I’ll be honest with you. Everyday I wake up stiff. My body hurts and aches all over the place. Some of it is a good kind of hurt, the kind of discomfort that I have earned and that will later transition into muscle growth and tightness- the curves that I am chasing after. When I feel this kind of soreness, I know that I have really gone the distance and hit the target.
Other kinds of pain, are not so good. Pain from an injury is a constant source of worry. This is week number two of having a pinched nerve run down my left leg and I am still nursing it constantly, navigating my limitations but yearning to jump into all the positions and angles that I recently did so effortlessly.
In many way I feel that I am fortunate that I was so wretchedly sick the first weeks I started training in September of 2017. There were mornings when I couldn’t eat, mornings when I threw it all up. But I still trained.
When I think back on that initial period when I wasn’t even nearly as strong as I am now, and I still pushed through all my fear and discomfort, I never waver any more whether I will train on any given day. My end answer to myself is always yes.
Today, I am back at Junior’s Gym with Chris and Bertina and I am eyeing a barbell that is 25 pounds that they want to put over my hips while I lay in reverse tabletop over a bench. I am eyeing that twenty-five pound weight and feeling this stiffness in my back just looking at it. Truthfully, I am terrified. Not of the weight and the exercise, but of injury. My mind cautions me loudly, hold back.
Bertina demonstrates first. She lays her shoulders across the bench and easily accepts the weight onto her hips. Amazingly, she begins to drop her lower back down to the ground and slowly back up again squeezing her glutes as she returns to the top. When she overshoots her mark on the return and arches her back, Chris guides her back into straight tabletop alignment.
Extra inches don’t get you any bonus prize, except a sore back, Chris tells me. (I wouldn’t have known that).
“It’s not heavy,” says Bertina. “Really, you barely feel it”.
I look at the weight again and wonder, could that be true?
It’s my turn and I shimmy down onto the bench and rest my shoulders near the edge, where Bertina had just positioned herself. Come back further up, says Chris. Come back more. He now has me positioned more securely on the bench with half my back supported.
When he places twenty-five pounds onto my hips, I can vouch that Bertina was right. I hardly feel the the weight at all. This is probably the strongest area of my body when I think about it, and most women would probably be able to do the same effort.
When I go to lower my hips down, I find that I can only get a few inches towards the floor. The way my back is hedged onto the bench, I realize that I have foregone flexibility for security, but I run through a set of ten dips anyway.
On my next set, Chris increases the weight to 35 pounds and it doesn’t phase me to think about the extra weight. I know now that I can support it, but I tell him that I am limited to only moving down a few inches.
“I know,” Chris says. “That’s what I want- small successes. I don’t want you going all the way down the floor. You see her going all the way to the floor, but you didn’t see the beginning picture when she first started.”
“My father always said, if you break your toys, (and he indicates Bertina’s core area), what will you play with?”
Isn’t that the truth? And don’t we all need to hear that? I have to be brave and try, but it’s important to be smart and patient, too. I am learning to find the right balance to take care of myself. But I am not doing it alone.
Thanks for watching my back, Chris.