Usually when I think of the word ‘training’ I picture something that looks like a cross-fit gym, filled with weights, mats and structures of pain, including my worst enemy- the pull up bar. Despite this, I enjoy the idea of training, it keeps my body safe from injuries when I ski and means that I can ride hard with more confidence. I’m a bit of a nerd in that way.
I guess this has something to do with the fact that when it comes to off-snow training, that’s the kind of place I have spent hours toiling in; jumping, sprinting and lifting weights. It can be a boring existence but the results on skis that I have seen from working with programs such as Mountain Athlete makes it worth the blood, sweat and tears.
It was exactly this kind of attitude that I brought back with me to Melbourne in May this year, I couldn’t wait to get into the gym and make up for some of the time I had lost while rehabbing my knee last year. In my mind it was the autumn of strength. I had my program ready and after a week or two of letting my body rest, I got stuck into my weights training.
Of course disaster struck. Despite easing into my program, I hadn’t worked-out properly for several months. I had been travelling as a ski-nomad since January and all my body knew how to do was ski and climb mountains. There were also some lingering confusion in my body following my knee surgery. My hamstring wasn’t pulling its weight and my back hated anything that involved a barbell.
I wanted to have a tantrum- after being careful and patient for a year, I still couldn’t train hard like I used to. It took me a few hours but finally I stopped feeling sorry for myself and had a serious talk with my ego. I decided to turn my problem into a good experience and go back to the basics.
Luckily, I had decided to train at Kaya Health Clubs for my two month stint in Melbourne, so turning my training around was a lot easier than it would have been at your average gym. One of Kaya’s main aims is to create a relaxing and welcoming environment where the menu includes more than just a weight room, cardio and some evening pump classes. Primarily, Kaya is a club that focuses on reformer pilates and yoga but that doesn’t mean it skimps on the other things that your normal training ground would offer.
So after two weeks of trying to make it through my dry-land training program, I left it at home and started a reformer pilates binge.
I’ve found that when I first mention pilates to people, their response usually is, “but isn’t that really boring?” To be honest, the first few times I was on reformer I was more confused than bored. I was being told to do so many things at once that it was hard to concentrate; find your neutral spine, relax your neck, squeeze your bum and lift your leg.
Being someone who usually relies on their quads to do most exercises, trying to isolate my core was almost impossible. After my first class, where I just tried to power through all the movements, my ego was in shreds. Having your weaknesses so easily laid out in front of you is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. But for every ego-flattening class I attended, my body started to work that much better.
It took me some time to realise that this kind of training was just as important as all the grunting, running and lifting that I had done in the past. Your body is a unit and if the centre of it is not strong, it’s only going to crack under pressure.
I would love to finish this blog by saying that now I am a changed person but I would say that I am the same old person. At least now though, I know where my core muscles are and how to turn them on without cranking my back into spasm. My hamstring is building up strength and my body is happy to start skiing.
The most important thing that I have taken away from the last few weeks is how integral it is to listen to your body and follow its nags. In some cases it is necessary to go backwards to move forwards.
A big thanks has to go out to Christian and Koula from Kaya for their support over the last six weeks. They have helped make a fairly frustrating period into a positive one and helped me prepare for this winter in New Zealand. Thanks Kaya for the opportunity- it’s going to be a good winter!