Thursday and training with J, and it was so much fun. I mean, every session is a lot of fun, but some are more intense and serious fun, some are just go-me! kind of fun, and some are just “ah ha!” moments kind of fun. Today was a bit of all that, with the added dose of confidence that comes from yes, this is review from Monday, when some of, a lot of this was new, but so what, I am determined and supremely confident I will get it eventually. And eventually is not a terrible, horrible, shame-inducing word anymore. Big progress, that.

Repeat of Monday with the addition of the that final block:

  • Alt Seated Side Laterals
  • T-stab (arm rotation) Push Ups (slight bend) – elevated on bench
  • TRX Y
  • Front Alt Raise w/ Side Step (raise and step opposite side)
  • Bird Dog Holds
  • 1-arm DB OH Press (split stance press=lead)
  • Band Leaning Pull Ins (high anchor split stance)
  • 1-arm Lying Chest Press from Stability Ball
  • Band Chest Flyes
  • Good Mornings  (bar held in cross arms FRONT/hip hinge)
  • Any Push Ups (used TRX)
  • Advanced Plank Holds (pushup position, 1 leg raised)
  • Med ball Alt Front Reaching Lunge off Step w/ Press OR walking anterior lunge w/ med ball reach to press
  • 1-arm Band Chest Press w/ Rotations
  • Stability Ball DB Pullovers
  • Stability Ball “reach up” Crunches

I know it is the little things in life that make it so interesting to me, and today’s session kind of sends that point home. Perhaps the last couple of days of working hard at other Lists makes me feel stronger and more powerful, but I was just so much more tuned up and tuned in to the new List today. Nothing big or dramatic or new going on here with what we did on Monday, but it was like the coin dropping into a slot machine and the lights start flashing and bells begin ringing. Maybe I was just promoted a level in my own self-directed Wonder Woman school.

Feeling like I am connected to the exercises is not quite the same as saying I am good at them right now or even really competent yet. Instead, it means I understand the general concepts, I know which muscles and the ways they should be working, and I know that tomorrow or Saturday when I am in the gym and practicing this new List I will be working on improving and perfecting my form and ability to go through the 2 to 4 sets recommended. Questions will come up, and if I cannot figure out answers on my own, I will text J or write them down for Monday.

J did ask me today about the teaching days, if I notice a difference between learning new exercises now versus the times before. Or at least, that’s how I interpreted the question. True teaching days of brand new exercises are presently fewer and farther between than when I was a raw gym newbie, of course, and what I notice immediately now is that level of ease with which I can move into and out of a teaching day. My confidence level has elevated so much that even if I do not truly understand what we are doing, where we are heading, or have doubts about replicating on my own in practice, I have this relatively new, unshakeable faith that I can and will learn and adapt. Eventually. There is no longer a fear in my mind that I am the village idiot, unteachable, and so lacking in ability that I cannot do these things on my own. Ever. The exile of negative girl shut that shit down. Looking back over the course of the last year, few exercise item have been abandoned after introduction. Maybe modified, maybe worked for awhile and then set aside in favor of something else, but not dropped because of my functional inability to do the exercise.

I believe, too, that J’s growth, education, research, and experimentation with other fitness coaches’ methodologies and philosophies influences and expands how he trains – what he presents, what we move to and leave behind, what sort of intensity and cadence we pursue. While J is brilliant and has likely barely covered or shared with me a single chapter of the fitness and exercise knowledge in his great big brain, he is also constantly pursuing new ideas and information, trying and testing various things in his own workouts. As a client, I appreciate the time, energy, and funds invested in continuing education in his craft. For me, it makes him a better trainer, because I am as interested in the why as I am in the nitty-gritty how-to of exercise. I like the resources his research opens to me, that he mentions something or someone he is reading or following and that I can look it up for myself and follow along and learn quite a bit about topics unfamiliar to me. I suppose I am a bit of an atypical client in my exercise and fitness nerdiness as well.

Because of my particular gym schedule, it is unusual for me to see other members of the training tribe in the gym going through their own Lists, and honestly, I might not recognize them but for their papers in hand or the various sequences of exercises they are performing. When our paths do cross, though, it makes me smile to see others doing many of the same exercises in similar order as I have on my Lists; I truly believe we are the lucky ones in my particular club. It does not matter to me at all if J uses the same template on every person he works with, and I applaud his ability to be efficient with his time, especially since he does so much of this on his own time for the benefit of we client members. In fact, it is encouraging for me to see other people doing things I know or am working at currently myself. I like that I now feel more like a peer, rather than someone trailing behind and trying valiantly to catch up to the cool kids in the room.

We did some modifications from Monday and suddenly I feel so much more competent. And for once, the majority of this post may actually cover the exercise and not just the feelings and such surrounding it.

Today we did T-stabs/pushups from the bench rather than a mat on the floor, which actually put them within reach of me being successful at 10-12 reps and not collapsing in a heap after 4 or 5. These are tricky to me anyway, and I am going to have to continue to practice and build upon my shoulder/arm strength. It will happen, I am now absolutely sure. I also have not completely grasped the pushup positioning with shoulders above the arms/hands and my tendency is to have my hands too high, making my effort more shruggy that shoulder working. Going forward I will be watching my set-ups very hawkishly and probably still have to make adjustments once I start. But oh well. At least I am aware that I should be making such tiny modifications.

But dang, I cannot even describe how overjoyed I felt to be successful, even if my efforts still fell short of the minimum reps. I will work up to it.

