We are all Limited Editions! That is the beauty of life. Every moment is priceless and every interaction is unique and every person is a once-in-a-lifetime event. As we rode and worked out in Breakthrough (part cycling class, part floor workout) this morning, I saw so many people get up early, make the commitment to show up, and then be fully present to work on their best version. For most of us "our best version" starts with getting the mind right. When we are surrounded with other like-minded people and a lot of energy and sweat, it comes a lot easier. The physical challenge appears hard and sometimes it can be really hard, but with the right training and attitude, it is absolutely achievable. The Cycling/Breakthrough class is following an 8-week training periodization program and we are in week 5. Week 5 means it is getting real. We've established our aerobic base and ideally we are well-conditioned. We have introduced strength, both muscular and endurance, into the mix and both on- and off-of the bike strength.
But today, I saw people struggle. Every time we show up, I have to raise the bar a little bit for the class. They are here for a reason and are the type of people who want to get the most out of everything they do. I respect that and do my best to offer variety and variability into their movement patterns, while at the same time, honoring the heart rate targets and the energy zone targets of our training program. It is this magical blend of complete chaos and at the same time, everything makes sense. For the first 18 minutes of class following the movement prep, half the class rode at heart rate intensities of 85% up a hill while the other half was on the floor in the middle of the cyclists with those great BOSU Stability balls (the ones that have the sand inside). For 9 minutes of their 18 they were running high knees with the balls overhead and making sure that sand was jumping up and down inside of the ball. Then they dropped over the balls, feet on top to perform push ups, followed by laying on top of the balls on their backs for a heavy hand weight chest press, repeated up and down 3 times. What became apparent was that the body strength and floor work conditioning was not as strong as the cycling conditioning. That is good news! We have something to learn. We are humble and vulnerable to the exercise. The struggle we have on the floor will continue to make our riding feel stronger and easier and more efficient. And we also have an opportunity for gains.
Since my goal was to keep their heart rates up and to offer variability and strength opportunities, we moved on to another set of exercises for our second round. This time while half of the class remained on the bikes again, the half getting off the bike split into three groups. One group performed TRX atomic pikes. The other group had kettlebell swings, and the "catalyst" group took heavy weight plates outside to walking lunge, carrying them on one side on the way down the street and on the other side the way back (a suitcase carry). When they returned, the groups rotated and those riding kept pushing each other to hold 85% max heart rate targets and moving up their hill by climbing in and out of the saddle. It happened again. I saw more breakdown on the floor. Everyone was working hard. Some gave up a little. Some stopped to check in and reset themselves. But everyone continued on the best that they could. It was exactly what should have been happening. Limits were being pushed. Strength by doing a little at a time, and just 1% beyond what they thought they were capable of, turned this training into exactly what I had hoped for. 45 minutes into the class, I brought everyone to the floor to bring it down a notch and go through the training pieces I do with my personal training clients. We started today's class intense and it stayed intense until it was time to break it down. Also, it's Thursday, and ideally everyone has been following the training schedule all week, which means they are getting tired. It felt great to simply be with this class in a training mode. We all got our TRX and onto the floor. We broke down the plank and how to get into it, how to support ourselves, which muscles to turn on and why, how to integrate the entire system to support the complete posture and then how to avoid the possible breakdowns in the pose. We dissected what a push up should feel like, how to stay light on the hands, elevate to fingertips, carry the body to support all activities. Then we flipped over to activate our glutes, again using the TRX Suspension Trainer. Once we felt activated glutes, we returned to the kettlebell swing position. This time we performed it with no kettlebell. We felt how the thrust moves the weight and the energy, then we put our arms down even and experienced the same motion as though we were truly swinging a kettlebell but with no arms. Its energy came from our hips and trunk as though the kettlebell were attached to and extending from our sternum. Finally, we broke down the suitcase carry. It is not about our arms as none of the other exercises were either. The load is carried by the distribution and shared responsibility of the entire body. We used the TRX to position into plank again, this time activating the obliques and entire core (abdominals and back muscles) to know how to effectively do hip drops. When we perform the exercises and can turn on the muscles from the appropriate places to carry the load as a unit instead of as a bunch of pieces, we become capable of more than we ever thought possible. All it takes is training and understanding and breaking down the process.
Now the stretch. A long one and a well-earned stretch. That is what a class should feel like. A plan, a goal, following the mindsets and the physical capabilities of each individual in the room, sending them off to work towards their "best version", witnessing the struggle and the humility to the exercise, seeing the mind open to learn something to be able to complete it well, and then the ah-ha moment where clarity and ease in the movement take place.
It is just exercise after all. In the past it would have come easier to us. Ideally, we should all be able to move in our bodies in all ways, up and down, side to side, with and without load, through all planes. However, that way of thinking applies when we live in a state of movement that is constantly being varied. Like 2000 generations ago when we were hunter/gatherers. 200 generations ago when we were farmers. Something shifted in our movement 20 generations ago when the "machine" generation took over. And now, we are sadly a part of the last 2 generations that are the "sitting" generation. To think that we should be able to go from most of our time spent in a sitting posture to an active exercise is part of what contributes to the injuries being incurred. What does this mean for us? It means we have to move more and make it a part of our everyday living. Take what you learn in your exercise and training and apply it to everything in your life.