Fitness Updates

— 6 minute read

It's a Sunday afternoon and I have a couple of hours before dinner with family, and so I thought I'd write a little since it's been a long time since I've done a leisurely update. And this update is ever more leisurely because of the unplanned public holiday tomorrow that our new PM declared after a five-day hung parliament. The air is a little lighter as we can finally breathe in some political certainty - at least for the time being.

I'm looking back at the previous life update and it has been a year! Quite much has happened since then. Probably the biggest, the most unexpected, and the best change from November 2021 to now is a major shift towards getting and being fit. I always thought that "fitness is a lifestyle" is a horribly smug thing to say, but now I have to admit that it is true. When exercising 5-7 times a week becomes a priority, life moulds itself around it. Cutting down alcohol, going to bed at 10pm, cutting down some other hobbies for the lack of time and energy - all of the above happened.

New skills permalink

Let me recount the things that Nov 2021 Me could not do, and did not anticipate that she would do in a year's time:

  1. Being and staying vertical upside down on my hands (now trying to wean off the need for a wall)
  2. Crow pose (albeit wobbly)
  3. Chaturanga (with actual control all the way down, fancy that)
  4. Half a headstand (still need to extend my legs)
  5. I have become familiar with bar bells, dumb bells, kettle bells. Nov 2021 Me had never touched any of these bells before, truth be told.

Regretfully, I still can't do proper push-ups. But it's ok, I'll get there eventually.

How it started permalink

It started off innocently enough, in March this year, when my sister convinced me to join a free trial for Classpass. We'd try out various classes in gyms and yoga studios around to see what was up, but it was a one-off joyride for two weeks with the free credits. I didn't foresee much change to my exercise routine which I was quite happy with, consisting of a few beginner yoga sessions every week in the neighbourhood yoga studio. Nothing very strenuous.

But then my sister found a Crossfit gym that she liked, and one thing led to another, and suddenly I was lifting weights three times a week. I found the confidence to move to intermediate yoga classes, which I was surprised to learn were not as difficult as I imagined, and inversions like headstands and handstands were suddenly more accessible with my newfound strength. Through my physiotherapist, gym trainers, and yoga teachers, I learnt much more about muscles, biomechanics and movement than I ever thought I'd be interested in.

The months flowed along. Somewhere along the way I got Covid (which triggered a lengthy period of coughing that turned out to be asthma), and somewhere along the way I got hired. Routines changed as I adapted to a full time 8-5 schedule, and at times I was coughing so much that my neck hurt from the impact. But still, I kept moving, and I kept trying to move. At some point I realised that besides work, scheduling yoga and other exercise classes set the foundation of my week, as something that I actually wanted to do. I had become someone who enjoyed exercising instead of aiming for any outcome. This is conveniently, very sustainable.

How I feel about it permalink

I'm quite happy and thankful with how it has turned out. Most of the credit goes to my sister, whose contagious enthusiasm and willingness to come pick me up at 6am to go for 6:30am crossfit sessions made it much easier to drag my lazy ass to places to do things I otherwise wouldn't have started. The crossfit and strength training advanced my yoga skills remarkably, and kicked in a virtuous cycle of doing more and more.

My posture has improved, my body awareness is sharpened (bumping my shoulder into door frames used to be a regular occurrence, as if I forget that I have arms), my stamina has gone up as my waistline has gone down. My muscles are constantly aching from all the exercise - at this very moment my core is terribly sore and when I cough it feels like someone's punching me in the gut - yet I am happy and contented.

Besides the obvious physical and mental health benefits (and there are many of these), I think that one of the key things that I've gained from this experience is confidence. Inversions were, in my mind, impossible for me to achieve - and yet I am well on my way to proper handstands and headstands. What else can't I do? What else can't I try to do?

Note to Future Me permalink

Hopefully by November 2023 I will still be having some sort of exercise regime, and still be enjoying a high level of activity. Something I don't take for granted because I know that my interest in things waxes and wanes, sometimes drastically. But so far, it has worked out really well and I find myself looking for ways to keep moving, even when conditions are unfavourable.

A few weeks ago I fell and hurt my back, and for a week couldn't do any side bending without a lot of pain (try to lie down without doing a side bend - it's impossible). Recovery was expedited with some physio-prescribed exercises and a lot of hobbling around, since my physiotherapist had warned that not moving would just make things worse. This week I'm back doing yoga and am pleased to report that my handstand journey continues without much setback.

So, Nov 2023 Me, if for some reason you stopped moving, get your ass up. Get some morning sunlight in your eyes too while you're at it. You like this stuff. Just get going.