Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Am I fit?

Occasionally I get people asking me how they will know if they are fit. Although we generally use our physical appearance as an indicator, that isn't always accurate. It is possible to be carrying 15 extra pounds and be fit. Actually, it is better for your cardiovascular system to be a little (and I stress a little) heavy and fit than it is to be thin and out of shape. I remember, during high school wrestling season, why it was that every match was so darn hard when I could do pushups, crunches, and mat drills until the cows came home. I could run and run (although I didn't like running then any more than I do now) but after 6 minutes on the mat I thought I was going to die. My coach said that being fit is not about not feeling tired but being able to push through the fatigue. How right he was. I remember the first time I did Body Step. I hated it. I hurt. But I kept at it and as my fitness improved, I found that it wasn't quite so bad. I actually began to enjoy the feelings associated with a good workout. Not so much the lactate build up that comes with anaerobic exercise (think how you feel during song #9 of any Body Attack class) but the post workout rush is fantastic.

One of the things I battle with as an instructor is class members who do just enough to get through. Not that just getting through isn't a worthy goal but after they know they can make it, some of them continue to just barely get through. My goal is for everybody to be pushing themselves every class as far as their body will allow and then pushing just a little bit more. Let me give you an example. The other night I went to my first spin class in quite awhile. I don't particularly like spin very much because you're not moving. The instructor (Kris Mowatt, at Performance Health and Fitness) had a climbing drill that about killed me. It was a 12 minute climb that started easy and got really mean. The last 6 minutes was entirely standing. After 11 minutes I wanted to cry. The room was hot (the ceiling fans are not in yet), I was dripping with sweat, and my quads were on fire. At 11.5 minutes I almost dialed the resistance back and sat down but I realized that this is what I was battling against. How can I expect my classes to push themselves to the limit if I am not willing to do the same thing? I stayed out of the saddle and finished the drill. The feeling of accomplishment was enough to make me want to go back for more. Each time I push myself a little harder, I am getting fitter.

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