Push Yourself, You’re Stronger Than You Think

Yesterday I wrote about ditching the gym in favour of a home workout. I do a bit at home, but my main exercise focus is at the club. Why? Yoga is an exercise program in which you bend your body into odd shapes, and hold them for a prescribed time. Going back to my final caution, doing this under the watchful eye of an experienced coach/instructor gives the benefit of real time, dynamic feedback. I’ve been in classes where I was:

  • boning the posture, and got corrections so I didn’t hurt myself
  • unsure of the exact form, and got instruction so I got max benefit, while not hurting myself
  • slacking, and got…encouraged…to put a little more in
  • overdoing it, and got encouraged to ease off so I didn’t do myself an injury

So, using the examples of yoga, Pilates and boxing, I cautioned you that before taking up anything technical (requiring instruction) as a home practice, to make sure you learn from an experienced coach/instructor. This is to ensure you’re using correct form; not developing bad habits that at best reduce the efficacy of your workout and at worst will hurt you.

Beyond that, before giving up the gym, ask yourself if you’re going to be able to get the most from your workout. In the Livstrong.com article that I used for my launching point, the first point the author makes is, “You’ll still get a challenging workout.” You may, but will it be the most challenging workout? Will you receive the max possible benefits?

Perhaps. Once upon a time I was a runner. I liked to do five miles steady, and finish with a mile or two where every quarter I’d do a 100m sprint. I had my stopwatch to ensure both my 5 mile pace, and to time my sprints. In short, I got pretty much the max I could from my runs.

Last year I took the summer off yoga. I’d suffered burnout and wanted to do something different, so I bought a kayak and got out on the river three times a week. I treated it like I previously had running; steady pace for a given time, followed by alternating in sprints to really get the heart pumping. I returned to fall hockey, and winter yoga without missing a beat, so I’m pretty sure I was maxing out my kayaking.

So, I do agree with Ms. Lindberg, you can get a challenging workout, but that’s not always the case. Let me drop back to my favourites, yoga and Pilates. I tried to get a full home practice going during the summer off, but I…couldn’t. I know the moves, the postures. I know my abilities and limits. I just couldn’t, even doing the stuff I love, push myself to those limits.

Last night I did the double; a one hour hot Pilates class, followed by a 90 minute hot yoga class. For the Pilates class, the room was full, the teacher was up, the atmosphere was great, but I was still sore from the last class I’d done and weekend hockey. Didn’t matter, I think I did more in last night’s class than the one that had left me stiff. Being at the gym got me more.

Sometimes, being in a group setting matters.

Then, the second class, the dreaded 90 minute Bikram. I was already whipped from; Pilates, weekend with kids, hockey, Pilates. But, in the break between classes I felt good, so I determined that I would go for it. It started okay, feeling strong, getting a good sweat going. Then, about 10 minutes in, I began to flag. I’d done a lot over the past few days, and I ain’t no spring chicken no more. What to do?

Well, it has been noted down the years that I’m a bit stubborn. There were two others in class who were also doing the double, one of whom was in the previous Pilates class with me. Dammit. I’m 15 – 20 years older than they are, but my stubborn streak doesn’t care.

Then there was the presence of a couple of girls behind me, new to the class, who were following along to my example. They looked young enough that they could be my children, and there were other people for them to model their postures on, but…my stubborn streak doesn’t care.

The social pressures of having others around doing the same thing, and still others needing an example to follow, pushed me. Led me to tap into reserves of focus and discipline that I know are there, but that I wasn’t going for on my own.

Working out out at home can be great, but there’s something to be said for putting yourself out in public. For making yourself, even a little bit, accountable outside your own self. The Pilates teachers like to say, “You’re stronger than you think,” and in these public classes you find out that it’s true.