REI Outdoor School: Intro Road Cycling and Sunset SUP Yoga

Hey all! I’ve been SO BUSY FINALLY living life again after grad school that I have so much to catch you all up on! Today I’ll start filling you in on some awesome REI Outdoor classes I took in June!

Intro to Road Cycling 6/8

Since I got real road bike in Jan, I thought this would be a good class to take to learn more tips on how to improve form, get questions answered about training and what to look for in new gear (clip ins, shoes, and maybe a new bike sometime next year….). Not only did I get ALL of that, but I ended up being the ONLY person in the class! (Disclaimer: this is NOT a normal thing to happen, but I’ll explain how this amazing chance occurred below!)

Originally there were 3 people signed up for the class (including myself). When I arrived, apparently one person dropped out after the 48hr drop period ended and the third person was running late.  When the 3rd person arrived, she took one look at us and said, “You look like legit bikers, I was signed up for this class as a gift and I think they signed me up for this as a mistake. I don’t even know how to ride a bike.” Long story short, that person was transferred to the other “Intro to Biking (How to Ride a Bike for Adults)” class going on that day, while my instructor and I went on a near 30 mile bike ride.

We went along the American River Trail, did some street riding, and stopped a couple places along the way for breaks (cuz riding hard in running shoes = feet fall asleep).  My instructor and I rode side by side most of the time at a good clip, but still able to hold a conversation. He told me all kinds of tips about riding, answered all the questions I had, and told me that my bike is a bit short (lengthwise) for my body. He said its fine for now, but I “sit up” a bit more than usual.

Who this class is for: If you have NEVER been on a road bike before, are pretty new to biking rules of the road, have a beginner fitness level etc… this class is for you. Normally, the ride is 6 miles out, stop for hour lecture, 6 miles back. Had I known, I would have taken this class in Jan when I was given this hand-me-down bike.  Since I’ve been riding and had already done a sprint triathlon on this bike, if this class were like “usual”, it would have been too slow paced for me, especially since I would be among 7 other people of a variety of fitness levels.

Sunset SUP Yoga 6/28SunsetSUPYoga

What is SUP? SUP = Stand Up Paddleboarding. What is SUP Yoga? Doing yoga on a paddle board! You work your core SO MUCH MORE! If you love yoga and are looking for a new challenge, try SUP Yoga! I LOVE IT!  This class was held at Willow Creek at a local State Park (had to pay to park) from 6:30-8:30 in the evening, but it was still 90 degrees out (so hot…).

How the class is structured: First we had introductions, all 15 of us: 1 yoga instructor, 1 safety officer, 13 students. Our yoga teacher had us break the ice by sharing our “guilty pleasure”. Many people said food types or shows, but I said “I’m taking guitar lessons to specifically learn how to play and sing all the Taylor Swift songs”, which people seemed to like. Yes I like Taylor Swift 🙂 And guitar lessons is another thing I need to blog about…. Anyway after ice breakers we were briefed on how to properly use a life vest, paddle board, carrying equipment in/out of the water, rules etc.. This took maybe 30-40 min.

Then it was time to get in the water! There are bungee cords attached to the top of the paddle board, so you can carry gear like water bottles, strap your shoes underneath when you are on the board etc. Very handy! Since this is a SUP yoga class, we only paddled out maybe 100 yards near a little rock island area to start our yoga class. We only use the life vests to paddle out and back, not during our yoga session (so it goes under the bungee in the meantime).

It was SO awesome being on the water, feeling the breeze, water at your finger tips (during some modified poses) and it is way more challenging to do balance poses! A few people fell in during the course of the class (all in good fun) and it was kind of funny going into a warrior pose and then hearing “Splash” “giggle”. We did about a full hour of yoga and then at the end, she opened up the opportunity for people to do headstands/forearm balance poses on the paddle board.  Honestly this is probably the best place to practice that since you fall into water instead of on the hard ground. I didn’t want to be soaking wet on the ride home, so I opted out, but my next SUP Yoga class is in the morning followed by an intro to SUP class right after, so I’ll be sure to try then! (and I’ll be dry by the time I go home)

Who this class is for: Anyone looking to expand their yoga horizons!


Why you should take REI Outdoor School classes:

  • After each class you get 20% off coupon for REI or Novara brand item (no expiration!) after you fill out the class survey (rank quality of course, content, instructors).
  • Discounted classes for members (usually $20+ off depending on the class). So join here (one time $19 cost)!
  • Annual refund: For certain full priced items purchased, you get 10% back, so it all adds up! Like GUs!
  • Learn a new skill or hone one you are looking for additional instruction!
  • Meet new people and have fun!

