I can’t do squat!

 

Daily Prompt – Sidewalk

I can’t do squat! And I mean that literally. The older I get, the less cooperative my knees are and the lower I can squat. This is probably the biggest reason my backside is flat as a pancake. Well, maybe not literally but pretty close. And every year, especially now that I’m closer to 70 than 60, what little rear end I have droops lower and lower. It’s been years since anyone told me that I squat “ass to the grass.”

jb plank
Seriously, who needs a butt when they can do an extended plank like this!

 

When I ask a potential female client what her goals are, nine times out of ten, it involves her booty.  For many women, working out is all about the butt. Harder, firmer, higher, rounder, smaller, less jiggly, ad infinitum. And the squat, of which there are hundreds of variations, is the all-time glute day favorite.

There are some girls (and by that I mean women under 40) who do glute work every day. I call them the “Queens of Squat,” and they love it when I bestow the title upon them. When I see one of the queens working out, I can’t help it, my mind starts reciting my pet gym mantra, “we must, we must, we must improve our butt.”

While my caboose may not be high and tight, it’s not too flabby either. And I owe my somewhat fit, tiny hiney to an exercise I lovingly call the “side walk” or “penguin walk.” My clients call it the walk from hell. There are several variations. If you are suffering with knee pain, choose a style that doesn’t require you to bend your knees. Remember, if there’s pain, you must abstain.

I like using a resistance band, but the “side walk” can be just as effective with your body weight, sans equipment.  If you tightly squeeze your gluteus muscles during this exercise, you will feel the burn. When a client tells me she thought of me every time she went to the potty, I know I’m doing my best work.

Here are the basics.

  • Position your feel shoulder width apart. The band should be taunt but not stretched. You can place the band above your knees or closer to your ankles. If you have a resistance tube, step on the tube and hold the handles to create resistance.
  • Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to activate the gluteus muscles.
  • Keeping your feet in line with your shoulders, step sideways to the right keeping the band tensed. Without releasing the band’s tension, continuing side stepping for 10 reps.
  • Repeat to the left for ten reps.

Trust me, you’ll be thinking about me tomorrow.

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Where have all the bloggers gone?

 

It’s just not working! First of all, this whole blogging thing is hard, time consuming and frustrating. I thought I would write about health and fitness. Then I realized I wanted to write about other things too. Somewhere along the way I got lost.

What tags to use on my posts? What did I want to write about? How to find other people’s posts? How to use the information in the area that provides tags and categories. Half the time I can’t remember how to get to that page on the blog customizer. This was so frustrating, I wanted to quit.

But, I’m not a quitter. In fact, I’m known for my discipline and perseverance, i.e. graduate degrees, marathons, etc.

At first I didn’t make the connection between my decision to write about something other than fitness with my disillusionment with blogging in general. My whole life is about fitness. Hey, I’m a personal trainer. Yes, there are other things I can write about, and that’s ok. Enter Fundamentals of Blogging.Screenshot (21).png

The course is working! The assignment for today is to find other blogs to follow. I had been wondering where you went. It’s not your fault. I know that now. I just took a detour and never found my way back.

Now, I get it. Click on one of the tags I’ve entered and all the posts with that tag appear on the right side of the page! How simple is that. I have to wonder how I got through grad school.

Voila! There you are! You’re back. Now I just have to remember how I got here. And guess what? I love you. You’re inspiring me. I already have a million, zillion ideas—well maybe not that many—for topics to write about on my blog.

Not only was I over-thinking almost everything, I was making it so black and white. Duh! I can write on anything I want and I don’t have to give up writing on health/fitness/nutrition. All or nothing thinking is a habit I definitely need to break. Best of all, I can find you—great writers, fitness enthusiasts, healthy eaters, and on and on. I am one happy blogger.

How will I tag this post? I’m thinking “blogging,” “fundamentalsofblogging,” “fitness.” “Lost in cyber space”—that’s probably not a tag.

I think I’m going to like blogging after all.

 

Lonely Girl

 

When I look at my day now as a personal trainer, there are times when I can’t believe it is me. I pretty much work out all day or help others workout. I am not a natural athlete, but somewhere along the way things changed.

I never liked to go outside and play. I had an awkward walk, was uncoordinated and had no balance. Recess was painful. I was usually the last one picked for any team sport.  I don’t think Charlie Brown existed when I was growing up, but he and I have a lot in common.

