Saturday, October 30, 2010

JAG Fitness US West Coast Tour, October 2010

I don’t remember how I heard about the HTKA seminar in New Jersey, but  I just liked that these guys had this seminar called “How To Kick Ass” and it was one of those moments when i just had a feeling that there was something about this that i needed; so I signed up for it without even knowing who either of these guys were. As it turns out, one was a pitching coach and the other was a wrestling coach. And they both have very successful businesses and wanted to share how they got them that way. The guys created a fraternity of about 30 like minded guys ready to bust balls to make their business a rocking success. And the room was filled with testosterone.  In fact, after the seminar, I had to get back to teach class in Manhattan, but all the guys had a bonfire on the beach and partied like fraternity brothers. The seminar was filled with great ideas for reaching more people, turning more potential leads into clients and retaining clients for longer. And now, two weeks after the seminar, we’ve developed this email support group to keep each other motivated and help to follow through on the great ideas. It was a brilliant seminar and will be a lot to digest. I have the materials with me, but as I write this, I’ve been on the road since the seminar and I’m focused on the stuff I’m teaching on my tour and I’m looking forward to shifting my business around when I get back home.  
In Santa Monica I stayed at the hostel, in a six-bed dorm. I had a nice sized locker that I could lock all of my belongings in. (I only travel with a carry-on and a back pack that zips on and off it.) The Glenn Black seminar was a mind-altering experience. His approach is so different than anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s so confident in his esoteric ways that he can almost get you to believe that yoga makes no sense. I loved how the Glenn Black seminar was the perfect blend of my work with Yoga Tune Up® and Body Tuning with Shmuel Tatz. The sense I get from Glenn is that he’s asking us to be aware of ourselves and what we’re doing. It’s all about body mechanics and movements. It doesn’t have to kick your ass to get you in shape, you just have to do it right. There is a finesse to this thing we call fitness. I’m so excited to be blending this work with the work of Nia and mentors such as Scott Sonnon and Pavel to create my new programs. What I learned about myself with Glenn was that my back was weak and I didn’t tend to use it enough. He also showed me some cool ways to open my hip joint so I can sit more easily.  Keep reading for an interesting development on that comment about my back.
While I was staying at the hostel I was advertising on Craig’s List for private Yoga Therapy sessions, combining a private Yoga Tune Up® session and a Body Tuning session.  I got two clients out of it and in both cases it was a great experience, leaving them much more at ease in their bodies and relaxed. Both were men and both could reach down and touch their toes with no problems after our session.  I'm so excited to be developing this new technique. 
My friend Aaron, who I’ve known for at least twenty years but hadn’t seen in about fifteen, happened to do hair extensions at a salon around the corner from the hostel I was staying at. So I went in to say hi and it was just like old times right away. We were laughing and telling stories and being just like we were in our twenties. He invited me to come and stay with him for a few days, since I didn’t have to be in Santa Barbara until the weekend. He lives in Korea Town in Los Angeles, so I took the bus there. We hung out and watched movies and cooked food and hung out just like we used to. At one point we took the bus to USC and had lunch in the cafeteria there while he looked at proofs from a hair photo shoot. I didn’t expect to spend four days hanging out like that, without a care in the world and just laugh at everything. It reminded me about love and laughter and just relaxing and not giving a shit for a while. It’s really healthy. It’s refreshing and uplifting. After leaving Los Angeles, I felt very energized, and ready for my first big teaching event of the tour. 
In Santa Barbara, I was hosted and produced by Ken Gilbert. I’d heard of him for ten years and met him briefly at a large Nia event at Nia Headquarters. Here was this other man who taught Nia! Not only that, but he was also into theater! And on top of that, he lived in Santa Barbara, where I was born and raised. And we clicked, big time. As I suspected we would. He gave me lots of good bits of wisdom regarding Nia and about being a teacher. I admire his angle on the work, which is about moving with awareness. But what he gives is truly more than awareness. What Ken was able to give me, in a single class and a private session was able to give me acute awareness but he also helped me find the tools and adjustments I needed to make to find and maintain integrity in my torso. 
