Pizza Girl, Stinky Feet, Burpees & Yoga, Week 6 at the Gym 4/1/19
It’s been 6 weeks of sweat, aches and tears. I’m starting my 7th and final week of The Spring 60 Day Challenge Group. The 60 Day Challenge is 8 weeks, but I started a week late. This is typical of me, always late to the party or slow on the uptake. Either way, here I am, in the last week of being in this group.
I was quite the little joiner this week. I joined everything. I can’t stop myself. I chatted in the Facebook group. I applauded others and acknowledged their accomplishments. There I was at the gym, smiling away and talking to strangers. Being at the gym has really made me feel outgoing. The other thing that has lifted my spirits is the warmer weather and the ability to walk to the gym on dry sidewalks free of snow. LOVE IT!
This last week, I tried an Alpha Strong class. Alpha Strong is no joke. This class is not for the weak minded. It’s basically a class that will push your physical limits and make you work hard for the finish line. It’s described as a class that has “Olympic lifting, strength training and athletic movement.” One of the trainers- Sara the Superwoman, posted this in the Facebook Group asking, “Who is ready to try out Alpha Strong?”, and like the glutton for punishment that I am, I responded with a perky “I’ll be there!” I even put a fire emoji after my response for emphasis. I’m literally rolling my eyes as I type that out. So stupid.
I showed up on Tuesday night ready to rock and roll. There were a few others there already when I walked up, also ready with their water bottles and towels. My mind instantly started playing on my insecurities. Some of these women looked pretty fit, had I taken on something I couldn’t do? I didn’t have time to answer that question, because there was the board of activities we would be doing in class. And there it was. 40 burpees. There are three exercises I despise more than anything: jumping jacks, pushing a weighty small bean bag across the gym floor with my hands while the rest of my body keeps up, and burpees. I calculated the time of the class being one hour. I saw the warm up, and the rotation, and with regret I realized we would be running through the activities more than once. I would not end up doing just 40 burpees, I would end up doing at least 80. If I hadn’t made such a big production about replying to the “who will be there” Facebook post, I would turn around and walk away, straight down to the lockers where I was safe. Now it was too late, and I was trapped here with the burpees.
Steven the Strong came in and started the class. First, he hooked our heart rate monitors up to his iPad and up went our stats on the screens behind him for all the world to see. I’m telling you- going to the gym makes you tough, on so many levels. You don’t HAVE to have a heart rate monitor or use it, but I choose to so that I exercise in the proper zones for fat burning. It’s another way of being accountable as well. So, there I was, participating in the warm ups with the rest of the group. We got through those, and sure enough, we were instructed to start looping through the Workout portion as many times as possible during the remaining time. I started with burpees, to get them out of the way. I managed to do 25 before I had to start modifying them. Yup. That’s how much work still needs to be done with this mom bod. I managed to finish up the burpees and moved on to the next item.
I just kept going thinking, “soon this will all be over.” Now that’s not to say I wasn’t enjoying myself. I actually WAS. I was a part of a group doing something good for my body, I wasn’t alone in this! Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who struggled with the burpees either. When I got all the way around and struggled with my next set of burpees, Steven the Savage came over and told me, “You don’t have to kill yourself doing these... take a break if you need to.” I was like, “NO! I need to do these!” He was probably afraid he’d have to call an ambulance to take me away, considering my heart rate was going faster than anyone else’s. How embarrassing. Oh well. At least I was there, showing up and doing the work right? Right!
I managed to finish the class, 80 burpees later, and somehow Strapping Steven even got me to come back again- this week in fact. I found myself agreeing to do this to myself once more, and I walked away thinking, “I never seem to disappoint when it comes to punishing myself.” But, in reality, I wasn’t punishing myself at all. I was being good to my body, and my mind. I proved I could do it, and I stuck it out. Which is actually pretty freakin’ fantastic.
I joined Pilates. I have never done Pilates in my life, but it always sounded so cool and you know, like, gym people do this. Becca the Beast introduced me to Ripped Rhonda, my new Pilates instructor. I mistakenly thought I would show up to a low lit class room, spa music on the radio and I would start flowing and moving like a jungle cat. Sarita the Cheetah. (Yes, I know Cheetahs aren’t in the jungle, but it rhymed.) Nope! I was wrong. Rhonda was serious about Pilates, doing the movements correctly to avoid injury and to build up those muscles that we aren’t used to finding or feeling. I was going to have four classes with just her, so that I would know the bench (torture rack?) and terminology that I would be hearing in a class setting. Ohhhh. So that’s what those contraptions are for! Pilates!
