. Brorsoft DVD Ripper: This product works pretty well. It accomplishes what I need it to do, but it has its pros and cons.   
The Good: It reads and analyzes DVDs quickly. It also has many pre-configured profiles to support most devices.  I also like that it allows me to select or remove individual titles and merge titles into a single output file.  I haven't checked to see if I can add metadata, chapter points, or menus.     
The Frustrating: The conversion process is slow.  It takes about 30-40 minutes to convert a workout of the same length.  Movies can take up to an hour.  It slows down my system performance to a painfully slow pace, and my laptop still runs hot.  Now, I'm not ruling out that my 4-year old laptop could be contributing to the poor performance problems.  I decided that the software is worth keeping, but still not what I'm looking for.  I want some software that will rip and convert in about 5-10 minutes.  With such a huge library, efficiency is important to me.  So, I decided that I would purchase another software package if it seemed worth it.
2. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum:  This software promises that it can rip and convert a DVD in 5 minutes.  Unfortunately, I am running into problems with this software.  I tried the demo version before purchasing it, but it only converts 5 minutes of content.  It did that at lightening speed, and I was pretty happy and thought it was worth the risk.  I tested it using one of my older DVDs (2003ish), and it had no problems getting the job done.  I couldn't speak to the time to convert an entire DVD, since the demo version was limited.  After I purchased the license, I tried to get it to rip one of my brand new, just received P90X3 DVDs and ran into problems.  I was able to convert the same DVD using Brorsoft without any issues other than the time investment.  (I received it last night, and I want to take it with me tomorrow to start using it in my hotel room w/ bands.)  

The Good: It anaylzes the DVD pretty quickly and attempts to find the main title track.  I also like the interface.  Also, customer service has been fantastic!  I submitted a help ticket last night to correct some information on my order, and they resolved it almost immediately.
The To-be-Determined: The program was able to find, analyze, and convert the DVD into MP4 format.  However, the final output file was only 3 minutes.  In addition, I was not able to preview or edit the DVD titles in the tool.  I suspect that the issue may be related to an unclean install or the protection on the DVD.  I have submitted a help desk ticket and am awaiting their feedback.  I found discussions that other folks really like this software and have successfully converted P90X2 and P90X.  I'll post an update once I've had a chance to see if the issues I am experiencing can be resolved.  Until then, I'll continue using Brorsoft to keep building my digital library.

Step 2. Introduce a Media Server Component 
Streaming Media Options: Being able to access my digital media from multiple devices while away from home is very important to me.  I do not want to have to store files locally on various devices, with the exception of a few movies to watch on planes when internet service is unavailable.  Storing media in a central location and streaming to devices as needed is an excellent solution.  Based upon my research, I've found that many folks are happy with either Subsonic or PS3 Media Server; both are free streaming media servers.  I decided to install Subsonic. It was easy to install and setup.  It did take a little bit of time to get the port forwarding configured correctly, but I am able to access my library from the internet by logging into my subsonic server.  I have noticed some performance delays when trying to tap into the server from multiple devices.  I used my phone, ipad, and laptop to see if I could play media files.  It was possible, but alot of hangs (could be my network bandwidth too).  I did not like the response time on the iPad when using Safari.  There are apps for Subsonic, but I couldn't find alot of free options. 

Linux-Based Home Media Server: I hope to start my Linux (Unbuntu) home media server project in mid-to-late February.  I know I could buy one, but I'm actually kind of excited to build and configure my own media server.  I have an old desktop that I plan to use to get the job done.  It should be fine for a this purpose.

Friday, January 10, 2014


It is Friday, and I am finally feeling better. My voice came back today as well!  This time off has been a pretty big kink in my already aggressive schedule, but there is time to regroup. 

