cycling · fitness · strength training · weight lifting · Zwift

Sam starts training from scratch, sort of

It’s been 11 weeks since knee replacement surgery. There’s a lot of rehab focused movement and physio under the bridge. So much hard physio.

Some things are going very well. But at this stage the gains are slow and it can feel pretty frustrating. It’s a lot of hard work for what feels like not very much improvement. At the same time, I can still easily overdo it and then need to take some time to recover. Three steps forward, one step back, as they say.

But the good news is that it’s not all rehab, all the time now. Starting this week I am going to try to get my cycling fitness back for its own sake, not just because cycling helps my knee. Up until now, when riding my bike, I’ve turned Zwift on but I haven’t watched. I haven’t paid much attention at all to the metrics. Watts per kilo? Who knows? Speed? Ditto. I note the distance when I hit save but I’ve been trying not to look really. Instead, I’ve been running Zwift but watching Netflix. (That’s not entirely true. Since I have the companion app open on my phone I have noted and appreciated all of your ride-ons!)

From the “count the workouts” group here’s what my Zwift entries have looked like:

This week I’ve decided to Zwift for real again, paying attention to numbers, as I begin my climb back to bike fitness. Obviously I’ll need to change my FTP to something closer to my current reality.

What’s FTP? “FTP, or Functional Threshold Power, is the wattage you can stay below and sustain for longer durations, while going above it causes fatigue to occur very quickly. It is one of the key training metrics used in cycling, and Zwift has built-in tests to measure it.” See here for more.

I’ve also changed my weekly distance goal from 150 km a week on Zwift to 50 km. Gradually I will build back up.

Here’s one of the tiny rides that will be my starting point. So tiny! So slow! But lots of room to build and grow.

I’m also doing this in the gym with strength training. Yes, there’s some rehab there too. But not all and my focus isn’t just recovery, it’s rebuilding for its own sake. Meg, the world’s best personal trainer, is there to help once a week.

What’s my overall movement plan right now?

  • I’m doing physio every day, twice a week in the clinic at Defy Physiotherapy with the wonderful knee fixer upper Estee.
  • On the weekends, once or twice I’m doing Aquafit at Movati.
  • I do strength training at the gym twice a week, once with Meg and once solo.
  • I’m back to walking Cheddar the dog, the yellow blur in all the cycling photos above.
  • And I’m Zwifting three or four times a week.
Cheddar, Chase, and Charlie hoping it’s dog walk time not Zwift time

It’s not quite from scratch but I do have a long way to climb back to where I was, both on the strength side and the bike fitness side. Everyone reassures me that having been there before my return will be easier than if I’d never done it.

It’s work but it’s also nice to have not everything, all the time be about knee rehab.

Wish me luck and I’ll see you at the gym!

fitness · strength training

Checking in after total knee replacement surgery, 7 weeks out: Sam is returning to her Activities of Daily Living

First, I had my six week follow up with the surgeon last week. Everything looks good. Next check up is by phone at 3 months and we’ll talk then about the schedule for my right knee.

Second, the physio recommendation from the surgeon says to focus on five things: extension and flexion (bending and straightening of the operated knee), strength training, balance, gait, and a return to the Activities of Daily Living. It actually said “return to ADL” and I had the look up what that meant.

I think that means stairs, dishes, laundry, etc. I’m walking about the house now loudly proclaiming, look at me doing an activity of daily living. The thrill will wear off I’m sure.

Third, in addition to physio and my daily living activities, I’m busy with aquafit two or three times a week. I’m also riding my bike on the trainer 15-20 minutes a day. Cheddar and I are walking again. He’s such a patient lovely dog and great walking at my speed, whatever that speed is, and not taking off after squirrels.

Chase and Cheddar. My mum’s other dog Charlie is a little camera shy.

Fourth, I’m back at work and feeling happy to be re-engaged with the wider world outside my house, my left knee, and physio. The trick will be not over extending myself. I had the option of staying off work for 12 weeks, rather than 6, and so I am thinking of the first 6 weeks back as a chance to say no to some of the weekend and evening dean stuff and involve other people.

