My Ridiculous Foray With Undulation Ropes

I imagine some dudes were sitting around having a drink and a smoke when they began laughing at how humans will do anything if they believe it will help them lose weight and become a sexy beast. One thing lead to another, shots were taken, and eventually they came up with the idea of giant-ass ropes that humans will wave up and down earnestly believing that they have finally discovered the magical secret to flat abs and super hero strength.

I bet these dudes laughed even harder the next day, hung over, when they looked at their ideas sketched on bar napkins. The laughs must have continued as they enjoyed a brunch Bloody Mary and one dared the other to actually see if he could get his trainer clients to perform the feat.

And he did, and the client did, and they named this crazy exercise routine the Undulation Ropes. And then a bunch of stuff happened and one day I found myself in the gym standing in front of these giant pieces of poly blended material laughing my ass off. Side note: If only I could laugh my ass off, working out would be so much more awesome. I would take freezing my ass off too but only if it could be done symmetrically.

So I stood there, one rope in each hand, lifted them up and promptly returned them to my side. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I am supposed to what? And this will help me what? And how do I not look like a tool?

Finally I composed myself and began. Legs hip-length apart, ropes firmly in each hand and I used my whole body to slam these ropes down to create a single wave. The exercise is called “single wave” meaning the two ropes work together to form a continuous wave pattern. For me, I created one wave that petered out before it even made its way down the length of the rope.

Hahahahahahahahahaha. I began to laugh again at how so much effort on my part resulted in such a limp output from the rope. I continued and eventually I managed to get a wave formation flowing…barely. Also, flowing was the sweat off my body. So gross.

I was exhausted. I wanted to curl up in a ball on the floor mat like I used to do in kindergarten and take a nap. Only my desire to not make a bigger spectacle of myself kept me on my feet and heading home to my comfy bed.

Surely, this sweat and exhaustion will result in killer abs and melting hips! I want to believe! I am Mulder and the Undulation Rope truth is out there!

My inner Scully remains unconvinced, however. This sweat and exhaustion could be nothing more than a trap convincing us humans that we are totally going to be a svelte beast if we continue thwacking these obnoxious ropes down on the gym floor in a rhythmic pattern until we can no longer move when in fact we are just looking silly for the amusement of others.

Even knowing it is a trap, knowing I look like a ridiculous tool using all my might to barely move these thick, heavy ropes, I am going to thwack again and hope for the best. After all, I am human and I want some fat melt. And until I can actually laugh my ass off, I will undulate ropes and throw in the laughs just for fun.

Kettlebells Suck But In A Good Way, Mostly

I have been looking for new ways to max out my heart rate and burn calories as part of Operation Suck Less 2014™ and this quest led me to an unexpected relationship with the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are not a glamorous looking piece of equipment, just balls with a handle on them. They are of Russian origin and I vaguely recall a flood of infomercials touting their miraculousness several years ago with they were the new IT exercise. They are simple yet intimidating enough that they sit on shelves mostly ignored at my gym.

I had begun working with a Pilates instructor again and as we talked about my sucking less goals she suggested we skip the reformer for a day and try something new. She grabbed a kettlebell and excitedly demonstrated the kettlebell swing as if I was somehow going to be able to perform this feat.

Continue reading “Kettlebells Suck But In A Good Way, Mostly”

Row, Row, Row Your Plastic Gliding Seat And Steel Cable

Biking still does not work for my knees, so I have begun rowing as an addition to walking. I discovered I am incredible bad at rowing.

First, there is the form. Legs, Lean, Arms, Forward, Repeat. That is the order of the motion. A smooth, fluid motion that when executed properly is a beautiful thing. For me, I jerk about, slam into the end of the movement and almost fall off my seat at least once every session.

Second, there are my weak-ass arms. I fool myself with all the laps I swim thinking my arms are getting stronger, but holding my arms in proper form as I row is haaaaard. After a rather short time, my deltoid muscles are screaming at me. I tell them to shut up, they tell me to &*$# stop.

