Tag Archives: fitness

Fighting Misogyny (updated)

December 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Fighter” is a very connotative word. People hear it and think of large, brutish men knocking each other out for money. They think broken homes, difficult childhoods, and a last resort. Women are an afterthought, usually in the form of the devoted and completely dominated girlfriend or as the victims of domestic violence. The occasional person, when prompted, remembers Ronda Rousey’s infamous loss to Holly Holm—or how hot they both are. Typically, people respond so negatively to the idea of women in combat sports that I don’t even bring up the topic. Upon mentioning an upcoming fight or my training for the first time, the initial question people usually ask is not where do I train, or what’s my record; they ask what my boyfriend thinks of it. The readiness of this question, of the mindset that prioritizes the manner in which I relate to men as the most important part of my identity, is a big part of the reason I fight. The implication of that question answers the usual follow-up question of how I got into mixed martial arts.

I had my first cage fight in January of 2016, at 110 pounds. I invited only four people outside of my team to watch, three of them women. I defeated my opponent via unanimous decision, meaning the fight went the full three rounds but the judges agreed that I was dominant throughout. It felt like a victory for not only myself and my team, but for all the skinny little girls around the city who are constantly being told they are too small or cute to get into any sport rougher than tennis. Afterward, I felt a little better equipped to handle the frequent instances of random men deciding to follow me on a run or asking me to get into the car as they drove by. My only battle wounds were bruised knuckles and a small bump to the left of my eye that quickly faded into a minor, reddish bruise. I loved having the visible symbol of my victory on my face. In part, because combined with the right amount of “resting bitch face,” it seemed to deter creepy strangers from approaching me in coffee shops or while walking down the street.

To me, “fighter” means being relentless, indomitable, dedicated, nurturing, receptive, empathetic, soft spoken, and even-tempered.

But I wasn’t quite able to wear even my minor injuries, symbols of a well-earned victory and a major milestone in my life, with pride like the male fighters can. I remember my boyfriend coming out of his first fight, his only loss to date, with a badly broken nose and blood in his eye. Everyone’s first assumption was that he had been in a fight; I know because strangers approached him, excited to talk about how he had engaged in the most masculine of sports and emerged in reasonably good shape. Where he was met with excitement, I was handed cards with hotline phone numbers from sympathetic gas station employees who didn’t believe my story. For the week or so that my bruise was noticeable, any boy I happened to be walking around with that day was on the receiving end of accusatory glares, head-shaking, and lots of poorly muffled whispers. Outside of the martial arts community in the area, it was like my victory was something I should have hidden behind closed doors. Apparently, even after all those days of getting up at 5 a.m. to train and then spend hours at the gym, I still looked like an easy target. It wasn’t my first time being silenced about something I was proud of. Gradually, I realized that MMA will not change how most people see me, but it has changed how I see myself.

During the month leading up to my second fight—this one at 115 pounds—I still encountered the stereotypical ways that women are perceived in relationship to the word “fighter.” But impositions of societal norms were not my concern during that time. Four weeks out, being a fighter means nothing about gender roles; it means constantly eating. Specifically, it signifies the consumption of a constant stream of protein shakes, eggs that I am beginning to accept will never taste good no matter how many different ways I cook them, supplements, vegetables, and what feels like gallons of water. I have put on close to 10 pounds of muscle since my first fight, in order to be able to cut a few pounds of water to make 115 pounds before weighing in, and then rehydrating back to a heavier weight the night before the fight. Beyond my diet, being a fighter means balancing the commitments of a full-time student working toward a double major, an internship, and a job while doing everything I can to win in the cage.

