Posts filed under ‘stretching’

Booty Camp, Day 2, and a Lap Dance

So far this week, I’ve attended five hours of classes at the pole fitness studio, and I’ve loved every single class.  I plan to rack up a couple more hours before the week is out.

They offer “Booty Camp” several times a week, and I was a litle worried that it would be repetitive and quickly grow stale.  Nope!  The second class had most of the same moves as the first, but the instructor – AJ – changed things up nicely, and I once again used my muscles differently.  I was sweatin’ by the end, which is how I like it.

Lap Dance class was fascinating.  This was my first experience with learning to lap dance.  My instructor is an actual stripper, and man, is she amazing!  That girl knows how to move, and she’s an athlete.  When I complimented her, she said, “that’s probably why I get $100 tips.”  Nice!

Walking around the chair isn’t hard.  Your stripper walk is just centered on the chair, rather than being a straight line.  Turning from behind the chair was interesting, though.  Gotta remember to get my inside foot positioned correctly to lift my outside leg high enough when I pivot.  I found sitting on the chair and laying back – and later jumping on the edge of the chair, perching on my toes – a bit challenging, and I’m not sure how it’s going to fly with my BF actually sitting there!  My instructor assured me that it’ll work just fine, and I guess she’d know.  🙂

I also learned more pole tricks this week, including a backwards spin.  It was so pretty when my instructor did it!  I did okay, but it’s definitely going to take me a while to loosen up and make my moves beautiful… not mention get rid of the bruises!  Yup… bruising, especially at the beginning, is a common pitfall of early pole dance training. 

I’m so glad I’m taking the classes regularly.  I’ve tried doing it on my own, and it’s very hard to get it right.  Plus, the way my pole at home is positioned, I can’t see myself in the mirror to evaluate my form and presentation. 

We also did some terrific stretching.  I really need the stretching.  My stair workouts are excellent cardio and great for my bum, but they tighten up my muscles.

More later after I take the weekend classes!

December 5, 2008 at 2:49 pm 1 comment

Waiting to Exhale

We all know we should include different forms of exercise in our fitness plans. Did you also know that you should breathe differently depending on the activity you’re doing? I had no idea that breathing was so important… or that it was so specific to the kind of physical exertion I was undertaking.

In The Ins and Outs of Breathing During Exercise, author Jay Blahnik describes the benefits of proper breathing.

  • It makes cardiovascular training more efficient.
  • It helps with power and stability during strength and endurance training.
  • It fosters relaxation during mind/body and flexibility training.

Blahnik goes on to relate the appropriate breathing techniques for Cardio, Strength and Flexibility workouts.

Cardio Training — The most important thing is to avoid shallow breathing during cardio training whenever possible. Shallow breathing is an indicator that you are either working too hard or have not established a good breathing pattern for the activity you are doing. Try taking stronger, deeper breaths during cardio training (without any feeling of holding your breath), and establish an inhale/exhale pattern that feels comfortable for you.”

Strength/Endurance Training — When doing strength or resistance training, such as weight lifting, you should generally exhale on the exertion (or most difficult part of the exercise) and inhale on the recovery (easiest part of the exercise).  For example, when doing a crunch, you should exhale when you lift your shoulders off the ground, and inhale when you lower your shoulders to the ground.”

Relaxation — When doing mind/body, stress reduction or flexibility training, such as yoga, tai chi and qigong, you should generally focus on deeper, diaphragmatic breathing that will not only help you execute the moves more deliberately, but will also help you relax and focus on the exercises while reducing stress.”

Breathing… just one more way to get the most of your workout!

March 21, 2008 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

Quaking Quads and the Question of Stretching

Doing stairs every day means that I have very strong legs.  It also means that I have very tight muscles, particularly my quads.

The other night, while waiting for my BF to join me on the porch, I decided to pop my leg on top of the railing.  At waist height, it’s a bit of an effort for me to sweep my leg up there.  I did it and promptly felt my quad start spasming wildly.  It was painful, too.  I wobbled a bit before dropping my leg back to the ground.  Nonplussed, I tried the same maneuver with my other leg with the same result.

I told my BF what had happened, and he responded, “Of course.  You need to stretch first.  That’s how people get hurt.”  I initially scoffed at his remarks.  Then I thought about it more and realized he had a point.

The value of stretching has been debated for years: yes, do it before exercise as part of your warm-up; no, stretch after you work out; yes, it’s good for flexibility; no matter what, it can’t hurt; well, yes, actually it can hurt. 

The article To Stretch or Not to Stretch? The Answer is Elastic, while cleverly titled, does little to clear up the confusion.  Apparently, if you’re stretching to prevent injury, warming up is more effective than stretching, according to Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a Centers for Disease Control medical epidemiologist and one of the authors of the study that’s reviewed in the NY Times article. 

Because studies have always involved warming up as well, it’s been difficult to prove the benefits of stretching.  There have not been studies of stretching alone. 

One documented benefit of stretching is improved flexibility.  That’s certainly been demonstrated in my experience.  I periodically do an S Factor exercise DVD that includes stretching prior to the workout.  One of the stretches is done by splaying the legs out in a wide V and reaching the upper body between them as flat to the floor as possible.  The first time I do this stretch, I can’t reach very far down.  The second time, I can reach further, the third time even further.  Stretching definitely improves my flexbility.

I prefer to be elegantly bendable, not painfully wobbly, so, the next time I get the urge to turn my porch railing into a ballet bar, I’ll stretch a bit first. 

March 15, 2008 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment

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