I realize that there have been some changes to this website, namely the url. I changed from lenebaxter.com to http://www.coachingbylene.com.
I did this for a few reasons. Mainly, I had several websites set up. One was personal (lenebaxter.com), one for coaching CrossFit and functional training and one for coaching kiteboarding. It was a lot and, at the end of the day, I’m spending the majority of my time coaching. So, it made sense for me to combine everything into one.
I will still post about the things I used to post about (travel, lifestyle), but this site will be more focused on sports coaching in general with an emphasis on kiteboarding and fitness.
I’m still living in Santiago, Chile. During the week, I coach CrossFit and functional training classes to private clients (with the exception being the group class at the Adidas Group Headquarters office). On the windy weekends, I go to La Boca (near Matanzas) to coach Kiteboarding.
In the time that I am not coaching, I am a Master of Arts candidate for Sports Coaching, I play inline hockey a few times a week, go trekking in the Andes on non-windy weekends, LOVE checking out new movies and just enjoying life.
Subscribe to the blog if you want to stay updated on the content I will be putting out or contact me if you are interested in kiteboarding, CrossFit or functional training!
I will be posting anything related to coaching and sports from now on in my other website: trainwithfortis.com. I will still occasionally post here for personal posts, but am focusing much more on developing this other site.
I hope that you enjoy it and here is a link to my latest post on my Coaching Philosophy.
Dr. Romulo Bernal was our family doctor when I was growing up. He had some to the states from Brazil and his practice was quite near to us. I remember him being everything that I thought a doctor should be: kind, caring and with that way of putting you at ease that some doctors seem to have mastered. I remember him even coming to the house if one of my grandparents was too sick to go to his office. It was a time when you could still have a relationship with your physician.
Now? Forget it. As an adult, I have been in the Army Tricare and VA system and, only since coming to Chile, have truly experienced what it is like to be in a system run by the insurance companies. Doctors move you in and out as quickly as possible, often in 5-10 minute intervals. Because of my age (damn fertility), my insurance is incredibly expensive and covers very little (unfortunately Tricare doesn´t extend internationally).
I have been seeing a doctor who specializes in internal medicine and nutrition. He has been my nutritionist for nearly 8 months now. It isn´t very common here to have a nutritionist who is also a doctor, so it is a special thing. Aside from that, he is definitely not the typical doctor. Consults are scheduled for 30 minutes and I have never had the feeling of being rushed. He asks questions and knows about you as a person, not just a file or one of hundreds of patients. Hell, the other day I had a control appointment at the end of the day and ended up being there for an hour and a half (fair enough, 30 minutes of appointment and an hour talking..).
As I am preparing for Kilimanjaro next week, I have been under his care in more of a GP role. He signed my physicians certificate (after putting me through loads of tests in the altitude chamber), helped me with all my prescriptions for more than a month in Africa, and recently saw me for a nasty cold/infection I picked up. He is an amazing doctor and I am lucky to have found him…but it begs the question of why I need to go to my nutritionist for this?
GPs have all but disappeared from Santiago. If you want a GP, you must first go to the Emergency room. Yes, the emergency room. So, for my infection, I would need to go to the ER to explain to a doctor why I needed to get better ASAP for my trip…a doctor that likely doesn´t give a shit about me…or…I can go to a doctor who legitimately cares what happens. This is a special case, I am lucky to have found a doctor who is doing what he is doing because he loves it and cares about his patients.
The point of this? Not much other than to point out the sad state of affairs. Gone is the relationship you could once have with your doctor here (so much for preventative medicine)….it is all replaced by the all-mighty dollar sign and instead of going forward, we have managed to take a step back.
It´s only recently that I´ve begun to kind of accept this notion of adulthood. I don´t like it that much. It´s like a bitter taste in my mouth…like a piece of food you have to chew too much where you aren´t sure to continue the effort or spit it out and say to hell with it. Really, up until a year or two ago, I actually thought of myself as a kid still…someone in their early 20´s that is still forgiven for every manner of things. Shit…. Now I´m 29. Uff.
My boyfriend just turned 38. Jesus. I can´t imagine that in one hand and on the other, it doesn´t seem so far away. I made him a kick ass breakfast and bought one of those magnetic dartboards with a bear on it and a colorful badminton set… because…you know, the inner kid fire needs to be fed.
Well, what´s my point here? Yeah, I know this is completely different to my normal posts. Sometimes you need something a bit more raw though. My point is….
fuck it. Age is a number. It doesn´t matter if you are 10 or 100. Live well. Follow your dreams. Treat yourself right. If an opportunity comes your way, take it…who knows when that shit will come around again, if ever?