Sam in her office

I’m trying not to fret about late fall, and dark November days. I’m going to all the holiday parties this year, no matter how early. I’m going to enjoy the hot tub and sauna at my fancy new gym. It also feels good to be back in my office clothes and not just wearing shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, and hoodies. I’m also very much looking forward to extending my time on the bike. Right now, I’m spinning most evenings for 20 min or so, while watching campy movies with my son Gavin. But soon I’ll back on Zwift doing some of the slow social rides.

The tree in my front yard that’s gloriously red in October, stick like in November.

Here’s me checking in after Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week Four, Week Five and Week 6.

fitness · Guest Post · strength training · weight lifting

Do not disturb, or on not having ‘hungry eyes’ for men at the gym (Guest Post)

By Brett

This past month has presented me with plenty of inspiration for a blog post. It was, as per usual, incredibly difficult for me to narrow down what to share. However, despite the volume of vulnerable, queer, fitness-related experiences I’ve found myself in there is one moment that feels heavier than the rest. As most of my uncomfortable gym situations begin, this moment was initiated by a male person approaching me mid-workout.

Allow me to paint this picture more clearly. By ‘mid-workout’, I mean a headphones-on-full-blast-sweating-through-my-tank-top-unaware-of-the-rest-of-the-world state of mind.

Now, I have very few objections to interacting with others at the gym. Developing an open, positive community within the gym environment can remove social barriers that hinder the enthusiastic participation of everyone wishing to pursue an active lifestyle. However, this was not one of those interactions. I retrieved my dumbbells from the ground, stood upright, and proceeded to perform my bicep curls.

Simultaneously, this male person positioned himself about 4 feet behind me, and continued to dance his eyes between the back of my legs and making direct eye contact with me via the mirror that stood in-front of both of us. I have a horrible tendency to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, regardless of how clearly their behavior should be reprimanded. Therefore, using said mirror, I quizzically raised my eyebrows at the male person, hoping he may just be looking for someone to spot him on a lift, or perhaps was wondering which direction the washrooms may be. It must be at this point that you are wondering if I moonlight as a comedian…because, yes, these innocent wishes about his intentions were dead wrong.

His response to my quizzical eyebrow raise was to begin speaking, despite the music blasting from my headphones. I set my weights back down, turned to face him, and slid a headphone back.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

“Uh, I was just like wondering if you like compete, or like yeah.”

“Compete?”

“Yeah, in like physique stuff.”

“No, I do not. I’m just a gym rat.”

It was at this point that he began this disturbing soliloquy:

“That’s cool. You should do physique competitions; you have great definition. I was like worried to ask you because so many girls get so offended when I try to chat with them. But, I could just like tell from your form that you know how to work out, and like I knew your vibe was different. Honestly, you’re just so focused, most girls like look at me with like ‘hungry eyes’, but you just are doing your thing. It’s cool, you know?”

When I tell you that I have heard this well-rehearsed chaos on hundreds of occasions, I say so with little exaggeration. Now, a piece of unsolicited advice, if you redirect the topic of conversation onto them, you quickly fade into the background of a wonderfully self-centered dialogue regarding their macro-intake or something equally as unimportant. Which is exactly what I did, and exactly what he did. Fortunately, this led to a perfect opportunity for a swift ending to the conversation, and my ability to slip my headphones back on (my gym version of a “Do Not Disturb” sign).

It is not my intention that this post comes across as scathing, rant-ish, or a generalization of male people in fitness. Rather, I’m hoping that we can let out a big collective chuckle at the absurdity of this moment.

First, the mental image of me participating in the hyper-feminine culture of physique modelling is absolutely comical for anyone who knows me well.

Second, the fact that this person had the audacity to paint himself as a victim when approaching women at the gym and them being “offended” shows so little self-awareness it made me question how this individual managed to think so highly of himself… while clearly having no idea of who he truly is.

Third, and my personal favourite part of all of this, my lack of “hungry eyes” played no role in him recognizing that I truly, sincerely have little to no interest in gazing at men.

