Team BellyButt


You can have a favorite Avenger (are you a Captain America person, or an Iron Man type?) and you can say Arya is the baddest of the badass or you can think that’s Dany on her dragon. You can be sure Bella should have gone with Jacob instead of freezing-cold Edward, or that Kate should have thrown her chips in with Sawyer instead of prissy Jack…

…but if you’re on one team, it’s hard as hell to switch to another team.

This brilliant assessment brought to you by Team BellyButt.

Chip, one of the clever, intuitive trainers at Body Dynamics (Falls Church, VA – look it up), says that the body has “forced couples” – like Brangelina. (Yes, I’m old.)

The back and the quads like to work together, and the glutes and the abdominals like to work together. And if you’re used to using the weaker of the two couples – if you’re Team ThighBack – then it’s very, very hard to suddenly switch to Team BellyButt.

I’ve been ThighBack since the dawn of time. It’s only since I’ve been working with trainers Barbara and Chip and miracle masseuse Gwynn that I’ve come to understand that my hip flexors are ALWAYS ON.

(If I stand quietly on two flat feet – no tsunamis or attackers attempting to push me over or anything – and attempt to relax the two straps that run from the tops of my hip bones down into the thighs (the hip flexors), I immediately fall over. This dazzles Barbara, who is instinctively Team BellyButt. She can’t understand why I need to use my quads for exercises that have nothing to do with the quads.)

The problem with being on Team ThighBack is that the back muscles are strong – but they’re not supposed to be used for power. They’re supposed to be used for supple movement and the ability to stand erect. The thighs aren’t supposed to pull you through a walk; that’s not what they were designed for.

Instead, the biggest muscles in the body are in the ass. The glutes are supposed to PUSH you though a walk. The abs are big because they’re supposed to stabilize everything. (This is so foundational to good health that all of us in Balance Class have learned that it is the answer to any question Barbara asks. “How are we today?” she’ll say and we’ll shout like Marines, “ABDOMINALS, MA’AM.”)

So those on Team BellyButt have a huge advantage over those on ThighBack…

…but I’m astonished to discover that it is not impossible to switch allegiances.

I’ve been working with Barbara for three years now. We were doing squats today. (Well, I was doing squats, and Barbara was hawk-eyeing me for issues of form that meant I’d found yet another way to cheat.)

When I was done, she asked me how they felt… and I realized that it felt like there was one of those late-night-TV ad “chair lifters” under me. You know the ad; help Granny get out of her recliner with a mechanized seat assist thingy.

My squats felt like SOMETHING was under me pushing up.

And the only thing I can think is … it was glute muscles.

Now how could I use muscles and not feel myself using them? Am I THAT detached from Team BellyButt that I have no nerve endings connected in there? For three years, Barbara has been strengthening those glute muscles – and Chip and Grace have worked on the tiny stabilizer muscles that make the big muscles more efficient – and Gwynn has been releasing muscles…

…and now something powerful is working in my backside that hasn’t worked there before.

I can’t yet feel the “push” of glute muscles when I run – but I’ve gotten to the point where I can feel a push for a few steps if I focus on it while walking. It’s weird.

And sort of encouraging.

By the way – Iron Man, obviously. Arya – because Dany’s just a pretty girl without those dragons. Jacob. Sawyer. I like the bad boys…

…but maybe I’m switching sides at a glacial pace to Team BellyButt. Will wonders NEVER cease??

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We all start out innocent and unskilled. But time, determination, and a long road trip with the Hound (plus a tenure with face-changing assassins) can make a world of difference. I’m rethinking the wisdom of comparing myself to sweet, lethal Arya, but let’s go with it anyway.

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