If there is one thing I learned early on and truly held onto is that you can not get time back. You can make more money …and really, how much of it do you really need? You can always get another job. You can´t get time back. It´s gone forever and who knows when that will run out for you..
So, here I am in London Heathrow 1 day in to a 1.5 day journey from Santiago to Barcelona. Truly it could have been half a day less, but that would have changed my ticket from London to Barcelona from 34 Euroes to over 200… I’m not super cheap, but there really isn’t much arguing with that math for a 6 hour difference.
I haven’t really had the opportunity to know much of Europe. I have spent some time in Ireland during university and Spain a few times, but I wouldn’t say I “know” Europe.
Miguel needed to travel to London for work in the first days of October and suggested I go ahead of him to visit some friends and travel around Europe a bit.
So, I will head first to Barcelona, then to Rome and Berlin. After Berlin I will meet up with Miguel in London and, after he finishes the week of work, we will head to Belgium for a weekend before coming back home. Truly the only downside I have to the trip is that Miguel can not join me the whole time.
Traveling is definitely our thing. We both love seeing new places and experiencing new things (and Miguel has an obsession with experiencing nice hotels). So, it is definitely weird to take a trip without him. In the past 2.5 years, we have seen Colombia, Argentina (2x together and another time apart), Thailand (twice…), Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Spain, US (doesn’t really count…) and now Europe. It has been amazing traveling the world together.
I will try…key word being try…to catalogue the experience in this blog. I feel truly lucky to have this experience and am happy to share it. Stay posted!
My first organized team was basketball at the YMCA when I was four years old. I have always known my family put a high value on my education, but I also know, even more important than that, was athletics. My grandfather exposed me to as much as he could… leading me to play basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, inline hockey, ice hockey, equitation, rugby and even MMA (and eventually also kiteboarding, snowboarding and crossfit). At our house, we had a tennis court, soccer area, basketball area, hockey area and a pool. I lived for sports.
Practice was meant to be given 110%. Games were never missed and, at the conclusion, I would always get a play-by-play of the mistakes I made. I can actually remember an instance after an ice hockey game in which I had scored all of the goals and my grandfather simply said ¨good game¨ and started into the areas I needed to improve. And coaches…
Well, coaches have always played an important role. Throughout my life, coaches have not been confined only to the instruction of whatever sport I was in. Through these men and women, I have learned the value of hard work, dedication and commitment, sportsmanship, patience, teamwork, leadership and what it means to truly give yourself to the game. I certainly can´t remember every coach I have ever had, but there are many that I will never forget.
I first met my most recent coach, Paul DeAngelis, at his Crossfit Endurance Trainer course in Peru. I was drawn to, not only his knowledge, but his passion. It was obvious he cared a lot about being a coach. I remember trying to spend as much time as possible in our downtime that weekend picking his brain. I wanted to learn as much as I could from someone who, almost immediately, inspired me. I left the course impressed and with the nagging thought that this was someone I needed to train with…
Within a month, I had begun training as one of Paul´s athletes.
I have been working with Coach Paul for five months now. It was certainly a transition for me as he lives in Canada and I am down in Chile. I had never worked with a coach remotely before. I had a lot of concerns about how I would do in this type of situation and if it would work, but overshadowing my concerns was the gut feeling that this was a person that I could really improve with.
As a crossfit athlete, Coach Paul has greatly improved my game. He has taken someone that was very concentrated on lifting and made me a much more well-rounded athlete. It is rare to pass more than a week or two without achieving a PR in one area or another. I´ve become stronger, more technically sound and improved my range of skills.
I went from having chronic aches, pains and injuries to being injury free. I actually train a bit less than I did before, but have seen drastic improvements…showing that quality really is better than quantity.
He has certainly made me a better athlete via great programming…but if I had only been looking for programming, I probably wouldn´t have made the commitment to work with him.
He has become a mentor to me, someone I look up to as the type of coach I want to become. Paul understands that an athlete is truly the sum of all their parts…and that includes life outside of the training. He is able to impart the sensation that you are important to him as a person, and I can´t say how important that is. As I mentioned above, I have learned my most important life lessons from coaches, and my experience with Paul has certainly followed that trend. Under his training, I have become a more confident athlete and coach and someone who knows their body better than ever before. I know more what it means to be patient and trust that, what I am doing, will pay off. I know that he expects the best effort I can give and, every day, I push myself to achieve that. If I had to summarize it, I have become a more mature athlete with him.