Finally, bold of him to refer to me as a ‘girl’.

Regardless of all the technical issues of his little plan, the most curious part was that he could not recognize the hypocritical nature of his actions. My feminist training began running wild. The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy, suffering under a male gaze, r*pe culture and the idealization of ‘the chase’, etc. Luckily, I snapped out of my trance just in time to realize that “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor was playing through my headphones. I picked up my dumbbells, mentally wished all non-conformists a ‘Happy Pride Month’, and purposefully moved those weights with horrible form.

30 lb dumbbells

Bio: Hi! I’m Bret and I hail from Guelph, ON, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Philosophy. I am currently working towards an MA in Philosophy at Western University, and enjoy engaging in feminist theory, ethics, as well as gender and sexuality studies. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be taught by both Sam and Tracy, and I am excited to join the Fit is a Feminist Issue community! When my nose isn’t in a book, I can be found in coffee shops, at the gym, or taking on car repairs that are far beyond my capabilities.

Guest Post · strength training

Lifting weights for strength (cw: brief discussion of weight, guest post)

Last week the Fit is a Feminist Issue Facebook page posted this article from Today.com: Strength Training 101: Is it better to lift heavier weights or do more reps?, written by a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, suggesting there are ways to get “sleek and toned” muscles and ways to “bulk up”. (Sam’s Note to Self: When postings for discussion, make that clear!) Almost immediately, Jennifer F. responded with “Wow, was that written in the 90s? There are a couple of valid points in there, but I thought all that was debunked years ago?” then linked to an article from Stumptuous.com: Lies in the gym.

Thanks Jennifer, you saved me a few steps! I was about to hunt down a debunking article myself.

The author does not lift weights heavier than 7 pounds to avoid bulking up her shoulders, back and chest. Now I’m all for lifting appropriately and I’ll never say 7 pounds isn’t enough if that’s what your body allows but avoiding more than that to prevent bulky muscles seems like a strange limitation to put on one’s self. Most of the coaches I have spoken to over the years have laughed at the idea of women accidentally becoming bulky from weightlifting, because that has just never happened. The women I know who have competed in body building competitions have worked extremely hard, strictly monitored food intake in the days leading up to competition and have looked amazingly muscular, but not what I’d call “bulky”.

COVID closed down the gym for a while and I’m still trying to get my groove back, but at the height of my sportzing career, I was lifting 5 days a week, and was going for strength. My bench press was 160lbs shortly before we went into lock down and my partial deadlifts were 275lb. My traps were well defined, and still mostly are, as were my biceps and triceps. No matter how much I lifted though, I couldn’t get really big muscles.

I have been lifting weights for 10+ years now. I’m strong enough to open my own jars, help my husband lift heavy appliances off the back of the truck, and I broke up a significant share of concrete after tearing down my barn, using only a sledgehammer and my own power. I lift heavy bee boxes because my husband made it clear he had no intention of becoming a beekeeper, and if I was going to become one, I needed to figure it out.

I have put on weight over the last few years, surprisingly not during lockdown, but from so much work travel in the few years before that. You can’t eat in restaurants every night with at least one glass of wine or beer at dinner, without adding to the waistline, and it’s been hard to remove it. That is my “bulk” and it seems to be very attached to me. I call that my protective cover, but under all that, my muscles are solid and capable and I’ll lift as heavy as I can for as long as I can.

Sandi in a T-Shirt and sweatpants, swinging a 10lb hammer over a large piece of concrete foundation.
goals · strength training

Always wanted to do pull-ups? Why?

The article getting the most attention right now on our Facebook page is this one, Hold on: Why do we want to do pull-ups?

I had to scroll through a lot of dudes doing shirtless pull-ups on Unsplash before I found this image of a woman. It’s a rear view. She’s got long blonde curly hair. She’s thin and white and wearing grey leggings and a black tank.

In the article Casey Johnston, a personal trainer, interrogates everyone’s favorite fitness goal. She’s got a lot to say but here’s part of it.