Depending on your area, you might have lots of classes offered or a limited selection. Being in Sacramento, I’m fortunate to have access to ALL kinds of classes, whereas in the Monterey Bay area, they didn’t offer much at all (they had maybe 2 types of classes and not very frequently). So check out your local area on REI Outdoor School Classes online here.

Future Classes I’ll blog about:

  • Morning SUP Yoga
  • Intro to SUP
  • Sunset SUP tour

Have you ever taken an REI Oudoor School course?


First Barre

Happy Friday everyone! Another goal of mine for this year is to try a couple new fitness classes and Wednesday morning, I survived my first barre class!

IMG_3548To prepare for the new class (since the gym website didn’t offer info about what to bring) I googled ‘taking your first barre class’ and discovered it wouldn’t be too different than yoga. Suggestions included: bringing a water bottle, wearing athletic clothing (tight capri length preferred), grip socks and a yoga mat (for some places).  Fortunately I have grip socks (I like to wear around the house), so I brought a couple pairs just in case. Turned out, I didn’t need the socks or my yoga mat! However, I decided to use my mat when I saw some girl put her yoga mat on top of the small foam one.  Seemed like a smart idea because I’d rather have my own sweat all over my own yoga mat than have contact with some old mat that had probably never been cleaned (icky germs).

Once I got my mat set up, I noticed everyone grab a squishy ball (like arm balance clinic!) and a set of weights. Let me just say that I am so thankful to myself for grabbing a set of LIGHT weights (3lb-ers) because that was all I could handle…more on that in a bit. Then I spent time stretching my quads and hammies since I went on a 3 mi run/walk just before this class (yes, a double duty day!).

Then class started.

At first we did a ‘warm up’ with some plie squats and leg kicks with sweeping arms, then quickly moved on to the weights for the next 15 minutes. For example, while continuing to hold a bouncing squat we would do arm raises and holds, punches, etc… aaannnd my arms were dying.  There were only a few counts (of the whole 15 minute period) where I had to put the weights down to give my arms a break.  After the arms were warmed and worked, we did some light stretching. Then we moved to the barre.

IMG_3551Did I mention that I almost fainted?

During that warm up (not super rigorous by the way), I started to feel light headed and nauseous.  Not sure if my breakfast wasn’t sitting right or if I should have eaten a larger breakfast or hydrated more for the back to back workouts…though I did eat a couple bites of my odwalla bar with gulps of water after the run/walk for a little extra fuel. Whatever the reason for my body’s rebellion, I just walked out of class and sat on the floor around the corner for a minute with my head between my legs. After a few big deep breaths I felt much better and went back to class. Didn’t have a problem after that.

The barre.

So innocent looking…yet its the place where my legs turned to jelly. Plies flat footed with some transitions to releve (on the toes), back leg raises, back leg raises with front leg ‘squats’… some small bouncing, over and over until everyone’s legs were quivering.  Which is the point of barre, to get your muscles to shake aka. fatigue the muscles.  It is customary for the teacher to walk by and compliment you if you are shaking, like “Nice shaking“! Between these different exercises we would do some light stretching. I only wish the stretching lasted longer…felt so nice…Even though the actual movements don’t look like much (if you were to watch a class, check out youtube video below), holding them for minutes on end and doing them over and over for a half hour…is tough work!

The floor.

After the barre, we went back to the floor for the final 15 minutes to do core work and stretching. Modified bridge poses with squishy ball between thighs, plank poses (side, front), crunches with legs high up in the air…and then finished with some light stretching.  I was pooped. But I didn’t feel like my body was locking up at any point! Due to my paranoia about injury I did stay an extra 10 minutes after class just stretching (fortunately no class after for another hour). Pretty sure everyone thought I was weird for doing that. Oh well!

The next day.

Yep, I was sore. But at least I could still walk (was a bit worried)! Definitely stretched a few times yesterday, rolled out my muscles with my sprinter stick and slathered BioFreeze all over!  Hopefully I won’t have too much residual soreness for yoga tonight 🙂

What I learned (from this particular class)

  • IMG_3549Stick with my yoga mat and forego the small foam mat.  Being 5’7″, the not-even-4 foot mats were not long enough for me to hold a plank comfortably.  The extra ‘cushion’ just got in the way and didn’t offer any additional benefit to me personally…. but then again I am used to doing poses on the floor in my yoga class.
  • Socks not required (would likely change if I went to a real barre studio).
  • Stick with light weights (for now, add more weight later).
  • It will kick my butt again, but at least I know what to expect and that I can actually do a full hour.

