Monday, January 11, 2010

60 Days of Gym Classes

(long post!)

The lovely YMCA where I work. And it's my home for the next 57 days :-).

On Thursday, January 7, I was standing in line at Wal-Mart waiting in line holding a rug and a shower curtain. Only three lines were open, so I plenty of time to wait. I looked to my left and saw O Magazine. I love Oprah, but I don’t read O or any other magazine because they are too surface for me. But the cover of O caught my eye: “Can You Change Your Life in 60 Days?” “Something” propelled me to scan the article. The author had decided to take Bikram Yoga for 60 days straight.

I teach yoga. Not Bikram, but I know about it. In short, you do 26 poses in a row in a hotter than hot ass room. Every part of your body will scream and sweat. I’ve taken Ashtanga Yoga, which is similar and I about died. Reading the article, I could relate to the author’s story. She needed a drastic mental and spiritual change; something to transform her and push every internal button of denial.

The closest Bikram Yoga studio is 30 miles from my house. That was not feasible, nor realistic. So I thought, “I work at the YMCA. (I teach yoga there.) I live six miles from the place. I could take a gym class every day for sixty days. My kids love to go to childwatch there. I could do that.”

I chose to take classes, as opposed to working out on the machines, is that it’s easy to cheat. I can walk a mile without breaking a sweat. It’s easy to stroll on a treadmill. The elliptical and the bikes are the same. Fast or slow, it’s my choice. But a class…that’s different. The teacher is motivating. The other people in the class are all looking at each other. And worse, there’s a wall-length mirror in front of me to capture my every move. Mirrors don’t lie.

And why do 60 days of classes? I’ve taken care of other people for five years. I’ve had high and low moments in healing myself. I love and appreciate my raw vegan journey, my juicing, and my smoothies. The one thing always missing was exercise. Whenever I get low, my mom always asks me, “Are you exercising?” No, is my consistent answer. After I read that article, I thought, I can do this. I need to do something just for me.

And my 60-day venture has nothing to do with weight loss. I weigh a whopping seven pounds more than when I got married in 2001. Similar to my 14-day juice fast in 2008, I’m doing it for emotional reasons. It’s all about healing and release. No BS. No crap. No excuses.

And I’ve done three classes so far!

Day One: Step Class. Teacher: Kandee.
I spilled my water bottle right before class started. Another lady named Christine helped me clean up my mess. I took the spilled water as a blessing or baptism of my new venture. It’s all in how you look at it!


The two biggest surprises of the day were that I actually went out in the arctic cold, and dragged my happy sons along. Second, I was a mess with the Step class choreography. Step, touch, jump, turn, swing, doubles, singles, mambo…I was like, “What the hell? Am I still black? Do I have to give back my Black Card because I’ve lost my rhythm?” My loss of coordination tripped me out!

Day Two: Body Sculpt. Teacher: Patty.
That was not the class I wanted to take. Cardio Blast was at 10:00am and I just could not get my butt in gear. I’d had an “Exhale” (girlfriends getting together to eat and gab) at my house the night before. I was dragging. But I did make it to the only other class offered on a Sunday. We used the Step, a light weight (I used 3 lbs) and a heavy weight (I used 5 lbs). Did I hate every second of it? Yes.


But Patty is a great instructor. She cued well, yelling over the Beyonce and J.Lo club remix music without a microphone. The abdominal work killed me. After I had Jona five years ago, my midwife told me I had separated recti muscles. I think that’s code for flabby abs. I hate, hate, hate abdominal exercises. But I guess I’m taking the advice I give my yoga students: the pose you hate the most is the one you need to practice the most.

During the class, I kept hearing, “Everything is perfect as it is.” The cynical side of me was like, “You call this perfection?” The other side of me understood the message. The first decade of the 21st century was a difficult one for me. At times, I’d like a do-over of 2002 through 2009. But life is a Hero’s Journey. If you survive “the dark night(s) of the soul” you can be transformed if you use the darkness to find out who you really are. If, at the end of this 60-day “road of trials,” I come out better, then perfection is indeed in play.


The back of Val teaching Kickboxing.

Day Three: Cardio Kickboxing. Teacher: Val.
Rom’s work schedule is weird right now. He was home this morning, when usually he is at work by 6:00am. I was able to take the 8:15am Kickboxing class without dragging my sons along. Childwatch doesn’t open until 8:30am. Here’s how determined I was: At 7:24am, Rom asks, “Are you still going to Kickboxing?” I said, “No, I’ll go to the 9:00am Body Pump class.” I didn’t want to lift weights two days in a row, so believe it or not, because of that motivation, I was in my car by 7:47am.


Val’s class was militaristic. Lots of interval training. I don’t know how many times I wanted to tear out of there. All my muscles were hurting. We did two abdominal exercises I’ve never seen before. Lying on our backs, with our legs straight up in the air, she had us circle our legs around using our abs to keep us stable. With the second one, we had our knees bent and punched from side to side.

How do I feel right now? Sore.

I feel physically stronger already, but I am hurting, and I’m ready to go to bed (smile). Tomorrow morning is Cycle. I’ll be honest. The last time I did Cycle, I swore I’d never do it again. What I am seeing is that it’s easy to say I don’t have time for something. Apparently I do have time to work out for an hour a day. I just didn’t FEEL like working out for an hour a day. Now I see that I can.

Until next time,
Love,
Althea

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5 comments:

AnacostiaYogini said...

I love it this challenge! I too am a gym/fitness class nut so this sounds like fun. The challenge is I don't see much change in my body because of the gym. More because of my diet. I have learned that the gym is more about fitness maintenance and mental stress reliever.

SO far this year, I have done pole dancing, yoga, spin, total body conditioning, cardio ball, treadmill 20min, zumba, and powerdance. Note it is only January 11!!! I will join you on this starting Jan 21 (vacation. Hopefully, I will learn from your commitment!

Becca Sue Congdon said...

This is an inspiring challenge! I think I'm going to try something similar. :) I just took a great personal pilates session today that had some running specific moves. I'm going to make a point of doing them every day for 60 days. Today counts as day one. :D I have my first ever half-marathon on March 7th (in Disneyworld of all places!) so this challenge will definitely help make me strong for that race, and carry me on into the recovery phase afterwards. Thanks for sharing!

Oh - and the pilates gal also told me that I have separated abdominals muscles. She recommended some specific pilates moves that would help them heal/grow back to where they were - or at least close the gap. She made a point of saying traditional abdominal work stresses separated muscles in a way that can make the separation worse. I'd be careful to listen closely to your body and try to discern the difference between "ouch - that was a good workout" and "something is wrong here." Let me know if you need more info on the moves she recommended for diastis recti.

ChocolateOrchid said...

Wow! Congratulations on your 60-day workout challenge. I love taking classes for the same reason as you plus the comraderie amongst the class is great!

I've never taken a spin class. Always been a bit scared of that one. Go girl! I wish you the best!

Peace,
ChocolateOrchid

Lady Q said...

Take Zumba if you get a chance. Latin dance is so much fun!

Terilynn said...

Good luck on your challenge. I can't wait to read about your progress.

Terilynn

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