As a junior in college, fighting means training at an offensively early hour so I can get all my studying done before morning classes, so I can get school and work knocked out before maybe having time to eat an actual dinner, all so I can focus on working out and night training. It means trying to get to bed around 10 p.m. so my body can recover and I can do it all again the next day with a little more weight added to every lift and a little more of a push to get my 3.57 GPA up to a 3.6. It means discipline, and making adjustments when I need to study. I love my routine right now. I love training and then letting whatever Jiu Jitsu or kickboxing techniques I learned simmer in the back of my mind while I study, then letting my brain process information about Renaissance Europe and sonnets while I lift. My interests in academia and in sports complement each other, and I have heard the same from other fighters—contrary to the myth that fighters tend to be uneducated.

Lindsay2

With all of these things considered, people wonder why I would choose to be a fighter. I grew up playing softball and soccer, and have no formal background in combat sports. I am attending college on full academic scholarships and do not fit the stereotype of a cage fighter. So why would I, at 19 years old, decide to add cage fighting to my resume alongside mission trips and semesters on the dean’s list? I guess I can see how on the surface the choice might seem a little incongruous, but to me mixed martial arts is the most natural thing in the world to pursue. The long answer as to why I fight is that I live in a world where I once didn’t get hired because I wasn’t “willing to consider leaving my boyfriend” (according to the man who was interviewing me). With such experiences in mind, I don’t get how becoming a fighter could be anything but a logical course of action. In a world where women are still considered annoying if they speak, people listen to me when they see MMA on my resume. The short answer is that I like it, just as I like soccer and softball. The sport fits my personality.

Random men still follow me and yell rude comments if I’m downtown at night. Realistically, I don’t think there’s much I will ever be able to do about that. Even as I’m writing this, there’s a boy I’ve never met at the table behind me yelling “hey” every time I stop typing, but no matter if they’re a heavyweight (205 pounds and up) or a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, almost everyone I have encountered in the MMA community has shown me nothing but respect. Yes, I train ground game and standup with men, but I have never had another fighter follow me to my place of work, stand outside the door, and yell for the girl in the dress. Even if I do look like an easy target, instances of disrespect I have experienced in this most “masculine” of sports are nothing compared to the disrespect I get from men on the street on a daily basis. I think there’s a lesson there, with regard to our society’s skewed perception of what it means to be masculine. The guys I fight with are not the same guys who are treating women like inferior beings on the street or in their relationships.

The fundamental message that fighters fight to convey is simple: “I will not be dominated.” To me “fighter” is not a word synonymous with troubled home life or hyper-masculinity or misogyny. To me it means being relentless, indomitable, dedicated, nurturing, receptive, empathetic, soft spoken, even-tempered—I think all of these words describe most fighters better than whatever people think of when trying to come up with reasons I shouldn’t be one. With all due respect to those trying to look out for me, I don’t see how it’s unsafe for me to be locked in a cage with another woman my size compared to how dangerous it is for me to walk down the street. Or to, in general, be a woman who physically exists and takes up space in the world. Silencing my interests won’t fix the real problem.

“Hey” boy just invited himself to have a seat at my table. He has started talking to me despite having been pointedly ignored for at least 10 minutes and the fact that I am obviously in the middle of something. I am not polite in response. I have no interest in being dominated by a culture that puts women in boxes and has taunts at the ready in case they try to fight back. I have no interest in being quiet about my sport in order to protect people from a discomfort that I’m guessing doesn’t compare to the discomfort of a 14 year old having her ass grabbed by a stranger. I don’t care if it’s “inappropriate” for me as a “young lady” to be excited to get into a cage and physically beat another girl. I’d rather autonomously lock myself in a cage than be folded neatly into a gender role. I don’t care what your perceptions are of what it means to be a fighter, or what you think it means to be a size 0 and 20 years old with blue eyes. As my coaches and training partners are constantly reminding me, I’m not here to apologize. I’m here to dominate.

“Fighting Misogyny” was originally published Friday, Oct. 14 online at omahamagazine.com.     

Postscript

At Ralston Arena (on Friday, Oct. 14), I lost my second career fight via TKO in the final 10 seconds of the final round. The following Saturday morning by 8:30 a.m., I was back in the gym and on my way to becoming a stronger fighter.

