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Photos by Blair Speed
(Special thanks to The Mountain Project in Bozeman for letting us use their space for the pictures.)
As a young child, fitness wasn't a word in my daily vocabulary. Creating dance routines to Ace of Base on the monkey bars, running across fields, chasing my sibling for the remote control: I moved for the joy of it. Most of us did before cultural narratives had a chance to alter our innate love to move for the sake of moving.
Now, fitness is not only a word I encounter weekly, but a thriving industry. It's a celebration of healthy, strong bodies--maybe, in some cases, celebration on the brink of worship.
Most of my working out, as many of the women interviewed in the Work Behind the Body series would agree, doesn't feel like working out. Climbing, mountain biking, hiking--these sports strengthen the body while providing fun. Raw, simple fun.
That being said, I still workout at least once a week. These workouts aim to increase my capacity for outdoor play. Thus, fitness, to me, is both an end and a means.
It's an end in itself: I feel energized after a quick, 45-minute fitness routine like the one I offer below. Mostly, though, building fitness is a means for me to better enjoy the activities that take me outside, into the beauty of our wild world. A beauty, in my opinion, no six-pack abs or butt-shelf could ever compete with.
While I'm throwing my 10 cents into the 84 billion fitness industry here, I do so with more salt than coin. I just remember that young woman I was ten years ago, looking for a healthy relationship to my body, and all I seemed to encounter was media about working harder to achieve an ideal physique.
This was subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) body-shaming thinly disguised in the form of "motivation." Work harder. Be better. Do more. If I wasn't running myself ragged with school or work, I was punishing myself on the treadmill.
So I'm offering this 45-minute exercise routine I do once a week in hopes that we can all remember that our bodies deserve joyful movement. They crave joyful movement. Sure, sometimes there's that "good pain" we get from leaning into our physical limits. But if I get to the gym and I'm not feeling it, I go to a yoga class or the hot springs.
More often than not, though, my body's excited to work out because I spend a lot of time sitting down. But it wasn't always this way. When I was coming it at from a place of "you're not good enough," I would arrive to the gym feeling tired before I even began. It comes back to those Four Foundations and how I think the goal, for holistic health and fitness, is to be on the same team as our body.
To me, this means honoring my body's innate strength while gently exploring its potential.
(SIDE NOTE: The workout below strives for an overall fitness base. I think sport-specific strength building is best pursued through a program curated by professionals. For climbing-specific workouts, I've tried a handful of programs and had the best results with Power Company Climbing. Skiers and runners in Bozeman have had great success with the Mountain Project's training plans.)
5 Minute Cardio Warm-Up
Max repetition pull-ups (assisted if needed); 10 reps of leg lifts and lowers; 10 reps of push-ups
Three minute stretching break, then repeat
Three minute stretching break, then ONE max weight pull-up, (or another round of max repetition, assisted pull-ups if still building pull-up strength); 10 reps of leg lifts and lowers; 10 reps of push-ups
Leg Lift Modifications
When I was doing a program with Power Company Climbing, my trainer, Kris, had me watch a video on the best way to do push-ups.
This. Changed. Everything. Here's the video on how to maximize benefits from your push-ups:
5 Minute Stretch Break
Bridge with leg lifted, 15 seconds each side; 20 donkey kicks, each side; side plank and center plank, 20 seconds each way
3 reps, with 3 minute stretching breaks between each rep
(AT LEAST) 10 MINUTES OF STRETCHING
I love this stretch pictured below. As a yoga instructor and athlete, sometimes I've seen stretching become a competition. Who's the most bendy? In fear of revealing my naturally tight hamstrings, I would round my back to touch my toes. There! I proved it! I touched them! Take that, fitness test in middle school!
Well, I wasn't doing my body any favors by satisfying my ego. I was actually causing an imbalance that was part of the reason a hip injury took three years to heal. I was over-stretching my lower back and tightening my hip flexors. Now, when I want to stretch the inner-belly of my hamstrings, I try to focus on a straight back, bringing bellybutton to the spine, and hinging at the hips, rather than the thoracic section of my spine.
In addition to this basic hamstring stretch, I make sure to open my hips with some other yoga poses. I'll offer a full-body stretch routine in the next part of this series, so stay tuned!
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