Pilates

My body is pretty clear about what it likes and doesn’t like. I’ve talked before about how spinning, thoupilatesgh great for many, just is not my jam.

I’ve also talked about how I really love doing Yoga. I go through phases of enjoying running. And love to lift regularly.

But, truth be told, there is one type of exercise that I rarely do that my body looooooooooves. Have you guessed it yet from the title of this article and supplemental picture?

Well done, super sleuth. It’s Pilates.

I rarely do it because it can be pretty pricey. I learned that my body looooooooooved it when I lucked into finding a new instructor years ago in Chicago who needed teaching hours so was able to teach and use equipment for free. I just recently lucked into the same situation here and have reaped the benefits of a really kind, really great teacher giving me free one-on-one classes.

And I seriously come aliiiiiiive afterwards.

Briefly, here’s why I love it. I love efficiency, and Pilates is efficient as hell. Do this move four times and you’ll be sore for a week. The one-on-one attention allows the instructor to look at how your body is compensating for the weaker spots and you can adjust accordingly. I can see the subtle tendencies between the sides of my body and what areas tend to takeover and make up for the lazier and lacking ones. I’ve got really tight hip-flexors that try and do all the work for my lazy ass abs. But Pilates doesn’t let your hip flexors do that. It calls that shit out, gives your hip flexors a rest and makes your abs pull their own damn weight for once.

Not only that, but I find myself thinking about pilates maneuvers and moves long after my session is over. When I run, now, I tell my abs to step up so my hip flexors don’t have to do all the work in the run. I focus on subtlety in form and check in with all parts of my body to see if and where I’m over-compensating.

I’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m legitimately obsessed.

Soon my girl will cost a pretty penny to do one-on-one classes, and I’m glad she’ll be earning some money. But it means I’ll have to pull back on my regularity for lessons for now. Though, who knows, I could come into a lot of money soon and I have a feeling most of it will be going towards Pilates. That and adorable dog costumes for my friends with dogs. But also mostly Pilates.

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Bush Cheer Squad

Fair warning: This is not a political post in any way.imgres

I’m literally talking about a bush that I pretend to be hoards of fans cheering me on while I run. And by run, I mean when I physically attempt to move my body at a faster rate than usual by putting one foot in front of the other.

I don’t like running all that much anymore. Getting back into shape sucks. And it’s all I can do to push myself to keep going on a very short and easy run that would take my former runner self absolutely no time and hardly work up a sweat doing.

Plus, I don’t listen to music, so I let my imagination run free.

And one of the things my imagination does is pretend that this unruly plant who’s branches stick out onto the sidewalk at one of the points in my run is actually a hoard of people cheering me on and holding out their hands to give hi-fives.

That’s all I really wanted to say.

It makes me feel both ridiculous and motivated. As all the best mind-tricks do.

So, yeah, no politics talk.

 

Couples Running

I don’t often like to get too much into my personal life here, but I am going to take a quick pause from my usual policy of “NONEOFYOURBUSINESSLEAVEMEALONE” to tell you something cool about my significant other.

Sometimes we actually go running together.

As some of you may know, I haven’t been competitively running for a long time. I two-children-running-on-beach_70368391changed my focus a while back to more weight training and whatnot. But we’re doing a little dual-motivation challenge with each other that’s making both of us hop back on the running horse. (Metaphorically, of course. He actually hates horses so this can only be a metaphor.)

It’s not easy to find a running partner in any capacity. I tend to like to run (and usually just workout) alone. And I still like to do that. But having someone else along for the jog is surprisingly nice. Especially when you genuinely enjoy that person’s company. And I genuinely enjoy his. Which makes my genuine frustration for getting back in shape ease up a little. And makes me look forward (even just a little bit) to going running. Because it means I get to hang around someone I enjoy being around. Even if we’re both doing something we both aren’t super excited about.

It’s nice.

As nice as running can be for be for me at this point I guess.

Anyway, I could talk about it more but that already feels like an over-share for something I tend to stay very private about so I’m gonna go hide in the shade in the corner and wait until you forget all about this and we can all go back to staying quiet and not talking about my personal life because it’s “NONEOFYOURBUSINESSLEAVEMEALONE.”

Are You Using This?

lift-weightsI’ve discussed before how I’m not the most social at the gym. But there are some questions that don’t bother me that much.

“Are you using this?” is typically not one of them. It’s a reasonable, polite question that can avoid some serious confrontations.

It’s just, when I get asked by the same people several times if I’m using some weights that I’m clearly using, I start to lose my patience.