I am not happy about losing, but I am also not devastated by getting punched in the face. I’m not fighting for perfection. I’m not perfect, and an imperfect record does not end my ambition in the cage. Rather, I’m fighting for all the girls who have contacted me to give support or share their story of fighting misogyny in their lives. I’m fighting for everyone who has told me it empowers them to see me get in the cage at all.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my incredible coaches, Mauro Siso and Sergio Rangel, and everyone at Legacy Martial Arts for supporting me on this journey. With lessons learned from defeat, we are making changes in my training regimen for the next fight.

Visit facebook.com/pg/lmaomaha for more information.

Lindsay3

Dolphin Pose

August 3, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Dolphin pose strengthens the arms and shoulders, tones the abdomen, stretches the hamstrings, and reverses blood flow.

1. Begin on hands and knees. Place your knees directly below your hips, and your wrists directly under your shoulders.

2. Lower the forearms to the ground.

3. Press all four corners of your hands firmly into the ground, and move the shoulders out of the ears by pressing them down the back.

4. Pull the naval in towards the spine.

5. Curl your toes under and press up.

6. Press the floor away with your forearms, push the hips back, and straighten the legs while reaching the heels towards the ground (you may need to keep a micro bend in the knees if your hamstrings are tight).

7. Let your head hang freely and breathe deeply for 10 breaths.

8. Bring knees to the ground, let the big toes touch together, and press back into child’s pose, with the arms extended in front of the head, palms face down on the ground.

9. Breathe deeply for 10 breaths.

10. Repeat two to three times.

Yoga1

Yoga: Half Moon

August 31, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article appears in Her Family August 2015.

The Half Moon strengthens the abdomen, legs, ankles, and hips. It also improves balance and coordination, fights fatigue, and helps alleviate menstrual pains.

Position legs about 3 to 4 feet apart. Turn right foot out at 90 degrees. Align right heel with left heel.

Place your left hand on your left hip, exhale, and bend the right knee.

Engage the belly. Place right fingertips to the ground, about 1 foot in front of toes (or on a block) while firmly pressing into the right heel.

As you exhale, distribute all weight into right foot. Slowly straighten your right leg as you lift your left leg until it is close to parallel with the ground.

Press through the left heel to keep the lifted leg strong and active.Keep a micro bend in the knee.

Pull your left shoulder back to open through the chest.

Keep your left hand on your left hip, or reach the hand up towards the sky.

Gaze forward and breathe deeply for 15 seconds.

To come out of it, slowly bend the right knee while you lower the left leg to the ground.

Straighten the right leg, and repeat left side.

YogaHalfMoon

Side Plank

June 13, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article originally published in June 2015 Her Family.

The side plank strengthens the wrists, arms, abdomen, and legs. It also improves your sense of balance and concentration.

1. Begin by kneeling with hands on the ground in front of you. Keep your shoulders above the wrists and knees below the hips. Step your right foot backward to press on the ball of the back foot and step the left foot back to meet the right (plank pose). 

2. Press the hands firmly into the ground. Engage the core by pulling the belly towards the back of the spine and activate the legs.

3. Distribute all weight onto the right wrist and slowly turn onto the edge of the right foot. Stack your left foot on top of the right.

4. Engage the legs by drawing them closer together. Press through the heels towards the ground. Reach your left hand towards the sky, and gaze at the fingertips.

5. Breathe slowly and deeply three to seven times. As you exhale, place your left hand on the ground to meet the right (plank pose).

6. Repeat these steps for your left side.

SidePlank

Meet The Gines

January 13, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Does it creep you out?” Lena Gines smiles sincerely as she looks at the turtle, one of several family pets the Gines family is currently raising. The turtle pauses upon my arrival into the living room, changes direction, and slowly crawls back toward the window. Meanwhile, a small dog barks from the couch as five children clamor their way down the stairs of the family home. Shyly, they slip around their mother and choose spots on the furniture to sit.