I have not been eating enough or drinking enough while I've been sick.  I also haven't really pushed myself to workout.  After Monday night's workout in the garage, I actually did have another fever on Tuesday.  I took the day off work and rested.  On Wednesday, I returned to work, and worked remotely (from my bed).  We have a huge project deadline next Friday.  I wound up putting in 14 hours on Wednesday and stayed up until 2AM working.  On Thursday, it was the same thing.  I put in another 14 hours, and lost 3 hours due to a personal appointment.  I went to bed at 3AM and woke up at 7AM.  I had a doctor's appointment, and then had to lead a meeting (which is why I was working so much on the nights prior). 

In all honesty, I started feeling capable of working out again on Thursday, and had planned to do something quick over lunch.  Didn't happen.  Today (Friday) rolled around, and I failed to workout again.  Damn.

Do better tomorrow...

Monday, January 06, 2014

Aerobox System of Sleek - Box & Sculpt

I did a very short workout this evening (even though I posted earlier today that I wouldn't workout :-) ).  I took the workout pretty slowly since I was still really sick.  Since I'd already been off Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and wasn't running a fever, I wanted to do a little something to move.  I put on alot of warm clothes, cranked up the heater in my garage, and proceeded with my workout.  Originally, I'd planned to do the longer Aerobox workout tonight, but I wasn't feeling THAT capable.  I committed to 30 minutes max.

I tried the first workout in the Aerobox System of Sleek series - Box & Sculpt.  From a time perspective, it was a very short workout, clocking in at about 25 minutes, including the warm-up.  I would rate the workout as low intensity - a good introductory session.  The moves are done at a pretty slow pace throughout the workout, although there are a few times when the pace accelerates, which I liked.  I really appreciated the focus on technique, and I had an opportunity to listen to Michael's guidance as to how he wanted the punches executed for this workout.  I have a natural tendancy to move my hips and throw my entire body into the punches.  He challenges you to mimic that power with less use of the hips or leaning.  It was different, and I liked it!  I did not use hand weights during the workout. I would do this workout again. Even though I craved slightly higher intensity, I think the workout can be modified or extended to elevate the intensity.  It really is up to you as far as how hard you want to work.  I could have easily transformed the workout into a higher intensity session with a few tweaks.  Again, I was true to form tonight and respected the integrity of the originally designed session.

As with any new workout, it's challenging to really give the workout 100%, since the moves, sequencing, pace, and instructor may be unfamiliar to you.  In his Sleekify book, Michael has you perform a workout 3 times in a row before moving on to the next one.  The first time is to familiarize yourself with the movement pattern; the second time is to execute slightly more efficiently since the workout will be somewhat familiar; and the third time is to give it 110%.  This reminds me of a pattern that we observed regarding patterns of top performers (people or products).  There is a storming phase, followed by a norming phase, then you reach the performing stage where you can really excel.

Storm-Norm-Perform.  The next 86 days I am in heads down, take no prisoners mode.
Execute according to plan - nutrition, hydration, movement, and supplementation.
I will persist until I succeed.

What a way to start the year...

Dag gone it if I am not sick.  When I picked up my dearest from work on Thursday night, I noticed that he was sniffling and had a raspy throat.  I commented that someone must have made him sick at work. Well, low and behold, I woke on Friday to be greeted by an incredibly sore throat, fever, and a wicked cough.  I took the entire day off from work and slept literally the whole day and night.  I woke on Saturday and only felt worse.  I took some Dayquill severe formula and nyquill.  I was starting to get anxious not only for missing my workouts, but because I was scheduled to fly out to a client site for work for the week on Monday.  Yesterday, I still wasn't feeling any better, so I decided to go to the urgent care facility.  As I suspected, I was diagnosed with bronchitis and strep throat.  No flying...

The doctor gave me some cough medicine and an antibiotic.  I started taking the medication last night before bed.  Today, I'm feeling ALOT better.  I'm still taking the doctor's advice and taking today off from work.  I will sleep and rest my body.  Tomorrow, if I'm feeling better, I'll do some light walking on my treadmill to get my body moving. 

I am really tempted to go against my better judgement and try to get some form of workout in today.  The 87 day countdown has me nervous.  But, I would not advise any of my clients to exercise in this condition, so it's probably best to heed my own advice, no matter how much I may want to defy it.

