May 18th, 2006


Working It

When I first started exercising, I'd do the much the same workout each evening. As I learned new moves I might add new things in or take old things out. But by February or so, I'd stagnated on learning new moves and I was just going through the same things over and over again. I could write it out but I think it'd be as dull to read as it was to do.

Lately, I've been more inclined to vary my routine. Some nights I'll do all the hardest moves I know. Others I'll just dance to the music, whatever moves I feel like doing. Sometimes I'll do one of my old routines. Every now and then I practice the one dance I choreographed to a song. I should choreograph another dance; I'm no choreographer but it's nice to do a planned routine that matches the music. One of the hardest parts is picking a song I won't get sick of.

Last night, I'd vaguely planned to do tough exercises. After I finished stretching, I did make three tries at doing a floor move that's so challenging I've never managed more than one rep on any given day. I didn't manage it all last night.

Afterwards, I did pushups for two minutes. I hate pushups. But they're about the only good exercise I do for my arms, so I do them every day anyway.

Then I got up and started doing hip shimmies.

Hip shimmies are really easy. The name is misleading, because the body part you're really focused on moving the knees, not the hips. Here's how you do a hip shimmy:

Stand with knees bent.
Bend the right knee further while straightening the left leg.
Then bend the left leg while straightening the right.

That's it. There are a bunch of variants on it -- in a traditional shimmy, you never completely straighten your legs, for example, while some modern ones do have you completely straighten one leg at a time. But that's the basic move. It's one of the earliest moves in my exercise book, so I used to do lots of them, switching between the easier and harder variants. The traditional one was pretty hard for me to do for a long time, and they were good exercises for getting my heart rate up. It's more work the faster you do it, but even at a fairly slow pace it'll put a fair amount of stress on the thigh.

Not so much so any more, and I'd been thinking of skipping them entirely. But I couldn't think what exercise I did want to do, so I started shimmying while I thought about it.

After three or four minutes of that, I found myself wondering, "How long could I keep this up?" So I kept doing it.

Twelve minutes in, my thighs had started to ache. I wasn't especially tired; the thighs really do much more work than any other part of the body in this move. So I kept going.

By sixteen minutes, I'd decided I was going to do twenty minutes of it so it'd count as the full aerobic segment of my workout. I wasn't entirely sure I could do something else if I stopped shimmying anyway. There's this point I'll reach some times, where I can keep doing the particular move I'm on, but my legs are going to collapse if I try to make 'em do anything else. I kind of thought I was at it.

In fact, my legs were shaking when I stopped, but I managed to go into a different series of dance steps, mostly to prove that I could. Then, just so my calves wouldn't feel left out, I did a hundred toe raises. Toe raises are a funny exercise: it's just going from standing with your heels on the ground to standing on the ball of your foot. Over and over again. This becomes surprisingly difficult after a sufficient number of reps.

Anyway, I did a couple of other moves after that, then went through five minutes of cooldown and five minutes of stretching afterwards, like a good girl.

But my legs still hurt today.

I remember the first time I did a workout with several minutes of hip circles in it. My thighs were so sore it hurt just to stand up, and I didn't walk so much as limp.

This isn't anything close to that bad.