Story and photo by Luca Williams
Every fall, when the rain begins, I begin to dread Jillian Michaels’ sly lift of her lip as she yells at me through my TV screen, “Just one more! Work harder!” I turn to exercise videos and high intensity interval training (HIIT) to stay in shape when it’s too wet to go mountain biking and to get in shape for ski season. This year, workout videos will help many of you who can’t get to the gym or yoga class due to Covid-19.
I began doing exercise videos out of sheer desperation. I needed to get in shape after pregnancy and I was home alone with a baby, an hour from a gym or exercise class. In 20 minutes of jumping, running in place, doing burpees, I became so happy from sweating and moving. Not only did I get exercise, but I didn’t have to ignore my toddler, who bumbled along with my moves, laughing. I found a little slice of heaven in workout videos. And when the ski season began, I noticed I was stronger than before.
The only problem I noticed was that I had to adapt the workouts for my areas of weakness. If I didn’t, I was left with back pain or weaker abdominal muscles. Each of us has an Achilles heel of sorts, an area of weakness. It might be a week knee or hip, a shoulder or neck problem, or even the actual Achilles heel. Maybe your lungs and legs feel weak from too much couch time. Some, like me, ate too many pints of Ben and Jerry’s during pregnancy and gained more weight than the connective tissue of my abdominal wall could handle and, oofta, the connective tissue in the middle stretched and never came back together. My abdominals will never be strong the way they were pre-pregnancy. Guys, this can even happen to you – not the pregnancy, the overstretching of abdominal wall connective tissue.
So what do you do when you really want to work out, but you have to work around something like Covid-19, too much couch time, a kid at home or whatever your obstacle is? You work around it. Start small and work your way up. Get creative. You find a new routine that you can live with and that can even bring you joy.
For my abdominals’ sake, I skip all of the traditional sit-ups and the push-ups that cause my abdominal wall to push outward and weaken. Instead, I focus on squats, and the deep core abdominal muscles and exercises that help lengthen, strengthen and draw my abdominal wall toward my spine. I have a few exercises ready to go to substitute when Jillian starts to yell, “Do one more sit up! Don’t give up!” I say “Jillian Michaels, you may be rich and famous but you can’t tell me what to do. You’re not the boss of me. I’m going to listen to my body right now!” Sometimes I just hiss at her.
So what is your area of weakness? How can you adapt? What would bring you joy even if you have to stay at home? Here are some of my favorite workout resources for my home practice of getting ready for skiing:
• Lindsey Vonn’s 2017 book, “Strong is the New Beautiful: Embrace your Natural Beauty, Eat Clean and Harness Your Power.”
• Lisa Kinder’s “10 Minute Solution: HIIT” video (I love this one. I still have to adapt arms and abdominals, but who can’t do a 10-minute workout?)
• Jillian Michaels’ home workout at bit.ly/3koubys is great for the ski season, plus it’s only seven minutes long.
• Fitnessblender.com has great workouts for different sports. x
Luca Williams is a certified rolfer in Glacier. She helps snowboarders, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts get aligned and out of pain.