I'll rest up and check in later in the week.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Memory Lane...Summer of 1997 Workouts

My recent posts about Michael Olajide were very nostalgic for me.  I wanted to share a trip down memory lane when I first discovered home workouts in the summer of 1997.

My Aunt gave me a step, and my favorite Uncle gave me a pair of 10lb weights. I bought a few workout tapes from Target to slowly build my collection.  Aerobox, The Firm CrossTrainers Strength and Cardio, Step Reebox, and Petra Kobler made up my entire summer of 1997.  I couldn't afford to join a gym, so I worked out in my Mom's living room.  Aerobox was my favorite because it made me feel so strong and untouchable.  It was also incredibly challenging.  I did the Aerobox workout once a week for most of the summer of 1997.  I still have all of these VHS tapes because they represented a time in my life that I began to truly embrace exercising.  The following year (1998) is when I started teaching aerobics at the University, and the rest is history.

Summer 1997 VHS Workouts (pictures courtesy of :-)

An Oldie but Goodie: Michael Olajide's Aerobox

Tonight, I revisited a classic workout in my collection - Michael Olajide Jr.'s Aerobox workout.  I first discovered Michael in 1997 when I bought Kathy Smith's Aerobox workout, in which she collaborated with Michael.

AEROBOXGiven my objectives for the first quarter of this year, I wanted to revisit my Michael collection.  I've had his Aerobox DVD for years, and I only did a short portion of it once. I think it's out of print now, but it really is a gem.  I think that his newest series, Aerobox System of Sleek, is the updated version of the program.

Aerobox packs a huge amount of work into the workout time.  The workout goes REALLY fast, and I often found myself having a hard time following the boxing sequences.  But it's perfect for a home workout since you can keep improving each time you try the workout.  There is no jump rope in this workout.  It's mostly shadow boxing (with hand weights) and simple bodyweight exercises.  The workout consists of a warm-up, 3 Rounds, a core segment, and a stretch sequence.  Each Round is about 8 minutes long.  By the end of the workout, if you're able to keep up, you will have thrown 3,326 punches.  I can't say enough good things about this workout.

After I finished the workout, I decided to write down the main boxing sequence.  I will write it on my white board the next time I take this one on to allow me to follow along. My challenge is that as he cues the workout, he calls every punch a right or left.  I need more cues to go off of because it all blends together after a while.  The workout performs the combinations sequentially at various speeds.  The hard part is when they move really fast, and you have to remember the sequence (which I am awful at doing).  I'm sure it will get easier as my body learns the routine.  I used 3lb hand weights throughout, which also made it tough!  You also vary between boxing stances, and the workout is nicely balanced on both sides of the body.  This summary is just of the punching sequences used throughout the workout.  Bold moves indicate that the punches are on the same arm.  Front/Rear are used to indicate which arm is throwing the punch, assuming an orthodox (right foot forward, left foot back) or southpaw (left foot forward, right foot back) stance.

Round 1
With Weights
Front Double Jab-Rear Cross
Front Jab-Rear Cross-Front Hook
Rear Cross-Front Jab-Rear Cross
Front Upper Cut-Rear Cross-Front Hook

Round 2
With Weights
Front Triple Jab
Rear Upper Cut-Front Hook-Rear Cross
Front Jab-Front Hook-Rear Cross
Front Body-Front Hook(Head)-Rear Cross

Round 3
With Weights, put it all together, All Fast sequencing
Front Double Jab-Rear Cross
Front Jab-Rear Cross-Front Hook
Rear Cross-Front Jab-Rear Cross
Front Upper Cut-Rear Cross-Front Hook
Front Triple Jab
Rear Upper Cut-Front Hook-Rear Cross
Front Jab-Front Hook-Rear Cross
Front Body-Front Hook(Head)-Rear Cross
 If you ever get a change to try this workout, I highly recommend it.  You won't regret it!