I was right. I have been learning some new moves. Also, I've realized that just because I work out around 5 times a week doesn't mean I'm in any kind of shape. These initial two weeks have been a pain. I've been sore, stiff, and worked muscles I thought I'd been working rather well in all new and rather painful ways - with the ironic realization that I've either been doing something wrong, not doing something enough, or am just far weaker than I'd imagined.
Today, though, was a lesson called 'Core Synergistics'. It's an exercise regimen that, according to the muscular 45-year old drill instructor, works your core by working all the other muscle groups at the same time. Sort of like that pill they sold a few years ago that was supposed to make you lose weight, darken your skin, and whiten your teeth all at the same time. He kept saying 'Now, you should be feeling the burn right here.' The only problem with it was that I wasn't feeling the burn. In fact, it didn't really seem to work my core at all. My shoulders, lower back, and knees are pretty stiff/sore, though, and that tells me something.
Most folks in my family are in incredible shape. Athletes, all of them. Me? I was the gawky kid who wanted to go to the comic book store instead of going on runs through the forest with my dad. (Still am that comic kid, but I kicked my dad's butt on the last trail run we did together.) However, I know enough to know that what happened upstairs in my P90x personal torture chamber might not have been because the exercises weren't good. It might have been for a number of other common and unique-to-me reasons:
- I'm really freaking tall. I'm 6' 6". I'm really tall. Well above national average. As such, many of the reach-up-grab something-come all the way to the floor-roll onto your shoulders-stick your legs all the way up in the air-roll all the way back up-come to your feet-and jump style exercises are really uncomfortable and a bit difficult for me. They've always been pretty difficult, and, as such, I don't do them in my usual exercise routine. They're painful and when you have a giant person trying to go from flat on their back to crouching to jumping up in the air....it's not easy. I fumble and stumble and look like a 2-year-old who's just fallen on his butt trying to squish his chubby legs back into standing.
- I'm weak. A lot of these kinds of exercise systems require you to work multiple muscle groups at the same time in rapid succession. It's a great drain on your muscles. You have to be in pretty awesome shape to do them without slowing down.
- I'm not doing the exercises correctly. This is what I think may have happened today. When my lower back is sore instead of my abs, I know that my back took the stress of the exercises and not my core. When my shoulders and knees hurt, it's not my arms or legs that got the workout, it's my shoulders and knees that were somehow compensating from me doing something incorrectly.
You may get where I'm going with this. Mirrors. I need to put mirrors up all over my workout room. Just kidding, but did anyone else have the American Psycho scene flash in their minds? Just me? That's ok. I'll take mentally naked Christian Bale any day.
What I'm saying is that in order to avoid doing something wrong, it probably would benefit me to have someone there that knows what they're doing. That's done something like this or something similar before. I'm sure that on my lunge, my back wasn't as straight as it should have been. I'm not used to doing that exercise in the way he prescribed. The various exercises on my back with my legs and arms splayed in various fashion while keeping my spine straight? Yeah... Not so much. I'm sure it was curved and bent and looked more like a slinky than a pole. Knowing this and applying it to skills I've learned from my years of exercise, I'll probably be able to adapt and be better next time.
But if I were a beginner...if I were learning how to exercise for the first time from this DVD series, and I were by myself?
I would be signing my paycheck over to a chiropractor.
It's difficult to learn anything from a DVD...or a book...or anything that isn't a person with experience and physical presence. We need teachers. They're important. It's a good lesson. An Aha! kind of lesson.
On the pagan note: It was difficult for me to learn my spiritual path from books. Much of it didn't make sense, some of it was historically inaccurate, and even more simply didn't work for me. To use the analogy, when I tried to put the pages to work, I ended up with stiff joints and a headache. Confusion. Lethargy, because of fewer results than I would have liked. It wasn't until I had friends that could become teachers, until I discovered podcasts and blogs, until I had real people helping me that I could grow and be able to gain my own experience, that I could find ways to correct something I identified as not working the right muscle group.
Something to think about next time you're preaching how awesome your witchy book of the month is.
Love and Lyte,