7:15 am, Sunday, February 25, 2018.
The Garage, Granada, Nicaragua
With the early morning minutes ticking away, I quickly pull the car out of the garage, lay out my weights, exercise mat, water, and jump rope, and then begin to prep my phone to set up the day’s first video of the garage workout. My fitness trainer, Bertina will also film the next 60 minutes of exercises from various angles on her phone and between the two of us we can cover for most of the technological challenges that occur when filming while training.
I shyly learned the practice of recording our workouts from Bertina six months ago when I was new to strength training and unaccustomed to reviewing myself from unflattering angles. Bertina understood why I didn’t want to eye my untrained body full of flaws and weaknesses, but she reminded me of the bigger picture. She advised me to use the imagery to see my body in balance, to not only look for areas that need improvement, but also to where I was winning in my efforts to become stronger.
My body gradually, then drastically improving on film
Although Bertina’s first videos would come back to me with spirited messages like “Getting stronger all the time!” Or, “Look at you go!” it took me months to really watch myself in balance during the playback. I didn’t find it very motivating to see how far I had to go to build my perfect curves or how out of breath I looked in the workouts to get there.
Then finally with time, I began to catch something in a image, a small detail that would indicate change or a new ability and I would be heartened that the daily struggle was yielding fruit.
After months of waiting, it was undeniably on the film: somewhat better-defined triceps, me jumping rope now with greater ease, performing more confident lunges that were building glute and hip muscles to fill out my clothes again. Emerging strengths and abilities.
Mm-hmm, I thought. I am getting somewhere now! I think am ready to engage this process.
My imagery began to reinforce in me the valid process of change derived from my continued commitment. Filming began to provide the evidence that everything that we were doing in the gym, the yoga studio and the garage was working. The camera became an asset to fulfilling my goals. I understood its power to teach, to reveal, and to encourage me.
Now six months into my fitness project, I consider it my own responsibility to film myself on camera. Not only do I require an endless source of imagery for this blog, but I have a personal desire to study my technique and form to get it just right.
But trust me, it’s not all good news, all the time. Six months of working out may mean that I am stronger than when I started, but the playback is continuing to show me that my story still has a textured plot.
Honey, sit up. You’re slouching.
I recently studied footage of myself coming out an arm curls set at Junior’s Gym and I was alarmed to notice that my back loses its straightness when I am not paying attention to it. Was that exercise fatigue or is that my real default posture? Whatever, the cause, bad posture is the nemesis of a beautiful body. Lazy form can take every effort that you make to create an attractive body and dial it down to a mediocre visual.
I make a note to try to remember to pay attention to my frame in my off hours and check back with the camera next week to see if I am still slouching. Whether I remember or not to fix it, the camera is like your mother telling you to fix your posture: until you do it, it doesn’t stop reminding you!
This feels good. Darn it! That means I am doing it wrong, again.
Today in the garage, as Bertina and I practice bearcrawl walks, I am again impressed at the utility of the camera. A bearcrawl walk is a planking exercise that keeps me in table top position with my knees just above the ground crawling laterally. Without mirrors to observe my posture today, I unknowingly fall far out of table top alignment.
Bertina advises me to straighten my back, bring my butt down and align my shoulders over my hands. Curiously, in the moment, I feel like I am already doing that. But when Bertina shows me the video playback of the set, I see what she means. My form is skewed (so that’s why it felt so easy!) and I am missing most of the beneficial struggle of hovering in resistance range.
Today the camera does more than not lie, it clearly points out that I am:
Getting this move right means that I start to feel my triceps shaking all the way up to my shoulders as the pressure of half of my body weight makes them finally get the workout that the exercise demands. This makes it all worthwhile: if I am going to hover above the pavement at 7:30 in the morning, I might as well get a real muscle producing workout while I’m down there.
Vanity is a powerful motivator. The camera will capture the hottie inside of you ready to dial it up.
Even though I know that I will be sweating in the struggle to build muscle, I am learning to always look my best doing it. I told my ex-boyfriend from high school the other day, that I put on full hair and make-up to go to the gym. “Why?” he asked, stunned. “Because I am being filmed,” I answered innocently. But to be honest, there is more to the pretty lip gloss than that.
There is a hottie inside every man and woman, whether we remember them or not. I believe that it is that hottie that we are often missing in our later adult lives and are hoping to reclaim while we work towards achieving a better body. And really, there is no time to waste in reviving that inner sexier image, you need it and it needs you.
Get reacquainted with your sexual vanity because if you are ever lacking in personal motivation to go the distance, you can turn to your inner hottie for extra strength. While you might settle for mediocre or ‘I’ll go tomorrow’, the part of you that was once dripping with swag will pull you out of bed to get his / her biceps built this morning.
For you women out there, take it from me, don’t go to the gym in sweats, without makeup and a shower. And definitely do not film yourself that way. Put on cute gym clothes if you have them, mascara and lipstick, and do your hair as if you didn’t care that at some point it’s going to be a sloppy mess.
Dazzle yourself. (Remember the hottie who is waiting to help you.) Let the camera help you find her. Once you see her winking back at you, all bets are off and there is no telling how far she can take you through the struggle.
What makes you smile
Filming my workouts has also been recording a different kind of change on the inside of me. A new happiness. An emerging energy. A sense of satisfaction with myself.
I urge you to try it because these are moments that you do not want to miss.
When you play back the imagery of your workout you will start to find something there that is going to make you smile. Smiling because you spot yourself looking fly catching air while doing oblique hops. Smiling because arm curls now actually make you look good. Smiling because you know that was a minute and half plank and you are already fantasizing about doing a two minute hold.
Or just smiling because you see yourself smiling and you know what that meant.
It is that good feeling coming back into your life.
It is building that body that shows you that you care about yourself and you are willing to stop making excuses so that you can feel the way you want to feel and look the way you want to look.
(It is you, in control again and loving it.)