“Why did it have to be pull-ups? The world of strength is so big, with so many things to do. Why and how did the zeitgeist land on pull-ups as the number one glossy, sexy fitness goal? Of all the “strong” things to do with one’s body, a pull-up is… about the hardest one. This makes them difficult as someone’s strength training entree. I don’t want to discourage, but I also want to appropriately couch. This ultimately does not really matter, because by the time I can get out “Wow, that’s cool, although pull-ups are harder than you might think—” people’s eyes are already understandably glazing over.”

I love the reaction on our Facebook page. Here’s a sample of the comments:

“When I watch a movie and someone is being chased and they come across a wall that they have to pull themselves over, I think ‘that’s where they’ll get me’ 😆”

“Pull-ups were the one thing we were consistently tested on in elementary school and I have no idea why. They never actually worked with us on HOW to do them, or how to get better at them. What a strange measure of strength for seven-year-olds.”

“I try them on a semi regular basis as though this workout will be the one where I can suddenly do a pull up. I do not train to be able to do them. Apparently I’m hoping for magic.”

Image search for magic and you get a woman in the dark looking into sparkles cupped in her hands.

What do you think about pull-ups? Do you train for them? Are they a goal? Why? Why do you think they’re everyone’s favorite fitness goal?

Me, I do assisted pull-ups sometimes either on the gravitron machine or with bands. So if a monster is chasing me and I have to get up and over a wall, they’ll need to be some help available if I’m going to make it.

cycling · Sat with Nat · strength training · stretching

Nat Shares Her Meaningful Measures of Progress

Well here we are, somehow 6 weeks after I hopped on my partner’s Peloton. Where did the time go?

Somewhere along the journey I hit 1,000 minutes of working out. Cool!

I’m rediscovering my comfort and confidence on the bike. While I still often cry at the end of a ride it’s not a bad thing. It’s often tears of relief that I completed a ride. So thankful!

I have been alternating cycling and weight training with 1 rest day a week. My butt needs the time out of the saddle and my legs need time to recuperate.

What has changed in 6 weeks?

**remember your mileage may vary. If you start a new training regime you may have different gains or meaningful measures of success**

First, I’m able to ride longer. I started out with 5 minute warm up, 20 minute beginner rides, 5 minute cool down. After a month I felt good trying an advanced beginner ride of 30 minutes. I now regularly do a 5 or 10 minute warmup, a 30 minute ride, 10 minute cool down and a 5 minute stretch. Yay!

Second, I’m not as sore after my workouts. Thank goodness because the first two weeks I was limping through my neighborhood on my daily walks.

Third, I have better form on the bike and can sit up without holding the handle bars, find a relaxed upper body during max effort and even standing up out of the saddle during rides. It’s very different from on my road bike but I’m learning. Yay!

Fourth, I’m feeling good in the strength classes. Lots of moves I’m still learning. My upper body workouts have felt particularly awesome. Best part, I’m lifting more weight with better form and control. Wahoo!

Fifth, my heart rate and blood pressure have dropped by a whopping 20 points. Talk about a satisfying and meaningful measure. My motivation for adding higher intensity cardio and weight training to my life was to address a disturbing upward trend in these metrics. My moving about my day heart rate is 64 bpm and my blood pressure is back to 124/75. That’s right where I want them to be.

Sixth, my stress management and resilience are feeling good. I’m having less anxiety and sleeping well. So good!

Seventh, I now have different things in common with my partner and our other friends who use Peloton. We share favourite classes and instructors as well as equipment tips and tricks. That means less shop talk about our paid work. AMAZING!

Selfie of Nat smiling in her super cute pink sports top with her hair pulled back. She is super happy and grateful.

What are meaningful measures in your fitness journey? I want to hear all about it!

body image · fitness · inclusiveness · strength training · weight lifting

Inclusion in Bodybuilding and Gym Culture: An Interview with Michael Collins

In this interview (part 1 of 2), Michael Collins compares bodybuilding competitions to Kiwanis music festivals, and describes his desire to be the “Julia Child of weightlifting.” Find Michael on Twitter: https://twitter.com/erlking.

How did you get into bodybuilding and gym culture?

