To Yell or Not To Yell

Is it acceptable to grunt or even yell during a workout?

Rebel yell - but is it necessary?
Rebel yell – but is it necessary?

I know there’s some controversy over whether or not letting out some vocal response actually helps during exercise.

I think we British are a bit restrained – although I have, in my time, welcomed an outbreak of whooping when an aerobics class got particularly tough.

And I plead guilty, Your Honour, to vocal venting.

Meg Ryan lets go in the deli
Meg Ryan lets go in the deli

Just today during a particularly arduous abs session following “insane” Guerrillas I let out a yowl which had the instructor turning round and commenting “I wondered what what was going on there for a moment!”

Had I left my inhibitions at the door?

It reminded me of that notorious deli scene in the late 80’s romcom “When Harry Met Sally”.e27e543cea0754ca1e834665d9a0f2d60bdcd3c35e288bf8346098172d7b7227

Again, I’m going to apply some British restraint here and suffice it to say the female lead “fakes” a response arguably more appropriate to the bedroom than in a busy restaurant – to prove a point.

She “finishes” – and resumes eating her lunch, whereupon an older woman on the next table tells the waiter “I’ll have what she’s having”.

Did Monica Seles invent the 'tennis grunt'?
Did Monica Seles invent the ‘tennis grunt’?

Apparently it took several takes to film that scene.

Was Meg Ryan, then, as mortified as I?

Let’s get out of the New York deli – and back into the gym.

Or the dojo, and even the tennis court.

Everyone’s familiar with Miss Piggy’s “Hi-yah!” as she wallops Kermit.

Kiai is the Japanese term for the yell or shout used during an attacking move – but in addition to the impact on your opponent, it’s also thought to teach a proper breathing technique.

Miss Piggy is familiar with the Kiai
Miss Piggy is familiar with the Kiai

Nine-time Gland Slam winner Monica Seles has been dubbed the creator of the “tennis grunt” (and you can see her in action here).

Yet Russia’s Maria Sharapova topped a Daily Telegraph grunting poll in 2011 – deploying a climactic shriek of the blue-movie variety at 101 decibels.

There have been calls for a crackdown regarding on-court grunting – but leading pundits point out that, just as in martial arts, it can help players focus on their performance.

But if you’re not a world class athlete and just working-out, there’s always going to be the idea that there’s simply no need to make a noise and if you do, well, then you’re simply showing off.

At this point I decided I needed a bl**dy good laugh – and courtesy of BroScienceLife, I found it.

In the YouTube video There Will Be Grunts, our guide explains: “Your grunt explains who you are. It’s your identity at the gym.

“Grunting is in our nature, it was the first language – followed shortly after by Emojis”

He then goes on to analyse variations ranging from the “lion-breath” to the “squirt-bottle”. Take a look below, but be advised – there’s swearing (“oooh language!”) .

“Grunting should be reserved for weight that’s impossible to move silently”.

A concept an English woman can relate to – my friend trained perfectly happily amid body-builders but a switch to another gym got her disapproving looks from other female gym users – for her “unladylike” grunting.

Yet as a trained fitness instructor she found this helped her achieve her targets “especially with the leg press”.

So whether you yell, scream or grunt – it would appear you’re in good company.

Just pick your moment wisely!

Maxing Out

Inspiration’s never far away in blog-land – and Christian Boyles, of Maxed Out Muscles, has provided yet more proof.

Christian advises a sensible approach
Christian advises a sensible approach

The 21-year-old, from Illinois, US, created his website after suffering a lot of depression and flare-ups of Crohn’s Disease.

For him, the crunch point came last summer.

Christian told me: “I said “Enough is ENOUGH” and I started taking control of my life. I feel that too often we take life’s punches and we just allow ourselves to be downtrodden. I wanted to take control of my life and not allow myself to become sick again.”

At his senior prom
At his senior prom

So, as well as doing his best to improve his own fitness – he made it his mission to take others with him on the journey, possibly motivating them to turn their lives around.

Inspiring enough? Christian modestly adds: “I don’t personally have experience with being injured, but here are some ideas I have…”

Unfortunately his advice does include watching what I eat and avoiding running! Fortunately I’m past that stage now LOL.