Third, there is the lack of grace in getting on and off the contraption. I have to actually lift my leg over the machine and try to sit down on a seat that moves without anything to hold onto. I am not a teenager I need handles! I have to strap my feet in and grab the bar that is now too far away without falling off; if I strap too tight I can’t reach the bar, too lose and I will fly off mid stroke. When I am done and tired, I have to do that same process in reverse.

I am incredibly bad at rowing, but somehow I am able to go a bit farther and a bit faster each week despite my arms protesting the whole time. I am just going to hold onto that and ignore the whole form and grace part and hope when I do fall off the machine or face plant trying to get on it, anyone looking will laugh with me because that will be a damn funny sight to behold.

Knowing When To Say When

I took a break from Operation Suck Less 2014™ and it was glorious!

I often struggle with knowing when to say when. (I also struggle with proper grammar and I am not sure if that second “when” should be in quotes or not. Meh.)

Since my brain likes to see things from every angle, sometimes I have too many conflicting voices drowning out what my body is trying to say. Push through the pain. You need a rest. No pain, no gain. Give it up. Hold on. Let go. Take a nap. I have a hard time knowing if my body has had enough or if my inner quitter is just being a spoiled brat; this conflict can lead to injury as well as overall lameness.

I had a couple days of zero motivation and half-assed workouts before I was meant to leave town for a long weekend. I decided to just give it a rest for those days, try to walk a bit, stretch and not eat sugar, but otherwise just exist and suck as much as I wanted.

I kept telling myself it was a break (in the voice of Ross from Friends), not a break-up and when I returned from my trip I would resume my workout and eating routine just as before. I was also leery, knowing that past short breaks have turned into months of couch sitting and junk food eating.

On my trip, I did much less walking than I wanted. I ate a bit of sugary treats but also much less than I wanted. I repeatedly thought about how nice it would be to get back in the pool although I was not completely buying it.

The first day when I returned I walked just a little. The next couple days I swam but skipped the rest of my planned activities. I still felt tired, my back was having spasms and my motivation was still lost, so I took a day off.

Then something strange happened, I woke up last Sunday ready for a workout. I practically ran to the gym (which looked like normal walking to the rest of the world I am sure) I hit the row machine, kettlebells and the treadmill for intervals. I sweated and was completely gross but it felt good.

My performance was the best I had ever done. Each day this week has been the same, suddenly I can swim a bit faster, walk a bit faster, row a bit longer and swing an extra set. Everything seems to be clicking again, my back has stopped acting up and my motivation is back in full force. Yay!

I wish I had a formula for this switch that flipped so I can recreate it again when I will inevitably need it. I never understand how things change from one day to the next when all other variables to be the same. I guess I needed a break. I guess I also needed to persevere until things clicked again.

In the next 4 months, I have 5 weeks of trips planned for my trying to age gracefully North American tour and I hope I can time my breaks and perseverance to match because I enjoyed the time off, but I am loving the increase in performance even more.

Workout Daydreams

No matter how hard I try to concentrate when working out, my thoughts inevitably drift. Lately, they seem to go to one of 5 places:

1) Fruit. Yes I actually become obsessed with fruit as I work out.

2) Sleep. Some days I find myself so exhausted with 10 minutes left in my routine that all I can think of is my bed.

3) Barfing. This was occupying my mind today.

4) The apocalypse. I have no idea which apocalypse my body thinks it needs to hold all these fat reserves for, but it is holding on tight and we will be living large while the twigs die off early. Unless running is required, then I am a gonner. Or archery. Or swordplay. Really, any apocalypse that requires anything but stored fat reserves for survival will kill me.

5) Gigantic. Why did Apple have to remake that Pixies song for their commercial? Have they heard it? Do they know the inspiration for the tune? Why won’t it leave me head??

