Thursday, February 5, 2015

Back to basics

In physical therapy, I did a lot of very basic, fairly boring exercises. I’m sure my PT (Diana) started me on the same set that everyone gets when they’re being seen for the issues I had:

  • Standing bent arm rows with a resistance band
  • Standing straight arm rows with a resistance band
  • Toe dips
  • Bridge

And so on. Even though my level of fitness had slipped by the time I started PT, those exercises were ridiculously easy. So she changed some and took away or added others:

  • Still did the rows but got a resistance band at the top of the resistance chart (so now I use the stretchy one for doing hamstring stretches)
  • An 8-count toe dip For this one, you bring your left leg to table top (1), then the right leg to meet the left leg (2); keep the right leg up and dip the left toe to the ground and bring it up to table top again (3 and 4)—repeat on the right side (5, 6) and then place each leg back on the ground in the starting position (7, 8). That’s one rep. Do that 20 times. 
  • Bridge variation: while in bridge and with your knees together, straighten the right leg and then place back on the ground. Repeat on the left side. That’s one rep—do 20 reps. 

And then I got a lot of upper body exercises to do on my half noodle—again, none of these were new or exciting but they were quite effective. That got me thinking about how often we gussy up workouts or think we need some special equipment or supervisor when really, no we don’t.

I remember going through a fitness assessment about 15 years ago when I joined a gym. The assessment consisted of stepping up on a stair and then down again, as fast as possible for three minutes (I think, it was a fairly short interval); sitting on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me and reaching for my toes several times (to check flexibility); I believe I also did timed sit ups. That was all there was to it, and at the time I wasn’t in very good shape so I was sore afterwards. I remember thinking that I ought to just do those assessment exercises and save my money but of course I didn’t do that. I didn’t really use the gym either.

Think about how the military tests fitness: for the Army, you do a two mile run, then timed sit ups (two minutes) and timed pushups (from your toes, not your knees and also two minutes). Talk about low rent, all you need is space and a place to run.

So I’m trying to refocus my idea of exercise and workouts. If simple gets good results, why do I need to go chase the newest shiny routine? Other than boredom, which is real and definitely the enemy of staying on track with fitness, why do I need to shake things up all the time?

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