Ya know Shakira was right. Although I don’t think she meant it in the way my life has taken to it, but hips sure don’t lie.
I have been an active participant in Zumba for almost two years now. I’ve done it off and on for about 10 years, but I’ve been very happy with the instructors at Akron General Lifestyles – North and believe I have found my Zumba home with them.
One such instructor is Wayne. Here’s a picture from an event last year. You can see me in my Aquaphor shirt, Wayne is in front of me. Next to him in the middle is Jeananne and next to her in the front is Lori. A small selection of the talent I learn from every week.
Wayne is fabulous and even had a move named for him. Since the beginning he has taken the time to try and help me learn the real steps and he often tells his class the history of the move and its cultural significance. Since the beginning he has also told me I need to open up my hips and my hips are too tight. So I constantly look in the mirror an try to thrust them as much as possible because thrust = open, right?
There are several moves we do in Zumba where I think I look good in the mirror. Until about a month ago I was starting to feel like an actual Zumba pro! Then I started doing real and consistent exercises. I started to develop and focus on my muscles and muscle groups. Despite learning them when I was 10, I only recently did my first real crunch. Seriously. I was in a core class and I went to do a crunch and I felt this pull from my center. It was a tug from below my breasts and above my bellybutton. It pulled me up and allowed me to lower myself too. All without any pressure on my back! What black magic could this be? A few more times and I figured out, I was using my abs. Now when I’m in Zumba and we do standing crunches or other abs related moves I know what they SHOULD feel like and when I leave class I physically feel like I’ve had a workout.
Wouldn’t you know it, there are other parts of my body I’m not using to their full potential either? I told a few instructors my knees hurt when I do some Zumba moves, they all told me it was because my hips are too tight and I’m doing the moves wrong. Hello? Don’t you see my thrusting? What else do you want? How else would I do them?
Enter Pilates. I took my first Pilates class on Monday. I tried my second on Saturday. I always thought of Pilates as the less popular sister of Yoga. Everyone told me it was essentially the same, but with different equipment. I’m not sure how to explain the difference myself, but for me there is a HUGE difference.
It was one of the only times I’ve found something to properly stretch and work my hamstring and ITB on my left side. On Saturday we did some moves with a ring and my upper legs were SCREAMING. How was everyone else able to space like that? To pulse like that? To do any of those things? I mentioned this to the instructor after class and she told me, very matter-of-fact, my hips are tight. What? Again? Only this time in the aftermath I learned what muscles I wasn’t using….so now I can make them stronger and start using them more, just like my abs.
All day Saturday and Sunday my hips (side, butt, upper hammy) all “hurt”, but in a good hurt. See everything in red? It “hurt” especially the tensor fasciae latae <—whatever that is.
Little did I realize, simply thrusting my hips around in class was not the same as keeping them loose and opening them.
What’s a girl to do? Man up and move forward. I plan to attend the Pilates class as often as possible. I plan to do my work workouts at home (I ordered one of those magic rings). Maybe I’ll do hula-hooping when the weather is nicer. Maybe I’ll find a belly dance class. Whatever works and a little of whatever might be fun. I plan to remind myself it’s a good idea to sacrifice a lil cardio to build a solid base.
What about everyone out there? Have you tried Pilates? What did you think? Have you ever discovered you were doing a move wrong? What’s your “problem” area?