workouts that work for me

96ec185faf973c2cf1d317dda89d9792Being toned and fit and extremely hot is not strictly for people of the two-handed variety. But it does require tons of discipline and several hours of working out, the latter of which can be a bit of a challenge for those of us with a limb difference. Luckily, most exercises can be adapted to fit different levels of ability to yield the same results. And we all want flat abs and muscles, right?

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Yes, this is a bathroom selfie.

I’ve tried out many types of workouts, from trampoline gym classes (yes, that’s actually a thing) to kickboxing (don’t try to punch people with a prosthetic fist, seriously) to a Brazilian “bum bum” butt-lifting program. And while I’m not very athletic, I’m definitely adventurous when it comes to trying new things. So I’ve had plenty of opportunities to figure out which workouts are best for me and my body. And this might come as a surprise, but my three favorite workouts are pretty cliche and normal. Also, they’re really easy for anyone, one-handed or not, to do. 

1) Swimming

When I was on the local swim team as a kid, I was hitting the pool three nights a week after school. Swimming laps over and over for two hours at a time was not always exciting, but I did gain a lot of energy and muscle tone. Swimming is easy on the joints and gives you a full-body workout, so it’s my number-one exercise pick. It also doesn’t require me to wear my prosthetic, which is always a plus. And no, in case you were wondering, I don’t sink to one side when I swim. (And yes, someone actually asked me that once.)

2) Running

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I take gym selfies, too. Don’t judge me.

I NEVER ran as a kid. I didn’t think I was capable of running until very recently when I hired a trainer to help me get ready for a 5K. I’m awkward as it is when I walk, so I just assumed that awkwardness would be amplified if I tried to run. As it turns out, anyone can be a runner once they learn the proper techniques. So I started running and have been doing so almost five days a week for the past few months. With a good playlist and comfortable sneakers, I can run for hours. (Okay, maybe not hours. But definitely minutes. Lots of minutes.) And I still get my cardio in, with or without the fake arm.

3) Yoga

Confession: I’ve always wanted to be one of those cool yoga girls who eats a vegan diet and buys everything organic and leads a stress-free, super-zen life. But I’m way too anxious and fast-paced and New York to do that. So I think the second-best thing is making time for a yoga class every once in a while. (It’s also the only place in my life right now where it is culturally appropriate for me to wear yoga pants.) And aerial yoga’s my favorite because you get to hang from a trapeze and it almost feels like you’re doing ballet. The floor poses are a little more complicated because I like to do yoga without my prosthetic. I’ve struggled with a few of the poses that require you to balance on both hands. Jen from Born Just Right suggested I use yoga blocks to even out my body and make it easier. And that makes a world of difference. So if you find yourself at a new yoga studio, make sure you ask for extra blocks to use during the more challenging poses. Besides that, though, I’ve never run into any problems with yoga. It’s incredibly relaxing and stress-relieving, so I highly recommend it if you’re a nervous type like I am.

Be warned: this is what you'll find if you open my gym locker.

Be warned: this is what you’ll find if you open my gym locker.

I also feel the need to add a disclaimer here: I haven’t been working out as often as I should lately. Maybe this post will keep me honest and help me stay motivated? We’ll see about that. I’ve already promised myself a morning run tomorrow (if I remember not to press the snooze button eight times….)

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

(Top image found on Pinterest.com)
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aerial yoga = mission accomplished

Hello! I hope everyone is having a great week so far. I apologize for not having written much lately; I’ve been hard at work on my senior thesis, which is due in May. (I’m writing a book of short stories, which will NOT be published.) Anyway, I wanted to share an update about the bucket list I made for myself. I can now officially cross off “take yoga classes” because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing as of a couple weeks ago.

Two Thursdays ago, I took my first aerial yoga class in a small studio in NYC. Sacred Sounds Yoga is only a few blocks from my office, so I swung by for my first session after work. Let me just mention this before I continue: I am far from a yoga pro. The last time I remember taking a yoga class was in high school at least 5 years ago. But this new studio promised a relaxing hour-and-a-half of soothing yoga and meditation, so I gave it a shot. Armed with my pink floral-patterned yoga mat (which had been sitting in my closet, unused, since the day I bought it) and clad in yoga pants and a fitted tee, I was ready to be rid of the stresses from that day.

I can’t say I was nervous about the class itself, but I kept wondering whether I should wear my prosthetic hand or take it off for the session. I wanted  to feel completely comfortable, so I ultimately decided to leave it in a nearby cubbyhole with the rest of my things. That worked perfectly well for all the aerial exercises we were taught, but I struggled a bit with some of the floor poses. Next time, I’m definitely going to have to keep the prosthesis on hand (ah, bad pun, sorry!) so I can distribute my weight evenly on both arms and not rely solely on my right side. Jen from Born Just Right suggested that I try using a yoga block next time to elongate my left arm without the prosthetic. I’m going to do that this week when I go again.

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For a one-armed person, Downward-Facing Dog can be a real bitch (yes, there’s another terrible pun)

Besides the hand-or-no-hand situation, aerial yoga was pretty awesome. It’s a surprisingly relaxing experience to be hanging upside down from the ceiling with nothing but a silk hammock holding you in place. I’m being dramatic, though; the aerial poses really weren’t tough at all, and I think anyone with average flexibility would do just fine. And in case you’re considering taking up this style of yoga, here are a few tips I picked up in my limited experience with the practice:

– If you have an obvious physical disability, clear it with the studio before you schedule a session. I emailed the receptionist a few days before I went in order to make sure the teachers would be okay with a one-armed student taking their classes. I like to warn people that I’m a little different and reassure them that I’ll be fine with what the class requires of me physically. This prepares them with enough time so they don’t freak out about how to handle the situation when they see me.

– If you have long hair, tie it back (unless you want to sweep the floor under your hammock).

– Wear fitted clothing. I almost wore an oversized t-shirt to the session but wisely changed my mind at the last minute. If I would have worn my original choice, I definitely would have flashed everyone when attempting the upside-down poses.

– Get a pedicure the night before. This was me being purely self-conscious, but I kept thinking about how my toes probably looked ugly with the mostly-chipped red polish I’d left on after my last pedicure. You’re barefoot during the session, so make sure your feet look presentable.

– Clear your mind and leave all your nagging thoughts at the door. Seriously, yoga is SUPER relaxing. I was calm and mellow for several days after the session.

Those are all the tips I have for now. I’ll update you if any helpful advice pops up later. For now, I’m happy knowing that I can already cross my first goal off this year’s bucket list:

 goals 2

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

 

(First two images found on Pinterest)

 

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