And that’s what happened the other day. I didn’t technically lose my patience, but I sure came close.

A small group of dudes who were clearly total bros who loved to come to the weight room and pretend their working out when really they’re holding weights in strange positions and gossiping like Sex and the City ladies.

Yet because of their proximity to me, they seemed to think if I wasn’t actually touching a weight at that moment that it was easier just to ask me if I was using it than to go look for and find a similar (or, dare I say, heavier?) weight themselves.

The first time it happened, whatever. The second time, I was confused. But the third? I thought they must have been messing with me. But they weren’t They were just too lazy to walk to the weight rack themselves and too self-absorbed to realize they were asking the same person.

Doofuses. Doofusi? Doofi? Doofi.

Inside Out Shirt

success kid shirtYou’ll notice that I do my best on this blog to never gym shame anyone. Unless it has to do with basic gym etiquette (or sometimes basic human etiquette).

But you won’t hear me making fun of people. Part of that is I just in general have a policy of kindness. But part of it is because I recognize that I often don’t have all my sh*t together, so far be it from me to point out somebody else’s shortcomings.

Case in point: I saw a woman the other day with her shirt inside out. I thought, “Come on lady. Check your shirt.” Then I caught myself judging, realized it was just because I was exhausted while working out and trying to find something else to think about, and made myself find three things about her to compliment in my mind. I felt guilty for passing judgement (I’m Midwestern. Feeling guilty comes naturally.), so I made myself do kindness penance.

And, wouldn’t you know it, a couple weeks later, I’m at the gym and realize midway through my workout that I had my shirt on inside out.

I could have gone and changed, but I figured “Meh. Such is life” and let it go.

Because we’re all human and we have days we’re more “off” than others. And I figured anyone who noticed wouldn’t care. And anyone who would notice and care about such things wasn’t worth my time anyway, so I shouldn’t care.

Because…

be-who-you-are-and-say-what-you-feel-because-those-who-mind-dont-matter-and-those-who-matter-dont-mind-11

I’m Scared of Teacher

I’m not a masochist.

At least I don’t think I am.

scary teachBut there is one teacher I have been going to consistently who terrifies me and I love her for it.

She teaches cardio kickboxing and boot camp. I’m scared enough of her in cardio kickboxing, I can’t imagine her in boot camp.

But I do know if I went to boot camp, she would whoop my butt in shape in not time. That’s why I love her.

I’m a big fan of anyone who has passion for what they do. And this fitness instructor clearly has passion for whipping people into shape. And it’s spectacular.

The shy part of me that loves to be invisible and anonymous at the gym despises her. She sees me. She offers me motivation and instruction. And I secretly love her for it. Even the shy part of me appreciates it.

So I keep going. And I keep getting yelled at. And I keep getting better. And, although I know eventually I’ll get used to it, part of me will always be scared of teacher.

 

 

Exercise for Sleep

Tpuppy snuggleshere are multiple excellent reasons for exercise. I write about them constantly.

One I rarely talk about is the fact that it helps me (and most people) sleep soundly.

I have a lot of energy. I’m a pretty energetic person. I’m actually really aware of my energy level because it’s a good indicator of my inner mood. If I’m exhausted midday, it’s likely because I’m doing something I don’t want to be doing. If I’m sleepy at night just before bed, it’s been a good day of accomplishments. If I’m still anxious when I’m going to sleep, odds are I didn’t exercise and/or be productive enough that day.

Exercise, for me, is the opportunity to not only clear my mind and gain some perspective on what does and does not actually need to be done in the day. It also gives me a place to let out some of the pent up steam from various projects or interactions throughout the day. It energizes me if I’m feeling drained (and know it’s not from lack of sleep) and it calms me for the rest of the day.

I use my energy level as an indicator. And it typically directly corresponds to my exercise consistency.

Yet another reason to add to the long list of why getting up and getting moving is good for you.

 

Cooky Yoga Man

I’ve been talking about getting out of the house more lately and challenging myself at different t-rex yogaclasses (including and especially Yoga classes).

I recently had a substitute teacher at a yoga class that tickled me pink. Not literally. But I have a feeling, had he been given the chance, he would have.

He was a cooky guy.

He started the class casually with a long chat for about 5 minutes about different things that he found interesting. The few of us who were there didn’t seem to also find this interesting. I could tell by the way we all got confused wide-eyes and looked around at each other.

