Shut Up, I’m Trying to Concentrate! (Revised Repost)

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There are times when I need absolute silence in order to concentrate. Since I spend a lot of time at home writing, I deal with the constant challenges of coming up with new material, and allowing the creative process of writing to develop. Perhaps the most distracting thing I face when I am trying to focus is NOISE. Whether the noise is from people talking to each other, exercise equipment banging against the floor, car horns blaring, cats playing, doors opening or closing, or people constantly trying to talk to me, any noise except music will get me to the point where I get close to losing it. I am well aware of the fact that I suffer from misophonia, and have dealt with it since med school days, when I had to wear earbuds whenever I sat for exams.

I recently read that a group of psychologists at Northwestern University discovered that highly creative people tend to be more sensitive to noise than the average person. I digested this information with relish, since I certainly hope the fact that I can be easily annoyed by noise when I am in a creative mode is indicative of creative genius, or at least something close! The assertion that creative types are more easily distracted by noise is demonstrated by great novelists like Proust, who apparently would sequester himself in his small apartment, donning earplugs and drawing the blinds while he wrote.

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Basically, I think the general rule of thumb should be that if someone tells you to pipe down, and the person is clearly trying to focus, then SHUT UP!

Weightlifting And Aerial Arts: A Winning Combo

I am approaching the two year mark for my foray into aerial arts, and not only have I stuck with it, I have stepped up my game by taking classes several times weekly. After taking classes at a local aerial studio (www.PinkPoleParty.org) two to three days per week, I recently increased my frequency to four to five days weekly by adding other studios into the mix. Thanks to Classpass, I now have the opportunity to visit facilities all over the Los Angeles area and take classes with other instructors.

I have learned that my body prefers the rigidity of hardware, like lyra and aerial cube, over software like silks and hammocks, so I now confine my aerial activities to lyra, pole flight (a combination of silks and pole), and aerial cube. I am by no means an expert in any of my aerial activities, and I wish I had the incredible flexibility which I see in other aerialists. Yet I think I do decently well, and my upper body strength serves me well whenever I am up in the air.

I honestly think it’s a good idea to experience other studios and other instructors as a means to infuse variety into the regimen. Though I at times think I must be nuts to inflict such challenges on my poor joints and tendons, the overall physical and mental benefits of aerial movements make it all worthwhile. The conditioning aspects of aerial arts have enhanced the v-taper in my back, and have developed my delts nicely. My abdominal muscles are far stronger than they were before I began taking aerial classes, and I am also enjoying enhanced flexibility, balance and coordination from my airborne pursuits.

Weight training is still, and always will be, a staple for me. I faithfully hit the weights five to six days per week, and cannot imagine ever wavering from that schedule. At this point, I truly feel that weightlifting and aerial pursuits complement each other. Bodybuilding imparts strength, aids in preservation of muscle mass, guards against bone loss, and allows me to go into beast mode, while aerial arts provide an outlet for creative expression, challenge my body to become more elongated and flexible, and increase core strength.

If you are in a rut with weight training, why not consider adding aerial arts to your regimen? They are challenging, inspiring, and fun!

Why Fifty Is Great

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So far, I have really enjoyed being fifty years old. It isn’t nearly as alarming or horrific as I had made it out to be. In keeping with the slogan which was on my most recent birthday cake, I truly feel like “50 IS THE NEW 20” and am thrilled that my physical appearance has also kept up with my spirit, mind, and intentions.

After spending a half-century on the planet, I no longer have the patience to deal with people who can’t honor their word. My tolerance has completely dissolved, and I think nothing of tossing flaky people to the curb. I guess the old adage, “with age comes wisdom” has a lot of truth to it. My gut instinct has proven consistently to be a foolproof guardian, so I no longer try to fight it. I trust it completely.

I cannot and will not wait for things to happen. I need to generate my own momentum and know that I can only truly depend on myself. Challenges will continue to hit me, but I feel stronger than ever about my ability to handle anything that comes my way. I also know that situations will always find their own resolution eventually. I also trust the process by which situations must unfold, and I also put tremendous faith in the universe. I maintain a connection with the universe by meditating daily and by keeping energy flowing through me.

