Amanda Nyx Selker

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Since Apr 2014

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Head to the new blog!

Posted on August 14, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

As I've thought about updating this blog over the past month or so, I've realized most of the posts are about running, and only a handful of potential posts have been Zumba Fitness content - so I've launched a new standalone blog for all my fitnessing!


Check out Adventures with FitNyx for future updates!

Foam Fest 2014

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)

A few weeks ago I traveled two hours to the FAR south end of greater Chicago - so far I don't think it's really Chicago anymore, honestly - to participate in my second mud run, the Foam Fest 5k.  This time, I got muddy.  Really, really muddy. 


I had loved the Zombie Run as a lower-intensity intro into the world of obstacle course racing, but I loved the Foam Fest for amping up my experience just enough that I no longer felt like a beginner but still felt like a major winner.  Though many of the Foam Fest obstacles were a little on the silly side, such as the bouncy house full of foam or the Mike's Hard e-Lemonator, but many of them were fairly challenging and a lot of fun!  The huge cargo net, for example, was a good challenge thanks to all the slick mud that had gotten ingrained into the ropes before my late start wave got to climb, and any rough terrain was extra slippery and chewed up, making the straight running parts far more technical than I'd expected.  Also, gotta give some props to the event management team, especially for the brilliant idea of having professional photographers at many of the obstacles on the course.  As you can see in my Photo Gallery, they got quite a few really nice shots of me, and they provide them online for FREE!  Not many races do free photos, and I doubt the others that do put as much time into making sure there are plenty of good quality photos of just about every person on the course. 


While the course itself was a blast, I have to admit it was the group of volunteers I interacted with while on site that truly made my day.  I was in a particularly bad mood that morning, thanks to some "life happens" issues, but thanks to a handful of truly wonderful people with amazing smiles, I was able to really get into the festivities and let myself have a great time!  The experience was so touching that I decided to start taking my own turns as a volunteer at races, and actually participated in my first race volunteer day yesterday morning at Highland Park's Firecracker 5k!  Though a MUCH smaller event, the other women with whom I was working were the same bright eyed, energetic, kind hearted type of people as the women who had touched my life so positively at the Foam Fest.  I only hope my efforts will touch or inspire someone in the future! 


At the end of the day, I think mud runs are really cool experiences, but I think I will be very picky about future entries - and will wait for some friends to man up and run with me.  I got through all the obstacles by myself, but struggled sometimes, so a team would have been nice, but mostly I want to share these experiences with other energetic people.  These events attract a lot of group participation; I see teams working together on the course or just laughing and having a good time with close friends, and I get a little envious.  I've never really had a group of friends who would give something like adventure racing a try...  Maybe one of these days I'll meet the right people for that!

Run or Dye!

Posted on June 13, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Now that I'm getting into competitive running, my father, who has been training religiously for almost a decade now, was itching for the chance to run with me!  We carved out an opportunity over Memorial Day weekend in the form of a fun run - the Run or Dye color run! 


Neither of us was too sure what to expect.  I'd registered for it somewhat last minute, just to see what these "color run" things are all about, and it just so happened to be the best weekend for my parents to take a little trip out to see me.  I'm sure it wasn't Dad's first choice for a running event, but he put his money down and we made our meetup plans.  We were both skeptical about running through clouds of colored powder, especially in the heat, but were determined to have a good time. 


Turns out, it was an absolutely awesome experience!  We got to the start line very early, which ensured we would be released in the first wave and could get out of the way before it got too crowded.  We spent almost 45 minutes waiting at the start, but the event runs a bit of a pump-up party at the start line, and even Dad got pretty into it!  We also ran into my new running friend Mary, from the I <3 Momma trail run earlier in May, who was at the starting line right by us.  It was pretty cool to go to a random event and see someone I knew!  We didn't run this one together - I stayed with Dad - but we made sure to get some good photos afterwards. 


As for the race itself...  My old man is in phenomenal shape!  He really pushed me the whole way, though even with me pushing as hard as I thought I could go, he probably was still holding back a little.  I ran the whole way, first time I've done a 5k without walking (though I've only done one official 5k previously, haha), and we finished with a solid time of 26:57.  I couldn't believe I'd kept up that whole way! 


We were definitely COLORFUL afterwards!  You can see just how bright we were by checking the Photo Gallery tab, as words cannot describe how PINK I was by the end!  Running through the powder was not a problem, but washing it out sure was!  I had pink armpits for over a week afterwards.  The extended family is suggesting we start making this an annual family event, and I think it's a brilliant idea!  Just a great experience from start to finish! 


Have YOU tried any exciting fun runs?  Tell me all about it!

I'm back!

Posted on June 11, 2014 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Yikes! 


I'm sorry I've been away so long!  My computer's power supply fizzled, and it has taken a couple weeks to get the part replaced and work out any other system damage.  I'm now back up and running - and boy do I have some stories to tell! 


