Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Plank, the Budo way

Every Tuesday I scurry off during my lunch hour for a little pain, sweat and occasional swearing. Timothy's been serving this up to me since last June and each week seems harder than the last. And yes, I do pay for this...each and every time.

There's something about working out that just does not inspire me. Heading out to a gym by myself never seemed to work, so I decided to go find a personal trainer. I had been given a recommendation for this place, and met Timothy, who's sweetness and charm belies the fact that he'll kill you each session and smile while he does so.

The sessions are short and sweet (less than 30 minutes) and the entire point is to completely fatigue your muscles in a short period of time with slow repetitions of very heavy weights. It's a crazy-tough, beat the crap out of you time, but it's also addictive. You even get used to feeling shaky the entire time you work out, but you do have to be careful when driving away!

He almost always finishes up with plank. In Timothy's world this means that you do plank while he lays a board across your back to check your form and then drops some weights on top of the board. When I first started he said if you're fit you should be able to do two minutes solid. My best time has never been past 70 seconds.

When I mentioned to him that I wanted to get those two minutes down he laughed. Why? Well, in his world, if you can do two minutes of plank at the end of the workout...it wasn't a tough workout. He finishes up with plank to squeeze every last ounce of energy out of your body. Two minutes only works, when you're feeling fresh.

I've done martial arts for a few years now, and they teach the principal of 'no mind' or 'mushin', where you are so present in the moment that you can overcome whatever physical distractions that pop up. Work has been a little stressful lately, and I wanted to just block everything out for a few more minutes during my workout. So, when I hit the plank pose today I dropped everything mentally, including my preconceived ideas of how long I could hold the pose.

And in that moment, I was able to slip into a different place and block everything out, the shakiness in my arms, legs and abs, Timothy counting down the time, and even the burn of the carpet under my elbows. I blew past the minute mark with no inkling of physical discomfort and hit 1:26 before I let go. I really think I could have gone much longer, not because I had energy to burn but because I was successful in telling my brain to let go and just be in the moment.

It felt good, actually great, but I don't plan on telling Timothy quite yet. Internet, let's keep this our little secret for now...

2 responses:

Team Serrins Springfield said...

Wow. That's totally amazing. Believe it or not, I had never done plank longer than you do it during a sun salutation (so 3 seconds or whatever). But I've been doing the Wii Fit workout and plank is unlocked. The first time I did it, Rachel and the kids were watching and I settled into position but you can't watch the screen since you're looking at the floor/board. I was shaking in 3 seconds and asking Rachel how much time I had left (the game starts you at 30 seconds - and that's without Timothy putting weights on my back). I love the exercise because it is so killer but it is so killer...

Najla said...

Amen on that one!