Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Deep Thoughts... and Push-Ups

I can tell from page views that my faithful readers aren't super keen on hearing all the gory details of my trips to Core Fusion, but I do need to brief you (briefly) on my last visit, during which I took the Core Fusion Sport class at the Boston Battery Wharf location, and after which I will reveal all my deep thoughts. I know, you're excited.

First of all, Battery Wharf!!!
It was a palace! The Back Bay studio is very small (and no wonder, since it is in the major high-rent district--it's neighbor is Hermes, need I say more?) and the 'changing' rooms are two very small toilet stalls. Battery Wharf, on the other hand, has a HUGE locker room that might just be bigger than my house. It features digital lockers, robes, slippers, showers, a sauna, hammam and a 'quiet lounge' that was all dark and lalala... the perfect place to hide from my small people. Oh yeah, and even the sinks had very yummy smelling hand soap. I'd go back to Battery Wharf to wash my hands alone.

I was scheduled for Sport this time, the last of the non-yoga standard CF classes I had been itching to try. After my experience with Bootcamp, I'll admit I was pretty scared the week leading up to Sport. Bootcamp, you may recall, seriously kicked my booty. I'm not exactly Zena Warrior Princess, but I can usually get through a class reasonably well enough, but Bootcamp had me retreating into child's pose more often than I'd care to admit.

I was so apprehensive about Sport that I was even tempted to put it off another week, but at the last minute, I realized I needed to put on my big girl undies and just have fun with it. I like exercise. I don't need to pretend every live class is the Olympics. (That's deep thought #1.)

After oohing and aahhing over the locker room, I walked into the studio and asked a very friendly classmate what equipment to take. She said a medicine ball, a resistance band and 'lots of towels. We sweat a lot!' I have found my people!

Then I asked my friendly neighbor how Sport stacks up to Bootcamp in terms of difficulty. She immediately asked with whom I had taken Bootcamp. "Meg," I responded. "Oh, Meg's Bootcamp is notoriously difficult. You started at the top!" That made me feel a little better. She then tells me that Sport was designed to be a hybrid of Cardio and Bootcamp. Since I got through Cardio, she suspects I'll get through Sport just fine.

And she was right. Sport was very challenging, but fun! I had a great time. Just like the Mother Abbess tells Maria in The Sound of Music, you can't run away from your fears--you have to face them. You have to climb every mountain, ford every stream, etc. (That's deep thought #2.)

I learned a lot from my humiliation experience at Core Fusion, and Bootcamp in particular. One of the great things about challenge is that it reveals our weakness--pressure reveals the cracks, then we can do something about it. (Deep thought #3)

First of all, I have terrible balance. I used to be able to do balance poses reasonably well, but since I had a C-section with Darling Son #2, my core strength has been an issue. Motherhood is sacrifice, people. (#4)

Secondly, I need to work on upper body strength. As long as I was on my feet, I was fine. Put me into plank, and that's when all the trouble started, so I'm embarking on a push-up challenge.

Push-ups are an amazing exercise that, if done correctly, really engage your entire body. Bracing your core and your thighs during push-ups makes them more effective and safer. Yes, push-ups are hard and you can start out on your knees, but really, if you want to progress to full-form push-ups you have to, well, just do full-form pushups. Based on my experience and exhaustive internet researchtm, push-ups from the knees do not really help you progress to push-ups from the toes.

If working up to full-form push-ups is your goal, start out doing push-ups on an incline, then lower the incline as you get stronger, until you can work right on the floor. You can start out against a wall, progress to a countertop, then a stair, etc. Here's an example:
I don't recommend using a 6-year-old as resistance.... or wearing a dinosaur hat. 
Interestingly, I also read a post on Burr Leonard's blog that featured a little blurb on push-ups. You may recall Burr from my last post (during which I recommended her blog, not her DVDs.) Burr suggests getting into plank and doing very shallow push-ups--just moving up and down an inch. Burr says this works the smaller postural muscles, like the serratus anterior among others, and allows you to engage every push-up muscle 'without killing yourself.' People will exalted knowledge feel free to chime in, but really, I like not killing myself, so this might be a good option. Though I will say there is something very satisfying about doing a deep push-up. You feel like G.I. Jane. She was a badass.
But could she do it with a six-year-old on her back? In a dinosaur hat? (#5) 
That we'll never know.
Well. I think that's enough deep thoughts for the day. Ponder all these things in you hearts, my faithful readers. Next time I'm going to talk to you about sitting.
I know, you're excited.


  1. (This is Leah again.) I don't know about this Burr person, but I've done a lot of shallow pushups during my years in tae kwon do, and I can't recommend them. You really need to go through the full range of motion, or there will be muscles that never get worked properly, and you'll not progress. The inclined pushups are probably a good idea, though I haven't tried them myself. The thing that finally helped my pushups was doing them in reverse. Start on the floor, push yourself up using good form, and then slowly lower yourself back to the floor. It's easier than going down then up, but you get the full range of motion. When you improve at the reverse pushups, you'll find that your regular pushups also improve.

  2. Interesting! Thank you for your thoughts, Leah. I've never tried the shallow ones, so it's good to hear your experience.

  3. Pushups are my core strength test. Obviously your arms have to be strong too, but I find that when my core is weak (e.g. after each of my 3 c-sections), I couldn't even get in plank/pushup position. And I dunno about the knee pushup thing--that's all I could do at first, but a combination of core work and arm work (including knee pushups) have gotten me to where I can do about a dozen "big girl" pushups.

    One other thing--it's been 2.5 years since my last c-section, but my core strength seriously deteriorates if I don't work at it! You're right, motherhood really changes you.

    1. You're right that they're very core intensive! I'm not suggesting that push-ups from the knees aren't valuable exercise, just that I found they didn't help me progress to full-form push-ups. And I'm with you, I definitely have to work harder on my core strength than I used to. It's important!