Fitness in midlife: core, strength and stamina (and a video demonstration)

Today I woke up in a state. Instead of feeling

  • excited about a new day, week, month, year with a fresh start, I felt annoyed
  • content, I felt dissatisfied
  • calm, I felt restless
  • at peace, I felt like starting an argument or picking a fight
  • like writing prose, I wrote this drivel

What is happening… 😱

Time to re-calibrate.

Here’s something I know will help:

This is not me.
This is me. 😊

This pose in the picture is called a side plank.

Asana Rebel is the yoga/fitness app I use to improve my physical health, strengthen my core, increase my stamina and clear the mental clutter from my brain. With the pandemic canceling my boot camp in the church basement and my desire to work out in a soggy park less than non-existant, I looked for an app. This was $50 per year and all I needed was floor space and a yoga mat.

Then I got started. πŸ™‚

I’ve been doing exercises from this app for 57 days since September, averaging 3-4 days per week.

January count since I began
First full month of Asana Rebel was September.

Here’s the thing:

This side plank pose pictured above was difficult to execute on my first day. Or my second. Or even a week later. I tried and quit. It looked and felt impossible.

I started slow. I picked the simplest stretching exercises before attempting the more complex yoga poses, and chose the 10 minute segments instead of the 30 minute ones.

I avoided the cardio sessions, the targeted focus challenges or anything requiring more attention than 20-ish minutes initially.

I also forced myself to stick with it no matter how much I disliked how I looked and felt during the exercises. (Not good. I felt old and out of shape.)

But I liked the app. I liked the voice-overs which verbally explained the exercises. They were calm and only slightly encouraging, not over-the top-irritating “YOU CAN DO IT KEEP GOING” chants.

Asana Rebel has a selection of gentle poses with focus on stretching and breathing that slowly prepare you for upgrades to more challenging routines. I appreciated this as a beginner who did little exercise outside of regular dog walking…

After a month of trying several short yoga and stretch-only sessions, I found Shred It, a perfect 24-minute combination of warm-up and cool-down stretches and yoga poses focusing on core muscles, strength building and a short amount of cardio in the middle.

The pose above, side plank, is done after a series of regular planks (both arms). It was extremely difficult at first. And discouraging when I failed repeatedly.

I’m telling you, the first time I attempted the side plank I almost killed myself. I beat myself up for my lack of fitness ability and quit the planks, returning instead to the gentler stretch poses.

But I got bored with those. It’s strange, really, how your body communicates with you. If I missed a few days, my body signaled my brain to take out the mat and pick a session. So I did.

I MADE time. 24 minutes of less scrolling social media, listening to politicians change their plans, or snacking was worth it.

After Canadian Thanksgiving (mid October), I had been at it for about 6 weeks. I went back to Shred It and urged myself to at least do all of the exercises at least once (there are repetitions of some of them, like the planks or the burpees).

I told myself it doesn’t matter if I can’t keep up with the model on the screen. I did what I could, rested when needed, repeated when able, and continued until the end.

Those planks especially were killer and I allowed myself to drop to my knees and rest whenever I needed.

But I persevered. 3-4 times a week for 57 days since September.

By late October, I was able to hold the side plank on my right arm for about 2 seconds. πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠ

Those 2 second one-sided planks were so encouraging, it somehow flipped some switch inside my head. I re-attempted the various planks again the next day, and the same thing happened.

Now, compared to the young and very fit model in the picture above, this was not encouraging. She held the regular plank (both arms) for at least 10 seconds, then effortlessly switched to the side plank a without a break, held it for just as long and again on the other side.

I needed many breaks.

But comparing myself to a millennial is ridiculous, and so I stopped. Besides, I already proved that I improved from not being able to hold any plank to holding the side plank for 2 seconds and the regular both-arms-plank for more, so things were looking up. Right?

Once I achieved the 2-second hold, increasing the time was much easier. Like runners who hit a wall after a certain time and want to quit right then and there, I faced the same wall.

