Last Push before Fort Yargo XTERRA

Here is a quick run-down of my final run-up to the race:

Saturday, 12 April
Day off

Sunday, 13 April
Brick: 25-minute bike followed by a 35-minute run – both at tempo or higher. Spent most of the afternoon paddling a Kayak. It’s good to mix it up. Burned some serious calories and got a great does of sunshine and good times.

Monday, 14 April
Swim: 30 minutes – alternated with and without pull buoy.

Tuesday, 15 April
Yoga: 60 minutes – Sunrise Flow at Kula. I surfed for about an hour and a half later in the day. Not great surf but always good to get out there and recharge the spirit.

Wednesday, 16 April
Bike: 90 minutes – 30 minutes of tempo or higher at Martins Dairy and then about an hour of cruising with friends. Just a fun day in the woods.

Thursday, 17 April
Run: 40 minutes – Fartlek style intervals at home on the trail.

The peaks and valleys of intervals. Trying my best to gain some speed.

The peaks and valleys of intervals. Trying my best to gain some speed.

Finished the day with a 60-minute Yin Yoga session at Kula. Slightly mellower than the last few Yin classes but so good.

Friday, 18 April
Bike: 90 minutes – a somewhat mellow cruise around the Dairy with friends. It was a beautiful day in the woods, and we stepped into a few intervals along the way.

Saturday, 19 April
Surf: over 3 hours – I surfed in Wilbur by the Sea in the morning and the walkways at Ponce Inlet in the afternoon. Both sessions were super fun. Good size and swell direction with clean conditions and spring-time water temperature. It was just a wonderful day to spent in the water.

Sunday, 20 April (the beginning of my taper for the race)
Day off

Monday, 21 April
Day off

Tuesday, 22 April
Yoga: 60 minutes – Sunrise Flow at Kula. On this morning, I took it a bit easy. This is what I truly love about yoga. It is my practice, and I’ve become competent enough to be able to control my effort level. The yogis at Kula have always been welcoming to everyone and are great at a sending a consistent message about being in control of your own practice.

Wednesday, 23 April
Bike: 60 minutes – a nice mellow cruise around Martins Dairy.

Thursday 24 April
Swim: 25 minutes – yeah, I slacked. Just couldn’t finish the last 5 minutes. I’m sure it will have a drastic impact on my race. I hope I can find a way to deal with such heavy guilt.

Friday, 25 April
Bike: 60 minutes – after the 7 or so hours of driving to the Ft. Yargo area, I pre-rode a bit of the course to get acclimated to the trail conditions. I rode a section of the run course
(I wanted to avoid having to complete the entire bike loop) and the Monster Mile, which is the most technical trail on the track. I’m glad I rode; I gained some confidence, learned some of the tighter sections of trail, and found that I needed to drop tire pressure to avoid some unwanted slippage.

Saturday, 26 April
Race report coming soon…

Posted in 2014, florida, Health and Wellness, intervals, kula yoga, Mountain biking, Ride Report, Surfing, Swimming, trail running, Uncategorized, XTERRA, Yoga | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Couple Questions Answered on Fitness Podcasts

I am an avid podcast listener, as I’ve had it with our standard sound-bite culture and now much prefer long-form conversation and the idea that I can pull what I want from the information vortex rather than having information pushed on me.

This first one is from the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast and is a fun reply to a question about stinky gear:

This second one is from Endurance Planet and is a reply to some questions I had about how to best prepare for the XTERRA at Ft. Yargo:


Note: If you are not a podcast listener (yet), get out on the web or to iTunes and sample some shows. All you have to do is search your favorite topics.

Posted in 2014, injury, Mountain biking, recovery, Training report, triathlon, Uncategorized, XTERRA | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Epic Ride at Little Big Econ

My son, Shael, turned seven on 10 April. A few weeks before his birthday, I asked him if he had something special in mind. After his usual request for Sushi dinner, he said that he wanted to “do something special with me.” No lie. I was super proud and felt so special. He is such a great kid. Very sweet and loving. I can’t ask for anything more in my big guy.

