Saturday, December 21, 2013


Everything cycles. I’ve gotten out of the habit of regular exercise. Every once in a while I think it’s good to take a break and go through a softening period. It allows me to fully recover and to start again fresh.

Even during the most recent hiatus, I still maintained an active lifestyle. In large part, thanks to my dog. I walk River at least twice a day and often go on short runs with him. I also get down on the floor and wrestle around for about twenty minutes almost every day. Also, during the time I wasn’t ‘working out’ I still taught Nia classes now and then and practiced my routine in my home studio. So I was far from sedentary.

But about a month ago I decided to get back into my old routine. I was inspired by seeing a picture of myself taken a few months ago and comparing that to what I saw in the mirror. It was clear that the time off I had given myself to soften up had done just that.

I know from experience that it isn’t a good idea to jump right into full blown workouts, so I gradually added things back in.

I started by joining a gym and re-establishing my weight lifting routine. I hadn’t been in a gym at all since I injured my shoulder in 2009.  It’s been a month now that I’ve been back at it, and I really feel good. I’m glad I am doing it again.

I’m working towards getting back into my four day cycle:

Day One: Rest and/or Recovery movements
On this day, I might do nothing but go for a walk and play with my dog and throw in some light stretches or gentle movements throughout the day. I don’t really set aside a time to spend in the studio.

Day Two: Yoga
This is a day devoted to a basic yoga sequence with a focus on relaxation and on preparing my body for more strenuous days to come.

Day Three: Metabolism
On this day, my goal is to increase my heart rate as high as possible, using athletic, full body movements and a strict timing protocol. I use the Tabata protocol, which is shown to be the most effective and efficient at increasing metabolism the most in the least amount of time. My work out lasts less than half an hour, not including warm up, cool down and meditation. But even including all of that, it’s still usually about forty minutes of movement, plus however long I meditate for.

Day Four: Strength
This is the day I go to the gym and lift weights. I’m using three sets each of Squats, Pull-ups, Dumbbell Bench Press, and Crunches. Each time I go in, I start with a very light set and then a second set with slightly more weight. That, plus the brisk, five-block walk to the gym and the fact that I always wear long pants and a hoodie sweatshirt with the hood up, serves as my warm up.

I keep track of the number of reps and set that I do of each exercise. I started off very easy and each day I gradually increase the number of reps or the weight I’m using on the third set. The first two sets are always the same weight. It was a couple of weeks before any of the exercises have felt challenging, since it was my intention to ease, rather than shock, my body back into the routine.

Up until this week, I was only doing the weight training. I hadn’t gotten back into the four day cycle so that I could accelerate my progress at the gym without rushing. But the last few times i was at the gym, I could really feel the sensation of being near my edge, so I felt it was time to add the whole cycle back in.

The day before yesterday I did this yoga routine
I was out of practice, but I got through it. My balance was wobbly and my mental endurance was way down, as I found myself leaving the mat after every four or five poses for one reason or another. I didn’t get upset by it or belittle or judge my experience, and I made it through the sequence despite almost prematurely quitting twice. Afterwards I felt very ethereal for about half an hour, but after I took a shower and ate, my body felt so comfortable and emotionally, I was very peaceful.

When I use my home studio, I use my video camera as a self-coaching tool. Upon watching the video of this yoga practice, I was alerted to a situation I need to address; an exaggerated curvature in my spine in both my lower back and middle back. My lumbar curve was lordotic and my thoracic curve was kyphotic. That’s fancy talk for “I was slouching”. 

But, unfortunately it isn’t only due to the fact that I was slouching in the studio. I wondered if it was a by-product of the softening period. Or maybe it was developed from doing squats with weights on my shoulders for the past month. But then I wondered if was something that developed while I was doing so much driving this past year, or maybe it is just a new postural attitude I’ve taken on gradually without noticing.

The good news is that I’ve noticed it now and now that I’m aware of it, I can correct it before it becomes a real problem. Maybe I’ll ask someone to shoot a video of me doing my squats at the gym, just to be sure I’m not using bad form.

Another thing that I noticed is that I sometimes look at the reflection in the glass doors to stabilize myself.  Mostly, I just use a soft gaze and don’t really look ‘at’ anything, but there’s something very grounding about the mirror image sometimes. I also sometimes look at the video monitor while shooting my practice. But rather than a reversed mirror image like I’m used to, what I see is the actual video image. So, for example if I see in the monitor that my left shoulder is higher than my right, I’d raise my left shoulder even higher. But then the higher shoulder would go up further in the video image and I’d respond by rising it even higher!

So... I need to not look at the monitor at the very least. And maybe consider getting a mirror for my studio.

Yesterday was the first day I added the metabolic workout back into the mix. It was rough, but it was meant to be. I was focused on learning new movements as well as incorporating my new awareness of my spinal curves. I have done this same routine a couple of years ago, so I was working on increasing the sophistication and challenge of each of the six movements. My cardiovascular system couldn’t keep up with the intensity that my body remembered being at when I had done the same movements last year. I know I’ll get there, and then improve even more, but for now, it was a strange feeling.

