core strength

All posts tagged core strength

She Flies Through the Air With the Greatest of….Plop

Published March 5, 2013 by Susan Woodward

HangTonight’s first assignment was to hang from an aerial hoop and do an “L” sit.  We have been doing that all along hanging from a trapeze, but this hit a whole different muscle group!  As you will see, I am straining to get my legs up!  But they are off the ground, which is a lot better than I did when I first started with the trapeze!  Yup that’s the face of one who is saying, “I am not going to let this get the best of me!”  Problem was, and you can probably tell…I was holding my breath.

One note…breathing is good.

Because I’d held my breath while trying to hang on, I got light-headed when I finally let go.  Ooops.

I think I managed it three times and then tried to go back on the trapeze.  Well, the arms weren’t having it.

And then it was time to get on the silks!  And not just climbing and hanging…it was time to LEAP on them a la Tarzan!!

Yeah…the idea was to take a running leap and fly onto the fabric, trusting that your hands would catch it like a rope and then hang on to swing back and forth.  Looks great when Will does it!  Or Katie or Annmarie or Michelle… ummmm…not so for me.  The first time I didn’t even get a grip on the silk.  It was like I took a running leap to see how hard I could land on the mat.  It took till the third or fourth attempt to grab it and hang on long enough to swing three feet before flying off.

No relation to Johnny Weissmuller here!  And for those of you not old enough to know who the heck that is, let me share this with you:

the-best-tarzan-johnny-weissmuller-pic2-c1942

Yeah…not seeing any resemblance.  Well, maybe the one on the end… on the right.  (Look again at my face above and you’ll see what I mean)  However, when I look at Jane on the left, I have a question for her: Where are your guns, Jane?    It doesn’t look like she could hang on for too long.  I mean, she’s got nothing on some of the ladies at silks!  Sorry, Jane, but just sayin’…

As for me, ok, so I’m not much of a swinger.  Yet.  Give me time!  I am at least off the ground in some fashion, and I do love going to class and working out!

This is really a great experience for me!!!

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On the Other Side of That Half-Century Mark…

Published February 18, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Today I enter the realm of the “other side” of the half-century mark… I am 51.  While I did have my six months of “dark time” this past year, there were also some great things to celebrate:

– I went to California for the first time ever (and I even went TWICE!)

– I spent my 50th birthday on the beach of the Pacific Ocean in San Diego;

– I attended and presented at an international Symposium on Mythology in Santa Barbara;

– I helped to coordinate the Celebrating the Mythic Life Conference in memory of Joseph Campbell and his work;

– I survived the sinking of the Titanic as Charlotte Drake Cardoza;

– I took on the Cirque du Rochester 12 Week Challenge and am doing things I NEVER thought I would be able to do (even if they aren’t perfect);

– I QUIT SMOKING!!!

– I actually lived up to my Mayan Sized promises that I made to myself in an earlier post last year… maybe I didn’t have them completed by December 31, but I have done them before hitting 51!

And so I continue with the work I am doing to make a healthier, stronger me!

Even though the workouts are grueling, I do notice that I don’t take as long sit-out breaks that I had been.  I guess I am building some stamina!

stretch

Here I am getting a bit more flexible… I am able to grab and hold my feet during this exercise!  I couldn’t do that at the beginning, so I am feeling happier about that!

swimming

Also something I could not do earlier… get those feet and arms in the air!  It may look like my hands are on the ground, I am in the middle of a “swimming” stroke, kind of like the breast-stroke.  My intention after the Challenge is to join the YMCA around the corner from my house because they have two pools.  I like swimming because it’s easier on the joints.

pulling

Poor Jenn!  I was dragging her across the room, but even worse for her, SHE had to drag ME back!  One thing to point out, though… I could NOT put my arms behind me at the angle when I first started.  I have greater range of motion in my shoulders now, and the pain has gone away.  In December, I could not write on the chalkboard at school because it hurt too much to raise my arms long enough to write anything.  Thank God for LCD projectors and computers!  But if I was to go back to using the chalkboard, I could do it now!