I met with Rhonda the Robust at 9am on the Wednesday after Tuesday's Alpha Strong. (Told you I was a glutton for punishment.) I warmed myself up on the treadmill first, hoping that would loosen me up and help me out. I immediately regretted that when she asked me to remove my shoes and socks. I hoped my feet didn’t smell and I worried about toe jam from my plush white newer socks. I tried taking off my socks and pulling any wild cotton with them. I was all too aware of my sweaty shirt from my run, and I wondered what the heck I was thinking. Rhonda smelled great- like a shower fresh scent, and I felt like I had the scent of someone who just ran for 25 minutes.
She either didn’t notice or she graciously ignored my damp shirt and my sweaty feet, or I was lucky and was actually not that bad. She talked with me about Pilates, and what’s involved, how important it is for sculpting and proper muscle use. She had me get on the Pilates table and proceeded to guide me through a series of movements, concentrating on alignment, my center plane and feet position. I have to tell you that I’m not extremely coordinated, so not only did this take muscles, but it also took my brain working overtime to keep everything in order. Ripped Rhonda was patient with me though, as she worked muscles I didn’t know I had. I was very aware of my inexperience and once again, the work my core needed. Becca the Buster of Fat Cells was on top of that, but like she told me, core strength takes the longest to develop. Pilates would help what we were already doing.
Thank God Rhonda was a patient woman. We got through the hour quickly, the time really flew by! I was glad I decided to include Pilates in my workouts, because I can see where it would help me learn so much about my body and my muscles that I wasn’t aware of. Plus maybe I’d morph into someone that looked like they took care of themselves. I will be seeing Rhonda again, and hopefully I’ll be able to attend an actual Pilates class and not come crashing to the floor.
I wear yoga pants all the time, but I’ve never done yoga. Yes, I’ve followed videos and YouTube stuff, but I didn’t feel like it would be the same as an actual yoga class. My bestie was interested in doing a Guided Flow class, which was yoga with complete instructional guidance. You could come to this class if you were like me- brand spanking new. True to form, I tried this out Thursday, the day after Pilates and two days after Alpha Strong. I felt kind of like one of the beautiful women that go to these classes, all gym-like and perky. I couldn’t wait to start gracefully changing poses and feel like I was “really doing it.”
Kristen and I walked into the classroom, where a few people had already set up their mats and lay there stretching with their water bottles at their sides and their towels under their heads. The room was low lit and inviting. For some reason I wanted to laugh, because it was exactly like the cliché I had in my mind in regards to all things yoga. I admit I approached this class with a little bit of silliness and all I could think about once the gentle music started and the lights got even lower was a big ol’ glass of red wine. It would be perfect. Me, in downward dog, pausing occasionally to reach out and take a sip of wine- beautiful sparkling beads of sweat maybe on my forehead or my taut stomach... yeah NO.
Instead, I was in my ratty tee shirt, my ugly charcoal gray pants, and my choppy short hair all askew. There I was, like a before picture on Extreme Body Makeover. Kristen looked more “yoga-ey” with her hair in a pony tail, her cute pink yoga pants and her tank top. Oh well, this is usually how things are for me. This made me want to giggle, but one look at the seriousness of the person to my left made me think better of it.
The instructor welcomed the class, in her honey coated, soft and nurturing voice, and then we got started. She guided us through some positions, the music low and ethereal. I found out real quick-like that holding oneself in Half Moon position for some time while not teetering over is difficult for a newbie such as myself. We did Plank, Triangle, Downward Dog, Tree and Warrior positions among others. I felt...not like a warrior. I felt like a lady who thought she was limber and realized she wasn’t.
Did I mention this class was called Heated Guided Flow? That’s because it’s really, really warm in there, and if the intensity of pose holding wasn’t already making me sweat, the room temperature was. I craned my neck to look at my neighbors and noticed most of them seemed in some Zen space that I could see off in the distance, and if I managed to get there, the doors would be locked. Some were doing the moves modified to make them more difficult, and others were peacefully doing what the instructor asked. This also made me want to laugh. I tend to laugh when I shouldn’t, so I prayed that I wouldn’t laugh out loud. Let me say this: I wasn’t wanting to laugh at yoga, and I wasn’t wanting to laugh at the other yoga goers. I wanted to laugh at myself because I definitely sucked. That is what was so funny to me. I suppressed a giggle as we went into a sort of frog position- I have a frog phobia so that fact that this position felt amazing on my hips was funny to me. Who knew?
I did manage to focus better half way through the class and I actually started approaching the yard where Zen House is situated. I was impressed with the strength yoga takes, and I was impressed with the people doing yoga that were clearly pros. Maybe I’ll get there one day, I thought. I like to think so.
When the class was over, the instructor had us all laying down on our backs, coming to a centered place in mind and body. She came around with cool damp washcloths, infused with an essential oil that was amazing. I put mine right on my face and breathed it in, appreciating the experience, and not wanting to have to get up, get dressed and go out in the night air. Maybe I had found my Zen after all....
Until next time, keep trying new things Friends. It’s truly a great experience, and it’s ok if you’re a little scared. Getting through those fears is rewarding, and your mind and body will thank you.