In the next few days I'll be making some "catching up" posts, including three run recaps and the 411 on my exciting new ZUMBA job!  Stay tuned for updates, check out the Classes tab to see where I'm teaching, and come join a class!


Also, as always, feel free to reach out to me directly with questions/comments/emotional outbursts/whatever!  I love hearing from the community!  You can find my email under the Contact tab! 


DANCE ON!

I <3 Momma!

Posted on May 11, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Happy Mothers' Day! 


Yesterday, in honor of the holiday, I participated in the I <3 Momma 5k trail run, hosted by Chicago's own Muddy Monk!  Though I'd done last week's Zombie Run Extreme obstacle course, I had never run a 5k straight up, so I went in a little nervous.  By the end, though, I realized it doesn't really take that much to run a 5k, and finished with a sprint and a big smile!  Muddy Monk will be posting times later this week, so I'll know my benchmark, but I'm already really pleased with the run.  I walked for only one small section, less than five minutes, which actually surprised me!  A huge thanks to my two new running buddies who stuck with me and helped me pace out the last mile! 


The Muddy Monk group hosts trail runs throughout Chicago every year, including races of various lengths, anywhere from 5k to half-marathon.  Their runs are cost-effective, and their swag is top-notch!  Anyone in the Chicago area getting bored of standard road-based runs should check out http://muddymonk.com/ for more information about how to kick it up a notch and tackle Mother Nature!  


Good luck, runners!

SORE. Or, how I (re)learned to love my body!

Posted on May 9, 2014 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The title of this post might say it all, but allow me to expand a bit. 


I have always been an athlete.  From kindergarten through grad school and beyond.  But last year after my wedding, I finally took a break from high intensity sports and fitness, due in large part to a spinal injury from which I was uncertain I would ever fully recover. 


With luck (and some excellent rehab) on my side, I'm almost as mobile today as I was a decade ago in college, and I'm back on my game.  My co-ed soccer team is thrilled to have me back, my newfound love of mud runs has kept me on track with training, and my husband LOVES watching me practice my ZUMBA moves in the basement every night!  Even HE is off the couch a little more, taking long walks with me and occasionally coming out to kick the soccer ball around our backyard.  I've lost 20 pounds in the past couple months, and I feel like myself again after almost a year of feeling lethargic, lazy, and immobile. 


"For every up, there is a down," as they say in Disney's Sword in the Stone!  I may have jumped back into full time athleticism a little too suddenly.  Days after my zombie run, I'm still feeling the strain on my muscles and joints.  I suppose part of it is simply age - it is unreasonable to expect my worn down adult body from recovering as quickly as it did in high school - but I do want to offer these words of wisdom to anyone who is just starting out with a workout plan or fitness regimen: LOVE YOUR BODY! 


Loving your body is sooooooo important.  You need to listen to it and treat it well.  I'm sure you don't need to hear it from me, but what you eat can make or break your fitness plan.  I've cut out all sodas and drink only water and homemade smoothies - that has been a HUGE part of my weight loss, and had definitely impacted my mood!  It's harder for me to cut down on carbs or sugary foods, and I accept that, but there's no need to drink all those extra calories on top of it.  Even the little changes can make a big difference.  


Take ample rest!  This is both during a workout, and afterwards.  Give yourself more than a few seconds in between sets at the gym.  The day after a particularly hard or long run, spend time with a foam roller and some gentle yoga to help stretch and repair the muscles you used.  Plan for a full night's sleep, every day - and make it GOOD sleep!  Your bed should be a temple, not just another activity surface.  Try to avoid eating in bed, watching TV, or hanging out there when you're not trying to fall asleep; just save the space for dreaming.  Trust me, you'll notice the quality of your sleep getting better and better when you reserve the mattress for its normal purpose!  


Small changes go a LONG way in your day to day health.  I made the commitment only a few short months ago, and I've seen incredible improvements.  You can too.  Fitness is a commitment!  Take the plunge, and good luck!

Zombie Run: Extreme!

Posted on May 3, 2014 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I tackled my first mud run obstacle course today - with great success!  Though it wasn't a timed race-like event, I did finish in the top ten from my 100 person heat, which for a first timer, feels pretty good.  The experience taught me a few things, and I'd like to share them with any Zumba fanatics who might be looking to expand their workout fun! 


1. You don't have to wait in line if you're the first one to reach an obstacle.  One of the things I noticed come up constantly in my pre-race research, was that the herds of people running will inevitably get backed up at obstacles and you'll get a nice rest period while you wait your turn.  Truth is, this only applies to the people in the big packs, not to the front runners.  THIS MEANS that I did not get those "freebie" breaks and had to actually run the whole way.  I guess I didn't *have* to, but I did anyway.  The breaks probably would have been nice. 


