I just completed my second week of the workout plan at Epic MMA and things are coming together.
Cardio is still a very tough nut to crack, but I am sticking with it and not giving up. I think I would have a tougher time with it if I was just doing a straight-up aerobics class, or a spin class like my colleague Hei. However, I am doing Muay Thai cardio, so there’s just a pinch of savagery to keep things interesting.
At the first session I was dizzy and exhausted the entire time, but after just one work out, my body seemed to “remember” that at one time (so very, very long ago) it had been in shape. The second workout was still painful, but I didn’t quite feel like I was going to pass out at any moment. It’s amazing how quickly your body can adapt to things. Of course, having said that, I'm sure my trainer Jordan will try to kick my butt doubly hard next week.
Wednesdays are the double-header days of my fitness program. If that meant another cardio session later in the day, I’d be terrified, but luckily for me the second round of my workout is my beloved antigravity yoga, which also goes by two other names: antigrav yoga and AG.
Here, too, I’ve noticed a big improvement after just one week. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “how can someone get better at antigrav yoga?” Well, it’s not so much that I’m better at it, it’s that I’m getting more out of it.
There are a lot of positions that just kind of feel awkward at the beginning. You can wrap yourself in the hammock and put your body into the right shape, but it somehow doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything. But after going back a few times, and paying close attention to Tamer’s instructions, I am starting to “understand” the postures better.
Part of this is knowing which body parts I can relax. As Tamer often says in class: “release anything that’s not serving you.”
Beyond the philosophy of that, it’s an important physical lesson, not just in AG yoga but in everyday life. There are many times where we tense body parts completely unrelated to the task at hand. Are you sitting in a chair as you read this? Now try and take note about which muscles you’ve got tensed, and which ones you actually need to be using to sit up straight. Being able to relax those unneeded muscles can help us relax and loosen up.
Another big part of getting the most out of AG yoga (or any exercise) is understanding which muscles you are trying to target with a particular exercise. During class, I heard Tamer mention that a lot of positions were great for releasing tension in my “sowaz”, which I had never heard of before. A quick google taught me that he was in fact referring to the psoas muscles:
These are some extremely complicated muscles that run from your lower back to the front of your hips, and once I learned about them, it made it easier to see how they were affected by different stretches. Armed with that, the classes have become a lot more intense, and a lot more effective.
After two weeks of training, my stamina has improved a bit, and I no longer fall over backwards when I attempt a kick. The muscular tension from the gruelling Muay Thai cardio sessions is nicely relieved by the antigravity yoga.
I’m getting deeper stretches there, and my posture is much better throughout the day. At this rate, by the end of Week three, I might even be able to touch my toes (for the first time in my life).