I formerly worked in the academic field, but I left because of a combination of burnout, poor career prospects, and a feeling that my passions had shifted. I have always had a passion for bodybuilding and muscular physiques, which I felt I had to hide when I was in academia. I actually felt more shame and anxiety about being into muscles in the university setting than I felt about being gay! 

I’m 38, and I only became serious about bodybuilding when I was 31. Today I am a personal trainer and bodybuilding coach, but in terms of my own physique I am an amateur / passionate bodybuilding hobbyist. Like most sports, professional success requires a blend of genetic predisposition and starting young; what slim hopes I might have had of becoming a pro, or even a prominent amateur competitor, would have required me to start a dozen years sooner than I did. However, there are many reasons why someone would pursue bodybuilding beyond professional success!

Is bodybuilding culture welcoming of gay folks like yourself?

Unfortunately, professional bodybuilding can still be a homophobic space, but at the amateur level this has never been an issue for me, and in fact I’m a member of a large, robust, and mutually supportive community of gay and queer amateur bodybuilders. I definitely feel more comfortable being myself where I am right now than I did previously.

Can you explain what training and being a trainer in a gym is like?

Photo provided by Michael Collins

I consider bodybuilding competitions to be an artistic practice and a form of body modification, less a professional sport and more like the Kiwanus Music Festivals I would compete in as a youth. You labour in solitude for months to produce an aesthetic object that exists in time, then you produce that aesthetic object for a panel of judges alongside peers who have done the same, and then you are ranked according to a fairly strict and narrow sense of what determines worth in this specific arena. I think bodybuilders have more in common with concert pianists than they do with football players.

Before the pandemic, I wanted to be the Julia Child of lifting weights, helping people who are anxious about it and ignorant of it because of that anxiety, showing them this is their space too, and they have a right to learn how their body works and how to make it stronger. 

I trained in-person, mostly people I would call “beginners.” In the gym I taught basic fundamentals like how to deadlift and squat properly, how to make it so your back hurts less and you don’t get winded going up three flights of stairs, and so on. I had prediabetic clients who used weight training as a way of managing that condition.

How did your training practice change once the pandemic took hold?

Gyms in Toronto were closed for almost nine months straight. It’s important to tutor beginners in basic physical movements to avoid injury, so it was difficult to train my clients virtually. Also, beginners don’t have access to their own power rack, olympic barbells, and collection of plates! 

So, during the pandemic, I shifted more to coaching people who are already well-versed in lifting and who want to further a physical transformation, often who want to compete as amateur bodybuilders (something I’m thankful I got to do myself for the first time in 2019). I shifted to work that can be done virtually, like programming people’s workout plans, diet plans, etc.

What is the best part of your craft?

Photo provided by Michael Collins

Some of my clients tell me they have had very troubled or even hateful relationships with their bodies. I find it very fulfilling when someone has discovered the pleasure of how strong their body actually can be, of how good it can feel to regularly test your limits and feel them gradually expand. It’s lovely to help someone transform in a way they long desired but felt was impossible. The sense of pride and pleasure that can awaken is very rewarding to see.

What advice do you have for folks who want to get more involved with bodybuilding and gym culture?

Find your people. They’re unlikely to be the influencers on Instagram who dominate the field (although I know of a few who really warm my heart with good, well-considered, intelligent feminist or generally progressive insights). Instead, find people who are working for a similar goal and who have similar values as you. People who are on a similar path, but who may be a step or two ahead. They’ll be a great resource for learning (and there’s so much to learn if you’re new) and for mutual support. For me, Twitter has been good for this.

Also, think about what kind of gym that’s available to you and what kind of community there is. The communities in smaller, independent gyms are normally male-dominated, but they are often supportive and focused on teaching, learning, and mutual support. And, if you have the money and you know someone who is a good fit for you, hiring a knowledgeable trainer is my best advice. 

Additional video interview

Hear personal trainer Michael Collins describe more about his journey to bodybuilding, his vision of the inclusiveness of gym culture, and how gym communities are shifting to support all types of bodybuilding enthusiasts.