We discussed possibilities over several days or so, and at the last minute, I suggested that we go somewhere he had never ridden. Little Big Econ State Forest became the call – not just for the fun trails and fun time in the woods, but for the possibility of seeing an alligator. All of our requests were met many times over, and we left with two of the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen on a dad and son.

Over the course of more than three hours, we meandered and navigated our way through everything I know at this maze of unmarked trails through deep and very old Florida. We ended up riding the entire river route, past the last trail near the river into the woods, and to a service road on the far side. And yes, I said, “over three hours.” This is shocker. The trails are not tough for me, but he is seven and riding a 24 inch mountain bike, which is slightly big on him (think a 29er looks big on someone with a small frame). Not once did he complain. Not once did he want to turn back. The only thing we did was stop here and there to gaze at gigantic alligators and sip some water. Here are some photos:

Stopping for our first alligator siting. Look across the far back (click the image to enlarge) and you will see it. A small one for the day.

Stopping for our first alligator sighting. Look across the far bank (click the image to enlarge) and you will see it. A small one for the day.

The trooper peering out from behind a tree. Lurking in the woods. Sneaking up on the gator.

My trooper peering out from behind a tree. Lurking in the woods. Sneaking up on the gator.








All of this is pretty amazing. I am still blown away at his endurance and technical skill on the bike, but there’s a kicker…

We did not bring any food with us. I dug a gel out of my pack at the half way point. I took just a little to trick my body into releasing some stored energy, and he had the rest. Yes. The math is correct. We rode three hours (mellow pace, of course) on nothing but water and a couple sips of gel.

Here’s the last gator we saw before getting creeped out and heading back to the truck for some snacks and cold water:


Sunning. Too close for comfort. I estimate this one in the eight-foot range. We saw two that were significantly bigger.

Cheers and Happy Birthday Shael. I love you.

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Training Report – March 31 – April 11 – Long Block

Monday, 31 March
As my usual, I started the week with a day off; it seems to work, well, until it doesn’t. Seven-day blocks are sometimes not enough.

Tuesday, 1 April
I continue to be able to crack it and drive to the yoga studio in the dark for a bit of Sunrise Vinyassa Flow. It is a great way to start the day/week and get my body ready for what I’ll put it through as the week unfolds. It can be a tough class, but on this day I added some stuff to make it tougher – plank, push-ups, and some strap stretches for my IT band and whatever anatomical structures run up and down the other side.

Later in the day, I found my way across the sidewalk for a 30-minute swim. Fairly easy with 10 minutes standard and 20 minutes with a swim float. I have been feeling good with the shorter, more frequent swims. More than anything, they are easier to schedule and get done. When feeling strong, I can just go harder, which is what I need right now anyway. My base will always be there in the water.

Wednesday, 2 April
Started the morning on the bike for 60 minutes around tempo meandering through Martins Dairy. I headed straight out to Grueler for 3Xs hills – 1 to Face and 2 to the top of Innerloop (slightly shorter) and back around. I left the electronics at home but still stayed at high heart rate by feel.

Again, I found my way to a 30-minute swim. This time, I did two sets of 5 minutes with the float, 5 minutes with the paddles and float, and then 5 minutes standard.

Thursday, 3 April
My running seems to be getting slightly stronger. I got in 6 laps at home; the trail is 3/4 mile, which is right about the distance of the run split at Yargo. Here is some data; still hadn’t paired my foot pod for cadence and pace:

This was a kind of impromptu MAF run/test. I was able to keep it consistent. Not speedy yet but getting there.

This was a kind of impromptu MAF run/test. I was able to keep it consistent. Not speedy yet but getting there.

Finished the day with a mildly more difficult Yin Yoga session. As most days, it was 60 minutes. The substitute instructor definitely worked us harder. It felt more like a cross between Vinyassa and Yin.