 

Butt Cramps And Boob Sweat At The Y.W.C.A.

Looking for a change of pace, I decided to head to the gym and take advantage of the track; I wish I could walk outside but it is still freezing and for every clear square of sidewalk there are two covered in ice just waiting to take me out.

The local Y.W.C.A. was formerly a high school so the track is on the upper level overlooking what once was a full basketball court. There are a couple of spongy lanes and it is perfect for my limited needs. The only downer is that the colors are so dull and blah; of all the choices in the crayon box they picked the ones I would toss or let my younger sister use.

The old basketball court is divided in half with one area full of intimidating equipment and the other an open space for pickup games and larger exercise classes. From my vantage point and with my super slow walking pace, I get to take it all in.

Today’s exercise class is Body Pump. I only know this as I briefly considered taking one during that short time when I was actually in decent shape. There was a blend of men and women of various fitness levels all busting their butts to get their butts firm and lifted. Unlike my fellow aqua aerobic peeps, there is no idle chatter and wandering off aimlessly, these people mean business and have the sweat lines to prove it.

The music was loud and provided a decent beat for even us walkers. I decided to rotate in some power walking laps and try to get back my old hip snapping form. It is amazing how much faster I can walk pumping my arms, rolling on my feet and maintaining a relaxed and proper posture. It is more amazing how fast one particular lady at least 20 years my senior can blow past me looking all casual with her iPod as I am pumping my arms like a fool. Today is yours lady, but one day, one day in the future. I will smoke your ass and then go hide in a corner as I try to catch my breath.

Even though it got a bit warmer, I kept my long sleeve black jacket on the entire walk. I am fairly certain this jacket makes all my jiggling parts completely invisible to my fellow humans, so really, it is my gift to them.

On the other half of the gym, there are a variety of people using the equipment but oddly everyone seems to be in the same uniform of black pants and turquoise t-shirts. Clearly, my fuchsia top and invisibility jacket combo need to stay out of this room.

A cute couple was lifting weights and kissing in between sets…awww…barf. Several men were getting all he-man on the various machines, although the dude on the leg press looked like he may have loaded up a bit too much and would be eating his legs soon. I have to give it to the ladies, they had much better form on the free weights than the dudes; I see a back injury in the future of one peacocking a bit too much.

There was a typical person on the stair climber leaning on her arms so much I wonder what muscle is actually getting worked and the treadmills were loaded with both runners and walkers zoning out to their own tunes or morning television. On the elliptical, one dude looked like he was fighting it with every loop while a tiny woman was floating like a gazelle on the next machine; I wonder what it feels like to float like a gazelle.

Walking along staring at the folk below, I imagined what it must look like from their perspective. In one lane, there was a dude doing lunges and groaning with each dip while a runner sprints by. In the slow lane, several ladies are walking at a decent clip except for that one chick meandering about pumping her arms in a flimsy invisibility jacket that was not fooling anyone.

As I kept pumping my arms and rolling my feet, I felt the tiniest of tiny twinges in my butt, almost like the beginning of a muscle cramp and I smiled. I have a butt muscle! A BUTT muscle exists in my butt! I have a buuuuuttttt muscle! Woohoo. So I rubbed it briefly so as not to freak anyone out and picked up the pace. Maybe someday I will have one in the other cheek too. A girl can dream.

Finally, I was ready to cool down and took a casual lap as I stretched my barely there muscles. Shoulder rolls, calf stretches, lower back stretches, I covered them all. Then I felt the oddest thing, a dripping. One bead, then another, going down my cheek near my ear, I believe people call this sweat. Nice. Then another bead down my chest, boob sweat! I can’t remember when I last had boob sweat. Boob sweat is gross and yet oddly welcome today. Obviously all that arm pumping had to have a payoff and what I got was boob sweat.

Butt cramps and boob sweat at the Y.W.C.A.; can a Sunday get any better?