For those who don’t know me particularly well, let me paint a brief picture about me and exercise.
I have trained for many many years. Starting off as a National League hockey player then moving on to an “everyday” gym goer before starting to half know what I was talking about and actually taking training pretty seriously (so much so it’s now part of my job). My “mode” of exercise has changed over the years but one thing that has remained the same is that I have always trained as hard as I could.
What I failed to see the importance of though, more so at an early age, was the need to look after my body and that being in good condition was not all about being strong and being able to move fast. As I grew older it became clear that years of playing hockey 3-4 times per week, jumping about like a maniac, lifting whatever heavy weights I could, or whatever exercise I was on at them time, then jumping straight in the shower with no post exercise stretch or release became to take it’s toll. Tight muscles were starting to cause problems, flexibility was rubbish and I could feel niggly injuries starting to occur. Not cool.
“That’s it” I thought, I need to do something about this. I spend my life telling people that decent condition involves a wide range of disciplines yet don’t practice it myself. That coupled with the girlfriend wanting to practice more yoga before heading off to India to become an instructor was the kick up the derriere I needed to actually pull my finger out, bite the bullet and face my fear. Let’s get stretchy.
So with that, I accompanied my significant “seasoned yoga pro” other to a “hot yoga” class (Thanks @yogahaven Clapham). Not Bikram as the thought of a 90min class instilled even more fear but a 60min class in a heated room and you can only imagine my horror when my conversation with the receptionist went:
Her – “Have you participated in yoga before”
Me – “No”
Her – “You are aware that this is an advanced class”
Yes that’s right, an advanced class. Oh god. Visions of bendy people turing themselves into pretzels and a guru pushing and pulling me into shapes my body is just not designed to make started to fill my head, but my competitive streak told me to stop being an idiot and get on with the challenge. How hard can it be?
So in we went.
At first the heat didn’t feel too bad. But as we waited for the instructor I could feel the sweat starting to drip, Oh god. My fellow “yogi’s” (that’s what the other yoga participants are called if you didn’t know….get with the lingo) all looked at home and every other fella was topless so inevitably my sweaty body came out.
About 50 minutes later, I was a dripping mess but still going. I was surprised at the pace of the class which was non stop from the outset. Not much holding but dynamic moves with a lot of twisting and looking at other people through my legs to check I was doing it right. I had kept up pretty well, nothing had snapped and I only fell over once when trying something too technical (essentially making myself look like one of these signs “&”. Being at the back was a good move!)
But with about 10mins to go, I was seriously starting to feel it. Heat and the moves were taking their toll, my heart was pounding and I’m pretty sure I was close to passing out. “One more round” the instructor said and once again my competitiveness made sure I didn’t leave the room. Powering through, it finally came to an end and with that I got out of the room as fast as I could, whacked the shower onto the coldest setting and stayed there……and stated there….and stated there…..ahhhh yes. Eventually emerging from the changing rooms, my bald head still steaming like a freshly boiled egg, I heard several people say that it was particularly hot and tough which made me feel better. Even the instructor was impressed with me (I wasn’t going to write that but hey, it’s all about the praise). I’ve done some pretty tough workouts in my time and I’d put this up there with them. I was properly done in. Next few days I felt some nice aches and actually felt pretty awesome so will definitely be making this a regular part of my training from now on, just maybe not this particular class…..at least not until I’m a pro (a week or so should do it 😉 )
So what’s the point in me telling you this. Well I guess that really it’s to hopefully inspire you just a little, to get out there and try a new form of exercise. I often talk about how training should include a wide variety of disciplines. Just lifting weights, just doing “cardio”, just doing yoga, isn’t enough if you want to be in as good a shape as you can be. Plus each discipline compliments the other really well. Strength training is better with flexibility. Your cardio will be more efficient if you are strong etc etc.
Now why not make it your own personal challenge to try a new discipline over the net few weeks. Get yourself out there, book into a class / course / session and just give it a go. If I can do it, you definitely can.
Namaste (…another example of my extensive yoga vocabulary)