L sit
The face says it all.  It’s really hard to hold that weight off the floor, let alone with legs extended.  This is my first truly successful L-sit… more than just millimeters off the floor this time!  I am able to now hold them up about 10 seconds.  When I first started, I could barely hang on let alone raise my feet at all.

Tonight I tackle Cirque Fit from the other side of 50!  I am determined to keep making changes in my life to make the second half full of health, stamina, and strength!!

Wait…What? Weights?? WHAT??

Published February 10, 2013 by Susan Woodward

My arms currently do not wish to go above my head.   Can I MAKE them?  With an incredible amount of effort, yes…depending on the motivation.  Washing my hair after that arm-killer Cirque Fit is motivation enough.  How many pounds, say you?  Hey, it’s not the poundage, but the repetition and the continued movement that led to the fatigue!  But how many pounds, you ask again!  Ok, ok…. THREE!!!  EACH!!

Oooohhhh…. I had an hour and a half drive to Buffalo not long after class, and my arms were fighting with the steering wheel.  So we won’t mention the difficulties I had trying to pull myself up onto the silks IMMEDIATELY following Cirque Fit!

In spite of the tiredness in my arms, I DID manage to complete a sailfish all by myself (on the slippy-silver silks, no less!) AND I think I managed to do one roll-up with just a little aid from Will.  I know I was already in the foot-lock when I decided to do the two moves back to back (look at me, I’m creating a “routine”… ha!).  I DO remember rolling out of it pretty much on my own, though!  I’m getting better at keeping my hands higher up on the silks so that I don’t get too much slack in the fabric.

Also, I held my feet off the ground for a count of ten on the trapeze!!!  Not quite an “L” sit yet, but off the ground for more than a couple seconds?  Holding the position??  That’s a victory in my book!  And I did that after the Killer Cirque Session!  🙂

One of the things we are doing to chart our progress is to share three surprise successes each week, so here are mine:

1- I got up into a new foot lock position this week the first time I tried (now I have to ask Will how to do that again… I have forgotten how the wrap goes before leaning back into it…)…oops.  And I did do the double rond-de-jambe to get the silk wrapped around my foot for the first time without hands!  Ok, so I had to use hands to get the fabric UNDER the foot, but the wrap I did with foot power alone!  🙂

2- I did a Sailfish the first time I tried it… and have done it successfully every time I have tried since!  So far, five Sailfish…BAM!   🙂

3- This one is not a success in the aerial arts, but in my personal life transformation.  After having pretty much locked myself away from the world for over six months, this Challenge was also to help me ease myself back into the world of the living.   My social life was pretty much non-existent during that time, but I am now doing something about it… and this was a HUGE step for me.   I went on a date.  It was nothing more than coffee, and since there didn’t seem to be “anything there,” a second date isn’t in the cards… BUT I went.  And if I can go on one date, I can go on others!  Successfully beginning to transition into the world of the living once more!    🙂

The ladies on this journey with me are incredible…and I hope to count them as friends long after the Challenge ends.  We are actually planning on entering a 5K together!  Michelle, Jennyfer, Katie, Annemarie, and Anita… let’s keep this up!  And Patty, you are definitely included in this!!

I have also met great people at Aerial Arts of Rochester!  Since I plan on staying after the Challenge, I am hoping to create more friendships through the classes!   I never would have thought that there would be so many people close to my age at a place like this…and it makes me happy!

Doing this Challenge is giving me more confidence overall, not just in the studio.  I feel ALIVE again… I may be sore and my arms don’t want to go over my head, BUT I CAN FEEL THAT!!  Much better than the desensitized numbness I was experiencing… and for that, I am extremely grateful to Will and everyone at AAofR for making this happen!!

What Goes Up Does Come Down, and Not Always Gracefully…

Published February 2, 2013 by Susan Woodward

What goes up?  Me!  With only some help from Michelle, I managed to get up into the aerial roll-up!  I was so happy to actually get into the position, but what goes up must come down.

