Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Hour of Ouch



Ouch. My obliques.

It had been a long time since I had taken a class at my gym. Lately, I've just been feeling too lone-wolfish for the group class experience (and for some reason, though I'm unemployed, the times the classes I wanted were offered didn't seem to fit into my "busy" schedule). But yesterday, I finally made it back to the class that started me on this journey: Group Power.

Classes these days don't just come in plain vanilla "aerobics." There's a whole rainbow of options, from kickboxing to, yes, weightlifting--all done in unison to sound-alike versions of pop songs. I've tried a bunch, but found myself just a wee bit too uncoordinated to enjoy classes like "Group Kick" (I was always lunging right when everyone else was lunging left) and "Group Step" (I fell off my step).

Group Power was just right for me. The first time I went, I fell in love with it. I was using the lightest weights possible, about 10 total pounds. But starting a couple of hours after the class and continuing throughout the following day, I was basically incapacitated with pain. Every part of my body hurt--my legs, my butt, my chest, my upper arms. I had to go to a couple of street fairs, and walking up and down the boulevards was a major challenge.

But even back then, I welcomed the pain because I knew it was bringing change.

Gradually, I worked my weights up from that initial 10 pounds. Now I WARM UP with 30 pounds, use 60 for squats, 50 for chest and back, and 30 for triceps and biceps (although 30 is always a struggle on biceps; I'm fine for the first half of the song, then my muscles start to fail).

Besides teaching me the terminology and form for a lot of basic weightlifting moves (clean, press, squat, upright row, deadlift), Group Power has also taught me just how damn competitive I am. I am not really happy in class unless I have more weight on my bar than anyone else (including the few men who come to class). Usually I do, but when I don't, I try to console myself by remembering where I started from and thinking about how far I've come in a year and a half. This strategy usually doesn't work.

So anyway, I showed back up in class after a month, and it was like chewing up one of those little red tablets the dentist used to give you to show where the plaque was on your teeth: Going to class showed me the areas I was slacking off in my regular workout. The muscles that hurt today hurt because I haven't been working them enough. Apparently, I've been all about the upper body, because the hurting today includes all the muscle groups involved in lower-body stuff like squats and lunges, as well as core work.

I know why, too. I had been relying on my kettlebell to handle my lower body and core, but there's a fundamental difference between swinging a 26-pound piece of iron around and grunting out four minutes straight of squats and lunges with 60 pounds on your shoulders.

And neglecting my core, well that just won't do.

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