May 10, 2017 | life

Operation: Get Me Stronger

For someone who works in fitness, I don’t often take care of my body too well. I batter it every day with workouts, don’t spend as much time stretching as I should and probably don’t get enough rest. Though logically, I know that’s not great, somehow I just get used to pushing those limits. And then eventually, your body let’s you know ‘Listen bitch, I can’t keep doing this with you’ and hits you with an injury. So, right on cue, that’s exactly what happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

For weeks, I’d been saying my body felt tired, everything was tight, I needed to stretch more, get a sports massage etc. I was giving it all that lip service while teaching back-to-back classes and squeezing in extra workouts where I could. I taught my usual Saturday morning class. That afternoon, my lower back felt a little tight, just like I needed to stretch or something. So, I did what any normal person would do and ignored it.

*eye roll* That would be mistake number one.

I woke up on Sunday morning and felt fine. I was already booked in to a HIIT circuit workout at a local studio so decided to go (cue mistake number two). The first couple of stations of the circuit, I felt fine. I got to station number three, picked up the 16kg kettle bell for some swings (a weight that’s usually no problem for me) and as I swung it up, PING, I felt my lower back go.

Just 15 minutes into the class and I knew I couldn’t continue. The studio is a 10 minute walk from my house and it took me a solid 25 minutes to get home as I felt my back ceasing up.

What followed was 10 days of pretty extreme pain, a (pretty crappy) sports massage and some very wonderful osteopathy appointments. Thankfully, it was a joint issue, not a disc issue and was simply down to overuse. My body feeling tight and tired? Yup, those were the warning signs. Sure, it was a kettle bell that did the damage, but that muscle was just ready to go either way.

So, as I sat on the sidelines, frustrated and beating myself up for not doing what I KNOW I should’ve done, I resolved to respect and appreciate my body more (an injury will make you get philosophical real quick).

Cue Dan Chapman, a PT who works at a Gymbox down the street from where I teach at BOOM Cycle. He’d contacted me a couple of weeks before I got injured saying he’d like to train me. He’s devised this program called ‘6 Week Shred Up’ that helps you build muscle and get lean.

So, let me say up front: I’m pretty skeptical about this kinda thing. I’ve never really had a desire to get lean, I’m not driven by transformation type fitness. I’m simply about trying to get my body in the best shape it can be to perform the tasks I need it to do. The injury made me realise I’ve been neglecting working on strength and this could be a prime opportunity to rectify that.

So I met with Dan. We talked through my goals and he said he could help me get there. He asked me what I hate about my body. I said ‘nothing’. I love my body, I don’t mind that there’s a bit of flab on there. For the most part, my fitness is great and my body does what it needs to do, but my strength is really an issue. I wanna get stronger and even more badass.

So, a couple of days ago, we began our 6 weeks of badassery. I never want to experience an injury like that again (and I got off pretty lightly really – no extended period of rehab, I was pretty much back to normal within 10 days, but it showed me just how fragile the body can be at times).

It’ll be interesting to see how my body has changed in 6 weeks time. For me, it’s not about the aesthetics – maybe my body will lean out a little, I’ll be training it in a completely different way than I’m used to and I’m sure my body will respond to that – but that’s not my focus. I can’t wait to see how strong I’ll be. I discovered during our first session that I can do 20 full push ups, which I’d been convinced I wouldn’t be able to do – if I can make that 40 at the end of 6 weeks, I’ll be a happy girl.

And if the by-product is some crazily ripped arms, yeah, I’ll take that too.

Follow me on Instagram to see me progress.

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MrsB @ Mind over Matter

20 push ups! Amazing! I was just moaning at Crossfit on Monday how push ups never get any easier 😐 But yeah – strength training is the must. You’ll love it 🙂

Julie O

Great article. There are so many women out there (me included) whose goal is to be strong. I’m just back training after a major op. Being physically strong improves my mental health and keeps my soul nourished. Looking forward to following your story in the next few weeks


Sooo, after being happily fit until this time last year, am now about to have an op on my wrist tendons and get physio for a spinal tear, needless to say I’m currently in shit shape. But like you say, this is the stuff that makes us appreciate how our precious machines work and how they need to be maintained. Once my body has mended I am totally looking to your posts for motivation to get strong again. Our bodies are the best thing we have.

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