Body & Fitness Spring 2011: Table of Contents

Scent from above: Michelle Bardwell offers aromatherapy like you’ve never experienced it at her new Flower Road Natural Therapies studio

Excess baggage: Admitting to yourself that you don’t use your gym membership is the first step to recovery — the next is figuring exactly what to do now that you’re over it

Back for GOOD: With an ounce of prevention, you can be chiropractically perfect in every way

Dirty britches: While preparing for the daunting DFW Mud Run, four people found fun, fitness and fellowship with one goal in mind — to finish

Four steps to a healthier new year

Gym roundup

—  John Wright

Body & Fitness: Dirty britches

Clean for now, muddy buddies Rod Orta, Jeni Maldonado and Brad Bykkonen stretch it out as they train for the grueling DFW Mud Run. Through the same goal, the three with the author found a fellowship that helps get them past the intense training. (Photo by Jef Tingley)

While preparing for the daunting DFW Mud Run, four people found fun, fitness and fellowship with one goal in mind — to finish

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer

A year ago, I thought mud was only reserved for pigs and purifying facials. Never would I have guessed that I would be counting the days to run through 6.2 miles of it while also taking on a series of military-boot-camp-inspired obstacles. But then again, a year ago I never dreamed I would be surrounded by a group of friends with the same motivation — to conquer the mud if only to say we did it.

And on April 9, that’s exactly what we plan to do at a yet-to-be-disclosed location in Tarrant County. The DFW Mud Run is an annual event and one of seven throughout the country. It celebrated its 10th anniversary in North Texas in November 2010 with almost 4,000 attendees. A quick glance at the rules and regulations on the website reveals that this run can be as serious or as silly as you like, but one thing is for sure — you will get dirty. (And not in a Christina-Aguilera-wearing-chaps kind of way.)

Our group of seven runners (growing in number as we peer pressure others) met while working out at Booty Camp. Some were already in shape; others, like myself, were first timers. Somewhere during the months of waking up early, sweating during push-ups and running loops around Lee Park, a new level of friendship formed.

Jeni Maldonado, 29, and the official straight girl of our gay boy mud run group, shares the same sentiments about the camaraderie side effects of working out en mass.

“Through [group training], I have found a true love and passion for physical fitness and made some great new friends. Since starting in May of 2010, I even changed careers and am now a personal trainer focusing on children and childhood obesity.”

Mud runners can compete on the course in a variety of timed events and specified groups made up of all-men, all-women or co-ed teams. Or, there’s a category called DGAP, which stands for Division for Generally Athletic People or “Don’t Give A Poop.” This is our group. DGAP allows runners to wear costumes, run as a group or individually, and to generally enjoy the course as they see fit.

Rod Orta, a 39-year-old East Dallas resident, started working out in groups for almost four years. Since that time, he has formed lasting friendships with his fellow fitness enthusiasts, even going on vacations with them and hosting parties for the group at his home.

A first-time mud runner, Orta says, “I wanted to experience the activity and spend time with friends.” His training plan includes “strength workouts, cardio and a cute outfit.” He’s also quick to pass on helpful hints to his fellow runners. “Wear sensible shoes. No high heels,” he jokes.

The run will also make a first-time experience for 35-year-old Bryan Place resident Mark Doty. Inspired by other friends who have done it, he says it’s just something he has wanted to do. When asked if he had any words of wisdom for would be runners, Doty simply offered ups “Since this is my first time, I would just say ‘pray.’”

Topping off the dirt, the DFW Mud Run boasts more than 30 obstacles. Judging from videos from previous runs these include balance beams, rope swings and plenty of commando crawls. But it’s still not enough to keep Brad Bykkonen, a 39-year-old Highland Park resident, away.
“It sounds like fun,” he says. “I’ve met people who I know I’ll surely be laughing with during our mud run adventure.”

Booty Camp founder Dr. Eric Peay agrees that fitness can lead to friendship. A boot camp he attended in 1998 introduced him to someone who is now his best friend. A more experienced runner, Peay has run 5K and 10K races with a specific goal or time in mind. But this mud run is, “just for the sheer fun of it,” he says.

As for me, I’ll continue to count down the days, train and hope that I can find the perfect pair of combat boots and army fatigues to wear on my inaugural muddy voyage with the hope that the friendships I’ve formed will keep the physical fatigue at bay.

Registration for the April run is still open. For more information, visit DFWMudRun.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

LSR Journal: It’s a lot more than just pedaling

Suzy Smith Team Sabre Flyers
Suzy Smith Team Sabre Flyers

In March of 2008, a friend asked me to join her in riding Tour Dallas, a 30-mile bike rally in and around the Dallas area.

It was my first time on a bike since I owned a pristine pink Huffy as a child, and I was more than just a little intimidated that chilly morning as we headed out of the AAC parking lot with thousands of other riders.

Crazy, maybe, but I convinced myself that riding a bike was just like … well, riding a bike.

Ask anyone that knows me for a description, and a sort of theme always seems to appear.

I am stubborn, determined, and “a little” competitive, and it shows in my work and hobbies.

I began marathon training simply by putting one foot in front of the other, and ran countless miles and several marathons.

Although I’d never been particularly athletic, I found strength in running, seeing the sun and my shadow, and training to reach a goal.

By the time I’d pedaled to the end of the Tour Dallas route, I’d not only fallen in love with cycling, but established a new challenge for myself — I would train for the Hotter than Hell 100, held in Wichita Falls at the end of every scorching Texas summer.

With that goal in mind, I clipped into the pedals of my Trek, started pedaling, and never stopped.

On the best days, cycling is my meditation. With the familiar sound of “clipping in,”  I find mental clarity in pushing my body. I know every inch of the concrete and asphalt around White Rock Lake and delight in the summer heat and breeze coming off the water.

On the worst days, when my legs feel like jelly and even kids with training wheels pass me by, I believe that Beyonce and Lady Gaga on the iPod can be considered a performance-enhancing drug.

In just more than two years of riding, cycling has become such a part of my life that even my vacations include a bike rack and a route map.

I own more bike shorts than jeans, have tan lines that never fade and my friends all roll their eyes at my persistent Facebook posts about cycling.

This year, I will be participating in my third Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, riding two days and 180 miles across the Metroplex with the singular goal of improving the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.

The Lone Star Ride stands out among all the cycling events in which I participate, and I find it the most motivating and meaningful.

The route of the two-day course is as challenging as any you’ll find in North Texas, but the ample support of crew members — whether directing traffic from motorcycles, refilling Gatorade or providing a much needed laugh — truly makes the LSR experience unique.

When I roll out this September with two hundred plus riders and as many crew members, it will be to make a difference as an athlete, an activist and an educator.

I ride for those who cannot, for those who the AIDS Outreach Center, Resource Center Dallas and AIDS Services Dallas provide much needed support, and to reduce discrimination directed towards people with HIV and AIDS.

I ride for a future of the Lone Star Ride in which, not hundreds, but thousands of cyclists work together to raise awareness and funds.

For two days this fall, I ride because “riding a bike” is a far greater event than just pedaling. Won’t you join me?

Suzy Smith is a member of Team Sabre Flyers. Donate to her online at LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens