Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting Physical

I don't remember a time when I wasn't a voluptuous gurl. I was a chubby kid who grew into a rubensque woman. But  I also  happen to be one book who should rarely be judged by the cover  within the last year I completed both a 10k and half marathon. With those accomplishments behind me, I was getting bored with walking and well running just isn't in my immediate future, if ever. So at the end of June I began taking Body Pump, a weight lifting/training class. Now this class and I have a history, I first took it years ago when the Wunderkind was barely out of diapers. I credit this class for getting me through my separation and divorce with my sanity intact not to mention helping me tone and trim almost 40 pounds to boot. After I left the fitness club that initially offered it, I looked for the class again throughout most of the last decade to no avail until recently. I was intent on taking some aqua aerobics classes ( another favorite if the class is not senior social hour ) when I noticed it being offered at YMCA facilities not far from my office. Unfortunately for my bud Ruthie who planned to have a new exercise partner in me,  I'll never, ever chose to barely sweat to the oldies at senior pool social  when a hardcore workout is offered nearby. Just isn't gonna happen.

Anyway, I started taking this class in earnest, 3 times most weeks, and even bought a couple of decent looking workout outfits so I'd look and feel the part (thanks  This class is reputed to burn over 600 calories with over 800 reps in a single hour. Make no mistake this is not a class for shrinking violets or those too cute to break a sweat.  But don't stop reading because you think lifting weights is just for guys or really butch broads. It is the rare women who doesn't need to work on improving her upper body strength and who doesn't want to be more tines. Seriously name one women you know who doesn't want Michelle Obama's biceps & triceps?  She ranks right up there with unicorns - doesn't exist!!  The maximum weight I lift currently is a mere 25 lbs (few people lift more than 40) but even that makes me want cry.  It's not just the weight is what you're doing with it, which is completing close to 100 reps in about 5 minutes to varying tempos of music.  Watch the video below, you'll see.

I was so fired up about the class that I talked my friend Ruthie into attending a class with me.  She HATED it.  Said it was like boot camp. All during class, she kept cutting me looks that could kill and even left about 20 minutes early.  Meanwhile, I was sweating like 3 men and loving every bit of it. While I hate the new music and some of the new exercise sets, I'm hooked. They could play the farmer and the dell and I'd still go. A new release with new music comes out every 3 months so your muscles won't get too used to the routine but it's always  the same 8 muscle groups worked each session.  Ideally you should maintain a 48 hour break between workouts so your muscles can heal and grow stronger. I started out not being able to do any lunges nor bike crunches and I can do at least dozen of each - though neither are very pretty.   As is often the case when instructors look like picture perfect personal trainers, I worried  a little that my instructors would see me as just another fat girl who couldn't cut it and would quit within the week. I'm the only woman of size in my class but I told them all from day 1 - they always scope out newbies, I'd done it before and had recommitted myself after a decade's absence and have followed through - they've all (I have 3 different instructors) genuinely taken an interest in my workouts and help me with my form and/or modifications if I need. 

The Y has a 3 week summer break each August when classes are scarce, add to that my status as a Summer baby - celebrated my birthday for a week and then caught a nasty version of the dreaded Summer cold which literally knocked me on my butt for about 3 days. Thankfully that all happened during the break so I only made it to class twice during that time.  But now the Wunderkind is back in school so I am recommitted to my workouts. When I started this class I committed myself to doing it for at least 6 months before proclaiming success or otherwise. I realize that 10 years on my body doesn't do everything the same as it did a decade ago. My progress has been slow so lately I've read  and discuss with my teachers why I may not be seeing all the benefits of my class - rushing through sets, not focusing on my form and not increasin my weights every 6th class among them.  That last one makes me cringe just typing it.  True I can increase by just 2 pounds but hwne you're struggling to begin with 2 pounds may as well be 20. Regardless I'm in it to see results so increasing my it is.

At 46, I have also reconciled myself with the fact that I HAVE to exercise regularly like 3-4 days a week just to not gain weight, losing doesn't factor into those my workouts.  I plan my schedule around Body Pump - no joke.   Now when some evening activity comes up I figure out when I can make up that class I will miss before I commit.  I do feel stronger mentally and physically. I've not had occasion to lift cars or anything like that but I am handling that 40# box of cat litter a bit more easily these days. Many days, I hate this damn class but the challenge and sense of accomplishment I feel as we cool down after 50 minutes of it also makes me genuinely LOVE it class and that on a regular basis a move just a little beyond what I did last class and I don't intend to give it up anytime soon whether I look like a gym rat or not - period.  It's that simple. 

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