I can say 100% that my experience with Coach Paul has been fantastic and, my only real downside, is not having the opportunity to train with him in person.
I have been dealing with a growing problem in my life… Facebook.
I joined Facebook in 2004, back when it was only for a select few universities. Since that time, it has grown and evolved into this massive empire.. a verb, a way to pass time, a way to show the world your life (and, consequently, inhibit people from actually talking to each other, because you can get all the info you need from Facebook, right?).
As you know if you read my blog, I have chosen a rather different life path. Despite having a degree from West Point, I have elected both Kiteboarding Instructor and Fitness Coach as my professions. Are these awesome? Sure! When I was teaching kiteboarding full-time (before moving to Chile and splitting my time as a fitness coach as well), I lived on the beach. I was every day in the ocean. It was great! Now I live in Chile and I still spend my summers in the ocean, but the rest of the time I am able to train and coach other people. I have easy access to the Andes for snowboarding. I travel…excessively. Just this year I have/will go to Peru, Argentina, Spain, Germany, UK, Belgium, Italy, Thailand, Philippines and Cambodia. Next year, I already have the US, Mexico, Tanzania to climb Mt. Kili, Madagascar and South Africa in the mix.
If you only looked at my facebook, I am living the dream. Nothing bad ever happens in my life and I am happy 100% all of the time. When I look at the facebook pages of my friends, it is the same. Everyone has fantastic lives. Everyone lives their dream.
Yesterday I was speaking with my partner as he and I discuss this perception from time to time. Of course I post a lot on facebook…and of course a lot of that has to do with my profession. As a coach, I promote myself as someone who not only works in those areas, but also lives the lifestyle. Do I live the lifestyle? Yes…but only promoting that gives a false sense of what my life is really like.
I don´t talk about the time I dislocated my foot climbing and was out of work for 5 months…or how that ate into a lot of my savings….or how it still hurts me every day. I don´t talk about being 29 and having less money to my name for the future than I did when I was 23 because I chose a job with less income. I don´t talk about being so tired every day at the end of the day that sometimes I just want to cry. I don´t talk about how much work goes into a job like teaching kiteboarding or fitness coaching. I don´t talk about relationship problems or friend problems or family problems.
I will be the first to admit that I am lucky. I do have a good life, but it sure isn´t the pleasantville, perfect life I display on facebook…as I am sure no one´s life is really that way. Facebook has become a way for people to showcase what is going well or good in their lives…and maybe, in some way, that is a method of handling the bad things…and that´s OK! The important thing is to realize that the Facebook reality is not really reality. It is a construction of each person and what they want to show the world, nothing more.
I am….hopelessly jet lagged. It has been two mornings since arriving home and I am still the zombie falling asleep early and waking up at 10..11 pm wondering how it could be so early. Last night I woke up at 11:30. Needless to say, I binged on Netflix all night for lack of anything better to do…
Here I am now though. It is still early. It rained last night, so everything has that rich, deep color that you only get after a rain. What is even better is that we are nearing the end of our fall (and perhaps could arguably be in winter), so the trees have more color…not like a NY fall..but beautiful still. I love the city in the morning, before everyone has woken up. It´s so still..peaceful.
We just got back from a nearly month long trip…visiting the Philippines, Cambodia and finally Thailand. I love traveling. I love the feeling that I am seeing and experiencing something new. I love the sights and sounds and smells and tastes and people. However, in the last year…I have also loved coming home.
That concept of home has been something not entirely tangible to me for some years. Leaving my home for university (and sometimes, I might even argue moving from my childhood home at 15) meant I was in transit. I still had a place to put my things, to sleep at night, but I wasn´t home.
From there, I have crossed a broad spectrum of jobs and continents searching for my place. What did I want to do? Where did I want to be? Well, I still can´t with any certainty tell you what I want to do. I can tell you what I want to do right now. Maybe I could even tell you what I want to do in the next few years….but from my experience, that can change in the blink of an eye.
Chile? That was certainly never on my radar…and yet, I found myself sitting in the plane and looking out at the Andes as the sun rose and thinking just how happy I was to be home. I found myself arriving to our apartment and relishing the sight and sound of it, our cat who had likely thought we abandoned her, our nanny who was just as jubilant to see us…everything.
The place isn´t perfect. There are plenty of times where I have things to complain about, but I have come to realize a very important lesson…that nothing will ever be perfect. I will never find a place to live that is perfect. The important thing is whether I can be at peace, be at home…and at least for now, I have found that.
