It’s 7:20 Sunday morning and Bertina and I are about to train as we always do on Sundays from the home office of my garage. During the week, we are twice at Junior’s Gym, where even if it’s not much of a gym, you can get a damn good workout if you are with people who know what they are doing.
Trust me, a good workout doesn’t require state of the art equipment, or even a clean floor. One of the attractions of the Sunday garage sessions is that it takes this minimalist approach to a new level. The workout materials basically consist of Bertina and me, my garage floor and sometimes a chair and some hand weights. No membership needed.
Before we get started, Bertina asks me about my stomach. She checks in with me from time to time about my stomach which now is effectively cured from any definitive illness but still is an issue for me psychologically. Anytime, I feel stress it goes straight to my tummy, meaning that it tightens and I either feel tension or nausea, but both reactions mean that I stop eating drastically. I tell her that I am doing better but I still wrestle with the problem from my head.
Bertina understands about the brain’s protective mechanisms and tells me that our minds have all kinds of adaptive ways to try to protect itself. When we grow up, we learn how to hold on to these habits to survive, but if we are conscious of them, as adults, we can get ahead of them and learn to let go. She says that my understanding of my own issue is half the battle. The worst stages of a problem are when we are not even aware of what we do or why we do it.
Today, we are ironically working on the abdominal muscles. Bertina incorporates some twisting motions into the arm and leg exercises that call upon the smaller lateral abdominal muscles to pitch in and increase the range of motion. Chris is always pointing out to us that in daily life we generally operate in a predictably tight range of motion that squares us forward and back, up and down. The key to total body fitness is to get out of our standard comfort zones and call upon lesser used muscles to join the party.
To work the all the tiny side muscles, arms and legs needs to move into lesser explored areas around the sides of our body. The key in these exercises (as in all exercise) is so control the movement. It is tempting to want to swing arms and legs around to gather up momentum, it’s a way for the body to conserve energy (doesn’t that sound nicer than calling it cheating?), but it also gives you less return on your investment. Chris likes to remind his students that training is like finance: when you put your money in a savings account you can either get back 3% annually on your investment or in a different bank you can get a 5% annual return. Doing an exercise correctly using controlled resistance targets the higher ROI for the same amount of training time committed.
Today I am going into the session feeling stiff, but to be honest I always wake up stiff and begin each day that way. It’s only really when I finish exercising that I feel open, limber and young- how ideally I want my body to feel.
Maybe today is a little different, maybe I am holding back, but there is a point when we are jumping in and out of squats that I feel something shift in my back and I am on the edge of damaging it. There is shooting pain now somewhere in the motion and I stop the jumps. I know better than to continue into the same movement so we move on with different exercises that don’t cause pain.
Throughout the day, I am paying for this movement. I know when something goes wrong not to panic. I’ve been uncomfortable or with pain enough times in my life to either ignore until it goes away or now more so, run to Ronn’s yoga studio for some targeted treatment with stretches.
Unfortunately relying upon Ronn to work it out won’t work tomorrow because yoga class was cancelled. I will have to do his routine on my own. But it’s not the same! I want Ronn!
You’ll be fine, Kelly. Come on it’s been almost a year now. You know what to do. It’s a routine. What can go wrong? 😉