September 6, 2017
So, let me tell you why working out with Grace makes me think of sex, and I promise it’s not the reason you’re thinking.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve seen a dirty movie. Yes – this admission puts me on a par with other heroes like firefighters and the guy who cleans up road kill on Rock Creek Parkway. (Not a job I’D take – would you??) In fact, it’s possible I’ve seen TWO dirty movies. Who’s counting?
I realize that those movies do not inspire in me the same reaction they may have in others. I look at improbably beautiful and surgically enhanced people having sex (and not ALL of that is surgical, after all; my God – doesn’t that hurt??) and I think nervously, “I’m not sure I look like that.”
That’s a multi-paragraph trip to get to the reality, which is that when I work out with Grace and she demonstrates an exercise I’m supposed to do, I definitely find myself thinking, “Oh, I’m SURE I don’t look that good when I do this.” Grace makes this stuff look easy.
She is aptly named. Grace is a ballet dancer, and she can’t make a note in her folder without me wanting to applaud and call for an encore. And yet, she does not look on less-elfin mortals with contempt; Grace greets my lumbering self with real joy. I honestly think she doesn’t see that I’m grossly overweight; instead she sees that I’m trying really, really hard to recapture and maintain good health, and she is delighted to help guide me on this journey.
Today we did some extremely simple exercises that were somehow so impossibly hard that I spent our entire hour apologizing for laughing so hard. At the risk of making this post too long, I’m going to walk you through one of them. Listen:
Inhale. Then exhale.
See? Told you it was extremely simple. Of course, here’s how Grace adds her own remarkable flavor to the fundamental act of respiration:
Lie on your back on a flat surface; you can have a little pillow if you want. Hold a towel or a belt or something loosely over your belly, palms up. Inhale through your nose slowly – like you’re filling a balloon with helium.
Exhale through your mouth; as you do it, tug gently on the towel or belt outwards. That turns your arm bone outward in the socket and opens your chest. Feel the openness? That moves your shoulders down and in, and that’s the dynamic movement that triggers a wave of energy that runs down your back and loops around the bottom to come up the belly. The lower belly pulls in and the pelvis tilts upward.
Now inhale again. Repeat.
Keeping that sequence straight turns out to be a lot to think about… but then she adds in things like bridging or leg lifts or (lying on my side) clams. And then she stood me up and handed me the towel again and put me in front of a low push-bar.
“Put one foot on the bar and when you inhale, push down. When you exhale, keep that good energy going and let your leg come up with control. Slowly. Tug on the towel – feel the openness in your chest. Shoulders back and down. Let that energy loop down your back and around to your stomach. Feel it? Feel that warmth all along your spine?”
What actually happened was that I suddenly couldn’t remember if I was supposed to inhale through my nose or through my mouth and if I was tugging on the towel or not and also how the hell to press my leg down and I fell right over, laughing and fully out of control. “WHAT??” I said. This utterly simple task is far, far more challenging than patting your head and rubbing your stomach, by several major muscle groups. It took another few tries before I could do it – and even then, my shoulders never really drew back well. (Shades of Shoulders Down – Chad teaching stress class. It’s ALLLL connected!)
I made Grace take this picture with me because I want to make sure I’m honest in this blog about the sense of scale. When it’s just me in a photo, I look, you know, okay. Ish. It’s not until Legolas’ sister stands next to me that you say “Yeah, I see the problem.” Grace didn’t like that theory, because she definitely doesn’t see my body as a problem – but I insisted. Gyms tend to show already-fit people working out in their ads or publications, and I think it’s very important to make it clear that people who are NOT Grace-ful are also welcome and feel at home at Body Dynamics. She’s a babe, though, huh?