For almost the entire first windy season in Chile, I taught and rode in La Boca (near Matanzas). I was stoked to have a place to ride, but not so excited that it was a 2.5-3 hour drive from Santiago (and not on the best of roads) and boasted super gusty wind. I had also checked out Pupuya, Matanzas and Embalse El Yeso. However, besides La boca, none of those places presented me with a great place to take students and also enjoy a great session myself.
Then, one of my friends (who also happens to be a student of mine) asked if I would go to Playa Ritoque with them to try out. They live in Reñaca, so its a 15 minute drive to the spot (much…much…much better than the 2 hours it would take them to get to Matanzas). I was quite keen to check out the spot as it is a 1.5 hour drive for me (and my boyfriend’s parents have an apartment in Reñaca as well…so it would be a win over paying for a place in Matanzas)!
First impression was a lasting impression because it was incredible!!!! Despite being an ocean spot, it is amazing to ride and teach!
There are actually four different spots in that area (Playa Ritoque, La Boca for north winds during the winter, the Laguna at the entrance of Playa Ritoque and a super secret laguna!), but I will speak mostly about Playa Ritoque.
The wind generally blows from the SSW in the summer months, which sets up perfect. Generally you will have a side shore to side on-shore wind (and very rarely will you get it turning to on-shore wind). While it isn’t blasting like you find in Matanzas, I prefer the wind here much more. The wind ranges from 12 knots to 25+, so on most days people are using kites from 9-12. If you weigh a little less (which is the case for most of the women), you can get away with having a 7 meter and 9 meter.
So, depending on the tide and the size of the tidal change can really change this place! The waves are very small close to shore, but about 100 meters out you have a larger break that can be difficult to get past if you aren’t experienced (but for the beginners, there is plenty of space to ride between the shore and the break!). During low tide, be careful with the water depth as it can get quite shallow closer to shore. There is a bit of a current during the peak times of the tidal changes, but nothing too serious.
There are no underwater obstacles in the tack that everyone uses, although upwind you will find some rocks that can become submerged depending on the tide. Also, if you ride too far down near the entrance by the laguna/bridge, you will find more of a current (which can make it difficult to ride upwind). Only once have I seen anything dangerous… A fisherman put a stake in the ground, which became partially covered during the high tide. We pulled it out so no one impaled themselves! Otherwise, great spot! Really pristine!
Entering the spot can be a bit tricky. You need to pay either 1500 CLP during the week or 2500 CLP during the weekend. You can enter the beach by the parking lot OR drive alongside the train tracks until you get to a dead end. Cross the train tracks there and turn left when you get onto the beach. If it’s windy, you will see the kiters! If you are the first one there, park a little upwind of the tower (there is a tower with an wind sensor on top…although I have not found the website it links to, if any..). Here is the catch…if you don’t have a four wheel drive, it can be a little iffy to drive onto the beach. It is better to park near to the train tracks and walk from there. It is about a 10 minute walk, but much better than getting stuck in the sand!
Ritoque offers a lot! When the tide sets up right, you get a super flat spot closer to shore if you want to practice some free style. If you want to surf, head out to the break a bit farther out. If you want to just practice free riding-the whole spot is your play ground! It’s really amazing and definitely a place I recommend!
For more info on classes, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my school page at gdvchile.com!
Today we had decided not to go to the Phi Phi Islands. It had never really been on our plan, but Miguel had it stuck in his mind to go. In the end, we didn’t want to deal with a place that, by all accounts, was way too over crowded (besides, it’s hard to imagine topping the beauty we saw over the past two days…or, as said by Miguel, it would be “..marginally awesome..”).
We got a “late” start, waking up at 08:30 and wandering down to breakfast. We weren’t in any rush to get somewhere and it was actually really nice (I am sure at the end of this, Miguel may very well say I am some type of vacation slave driver). After breakfast, I wasn’t feeling super well, so we chilled for a little while. By 10:30, I decided I had enough of chilling and we should do the trek we talked about in the national park close to our hotel. It was only supposed to be a 3-4 hour trek and about 7.4 km if you stayed on the main path.
So, around 11:00, off we went (after applying vigorous amounts of mosquito repellant which actually makes your skin feel tingly…not a great feeling). The entrance to the park is about 600 meters from our hotel. There was a crude trail map at the trail head. It was 3.7 km to the top, but there was a split at some point that was supposed to have a waterfall. There was no distance denoted there, but we figured we should check it out.