Try a New Sport to Break Fitness Plateaus

Please read my latest article for Sports Nutrition Supplement Guide!

Original post can be found at:
http://www.sportsnutritionsupplementguide.com/training/agility-drills/item/1567-try-a-new-sport-to-break-fitness-plateaus#.VsJ6RvkrLIV

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If you are a dedicated weightlifter, you have probably had to struggle with fitness plateaus at some point. What most lifters do when they reach a sticking point with their progress is they switch up the rep range or lifting technique in order to activate the muscles differently, but they usually won’t step outside the gym to explore other activities.

However, perhaps the best way to break through a stubborn plateau, especially if you have already tried with the weights to no avail, is to train in a sport which will address your areas of weakness in a novel way, and in many cases, produce the results you seek. Though I am a big proponent of weight training, I also promote training in other sports as a means of changing things up and challenging the body.

One of the most common laments I hear is that the shoulders often lag behind development of the back and arms. So if you have deltoid muscles which won’t respond to iron therapy no matter how you switch up your training, you might want to consider giving tennis or basketball a try. People who regularly engage in these sports tend to have some of the shapeliest shoulders and arms around, because the body mechanics which characterize them incorporate a lot of movement around the shoulder joints. If the region of your body which is lagging behind is your lower extremities, you can engage in sports such as soccer or cycling to ramp up your training efforts and shape up your legs rapidly. If team sports aren’t your thing, you could take up a martial art or boxing to improve your strength and agility while also making your physique appear more balanced.

On a personal note, I took a few flying trapeze classes last fall and was amazed at how much back recruitment occurred during those classes. Though I didn’t sign up for flying trapeze classes with a goal of widening my lats, they indeed became wider as a result of all the static hanging I did from the trapeze pole. I also noticed that after every class, I was sore in places where I never felt sore when I lifted weights. It was a great challenge for me which also enabled me to confront a mild fear of heights. I also found it challenging to refrain from shrugging my shoulders or pulling my body up as I would do during a pullup at the gym. I began to use my body in different ways, and it rewarded me with an improved back silhouette.

In essence, practicing a sport can often break people out of a weightlifting rut and force them to use their bodies differently. You can still adopt the “Gym Is Life” mentality, but by broadening your horizons, you’ll have fun in the process, improve your athletic prowess, and if you choose your sport wisely, may be rewarded with a more balanced and conditioned physique.

Acting Chops

comedy and tragedy

Most people who know me would never guess that I have flirted with the world of acting for decades, because it just isn’t something I talk about very much. But from the time I was a child, I have been surrounded by actors, producers, writers and directors. While I don’t live, breathe and eat acting, I respect it and have a keen interest in it.

It had been so long since I had taken any acting classes or workshops that I decided to take an on-camera audition skills class during the months of November and December. In order to go to these classes, I have had to sit through two hours of rush hour traffic to travel 20 miles from my house to the class. The classes run until 10:30 pm, but always go late (usually 10:45 or 10:50 pm), which means that I don’t get home until 11:30 pm. Yet I am completely committed, have showed up on time, and have completed every exercise even if I felt incredibly uncomfortable doing so.

There are many areas I want to study: scene study, cold reading, on-camera, and voice-over study. I am also considering an improv techniques class further down the road. Because of my interests, I plan to spend the early part of 2016 auditing classes to see which ones grab me. Then I will narrow things down and figure out which classes fit my busy schedule.

For those of you who think I may be abandoning my medical or fitness careers to pursue a career in acting, don’t worry. I am simply exploring an interest I have had for a long time, and feel that the experience will make me grow as a person, and will take me out of my comfort zone.

Static Trapeze

static trapeze

I recently started taking flying trapeze classes and have enjoyed them immensely. However, I began to analyze the reasons why I enjoyed the flying trapeze, and realized that the acrobatic moves were the most intriguing to me. Though I love the whole idea of swinging 20 feet up in the air and doing catches with the catcher, the timing is critical. When you’re trying to think about your trick, setting up your trick with proper timing, and paying attention to the calls from the catcher, all while swinging up in the air, you can get a bit rattled.

