Since moving out of the district into Arlington, I’ve purposely left myself uncommitted to a fitness establishment. I was working out my new budget, training for a marathon, and getting my bearings in a new area. I didn’t want to commit to a yoga studio or gym before I was really settled. Plus, as a runner, sometimes it’s hard to justify the expense of a gym. Our apartment building has a fitness center that is very adequate with treadmills and free weights. I was just using that for the little bit of strength training I was doing and for bad weather days I didn’t want to run outside. However, with my knee injury flaring up again and my decision not to run the full marathon in March, I’ve been spending some time reflecting on my workout schedule.
The truth of the matter is that I need to up my strength training game. My knee injury is a result of insufficient strength training, I know that. More than that though, despite being is great cardio shape, I’m not in great strength shape. It was time to join a gym and get serious about getting lady ripped (I credit this term to Sarah J, and I love it. I’ve really taken recently to modifying all my activities with the word “lady” because it’s a cool word).
The perfect solution for a budget conscious runner… Fitness First. For the exceptionally reasonable price of $29 per month I have access to a large facility with great cardio equipment, group fitness classes, and a really sick strength training set up. I can also go to any of their other locations free of charge… sweet! They have free weights, machines, kettle bells, and a functional training area. I was sold about three minutes into my facility tour. At that price, I won’t feel bad if I’m only in there 3 days a week and running outside the other days.
One of the other perks of a new membership is a free fitness evaluation with their head personal trainer. I signed up immediately. I used to be a personal trainer, but I haven’t had a proper fitness evaluation since my friend Haley and I used to practice on each other while studying for our exam.
I was a little nervous about the fitness evaluation. It’s the same reason that I get nervous when I go to the doctor. It’s no secret that I have issues related to my body. For some reason, I always think that doctors or fitness professionals are going to tell me I’m morbidly overweight and putting my health at huge risk. I also hate being weighed. I feel like a cattle being sized up for slaughter. Weighing myself is something that I do at home, ALONE, and when I’ve had enough time to prepare myself mentally. Regardless, I manned up and went to the fitness evaluation. As to be expected, it wasn’t half as bad as I imagined.
I did, however, find out that my body fat percentage is slightly higher than ideal (about 3%). That wasn’t shocking information, but it was a semi-tough pill to swallow. I’m not unrealistic about my body. I’m not a small person… facts are facts. But I do want to make sure I’m as healthy as I possibly can be! After chatting with this PT about my current exercise routine, she made some really interesting suggestions. First she suggested that I cut back on cardio. I’m sorry… Come again? She explained that if I’m running 4 days a week for 1 hour (or longer on some days) that is plenty of cardio for the week. She suggested I cut out my other cardio days and devote those days to strength training. As a self-proclaimed cardio junkie, this clearly blew my mind. She argued that I could cut my time in the gym and still achieve optimal fitness. I was very intrigued by the idea of streamlining my workout routine to be more time efficient and achieve better results.
Then we went and did a physical evaluation. The first thing she noticed was a strength imbalance between my hips. My right hip is MUCH stronger than my left, which is likely the source of the recurring knee pain while running. This wasn’t shocking though… I did spend 2 months in physical therapy working on my hips. I also have stronger quads than hamstrings / glutes. This was also something I knew from physical therapy (apparently my stride is very “quad dominant”. I blame that on spending my entire young life from age 8 – 18 crouching behind the plate in softball.)
Another interesting piece of information I learned is that I have a strength imbalance between my chest and back. I can hold a full arms-extended plank for at least a couple minutes, but when I do them on my forearms I’m ready to die after one minute. I always thought this was because my core wasn’t strong enough. Apparently, it’s actually because my back isn’t strong enough. The full arms-extended version of the plank draws more on your chest strength, which is why I can hold it so much longer.
Here’s the good news though. I’m actually not THAT bad with overall strength. She also told me that I was very good endurance (SCORE!). Basically, I don’t have many problems. I really have two problems (hips and back) that express themselves in various ways in my workouts. Apparently, they are very, very common issues for runners too. Running is extremely efficient for cardio and conditioning the front of your body. It does less naturally for the back of your body. I expressed an interest in working with one of the personal trainers, but I was nervous about making the investment. She offered me a follow up session with her to see what a full session with a trainer would be like. I readily accepted.
I joined her for a 30 minute session last night after doing a quick 15 minute warm up. I’m sold. The workout was awesome. It totally kicked my butt, but in a really good way. It felt really good to switch things up (I’m starting to get bored with just running). I’m even a little bit sore, which I haven’t felt in a WHILE. So, I signed up to work with one of the personal trainers. I’m going to work with him once a week for the next six months. It was an investments, but after giving it careful consideration, I think it’s an investment I need to make. I want to be running and exercising for… well… forever. I need to learn how to condition my body to protect it from injury. I’m SUPER pumped.
Plus, I think this could some really awesome things for my body. With running, I’ve really reached a plateau point. I love it, but my body is just used to it now. I’m looking forward to seeing how (if at all) my body changes by changing up my workouts. So be on the lookout for many more strength training workouts to pop up on POTR! Let’s get LADY RIPPED!