Friday, 4 April
Fridays can often work for a long day out. I made this a variable day. Felt I needed more fun than torture. I got in about 2 hours at ye ole Dairy. Headed out the back door, rode two loops, added some Florida-style softsand climbing, took a 10 minute beer and banana break, rode to the top of the Innerloop, and then finished the single track on the way back through the back door and home. It felt like a long ride on tired legs. Maybe the beer had some impact. No. Can’t blame the beer.

Saturday, 5 April
I ran the trail at home again. This time for about 35 minutes. I wanted to push and see what I could do and monitor with my Garmin (see below), but for some reason I struggled to raise and keep my heart rate up. Not sure if what was going on. Fatigue. Probably.

Did get some interesting data though:

Bunch of run data. Finally got my electronics running.

Bunch of run data. Finally got my electronics running.

My cadence, average pace, and best pace do give me a bit of hope. Hips did not give me too much grief. Just the normal age complaints. Easy to ignore, sometimes.

Sunday, 6 April
A few waves arrived, so I grabbed about an 1:45 in the water. Once the tide dropped, most of the swell went with it. Called it a day and went home for a short 20-minute brick: 1 bike lap warm-up, 1 bike lap at tempo, transition practice, one lap running at tempo, 1 bike lap to cool down. It was interesting. Following a surf was a good idea, so this might become a favorite work out. Modified triathlon.

Monday, 7 April
Instead of my normal day off, I hit up the pool for a 30-minute swim: 20 minutes with the float, 10 without. I sense a pattern developing. I hope it is not stagnation.

A couple days prior, I borrowed a martial-arts-style kick tower. I want to modify some workouts, so I can continue cardio even with tired multi-sport muscles. This was my first attempt. I got in about 20-30 minutes of not-sure-what-to-call-it-yet training. It is kind of a combination of punching, kicking and spazzing.

I felt this was kind of a day of active recovery. Not too much impact. Just time.

Tuesday, 8 April
See 1 April, though I did a 30-minute swim all with the float. Tired legs and bike day coming.

Wednesday, 9 April
This is when the week started getting messy. I did get in 90 minutes, but it was ugly. I went down twice kind of hard. For about the first half of the ride, it was pitch black, and all the new trees and foliage were drooping low with rain water from a late night storm. It was like riding through a wet tunnel with blinders. Hit a root, banged my shin and knees and rolled around in the bushes. Later on, I hit a patch of damp sand on top of sugar sand, which felt like hitting wet cement. Front tire lost tracking, fish tailed, and when I pulled my foot out and put it town, I banged the shit out of my other knee. What a bitch. Next time I ride in the dark, I’m wearing pads.

In the evening, I did 20 minutes of bag work – see 7 April for visual description.

Thursday, 10 April
Had a good 30-minute swim. Though I did use the float the whole time, my form felt really smooth, and my pace was super consistent. I was dancing and pulling the water. No fighting at all, even toward the end.

Made it to Kula again. It was the same 60-minute Yin session, but it was yet another instructor, who pushes a bit harder.

Later in the evening, I wanted to run, but I didn’t want to push it and risk injury. Feeling on the edge; tomorrow is always a new day. Long blocks reveal cautionary tales.

Friday, 11 April
I ended up finishing with one of the best days of overall training ever. The day started with a solid 25-minute run at or around tempo. About midday, my 7-year old son, Shael – who turned 7 on Thursday, and I headed out for a special ride at Little Big Econ State Forest. We set out for a good long ride, but I was so impressed with his endurance that we just kept going. We ended up making it to the farthest point I can find along the river. The trails are not that technical early on, but there are some quick drops and climbs and roots that can be tricky, and down right tough for my little. We ended up riding between 2:45 and 3 hours. Yes. No lie. No exaggeration. We were out longer, but I subtracted a bit for stopping for a drink and gazing with excitement and concern at the sheer numbers and gargantuan size of the alligators. We saw at least six – five were what I’d think would be in the 10-foot range. One was so close across the far bank that we both got the creeps – note: I grew up in Florida, so there suckers were no joke. I’ll post a bit more on that later. Last, we did this ride with nothing but water and one gel between us. Impressive little guy!

