That time you decided to take back your muscles, because you are 4 weeks from going on a Yoga Retreat with The Mindfulness Center at Pura Vida Resort & Spa in Costa Rica, and you decided to go back to what works best – old school Firm workout videos. And you even bought a VHS VCR to play your library of VHS workout tapes on.
But, then you almost died 20 mins into your workout…..
In college when I didn’t do the FIRM for one week, despite still working out, I used to get what I called the “one month of leg pain” when I started doing it again. In just one week, my muscles can decondition that fast, even when I’m still active. The good news is, muscle has memory, and the FIRM does deliver results in 10 workouts. I was lucky enough to go to the actual FIRM Gym during my freshman year of college Charleston, SC.
After I had left the College of Charleston to transfer to the University of Maryland, The FIRM came out with workout tapes and then an infomercial — thankfully, I was able to continue the workouts I loved. I started doing the FIRM to incorporate strength training into my workouts after I dislocated my knee my senior year in high school. My physician, being very intuitive back then and probably not necessarily realizing how impactful and important his recommendation would be years later and over the course of the rest of my life, said that I had to start strength training to help stabilize my knee caps and strengthen my “loose” joints. The FIRM was a mix of aerobics and step aerobics, which I loved, and large muscle and 4-limb movements with heavier weights that most women at the time would dare to lift. Results don’t lie. The fastest way I gained strength ever. So, I’m going back to what works the next four weeks, while still doing my normal workouts that I love.
What I loved (and still love) about the FIRM, is that it was a mix of high-low aerobics and step aerobics, and large muscle and 4-limb movements with heavier weights — or, heavier than most women usually lifted. Results don’t lie. The FIRM still remains the fastest way I’ve ever gained strength and stability in a given period. The workouts are incredibly efficient — most complete in an hour or less. While I’ve remained active since I’ve stopped doing mostly the FIRM and other videos at home, no other mainstream workout or studio class has reshaped my body, while providing the same level of strength and stability as the FIRM.
Spinning and barre classes are two other life-changing and body shaping workouts, but neither one by itself or both together provide the same level of strength and stability throughout my body and in all of my joints like the FIRM. When I went through my last major “EDS Spiral” (previous to this one), about 6 1/2 years ago after my youngest was born, and after the back-to-back pregnancies. I started climbing my way out about a year and a half later. I had never taken such a long break from regular activity or my consistent workouts since I was 11 yo. Not working out for 1 1/2 years total and after back-to-back pregnancies, gaining 60lbs + each time was more than devastating. And humbling. I was more than deconditioned at that point, swollen and retaining water all over that I couldn’t’ get rid of. I knew that I needed to change the way I approached beginning to workout again.
Eventually, I went to a cycling class, and it gave me the push to focus on strength training and cardio that did not use larger dumbbells and was overall less impact on my joints –, i.e., cycling and barre classes. Cycling and barre were incredible, and I still love them; however, as I got stronger, I wanted a strength workout that compared to the results of the FIRM. I discovered Megaformer Pilates, TRX, became more entrenched into different types of yoga and started studying natural movement principles. Slowly, I began incorporating kickboxing and HIIT boot camp-style workouts back into my routine but still focused on trying new strength and whole-body workouts, versus going back to my old FIRM videos. Part of me also wanted to prove to myself that I could gain strength through other types of workouts versus solely “lifting,” especially if my joints were not up for a more intense, weight-training type of workout. I needed other options, and I was a bit board with my FIRM videos as well, considering I’ve done their workouts since I was 18 years old.
You can read my story about climbing out of the “EDS Spiral” for the 6th time, by going here.
This time, the EDS Spiral is different.
The hardest pill to swallow in all of this?
I’ve come to realize and accept that my most recent spiral is not caused by a complete lack of “exercise” for several weeks or even a year, or because I haven’t gone to physical therapy consistently, but is the direct result of a lack of regular and necessary daily movement – the kind our bodies are made to do each day.
The spiral that I’m currently working to climb out was caused by working more than I ever have in my life and being more sedentary on a daily basis than I have ever been. While the risk I took was calculated and specifically made a choice to work so hard on building and launching EDS Wellness, and more, I underestimated how much “sitting,” despite still working out would affect my body overall — not just my muscles. The kicker is that while I’ve been building and planning the launch of EDS Wellness, organizing several Wellapalooza retreats and working on countless other projects – all with the purpose of helping others in the EDS community understand the importance of moving more and moving better, I wasn’t doing it myself.
What I’ve learned, is that the type of “EDS Spiral” that happens when the body deconditions from a lack of daily “nutritious movement” that it needs to sustain proper biomechanical and biochemical functions and stability, is far more devastating and harder to climb out of than the EDS Spiral that occurred when I didn’t workout at all for 1 1/2 years. During that time, I was not working as much on the computer as I need to now, and I was able to balance my intense work weeks, with easier, more stable ones. And overall, I was always on the move. I’ve never been as sedentary in my daily life (and I’m not solely referring to the number of times I workout each week), as I have been the last 2-3 years. Even when I work with my medical sales business, I am always standing, walking around the hospital, doing wall sits, or ballet barre exercises while I wait or am in the OR supporting a surgical procedure.
My point to sharing all of this?
There’s something to say for low-impact cardio intervals, mixed with strength exercises that focus on large muscle and 4-limb functional movements — i.e. The FIRM workout videos. And the EDS Spiral is real. It can happen even when you are working so hard to fight against it — both personally and professionally. So, my plan is to go back to what I know works best over the next four weeks, while still doing my usual workouts that I love. Plus, I like contests. I’m going to take measurements and pictures to compare not on the before and after this time, but the few years before, to now and then to pictures taken after going all in on what I know works well — and doing it daily, for more than “Just 5 Minutes.”
‘The EDS Spiral is Real and Devastating, but You Can Climb Out’ – http://strengthflexibilityhealtheds.com/2015/04/06/the-eds-spiral-it-is-real-devastating-but-you-can-climb-out/
‘WHAT DOES THE EDS SPIRAL REALLY LOOK LIKE? READ THIS!’ – http://strengthflexibilityhealtheds.com/2015/04/06/what-does-the-eds-spiral-really-look-like-read-this/
‘CLIMBING OUT OF THE EDS SPIRAL – MY ZENGO STORY’ – http://strengthflexibilityhealtheds.com/2015/05/13/climbing-out-of-the-eds-spiral-my-zengo-story/