It was puzzling at first. But based on what I learned at the Gil Hedley seminar, our fascia is contractile tissue. It’s not just muscle memory but deep fascia memory that really holds us in our long-held patterns. And fascia has a much longer and stronger memory and is not as dense with the motor nerves as the muscle.  So even if the muscle is trying a different pattern, the deep fascia will still be entrained the old way. Ever since leaving Santa Barbara, I’ve been playing with engaging my core correctly. The good news is that it’s been a week now and it’s getting easier already. I’m changing my fascia, slowly. 
I taught a FreeDance Playshop and Bond Girls Master Class at Yoga Soup in Santa Barbara for thirteen lovely dancing bodies. I love teaching this playshop because there’s  such a palpable shift in the energy of the room as the hours go by. Santa Barbara was a lot of fun and loving energy. And of course I love Bond Girls and it was such fun doing it with them. My only complaint would be that the acoustics in the rooms were interfering with the joy of being in relationship with the music and my voice was lost in an echo of vibrations. But I could see smiling faces and dancing bodies, and I could see the Bond spirit rising above adversity and we definitely indoctrinated 13 new members into the Bond elite; licensed to kill with their sexiness. I ended the class with an hour of Power FloorPlay. I was blending traditional Nia FloorPlay with Yoga Tune Up® set to cool music.  It was fun. 
I flew from Santa Barbara to Portland, with an overnight layover in San Francisco. I ate one of the most delicious burritos in the Mission District and stayed on the couch of my friend, Ferdinand. The next morning I had breakfast in the Castro at the classic diner, Orphan Andy’s, before getting on BART to the airport. 
In Portland, the MAX takes me right to Nia Headquarters, where I arrive, dragging all my luggage behind me, to find that Carlos wasn’t leading the Blue Belt intensive as I had read earlier on the website, but that Debbie was co-teaching with Helen Terry while Caroline Kohles and Winnalee Zeeb were training to become Blue Belt Trainers. Instead of what I was expecting, which was to be a final connection and reaching out to Carlos AyaRosas, who has been my mentor for the past fifteen years, it was something else entirely. It then became this incredibly deep learning experience. Some of the highlights of my stay in Portland were teaching the Bond Girls routine at Nia HQ and them giving me a copy of a DVD of me teaching the class for my own self-evaluation, and also Debbie giving me a note about my movement in class that was in perfect harmony with what I learned earlier from Glenn Black and Ken Gilbert. She said I didn’t engage my core enough. (I’m now unlearning a habit of using my strong arms and legs instead of my core, and consciously engaging my core for strength and support in my movement.)
A took a bus from Portland to Eugene and checked into the Whiteaker Hostel. I got a private room in a house a few blocks away from the hostel dorms. Amy Palatnick was my producer and she put together a very nice weekend Nia Immersion with the Bond Girls Master class and extended FloorPlay on Friday at the Reach Center, which was well attended with 19 Bond Girls. And on Saturday and Sunday we were at In Shape Gym.  On Saturday there were 19 students for my FreeDance Playshop and we broke through some barriers and unleashed our inner spirited dancers. And on Sunday, we shook the foundations of the gym with our passionate sounding in the Kundali-Nia Silence and Sound Dance Meditation playshop.  There were probably 30 people in that playshop and it was electric.  Eugene was somewhere I’d never been before and I had no idea what to expect.  But now I have to add it to my list of places that I love.  I plan to go back and teach more playshops there when I do my JAG Fit tour, Spring 2011.
As I write this, I am on the train to Seattle, where I’m planning to teach my Bond Girls routine a few times during the week and then culminate in a Bond Girls Training Mission: Learning to Teach the Routine.  I’ve been indoctrinating Bond Girls all along my trip, but this will be the first time I actually train teachers to share the magic with their students.  I’m looking forward to finally pushing this baby out of the nest and leaving the routine to flourish with the Seattle Nia teachers.
After Seattle, I’ll fly back to NYC and enjoy being at home for a few days before heading up to the Berkshires where I will conclude JAG Fit Tour Fall 2010 by assisting Jill Miller in a Yoga Tune Up® weekend at Kripalu Yoga Retreat Center.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gil Hedley, Somanaut