This was definitely a long block of training. My body did well. Nothing to egregious to write about. Just normal fatigue and some bruises. Nothing a bit of Arnica won’t make short work of. Sorry for the long post. If you made it this far, congratulations; your perseverance is endurance on its own.



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Training Report – March 25 – 30

This week marked one month out from the XTERRA in Yargo, GA, and I took that to mean I better see what I can do. That’s right… I am attempting to hit it hard – real training rather than having fun riding mountain bikes and even more fun in the parking lot drinking beer with the boys. The latter can certainly be more entertaining and less painful, but it is time for me to either get fat or get fit. Shit. I even dusted off my Garmin, though the thing has been so lonely that it lost its energy to live, and I had to go to the store to get a battery to bring it back to life. Maybe there is a metaphor lurking in there somewhere, but I’m not sure if someone shoved a battery up my proverbial who-ha, it would do any good, so I guess I’ll just have to eat some food, drink some fluids, get some rest and see if there’s any life left in my cells…

Here is what I accomplished in a six-day window:

Tuesday, 25 March
Yoga: 60 mins – Sunrise Flow – Vinyasa can be tough. I’ve replaced strength training at the gym for yoga. Not sure about the efficacy yet. Time will tell, though I love Kula.

Swim: 45 mins – 5- minute warm up with swim buoy. 15 minutes standard freestyle for at test. I got in about 40 laps / 1000 yards. Not too bad but will improve. I finished with a rotation of with and without the buoy. I don’t want to push it yet.

Wednesday, 26 March
Run: 45 mins – I completed 6 laps at home on our trail with a bit extra at the end to complete the 45 mins – not too bad. The run equates to about 5 miles, which is the longest I’ve run since Whitewater in July. Success. Yes. Baby steps. Thanks Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss.

Thursday, 27 March
Bike: 90 mins – I hit up the Dairy, which I can now access without touching pavement and alternated with intervals to need.

Bike graph. The peaks are hill repeats. Soft sand with slight incline is the best I can do around here.

Bike graph. The peaks are hill repeats. Soft sand with slight incline is the best I can do around here.

7-minute brick at MAF.

7-minute brick at MAF.

Once I got home, I did a quick 7-minute run to force out the brick. Legs felt ok, surprisingly.

Yoga: 60 mins – Yin is a bit slower and the poses are held longer. It was a perfect complement to the day. Just beautiful. Not much else to say.

Friday, 28 March
Swim: 30 mins – Quick swim. Not much time. 2o minutes with buoy. 10 without. Just getting in the time. Muscle memory is so important leading up to races, at least that is what I’m telling myself.

Bike: 2:00 hours – just shy of – Road all around both sides of Dairy. This was a classic Fartlek ride conforming to the terrain and my energy level – only ate a banana and a gel – probably burned 1000 C. Metabolic efficiency is such the contemporary new trend. Or is it? Damn. Is that how they tracked down elk back in the day? Not sure. But eating less makes things easier on a mountain bike. Crashing with a gel in hand certainly won’t speed anyone up. Just makes for a sticky mess.

Saturday, 29 March
Run: 60 mins – see Garmin graph. Forgot my foot pod. Oh well… Next time. This was my longest run since Wednesday.

60-minute trail run. Not great numbers but quite consistent.

60-minute trail run. Not great numbers but quite consistent.

Sunday, 30 March
Bike: 90 minutes – I felt ok. It was a long week of work and trying to train. The math ruled this day. 10 hours total seemed like a nice number, so I made sure I got in 10 hours. Wow. Now, don’t I feel good about myself. Not really, but it is better than complaining about my hips and my aging body. 