The first part of the trek was arguably slow. I probably added an hour onto our total time on trail because of all the pictures I took. However, when you take photos on a trail, it forces you to slow down and notice things. I saw a flower I wanted to get a macro shot in and just as I was about to settle for the shot, I noticed that the thing I thought was a branch was actually a little green tree snake. I called Miguel over and it was cool to see him together. Besides the tree snakes, we saw plenty small blue morpho (or a species in the same family) butterflies. I tried to get a picture, but failed. These little guys are really cool. The underside of their wing is dull, but the top of the wing is a shocking blue color. We also saw some pretty cool lizards as we were walking along.
When we reached the fork, we went off to check out the waterfall. We had previously passed a couple who told us the waterfall was “boring”. Despite that, we wanted to see for ourselves. Well, what they should have told us is that, in fact, there is no waterfall. We hiked for about 30 minutes…although it’s possible that it was more. We finally stopped when, after all that time we couldn’t hear any water. So, we headed back. The light was low from some clouds threatening to rain on us, but we decided to head up to the summit anyways. We had come so far and it would be a waste not to go all the way to the top.
By the time we reached the top, it was raining lightly. Visibility was low for the view because of some clouds below us surrounding the mountain, so we decided to wait it out. At first, we were just in the open sitting on a rock chatting. It was actually pretty romantic. What started as a light afternoon shower soon turned into something heavier with more rain and more wind.
We both decided maybe finding some type of shelter from the rain would help. We split off and I was looking around for maybe a rock ledge or dense tree cover. I didn’t find either. I called out to Miguel, intending to tell him we should fashion a little shelter to cover from the rain while we waited and found him chilling under a rock ledge he had found! So, there we waited. It could have been miserable, but we were in good spirits and just had a good laugh about it. With heavy wind and rain by this point, it was good we found something to shield us from both. After some time, we discussed having a time limit on when to head back as, truthfully, we had no idea what time it was. I pointed out that we should at least wait until the wind dies a little bit, because the last thing we wanted was to get hit by a falling tree limb (Miguel apparently hadn’t thought of that and I’m not sure he appreciated me pointing it out).
With the rain still coming down, but decidedly less so, we decided to climb up onto the last rock for a better view to see before we headed down. Well, the clouds had cleared a bit and we decided to take some pics. Using my shirt that I had spent the last 30 minutes trying to wring out, we covered the camera and took a few photos. By the time we climbed down from that rock, the rain had slowed to a sprinkle (which allowed us to take photos a little more freely and then hide the camera again inside the back pack). As the sky was clearing, we caught sight of a pink hue from one of the viewpoints. I didn’t like the sight of that. It hadn’t seemed like we had been gone that long, but pink in the sky can really only mean that we were losing the light. The trail wasn’t well marked, we had no source of light, almost no water left and both wet from the rain…not good combinations to get stuck out on a strange trail at night (not to mention that I am sure the mosquitoes would simply pick us up and fly away with us).
We headed back down the mountain at a much quicker pace that we came up. It was a little tricky going down as many parts of the trail were rocky, muddy and steep. Still, neither of us tripped or slipped, which was good. We had been close to one another on the trail until a tree fell in an area we had just passed (how often does that happen…?!?!). After that, I told Miguel to keep some distance behind me. In case something did happen, it wouldn’t happen to both of us. While the way down was a little rushed, it was still fun…and actually added some excitement to the trek (should I mention now that it was Miguel’s first time trekking!!!! Oh, there are so many more trails in this world to show him).
Once we hit a creek that was maybe .5 mile from the entrance, we slowed down and relaxed a little bit on our way out. On the road back to the hotel, we both made guesses as to the time. I guessed 16:00 and he guessed 16:30. Well, we arrived back in our room at 17:41! With the sun going down around 18:15…18:30, we were really close to losing the light! A lot of time was lost looking for the waterfall, taking photos and waiting out the rain at the top.
I was, of course…starving. We had some leftover food from a picnic box yesterday (spicy chicken and rice). Miguel walked into the main part of the room from the bathroom to a sight of me desperately trying to open the bag of chicken with the rice…and couldn’t help but laugh our asses off. Apparently I looked like someone who hadn’t eaten for ten days!
After a little snack, we decided to take advantage of our awesome bathtub. We threw on some Ben Rector (awesome artist I have recently discovered), I made the water a little cold for me and way too hot for Miguel and we chilled for a while (despite being in Thailand, getting caught in a windy thunderstorm is actually freezing). We had talked about trying one of the restaurants at the hotel instead of ordering room service, but after a hot bath, we were both feeling a bit lazy (and Miguel put on a white t shirt which is a sign of staying in). Well, we earned a bit of laziness after that trek!
(and here are loads more pics!)