All posts tagged iyengar

I finally decided to get myself a new body! Well, sort of.. I have been practicing Systema for five years now, and reached a plateau which I deem to be physical. Problem is, I find it very hard to stay motivated as far as working out goes.. Forget going to the gym, although there is a lot of eye candy at mixed gender venues. Let’s face it, I need structure, something to stick to, a plan of some sort. So, I searched the net for something that would suit my needs.

Everything seemed to point to P90X. It is a very hard program, 90 days, about 1:15 a day of strenuous workouts, along with a nutrition plan that probably will make my French ancestors turn in their graves. The box came, containing twelve DVDs, a nutrition book and workout book. The only things you need are a pull-up bar (you’ll be doing a lot of those!) and dumbbells. I thought it would be one DVD per week, but you actually use different disks every day.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/JyeltCbZVqY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Looking at the nutrition book left me a bit puzzled. For the first month, I am supposed to eat 3000 calories a day, 20% fats, 30% carbohydrates, and 50% proteins. Let me tell you, that little fat and carbs is nothing. I find it difficult to keep them down, while consuming enough proteins. I don’t think I could do it without Whey protein powder. If you are thinking about getting into P90X, or any similar exercise regimen, plan on spending good money on quality food and supplements.

I am now 6’2”, 200Lbs. Not bad for a 43yo, but I could bulk up a bit, especially on the arms, and lose enough belly to see my six-pack abs (I know they are in there somewhere). I probably won’t have to lose any weight, just redistribute it. You won’t see my before photos yet, because I don’t like them. I will post them later, when I see some visible improvements. Who wants to see a half naked middle-aged Frenchman anyway, right?

Here is a brief overview of my first few days, and what I think of the different workouts:

Ab Ripper X: Only sixteen minutes long, you do it along with other workouts. I have always been good at abs, so no problem there, I can almost keep up with these guys, but for some reps in the last five minutes. You really feel a nice burn with these exercises, lower and upper abs, the later which I seem to have disregarded in the past, given the pain I feel now. There is only one way to get a six-pack, and that is to lower you percentage of body fat to at least 10% (15% for women). No amount of exercise will do it. Ab Ripper X though is certainly a good start.

Plyometrics: It’s all about jumping around, up and down. My legs are still sore from the day before last. One hour is pretty hard. I hit the pause button a few times to drink water and dry myself with a towel. Your heart rate goes way up, and you sweat buckets. I felt pretty good after, more from the accomplishment of finishing it than the workout itself. It’s a hell of a way to start the day.

Chest and Back: That’s when the dumbbells come in. I got a set at Goodwill for $23, the kind that use sliding plates. Bad idea… You end-up changing weights all the time, pressing the pause button every few minutes. A one hour workout takes one and a half. I need to get a few pairs: 10Lbs, 25Lbs, and 30Lbs, for now. 25Lbs is what I use the most right now. My friend Ted loaned me a pull-up bar you put on a door frame. It works fine, but I have seen better ones, allowing a wider grip, at Walmart, of all places. Right now I can’t do even one pull-up, so I put my feet on a chair. If one word defines “Chest and Back,” it’s “push-ups.” I did 23 on the first day, but I know I can go up to 30 on a good day.

Shoulders and Arms: Bring on the weights! Lots of curls, triceps, dips with a chair. It is hard (I suspect none of these twelve workouts will be easy..), but quite fun. My left shoulder is much weaker than my right, due to a dislocation a few years ago. My elbow joints hurt on the inside, I wonder what I could do to take care of that.. That is one workout however I will be looking forward to.

Yoga X: I’ll be honest here, the first half really sucks. I am as flexible as a cutting board and could do practically none of it. The book says it is based on Hatha Yoga, but the first half is more like Iyengar, which I do not like. I prefer a more dynamic yoga, without so many balance and holding poses (though I can stay in tree pose forever). I was almost going to give-up and replace it with something else, like Cardio X. The problem is that if I start making one concession, I will make others.. I really want to stick to the program as closely as I possibly can, without missing any days or avoiding exercises I dislike.

I just finished day 4, and will describe the last workouts of this week in a few days, namely “Legs and Back,” “Kenpo X,” which by the way is in my opinion practically worthless for self defense as presented in P90X (I only mention this because they did mention self-defense), and “X Stretch,” which you can do on your off day. Feel free to ask any questions or give me advise in the comments box below..

I’ve had back trouble for some time, especially after my motorcycle accident in 2004. My broken femur was fixed pretty well with a titanium rod in it, but my broken vertebrae and slipped disk went undiagnosed for a couple years. Systema helped a lot with my reeducation, but the pain always came back.

Yesterday I finally decided to start Yoga, and signed-up for classes at Rosemary Court in Sarasota. They have a few different styles which I reduced to two, Hatha and Iyengar. I passed on the pole and exotic exercise class and “chanting” type yogas.. I don’t care for the meditative aspect of it. It’s had enough for me to say “Ommm…” It just sounds too goofy to me. I don’t need to feel better in my head, I’m already pretty happy and content. It’s my body that needs fixing.

I started with the Iyengar class at 8:30am, ouch! Actually I was up because the heater wasn’t on and it got cold during the night, woke me up, but still, I don’t think I’ll go that early again. I didn’t know you needed a mat, but they have loaners. The room had a nice wood floor and a bunch of windows, very pleasant, not to mention Rosemary Court itself, a very cozy feeling place. I was lucky to sign-up during a promotion time, five classes for $40, unbeatable (regular price: $50). Anyway, Iyengar yoga uses props; hard foam blocks, blankets, chair (for people like me) and belts. We started with very simple poses. It’s all in the details. Good posture and stretching, breathing, using muscles you didn’t know existed. I felt my back stretching nicely, without pain. It wasn’t very hard actually, but this was a beginner’s class. Poses have weird Indian names I couldn’t even pronounce, certainly not remember, nor care to. Fortunately they have English translations. I think I’ll just try to remember the positions, who cares what they’re called.. The instructor, Susan, knew what she was talking about and gave good explanations, correcting people here and there. At the end of the class, everyone said “Namaste,” which I guess must mean something like “good day,” another goofy-to-me practice. I mean, men don’t say things like “Namaste,” do they? Oh well, I had a good time, so It’s worth having to say “Ommm” while wearing pijama pants.

I quickly made my way to the Olive Oil Company on the corner to get a hot chocolate before the next class, Hatha yoga. One thing I gathered from the first class is that you really couldn’t do it by yourself without an instructor pointing out your mistakes. I am glad I didn’t take that route and picked-up bad habits. Back to Rosemary Court for more…

Hatha yoga doesn’t use props it seems, not in the first class anyway. It is slightly more dynamic than Iyengar. You won’t get a cardio work-out, mind you, but get pleasantly warm going from one position to another. Jessica makes it look easy and also gives good explanations. Both instructors actually emphasized the same points very well, which is reassuring to me. I wouldn’t like receiving contradictory instructions. I couldn’t do a couple poses because of my back, and of course, I am as stiff as a board. I doesn’t bother me if I can’t do it all, I am working on my own stuff. Yoga will blend well with my Systema martial art where good posture is paramount to not getting taken down. Flexibility won’t hurt either. Maybe I’ll be able to kick more comfortably at hip level, instead of always aiming for the knees. It’s too dangerous to kick higher anyway. The class was a bit too short I thought, but I’ll definitely keep going to Jessica’s class as well. My back felt great, I wasn’t walking like an old man anymore, what a pleasant change!

I give Rosemary Court the two thumbs up, and thank Susan and Jessica for the good instruction. I’ll be back!