I thought that if I removed the flying variable from the trapeze, perhaps I would be able to concentrate more on the tricks. Because of this notion, I am looking into taking static trapeze classes as well. I took gymnastics for several years when I was a kid, and since my best event was the uneven bars, I thought a great progression from childhood gymnastics would be the static trapeze. I like the fact that trapeze isn’t the first thing people think of when considering athletic pursuits, and I also like the fact that trapeze is vastly different from weightlifting. Hopefully my creaking joints and reduced flexibility will dissipate as I venture more deeply into the trapeze arts.

Once I take static trapeze, I will post an update on the experience.

Pushing Through – Dealing With Troubling Times

Life is not about how hard you can hit, but how much you can get hit & still keep moving forward. -Rocky Balboa
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It is commonplace these days to hear people say that times are tough, and indeed they are. Truth is, there will ALWAYS be something we will be forced to contend with. At times those challenges can be so trying that they threaten to break our spirit and obscure the light at the end of the tunnel. However, it is imperative to push through those trials and tribulations while remembering what our goals are.

Your goals may be long term and centered around a career aspiration or the pursuit of an avocation for which you have great passion. Perhaps you have a weight loss goal or want to improve your general health. Or maybe you compete and are chasing after that elusive Pro Card or Olympia qualification. Chances are that any challenges which hit unexpectedly have no direct correlation to these goals, so why allow them to push you off course? You may get knocked around a bit, but the important thing is to get back in line with that prize you have set before you.

It always amazes me to hear patients and clients describe how they abandoned their meal plans and exercise regimens, and thus their fitness and health goals, when they were forced to deal with stressful life events such as divorce, legal issues, job loss, or family illness. What goes through my mind when I hear such things is that these people are doing themselves a disservice by dropping a regular regimen which has immense long term payoffs. A thread of stability is established when there is consistency with food intake and exercise which can actually lessen the impact of life stressors. Energy levels are boosted, depression is minimized, and an individual can assert his or her own personal needs in the face of adversity.

So if tough times are getting you down, remember to put the oxygen mask on your own face and take care of your own needs. Those who persevere will be rewarded after the storm passes. Hang in there!

My Flying Trapeze Experience

I took a flying trapeze class in mid-October at TSNY LA, and absolutely loved the experience. It was the salted caramel pretzel of experiences, frightening and exhilarating and challenging and fun all at the same time. Once I was on the trapeze swing and doing tricks, I felt a complete rush of excitement, but every single time I had to stand on that VERY narrow platform, 20 feet up in the air, the adrenaline would surge through me, and I would feel very nervous. Honestly, standing on the platform was the only negative part of the experience for me! The actual tricks I learned were completely awesome, and I had NO fear while doing them. The competitive spirit in me kicked in, as did my gymnastics background, and I put in 100% effort so that I could kick ass up there. I am proud to say that I did not disappoint myself. In my last trick, I completed a successful catch from a knee hang position on the fly bar, with the catcher on the catch trap (the other bar). What a rush!

Though the experience was supposed to be a bucket list item, I enjoyed the experience so much that I am considering taking regular classes. Call me crazy, but I loved the challenge, and since my body remembered all the childhood tumbles and moves from gymnastics, the kid in me was awakened. Another thing I noticed was that my upper lats were more sore after doing trapeze work than when I hit back day at the gym. I truly enjoyed the new physical challenges and hope that my schedule allows me to fit regular classes in.

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For those of you who want to know more about the flying trapeze, I have copied and pasted the Wikipedia definition here:

The flying trapeze is a specific form of the trapeze in which a performer jumps from a platform with the trapeze so that gravity makes the trapeze swing. Most flying trapeze acts are performed between 20 and 40 feet above the ground.

The performance was invented in 1859 by a Frenchman named Jules Leotard, who connected a bar to some ventilator cords above the swimming pool in his father’s gymnasium in Toulouse, France.

