When I was a little girl, I flat out said I was going to be Nadia Comăneci. I remember watching her command the floor and bars, with Bela Karolyi on the sidelines looking like a proud papa. The way she flipped and spun and tumbled was amazing and mesmerizing.
I HAD to do that.
I took all the typical little girl classes – jazz, tap, ballet – and also fueled my Romanian gymnast aspirations by taking gymnastics classes at the local Y. At 12, I was super duper flexible and strong – over-splitting and walk-overs were a snap.
But then I discovered something that would put a wrench in all of my dreams. I absolutely hated competing. We got a new coach who thought we were in Eastern Europe, and she switched up our class to become more Olympics-focused (this is the Y, lady). Needless to say, I didn’t last very long.
Fast-forward 20 years, with a great deal of physical inactivity thrown in for good measure. As someone who detested going to the gym, I discovered the wonderful apparatus known as Pole as a way to get into shape. It was tough (let’s be honest, it still is), but I loved the challenge. I was hooked. I had forgotten how amazing it was to go upside down – the world truly feels different from here.
As I got better and stronger, it became painfully obvious that one area I wasn’t training at all was my flexibility, or total lack thereof. My 12-year-old self was crying a little (lot) inside. So I decided it was time to get my former glorious gymnastic pre-boobs flexiness back. Don’t laugh (or do), but I was going to do it or be hospitalized trying.
First flexibility goal – get my splits back. After researching a number of viable options, I decided upon Cleo The Hurricane’s Rockin’ Legs N Abs (RLNA) DVD. Best. Choice. Ever.
See, a big misconception about flexibility is that you either have it or you don’t. Sure, some people are naturally flexible in their legs or their backs or shoulders, but that doesn’t mean a person who isn’t naturally flexible can’t become flexible. It just takes more work – lots of consistent stretching and strength training.
RLNA offers both in a sweat-inducing, muscle-killing, stretchy-flexy one-hour workout. It was, and remains, super intense. My butt cries every time I get to the fire-hydrant leg circles or the standing splits in chapter 7. But within 6 months of doing the DVD nearly everyday, I got my splits and was able to start training my over-splits.
Somewhere in the middle of my splits training, another insanely talented flexibility coach, Kristina Nekiya, came out with her own DVD for getting splits AND backbends, Fit and Bendy’s Get Bent. Backbends?! Yes, flexibility goal number two! There is some strength training involved here, but this is definitely a deep stretching type of workout. What I love most is all the awareness she brings to your body alignment and proper form technique. Plus, Kristina is a kick to listen to – I would go around saying “nice and juicy” just because. Get it and you will understand.
I have been doing Get Bent, and more recently her newest one, Bendy Body, which is a lot more active flexibility training, and my bridges have drastically improved. I can’t drop back from standing (yet), but I recently was able to do it from kneeling and not breaking myself at all. Also, my splits have gotten better, because back flexibility is so greatly impacted by hip flexor flexibility. Wait, your knee bone really is connected to your hip bone? Yup.
So I got my splits. I got my bridges. What’s next? Flexibility is a work in progress and I am constantly working at it. I definitely would love to be able to drop into a split without pulling anything, backbends and walk-overs, and straddle splits to get me into #Spatchcock2015, along with over-splits galore.
Keep tuned in – I will start posting about what my weekly flexibility schedule entails (fingers-crossed that I keep up with it!) You can always follow me on Instagram (@dkdc77) where I love to over-share my progress.
Full disclaimer – no one paid me to say all the wonderful things about RLNA or Fit and Bendy. I just love the poo out of them and am happy that I can share these effective workouts with others.