Interview with Michael Collins [19:04]
cycling · online exercise · Sat with Nat · strength training · stretching

Nat tries Peloton for 7 days and is surprised!

My partner is walking away from the camera in a toque, aviator style wool shearling jacket and boots. Our dog Lucy trails behind on her leash giving the camera her patent pending side eye. Her look of derision sums up how I’ve been feeling lately.

It’s February! I usually joke February is Latin for “shit” as I don’t usually love winter and, wowsers, is it ever winter now eh? This year though winter isn’t bumming me out. It’s everything else. I had a mild case of COVID 19 over Christmas but the symptoms lasted roughly 4 weeks. It really drained me at a time when the holidays super charge me.

I love food, friends and having a good time. This year though even my most modest plans were canceled. Nothing tasted good. I was tired. BORING. Totally thankful everyone in my household recovered and life is back to normal. But I’ve noticed lately my usual self care and mental health strategies were not enough.

I get to lead people in my paid work. One piece about leadership that has stayed with me since my military days is “don’t tell people what to do, show them”. So I talk about what I do to be well both for staying effective at work AND to enjoy all that other life stuff that work funds.

I do a lot of things to fill my emotional and creative tanks. But lately even my self-care decathlon isn’t enough. I decided I needed to kick things up a notch. A big notch.

So I’ve jumped on my partner’s Peloton. He was awarded it last November for his performance at work. He loves it. We have very different rhythms when it comes to working out but after seeing his joy for 3 months I was starting to think about joining him.

It wasn’t until our friends, who are our neighbours too, shared what they were enjoying about their Peloton that I moved from thinking about it to trying it. Thank you Nina & Al!

The first ride, Ouaf, so humbling. It’s been more than 2 years since I’ve done any cycling of note. I’ve been focusing on walking as the logistics of anything else was really doing my head in. So I picked a 20 minute beginner ride with Ally Love. It was a great class to understand the features of the bike and how the classes are structured.

I cried a lot though while spinning. I didn’t have the fit dialed in quite right and I was so uncomfortable. It was hard to truly be a beginner again. I did find Ally’s instruction helpful and distracting. The class flew by.

The next day I tried a warm up spin with Ben and a beginner whole body strength class with Chase. The whole body strength class reminded me of CXworks so felt familiar and accessible. Chase provided clear instructions and just the right amount of direction.

Day 3 I joined a 20 minute beginner spin class with Tunde. It was challenging without being overwhelming. I really enjoyed her instruction, which balanced technique and encouragement perfectly. I had the bike fit dialed in and I started to feel more at home in the saddle.

Day 4 was a Sunday so I took the time to stack 4 workouts. Stacking allows you to build a workout in advance combining different classes to get to the length you want.

I chose a beginner whole body strength training with Adrian. He has a 10 minute warm up, a 20 minute class, and a 10 minute stretching class. All were challenging and the moves were achieve-able for me. I ended with a 10 minute guided meditation with Aditi focusing on breath.

I was pleasantly surprised that planks were not only available to me but pretty easy. That’s a big change for me and I credit my daily dog walks for my newfound core strength.

Day 5 I stacked Christine’s 5 minute spinning warm up with a 20 minute beginner class followed by a 5 minute cool down. I really like her straightforward delivery.

Day 6 was a repeat of strength training with Adrian. Day 7 a revisit of Tunde’s beginner spin. I’m balancing trying different instructors with keeping some familiarity.

I was SO SKEPTICAL of the entertainment aspect of online classes. I tend to grim, grunt and bare it exercises. The music and the strengths based approach really works for me. No one is more surprised than me!

I’m so thankful my folks gifted us dumbbell sets for Christmas. That I had clipless shoes, cycling shorts, water bottles, yoga mats and belts. It really removed all the barriers for me to get over my embarrassment of not restarting my workouts sooner.

A Peloton bike is a very expensive bit of kit. It’s not something I would have sprung for of my own accord. I’m so surprised how much I enjoy it. I hope you are finding joy in your workouts too!