2. Not every "mud run" actually has tons of mud.  To some, this is a huge blessing.  I'm on the fence about it - I was expecting to get some of those awesome "covered in mud" photos to show how tough I was and to prove I did all the nitty gritty obstacles, but I was also worried about swallowing nasty mud!  I'm glad I didn't get a mouthful or two of the icky stuff, but I do feel like I missed out on a big aspect of typical obstacle courses.  This event focused more on trying to outrun zombie hordes than on crawling through mud, and that's a nice unique part of the experience.  I'm sure the next mudder will have some real MUD and I'll get more than my fair share! 


3. Don't be afraid to go alone.  I dragged my husband to this event, since it was my first time.  He's strictly an "indoors cat" and wasn't thrilled, but he did it for my security and safety.  I think next time I won't have any problem leaving him in his comfy computer chair while I venture out alone.  All of the event's volunteers were incredibly sweet and helpful, they had lots of easily identified security and police officers, and the other people running were, for the most part, also total sweethearts.  I "teamed up" with some other mud run newbies on the course, and we chatted between obstacles, then helped and encouraged each other through the obstacles when needed.  I have loose plans to meet up with the same people at the next event I'm planning to attend, and even if they don't show, I'm sure I'll meet some people to share the course with once I arrive.  The biggest benefit to having a non-running friend at the course was the album full of AMAZING photos afterwards (and he really did get some great shots, he found the perfect camping spot) but I think everything else is manageable by an individual. 


4. It is TOTALLY OKAY to skip an obstacle if you can't do it!  I'll admit, I was nervous about this, even after reading other advice posts.  I know it's "okay" by the rules, but when you're in the middle of a pack of people pushing themselves to deal with the obstacle, sometimes there is that feeling of peer pressure.  I tackled every single obstacle at least once, and conquered almost all of them with no problem - but the rope climb got me.  I have some lingering shoulder injuries from years of lacrosse, and I could tell after a pull or two that it just wasn't happening.  I dropped down, took a second, and looked at my two running buddies to see how they were doing.  One of them had no problem, but the other had the same result as I did.  He just turned to me and said "we'll train for that one for next time, let's go!"  And we were off.  No pressure to try it again, no shaming, nothing, just encouragment to learn how to do it safely, and to keep moving for the next challenge.  Pretty cool atmosphere, really! 


I think those are some of the biggest takeaways I had from this experience - besides the awesome fun and fitness, of course!  I've posted some of the highlight photos, you can check them out under the Photo Gallery tab at the top of the page.  Have YOU ever tried a mud run?  Tell me all about it!

Week 1 in the Life of a Budding Zumba Instructor!

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Well here we are. 


One week in on this adventure called "ZUMBA instructor"!  What do I have to show for it? 


First thing worth mentioning - I lost about four pounds last weekend at the training class.  I don't really have that much weight to lose so quickly, and you can be sure I'll keep eating enough to put that cusion back on, but that just goes to show the incredible power of the ZUMBA "workout in disguise" formula.  I danced my butt off - literally! 


Of course, it's hard to eat enough to keep the weight up when you're dancing ALL THE TIME!  That's been the most noticable fallout from the big step into official instructor status.  I have my first ZUMBA CD in the car with me, and I listen to it every day.  The rhythms are becoming second nature to me, and a LOT of people have witnessed some amazing car dancing in the past few days!  When I get to work early, I pull up the ZUMBA website and practice the new choreography provided.  When I get home, my ZUMBA DVDs are already in and waiting - one in the computer, one in the PlayStation, and one in the bedroom DVD player.  My patients (my day job is physical therapy) have been grooving with me when particularly spicy songs come up on our Pandora list.  Overall, my general activity level has definintely been raised this past week! 


I also now have many people asking me when and where my classes are.  Unfortunately, I have not popped directly into a studio as most people seem to have expected!  There is a local gym with a position open, that I had been discussing taking upon receipt of my license, but I feel a need to really KNOW my choreo a little better before I get up there.  I have a pretty good grip on some songs I've been working on for months, but I know my class will be 100 times better when I can LIVE my music, not just dance to it.  In the meanwhile, I'm looking for any opportunity to grow with the brand and feel more confident in my new role. 


To be honest, this was all a lot easier back in the old city, where I led dance aerobics frequently, but knew everyone in my class like sisters (or the occasional brother!) and didn't have to start fresh with completely unfamiliar faces.  Trying out my choreo with some of my more mobile patients is helping me build that confidence - so check back soon to see when I will finally burst out into the local teaching scene! 


Finally, this week has given me new direction for my crafting hobby.  I've been working on some shirt designs and some new techniques with my yarn arts to fashion items for an exciting dance workout outfit.  I plan to make my (successful) attempts available right HERE on this website, so there is a new "web store" link at the top of the page.  Nothing there yet, but I know if I see it every time I log in, I'll hold myself accountable. 


All in all, a solid introduction to this exciting new chapter in my life!  Check back for more updates, and feel free to send me a message, especially if there's something you'd like to see me address in this blog!


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Licensed to teach:

  • Zumba BasicZumba Basic
    License to teach regular Zumba® classes.
  • Zumba StepZumba Step
    License to teach lower body workouts using a blend of Zumba® routines and step aerobics.