Chilly morning – South Mountain Sunrise Hike

Completed the 4th week of sunrise hikes with the sister and we were greeted with a nice chilly morning. Felt much less creaky this morning which told me that a few days of rest with easier yoga and plenty of sleep was very needed.

We were the first car into the park right after the ranger opened the gate. That means we were their early. Like pre sunrise early.

We hit the dark trail with sleep still in the eyes. My mind was still rolling with dreams and questions about recent events. Doubts were replaced with breathing and the sounds of nature. We made the ridge well before sunrise and saw only two others on the trail.

Time for a great Thursday.

Rattlers on the road – sunrise hikes at south mountain

While there was contentment with sleeping in till 6am today I knew that getting out on the trail was the best thing for me right now. After a few snoozes the sister knocked on the door:
“you up?”
“yeah” with a considerable amount of meekness I croaked.

Not much conversation in the car we listened to NPR talking about how the best paying degrees are still for engineering. More of the vocationalization of higher education. “lookie all my stuff!”

Hit the trail and every fiber of my body complained. Took a deep breath and strode on into the blue light of pre dawn. Started feeling better after a few minutes and conversation about what’s going on flowed as we meandered up the road. No EMD this morning as he is recovering from a skin irritation.

Ran into a nice surprise a bit more than halfway to Mormon Trail when a baby rattler made it’s way across the road. Snaped a shot of it for evidence and we made our way on up.

The ridgeline greeted us amicably with the first fingers of sunlight crawling over Four Peaks as we made the first summit. From there it was downhill and we started talking about rim to rim. Thinking of walking Rock and Roll to prepare.

Happy Tuesday!

Back on schedule – South Mountain Sunrise Hike

Thanks to te lack of a severe thunderstorm this morning Chance, Caroline, and I were back on the trail at South Mountain this morning. It was also nicer with a bit less humidity and fewer people on the trail. We handled the moderately steep ridgeline in about an hour.

Overcast, cool and fast – Early Morning South Mountain Hike

The fourth early morning south mountain hike is completed and the dog is panting like a choo-choo train. Hit the trail at 4:54am and got back to the car in an hour after completing the Ridge Line Trail.

A nice layer of clouds blocked out the sunrise and kept things cool this morning.

Chance was his ever eager self and literally pulled us up the hill, and then back down it. We figured out how to give him water from our camelback’s which speeds things up nicely.

When are you going to join us?

Yoga Schools get the Regulatory Pinch, maybe its time for a better business plan?

A friend sent me this NY Times story about how Yoga Schools that teach students to teach yoga are getting pressured into paying the same fees that Massage and Hairdressing Schools have paid for a while. While I am not a fan of paying taxes and fees for most things but I do think that this is A) inevitable and B) a good thing. Yoga Journal has a post on it as well.

Regarding the inevitability of Yoga Teacher Training Schools paying regulatory fees it actually came as a shock to me that this wasn’t already the case. I was even more shocked to know that a Yoga teacher doesn’t even have to have a license to teach Yoga. This is an industry with 12 to 20 Million practitioners and Billions of dollars in revenue. The government is going to want a piece of that pie, especially in a downturn.

This is good for the consumer/student to know that the school they are practicing at has gone through the registration process and that its a legit operation. Even with this certification there is still no guarantee that the graduate will be able to teach anywhere. It is also uncertain if this qualifies them for financial aid.

Some of the schools in the article point out that the Teacher Training programs are a substantial revenue generator for their business:

Lisa Rapp, who owns My Yoga Spirit in Norfolk, Va., said she was closing her seven-year-old business this summer. “This caused us to shut down the studio altogether,” Ms. Rapp said. “It’s too bad, because this community really needs yoga.” (NY TImes)

At $2000 to $4000 for a 200 hour certification program I will agree but I also think that this highlights a common issue that I have experienced with most Yoga studios: their business model is bad.

Every Yoga studio that I have attended follows the same business model: buy sessions and use them in a few months. Refill and repeat. Some offer unlimited programs that you buy on a 1, 3, 6, or 12 month plan. The problem with this is that you have no contract and therefore no recurring revenue and no ability to create a budget.