Consensus: Loved the challenge! Even though it was my first class, I feel that my regular yoga and strength training routines over the past year made a HUGE difference in my ability to keep up with the class! I certainly wasn’t struggling, but I wasn’t ‘the best’ either. Not that I’m supposed to compare myself to others….There will be more barre in my future for sure!  🙂

Have you ever taken a Barre class?

If so, what have you learned? If not, would you ever try one?


Wish Upon a Fish

Last Wednesday, I took a class from and learned how to make mood boards in Illustrator! The instructor, Alison (blog The Alison Show), taught an awesome 1 hr class on the subject! I learned how to make a document, place images, create clipping masks, shapes, write text over images, save for web & design and little ‘hot key’ commands along the way…  To see an example of what a board (collage of photos basically) looks like, check out the one I made below! If you have Illustrator and are interested in how to make something of your own, check out Alison’s youtube tutorials!

Wish Upon a Fish

Pin this!

Wish Upon a Fish: I was inspired to make a fish mood board because I am a marine scientist and well, the ocean is my muse!  All of these photos were taken at the Monterey Bay Aquarium during the summer of 2011.  The particular images used to create the board were taken at the most amazing exhibit, the aquarium’s kelp tank!  Its an awesome exhibit because the tank stands two stories tall and has Macrocystis (giant brown kelp) growing inside! The fish and other organisms living in the tank are all native to the Monterey Bay and represent what life looks like ‘under the sea’ in the bay. I LOVE the ocean!

What is this ‘pinterest’?

A fellow blogger (Never Say Never) posted this cartoon the other day:


I pretty much fell into the first box because I had no idea what it was or how to utilize it for bringing traffic to my blog. Until now!

Yesterday I took an online class called Pinterest 101: How to use and utilize Pinterest by Susan Peterson through (#altsummit).  To read more about how I earned 4 free classes (including this one) check out my previous blog posts Must. Love. Blogging: Alt Online Classes and Bing’s Summer of Doing. It was very informative, even though most of it went over my head since I didn’t yet have a pinterest account! Until today! My request for an invitation was accepted so I’m finally on Pinterest! This evening I just started this ‘pinning’ thing and realized I should make art boards with lots of photos so that multiple things can be pinned at once (using Illustrator skills, yeah!).  If you are interested in seeing what I have so far on Pinterest or want to follow me (so I can also follow you) click here!

The instructor, Susan, gave a powerpoint presentation and answered LOTS of questions people had about Pinterest.  To check out her Pin Boards click here and to check out her blog called freshly-picked click here!

Bing’s Summer of Doing!

Today I took my first online blogging-centered class through! It was How to use Illustrator to make your brand yours with Allison and I had so much fun! I had never done an online course before, so it was interesting to log on, see a class chatroom, participate in a brief poll, and then have a host briefly explain how the online class worked.  For illustrator, Alison did a ‘screen share’ online stream so you could see what she was doing on Illustrator. I did my best to follow along, although I’m not very fast with Illustrator since I’m such a newb 😉  If you are interested in some of her online youtube tutorials check out her channel The Alison Show! I know that I will be spending lots of time on her channel and Illustrator this afternoon 🙂 Check back later for a post showing you some of the cool things I learned!

Bing’s Summer of Doing is providing an opportunity for bloggers to take up to 4 of Alt’s online classes for FREE! That’s right, FREE! Just follow the directions on the website for details.
Thank you BING!!!! If you read my previous blog post Must. Love. Blogging: Alt Online Classes, you know that I signed up for an Illustrator class and Advertising/finding sponsors class. Since I already loved the first class, I want to make the most of this awesome opportunity from Bing’s Summer of Doing to take 2 more!!!

Classes I would like to take:
1.  July 20th: Pinterest 101: How to use and utilize Pinterest; I have heard a lot about Pinterest and don’t know how to use it, so I’d like to learn more!!!
2.  July 27th: Photoshop for bloggers; Another Adobe program I have on my computer and don’t really know how to use, but I’d like to learn!
Alternative: July 30th: Content is King. I’m all for learning how to draw in viewers with stronger content!

Alt offers more than just blogging related classes, they offer marketing, social media, life balance and so much more! And even if you don’t get into a class for free, their prices are very affordable!!!! Check them out!!!