Friday, January 31, 2014

Thoughts on Being Competetive...and Overly So...

It's official - my lifestyle has changed.  Back in October 2013, Greg and I joined a program called Max Fitness, and it's totally transformed our lives.  We've completely changed the way we eat, and we've been exercising 5 days a week!  It's been a wonderful change for both of us as individuals, as well as a couple.  We're both, in general, healthier versions of ourselves.  Of course, like always, Greg has had a much easier time than I have with the weight loss portion - I've probably lost a grand total of only 10 lbs, and he's somewhere around 20+, but we've definitely both changed a good way!

Part of the reason I say this has been a total lifestyle change is that we've basically gotten into the routine of what the program requires...and although there are days when I want to just break down and eat a dang cheeseburger or some pizza...we have pretty minimal challenges in making the principals of the nutrition plan work in our every day lives, and I see no reason why we'd change or regress at any point in the future.  Plus the exercise portion is usually fun, has remained challenging, and allows us to interact on a daily basis with people who have committed to the same changes we have.  Overall, it's a very positive process, and the support system is really what makes it so successful in my opinion.

So, here's the sticky wicket.  At the end of each exercise class that we attend, the entire class does a plank.  If you're not sure what that's a picture of some random woman performing the exercise:

Basically, you engage your entire body in an endurance challenge to hold the core of your body tight for an extended period of time. 

When we started this challenge, Greg and I, along with everyone else in our class, found it challenging to hold the plank position for just 20 seconds.  The below image pretty much explains how I, personally, felt about planking for the first 4 or 5 weeks of the initial 10-week challenge:

Since mid-way through our first 10-week challenge, I've become more comfortable doing planks, and have even advanced my abilities to include side planks:

And 3-Point Planks:

And I'm currently working on mastering a 2-Point Plank:

All of that progress aside, I cannot forget that feeling of being a newbie and feeling challenged to hold just a simple plank for just 20 seconds.  It was difficult.  And, even now, with these advanced plank moves, I still find it challenging to hold a plank for more than 2-3 minutes.

On January 13, a new 10-week challenge began, and our exercise class got a whole gang of new members looking to transform their lives.  The classes are intermixed, so, since Greg and I are still participants in the program, we work out alongside the newbies.  It's an excellent business model because, the workouts are designed so that they can be modified up or down depending on your fitness abilities, and, it's been proven that working out with people who are more physically fit than you naturally motivates you to push yourself harder.  On top of that, the program relies on "Legacy" members to provide help, as needed, to people who are just starting the program.

So, this week, with the new members only 3 weeks into the program, and, presumably, like me, still feeling like the elephant caught in a bad position when they're trying to plank for a mere 30 seconds, there has been a challenge to see who can hold their plank the longest.  It started out innocently, and reasonably, enough.  People were holding planks for 2-3 minutes and feeling great (and trust me...that's hard work!).  But, we've now progressed, in less than 5 days, to people holding their planks for 10 minutes and more.  I'm not joking.  It's ridiculous.  I held one plank once for 4 minutes.  And that was pretty exciting.  But 10 minutes is a bit overdone, in my opinion.  I mean, sure, it's a challenge, but at what point do we start defeating ourselves (and probably demotivating our peers) when we're so focused on the length of a plank rather than the proper form held for a reasonable, do-able amount of time? 

Like I said, we perform the plank exercise at the end of each class.  And, you know what?  We end up running over time -- literally every day this week - because we're waiting for one or two people (out of 15-20) to finish their marathon plank.  Of course, everyone has to sit there and cheer the person (or people) on so that they are motivated to continue.  But, to me, it all seems a bit forced.  Even when I did my own personal best and held up for 4 minutes, I was a bit uncomfortable with, although grateful for, all the attention that was on me, pushing me to hold on just a bit more.

I feel like, if we're going to spend many minutes doing something as a should be something that's benefiting all of us health-wise.  Classes are only 45 minutes long.  And, lots of time, we spend the last 3-4 minutes (and then go into OT) focused on planking.  To me, we should be focusing more time on perhaps more sit-ups, or push-ups, or running, or something...that everyone can do.  Having 75% or more of the class simply sitting and cheering someone else on doesn't seem that great of a use of time to me.  Even when I'm the one planking.  And, frankly, to me, it seems the least fair to the new people who are just struggling to get to class and participate.

Maybe I'm just not that into competition?  Or maybe I've lost my edge.  Either way, I needed to vent.  So...there.

Happy Friday!!!