And that’s where I had my problem.  While twisting out of the roll-up, the idea is to let your body’s momentum and gravity un-roll you.  Yup… I had the momentum and I certainly had gravity pulling on this plus-sized body, so much so that my hands lost their grip on the silks, and I came crashing down.  While falling, the momentum kept my body twisting and the knee of the leg that was my pivot point kept in the twist.

Fortunately, there was a doctor in the house…several!  I checked out fine, and it was just the fall and sense of the knee twisting that scared me more than actually hurt me.  After she looked me over, I was able to stand up and walk…hooray!

BUT I DID GET UP INTO THE MOVE!!!

I think it’s probably a good thing that I was pretty loosened up by Cirque Fit before getting on the apparatus.  I’m still waiting for the aerobics to get easier on my body… it has to get easier with time, right?  That is absolutely a killer workout!  However, I do feel myself getting stronger little by little.  I am so looking forward to when I lose the wobbling warble in my upper arms… that is one of my biggest goals for this whole Challenge.  I want to be able to wear sleeveless shirts in the summer without being self conscious about my arms.

Another thing that will be helping with getting to that point of being less self-conscious will be the work of our nutritionist, Patty.  Today she brought us protein smoothies as a treat after our Cirque Fit workout.  I’ve never been one to make smoothies or protein drinks, so maybe I’ll look more into some recipes.  I do have a juicer, so maybe I’ll get that back out and actually use it again.   I’m starting to be more conscious of everything I eat, and at this point I think I have hit a plateau in my enthusiasm.  I’m sure that it happens whenever anyone starts a new program.  All gung ho right at first, throwing oneself into it… but then waning a bit as time passes and I begin to feel a bit more tired.  I am sure that this is temporary, and I am sincerely going to work hard to get through this phase.

And even though I took a fall, I am not in as much pain as I was that first week when I did NOT do any falling (if that makes any sense).    That’s a positive that I am planning on looking at as I get ready to make that climb again on Tuesday!

I may have fallen down, but I am NOT out!

All in the Family at Aerial Arts of Rochester!!!

Published January 28, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Today’s Cirque Fit class was a KILLER!!!  I am wondering if Will was tougher on us because he just liked kicking our asses, or if because a U.S. Marine took class with us…hmmm.  I think it’s because he’s kicking our asses, but Sarah DID go to class with me tonight!!  And so did another daughter, Robin!  Woot!

That was even more of a challenge to me to have two of my daughters in the class… and me trying my best to keep up, not only with our energetic instructor, but with a Marine and a Physical Therapist who is also a yoga instructor.  Mommy really pushed herself to try to do what the fit young girls could do… and I will pay for it tomorrow!  However, pushing me out of my comfort zone is a good thing, and having the girls with me as motivation kept me moving even more.  While I  may be sore, I really am beginning to feel stronger, and my posture has improved.

And I did a plank!!!!  And even walked across the room in plank position back and forth!  I was the last one to make it back, but everyone kept cheering me on and clapping for me that I just had to keep going.  In spite of finishing dead last, I DID finish!

It was a good class tonight, and I wish my girls could be there every time… but I am thankful that I did get to have an evening with them!  It’s not often that we are all together at the same time, so I am especially thankful.

Also, Aerial Arts is great for kids, too!  My granddaughter, Jordan, had her 5th birthday party there yesterday… a superhero themed party, complete with flying and hanging upside down.  Will, the video is fantastic…thank you!

Superhero Themed Party at Aerial Arts of Rochester!

I am so glad that I am part of the Cirque “family.”

A First Real Triumph and a Lesson Learned

Published January 14, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Ok… which first?  Good news, or the lesson learned the hard way?  Good news, or… oh, good news, you say?  OK!

I got my feet off the floor!!!  One small step for me; one giant leap for…. ME!!!!!  🙂

Ok, so I was only able to lift them a couple of inches, but after nothing but dead weight the last week, this is a major triumph!  You can tell by the expression on my face that this was not at all easy for me to do… BUT I DID IT!!!

feet off the floor

lifted legs

And here’s a side view that I took AFTER the Cirque Fit class and after the Epsom Salt soak… and I was still able to to it!

