I’ve always been a heavier, more muscular person. Until I picked up my first barbell a decade ago, I definitely didn’t appreciate that aspect of my body. Heavy lifting quickly captured my heart - it was fun to find something I was relatively good at, I loved the logic of progressively loading more weight on my bar as a measure of improvement, and it made me feel like an effing badass.
What I’ve NEVER naturally been good at? All of the bodyweight/gymnastics movements at the opposite end of the athletic spectrum. My heavier build meant that progress in things like pull-ups, push-ups, and dips seemed to CRAWL compared to squats, deadlifts, and presses. That combined with some on again off again shoulder pain meant that it was all too easy to neglect improvement in gymnastics because frankly, I didn’t wanna.
After a year of feeling off my game mentally and physically EVEN in the barbell arena I decided that it was time to do a little balancing both literally and figuratively. I’ve committed to seeing @kineticsportsrehab twice weekly through the end of January to focus on correcting some weskness in my movement patterns that is contributing to my nagging pains. We’re prioritizing core strength and glute activation to hopefully eliminate some instability so I can return to slinging barbells and kettlebells safely with more weight.
I also signed up for an intro class at @versatilearts because who is better at gymnastics, body awareness, and unconventional movement than freaking circus performers, right? Anytime I watch gymnastics or cirque du soleil I’m in awe of the beauty that comes with a perfectly executed movement and the ability of the athletes to combine insane strength and agility into routines that appear effortless. I’ve been to a circus/aerial basics class before so I knew to expect to be totally humbled in an hour. AND I WAS. From the hip flexor activation movements IN THE WARMUP that made me sweat awkwardly to discomfort of a vertical grip on a rope to being apparently entirely unaware of what my body was doing in space? I was 150% outside my comfort zone...
...and I can’t wait to go back. Here’s why:
- I’m more than comfortable and confident in a traditional gym setting. When I coach new lifters I try as much as possible to teach everything I take for granted: how heavy are the barbells? Why are the plates rubber? How do clips work? How do you adjust the height of the rack? But even I have forgotten how it FEELS to be brand new, watching everyone around you seem to perform effortlessly, feeling like you’ll never be able to make it look as good as them and being unable to visualize success. It’s uncomfortable and intimidating and honestly, probably a reason why many people get discouraged when they try to start a new routine.
- I need this. My body needs this. I don’t need to be a cirque du soleil performer, but I can tell that I’ve got some imbalances in my abilities. Don’t get me wrong - deadlifting is still my favorite. But I don’t want to deadlift heavy at the expense of the rest of my body. And I can see that spending some time focusing on bodyweight strength, mobility, and balance will only help my deadlift over time (and my squat, and my bench).
- PEOPLE DOING TRICKS ON THE SILKS LOOK AMAZING. When I attempted even a basic footlock I felt like one of those cartoons where the character steps into a rope circle on the ground, sets off the trap, and is strung up by their ankles hanging from a tree. I want to improve this skill. And it’s nice to be motivated by simply wanting to get *better*.
I will never be built like a ballerina or a marathon runner and that’s fine! Strength training is and will always be my first love. But my goal in 2018 is to get a bit better at all the areas outside of heavy lifting to see what else I’m capable of. It’s a nice feeling to explore with no pressure. I’m excited to see what comes of it.