Swim: 1:45
Bike: 5:00
Run: 1:52
Yoga: 2:00
Total: app. 10:30

Today (April Fool’s Day) marked the beginning of another week. I will continue what I’ve started and see if this body can withstand. If not, there is always the joy of drinking beer and watching the body grow in different directions – body, mind and spirit…


Posted in 2014, intervals, kula yoga, Mountain biking, Swimming, trail running, training, Training report, Uncategorized, XTERRA, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Current Status

I wish I could say that I ready and gunning for a gnarly season in 2014, which is what I was planning at the beginning of the 2013 season, but it just isn’t going to happen, and I’ve been avoiding putting this information out in the netters of the inter-webs. Mainly, I’ve been avoiding admitting it to myself; I guess I wasn’t ready, but as the XTERRA season heats up and race reports and raised hands of victory appear in our digitized world, I can’t help but realize the reality of my current status. I’m still injured. The acute injury happened at the beginning of May last year, as I was doing some downhill run training for the Southeast Championship at Oak Mountain. This less-than-celebratory anniversary is nearing, and I am still not 100 percent.

Though this is honest, I am still going to race this year; it is doubtful I will make it back to Oak Mountain (though not out of the question); but right now, my eyes are set on the XTERRA at Ft. Yargo, GA. It is a short course, so even if I’m in pain, I’ll still be able to race. The swim and bike shouldn’t be a problem, so I won’t sandbag those splits, but for the run, it will be a wait and see what happens kind of scenario. The run course is five miles, and I haven’t run more than 5k since the Whitewater Race last July.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; here’s what I’ve been up to:

I’ve really just been trying to have fun and not push to pain. I’ve been surfing, swimming, biking, strength training, hiking, doing yoga, and fitting some short runs in when my body says, “I’m feeling it today, Jim.” My miles and training hours have not been nearly as high as this time last year, but I don’t think I’ve de-trained too much. My base is still there waiting…

Some Highlights:

The annual OMBA Fat Tire Festival was just a blast. We planned to camp for the whole weekend, but we had some things come up and were only able to make it for Saturday. The riding I did get in was just re-energizing. I estimate that I rode about 30 miles and most of it was on the red trails – lots of short up and downs and very technical. This was on 8 March. On the Friday before, the waves just pumped, and I surfed as hard as I could for as long as I could; it was one of the best days I’ve see around here in a long while (search the web and/or FakeBook for New Smyrna Inlet and March 7 – it may turn something up). I followed with a short surf on Sunday. Tired legs.

On the following Friday, I rode out of the house to Martins Dairy on a new backdoor trail. I can now get to the trail system without touching any pavement, and the back route is through some beautifully-dense Live Oak and Magnolia stands. Fun trail but could use some grooming. I kind of just meandered around the entire trail system for about two hours – stopping for a beer break on the high point of Overlook. Great ride. Felt strong. Bike is feeling solid. Later that night, my wife dropped me, my bike and my gear off at a friend’s shop for a bit of jamming. After, I rode home (bit buzzed but under control), which took about an hour. Hell yeah. I got in my three hours of riding.

And this week has started quite well. On Monday, I got in a short but solid swim; on Tuesday, I had a longer, less intense swim, and this morning, I rode the Dairy backwards before daybreak for a little over an hour (very technical with just a handlebar light) and followed it with a 5k brick run at home on our 3/4 mile loop trail. Time: about 25 minutes. Not too bad. Planning some yoga tomorrow and hopefully some long and steady bike / run options for the rest of the week.

Posted in 2014, injury, Matin's Dairy Trail Conditions, Mountain biking, Ride Report, Surfing, Swimming, trail running, Training report, Uncategorized, XTERRA, Yoga | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Passing the Flame

On Saturday of this past weekend, my son, Shael, and I ran a 5k. The race was a fundraiser for Grassroots Giving, a not-for-profit with the mission of “Enhancing the lives of our local children by funding an array of extra-curricular activities and items. These experiences and opportunities provide personal growth that children may not have otherwise.”

Sprint to the finish. Shael - off the ground and running. Photo: Tim Biggs

Sprint to the finish. Shael – off the ground and running. Photo: Tim Biggs

Finish line artsy shot. Photo: Tim Biggs

Finish line artsy shot. Photo: Tim Biggs







The course was on and off road, in and around Destination Daytona in Ormond Beach, FL. The route went through parking lots, on roads and sidewalks, through the woods and around a few retention ponds. The whole event was well done and super fun.