Today, is supposed to be Day Four of the cycle. Today I am scheduled to go to the gym and lift heavy weights. It’s 5:00 pm on the shortest day of the year and I still haven’t gone. I’ve decided to insert a special day of rest in honor of Saturnalia.

Just kidding. I’m sore! My legs, my butt, my lats, my arms. Just wrecked. It would be a waste of time for me to go to the gym right now. I’m in no shape to go in there and lift heavier than I did when I was there four days ago. I know that. But if I rested today, I feel like I could go in there tomorrow and blast it out, no problem.

And then I will go right back to the cycle, which would mean resting AGAIN the next day.
I don’t think this will happen every time I go through the cycle. I think that I was unusually sore after yesterday because it was new. My body will repair itself for me to go back and do the same thing again, so it won’t be nearly as traumatizing to me muscularly.

Today: Solstice Yule Rest of Saturnalia
Sun DAY 4 - weights
Mon DAY 1 - rest
Tues DAY 2 - yoga
Wed DAY 3 - metabolic
Thu DAY 4 - weights
Fri DAY 1 - rest
Sat DAY 2 - yoga
Sun DAY 3 - metabolic
Mon DAY 4 - weights
Tues DAY 1 - rest

River's Vocabulary

Although much of my communication with River is through body language and gestures and quite a bit of it is through my tone and intention, there are a number of words that it is clear that he recognizes and responds to, even out of context.

RIVER - he recognizes his name, but his response is not prescribed

SIT - he sits

LIE DOWN - he lies down

GO LIE DOWN - he walks over to his bed (usually used when I’m at the dinner table)

HERE - he knows I have something in my hand

COME - he immediately walks to me

STAY - he stays where he is

STOP - he stops walking and sits down

WAIT - he stops walking but doesn’t have to sit

HUNGRY - indicates food is imminent

FOOD - same as above

GET YOUR _________ - he’ll go and retrieve the item indicated. Items he can ‘get’ are:

    KONG - feeding toy
    TOY - rope used for tugging
    ROPE - another word for ‘toy’
    BEAR - stuffed animal
    BONE - a bone

TOUCH - he’ll tap my outstretched hand with his nose

KISS - he’ll tap my face with his nose

HUG - he’ll press his body against mine

SPIN - he’ll make a 360

JUMP - all four legs, or at least his front legs come off the ground, depending on his excitement level 

BE RIGHT BACK - he knows I’m leaving him alone

SAY HI - he’ll walk over to someone else with their hand outstretched, tap their hand with his nose and then return to me

HEEL - he walks at my right side

BACK - he walks backwards into the ‘heel’ position

GO HOME - he goes into his crate

SHAKE - he puts his paw into my hand

PAW - he presents his paws to me, one at a time (usually for drying after a walk in the rain)

GO - his signal to chase or fetch something

OK - he is released from his ‘heel’ or ‘stay’

LEAVE IT - he ignores whatever he’s been focused on, even if it’s food

CIRCLE - going outside just to pee on the nearest tree and then come right back in

WALK - walking on leash

UP - he’ll jump up on a bench or a wall, etc

OFF - he’ll jump off same

TUG - he’ll grab the other half of what I’m holding and pull

PUSH - he’ll charge at me, pushing his chest into my outstretched hand

ALL THE WAY UP - he’ll run up the stairs and wait for me at the top

THIS WAY - when we’re walking or running together, he’ll change directions toward me

NO - he’ll stop doing what he’s doing. it is usually followed up by a suggestion for what to do instead

GO AROUND - he’ll walk toward me, walk past me on my left, walk around behind me and end up on my right side facing the same direction as me

ROLL OVER - he’ll roll over

READY - he’ll be on alert that a command is coming and wait for it

OW! - if he puts his teeth on me during playtime, this ends the game.

FACE - he presents his nose to me so I can slip a leash over his head

POOP - he will immediately start looking for the right spot

WANNA GO TO THE ____? - it doesn’t matter what the last word is, he wants to go anywhere I suggest

EXCUSE ME - he'll move out of my way

GO TO YOUR PAD - he'll go to sit on a bath mat near the front door

There are probably more, but this is all I can think of at this time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Learn the GOLDFINGER (aka Bond Girls) Nia routine


Full Schedule:

1- Take the Class
Sunday, January 5
4:00 - 5:00pm
Century Ballroom West Hall
915 E Pine St. Second Floor

Class is open to the public for $10 --FREE to those attending the full training.

2- Do the 8BCs
Saturday, January 11
2:00 - 6:00 pm
JAG Studio
1208 E Republican St, Capitol Hill, Seattle

3- Learn the Moves
Saturday, January 18
2:30 - 6:30 pm
Dance Space Studio, Greenwood, Seattle

4- Teach what you Know
GOLDFINGER teacher Jam
Saturday, February 1
11:00 am - Noon
Century Ballroom West Hall
915 E Pine St. Second Floor

Class is open to the public for $5

Cost for full training is $75. If you attended the BOND GIRLS training in October of 2010, you can attend the GOLDFINGER training at a discount.

