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  1. Hey, everybody *waves* I'm brand new here and this is my first challenge. It coincides nicely with me buying a FeetUp Trainer for myself, so I'm going to challenge myself to practice inversions every day. At the beginning, I'll just be making sure to use the stool and do 2 inversions per day, holding around 20-30 seconds. I'll probably check back in with this after a week or so to see if I've progressed enough to add another element to this. There are videos and yoga instructions specific to the stool I have that I might commit to doing a few times a week on top of this, pending how I'm progressing. Also would love to hear if anyone else has a FeetUp Trainer or enjoys inversions in their workout routines! I think this lines up with the Druids guild(?) but I'm still learning how all of this works, so feel free to call me out if I'm not doing this right. Looking forward to getting started on my first challenge tomorrow! (I actually already did my first inversions yesterday and today, and it's going great.)
  2. MAIN QUEST: Become a master of disguise. Or at least an actress who can dance like she’s in Buenos Aires and can perform feats of magnificent skill. … Like a ninja. Pascal, my Spirit Animal for this challenge When the question was posed in the Assassins’ Den last challenge about what kind of Fitness Superhero we aspire to be, I mentioned that I want to be a chameleon, where I can blend into whatever role I’m needed to be (or want to be) easily. It’s part of my whole thing of always striving to be a better actress, after all. And what better role model for an aspiring chameleon than a ninja? QUEST 1: NINJA TRAINING [+2 STR +1 DEX, +1 STA] A ninja is always training, always striving to better herself or himself, always getting stronger, etc. And so, I will endeavor to workout 5x/week. There are some extra requirements to this, however: I must lift at least 2x/week. I must work through pull-up progressions and toes-to-bar progressions at least 2x/week. I must work on flexibility for at least 10 minutes at least 5x/week. The other three workouts must be over a duration of at least 30 minutes/session. This can be cumulative throughout the day if necessary. The flexibility time can count as part of the 30 minutes (and yes, if I work on flexibility for 30 minutes, that alone will be enough to count), as can any work done towards the two quests below. A = Criteria 100% Met | B = 75% Met | C = 50% Met | D = 25% Met QUEST 2: GO NINJA GO NINJA GO [+2 DEX] You thought this was going to be a TMNT gif, didn’t you? There’s no dance party like a ninja dance party! Since I’m always working to improve my dancing, 2x/week, I will work on Latin-style dance basics in preparation for my summer in Evita. Videos: http://www.howcast.com/guides/905-how-to-do-the-argentine-tango/ http://www.howcast.com/guides/909-how-to-samba/ http://www.howcast.com/guides/660-how-to-dance-salsa/ A = 2x/week | C = 1x/week QUEST 3: NINJA BALANCE [+2 DEX] A ninja must have balance. With that in mind, I will work on hand and leg balances and inversions 3x/week for at least 10 minutes. Library of Poses: http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/types/arm-balances/ http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/types/balancing/ http://www.yogajournal.com/category/types/inversions/ A = 3x/week | B = 2x/week | C = 1x/week LIFE QUEST: NINJA BENTO [+1 CON] Going on a mission without a packed lunch is a terrible idea. While I’ve gotten better at bringing lunch to work, my lunches could stand to be healthier since lately they've just been frozen dinners, which are so gross I never even finish them, which is hampering my "get stronger" quest since I’m not eating enough, or I turn to the junk food around the office to get the calories my body is demanding. So, twice a week, I will pack a homemade lunch and bring it to work. A = 2x/week | C = 1x/week SIDE QUEST: NINJA MISSIONS [+1 WIS] What’s a ninja without missions to go on? Even if it is as simple as, "I need that hole punch." Having a to-do list really worked last time to help keep my life in order, and I want to keep that up especially since my life is going to start picking back up with crazy busy-ness. But based on lessons learned from last time, I’m going to make a couple of adjustments: one, that Saturday and Sunday will combine to make one to-do list for the entirety of the weekend; and two, that there is no minimum number of things I need to cross off, as long as I make an honest effort at doing as many things on the list as possible. A = 6x/week | B = 4-5x/week | C = 3x/week | D = 1-2x/week Let's Go Ninja!!!!!!!