Despite the whirlwind introduction, the Gines family couldn’t be more on top of life. The Gines children—Destiny, 17, Devine, 16, Elyon, 14, Eternity, 12, Rendell, Jr., 9—attend school and sports practices in addition to spending time with their family.

Mom, Lena, and dad, Rendell, both work outside the home. While Rendell (“Dell” for short) works in an office downtown, Lena now has her own business—Get Fit With Lena. When she opened her boutique gym just off 72nd and Blondo streets in early 2012, it took the whole family to make it happen.

“I was spread really thin working at several different places,” Gines admits. She didn’t have control over her own schedule, which, as a mother to five active kids, was difficult at times. It was also difficult to match up her schedule with Dell’s.

But family has always come first for the Gines clan, which is why, when Lena told Dell and the kids she wanted to start her own business focused on fitness, no one balked. In fact, Lena laughs, everyone was used to having a sweaty mom. Before she worked for herself, she’d run from teaching a class to her children’s activities, not wanting to miss a single one.

You’re probably thinking that starting a business would only serve to take more time away from the family, but Lena shakes her head and smiles. “The kids were involved in the whole process. Really involved,” she shares. “Dell and I gave them paintbrushes and we painted fun colors and had a floor and mirrors put in. My husband was a huge help on the business side of everything.”

And once everything was up and running, the studio still didn’t steal Lena and Dell’s attention away from the kids. “It has opened a lot of time for me,” Lena insists. “Seems weird, but I can have someone come in and substitute for me or teach the classes when I want to go with the kids topractices and games.” It’s a flexibility that wasn’t there for her before when she was teaching classes based on the schedules of companies she worked for.

Additionally, the children didn’t mind that they were spending their free time helping out at the studio. In fact, as they’ve gotten older, it has become a place where they can work out on their own, or bring in their friends for exercise and fitness classes.

While the Gines family enjoys working out together in the studio, the space has become a second home for the family. The eldest child, Destiny, celebrated her 16th birthday there. Additionally, the Gines family has held holiday parties and other events in the space, coming together in their labor of love not just for work, but also for play.

To pull it all off, Lena says, “You will have to sacrifice some sleep.” She gets up very early to go work out or teach classes, so early that she often gets home before her kids are even awake. Before they were old enough to keep an eye on each other, Dell often stayed home while Lena went to teach a class or work out. Now, she and Dell or she and the kids can work out together if desired.

Additionally, working out early in the morning allows Lena to get home, wake the kids for school, and get their day started with breakfast. “The health aspect is very important for my family,” Lena says. “They watch what Dell and I do and it’s neat to see what they’re going to be and how they’re developing.”

While the family, no doubt, fully immerses themselves in being there for one another, they have learned one thing over the years: “I’m no good after 8:30,” Lena laughs. Dell chuckles and the children can’t help but grin in agreement. “It’s exhausting and it’s hard,” Lena admits. “But you have to make the time. I wanted to set an example for my sons and for my daughters especially. You can do the things you’re passionate about and that bring you joy.”

Fit Mama

October 28, 2014 by
Photography by Sara Lemke

Mothers of newborns can feel overjoyed and overwhelmed; beautiful and bountiful at the same time. Working to get your figure back, or even just to lose a few pounds, is something that most moms are looking to do as soon as possible.

But getting into a routine of going to the gym and finding someone to watch the baby on a regular basis can be challenging. Some of us may not be comfortable leaving our newborn with a gym daycare. Working out at home is fine, but really…wouldn’t it be nice to be around women going through the same experiences?

Problem solved: Introducing Fit Mama Workouts. Launched in May by Liz Sampson, these boot camp-style classes range in intensity and target moms of all ages and fitness levels. “Basically, we cater to what works best with each mom and the kids that they bring with them,” explains Sampson.

Sampson strives to bring a wide variety of options to both the women who attend her classes and the children who accompany them. “The moms do their workout and we just kind of build the kids into the routine,” Sampson says. “They play with their friends and there are other activities that we bring—bubbles, colors, and sidewalk chalk.”