Progress, progress, progress!!!

By the way, William, class was awesome… what I was able to do of it!  I hope that in a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to jump up and down, too!

Push ups are improving…slightly.  But I haven’t had a face plant in a few days!

One thing, though, REALLY put a cramp in my workout tonight, and boy, is this a lesson learned… do NOT eat within an hour before classes!!!  Maybe even within several hours!!!  I had a very hard time keeping up because I was working to keep my stomach down.   I’m not sure the phrase “push it till you puke” exactly applies here, but I got a sense of what that means.  I have to talk to our Nutritionist, Patti, for advice on the whole, “Do not eat after 7 PM” rule when our classes run till AFTER 7 PM three nights a week, and I can’t eat before class.  We also aren’t allowed to skip meals, so this is a bit of a conundrum.

Patti… advice?

Here’s a pic taken during our Cirque Fit Class!  (Can’t miss the neon yellow!  I’m wearing my TANYS – Theatre Association of New York State- festival committee shirt that says, “We take our Festival SERIOUSLY!”… and I am taking this Challenge SERIOUSLY!)

Cirque Fit

One last thing before heading off to bed:  still not smoking!!  HOORAY!

Off the “Sick” Couch and Back Into Cirque Fit

Published January 12, 2013 by Susan Woodward

After having laid on the couch since I got home on Wednesday (with the exception of visiting the doctor on Thursday),  it actually felt good to get outdoors.  Now let me mention something really weird here… on Wednesday, it was freezing and there was a foot plus of snow on the ground.  It’s now Saturday, but it’s 60 degrees and nearly all the snow has melted away… how the hell long have I been locked up?  It’s as if I hibernated through winter and spring has arrived!  I thought I felt a little stiff from sleeping so much.   Then my senses returned; it’s just Rochester weather.  I am not kidding, but I actually remember a Halloween where we went water skiing in the morning, but by night it was snowing so hard we could have gone downhill skiing!

In any event, the big news is that I got out of the house.  Step one.

The first part of our Saturday program is to meet with our Health Counselor.  I just have to say, Patti is great!  She’s understanding and empathetic, while at the same time encouraging and challenging us.  We all shared about our intentions and our successes for the week… little changes that made a difference.  My “little changes” this week are as follows:

1- no cigarettes since Wednesday (and I pray for none hereafter!)

2- cinnamon and honey regimen morning and evening (since Monday… when I went to the doctor on Thursday for my URI, my blood pressure– which is typically high– was actually in the normal range, and my resting pulse rate was 84.  It is typically over 100.  I will attribute this to the lack of nicotine and the increase of the tea mixture.)

3- lemon water (and more water in general)

4- more fiber (since I have been sick, I have been eating soup for the past few days.  For added fiber, I added legumes to the soups.  More filling, lower in fat, and the toxin-cleansing bonus)

So far, so good… even with the flu.  I am sure that once I am permanently off this sick couch, I will better feel the effects of the changes.

Patti also gave us some homework:  Cultivating Awareness about our present eating habits so that we can remove those blocks to change.   Write down three things that you have become aware of that you do that block your progress.

1- I have a tendency to eat on the run.  Whether it is from driving through Tim Horton’s for coffee and a breakfast sandwich, or hitting the dollar menu when I am in between places that I have to be, my car floor is littered with wrappers.  I need to make time to sit down and eat… but when I am not at my home in between school and the Challenge classes (drive time and gas), I will have to figure something out.

2- When I am home, I eat in front of the television or the computer screen.  Since my son works nights, we don’t eat together.   Being home alone, I don’t fix a nice plate and sit down at the table… but maybe I can start doing that once in a while.  I cannot commit to doing it every meal (at least at this point) because I’ll feel like a failure the first time I take my plate in front of Judge Judy.

3- I have a hand-to-mouth problem now that I am not smoking.  I need to get some carrots and celery.

Ok, Patti… there’s my homework!!  Of course, blogging during the week counts, too!

