So yesterday one of my clients and I dug out a huge tire and a sledge hammer. We decided to play with them and used them to end a great workout. My grandfather worked in the woods when he was my age and so did my dad. Since I was just tree planting and have successfully used the sledge hammer, I consider myself close to their work ethic. This exercise is great for your entire core (as mine is sore now) and is really good for working your stabilizing muscles and your arms! I love it!
The other day I jumped at an opportunity to enhance my professional development and my fitness by participating in a body pump fitness class at the Antigonish Goodlife Fitness Centre. Not knowing what I was entirely getting myself into, I loaded up my exercise short bar with weight, grabbed my step and a mat and went to work. Long story short, it was an awesome class! It was filled with fitness enthusiasts and even one guy whose biceps were actually bigger than mine! (haha).
The class focused on a high number of reps with lower weight. The class hit the larger muscle groups first, followed by the smaller muscle groups near the end. It was the way a good strength based class should be structured. Fatiguing the larger groups of muscles first is a good idea as they should be worked before your smaller muscles. For example, your thighs, quads and glutes (butt) are areas which house much muscle. Therefore, it is good to work that area for example, before you work your forearm muscles. The class focused on compound movements throughout, meaning every time we were doing an exercise it was working more than one muscle group (eg. legs, core). The intensity changed as the movements changed along with the instructor's commands. The tempo went from lowering the weight counting "1,2,3" and then switched to faster reps (which is fine as long as the weight is low and you do not compromise your form). The end of the workout saw us doing a clean and press which you can also see on my blog in one of my videos! Ultimately, I recommend you try a body pump class or something similar at your local fitness center, community center or wherever else you may complete group exercises in a safe environment. It is often awesome to have someone else do all the exercise preparation so all you have to do is show up and keep up. It is kinda cool!
"A Harbour of Hope." That was the slogan provided for the National PHE Canada conference the other weekend in Halifax, NS. This conference was unique in that it was surrounded by positivity, despite recent budget cuts in the Ontario and Nova Scotia school boards. The conference also led the way in professional development. University professors such as Peggy Gallant of the Human Kinetics Department from St.FX University and members of the Canadian Sport for Life Committee (which has been taking our children and youth by storm with models to guide them through to healthy adulthood) shared the podium. The conference provided opportunities for self growth as I was able to connect with professors from the University of Saskatchewan, teachers from Ontario, personal trainers from Montreal and even former classmates who are now full time physical educators. Through conversation and volunteering at this conference I began to share the vision of PHE Canada. Or should I say, I realized I had been sharing the vision of PHE Canada. Their vision is to empower children and youth to be both educated and physically active for a healthier lifestyle while building and challenging all students for a better, healthier tomorrow. This vision is something I share as well. Through my profession as a PE teacher, personal trainer, fitness instructor, coach and lifeguard, I see many problems associated with children and youth today. Whether it be a lack of respect for adults and the law, a lack of respect for their individual health and wellness or the fact that reading is not high on their list of priorities because they are too busy dealing with cyber bullying. These are all issues the incoming and current generations of young people are facing. In talking with other knowledgable individuals, it was both easy and awesome to converse with them. It was a weekend symposium consisting of many "take away" and "teachable moments" between like minded individuals The main mission among all of the exhibit stations, information sessions and keynote addresses was clear. Children and youth need to move more, make better food portion and selections daily and WE as educators must lead the way by example. A leader must live what he/she speaks in order for others to listen. Physical Education is not exempt from this. Our "Harbour of Hope" was that on the shores of the east coast we could all become rejuvenated, reinvented and reminded of the role we play, the power of influence we have to change youngsters and of the important role we have each day as we interact with our students. We are the resources for preventative health care and if we cannot direct our students down the right paths of success & health sustainability, we have not fulfilled our requirement as Physical Educators. Ultimately, the National PHE Conference was a success, bringing together a wealth of thinking, resources and facilities designed to help shape a better tomorrow. I encourage each of you to check out PHE Canada's website [http://www.phecanada.ca/] and explore the possibilities we as members of this association are providing.