And the results are in:

Male 10 & Under:
1 Shael Newell (6) New Smyrna, FL 36:45
2 Troy Kiel (7) Ormond Beach, FL 37:33
3 Ronan Runyan (6) Ormond Beach, FL 37:41

The 10 and under podium. Photo: Brandon Runyun

The 10 and under podium.
Photo: Brandon Runyan

Not too bad for a six-year old’s first ever foot race. Congrats Shael! I now have a new favorite memory.

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A Damn Good Day for Fitness

As I continue to nurse my injuries from last year’s over-training and over-racing, I’ve come to terms with several things: 1) Time is essential yet painfully dreadful (I want, but I shouldn’t. I can’t, but I do. Don’t take this advice); 2) Life does exist outside endurance sports (True, but I still don’t act on it); 3) Pain is manageable (True, but some pain is not physical); 4) I’m not going to stop (I can go easy, but I can’t); 5) Beer helps (Not really, but it really helps the non-physical. Again, don’t take this advice).

This past Sunday, I ignored all of this, and the above played out in perfect unison. With a headache from too many beers on Saturday, I headed out early for my morning ride (with my Irish Setter Lily) to warm up my haggard body. Nothing felt too out of sorts, and I continued into my normal stretching/yoga routine. I followed this with about 20 minutes of running on the trail I built on our property and added a couple short bursts of speed to test the waters. I checked the time and had just enough of a window to ride my funky little Revive bike to the yoga studio . Kula rips!

The yoga session is their Sunday Detox, which is a bit longer than normal at 1:15, and it is not for the weary. Suffice it to say that I didn’t make it through every pose, and had to opt out a couple times and take a resting pose. After the class, I was stalling a bit to get in some much needed hydration and to give my legs some recovery before the ride home that I forced upon myself, which is both good and evil – like the old cartoons with the angel and devil on each shoulder. One is saying, “This will be lovely and good for you.” The other saying, “Hahaha. You just wait until after yoga.”

With my over-dramatizing aside, it ended up being a great day out. The weather was perfect – mid 70s – and the sun was shining. But the joke was on me. Since I had to be to the studio by a certain time, I had to ride hard on the way there, and, of course, this always means a stiff headwind. Right? And, as Murphy states, the little red guy on my shoulder is destined to win, as I was rewarded with a wind switch and a stiff headwind on the way home as well. Lucky me.

My total time for the day ended up being slightly over three hours (bike ride was about 40 minutes each way); it’s been a long time since I hit numbers like that, and I’m already looking forward to next Sunday. Heck, maybe it will gradually get easier or I’ll be gifted with a tailwind on the way home.

And to bookend this post, here is what was waiting for me when I got home (after some food, of course):

New Belgium Brewery’s Ranger IPA. A lovely brew. Photo: I took it from the web. Laziness, I know.

Posted in Beer, injury, Road Biking, trail running, Training report, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I Done Run / The Mini Brick

As I’m tipping my hat to the South for a rhyming title, I have to admit that it fits. Done. I run. Well… I thought I ran, but then 2013 happened, and I haven’t run since the middle of July. Count them – six damn months. Yes. I meant that.

Ok. Now that I have that off my chest, I’ll explain what I mean. On Sunday, for some reason, I’d had enough. I’ve been dealing with hip issues since May and PT (which has ended due to insurance change) since around August. About midday, I decided it was time to put on my shoes and go. Luckily, we have a 3/4 mile trail on our properly, so I just walked out the door and hit the trail — slowly. And I was actually smart. I ran two slow laps and stopped while I was ahead. Amazing that can happen. On Monday, I didn’t feel much effect at all and hit up a Yoga class. No problems, so I ran again this morning.

To be honest, I didn’t just run. I did the the shortest brick I’ve ever done. It is funny to even call it a brick, but in hindsight, it is, so why not? Each day, I take a bike ride with my Irish Setter, Lily. Today, I had a bit of flexible time and felt I could run again. Lily and I headed out for about 15 to 20 minutes of easy cruising, I stretched when we got home, and hit up the trail for a little over one lap – about one ten-minute mile.

