Tag Archives: yoga

New muscle in the house

So a week and a half ago I wrote this post expressing my fears surrounding the 2 hour exercise block I have involved myself in on Mondays at our local City of Chicago gym. The second hour is my beloved yoga class from last year, but the preceding hour was the dreaded cross training/conditioning class (aerobic exercise, conditioning, and weights).

I promised an update . . . so here it is: I love it. And it hurts. And I love it. And it hurts. It’s Wednesday, and I can still barely walk up and down the steps to the train platform.

The class setting helps so much. When I’ve tried to make myself do aerobic exercise on my own (jogging, the elliptical, etc.), I spend half the time fighting against my own desire to stop. It’s the most gigantic mental battle for me. “You can stop in just 5 minutes! C’mon, just 5 minutes and you can totally be done with this ridiculous business!” I promise myself slyly, knowing in my secret inner being that I will have to keep going for at least another 20 minutes. Self-deception is the only way I can trick myself into going longer and harder. And it’s a hard game to play, turning yourself against yourself. However, when there’s a teacher involved, I don’t even toy with the idea of stopping. I’m a teacher-pleaser and I always have been, so instead of fighting a battle of the wills with myself, I can just focus on doing what she tells us and taking myself to the limit. During the yoga class afterwards, my legs were shaking so badly I could barely hold a warrior pose.

And now for the big announcement: after week #2 of this dynamic combo, I have just discovered a new muscle.

For real. After my class this past Monday I was at home, looking in our hallway mirror and wondering whether I was going to get some hot musculature at some point. And lo and behold, I suddenly saw a new muscle about a finger’s length above my left knee! I flexed my leg a few times just to make sure it wasn’t a trick of the light, and there it remained. The rounded shadow of a small bulge.

At first I wrote it off as some kind of swelling produced by the intensity of the exercise. But as I did my devotional last night with my legs stretched out in front of me, there it was again! I bookmarked my place in Colossians and set my Bible down in order to inspect this new anatomical wonder with the care and attention it deserved. Right there in front of me was a little curve that has never been there before. And yes, it’s only on one leg. “Baby!” I called to my husband. “C’mere and look at this muscle on my left leg!” He came, he observed. “I think it’s new!” I exclaimed. I think he thought I was joking. “No seriously, this is my new muscle from my cross training class!” I explained enthusiastically, flexing my leg back and forth for maximum effect and pointing vigorously. “Dontcha see it? Dontcha see it?”

I put the question forth–what is this mysterious new muscle? And why has it shown up so quickly? Does it have a name, and is this name ‘Fred’?

I have done this small drawing because I know for a fact there are some doctor type people in my lovely assembly of readers. Could you please identify this body part and get back to me as quickly as possible? Should I be worried? Elated? Or is it all just a figment of my overheated brain? Will new muscles continue to crop forth week after week? And more importantly, when will my right leg also have a Fred on it?

OK, that sounded kind of weird. But you get my meaning–symmetry is important in this whole legs business.

Cross training class: bane or boon?

Tonight I start my yoga class at Broadway Armory Park. I was enrolled in this class for 3 quarters of last year, and loved it. The City of Chicago pays for a good chunk of this program, so the fee to people like me isn’t too bad–$42 for about 10 weeks. It’s hosted in a large room with skylights and hardwood floors; all of last year I walked out of there once a week feeling like I was floating in a bubble of peace. Fitness and peace. My body felt stretchy, lithe, and wonderful. Never mind that I gained 13 pounds last year. It wasn’t yoga’s fault.

I have to say, I love feeling fit and healthy. I love exercises that tone my muscles, which is why Pilates and yoga are right up my alley. The stretching, the crunches, holding poses until your muscles are burning–I love that challenge. I’m even all for a little pumpin’ iron. Not that I’ve ever really done that. More like I lifted some weights for about 5 weeks one time and that was that. But what I don’t enjoy? Aerobic exercise. It’s my bane.

There are two main reasons for my loathing: I hate being hot and sweaty, and I hate being out of breath. That’s why the 2 attempts I have made in my life at becoming a jogger have crashed and burned faster than I could gasp “I . . . want . . . to . . . die!”

