Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Raising the Bar to Get to the Core of the Problem

Due to my love of running, I have logged almost 250 miles since the beginning of the summer. A majority of these stem from my half marathon training and the rest just to get my body moving.

For the past six months, I think it is safe to say that I haven’t been a couch potato, but I haven’t really done any other exercise.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror of my boudoir and saw that I now have a little pot belly. Visions of those malnourished  UNICEF kids popped into my mind and, the only difference, was that there were no flies buzzing around.

Obviously, the world’s hunger crises is no laughing matter but that was honestly what I thought when I saw my reflection. Although I never go hungry, I haven’t really changed my eating habits so I was perplexed by what I saw. 

A few days later, I was crouched over my keyboard at work – like an outsourced worker from New Delhi – and I realized that I have no core strength right now.

For fear of injury while training, I had cut back on my yoga and – due to the loss of my favorite cardio and core teacher – I had pretty much given up my core strength training; And, after 6 months, it has become a problem.

Now, I know that I am being a tad dramatic, but I truly did have to take action fast. I struggle with minor scoliosis so a strong core keeps my back issues at bay. 

So, two weeks ago, I started back at yoga. Poses that used to be easy now found me shaking like we were having an earthquake. Even though I have been doing my P90X abs routine (don’t ask) every other morning (OK, so I lie…like every third morning), I needed something more.

On Sunday, I decided to try a class at my gym called Bar Blast. The class, which borrows from the bar-style workout, blending elements of ballet, Pilates and body sculpting, boasts the ability to improve posture and flexibility in addition to creating a lean, firm and sculpted body.

I was a bit nervous and skeptical since I am so not coordinated – just the word ballet made me flash back to Mrs. Jeffries Ballet School and my inability to learn the Little Ducky dance; hey but I’m a grown up now, so I was willing to give it a try.

It had been a long time since I had tried a new class at the gym and it is always daunting.  My first thought had been how will we do these fancy ballet moves at the bar…hmmm? There is no bar attached to the wall at our gym. Then when I walked in I realized that they were talking about weighted fitness bars.

Ahhhh, I guess I have to live up to the blond hair at times.

Also, I showed up in running shoes and without a yoga mat. I quickly realized my faux pas; the pliés required bare feet unless I donned toe shoes and a lot of Pilates moves required the mat. I borrowed one of the small mats that just barely comforted the back of my head and butt. And it was sliding all over the place, but that was the only minor travesty.

The class went amazingly well.

It started off with some basic warm up moves and then transitioned to working with light free weights with so many reps that I thought my arms would fall off and then moved on to working with the bar and finally tapering off with some major floor work.

I was impressed and, although I am sore today, I did not get injured.

The class was hard enough that I was sweating and felt challenged but in a low impact way.  It certainly raised the bar on my normal core workouts.

I never realized the true meaning of core strength until I had a baby because, after giving birth, I didn't have any stomach muscles that worked.  With a lot of hard work, tears and sweat, I was able to get my abs back after being pregnant.  My days of a six pack may be long gone, but I plan to get my core strong again to stave off any back injuries due to my curved spine and, of course, to look fit.

Bar Blast may be my new favorite class and it will be no holds barred.

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