I just spent a day in Carpinteria with Gil Hedley, who gave a full-day presentation of his work. He dissects human bodies to learn about them, but his approach is one of great respect and reverence.  He calls himself a somanaut. Soma (body) and Naut (sailor). He in an explorer of the inner space of the human body. 
He strives to keep the integrity of each system as he removes them layer by layer.  His first step is to “unzip” the skin.  He removes the entire skin coating intact. And one of the things that he says is that there is really no such thing as the skin.  It is a manufactured construct invented by anatomists to categorize our body parts.  But in actuality, the tissue that we know as skin doesn’t end, it gradually transforms, cell by cell, into the tissue below it.  Going in with a scalpel is really the only way to differentiate the “skin” from the underlying layers, but it is imposed.  There is really no actual delineation that can be noted. 
He reports that it didn’t seem right to separate the heart from the entire system of blood vessels.  When you see a heart as we know it, you’ll notice that it is severed.  There are tubes coming out of it that are obviously cut. If he honors the structure of the body, he must remove the heart and the blood vessels together.  He says, for example, “there is no such thing as the femoral artery.”  It is just another construct created by scientists to label different sections of what is one, complete system. 
In a similar fashion, he finds he is unable, in good conscience, to sever any part of the nervous system from the brain.  The entire system of brain, spinal cord and nerves are all one. He has also been careful to remove the entire digestive system intact and the respiratory system as well.
Some of the more astounding things I learned from the day....
Adipose tissue (commonly known as fat) has an electrical charge.  Enough of a charge that it can be considered to have emotion.  Fat has emotion!  YAY!
Sometimes if you see someone with a big belly, it might not be fat; it is possible that their adipose layer is uniformly thin throughout the entire body and what you’re seeing in their distended belly is their viscera; their guts. And sometimes it may just be gas and water. 
There is a certain amount of pressure inside the body which is higher than the outside atmosphere.  So that if you were to slice open a living person, the pressure from the inside would cause all of the guts to pour out into the lower-pressure atmosphere. And within the torso there are three chambers of differing pressure; the thoracic region has the lowest pressure, the abdominal has the second highest and the pelvis has the highest pressure.  Which creates a bit of a conundrum regarding the monthly journey of the egg through the fallopian tube.  This journey actually defies physics by traveling from an area of lower pressure to an area of higher pressure.  Another miraculous mystery of the human body. 
Have you ever seen an ovary?  I hadn’t until yesterday.  And what’s strange is they look just like a little brain.  Also, the brain-type pattern can be found in the small intestines. By the way, testicles don’t look nearly as cool as ovaries.  In fact, when you slice open a testicle, the inside looks just like baked sweet potatoes. 
There is a crazy-wonderful sheet of tissue called the peritoneum. This sheet moves around inside the abdominal cavity and acts like a security blanket.  It will literally wrap itself around an ailing organ.  Gil says that he never finds it in the same place on two different people. But someone with an inflamed liver will have this blanket wrapped around it. And an ulcerous stomach or whatever weakness is in the body is somehow addressed naturally by the presence of this sheet. 
Have you heard of the enteric nervous system?  We’ve heard of the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system as parts of the autonomic nervous system, but there is a third system, called the enteric.  It is in the intestines and digestive system and there is measurable brain activity in this region that is distinctly different than any other nervous system. It makes me think of the phrase “I know it in my gut” as we are actually referring to our enteric nervous system or our ‘stomach-brain’.
I could go on and on with this stuff. The presentation was a full day and I was amazed from 9 am to 5 pm. If you ever get a chance to see one of his presentations, I highly recommend it. 
A couple of words of caution....
One: It’s not for the squeamish.  Be prepared to see a lot of guts and tissues as they’re removed from the body.  Some of the images are quite graphic.  Fortunately, he intersperses the slides with images of puppies and children and trees and stuff.  It seemed that the nature images were placed in the perfect sequence so that the images of dead bodies never got to be too much.  He was giving us breaks and letting us settle emotionally.

