Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tip Top

It's no secret that I really dislike the treadmill but I have come to an uneasy peace with it over these cold winter months.  I'm in the gym three times a week to lift weights and the treadmill offers a convenient way to run. Well now that the weather is warming up, I'm excited to get back to running outside and to other types of exercise.  I really feel like my cardiovascular fitness has suffered during these cold winter months.  I know some folks love the treadmill but I really feel like I have actually become less fit using it.   You move unnaturally on it and the machine helps way too much.  A hill repeat on an actual hill will always be more intense.   

I'm finding that I need much longer to recover from high intensity moves that I used to be able to do easily.  And I want to be tip-top shape.  So starting this week, I'm refusing to get on the treadmill.  I'm sticking to skipping rope and interval training (Body Rock TV style and with running)--basically moving my body.  

I think my fitness motto should be that:  Move Your Body.  Just Your Body.  Move it Fast.  Move it Strong. Everything Else is Extra.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Moving Your Own Body

I enjoy lifting weights very much.  There is something about building muscle and getting stronger that speaks strongly to me.  I like working out side by side with guys, often doing the same exercise.  I like proving to myself that women can lift weights seriously. And I'm always encouraging women to get strong.  It's daunting to most women though:  the myth of "bulking up" due to lifting heavy weights is deeply rooted and most women shy away from real weight lifting.  This article presents a very well-rounded and interesting discussion of the topic.

Photo Credit
Though, understandably, many women balk at the idea of lifting heavy weights, one's own body is a heavy weight and at the very least, I think, a woman should be able to move it.  You don't need expensive equipment or lots of time if you're going to be building strength using only your body.  And so this has been a huge focus of mine ever since I started getting into shape.  My fitness goals and routines have always included body weight exercises and I feel truly strong when I'm able to do movements that require only my body like push-ups, planks and chin-ups.  In fact, last year's fitness goals included being able to do 10 regular push-ups.  I can do that and more now (my maximum was 26 in a row).  I can hold a plank for 2 minutes.  And finally, I'm so happy to report, I can do a chin-up.  The other day I did three in a row.  It's still pretty challenging to do these type of body movement strength exercise and so I will keep on working at it. That's the great thing about body weight exercise: you will always remain challenged.  There are thousands of different ways to move just your body that would present a challenge to you.  Has a regular plank gotten too easy?  Lift one foot or one arm.  Push-up are a breeze?  Clap in between each one.  Can you do chin-ups in your sleep?  Grip a sack of onions between your legs and try it now?  

My point is that I need to be able to move my body easily.  Yes, I can move heavy metal weights at they gym but to me, that doesn't represent the total strength picture.  Strength to me is power, that is, strength in motion (NROLFW incorporates power moves with exercises such as the push-press and one-armed dumbbell snatch), agility and acute control of the body.

For women who are hesitant about lifting weight, I say that it's more than enough to build strength through moving one's own body.  It's what BodyRockTV is about.  It's what power yoga is about.  It's what pilates is about.  It's what most martial arts are about.  Being strong physically is something that's often frowned upon in women.  What is encouraged (in the west at least) is that women be frail and dainty and always in need of help.  But strength gives longevity and health.  Mentally, it can only build you up if you know that you are capable.  Really capable.  

Why not be capable?  Why not be powerful?  Why not be strong?