Christian doing cross-country in his junior year
Christian doing cross-country in his junior year

Here’s my Q & A

What adaptations should I make to my fitness regime?

You’re injured, and that was possibly out of your control. Or maybe it wasn’t? Use this time in your life where you are somewhat forced to rest…as a period of reflection. These next few months can be months where you:

1) Ask other people for tips and tricks on finding effective ways to deal with injury and prevent it from happening (Which you’re already doing!) Good for you 😉
2) Spend a lot of time focusing on other aspects of your life. Take this time to re-educate yourself on the basics.

3) Look into other hobbies related to fitness.

Christian believes Elliott Hulse's perspective changed after he injured a tendon
Christian believes Elliott Hulse’s perspective changed after he injured a tendon
Do you know anyone who’s survived injury to continue their exercise regime? 
Elliott Hulse tore his bicep tendon when he was lifting heavy weights. He had to have surgery done on his bicep and he began doing work on just one side of his body…
What I found really interesting about this is, after he tore that tendon and went through the surgery, his videos on YouTube started to have a different tone.
elliott hulse - strongerHis personality started shifting into what was a completely different perspective.
Before he tore that tendon he seemed like the muscle man that had something to prove and was yelling at the camera, and after he tore the tendon he seemed much wiser.
Can injury make people who enjoy exercise feel cut-off and even make them drop out altogether?never give up
I believe it can and I hope the people that quit can learn from that experience in some way.
I personally don’t think that quitting is the most resourceful path and if anyone reading this is thinking about giving up, please don’t.
The only positive way I feel you can quit “exercise” is if you replace it with something that is equally beneficial like reading and researching something that interests you and creating a new hobby.
No matter what you decide to do in response to the resistance life has placed in front of you, make sure you’re maturing because of it in some way.

Happy Birthday Ragen!

untitled (7)Ragen Chastain of Dances With Fat marks her birthday today.

Her mission statement? Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are Not Size Dependent.

She has to field a lot of inane hate-mail – one advising that “Suicide would be a favor (sic) to humanity”. There has even been a post on WordPress questioning the validity of her achievements.

Yet still she keeps on going!

Ragen says: “Nothing says ‘Happy Birthday Ragen!’ like standing up to fat bigotry and oppression, so my suggestion for this Say Something Sunday is to post something awesomely body affirming to social media, here is an option (if it’s not for you that’s totally cool, feel free to post something that makes sense for you!)”explosion-of-body-appreciation1

Cometh the Hour…

I couldn’t sleep – and ended up combing social media for inspiration (as you do) – and I found it.

You know how it is when you wake up in the middle of the night and it’s just impossible to tell any concerns you have to wait until the morning?

If you have time it’s worth taking the odd six minutes to see the vid through – I could transcribe the lot but here’s a quote that hits home with me:


I found the video shared on FaceBook by Larry Evans.

Larry doesn't want to be judged
Larry doesn’t want to be judged

He’s an American guy fighting his own battle against weight – he’s getting down from 800lbs (just over 57 stone) via an exercise regime and surgery.

I want to interview him for this blog at some point.

Larry’s journey isn’t a short one.

All he asks, as short videos chart his progress both in the gym and in hospital, is that nobody judge him.

Here he is an action during an earlier stage of his campaign – I believe this was filmed in late September last year:

Isn’t he one awesome guy?

Yoga – the Great Antidote?

Yoga is the latest addition to my seemingly Phoenix-like return to exercise.

Lunges like this are a good example of how Yin yoga helps a runner
Lunges like this are a good example of how Yin yoga helps a runner

I went for a run yesterday morning – so after a shower and a change of clothing, it seemed the perfect antidote.

The “Restful Yin” class was ideal – as it involved a much-needed stretch for the muscles I’d used in Guerrillas and running.

Most people are familiar with the idea of yin/yang – with my favourites leaning towards the “Yang” side of things obviously.

But here’s a definition from someone who knows a bit more:

“The term “yin yoga” comes from the Taoist tradition. Yang relates to movement, often repetitive movement, creating heat in the body. Yin is about finding stillness and cooling the body.”  Geraldine Beirne, Yin yoga: be part of the yin crowd, The Guardian, 5 January 2015

12144670_981428748546651_67774216200882240_nIt essentially involves passive stretching – in other words, relaxing into the pose and letting the body weight do the work rather than actively pushing into it.