And second: Gil spends all day inhaling embalming fluid, so I don’t know how much longer he’s going to be healthy enough to continue this practice.  If you’re even slightly interested, I’d advise you to see him as soon as you can.  As he spoke to us, he intermittently coughed.  Most likely from damage to his lungs from the outgassing of the toxic fluid. 
Here is a link to Gil's website where you can find out more about his presentations.  
He does the one-day (the one I did) and he also does a full six-day seminar where you will actually be witnessing him working on a cadaver in person.  In the one-day seminar it is mostly photographs and few videos, but still quite rich and educational. 
As I mentioned earlier, he treats his subjects with the utmost respect.  He never uses their real names, but will give them a name within the first couple hours of starting to work. He feels that the names ‘come to him’ as he works. He literally will coddle the organs as he carefully removes them.  He’s grateful not only to the person who gave his/her body to science but also to his/her family who allowed it to happen. 
Check out this video to get an idea of what kind of guy he is.  This was my first introduction to him and the topic of the video, The Fuzz, is something I feel like everyone who has a body should know about. 
Ever wonder why coming to Nia class makes you feel so good?  This video might answer it. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Breathing during Exertion

A reader sent me this question:

I know that one is supposed to exhale on the heaviest exertion of a movement or exercise (right?)….But can you say more about breathing and moving; breathing and exercise; breathing and stretching? What is the science behind this breathing?
Great question, thanks. Yes, the common belief is that you should be exhaling when you exert.
There is no scientific, chemical reason why you should be exhaling, it is all about the mechanics. When we exhale, it recruits the muscles of the core. The abdominals the obliques and the lower back muscles can all be involved in a vigorous exhale; the kind that is recommended during a strenuous movement.  The reason this type of breath is recommended is simply for the recruitment of those muscles to support  your spine during the exertion. 
Another factor is that when we are exerting it can increase the pressure inside your body.  It is instinctive for people to hold their breath during an exertion because this further increases the internal pressure and therefore increases the muscular support during the movement.  However, it is very easy to create too much pressure this way.  So it is for this reason that we are advised to exhale on exertion.
There can be other factors contributing to whether or not you should inhale or exhale, too.  For example, in a movement that brings your knees up into your chest, exhaling would be a good idea simply to give your legs the room.  If you inhaled, and inflated your lungs, there would be more volume to your torso and therefore it would be harder to pull your knees in. 
In yoga it is often advised to inhale when you are extending your spine and to exhale when you flex it. This has to do with the diaphragm being stretched. When you inhale, the diaphragm contracts, which causes it to lower into your abdominal cavity. When this action is combined with a spine extension, there are two opposing forces pulling on the torso: the diaphragm from below and the upper thoracic viscera from above by the nature of spinal extension.  On the other side of that coin, when your spine is flexing, you are able to relax the diaphragm, which causes it to pop back up into your ribcage.  You can also use the act of the flexion of your spine to assist you in emptying the air from your lungs. 
When people are stretching, I advise deep breathing both in and out, with the greater emphasis on exhaling.  There is a natural, inherent relaxation of the body with the act of exhaling (even though it is actually the contraction of the diaphragm that initiates it). When holding a long stretch, paying attention to the exhalation and the accompanying relaxation can lead you to a longer, deeper and more effective stretch. 
And one final thing I want to say about breathing.  Its main and most important function is not to bring you oxygen as is commonly believed.  True, that is one of the functions, but the most important function is actually the removal of carbon dioxide. All the time, but especially as we exercise, our bodies are converting oxygen to carbon dioxide.  And we have to get rid of it.  The ‘out of breath’ feeling that you get is not your body telling you it needs more oxygen.  In fact, when you breathe out, that air contains enough oxygen supply for another full breath in. No, what that feeling is, is your body trying to dump off all of the accumulated carbon dioxide.
So the next time you are exercising and you feel like you are running out of breath, focus on exhaling more deeply and see if that helps you ‘catch your breath.’
Please keep the questions coming.  
Is there anything you want to know about health and fitness, but have been afraid to ask?  Is there a subject that I haven't addressed that you'd love to read about? 
Please let me know; I love to research and write about this stuff. 

