Throughout our days we need a basic level of fitness otherwise life becomes reasonably harder. Simple tasks can become more difficult if you don’t have the strength to complete them. Carrying jugs of water up stairs, moving a couch down the hall and into your apartment, pushing your stalled car off the road are all tasks that strength immediately comes into play, and lack of strength leaves you in a place of surrender.
Flexibility is very similar. A lack thereof will bite you in the backside. Having a child has really brought these things up for me. Watching her grow and engaging with her as she is growing is taxing on the body. I am still shocked at how heavy a baby can feel after rocking her for an hour when I am tired. She is walking now, but when she was in crawling stage everything she did was very low in relation to me. So, getting down on the floor and getting back up again 500 times is pretty normal. Well, guess what? Add in your whole day, and then get up and down a bunch, and guess what? I got pretty damn tired. Sitting indian style, laying in all positions, rolling over are all commonplace now. It may sound elementary and simple, but let me tell you, these are things that I took for granted. The ability to move just in simple ways.
Picking up heavy barbells is great. Flipping tires, running, jumping, pulling heavy things, pushing heavy things… I love them all. Rolling around with a small human and being gentle takes a little bit more finesse. It takes a little bit more concentration on this range of motion and mobility ball game.
I still love to tell the story of how box squatting directly relates to holding a sleeping infant. My daughter is a saucy little girl, and she has been that way since day one. More of her glory comes out by the day. When she was just a month or so old, I was terrified about dropping her or holding her the wrong way, so rocking her to sleep was definitely an acquired skill. When I finally got her to sleep the first thing I wanted to do was sit down, and stop bouncing around. If the angle of my torso changed she would wake up, and it was back to rocking. So imagine standing in front of a couch holding a baby in your arms. All you want to do is drop into that couch and sleep. If the angle of your torso changes while you sit down, you are gonna stand right back up and go for a another round of Put the Baby to Sleep 5000.
The only move is “The Infant Box Squat.” I had to push my hips back, pushing my knees out and control the descent to the couch. If I flopped she was awake, if I leaned forward she was awake. It was like a game of Operation. I felt like there were buzzers everywhere. For about 2-3 weeks, I couldn’t pull this off. My flexibility wouldn’t let me. I then went to the gym and worked on both my flexibility and my strength through this range of motion. A few weeks later: Victory!
Who would have thought there was so much real life application to a movement in the gym? Another example is carrying my daughter in the ErgoBaby carrier. For those of you non-parents this is the backpack looking thing that you see strapped to people’s chests that their babies are dangling from. When she was younger, I would carry her in this while walking the dog. When you walk the dog you have to pick up dog poop. (Well, if you are an upstanding citizen you do.) When babies are young, they are like little custom bobbleheads. Their little necks are not strong enough to support the weight of their heads. So, leaning over with an infant on your chest isn’t in the cards without providing some support for her little dome piece. Such a simple task of picking up dog poop became a new challenge. A squat with a totally vertical torso. This takes a different set of mobility and strength than I was used to. After about 100 times it was easy. Yet another example of needing some fitness in very mundane simple tasks during my day.
My daughter is one, and my motivation for fitness is ever changing. In one year, I feel like my focus has moved ten times, but having the requisite flexibility and strength just to participate in this life is of the utmost importance to me. I don’t feel that my fitness is in a bad place, but I can tell you having a child has shined some light on a few limitations. Have you had experiences like this in your life?
Odd: 3 Bar Muscle Ups
Even: 150’ Shuttle Run
Complete the following for reps:
Tabata Kettlebell Swings (53/35)