I have mentioned that I’ve been taking a splits training class from Luna Mammon at Amethyst Dance & Fitness since the end of November. I’m a runner and my hip flexors and glutes are always angry at me so I figured it was worth a shot. So, now I’m 4 months in and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from taking a class dedicated to flexibility.
- I am judgmental. Seriously, I am way too hard on myself as I point out that I’m usually the oldest person in the class and I’m the only mom in the class. I’ve got a soft tummy and I should be closer to the ground than the person next to me. STOP IT, SHANNON! Shut the eff up and just go with it! I have started reminding myself that the studio mirror is not there to put me down, it’s there to reflect my progress.
- You do you, I’ll do me. As I struggle to get my crotch to the wall, I look over at the girl who has been a trained dancer for 20 years and remind myself that she’s on a different path than I am and that’s ok. Why would we be at the same level? It’s crazy to expect that of myself! I don’t need to be where she is right now because I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and I’m always moving forward. I celebrate my classmates achievements but I’ve stopped looking at their reflections in the mirror and am focused on my own.
- I don’t give myself enough credit. I have not missed a single class since I started and I even practice at home on my own. Last week, when Luna suggested we try the bird of paradise pose at the end of class, I managed to get my arms twisted around my torso and even stood up! I have made progress with my front and middle splits and I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come so far. Sure, you won’t see me performing with Cirque du Soleil anytime soon, but I’m better than I was.
- I’m bad at taking compliments. A month or so ago a girl in the class praised me for my progress and the first words out my mouth were “no…not really”. I thought about it afterwards and was annoyed with myself for brushing off a valid comment on my valid progress. I HAVE improved significantly and it is NOT rude or egotistical to acknowledge that! I am making a conscious effort to accept compliments.
- I’m becoming a better runner. Each week I spend an hour in the studio where I focus on activating specific muscles and breathing through difficult moments and all of this has improved my running. I can feel my glutes turning on as I take my first strides and I feel stronger and smoother with each step. In my opinion EVERY runner needs to take a flexibility class.
- My feet need attention, too. How many of you strengthen your feet on a regular basis? Half of you who raised your hands are probably lying. Luna’s class and Eric Orton’s “The Cool Impossible” have taught me that we all need to spend time stretching and strengthening just our feet. Think of how much weight and stress those appendages bear on a daily basis! Give them the love and attention they deserve.
- Mind over matter. A lot of my flexibility journey has been mental rather than physical. I carry so much tension in my pelvis (apparently a lot of women do) and I’m learning to let it go bit by bit. As I acknowledge the hurt and emotion I am trapping in my body, my hamstrings are loosening up and my mind is clearing. Holding the middle splits position for 2 minutes is intense but you need that time to tell yourself to relax and let go and feel yourself sink deeper into the stretch and closer towards your goal.
- Embracing new challenges is central to self-improvement. This splits class has opened my eyes to how I see others and how I see myself. While some of my friends think I’m a nutbar for taking this on, I see it as an opportunity to spend time with people I wouldn’t normally get to be with and it’s become almost a meditation practice. I spend a lot of time with my eyes closed, really focused on what I want my body to do and how I need to use my mind to get there. I see myself as a more open and accepting person (of others and of myself) than I was before walking into that studio.
What does this mean for you my readers?
- If you are a runner reading this, find some way to incorporate more flexibility training into your routine. Your hip flexors will thank you!
- Are you a fitness enthusiast? Do you spend at least 15 minutes day stretching? Strength is a huge component of improving flexibility and I guarantee you will see gains.
- If you are a fitness instructor, do you focus enough on flexibility with your clients? Do they know how to stretch everything to complement their strength and cardio routine?
- Does your gym or studio offer a flexibility training class?
- Discover your mental (and maybe even emotional) blocks to seeing progress in others areas of your health and fitness. Learn to identify them and breathe through them.
I would love to hear about your flexibility journey! Have you achieved getting the splits or have you seen significant improvements in other areas of fitness because of flexibility training? Email me! firstname.lastname@example.org