Arrived in Santa Barbara

It’s a strange experience being back in Santa Barbara after so many years away.  I was born here, went to school here and lived here for my first 27 years before leaving for Seattle.  After 8 years in Seattle and 10 in NYC, I’m coming back to learn that although the town is basically the same, a lot has changed.  
I arrived by train last night and went directly to Yoga Soup, where I’ll be teaching my Super Nia Immersion playshop on Sunday.  Ken Gilbert was just finishing a Nia class there, and afterwards he took me to his home where I’ll be staying the weekend with him and his wife, Bonnie and three cats, Lucy, Ghost and Nubbin.
I was surprised by the weather here; I expected to see the sun.  But instead it has been foggy and overcast the entire day, and from what I’ve heard, will probably stay this way all weekend. 
This morning, I took a Pilates class taught by the wonderfully gifted Ken Gilbert, and he exposed me to basically the same weakness and disconnection that was exposed by Glenn Black last weekend at the Human Movement workshop.  I love being a student and having these very capable teachers help keep me on my path of self-improvement. 
What I’m learning is that the strength in my body is allowing me to create inefficient compensation patterns. Or to put it another way, some of my strong muscles are bullying some of my orphan muscles. It will take some diligent effort and retraining to get the bullies to relax and the orphans to start working more. What’s really exciting about this work is that it will improve my posture, increase the ease with which I move through life and reduce the amount of pain and discomfort I’m susceptible to. 
Following the Pilates class, Ken and I team-taught a Nia class for his students at Yoga Soup.  Ken created a playlist blending AO and Trance Vision and since we’re both Black Belts, we just jumped right in and the class flowed so smoothly that the students suspected that we had planned it out.  Ken set the focus of X-Ray Anatomy, so we had fun dancing our bones and joints. 
After lunch we took a trip to Santa Ynez to see Ken’s theater space, Theater D.  This is the home of Drama Dogs and Daughters of Zion Aerial Dance Company. Ken and Rena hooked up some of the chains and let me play around on them.  After a bit of flailing around, I got the hang of it (no pun intended). In no time at all I was having a ball and after about an hour, with Ken and Rena’s guidance, I had created the seed of a performance. We spoke of making a more serious collaboration and they started to get me really excited about it.  (They may just pull me out of retirement to do this.) It would be a blast, I’m sure, so I’m really serious about wanting to do it if we can find the right time and figure out how I can afford to spend a whole month in Santa Barbara rehearsing and performing.
Tomorrow we’re going to Carpinteria to attend an all day Integral Anatomy course with Gil Hedley. I don’t really know what to expect, except that two of my mentors (Jill Miller and Debbie Rosas) have both spoken very highly of him and his work and I’ve seen some of his videos on YouTube. I expect to thoroughly enjoy and be inspired by his work. 
On Sunday, I’ll teach my Nia Immersion workshop at Yoga Soup.  And then, on Monday, I’ll leave for San Francisco. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is the Gaiam Reversible Travel Yoga mat the answer?

I work out hard. Not only that, but when I do exercise, I sweat profusely. What I’m getting at is that I’m very hard on my yoga mats. When I’m done, there is enough water left on the mat to make a splash if I dropped a dime on it.  I try to remember to wipe the sweat off as soon as possible, and I sometimes use a spray cleaner or hydrogen peroxide / water mixture to wipe it clean. I’ve also tried putting my mats in the washing machine and I’ve put them in the bathtub with water and bleach. 
But despite all of these efforts, I just can’t seem to keep a mat for more than a few months without destroying it. It isn’t destroyed physically, but it smells mildewy.
I thought I had solved the problem when I found the Gaiam Reversible Travel Yoga Mat. I was also thrilled that it solved another problem I was having. I have always found yoga mats to be ungainly and hard to carry around and store. This mat folded up into the size of a T shirt and folded out and became a nice, but very thin, yoga mat. And I could put it in the washing machine and hang it to dry. One side was sticky-mat material and the other side was a more textured, comfortable material.
All was good in my world for a couple of months. Then the backing started to get too sticky. It became harder and harder to unfold after storage for a day or two. It became a noisy, sticky affair to remove the mat from the floor after a workout. I attributed the increased stickiness to the type of detergent I used in the washing machine. I choose a detergent that doesn’t have harsh chemicals and rinsing agents, and so I feel like some of the detergents didn’t rinse properly. 
It got so bad that one day I was working out at a friends house and when I went to peel my mat off the floor, it had stuck so strongly that it left a sticky, blue residue on his carpet. I was horrified. I figured I had destroyed his carpet. If it had been my carpet, it would have been destroyed.  I’m thankful he knew how to deal with it: (Oxyclean in a spray bottle squirted on the carpet and then scrubbed with a thick brush.)
I contacted Gaiam and told them about my problems and they offered to replace the mat with a new one. 
But now I’m back to my original problem of how to use a yoga mat for my workouts and clean it up afterwards. I’ll keep the travel mat, but I don’t think it'll be the answer. 