The front raise with alternating step sideways – Monday we did raise arm, step same side. Today he mixed it up with raise right arm, step sideways with left foot. My mind struggles with these kinds of things – my deranged dog quiver (versus bird dog hold) is an excellent example. But I just have to stay focused and think about it all the way through a set, which I can do, but it is complicated by counting reps. No complaints, merely observing that opposite alternating is still a challenge, potentially a forever challenge; perhaps I will still be having furrowed brow over alternative/opposite limbs years and years from now. It’s probably good for me, keeps my brain sharper from having to put forth the extra effort.

Today with the instability ball … a few successful practices and I may have to cease thinking of it that way. It was better after the first go-round. I still have to work at my balance on the ball, but the learning curve with it is not going to be a steep as I imagined. Part of me wants to just hurry up and get through the single arm overhead presses before I fall off, and the rest of me now understands that going slowly and feeling where the ball is under my head/neck and where the weight in my hand is at the moments I feel insecure is imperative to mastery. The little professor in my head that dissects and analyzes the incoming information has made some notes and adjustments for this that will start flittering through my head when I try this on my own. With the dumbbell pullovers, the balance does not seem to be as much of an issue; it is most definitely the offset weight that makes me wake up and pay precise attention to what that roly-poly I am lying on is doing. I was still thinking about it when doing the pullovers, but frankly I was enjoying how my shoulders seemed to have more flexibility and freedom of movement, and the roly-poly was staying steady.

And those reach up crunches – had I known that crunches from the ball would not hurt my back I would have been all in on dreadful core work before this. Of course, now I am second guessing whether it is actually the instability ball that made it better or if other, recent core work has made me feel a little stronger and therefore more successful today. Either way, those were not terrible and actually could evolve into the favorites side of the equation. Sunday in Pilates may test my theory, because crunches are always a possibility.

The good mornings have potential to become a cult favorite. As the months have passed I have started to really enjoy the deadlifts/hinge things, probably because it took so long for me to develop something akin to competency, at which time the single leg versions became a thing. No matter – in today’s version of the good mornings we had the bar at the front of the neck, just above the collarbones. It felt different in good ways, and my next adventure plan is to try both methods on my own to truly discern the differences. Both methods feels different than doing them with the dumbbells, but neither bad nor good, simply different. It is simpler and easier holding onto the bar in front of my throat than behind my neck; the shoulder positioning is not nearly so challenging.

I also determined an exercise titled bad morning is unlikely. I googled it rather than asking J. Good mornings – videos, pictures, information everywhere. Bad mornings – advice on how to overcome or videos of one-upmanship on who has the worst. Query satisfied.

The medicine ball – in the almost year we have been training, this is the second outing with a medicine ball. I see people throwing them down (splatting is how I term it in my head) just about every day, but it’s been months since anything utilizing this tool has come up for me. Not that I have been pining away, wishing J would create something to use the medicine balls. Nope, merely an observation of what tools I use and what tools have not come up yet, and I do know there are a couple, maybe a few of equipment pieces that are on the 12th of never list. I can actually pinpoint the last medicine ball occasion – day after Thanksgiving 2015. We were doing resistance as cardio and it was the first time my blood sugar dropped so low that I had to bail 10 minutes early and drink some juice before driving home. Anyway, the medicine ball made those anterior reaches more interesting, both the walking version and the step down, step back from the platform version. Again, this is one of those things I will want to try both on my own to discern the differences. The step down, step back version is challenging with the step back portion of the exercise. I found myself stepping too far back and actually stepping off the platform backwards. Small ball issue; awareness of where my feet are in the starting point will eliminate the issue completely.

I had the same sort of quandary with the squat jumps from last week. While working with J I seemed to be jumping in place. On my own, I wound up several feet away from my starting point without realizing it.

And finally, the chest press rotations – I like this one as well. Because it’s similar to other hip rotations I have been doing over the course of the year, I have to remind myself every time to bend my elbow for the press portion. Muscle memory will be have to be redirected and retrained.

For once, a training recap that actually talks – A LOT! – about the actual exercise and training. I always felt it would happen. Someday. *smile*

Sometimes training is so fantastic it is hard to stop smiling thinking about it throughout the whole day it seems to take to write these training recaps, and yes, I recognize that sounds a little sad and as if I have a very limited life. But oh well – I am a pretty simple woman and very common, routine things make me happy. I find myself plotting tomorrow’s List of the day, what I really want to do and what I will actually do. There is no harm in repeating today’s List, and in days past I would have been determined to do just that to cement the new movements in my head. Lately, I have been letting training day Lists sit the day after and do something else then revisit the training day List the second day. However, I am so ridiculously excited about and energized by this new one that it is kinda/sorta hard not to bend my own squishy-soft guideline in this regard. But I will prevail and follow my own current guidance. I have not spent any time with arch nemesis exercise this week (single leg cable Romanian deadlifts) and previously had outlined as Friday this week would be my cables day of some fashion.

With the first series of lower body and now this newer series of upper body, J commented this morning that he has plans to create a few other focused Lists first and then chop them up and remake them into full body Lists. Sounds exciting, right? The thought flittered through my mind that after that was done, maybe we would be done? And then I had to laugh, because I am so far from ready to be done, a conscious choice that I am making to continue moving forward, learning other things. I am a lot more capable in the gym now, but there is so much more strength and competency yet to be achieved. The undiscovered gym country awaits, and I am looking forward to continuing to learn everything I possibly can about the different ways to keep moving forward with exercise.

So exciting. And yes, I am still amazed to hear myself saying that, writing it, about exercise. There is yet another post brewing about that concept as well, so stay tuned.

Happy Thursday everyone!

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