I suggest that they adopt the model that Gyms and Martial Arts Studios have: a 12 month, or longer, contract that charges monthly. Sure its not as free and open as a session model but if it allows you to keep the lights on and maybe even grow a little it cannot be seen as a bad thing.

A concern with this model is the overhead created of handling the contracts, payments, and support issues that always come up. The good news is that there are a number of companies that offer a full service solution for this. I work with Member Solutions and am impressed with their focus on service and allowing Studio owners to stay focused on Yoga and getting new students.

What do you think?

Tuesday morning at South Mountain

Second week of sunrise hiking at South Mountain Park is in full effect. 4am came early but the EMD(Early Morning Doggie) got all the sand out of my eyes. He is like a thunderbolt once we hit the trail as well. Go Go Go Go! Squirrel!

For those of you who doubt I present Strawberry Cheesecake – vegan style

IMG_3650
One of my goals is to make a vegan meal that my brother in law, Brian, will eat. Like a lot of people I know he is not interested in most of the stuff I make. The other week I decided to try to conquor this difficult task and with some recommendation from my sister went with a Strawberry Cheesecake – vegan style.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs – watch out most have honey in them. Also I had to get crackers and then break them up.
1/3 cup soy margarine, melted
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar or natural sweetener
Two 12 oz packages firm tofu, drained
One 8 oz package vegan cream cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 tablespoon water
2 to 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced

1. Preheat over to 350 F. Oil 9-inch springform pan.
2. In food processor blend crackers till they are crumbs with soy margarine and the 1 tablespoon of sugar. transfer to pan and press to bottom of pan. Bake 5 min the set aside.
3. In food processor add tofu and cream cheese till smooth. Add 1 cup of sugar and vanilla and process again till smooth. Pour onto the crust in the pan and bake till firm, about 40 minutes. Turn the oven off and let it sit inside for another 30 minutes.
4. Remove, let cool. and then refrigerate for a few hours.
5. While cake is cooling off combine the jam and water in a saucepan over medium heat till smooth, set aside.
6. Once cake is chilled place the strawberries on top and then apply the glaze.
7. Eat.

Getting Focused with Krav Maga – R.E.A.C.T. Defense Systems Review – Chandler, AZ

Krav maga

Got a coworker who has been doing the Krav Maga at R.E.A.C.T. Defense Systems for a few months and he is always talking about it so I had to try it out. There are 4 locations inthe PHX valley and two are pretty close to home. I have read about Krav Maga a few times and of course heard about how it the method of choice for the Israeli Defense Forces because its about brute force used to defeat opponent quickly and allow for escape.

The gym is pretty straight forward, mirror at one end and a firm but padded floor. The class before mine was a ‘Bag’ class meaning they were not doing Krav Maga but were instead doing physical exercises with hitting bags. It was an intense mess of running around punching, lying down, getting up, and all sorts of craziness.

The health sogn off form and waiver were pretty extensive and pretty much cut me off from suing them if I got injured in the gym at all. Hey I am going there to learn to defend myself I better keep my head up. Manni was the guy running the counter and I found out later is one of the top instructors there. The nice thing was that I didnt even think he was a trainer at all till they said something. Super nice guy and laid back which is a nice change from the majority of trainers that I know at other gyms.

Class started off and Lisa was leading it. She took care to address me as the new guy to make sure I understood what was going on at all times. This was done in a very respectable way so that I felt priveledged to get the attention and not talked down upon which I feel at a lot of places, even yoga studios. This was all about respect and no nonsense.

We went straight into warm up with jumping jacks, then high knees, then heel kicks, and quick feet (all of which I am pretty sure I hadnt done in over 12 years). Got the heart racing big time. Then it was into sholder taps with random partners throughout the gym. This was a great method of snapping your head into hitting and being hit though it was light and on the shoulders. Then is was partnered situps and pushups. Having a partner made you push yourself and then push them to go faster and harder. We finished off with some Bear Runs and more pushups and then back to some steps.