Eventually, he got the class started. He was almost so casual that we had to more or less guess that we were starting. I was front and center and I couldn’t help but laugh. He reminded me of every socially awkward teacher I had growing up. He was a big guy, which means nothing to me fitness-wise, but he really only semi-coached the poses and barely stayed in them. At one point, he even got a phone call so our quiet yoga music got turned into a robotic voice repeating “The phone is ringing. The phone is ringing.” Because that’s exactly the type of ringtone a guy like this would have. I wondered what it was until he simply, casually said, “That ringtone cracks me up,” then continued half-heartedly doing poses and giggling to himself.

I was also giggling profusely.

Even though my traditional yoga workout wasn’t stellar, at least I got a good laughter yoga workout in. Especially on the drive home after the “class.”

Doubling Up

I went through a phase last month where I wasn’t able to work out all that much. While I didn’t like it, I no longer let myself get really bent out of shape about it. I was doing my best and my time just wasn’t such that I was able to get to the gym regularly. So be it. It happens sometimes.Exhausted-300x225

Part of what kept me calm was the knowledge that life is about phases and I would soon have a much calmer schedule that would allow me to get to the gym with the regularity that I like. So I started scheduling myself to do more classes and carve out specific times where I could make it to the gym and whip myself back into the shape I like to be in (or even better… because we always like improvement, dowenot?).

So that’s what I did. Starting the first day I was available in April, I’ve been hitting up the gym regularly and classes I don’t normally go to in order to challenge my body and start to see some definite results.

Some nights, I even go from a difficult full body workout class right into another full body yoga class. I feel it when I do this. I’m not in as good of shape as I think I am. I remember the days of 3 hours of sports practice after school, but my body doesn’t yet remember how to pace itself for that.

But I’m learning. And I’m challenging myself. And I’m doing my best. And I don’t want to choose just one class because I currently have time for both and I won’t always have that luxury. So I want to take advantage of it while I can and see what I can accomplish.

I’m not in high school anymore. I don’t need to partake in 2-a-days. I don’t have anything specifically I’m training for. But that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to push myself while I have the luxury of time and just see what happens.

Besides, with the schedule that I keep, it could be that I won’t have time in most of May for exercising as much as I like to. So we gotta live for the moment and ride these whims when our body wants it. Even when it causes our body to be sore and exhausted. It also feels challenged and exhilarated. And that’s a good feeling.

 

Yoga … biatches

I talked before  about how I’ve been trying to do more yoga lately. I started actually committing to it and being social and going out of my house to do it.

Crazy, I know.

But I’ve been totally loving it.Yoga-dogs-1

I have tendency to be a bit of a hermit. I talk about it. I’m a strange mix between loving to be social and loving to go out with people and needing to stay in and being very particular about the energies I keep around me at any given time. That sometimes means I’m particular about my company and that I prefer the company of my own brain to just going out for the sake of going out. That sometimes leads to me staying in my apartment for hours and turning very anti-social and mildly creepy.

On more than one occasion, my poor sweet man will ask me how my day was after I’ve spent it alone in my apartment with my own thoughts and will have to deal with a very energetic Briana who’s taking all of her pent up social energy out on one person and has somehow in one day forgotten the basic tenants of proper human interaction.

I’m a lucky lady to date a very patient man.

I say all that because I’ve been using my commitment to yoga to become more physically and spiritually balanced. And in that balance, it means getting a little out of my comfort zone and going to classes with other people and teachers who aren’t YouTube videos and may give actual corrections to what we’re doing. It means I have to put on real workout clothes and drive a short distance to park and make eye contact with people before settling down into the practice. It isn’t as “productive” time-wise, but I think it’s good for my balancing.

And it makes me actually feel like I accomplished something.

And it’s made me calm down a little. Which, for my rather high-strung personality, can be a very good thing.

So I’m gonna keep on doing it and keep on pushing myself.

Sure, I’m only going to the classes at my gym while wearing oversized sweat pants and a t-shirt and haven’t yet committed to becoming an all out-yoga person. But that may not be the most balanced approach for me. If someday I find I need that to really keep pushing and challenging myself, then I’ll cross that bridge (pose) when I get there. Until then, yoga is all about what you can do today to check in with yourself and become a little better than you were yesterday in some way. For me, right now, that means getting out of the house and finding time to breathe amongst a bunch of other strangers who scare me while in a tiny multi-purpose room that has an annoying alarm that goes off every 4 minutes or so while people around me are quietly posing and texting. Who knows what the future hold, but this choice right now is making me enjoy the present even more.

Yoga…biatches.