Apparently I Don’t Know How to Breathe

I started doing Pilates (I know, I know) once a week and strength training once a week (throw in dry land and I’ve got 3 days of muscle flexin’ each week) for a pretty important reason (which I’ll get to in my next post, so stay tuned), and both my Pilates instructor and my strength trainer, Eli, keep barking the same order at me: “Remember to breathe. No, engage your core. No, your core.” Apparently, once you get serious about strength training and trying to be healthy, you have to learn how to breathe in a manner different than you have been accustomed to for the past 26 years. Who knew?

Every week I meet with Melissa, she chirps at me for an hour and says “Suck in your tummy. Now inhale going down, exhale coming up…” She then watches me sucking in air like a dying fish for a few repetitions before poking my gut until I yank it in so far that I feel like my pooch is going to stick out through my back. Then she nods as if she’s finally satisfied. We continue doing this the entire hour, her poking at my stomach and me whooshing air in and out of my lungs in a highly insufficient manner until I feel like I’m going to pass out due to lack of sweet, sweet oxygen. Pilates, like swimming, is stupid — I can’t remember to breathe all fancy-like while trying to recall fifteen other things simultaneously!

Eli is a bit more subtle in his breathing critique. I’ll be mid-lift and he’ll suddenly go, “You’re engaging your core, right?”, at which point I flex my abs in a knee-jerk reaction and respond with, “Uh, yeahhhhh…” Everything requires an “engaged core,” even writing a check for the day’s workout session (okay, maybe not). After our last meeting my abs were sore despite not having done any crunches or ab work — they were all hurty by proxy.

Regular, lazy Becca breathing is different than workout breathing. Lazy Becca Breathing is quiet, calm and satisfying. Workout Breathing is loud, shallow, “I’m gonna pop out a baby because I’m in labor and this is how I learned to breathe in Lamaze” breathing. I hate Workout Breathing. Why can’t my belly loll up and down like a distended Somalian’s when I’m exercising? Stupid core being all important and whatnot!

All I’m saying is that this fancypants new breathing better get me a sick-ass looking stomach, because if it doesn’t then I’m gonna call shenanigans on this “having to think about how to breathe” nonsense and will start gulping in air like a greedy chunkster again…

6 Responses to “ “Apparently I Don’t Know How to Breathe”

  1. Teresa says:

    Pilates!!! I didn’t know you were doing that too….here’s to Madonna-like super six pack (real six pack) abs. This is going to help you SO much!


  2. Tim Staines says:

    You crack me the F$#% up . . . at least three, four times with this post alone. I’m not sure if I breathe correctly, but I know what you mean about the fancypants training techniques.

    My big one is the whole “run slow to get warmed up” deal. Are you kidding me? I’m 6’2″ & 230lbs right now, my first mile is the ONLY one I can run at a decent speed, before I hit max HR for the rest of the run. I’ll “run slow to get warmed up” on my last mile, thank you very much!

    Just read the Stevens Lake Tri post too – that sucks! If you ever come out east for one, the wife and I have done two beautiful races this year, Cazenovia, NY & Smith Mountain Lake, VA.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Yeah, I’m trying out pilates to see if it helps at all. I’ll give you a status report and let you know if I decide to stick with it. 🙂

    Tim, which races did you do? Were they tris or running races? What’d you think of them?

  4. Tim Staines says:

    They were Tri’s –

    The Cazenovia, NY race was a choice of either a sprint or Olympic distance(we did the sprint). It was my first one in seven years and it was a fairly challenging course. Lots of hills on the bike (several with steep grades) and the run was an out and back with the out being mostly up hill.

    The Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia race was an Olympic distance course called the Big Lick Triathlon. I’m still getting into running shape so I skipped the 10k because I didn’t want to embarrass/hurt myself with a 60+ minute run. But the lake was nice and clean (minus the gasoline from the safety boats) and it was a sandy in and out. The bike course was rolling with only one difficult incline. I’m told the run course was fairly challenging.

    Both races were scenic, and the Big Lick starts a little later than normal because it’s fairly remote. Courses/events were open to traffic, but generally supported by the locals.

  5. Neil Jackson says:

    Stick with the Pilates. I run and do weights but the best thing you can do, and the worst thing you can give up, is Pilates. Did a blog post a while back on SEO and Pilates:

  6. Rebecca says:

    I’m currently taking Pilates lessons once a week (dry land on Monday, weight training Wednesday, Pilates Friday). I think it’s a good mix of strength training because one is circuit/reps, one is more with traditional weights, and the Pilates is about flexibility.

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