A short break and we were right into hand heel strikes with a partner and hitting pad. I have never been a fighter and never really trained on how to hit. After a quick demonstration from Lisa it was straight into going at it and I have to tell you I got right into it. I put all the bad calls and frustrations from the day into that pad and took it out on it. The cool thing is that you get just as much a workout when you are holding the pad. I learned quickly to breath out when they are hitting the pad to help absorb the blow.

Next up was low kicks and then Knees with a hold. Once again the instruction was precise, quick, and easy to pick up. They contextualized it with real world situations so that you could vizualize why and how you would use the technique. Once the threat is realized you become aggresive and you put everything you can into it until the threat is over. I particularly enjoyed the Knee with Hold technique. I hope my partner’s neck is okay today cause I was throwing him around a bit.

Then we started working on arm grabs and how to react to that. Basically if a stranger grabs you then you immediately punch them in the face until they let go. Obviously you want to use some level of common sense and not punch a cop or someone trying to help you. You stand still with eyes closed and whatever way they pull you use the opposite hand to go at them and hard. The partner brings their other hand up in front of their face to act as a target, if they forget to you need to remember to pull the punch. No hitting in the face in class – a fair rule.

The next drill involved a group of three where the third person is holding one of your arms back while you remain focused on hitting the other who is holding a pad. This is the most exhasting drill and almost lead to me spitting up my lunch a few times.

By the end I was a sweaty mess and more relaxed than I have been in a while. All aggression and frustration was gone. So I signed up for a year.

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Windy Wednesday Grudge Match

Fought a bitter wind from the West today. Felt like the four horsemen were riding in and I had to show them it wasn’t time yet. Hadn’t really thought of riding out till I jumped in my pool and relaxed a good bit. After treading around for a few minutes I got the bug to ride and since I had just spent some dough on new equipment there was no good reason not to go. So I donned the new Pearl Izumi Bib Shorts, Descent Jersey, and Bell helmet (first cycling clothing purchases in over 10 years!) and rolled on out on my trusty carbon/aluminum steed.

As soon as I hooked the right out of my sub division and headed west the wind was in my face like a long winded argument that you didn’t necessarily want to get into, but once you are you grin cause you know you got it licked. I am not an overly spiritual man but there are things that I like to give meaning to that isn’t necessarily scientifically verifiable, either that or I just like to make shit up. One of these beliefs is that Wind has a personality and sometimes you get the same ones and a lot of the time they change up. Sometimes they change up in the middle of a ride. Todays ride was an angry wind. It was shifting all over; mostly it came from the West but some times a bit North or South just like someone throwing a tantrum: you got a decent idea of where its coming from, but there are a lot of curve balls that you weren’t expecting. My new suit felt like armor and this angry wind was getting cut to shreds as I sliced up Alma School towards Guadalupe and I knew I had it licked.

My methods for choosing a route vary a lot. Today I opted for Extension Road north to Rio Solado Pkwy west into Tempe. I had done this with a Sat group ride a few weeks earlier and it was a good time. I knew that once I turned onto Rio it was going to be a full on grudge match with this angry shifting bastard of a wind but I am good at lying to myself and distracting my mind with thoughts about life and the day I had, etc. When I made the left onto Rio it came on full force and I backed my gears way down to keep the RPM’s high. Its a nice downhill into Tempe so I felt good.

However once I hit the 101 underpass things changed. First of all my friend the sun said hasta for another day and secondly my other friend, mr.downhill, changed to flat land. I championed the cause and gave a futile laugh as this bastard wind thought it had me licked. On I charged through to Mill Ave where I flipped Windy the bird and took a left south through the shops on Mill and over to College for a nice sprint back into Chandler.

From there the ride was a spinfest. I met up with a few other riders and we had fun trying to make each other puke by maxing out at 30mph through the neighborhoods of south Tempe. Got some funny looks from people walking their dogs and a few cars were caught off guard trying to cut in front of us. Got in at about 8pm for a 1 hour 37 minute 27 mile ride.

Here is the map of the route, calling it the Rio 27, very original.

I think I will go for another ride tomorrow, suckas!