I had five weeks of being back at ballet class and I keep meaning to update on how it’s going after a long eight months away. I would like to say it’s going well. I can still pirouette en pointe, I can still remember all the ballet terms, I can still ‘ballet’. I can still keep up in class both mentally and physically. The one thing that is not the same is flexibility. And this week it really bothered me.
In fact, this week my whole body has bothered me.
It started with the lack of upper body strength from climbing last weekend. I spent the first few days of the week with all the muscles in my upper body reminding me that I don’t have muscles in my upper body. During in my returns to ballet class my hip/turnout muscles cramp up as soon as I engage turnout while warming up in the pointe shoes, EVEN if I have had a stretch before class. When it came to the 5k run home from ballet I was continuously harassed by a cramping diaphragm which caused numerous stops to walk and stretch out.
When I added all of this together I just turned into one big ball of frustration. You see, since the beginning of the year I seem to have been on some mission to get fitter and stronger. Before ballet was back I was running, doing regular HIIT sessions and adding weights in a couple of times a week, and a bit of yoga here and there. It wasn’t long before I started to feel like the thighs were starting to look ‘heavier’ despite being toned. All the HIIT was there to burn fat, I ignorantly didn’t expect it to build muscle so quickly. And I don’t want that ‘strong’ muscular look that seems to be the aim for a lot of people at the minute.
After a bout of research I decided that regular HIIT was not my friend and I started running more to reduce the thighs. Luckily, around this time ballet was back so I was looking forward to a longer and more lean physique. Except I think it’s got to the stage where I can’t see any progress and in anything because I am over analysing everything and trying to improve everything at once. Or so I have been told.
When discussing what I want from my workouts, my answer mainly revolves around more running (cardio is good for mountaineering), more flexibility for ballet, more upper body strength, a more toned core, more toned arms. (The ‘imaginary’ muffin top to disappear, more definition across my stomach, a smaller ass, if we are talking body insecurities.) In other words, I want everything.
The frustrations have come to a bit of a head this week. As it turns out spending my workout time trying to improve everything at once isn’t very productive and I need to focus on my main goals.
After a lot of moaning, it’s been revealed that my biggest frustration is my loss of flexibility so this has to be the next priority after my love of cardio from running and ballet. So I need to increase the yoga and the stretching. Frustratingly, it turns out doing everything to improve everything doesn’t work and you just end up spreading yourself too thin with very slow or no gains whatsoever.
I need to get out of the mindset that only exercise that burns huge amounts of calories is worth doing. Despite the insecurities about the ‘imaginary’ muffin top and thinking the stomach needs more toning I don’t think I’m in it for losing vast amounts of weight. Logically I don’t need to. So rather than be consumed that ballet combined with running home afterwards has been burning near on 900 calories each time, I need to focus more on what a certain type of exercise is doing for my body in terms of positive things. I need to focus less on the negatives that I see which I’m constantly trying to combat. And stop comparing myself to others.
I have already completed a wonderful yoga session last night which has instantly loosened the hip and turnout muscles already. I also need to remember that despite yoga not burning a billion calories each time that it does actually build strength too, so in effect has the double benefits I am looking for.
Running is perfect for mountaineering fitness and I have always enjoyed it, and along with the ballet I am getting that exhausting, calorie burning workout that I crave. And the preferred ‘body’ both ballet and running gives over that ‘HIIT look’ I didn’t like when I started getting it.
And once a week, JUST once, not more because I’m not going to pretend I want to be a medal-winning climber, I’m a fair-weather climber, I’m going to include a weights session to focus on getting a stronger upper body.
Hopefully from now, I can concentrate on getting my body to realistically do what I want it to.
This girl can.