One long-term effect of the “sit still and don’t use too much oxygen” therapy of last winter is a complete lack of core strength come summer: abdominal obliques that have no muscle tone, lower back meat that serves as dead weight, and a wavery middle that can’t serve as a base for lifting anything. That explains why my legs are much stronger; they’re compensating for a complete lack of core support.
Of course, I didn’t realize how terrible my core strength is – until Master Fall had us spend 20 minutes of Monday’s lesson on isolated core exercises. Four oblique crunches into the 50 he called through, tears were pouring down my face and my whole left side seized up with pain tension. I fought to do at least a handful of everything he called – and sustained a decent approximation of a 90-second modified v-sit, but have paid for it over the last two days. Master Fall is well aware of my limitations and keeps watch so I don’t push too hard on this; I’m meeting with him before class tonight to go over some strength-building exercises that I should do every day.
Apart from the agony of core work, though, I’m really loving the class. As soon as we got up off the floor, I was having fun. My stances are becoming more natural, and the position of horse-riding stance feels awesome. My unintentionally exaggerated-even-for-me shoulder tension while learning the punch-block forms had my teacher and two senior belt students in giggles — and though they were laughing at least in part at my expense, it was do much fun to be laughing with people about exercise, as this great little in-joke that I was being invited to. And shoulder tension aside, by the end of the hour, I felt like I was consistently landing the turning snap kick on the mid-line at belt height with both legs. It’s only my second class, so there’s no way that I don’t have 50 or 60 things wrong with my kicks, but being consistently able to place them precisely where Master Fall indicated feels like a major accomplishment.
I’m sure I’ll be dragging myself home at 9 tonight wondering when I’ll be able to twist at the waist in my desk chair without feeling a painful pull through my entire body, but I’m equally sure that I’ll be mentally bouncing up the stairs to the apartment, giddy with the joy of it all. And the joy is what I was really hoping for, and not expecting to find.