But I pushed through. And, before I knew it, I could feel my strength increasing almost by the day.

It was miraculous. πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ

Today, after 57 days of consistent attempts of both Shred It and other exercises, I am able to hold all planks, including the side ones for much longer.

8 seconds on my right arm.

6 on my left arm.

By November I began to add some other activities into my work-out. After I finished my cool down on Asana Rebel, I would do a set of 40 crunches/sit-ups, 10 leg-splits, and at least one, sometimes three sets of weights. I have dumbbells and a kettlebell.

I don’t do those every time, but I do the sit-ups most of the time. I can feel my abdomen muscles have tightened and my core stabilized, so I know it’s working.

Does this mean my stomach is flat?

Ya… NOPE. πŸ™„

I’m 53, had two babies who gifted me with a c-section scar in that area, and a wider pelvis (thanks to the first giant baby who got stuck in me).

But my core muscles are tighter. I can feel it. My spine is aligned better, I can feel that too. My neck problems of the past few years… not completely gone but I’m rarely using my brace anymore.

I decided to film my evidence for you.

Filming myself is nerve-wracking but I don’t care. If I can encourage even just one person to start, or return, to any form of physical exercise, then I’m happy.

If I can do it, anyone can. πŸ™ƒ

I am not affiliated with Asana Rebel. I don’t follow every exercise regime exactly, but I do like this app for my purposes. There are other apps out there which are not expensive.

Thank you for reading, and watching! See you in the comments.

44 thoughts on “Fitness in midlife: core, strength and stamina (and a video demonstration)

      1. Notsoinnocent Beagle is napping beside me as I type this and we’re back in almost lockdown. Schools and activities and indoor dining abolished. Again. And it’s winter and cold and muddy and gross outside.

        But we’re managing despite slowly going insane at the hands of this province’s political system.πŸ™„πŸ˜‰πŸ˜₯

        Thank you for asking. All well with you?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Congrats! I was doing Beachbody Barre Blend for awhile and I enjoyed the stretchy stuff. Now I’m working on 8k-10k steps a day and weights twice a week. I need more stretching….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bravo! People say I’m an irregular exerciser, I say I’m listening to my body, and when the body says β€œsit” a
    I obey! Maybe get up once and a while for treats! I hike and bike and I think about yoga, but it doesn’t have a k in it? Keep up the good work Claudette! Best, C

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for posting this! Very inspiring . I am going to look for Asana Rebel right now. I walk every day around one or one and a half mile and do stretches, but this sounds intriguing. And feasible. Burpees, not so much, but bueno πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a slug who quit daily walking when it got too hot. Then life… blah blah blah excuses. I need to get off my flat arse and back onto my feet and start walking again! I really don’t think the steps I take from the back yard to the side yard taking pictures countsπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
    Bravo on the step out of your comfort zone!πŸ₯³πŸ’ƒπŸΌ You smokin’ πŸ”₯🀨😘

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I get the feeling. I was walking almost everyday until snow hit for a week. The combo of unfinished sidewalk access (city is redoing them), compact snow/ice on the roads, and not the best ice walking skills means I haven’t ventured out on foot for some time. I feel like a slug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a doctor on the radio in the UK a while ago saying that Burpees are good for your brain. He said they didn’t understand why but it had something to do with the fact that your brain is rapidly changing elevation which has the effect of pulsing blood through it. That’s what he said anyhow. It hasn’t made me any smarter so far but maybe it’s just stopped me getting stupider.

      I’ve avoided the gym for nearly two years now so I do my routine in my shed. My wife thinks it’s funny because when she’s in the kitchen she can see my head bobbing up and down through the window. I find that loud, pulsing music helps.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Good for you! I’m inspired. I had been doing a yoga app on my phone that is $17/month which now seems crazy to spend that much given the flexibility and content that you’ve highlighted here on Asana app. I think I’m switching. Thank you for helping us all re-calibrate!

    Liked by 2 people

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