  3. "'Like an astronaut that's scared of heights With a heart that's beating at the speed of light You've been waiting for this feeling all your life Sometimes it's just hard to realize When you're stuck in a moment And your spark has been stolen This is our time to own it So own it Baby, we were born with Fire and gold in our eyes Got lightning in a bottle Hands on the throttle Even in the dust we shine..." Main Quest: Rehab, rehab, rehab. Try not to lose my mind or my fighting spirit while I rehab. Become a better aerialist while I rehab. Improve my lifts while I rehab. And be more fabulous like this lovely lady... Quest 1: you have that lean, hungry look (+2 CON, +1 WIS) I feel you, Jack, I want to eat everything in sight, too. But I really need to stop eating like an asshole. No specifics because I KNOW what eating like an asshole is and isn't, and I'll be honest. I get 4 "fuck it" days over the course of the challenge because sometimes a girl needs a 1200 calorie lunch. Therefore, considering the challenge is 26 days, 22 days of not eating like an asshole. Quest 2: running away with the circus (+3 STR) I'm never going to assist a knife-thrower or allow myself to be chained up in a water tank, but I can keep on with straddle work. Getting a bit lazy so instead of reps-per-session, I'll just require a cumulative number of straight/straight straddles. These can be done on silks or at the gym on the pull-up bar. 50 straight/straight straddles. Quest 3: finding balance (+3 DEX) Balance isn't always easy, just ask Dottie. Fortunately, compared to balancing Father O'Leary, Hugh, and Phryne, I feel like I've got an easier task. I've been playing with forearm stands in preparation for eventually doing scorpion pose, so I'll commit to 8 forearm stand practice sessions. Life Quest: unapologetically fabulous (+1 CHA) I'll never be as fab as Phryne, alas, but I'm really bad at remembering lipstick and perfume - and amusingly enough, when I actually bother with them, I immediately feel more put together and like I can take on the world. So I think I'll just have to MAKE myself take the 5 extra minutes once in awhile. I'll commit to 8 days of lipstick and perfume. Maybe it seems silly, but a girl does want to feel fab once in awhile.... and I do not wake up #flawless, unlike Miss Fisher. I'll even try to post pics because why not? Shall we? Final Check-In Quest 1: you have that lean, hungry look - A I'm one day short of the mark today, putting me at 95%. if I eat sensible today, that'll be 100%. Either way, done deal. Quest 2: running away with the circus - A+ 50 straddles done. And they're feeling super solid now! Quest 3: finding balance - A+% 8 sessions done. I've got brief hints of balance though there's still work to do. Life Quest: unapologetically fabulous - A+ Did the lipstick and perfume thing 8 times. Looked extra fabulous for all my meetings. Am a little more likely now to fuss with my appearance for work, so good things. Next - get back to doing nice things with my hair and wearing pretty dresses. Snow, go away. Overall, this format was a good one for the shorter challenges. I think I'll keep it. BYE WEEK HERE I COME THANK GOODNESS FOR YOU.
  4. A Koan that's been on my mind lately. You probably know it: * A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted! * I first learned this one when I was in high school, but I didn't really know what it meant until I was in college, working door to door selling books. I was never very good at it, and the temptation to despair was always very close. I ended up repeating this story to myself a lot, and I found it really helped me. The circumstances, as usual, have changed. I have a job now. The writing gig finally came though, and it came through in a big way. Which is great. But there are problems. I am... aware of how tenuous things are now for the company that I work with. I feel like this job could leave any day, and the money with it. Meanwhile, I have rent and car payments and property taxes and insurance jumping through the roof, and I'll be selling plasma before the week's out to make ends meet. And also, I'm writing a novel. You'd think I was completely overwhelmed, and to be honest, it kinda does feel that way. But honestly? On a day to day basis? I actually feel happy. I joke with people and say that I've lost my emotional capacity for things going right, but the fact is, moment by moment, I'm excited. I feel like I've got more and better in me than I have in a long time, and I feel like I'm stepping into the ring. There's so freaking much I want to do in this challenge, that it's hard to figure out what four I want to do. But in the end, I remember that it's about starting small and going larger. Goal 1: BREAK MY CHAINS - THREE BODYWEIGHT WORKOUTS PER WEEK BASED ON CONVICT CONDITIONING'S "GOOD BEHAVIOR" SCHEDULE I have scoffed at Convict Conditioning before. I don't really dig the glorification of prison life. I think Wade's advice is suspect in a lot of different ways, particularly in how he does progressions and what he considers to be reasonable. And don't get me started on his diet advice. But at the same time, I'm imprisoned by my circumstances. I feel the weight of my disadvantages, and he is one of the few trainers to acknowledge such things. There is a certain purity in that, I think. What I am going to do is attempt to engage some of what he talks about utilizing some of what I've learned. I'll be keeping what he says about time under tension - the 2-1-2 cadence - and I'll be keeping the schedule in broad terms. Monday is for pushing and core work; Thursday is for pulling and leg work; Saturday is all about inversions. These will be customized, however: I'm going to be exploring as many different two-arm variants as I can before progressing to one-arm. And I'll be working many different angles with these moves. I'm setting the progression standards at ten reps per set, with a variable amount of sets: as many as I can do in twenty minutes. Afterward, ten minutes will be dedicated to a finisher of some kind. We'll call this +1 STA, +2 STR. GOAL 2: RE-INTEGRATE SHADOW COMBOS AND UCHIKOMI If the MMA work last challenge taught me anything, it's that you don't need a lot of time to get a quality workout with martial arts moves. The thing is, I'm responsible for knowing moves in a couple arts already. If I'm going to go back to the dojo, I need to practice those moves. Six days per week, I'm going to practice ten striking combos and ten uchikomi. The striking combos must all end in gyaku zuki, and the throw will be uchi mata. Each week progressing, I will add ten combinations and uchikomi to the mix. +5 DEX GOAL 3: THE BEST PART OF WAKING UP IS NO PAIN So, something I've grappled with for years is waking up in the morning and dealing with pain in my lower back. Learning SMR helped a great deal with that, and learning how to traction joints helped a great deal as well. Coming back to a standing desk has helped a ton as well. I want to go one step further and start every morning off with a couple minutes of flow work. It loosens up the joints, gets blood flowing, and even has some metabolic benefits attached to it as well. +4 CON LIFE GOAL: MEDITATE This was a mini-challenge we posted last challenge, and I don't know how it went for everyone else, but I got a lot of benefit out of it. I was passed an audio from OmHarmonics and it made a huge difference to my practice. I was on my way to developing it as a habit when the tumult of getting a job swept in and nearly killed it. I want to get that back. +3 WIS And there we have it. A longer, rambling intro, but I haven't done one of those in a while. Last challenge of the year, folks. If ever there was gonna be a time to finish strong, this would be it. Let's go to work.
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