I workout with a personal trainer, along with a friend. I love my trainer. He is awesome. Always pushing me to my limits and forcing me to do things I wouldn’t do on my own. Just when I think I can’t do one more rep, he forces one sometimes two more out of me. I leave there feeling drained but exhilarated. However, there are two things that I hate and struggle with – the pull bar and stretching.
I once read an article online about ten things you shouldn’t do at the gym. The only thing I remember from that article is that you shouldn’t only do exercises you like. If you don’t like a particular exercise, it means you are not good at and need to work on it and those specific muscles. I find that to be very true. Every exercise I hate is one that I suck at and struggle with. Now, when I catch myself saying I hate an exercise, I change it to I need this exercise and it’s good for me. Amazingly enough, it works.
I hated ab work and struggled with it, feeling incompetent. Since I stopped saying I hate it and started saying it’s good for me, I need this, I have noticed a huge improvement in the quality and quantity of my ab exercises. I am still not a huge fan of ab work, but I am getting better. This week I decided it was time to do the same with stretching and the pull up bar.
My hamstrings, hips and shoulders are always tight. I can’t even touch my toes without bending my knees. In fact, I can’t remember ever being able to touch my toes and I always used that as an excuse saying “Well, it’s just the way I am.” My trainer has repeatedly told me I need to stretch more, but I never did because I am no good at it, it’s too slow paced for me ( I prefer HIIT workouts) and its just plain boring, but this past year I have come to realize that I do need to stretch more.
I know stretching is very important to prevent injuries and improve flexibility. According to Health Fitness Revolution stretching also reduces stress, improves posture, increases endurance, improves energy levels, increases blood flow and even helps reduce cholesterol. All the more reasons for me to stretch.
While, I have gotten better at the end of class stretching, those 5-10 minutes of stretching is not enough. A few months ago, having not been successful at stretching at home, I started thinking I need to find a Saturday morning Yoga class. About a month later, my trainer announced he was starting an 8 am Saturday stretch class. Ask and you shall receive! However, due to some prior commitments and dread I never went.
I decided this was the week. I started the Saturday morning stretch class and I even liked it more than I thought I would. After class, I felt looser and not quite as tight in my hips and legs. An added bonus was, since I was already out and about, I went to the grocery store afterwards and got my weekly grocery shopping out of the way. Plus, I bought food for the weekend too. So, my husband and I only went out to eat once instead of three to four times. We had gotten in the awful habit of eating out for lunch and dinner every weekend due to laziness and lack of food in the house. Now, I can add eating better to the benefits of stretching.
My new Saturday morning routine is going to be stretch class followed by grocery shopping and meals at home on the weekends. Now, I just have to get myself to stretch at home, but that’s a challenge for another week.
On Monday, as I was staring up at the pull up bar, I realized that not only do I hate the pull up bar, I fear it. When I look at it I feel about knee high and as if the bar was hanging from the sky. I have no clue why I fear the pull up bar. I don’t know if it’s a height thing or if it represents something in my life that I fear, but I fear it.
I need to get over this as pull ups are an excellent exercise. According to Dr. Mercola, pull ups strengthen your back, shoulders, chest and arms improving posture and grip strength as well as building core strength.
Without assistance from my trainer I couldn’t even jump up to grab the bar. I always felt so self-conscious and to make matters worse it’s a breeze for my workout buddy. It probably helps that she is a good four inches taller than me. At least that’s what I always tell myself.
This Monday, I was alone as my workout buddy couldn’t make it. I was standing in the studio staring at the pull up bar thinking I need to conquer this. I turned to my trainer and asked him how. He had me just jump trying to get my hands over the bar without grabbing it. As he watched me, he said “you are basically there. Now this time grab it.” It took me a couple of tries, but I did it!! I grabbed that pull up bar without any assistance!!! I was so excited and proud of myself and my trainer even told me how proud of me he was.
He instructed me to do ten jumps at the pull bar every class and only on the last jump to grab the bar. So this week, I did that at every class and it’s gotten progressively easier as the week went on. Hopefully soon I will be able to grab the bar on the first jump.
It was such a great feeling – so energizing. I felt I could do anything at that moment. I need to remember this feeling next time I am facing a challenge or a fear. It’s so empowering to face a fear or challenge head on and then overcome it. I feel like I can tackle any challenge right now.
My pull up bar success has reinforced the importance of starting small. In the grand scheme of things, there was very little risk as I couldn’t fail if I truly tried, but it showed me that if I put in the effort, give it my best and really try, I can succeed. It helped build my confidence, giving momentum to face the next challenge and the belief that I can do it, one week at a time.
Until Next Week