The start to my journey
I assume a lot of people who see me from the outside looking in think that being fit to me would mean handstands and six pack abs. It’s understandable, especially if you follow me on either of my social networking channels. You can scroll through my pages and find pictures of me doing handstands on mountain tops, videos of me doing back flips, and even flashes of my partner acrobatics practice. These are all different displays of strength in their own way but do I really think they have anything do with how fit I am?
If you asked me 2 years ago I may have thought the amount of handstand pushups I was capable of had something to do with how fit I was. Over the years my practice has evolved. Not in the way of more advanced movements and postures like you see on social media, it evolved in meaning. When I first started working out 6 years ago it was to get my mind off things that were bothering me. I would hit the gym with my friends and we’d lift weights with aggression so early on I definitely categorized being fit with being strong and having ripped muscles. About a year in to starting my fitness journey I discovered calisthenics and all of its beautiful benefits. This changed the way I trained my body and encouraged me to move in different ways using muscles that I never knew existed. I ended up getting stronger, more capable, and even leaner so I started to develop a physique like I’ve never had. I started practicing different skills and doing bodyweight circuits so eventually my muscular physique was just a product of how I worked out. I’m a firm believer in calisthenics being the best way to get lean and strong; it forces you to use every muscle in your body which is extremely efficient for burning fat and building strength.
When did it all change for me?
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I really started diving in to a yoga practice that I developed a mental shift regarding my fitness. Instead of working out mindlessly to release aggression like when I first got in to fitness, I would do a yoga session that would require me to be completely present in the moment. I would move slower and breathe with more control, eventually learning to connect my breath to my movements. Instead of listening to work out tunes to pump me up I would train in silence to enhance my focus, a training session outside while the birds are chirping does wonders for my peace of mind throughout my practice. When I started to slow my mind down is when my body started to slow down. I started paying more attention to the movements and how they affected my body until eventually I was in total control of my mind and the control of my body came soon after. I talk a lot about control during my classes and one on one sessions, I say things like control the movement, and control your breath don’t let your breath control you. In my opinion, someone who is gasping for air and completely out of control in their movements is not physically fit or mentally fit. If need be, someone that is truly in tune with their body will pause their workout to catch their breath instead of hyperventilating all the way through a training session. I’m not saying that getting your heart rate up is bad, but it is easy. Try getting your heart rate down once it’s cranking, that’s the real challenge. An advanced practitioner can slow their heart rate down just as fast as getting it up, and that is one of my personal prerequisites to being fit.
Mobile and fit
As I mentioned earlier, it’s not the handstands and backflips that make me the most fit version of myself. Needless to say I see a ton of benefits in strength training, but mobility is where the magic happens. When is the last time you tried to get off of the ground without using your hands? Go ahead and give it a try, it’s not as easy as you may think. This is a true test of mobility, and it’s at the very top of the list of my opinion on what makes someone fit. It’s challenging and requires a ton of mobility in your lower body but once it’s developed it is a game changer for your everyday life. Getting around will be easier, and say goodbye to sprained ankles! I think of mobility in a way I think of building a house, as if the foundation were our feet and we are building from the ground up. A good connection with the ground will go a long way. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete, a stay at home mom, working, or a student, I think that full body mobility is best chance you have to be fit for the job.
How can you get started?
Below are a couple of foundational examples to start working your lower body mobility, beginning with the feet. I would recommend working your way up to 30 seconds in each position, starting only with as much as you can tolerate. If it's too intense after 5 seconds then stop there, work on it the next day or even later in the day and continue this routine until it is more and more comfortable in those positions.
Stretching your toes and the tops of the ankles are a great way to start mobility in your feet and ankles. It may be tough at first so keep as much weight forward as you need to in order to get a stretch and be comfortable.
How fit can you get?
This is a never ending journey, my friends. And as long as you aren't comparing yourself to other people you can get really really fit! At the end of the day the goal is to feel better mentally and physically. That's the short version of what being fit means to me and this is how I do it. It has helped me in my every day life as I try to feel better and be better even when I am not training. If I can control my heart rate during a challenging work out then I should be able to do the same when I'm placed in situations of stress outside of the work out. The same goes for my mobility. If I can move my ankles through the proper ranges of motion to mobilize them during a work out then I am less likely to roll it and sprain it if I step in a hole while running on a trail with my dog. That's what makes my training functional and that's what makes me fit.
Thank you taking the time to read my blog. I hope that something in my journey helps you in yours and I hope to connect more and more with each post.