Scroll to the bottom of this page to preregister, or pay in cash on the day of the first class.

None of the sessions are required to learn the routine. If you can't make a session and are still interested in learning it, contact me and we can arrange a special session for you.

GOLDFINGER is a Nia routine created by Jason Alan Griffin. Originally it was called BOND GIRLS, but it has since been renamed with a less gender-specific moniker. The routine was inspired by hearing the album Shirley Bassey The Remix Album. Diamonds Are Forever. Shirley Bassey is the voice of three James Bond movie theme songs: Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever and Goldfinger. She’s also done her versions of such classic songs as Hey Big Spender, Spinning Wheel and Where Do I Begin? (the theme to ‘Love Story’).  Upon hearing the album of remixes, JAG says, “It was so exciting to hear these classic songs given a new, modern technological twist, and as soon as I heard the album, I knew I had to teach Nia to it.”

The routine took a few months to come together and has taken on a strong James Bond theme. It was unleashed on the public in 2010 when it was taught in New York City, Santa Barbara, Eugene, Seattle and Portland. The routine and the espionage themed movements excites and thrills people whenever it is taught.

In early 2014, JAG is going to be training a select few teachers in Seattle to lead this routine. You could be teaching this great routine by February, 2014. If you are ready to get started, all you have to do is register for the training and complete the following four missions between now and the end of January. Your training with JAG can start as soon as you are ready and will culminate with a special GOLDFINGER JAM in late January. (exact date to be announced)

Back in 2010, there was a training of about eight “Bond Girls” in Seattle. Anyone who was present and previously trained on that weekend can attend any part of the current training for only $35. Contact JAG to register if that's the case.

This 'Learn the Goldfinger Routine' training will take place in four steps called ‘missions'. Student teachers are given plenty of opportunity to learn their own way and in their own Natural Time. None of the following sessions are required. You are free to do whatever you feel you need to do to learn and embody this routine.

Experience the Goldfinger routine.
aka Take the Class

On Sunday, January 5, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the West Hall of the Century Ballroom, 915 E Pine St. JAG will teach the Goldfinger routine to the public, including the trainees. This dynamic and playful Nia routine with a 007 flavored theme is focused on the Pelvis/Chest/Head body weights. The intention is to infuse sensuality into the Martial Arts. 

The admission to this class is $10 for general public but the cost is covered by the fees for the full training package. If you can’t make that class, no worries, there may be other opportunities to take the class between now and the end of January.  If it is at all possible to arrange it, JAG can even teach the routine as a guest teacher in your class. But even if you don’t get the opportunity to take Goldfinger, it won’t prevent you from learning it.

This class will be video taped and a copy will be given to all attendees for future reference.

Get Familiar with the Music
aka Do Your 8BCs

Upon registering, you will receive the playlist and a copy of the 8BCs so you can immediately begin to get familiar with its nuances and overall feel.

There will be one, four-hour session devoted to meeting as a group and going over the ‘bars’. All of the Goldfinger trainees will gather and go through the entire routine making note on their copy of the bars. If you want to bar the music on your own, you can certainly do it before we meet, and it would be very helpful, but not necessary.  The session we’ll have together will be for going over the ones JAG has already done and following along with the music. JAG will share how he hears the music and explain why his bars are how they are.

If you cannot make the session included in the training and/or you need more personalized attention, you can set up a one-on-one training session with JAG at the special discount rate of $20/hour. This special rate is valid from the time you register for the training until the Goldfinger Jam at the end of January. After that, should any further training be desired, JAG’s regular rate is $80/hour. 

"Bond Girls" at Nia Moves in Houston, TX - October 2010


Learn the Moves
& Move the Moves

We’ll get together as a group a different time for another four-hour session. This one is devoted to getting the choreography written down on your bar sheet as well as getting it into your body.  The session will be a download of all the katas that make up the routine and special attention will be given to transitions and unusual places in the music.



aka Nia Teacher “Goldfinger” Jam taught by JAG and the teachers in training

Saturday, February 1
11:00 am to Noon
West Hall Century Ballroom
 $5 for general public

Trainees will be given the opportunity to choose one or two songs to fully embody in order to lead a song or two in the Goldfinger Jam. Plenty of time will be given in between the choreography download of Mission Three and the final Goldfinger Jam so that teacher will have time to practice on their own or arrange more special training sessions if needed.

This is going to be a hugely fun community event. We will divide the songs up and teach the Goldfinger routine Jam style. There is no pressure, of course. This is all supportive. No one will be forced to teach, although it is highly encouraged as it is a safe environment to explore some really fast learning. 

The exact time and location of this Jam is yet to be determined.

The sooner you register, the sooner you can get started. 

Register here using PayPal, or contact JAG to arrange registration.

Those trainees that sign up the earliest will help influence the schedule and timing of future training missions, which have not been firmly established yet. 

Register for Training