Other kids watched the clock waiting to hear the recess bell. They would be bouncing off their seats as the teacher said, “Wait. Put your books in your desk. Then you can go.” It was a stampede to see who could get out the door the fastest.

If the recess game was softball, I knew my name would not get called. The rules were the team captain picked one boy then one girl, and everyone had to play. When I was the only one left, the captain would sigh and wave me over and say, “Okay, we’ll take her.” Like he had a choice, but hearing those words. Well, it made it worse.

girl on playground
“Lonely Girl”

 

Three outs happened fast, and I usually didn’t have to go to bat. When I did walk to the plate, bat in hand I knew what to expect. Taunts from the team in the field: “Easy out! Easy out!”  My teammates would groan loudly. It couldn’t get much worse than this.

When the recess game was dodge ball, I thought I might actually have a chance to stay in the game. I mean dodge ball, come on. Just don’t get hit by the frigging ball. How hard is that! But I was like a fence post cemented in the dirt. A target. The person with the ball always went for me because I was, once again, an easy out.

The other kids made it look so easy. Running. Laughing. Weaving in and out around each other’s sweating bodies. I was dizzy watching all the activity. It was like I was the maypole, the flag pole and everyone and everything else whirled around me.

My brain was busier than my body. “Run right, run left!” I would start to move, or at least I thought I was starting to move, and then the blonde girl with the perky pony tail would run in front of me. Giggling, she was always giggling. The cute boy holding the red dimpled dodge ball aimed for her, fully intending to miss. The ball hit me instead. I didn’t groan or squeal or make any of the noises the other kids made when they were “out.” I just turned and walked out of the circle.

Usually, I didn’t have to go outside for recess. When I said I needed to finish my homework or was writing a story or reading a book and wanted to stay inside, I think the teachers felt sorry for me. It was such a relief to escape the horrors of the playground.

In the sixth grade I read the poem “Outwitted” by Edwin Markham. The words gave me hope. I don’t know why because I certainly wasn’t going to make my fellow dodge ball players think any more highly of me. But I read and re-read the poem, imagining myself in a more inclusive future.

“He drew a circle that shut me out- Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle and took him In!”

 

 

Chalk It Up to Holding My Tongue

Smooth – Daily Prompt

Chalk It Up to Holding My Tongue

            Irene is only a few inches over five-feet tall. She stepped into the squat rack and lifted the barbell onto her traps. The bar weighs 45 pounds and was loaded with 45 pound-plates on either end. One hundred thirty-five pounds, probably her body weight. Her movements were so smooth, it made the bar appear weightless.  Her face showed no emotion, and her form was precise. I tried not to stare.

            In a gym where egos and physical prowess reign supreme, she defies the stereotype. She didn’t look around to see who was watching her or unnecessarily flex her muscles. At the bottom of her squat, she was mere inches from the floor. Undeniably impressive.

girl-squats-yoga-pants

            I stood only a few feet away from her and when she racked her bar, commented, “very nice. Your form is awesome.  Your workout changes are paying off.”

            Irene beamed. “I’ve been trying.” She gave me the details of her newest workout modifications. This is my favorite type of conversation with members—sharing and learning from each other. But this gym friendship almost didn’t happen, and I thought back to when I first saw Irene.

            I noticed her because she always left a trail of white chalk dust. If your palms are sweaty, dusting with chalk improves your grip, but it is messy. Our gym didn’t have a “no chalk use” policy, primarily because we are not a gym that heavy weight lifters use. Irene was one of the only members who used chalk. When we posted a sign asking chalk users to clean up after themselves, nothing changed. Chalk users either didn’t see the sign or ignored it. The dust remained. Her behavior irritated me.

            Walking through the chalk and dusting it off my clothes was aggravating, but there was an underlying resentment that kept me from speaking to her. The chalk dust was representative of what I consider a sense of entitlement. There are some gym members who feel entitled to do whatever they want in a gym regardless of how it affects other members. When I am irritated, I often sound overly critical and have found that it is better for me to say nothing than to say something and alienate a member.

            While at the gym, I speak to as many members as I can or at least give them a friendly nod. I never spoke or nodded to Irene. It was the chalk. Whenever I sat or put my hands on the floor, they would be covered in white chalk dust. My gym attire is black yoga pants and black tee emblazoned with “personal trainer” on the back. White chalk on black—not a professional look.