In a traditional flying trapeze act, flyers mount a narrow board (usually by climbing a tall ladder) and take off from the board on the fly bar. The flyer must wait for a call from the catcher to make sure he or she leaves at the correct time. Otherwise, the catcher will not be close enough to the flyer to make a successful catch. The flier then performs one of many aerial tricks and is caught by the catcher, who is swinging from a separate catch bar. Once in the catcher’s hands, the flyer continues to swing and is thrust back toward the fly bar in a maneuver called a “return”. A return could consist of some kind of twist back to the bar, an “angel” (when the catcher holds the flyer by the feet and one arm), or any other trick that a flyer can think of to get back to the bar. Once back to the fly bar, the flyer can return to the board, and another flyer takes a turn.

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Terminology:

Listo/Lista – Ready: Used by the flyer and/or catcher to signify that they are holding the fly bar (for a flyer) or have built enough height in their swing for a catch (for a catcher) and ready to go.

Ready – Used by the catcher to tell the flyer that they should leave the board momentarily. The flyer bends their knees and if executing a one-handed take-off, dips the bar so they can raise it higher when they jump off the board.

Lining Up – Called from the board. When the person working the board for those who have not yet learned to retrieve and serve the bar themselves gives the flyer the fly bar. It really means that the flyer is “lining up” their trick.

Hup – Signal to leave the board and/or the fly bar. Sometimes used by the catcher to tell the flyer to let go after a catch when landing in the net.

First – Usually called by someone pulling safety lines when tricks are being thrown to the net. It is used for front-end tricks to signify getting to the first position.

Final – Also usually called by one pulling safety lines. It is used for front-end tricks to signify getting to the final position.

Gotcha – Some catchers say “Gotcha!” when they catch to signify that they have a good grip on the flyer and that the flyer can let go of the fly bar.

Catch Trap – The trapeze that the catcher swings on.

Fly Bar – The bar the flyer uses.

Apron – The net in front of the catch trap. (The back apron is the net in back of the board.)

Rise/Riser – A narrow board placed on the rungs of the ladder to allow the flyer to take off from a higher point.

Noodle – The long pole used to reach the fly bar when the person working the board cannot reach it normally.

Mount – When the flyer mounts the board after a return.

Return – When the flyer, after a successful catch, manages to return to the fly bar, and often all the way back to the board. In professional shows, the flyers rarely come down from the board.

Grips – Can be gymnastics grips or ones made out of tape. They are used to protect the flyer’s hands.

Chalk – Used by the flyer and catcher to absorb wetness and to reduce sticking to things such as the fly bar.

Force Out – Kicking the legs out at the peak of the flyer’s swing to gain height.

Hollow – Comes right after the force-out. It is basically a neutral position.

Sweep – Comes after “hollow”. Signifies kicking the legs back.

Seven – The last part of a force-out swing. Flyer brings legs in front of them so they will not hit the board.

Cutaway Bar – The bar that the catcher holds when the flyer executes tricks to the catcher such as normal Cutaways and Reverse Knee-Hangs.

Cut (as in Cut Catch) – The flyer is caught in a legs catch and swings out into the apron. On the next swing into the apron, the flyer thrusts their body up, and the catcher lets go of the flyer’s legs and grabs their hands.

Tricks

Below is a list of flying trapeze tricks that can be thrown to a catcher:

Feet Across (a.k.a. “Legs”)
Heels Off
Hocks Off
Splits (Front End/Back End)
Straddle Whip (Front End/Back End)
Whip (Front End/Back End)
Bird’s Nest/Birdie (Front End/Back End)
Shooting Star
Half Turn
Straight Jump
Cut Catch
Uprise Shoot
Forward Over
Forward Under
Double Over
Passing Leap
Piggyback
Pullover Shoot
Reverse Knee Hang
One Knee Hang
Flexus
Somersault
Hocks Salto
Front Hip Circle/Back Hip Circle
Seat Roll/Penny Roll (Full Time/Half Time)
Planche (Front End/Back End)
Pirouette (540)
Layout
One and a half Somersault
Cutaway
Cutaway Half
Cutaway Full
Double Somersault
Double Cutaway
Double Cutaway and a half twist
Double Layout
Full Twisting Double
Double-Double
Triple Somersault
Triple Twisting Double
Full Twisting Triple
Triple Twisting Double
Triple Layout

