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
Continue reading “It’s not (just) about vanity or finding your inner hottie. Filming yourself working out is just smart.”
Sunday, February 18, 2018. 07:30
As I crawl forward on my forearms and toes inching ahead to the end of my mat, Bertina reminds me to keep my back straight, no rocking from side to side. The motion is meant to be small and deliberate. I picture a line of barbed wire running just above my back and I am a soldier (or an escapee!) squirming under a retaining fence in the dead of night. I hear Bertina coaching: focus on control, speed is secondary.
When we finish a minute and half of sneaking forward then backward, I am not sure if my uniform might have been shredded on my mission, but I do know that I was gratefully diverted from planking at the far edge of my mental and physical ability.
Forty-five second planks once felt like an eternity; then the minute became standard. Now Bertina is steadily moving us past the minute mark to keep me challenged. She opts for exercises where I am in a plank, but distracted by small core movements that require my concentration and additional muscle groups (like sliding a weight from one side of my body to another while in a push-up hold, awesome!). Continue reading “Something just for me: targeting small movements for big improvements.”
It’s 7:30 am and Bertina and I are back in the garage warming up. I am always amazed at how quickly this space converts into our personal gym as soon as we start to move. Part of the conversion is a result of strategic distractions. Bertina knows how to line up a rigorous itinerary of strength training exercises that keeps my mind focused on the here and now, where it needs to be to follow her directions.
You are going to go into a plank, like this. Your feet will stay here, and then walk on your hands 360 degrees in one direction around in a circle, and then return and go back the other way for one minute…
Besides being challenging, Bertina’s exercises are definitively fun and playful, taking me out of my comfort zone and normal range of movement. Half the time I am on my hands, upside down or feeling like a sidewalk break dancer (my favorite, of course!).
I have to concentrate to get it right:
Now you are going down into a push-up, then come up, turn into a side plank, and then swing your leg through and then other side: push-up, side-plank, swing through…
I am aware that I am working all the key areas around my body that are important to me; Bertina may be all about fun but she doesn’t mess around. It feels like play, but she knows that I am gunning to add curves in all the right places and she designs the hour around my key target areas.
Today, she warms me up with hip dips in a side plank for several minutes and these are the kind of tricky lateral exercises that will thankfully help me to refill out my clothes again around my hips and thighs.
Continue reading “Yeah, I’m working for my curves- but seriously! This is so totally fun.”
Today when Chris and Bertina come by in the morning, Chris looks right, then left, and hands me a baggie of white powder.
Don’t jump to conclusions, he deadpans. I laugh. This is so Chris. You’re doing more now, and you’re asking more of your body. You need to feed your muscles, he says.
He explains that he’s brought me the good stuff. Protein powder that has 23 grams of protein per scoop. Talk about the good goods! I am to put it into a smoothie with whatever I want that makes it taste good to me. Chris emphasizes that it is a supplement that is an addition to the regular foods I consume and is not a replacement for anything. Continue reading “On Any Given Sunday: Building Muscle, Learning Pauses”
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. Continue reading “The Garage Workout: B, me, and the floor you see.”