A man is not determined by how he acts in times of comfort and convenience; but rather by how he acts in times of struggle and controversy.-Martin Luther King Jr.
Tree planting is an emotional highway. The valleys run very low. When you enter those valleys it takes every ounce of your energy just to rise up and continue to do your repetitive, mundane job. You can find yourself miles back in a clear cut, low on water and carbs. That's when your brain may begin to wonder. You sometimes hear and see things which do not exist. When it rains hour by hour, you sometimes talk wildly at yourself just to distract from your feelings and being soaked. In the run of the day many feelings arise in this job. You get in the trucks and storm out together to the nearest planting site with positive energy. When you get there sometimes you are greeted with reflective lectures on how bad your job had been the day before (a subtle reminder of things to come for the next 9 hours). You look up at the sky which breaks into rain and there goes positivity. You know that you will have to struggle against yourself and the elements of the cut for the next 9-10 hours before freedom comes to pick you up. Then comes the isolation. Many of us love working alone and in secluded atmospheres, including myself. However, there is something strikingly different about the seclusion of tree planting. Maybe it is the fact that your are wearing an extra 80lbs on a fatigued body or that you must get as many trees into the ground before the bugs hit. Maybe it is just the thought that if anything were to happen to you, it would be awhile before you were found, rescued and assured safety. On the positive side, when the end of the day comes you know you have done literally all you could do for that day to fill your pockets with cash. You know that money is yours and you now have a greater appreciation for ANY other job which lies in your future. That feeling of accomplishment reminds you that you are still alive, despite being sore. It allows you to muster up enough energy to squeeze in another day of planting. The mountains are more like knolls and the valleys are more like the grand canyon but at least I can say I have been there. I have been pushed, pulled, beaten down by the elements and tested to persevere. Now when I think I am having a bad day, I will reflect upon those tree planting days and be thankful that I am in a valley, not falling off the grand canyon.
Well, what more can I say. I am happy to be blogging again! Being away from my blog has allowed me to gain new experiences in the past few weeks. First, I want to talk to you about tree planting. There was a wicked article written by a woman from B.C in this month's Reader's Digest about this career choice. Based on this article and my own 3 weeks of experience, this is arguably one of the hardest and dirtiest jobs left in the modern world.
In my experience, I walked about 16 400 steps per day, usually carrying trees. I planted trees while it was raining sideways for hours, planted through rocks, and traveled over swamps. I even fell a few times carrying as many as 279 trees up a steep bank. Through all of the hard work involved with tree planting, I learned a tremendous amount about myself.
I pushed my limits both physically and mentally (occasionally striking up loud and obnoxious conversations with myself when no one was around) and realized the level of respect I have for those individuals who can bear such a burden. Carrying up to 370 soggy, sharp trees over rough topography is not for the faint of heart. You must be tough as nails and have a high pain tolerance in order to do this job effectively.
I remember pushing through the pain and soon found out that the agony in my shoulders had shifted to my feet. By midday I realized that my whole body hurt so badly, I blanked it out. That was when the best planter came out in me! It was almost as if I planted through my pain threshold every day.
Another thing I noticed about tree planting is the absence of the coined "lunch break". In my experience, I was being paid per tree, not per hour. Therefore, time was of the essence for me. I had to make every minute of transportation and planting count to meet my goals and keep pace with my crew members. Often, I would just eat on the run, slamming in a quick vitamin water and an apple as I ventured back into the swampy land. It was not easy, folks!
In my next blog post, I will dive into the emotions surrounding tree planting. Many workers shared the same bag of mixed feelings which I carried everyday. There were few highlights and many emotional valleys each day on the job. I will delve into the technique of tree planting and talk about what Martin Luther King Jr and tree planting have in common. Thanks for reading!
If you are wondering why I haven't blogged in awhile it is because I am trying to put 10 000 trees in the ground during the month of May. This is a tedious, high energy demanding job which takes all my concentration, focus and energy. I will write some fantastic blogs when I return from this monetary venture shortly! Thank you for your patience.