The children can also exercise alongside mom if they want. “There are a lot of times when the moms will be out on the mats and the kids will be part of it too.” The children in strollers are a captive audience, as the moms push the strollers while running and participating in circuit training.  “The kids witness their moms working out and see the positive example of it. It gets into their heads, at an early age, that exercise is a fun and positive thing.”

As a licensed group fitness instructor certified in perinatal and postnatal exercise, Sampson even encourages pregnant women to join in. “I know modifications that would be suitable for pregnant women and women who have just had babies.”

During this summer, classes were held at two different outdoor venues—Zorinsky Lake Park near 156th and F streets, and Lawrence Youngman Lake near 192th Street and West Dodge Road. Oak View Mall provided the indoor location, where the ladies meet in front of J.C. Penney on the lower level. With the fall season, outdoor workouts will be moving inside. That location has yet to be determined.

“It’s a non-intimidating workout atmosphere because we’re all moms and we’re all there to encourage each other,” she says. She also wants people to know that they will be getting a real workout. “We’ve had new moms with brand new babies; some of the girls will go run a
lap and some of the girls will walk it…we cater to everyone.”

Sampson says that not only have her clients lost weight, but they have found friendships as well. “I’ve seen women who didn’t know each other at all, and over the months, they became great workout friends; and their kids have become great friends.”

20140819_sl_0079

Double-Duty Scissors

June 22, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This simple workout is based on a classic scissors move, but is modified here to extend the exercise’s benefits to upper-body elements of the arms, abs, and obliques.

  1. Lie on your left side with legs stacked and left elbow down.
  2. Use your left hand to support your head. Position your right palm flat on the floor at chest level.

    small1

  3. Push off the floor with your right hand to lift your upper body while simultaneously raising your right leg as high as possible.

    small2

    small3

  4. Return to your original position and do a total of 12 reps.
  5. Reverse position to lie on your right side and repeat with the same 12 reps.
  6. Cycle through three sets of this fat-burning workout.

Snip-Buzz-Clank

April 6, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The rapid-fire click of scissor snips and the droning hum of electric razors form the soundtrack at most any barber shop. The percussion section of the orchestra over at Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barber Shop adds yet a third instrument to the mix, thus rendering a symphony of “snip-buzz-clank-snip-buzz-clank.”

Owner Dan Goodwin’s bench press and its metal-on-metal clinks and clanks may seem out of place amid the barbering tools marinating in jars of blue disinfectant, but it is just one way that the champion weightlifter keeps up his iron-pumping regimen.

Oh, did we mention that Goodwin is 82 years old?

Taking up the sport at the tender age of 68, Goodwin has since gone on to capture 13 national titles to go along with three world records. He has competed on four continents and is the bench press, squat, and total points world record holder in the 80-and-older age group called Master’s 4.

Goodwin works to encourage good fitness habits among people of all ages. He’s been cutting hair in the same space for more than half a century, meaning that he now has four generations of clients as a captive audience to hear his message of wellness.

“I gave this young man his first haircut,” Goodwin says with a nod to the occupant of chair No. 3. The boy is Damon, a 5th grader at nearby Sacred Heart School. “And I’ll keep on him as he grows to make sure he knows to get plenty of exercise to live a long and healthy life.”

The three-chair barber shop is also steeped in the city’s history of civil rights. It was prominently featured in the 1966 film, A Time for Burning. Nominated for an Academy Award as best documentary, the film chronicled attempts by the pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church to integrate his then all-white congregation. Both Goodwin and one of his employees, a young barber named Ernie, were prominently featured in the documentary. Ernie, of course, is now State Sen. Ernie Chambers, the implacable civil rights advocate and longest-serving member in Nebraska Unicameral history.

“I like being healthy,” Goodwin says. “I like to exercise. It makes me feel young. I don’t think about my age very much and am usually reminded about it most when people say they can’t believe it when they learn how ancient I am.”

Judging by the chiseled figure in the photograph above, it’s an experience Goodwin must encounter about a bazillion times each and every day.