Nat and Michel are looking happy in snow covered grey toques. They are bundled up for the chilly weather and it’s snowing quite a bit. Behind them is a red brick 2 story house covered in snow.
fitness · health · strength training

YouTube Rabbitholes and Squatting Advice

Usually I set up a playlist of YouTube videos to watch while I zip back and forth on the rowing machine but one day last week I forgot and just clicked a single video.

The resulting rabbithole of videos brought me to this useful video about deep squats.

I haven’t given much thought to squats because I’m pretty good at them. I usually only overthink exercises that I struggle with (Ha!) and I wouldn’t have searched for a video on squatting.

So, except for YouTube’s algorithm I wouldn’t have seen this video and then I would have missed out on some intriguing advice.

Taro Iwamoto has solid incremental progressions for getting into a deep squat which are useful but the real gem for me here was his advice about when to use squats.

He says not to think about squats as an exercise but to think about how to make them part of your daily routine. In particular, he suggests reading or watching TV or eating a meal while squatting, starting with short periods and increasing when you’re ready.

I have often thought about my fitness in a functional sort of way, considering how my efforts could help make my daily activities easier. But I don’t think I have connected my exercises and my activities the way he is suggesting.

I’ve already started squatting for a few minutes while reading (and I’ve written part of this post while squatting on my yoga mat) and I am intrigued by the idea of incorporating more stretching/strength training type movements into other parts of my day.

I’m not thinking of this in a multitasking sort of fashion and I’m not trying to ‘sneak in’ some extra exercise.

It’s more like exploring what ELSE I could be doing instead of sitting or standing in one spot for routine tasks.

I think it will be interesting for both my body and for my busy brain.

Image description:  a GIF  from the animated series ‘Pinky and the Brain’ in which The Brain, a large-headed, white cartoon mouse with pink eyes and ears is asking Pinky, a skinny white mouse with blue eyes and pink ears, one of his regular questions “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”
Image description: a GIF from the animated series ‘Pinky and the Brain’ in which The Brain, a large-headed, white cartoon mouse with pink eyes and ears is asking Pinky, a skinny white mouse with blue eyes and pink ears, one of his trademark questions “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

So, if you drop by my place and I’m reading a novel while in downward dog or I am washing dishes while standing on one foot, you’ll know what’s up…or down, I guess. 😉

What aspects of your exercise routine could you incorporate into the rest of your daily life?

fitness · strength training

Christine and the Dead Bug Plan

One of my goals this summer is to increase my core strength.

I’m sure you already know the usual benefits of a strong core so I’m not going to drag you through that info.

As a martial artist, however, I have extra reasons to seek a stronger core. Strengthening those muscles will help me have balance for stronger kicks and they will help with the twisting motion that adds power to TKD movements.

I find a lot of core work to be really annoying and I struggle to keep good form. (There’s a whole host of reasons for that, too, but I am really trying to stick to my point!)

However, I have found one core exercise that actually enjoy. It’s detailed enough to hold my attention without being too intricate and it doesn’t cause me any strain in my upper back or neck.*

So, I’m making friends with dead bugs this summer.

(Not literally of course. That just seems counterproductive – the poor bugs wouldn’t even know you had befriended them. Ha ha!)

Two photos of person in exercise clothes lying on a mat and demonstrating different stages of the ‘dead bug’ exercise.
Image description: two photos of a person in exercise clothing lying on their back on a yoga mat and demonstrating different parts of the dead bug exercise. image source.

This exercise, which is demonstrated in the video below, involves raising and lowering your left arm and right leg and then your right arm and left leg. So, it’s got an extra element of brain-twistiness that helps me stay engaged with the process.

Plus, I always end up laughing when I mess up which limb to move when. Laughing during core work definitely has appeal, doesn’t it?

If you’re thinking ‘I’d like to try this but I’d have to work up to it.’ you can find progressive adaptations here.

What kind of core exercises do you do?

Do you include Dead Bugs?

Do you enjoy them?

*I know part of that strain in other exercises comes from poor form, it’s not the specific exercise itself. Still, it’s a deterrent and an extra bit of fussiness.