Hopefully, this means my days are lookin’ brighter…

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A Real Wellness / Fitness Plan – Yoga Included

In our current era of what US culture has quantumly mislabeled “health care,” I’ve been paying for insurance for so long I can’t remember. Sometimes the price was reasonable; sometimes it was not. Since I started at Daytona State (formerly Daytona Beach Community College) in 2005, my health insurance has been taken care of through my benefit package. At first, I had to only add my wife, Jennifer, so the annual fee was somewhat “reasonable.” Now, it is the four of us and the costs are astronomical to cover the whole family. Yeah. Like I’m saying something new and insightful. Duh. We all know this and have been locked into the dysfunction for so long most of us have given up the fight and just grumble under our breath and move on with our lives.

This year the college changed plans, again. I had to make a decision. I went to the presentations. I thought deeply about the different plans. On one side was the PPO, which was what I had with the previous company. On the other side was the HMO, which so many people have given me grave warnings about – sometimes to the point of telling me it was a form of Socialism, though I have to admit I don’t think these people really know what the word means. I looked at the plans and decided on the HMO. I did not decide on price necessarily, though the HMO is slightly less expensive. I did not decide because of the doctors on the plan – seems to me these days most physicians practice on prescription pads rather than healthcare or concern. Chemical bandaids for all. Hooray!

No. I did not decide because of these typical factors in the process. I decided on the HMO because it is the first plan that I’ve ever been offered that has a true and functional wellness / fitness plan. In Volusia County, I can go to gyms and other fitness oriented establishments whenever and wherever I want. This sounds great, right? Well, yesterday I tested the system to see if it was all they claimed. To my amazement, it was not smoke and mirrors. There was no hidden cost. No co-pay. Nothing. And guess what? I did not have to go to some rundown dump. I went to Kula Yoga, which is a new yoga studio in Port Orange. When I arrived, all I had to do was give them my member ID, sign in, and sign a waiver. That’s it. I was hopeful, yet skeptical. And so far, the plan delivered.

As for the yoga, it was the first time I’ve ever been to a yoga class. I’ve been using yoga, mainly Surya Namaskara, in my stretching routine for many years, but the cost of going to classes has always been prohibitive. I’ve read some books, watched some videos, and read plenty of articles in magazines, so I know enough to keep up. I wouldn’t say I can “flow,” but I did not embarrass myself either. The class I attended was called YogaLates, and it was labeled “all levels.” The class was, as the name implies, a combination of yoga and Pilates, and I was happily surprised at the intensity and focus on strength. It was also labeled “warm,” which I found to be a bit misleading, as it was down right blazing, so I’m not sure how hot “hot” is a Kula. I was sweating while laying on my mat waiting to start.

Today, as I sit here and write, I am sore. I think the change in muscle groups is a good thing. The instructor started us off with some standard yoga, mainly variations on Surya Namaskara, and transitioned into the Pilates on large balance balls. We mainly worked the core, which I know is a washy term – knees to nipples, as I’ve heard. We did a ton of push-up-style work with thighs, knees, and shins up on the ball and then reversed and worked the lumbar parts of the core. By this point, I had created my own tepid swimming pool on my mat, and I think I sweated out a couple pounds. Overall, a great workout to start my Friday morning. Before the class began, I looked around getting my bearings and wondered why so many of the others had full-size bath towels laid on top of their mats. Well, it only took me about three minutes to figure out that puzzle. Next time, I’ll have one to alleviate water yoga and actually have some grip. For much of the time, it was like trying to do yoga on a greased baking pan.

What does this all say? It says that maybe our culture is beginning to see the benefits of providing wellness care rather than just sickness care (Yes. I know their decision is mainly financial rather than from a sense of personal concern). I plan to use my new benefit and test out other gyms and studios all over the area. I finally feel as if I am getting back some of the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve paid into a long broken system.

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