600px

5-Minute Workout
: Total Body

February 21, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This exercise is all about the whole body working together to strengthen core stability and balance. Keep flow in mind: Breathe with the movements and keep your body fluid. That means no locked knees and a strong back that doesn’t sag.

20131030_bs_8260_CLIPPING

Exercise

  1. Stand upright with feet together. To keep your inner thighs tight and engaged, place a rolled up hand towel between them. Remove it but keep your thighs tight as though they were still holding the towel in place.
  2. Place a band under one foot and hold an end in each hand.20131030_bs_8260_CLIPPING
  3. Bring the “banded” foot up so the knee is at 90 degrees.
  4. Extend your raised leg out behind you, reaching your arms forward.20131030_bs_8276_CLIP
  5. Return to your starting position.
  6. Kick the same leg forward in front of the body, as straight as you can, while curling your biceps.20131030_bs_8272_CLIP
  7. Continue steps 1-6 for 5-10 reps, alternating legs. Strive for flowing, synchronized movements.

Cindy Cook of Legacy Pilates, Yoga & More find them at mindbodyprograms.com

 

Patique Collins Finds the Right Fit

January 28, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 2011 Patique Collins left a two-decade corporate career to open a fitness business. Two-and-a-half years later her Right Fit gym on West Maple Road jumps with clients.

This former model, who’s emceed events and trained celebrities (Usher and LL Cool J), now seeks to franchise her business, produce workout videos, and be a mind-body fitness speaker with a national reach.

Under her watchful eye and upbeat instruction, members do various aerobic and anaerobic exercises, kickboxing and Zumba included, all to pulsating music, sometimes supplied by DJ Mista Soul. She helps clients tone their bodies and build cardio, strength, and flexibility.

The sculpted Omaha native is a longtime fitness convert. Nine years ago she added weight training to her running regimen and got serious about nutrition. She’d seen too many loved ones suffer health problems due to poor diet and little exercise. The raw vegan describes her own workouts as “intense” and “extreme.”

And she pushes clients hard.

“I really want to help every single person that comes in reach their maximum potential, and that is a big responsibility,” she says. “If you don’t give up on you, I won’t. I will do whatever I can to help you earn your goals if you’re ready to.”

Collins has even been known to show up at your workplace if you skip class. “There’s accountability here at Right Fit. I’m very passionate about my clients.”

20131121_bs_3495

She believes the relationships she builds with clients keeps them coming back. “People will tend to stay if you develop a relationship and work towards results.” Her gym, like her Facebook page, is filled with affirmations about following dreams, being persistent, and never quitting.

“I think positivity is a part of my DNA,” says the woman who sometimes dresses as a superhero for workouts.

A huge influence in her life was her late maternal grandmother, Faye Jackson, who raised her after Collins and her siblings were thrown into the foster care system. “My grandmother told me I could be whatever I wanted to be and made me believe it.” Collins went on to attain multiple college degrees.

Motivated to help others, she made human resources her career. She and her then-husband Anthony Collins 
formed the Nothing But Net Foundation to assist at-risk youth. While working as a SilverStone Group senior consultant and as Human Resources Recruitment Administrator for the Omaha Public Schools, she began “testing the waters” as a trainer by conducting weekend boot camps.

Stepping out from the corporate arena to open her own gym took a leap of faith for this single mother of two small children.

“This is a lot of work. I am truly a one-woman show,” she says. “Sometimes that can be challenging.” Right Fit is her living, but she works hard at maintaining the right balance, where family and faith are top priorities.

She’s proud to be a successful female African-American small business owner and humbled by awards she’s received for her business and community achievements. Collins believes opportunities continue coming her way because of her genuine spirit.

“There’s some things you can’t fake, and being authentic is one of them,” she says. “I’m doing what I want to do. I think it’s my ministry. Everybody has their gifts, and this is mine. I’m able to influence people not just physically but mentally.”

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.wordpress.com.