I welcome any comments on this topic as I am really not sure what to do next. Keep in mind that I'm using the mat for more than simple yoga. I'm working out. It's like calisthenics or gymnastics. And I sweat a lot. I also like to travel and workout on the road, so I'm not into carrying big heavy, bulky things. Any suggestions are welcome.  Please leave a comment.   Thanks.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Human Movement

Greetings from the road. I’m still on the first leg of my JAG Fitness West Coast Tour 2010.  In Santa Monica today, I attended a very inspiring workshop taught by Glenn Black. The workshop was called Human Movement and it went over some of the basics of how our joints should optimally move.
For example, I discovered that maintaining proper spinal alignment while raising the arms overhead or while deep squatting is a lot harder than it would seem. And sitting with the shins stacked one on top of the other requires a great deal of external rotation in the hip (more than I have).
Glenn’s Human Movement workshop exposes some of the movement shortcuts we take and forces us to deal with our limitations by being impeccable with our movement.
Laying down, sitting, standing and walking, says Glenn, are our basic movements and most people do all of them incorrectly.  Poor posture will deform your body over time and lead to imbalances which could hinder performance and eventually lead to pain.
The workshop was mainly focused on retraining our bodies to be properly aligned. 
I said the workshop was inspirational; and it was.  It made me want to teach this stuff to my students.  You can bet that this work will start to find it’s way into my classes and private sessions. 
I would think doing this work and including some self-care techniques that loosen tight muscles and reduce painful restrictions, would be very popular with an aging population who may be discovering that they aren’t as comfortable in their bodies as they once were.  People who just want to get more limber, or to move better, will love this class.
Human Movement isn’t a workout per se.  What I mean is that it isn’t about losing weight or gaining muscle. It is more about just simply moving your body like a human. I’ll be teaching you what joint movements are inherent, and if you don’t have those movements, we can work to get them back.  So, it’s more about finding ease and freedom.  But, that said, it can be awfully strenuous and challenging to hold your arms up in the proper position without letting your torso become pulled out of alignment. 
So, let me know (by leaving a comment) if you think this Human Movement class is something that you’d be interested in. If I get enough people interested, I’ll start one up.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Water: Before, During and After