These are tricks performed bar to bar:

Hocks Off
Splits (Front End/Back End)
Straddle Whip (Front End/Back End)
Whip (Front End/Back End)
Bird’s Nest/Birdie (Front End/Back End)
Half Turn
Straight Jump
Planche (Front End/Back End)
Layout
Double Somersault

These are tricks that can be performed without a catcher:

Salute
Half Turn
Force Out Turn Around
Back Mount
Suicide
Reverse Suicide
Pirouette

Returns:

Half Turn
Flexus
Birdie
Legs (Twist one direction to grab the bar.)
Angel (1 or 2 legs)
Pirouette

TSNY Trapeze Tricks Chart
If you are in the Los Angeles area, and you are interested in taking a flying trapeze class, here are two excellent schools. The first one is the school I went to for my first class, and the second one is the place where I will probably take more classes.

http://losangeles.trapezeschool.com/

http://www.flyingtrapeze.com/

Shut Up, I’m Trying To Concentrate!

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There are times when I need absolute silence in order to concentrate. Now that I write content almost daily, I deal with the constant challenges of coming up with new material, and allowing the creative process of writing to develop. Perhaps the most distracting thing I face when I am trying to focus is NOISE. Whether the noise is from people talking to each other, exercise equipment banging against the floor, car horns blaring, cats playing, doors opening or closing, or people constantly trying to talk to me, any noise except music (which I listen to through earbuds) will get me to the point where I get close to losing it.

I recently read that a group of psychologists at Northwestern University discovered that highly creative people tend to be more sensitive to noise than the average person. I digested this information with relish, since I certainly hope the fact that I can be easily annoyed by noise when I am in a creative mode is indicative of creative genius, or at least something close! The assertion that creative types are more easily distracted by noise is demonstrated by great novelists like Proust, who apparently would sequester himself in his small apartment, donning earplugs and drawing the blinds while he wrote.

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Basically, I think the general rule of thumb should be that if someone tells you to pipe down, and the person is clearly trying to focus, then SHUT UP!

Personal Fitness Training Is 90% Motivation

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I will never discount the value of a skilled fitness trainer, because I know the importance of having a strong foundation of knowledge in exercise principles and the ability to demonstrate proper form on exercises. However, all trainers must develop the ability to motivate their clients if they are to maintain a certain level of success in taking their clients to the next level and helping them to ultimately reach fitness goals.

I have to laugh when I see trainers who are basically just really good at counting when they are with their clients. One trainer I know of spends the entire session time blabbing on and on about all of his personal business, never instructing his clients, putting them on no-brainer machines, then interrupting his boring personal stories to count out reps. IMMEDIATELY after the client is done with a set, the trainer continues with his story! This has occurred, without fail, every single time I have been near him when he was at the gym training a client. In addition, he is seriously overweight! At least he recently began working out at the gym from time to time (not consistently), because he went for years without training at that gym, and it definitely showed. It blows my mind that he even has clients, because he does absolutely nothing whatsoever to motivate them. In addition, his clients NEVER transform. His physique doesn’t transform either. Sorry, but no trainer should look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

A trainer should be a cheerleader for clients, encouraging, motivating and challenging them. It isn’t enough to hold clients accountable for showing up for training sessions. Great trainers motivate clients to continue with consistent healthy choices both in and out of the gym. Great trainers also lead by example, and focus on their clients instead of wasting energy during a training session by talking about themselves. Whenever I am training a client and the client asks me personal questions, my answers are brief and punctuated with, “I’ll tell you more after the training session is over”. How can I expect my clients to focus on their workout routines if I spend time gossiping about my personal life? I honestly think that there should be a veil of mystery when it comes to a trainer’s personal life in order to preserve the trainer-client relationship. Though the trainer-client rapport is very important, I firmly believe that the focus should ALWAYS be on the client. After all, the client is the one paying for the expertise of the trainer, and deserves to be the center of attention for the 55 minutes allotted.