The first time I tried to conquer this loathing was with my friend Megan when I lived in Delaware. We jogged . . . twice. I think. Or maybe once together and once alone. And then we reverted to Pilates. What can I say? Pilates is like the exercise version of comfort food for me. And don’t think about that last sentence too hard or your brain may start smoking.

I tried to overcome my hatred of jogging again at the beginning of this summer. “Sweetie,” I said to my husband, “let’s go jogging today!” I sensed that the solution was to just jump right in, act positive, wear a cute outfit, and drag someone else along with me who could participate in my misery. So off we went. Keep in mind my husband has never really jogged (he’s more into the push-ups, sit-ups and such), so I was thinking we could have a nice little amble and be pathetic together. We hit the trail that goes along the lake. I ran for about 5 minutes. By then, I couldn’t even see my husband anymore–that’s how far ahead of me he was. I could sense death was near by the gasps racking my lungs. “He’s just left me here (gasp). . . to (gasp). . . to die!” I moaned, hoping for the listening mercies of any passerby. Unfortunately they were all in their little ipod worlds of jogging bliss, and didn’t seem to notice that I was about to go into cardiac arrest. I slowed it down to a walk and plodded forward for about 5 more minutes. I tried running again, kept it up for maybe 2 minutes, and then realized that my willpower had been reduced to the size of a pea, then squashed, then trampled on. Since I couldn’t bring myself to run, I kept walking.

At some point, off in the distance, I saw that my husband had turned around and was running back my way. The small dot became larger as he drew near, and before I knew it he had caught up with me. Hooray! That could only mean it was time to go home. I turned around, but by the time I was facing the other direction, he was out of sight again, dangit. And then I realized that “going home” meant covering the same distance I had just come! Who knew that picking up your own legs could be so difficult? I started to wonder if God had accidentally made my kneecaps out of lead instead of bone. Weren’t they feeling suspiciously heavy?

After agonies untold, I could finally see the end of the trail. And there was my smiling husband, jogging back towards me yet again in order to get me through the final little bit. And I ask myself–is this fair?? He’s never jogged, and yet he has no problem running for 35 minutes straight? At a fast pace?? Smiling all along his merry little way??? I thought the plan was to be pathetic together! Not for him to be competent and athletic and me to be pathetic all by myself!

And that was the last time I jogged.

Last weekend I said to him “Remember that one time we jogged?” to which he promptly responded “Oh yeah–hey, that was a lot of fun!” And that’s all I have to say about that.

Do I want the hot jogger buns? Do I want the attractive rippling calves? Yes. But do I want to feel like I’m about to drown in a pool of sweat due to lung failure? Not so much.

Enough backstory–let’s get to the meat of what’s happening in the here and now. My yoga teacher decided to teach a new class this fall that she calls “cross training,” and positioned it right before the yoga class to encourage us regulars to come to both. Now, I love my teacher. I also love the idea of having a hot, muscly body. So I signed up for both classes, trying not to think too much about the potential suffering to come–after all, when I made this decision I still had the whole summer in front of me to be free as a bird. However, the day has come, and that day is today. September 20th.

I’m scared. It’s one hour of aerobic exercise, folks. A whole hour!

There’s no question of quitting if I don’t like it . . . because I already paid. And based on my deeply entrenched inner workings, I put my mouth where my money is. If I’ve paid, I’m darn well going to get my money’s worth. So whether the experience is hellish or heavenly, my PayPal transaction guarantees I will be there, in my stretch pants and sports bra and ugly T-shirt, once a week. Now you know where you can find me from 5:30 to 7:30 on Monday nights, though whether grinning or grimacing I can’t say.

Will my Mondays through the first week of December be a haven of Muscle Misery, or Fitness Fun? Will my classmates be cold-heartedly competent and athletic and leave me in the dust of my demise? Soon, I will have answers. I’ll keep you all posted and try to keep any whining to a minimum.

What about you guys–what do you do to stay fit? And is it possible to make the transition from loathing running to adoring running? And how long do I have to run before I get the beautiful legs? (please tell me ‘once or twice’–please!)