I just got this question from one of my blog followers...
Q:  I know that it is important to drink water before, during, and after exercise. But can you say something about why this is so? What is the science behind this?
A:  Water serves many important functions in your body.  I recommend you read my blog entry The Power of Water: The Wonder Liquid where I break down many of the great things this important nutrient does for us. For example, water is the main ingredient in something called synovial fluid, which is a slick substance in between your bones that assures your joints move smoothly.  If you are dehydrated, you will have less synovial fluid, or the amount that you have will be more viscous and less efficient at protecting your joints.  This could lead to discomfort and injury. So if you have been drinking the proper amounts of water throughout the day, there is actually no need to drink extra water before you exercise. It is more important to make a regular habit of drinking water throughout the day than it is to have it before you exercise.  
While you exercise, the temperature of your body increases. The longer you exercise, the more heat you create. Our bodies require a very precise and delicate balance of nutrients, minerals, salts and water.  An increase in body temperature of more than a few degrees can not only decrease your performance, but can be dangerous. So, your body uses water to create perspiration, which, when it evaporates off of your skin, cools your body. Even if you don’t think you’re perspiring because it’s not dripping off your body like what happens to me, you still are perspiring.  It’s evaporating and keeping you cool.  This results in a net loss of water, which you need to replace or risk becoming dehydrated. 
Studies have shown that exercise performance is best when regular sips of water are taken. The theory is that since there is such a delicate balance of water and minerals in your body, that even the slightest decrease in the amount of water available in your system, had enough of an effect to slow down your metabolism and decrease your energy output.  Taking a sip of water every few minutes, keeps your electrolytes and other substance levels at the optimum and helps you perform better. 
One caution to be aware of is the fact that as you exercise, if you sweat profusely, your mineral levels can become very low.  In other words, you will have a concentration of minerals in a low-water solution. You will have lost a lot of minerals AND a lot of water. If you suddenly drink a lot of plain water, it is possible to over-hydrate and create a situation where you actually dilute your mineral balance, which can be just as dangerous. It is rare, but people have died from this ‘water toxicity’. 
If you have been sipping water periodically during your exercise, you shouldn’t need to drink copious amounts of water afterwards and your risk of water toxicity will be greatly reduced. After exercise having a moderate amount of water is fine.  Just be cautious about drinking anything over about 8 ounces immediately after a prolonged sweat. 
So, to summarize the answer to your question:
Drink plenty of water at all times, not just right before you exercise. While exercising, think of water as a magic elixir that improves your performance and helps to prevent pain and injury.  But only use it in small sips every five or ten minutes.  And after exercise, imagine that you are replacing the water that you lost through perspiration, but don’t go overboard.  If you didn’t leave a puddle of sweat on the floor, or completely soak your clothes, you probably don’t need to replace a great deal of water.  One glass should be sufficient. 
If I do a particularly hard workout and I sweat a lot and exert a lot of energy, I drink coconut water instead of plain water.  There a lots of natural electrolytes in coconut water and the risk of diluting my body’s minerals is much less. Plus it’s very refreshing and tastes yummy.  I stay away from sports drinks like “Gatorade” which are loaded with sugar (or even worse, artificial sweeteners) and have too much sodium and artificial colors and flavors.  If you must have them, I recommend you treat them as a concentrate and mix them with equal parts plain water, or even use a 2:1 ratio, (2 parts plain water to one part sports drink.)
Thanks for the question, I hope that helped.

Cold for the Road

Greetings from LAX

This morning, I set my alarm for 4:30am.  I was leaving on a 7:45 flight to kick off the JAG Fitness West Coast Tour 2010.
About three days ago, I started to notice that my throat felt a bit raw, but I contributed it to abusing my voice in Sunday morning’s Nia class.  Sometimes, when I get over excited in class, I forget to use my voice properly and my throat can feel raw for a few hours afterwards.
But the next day, it was still raw.  Not terribly painful, but noticeable. And then I was talking on the phone with a friend and he asked me if I had just woken up, or if I had a cold. I didn’t think much of it, so I just told him that I had just finished irrigating my sinuses with my neti pot and that sometimes makes me sound stuffed up for a few minutes afterwards.
And then yesterday, my throat was still sore and my head was still a bit stuffy and I started to get that weird, tingly feeling of having a cold. I believe it’s a histamine response. 
So it seems I need to face the fact that I have a cold.  Which is extremely rare.  I never get colds.  And what timing! Here I am at the beginning of a month-long, multi-city fitness tour and I have a cold.  Which reminds me, the last time I had a cold was...
Hm... a few days before leaving for Houston for my last fitness jaunt. In fact, if you look at the video of my Bond Girls routine, which was shot in Houston, you can hear the cold in my voice. 
So, I wonder... is it a coincidence? I don’t get stressed out by these trips; I actually enjoy them a great deal.  Is it some kind of self-sabotage? 
The cold I got for Houston was a doozy, and stuck around for about a week after I got back to New York.  I’m hoping this one disappears quickly. I’m trying to spread joy and fitness across this great land--not germs and sneezes.