Breathing techniques also help as you use the breath to intensify the stretch.

Imagine then, what that’s like for someone like me!

The idea of “letting go” is very difficult for someone who’s used to the idea of having to deploy every ounce of their will-power into things like running up a hill or lifting something heavy.11986551_1004413896289678_526541314791483366_n

In other words, most of the exercises I do almost involve “mind over matter” – envisaging what I want my body to do and dragging it along there with me.

And actively welcoming the idea of muscles “softening” – anyone reading this blog knows my opinions on having a soft body!

Nevertheless, the results were fantastic – the stiffness from my more Yang-ish endeavours diminished.

I have deployed yoga as a solution a number of times in the past.12106995_974855809241541_3094067484018509579_n

With the aid of YouTube I have managed to heat a cold living room – and my even colder self – with an Ashtanga session.

And as being able to speak is an essential part of my work I have also warded off being side-lined by whatever “nasty-bug-that’s-going-around” with asanas geared at boosting

My only criticism would be that – in a lot of cases on YouTube – the instructor is far more flexible than I could even hope to be.

Let’s face it, who can resist showing-off if they’re good at something?

So many of the ensuring poses are impossible for me and leave me standing gormless on the mat.

Here’s just one example of YouTube yoga for runners – it’s Ekhart Yoga – one of my most trusted (and less ostentatious) sources.

Believe you me, whether it’s a YouTube front room job or a class, yoga does work!

Guerrillas in the Mist

I should be grateful my bone has healed!
I should be grateful my bone has healed!

A breather after a block of non-stop working means my exercise activities are totally unrestricted – and I’m loving it.

And as my Guerrillas instructor shouts commands to do burpees that send me scrambling to the floor, or boob-joggling star-jumps, I know I should be grateful.

I no longer hobble. I’m there – in the moment.

It’s worth enduring the rain (the “mist” in the title!) to get there.

That once-broken fifth metatarsal reminds me it’s there – I practically see it shining UV fluorescent green through the side of my shoe, through my skin.

Help me Doctor! Is it Guerrillas or gorillas?
Help me Doctor! Is it Guerrillas or gorillas?

My yoga instructor once told me this “reminder” is the bone’s way of protecting me!

All the same, it’s surreal. It now survives high impact exercises – not only Guerrillas – but running too.

I had to replace my mobile phone recently due to wear and tear – that option simply isn’t as readily available when it’s one of your feet.

Good job the body heals as well as it does!

My battle against vile, flabby, passive femininity – my War on Soft – is making satisfactory progress to date.

Leave the wings where they belong
Leave the wings where they belong

However my latest concern is – now the bingo wings are on their way out courtesy of my upper-body work – am I going to bulk-up?

After all I don’t want to end looking like a gorilla!

“(Women) should lift heavier since they cannot get bigger muscles because of low testosterone levels”, says exercise physiologist and author Dr Jason Karp.

Like, phew!

Another WordPress blog CrossFit Journal has offered some reassurance this won’t happen.

Leading cross-fitter Christmas Abbott is hardly 'bulky'
Leading cross-fitter Christmas Abbott is hardly ‘bulky’

With my short, stocky stature I fear I could go that way – but if I’ve being realistic, I’ve got a very long way to go before that happens, if indeed it does.

For a start, at the moment I can’t even pull myself up whether it’s on rings dangling from the ceiling or on a bar above my head – my arms simply aren’t strong enough to carry my full body weight.

That’ll change, of course!

I'll be able to do this - one day!
I’ll be able to do this – one day!

And the majority of people in today’s class were female (don’t ask me why but the male-dominated ones tend to be more in the evenings) – and I’d say most of them don’t want to bulk-up either!

Frankly, as someone who prides themselves on being unfeminine and unladylike I’m shocked at my typically girly fear of becoming muscular, especially when I know how irrational it is, given my existing knowledge.

I reckon I need to start balancing out the cardio and reintroducing long runs.

It’s all a work in progress – but I’m on it!