Welcome to mid-January. It’s freezing cold here in the Northeast and all of the shiny New Year’s Resolutions we all set are starting to fizzle. It’s the time when gyms are emptying back out and the fitness goals we had in mind seem a little out of reach. Or at least, that’s the way it is for most people right?
Every year, I set a few random fitness goals that I want to achieve but somehow never do. I was pondering on this last week during my first yoga retreat in Joshua Tree. The instructor mentioned she really wanted to be able to do the splits every single year but would never actually do it. A little light went off in my head and I was like… dang, that sounds like me!
Every year I say I want to get the splits (among other crazy yoga poses) and then the year goes by and I don’t do it. So what happened? According to the manifestation exercises I learned at the retreat, it comes down to three things:
- I don’t actually believe that I will do it
- I don’t envision myself accomplishing the goal
- I don’t write out an action plan
Well of COURSE I can’t seem to reach my aspiring fitness goals with this kind of mindset! When I returned home from the retreat, I thought long and hard about it. What is it that I truly want to accomplish this year (aside from other personal and professional goals)? In the spirit of transparency and accountability, the following are three fitness goals that I would absolutely love to be able to do by the end of this year.
Do a Pull-Up
It’s kind of funny how I’m able to hold myself upside down on my forearms in a funky arm balance but when it comes to a basic pull-up I’m completely hopeless! The lack of functional strength in my biceps and lats have become very apparent and I’m determined to change that.
So this year, I’m pushing myself to cross-train a lot more. That means more sculpt classes, weight training at the gym, and also incorporating various exercises that help prepare for pull-ups. If you’re looking to do the same, this is just ONE of the articles that I’m looking to for guidance.
Finally Be Able To Practice Hanumanasana (aka the splits)
Similarly to the instructor I mentioned earlier, every year “the splits” is on my goal list. And every year, I fail to get them. But here’s the thing… it’s honestly because I haven’t really been trying to. I keep thinking that if I just keep up my yoga practice that the splits will magically happen. Like one day I’ll be in a class and the instructor will offer it up as an advanced variation and I’ll just slide into it like it was no big deal.
I’m bursting my own bubble on this but I know for a fact that this is not the way it works. So this year I have two things that I’m doing in order to finally practice this very elusive pose.
The first thing I’m doing is working on hip mobility and stretches that specifically target my tight hip flexors and hamstrings. It’s something that I have to commit to doing every single day for at least 15-30 minutes if I have any hope of getting closer to my goal. Here are a few you can do at home as well.
The second thing I’ve committed to is more assisted stretching. Towards the end of 2018 I had the pleasure of visiting STRETCH*D in NYC for a few sessions. If you’re unfamiliar with STRETCH*D and live in the area, I highly recommend getting your booty to their Flatiron studio asap. Not only is it a beautiful space but they also offer some incredible assisted stretching sessions ranging from 25 min – 75 min long.
Assisted stretching is the ultimate way to get a deep stretch, safely and effectively. Their team uses dynamic stretch methods to gently help you build flexibility and range of motion. All you have to do is show up in comfortable clothing and be prepared to relax on a stretcher table while they move your arms and legs in various motions.
I felt incredible after the three sessions I had and definitely believe that with targeted assisted stretching accompanied with stretches on my own, I’ll finally be able to get the splits this year.
Hold a Handstand Properly
I feel like I’m pulling the curtain back but here’s the truth: I can’t hold a handstand away from a wall for very long. Yep, all those handstand photos you see me doing on Instagram are literally of me holding it for 3-5 seconds. It’s been frustrating actually… because I really really want to be able to hold them for much longer without toppling over. As of right now, my shoulder flexibility needs to improve to get the proper alignment and I need to strengthen my core much more to get rid of the “banana back” (arched back) when upside down.
I truly believe that by doing more of what I mentioned for pull-ups, along with assisted stretching and more core work, I’ll be able to hold a handstand properly for at least 30 seconds by the end of the year. I’m going to start by doing lots of prep work at least 3 times a week and using the other days to focus on building core strength.
Alright you guys, it’s out in the world now. I’m so excited to see if I can make these happen and I’d love to know if you have anything you’re working towards? That way we can cheer each other on together.
*All photos taken by Wini Lao Photography at STRETCH*D in Manhattan.