After meeting with Patti, it was time for Cirque Fit.  At kicked my ass on Monday, and it kicked my ass today!  I took a few water breaks and pulled back a bit with the running in place because of my URI and because of my knee.  Other than that, I did my darnedest to try to keep up.   I know that one of the greatest benefits that I will gain from Cirque Fit is strength and endurance… and the operative words in this sentence are “WILL GAIN.”  I don’t have them yet, especially the strength part.  Chris gave me some tips on how to strengthen my core so that I will eventually be able to lift my legs off the ground… after seven pregnancies, five babies, and six abdominal surgeries over the past thirty years, I have to actually FIND my core so that I can begin to strengthen it!  I think the pain in my abdomen after today’s workout is a good indicator that I am looking in the right area… but any sense of core strength will probably attempt to allude me for a while.  And now that I know HOW to strengthen those muscles, I am praying that my feet will finally lift off the floor when I do a V-sit!

The GOOD news is that I did not face plant during push ups! While I still cannot do a full push-up, my modified ones are much better than they were on Monday.  I am taking it from the knees, but keeping my back straight.  I am also keeping the elbows close to the body and not allowing them to bend outward while pressing down.  I can’t go down all the way yet, but I am going halfway so that I am able to push myself back up.  Anything past half, and I would not be able to push upward.  I’ll keep working on my push-ups and one day I will finally get to where I can do a “real” one without modification!

I do know that I was getting a good workout in though, in spite of having to stop to catch a breath.   I looked down to check my knee brace position, and my pants were sweaty all around the knee brace… even my knees were sweating!  So, for me, that was a strong indicator that I was getting a good workout!

After Cirque Fit, it was time for open aerial practice.  Because I missed class on Thursday due to illness, I had to catch up on the new routines for practice.   They involved several types of apparatus:  the trapeze, parallel bars (only about 6 inches off the floor, though), silks hammocks, and the wall.

Trapeze:  grasp the bar and hang with feet in pike position for ten seconds…repeat three times.   That is the INTENDED exercise.  For me, it was grasp the trapeze bar, hang (without letting the shoulders go up to my ears), and attempt to lift the feet of the floor.  They were dead weight (as was the rest of me hanging by my arms… all 215 pounds of me.   As long as I already posted the “before” pics, I might as well go all the way and admit my weight).   Ok, so more core exercises needed.   But I did hang in there for the required amount of time.

Parallel Bars:  I think there was another name for this apparatus because, although they were parallel, these bars were only about 6 inches high.  The idea was to hold the body up with the arms and lift legs into pike position.  Well, I held my butt off the floor.  Again, the legs refused to lift off the ground, so ok… more core exercises needed.

Silks Hammocks:  The intended exercise was to wrap the silks around the wrists and lift the legs into pike position.  Well, I managed to hang by my shoulder blades, but those legs weren’t going anywhere.  More core exercises needed.  But I did get my very first Warrior Wound!!!  I got a bruise from wrapping the silks around my wrists and hanging my dead weight from them!  Now I’m not going to go whole hog and post a pic on the Warrior Wound FaceBook Page just yet.  Let’s face it; not enough purple to warrant a good pic.  But just you wait… I will get boo-boos worth posting in no time!

The Wall:  Walking down the wall with our hands… the real trick is to keep the feet from slipping on the carpet.  I think I need some kind of rubber soul or something because my bare feet do keep slipping on me.   A good reminder that we were given about walking down the wall… relax your jaw and keep your tongue inside the mouth.  Falling on the face could lead to a severed tongue otherwise.  Words to the wise, ok?

As soon as I got home, it was right to the tub with the Epsom Salts.  I feel a bit sore, but quite frankly, I am very surprised that I am not in as much pain as I thought I would be.   It’s not because I’m not putting my all into my workouts… I am really, really trying my hardest.   But it is something I am thankful for at this point as I recover from the flu.  And if I HAD to get sick, I am very thankful that it came at the very beginning of this program and not in the middle.  How much would it have really sucked if I was getting stronger and really making progress only to be forced into regression by having to hit the sick couch?  So while being sick is a pain, at least the germs picked a good time to act up!

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