Back on the Mats

GETTING AROUND ON FRIDAY IS GOING TO BE INTERESTING. Today I resumed two of my regular fitness activities – Body Conditioning class and Aikido – and my body is feeling the effects of the hiatus.

Heidi (center) and the giant balls of ab-crunching death.

The conditioning class meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings, but for various reasons I hadn’t been able to slip out of work and down the street to the Rec Center until today. My fellow victims dedicated exercisers were mostly familiar faces; perhaps the New Year temporaries caught sight of Heidi’s whips and chains (*) and decided the treadmills were safer. Heidi welcomed me back with a series of raises, curls, squats, and crunches done at super-slow speed. (As an example you can try at home, do some bicep curls on a two-count, then try the same set on an eight-count. You’ll find out fast which one is harder.)

Anyone up for a game of Twister?

She told me after class that  it’s up to five times more effective than a higher-speed workout. My knees, still recovering from a fast run Wednesday night, let me know in no uncertain terms what they thought of slow sustained squats and dips.

My other “mat activity,” evening Rec & Ed Aikido, had its first class of 2012 tonight. I added to the challenge by arriving late, which meant 30 pushups before I could join the class. But I knocked them off quickly in one set, whereas at home I’ve only been able to do 25 before needing a break. For some reason I do better with these in public; last month I did 30 consecutive pushups in a suit and tie with many of my friends watching. (Don’t ask me where I was, because it was totally inappropriate to the occasion.) Since I needed 50 pushups today anyway, it was fine. I’d have only 20 left to do after class.

Nothing like a few forward rolls to get the blood flowing. (Don't worry, it stayed in the body.)

The class wasn’t too advanced, as it was our first one after a layoff of several weeks, but it was energetic, so I was grateful when our instructor called for a set of 10 breakfalls to end the class. Except it didn’t. “Pushup position!” he called, and we did 10 pushups on a fast count. Then 10 more breakfalls. Then back to pushup position – for 5 slow count pushups! Then 10 more breakfalls, and 5 more slow count pushups. Finally, class was over, and I’d gotten in exactly 50 pushups. Not a coincidence, as it turned out. He was aware of my January fitness goal and decided to help me get to my daily 50. That’s what I get for blogging about it! Maybe I should retract my crack about Heidi’s instruction style, too. She’s great. Honest!

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(*) Heidi really is a nice person and a great conditioning coach. Yes, I often leave her classes feeling like the proverbial wet noodle, but that’s the point – my whole body gets a workout, so there’s less chance of over-stressing an underused muscle while running or throwing someone.

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