For over two years I held my tongue while really wanting to tell her there were clean alternatives —wear weight-lifting gloves or employ hand wraps, but I didn’t.  I hoped someone would say something to her or that she would finally see the sign and realize she was guilty.

Then one day I quit seeing the chalk dust. I thought maybe Irene started going to another gym. Maybe one that allowed weight-lifting chalk. I didn’t care. The chalk dust was gone. But not long after that I saw her; she was wearing weight-lifting gloves.

Without the chalk dust clouding my judgment, I realized what an amazing athlete she is, and I starting paying attention to her. She works out almost every day, varies her workouts and challenges herself.

I began making short comments to Irene which evolved into longer conversations. She was knowledgeable and disciplined. I liked her.

At first I chided myself for my petty resentment about the chalk that had kept me from talking with her, but then realized it is not petty to want people to be considerate of others and follow the rules. Instead I am grateful that I held my tongue, and I look forward to sharing workout tips with my new gym friend.

There are now 4 of us!

Week 2, Day 1 of our 12-week workout program

If today’s workout is any indication, our 12-week program is going to be amazingly insane. It started this morning at 6:00am when Tonette showed up for spin class. Honestly, that woman never stops. “I’m doing two workout a day, starting this week,” she said.

me sheila yoga
Sheila and JB

At 6:50 am Sheila showed up. Sheila is also Tonette’s mother. This is the best part of living in a small town! Seriously, it is just like in the movies—everyone does know everyone!

 

Sheila and I like quiet for our yoga, so we booted Tonette out—not an easy task. I basically had to push Tonette off her bike. The day was just getting started.

me tonette bikes
JB pushing Tonette off her bike! (LOL)

 

Workout time for “The Three of Us” was 1:30 pm. When I arrived at the gym, Tonette was busily revising our workout and told me that Alisha’s sister, Jazmyn, was joining us. “Now we are four,” she said. Tonette is madly scratching through her planned workout, reorganizing and restructuring. She enters in pencil every exercise, reps, sets and weight in a small notebook she carries from station to station in the gym.

“Let’s just go,” I said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Tonette loves to be in charge, and I love to let her take over planning our workouts. As a personal trainer, I am so ready to not be in charge of a workout. But even by my standards, and I tend to be a little obsessive about planning workouts, Tonnette is over the top.

JB Tonette Alisha Jaz_3
Jazmyn, Alisha (photographer), JB, Tonette

We decided to partner up. Jazmyn and I would be together; Tonette and Alisha would pair up.

 

We love our gym, but it is small and has limited equipment. This usually isn’t a problem, even when the gym is crowded. But today it was. We all wanted the same weights, the same bench, the same everything! Tonette changed the order of the exercises and moved us around, and we still argued. It was laughable.

At one point, after Tonette had told me three different things to do, I balked. “I’m doing cross cable flies,” I said.

“That’s not the fly we’re doing,” she replied.

“It’s the fly I’m doing,” I said and set up the cables for the exercise. Smiling, I looked over at her and said, “Bitch.”

“You’re the bitch,” she smiled back pointing her finger.

Like I said, amazingly insane. Workout time tomorrow, 2:30 pm.

 

“The Three of Us”

We are three amazing women who like to be fit. We met and work out at Snap Fitness in El Centro, CA.  If you saw us, you probably wouldn’t match us up as workout buddies, but we make a great team. The Three of Us

Our ages are 33, 51, and 67 and we have differing levels of strength, flexibility, and endurance. One thing we have in common is our stubbornness. Things can get very interesting! Our goal is to keep each other motivated and committed to at least four workouts a week.

Each of us has one or two little body issues—hip replacement, arthritis, exercise-onset-migraines, bone spurs, sciatica—you get the idea. We modify the exercises to accommodate our bodies.

Last week we started a twelve-week workout program. Here’s our workout for the first three weeks. We do three sets of 12 reps for everything except abs, where we do 20 reps.

Week 1 workoutWe determine the order of our exercises based on the location of equipment in the gym and how crowded it is. We do super-sets rotating through three exercises, unless I can convince my partners to include an interval component—fat chance, but I keep trying.

I like circuit training and abs. Tonette hates circuit training and abs. I like body weight exercises. Both Tonette and Alisha like to lift heavy weights. We compromise.

Share the upcoming three months with us! We’re planning on having some fun. We’ll share our workout and nutrition tips and look forward to hearing about yours.