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Sadventure Completed #57: Streeeetch.

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

"Do you do warm up and cool down exercises after each trek?" she asked me as I hobbled around the place following a two-day hike.


"No."


This, apparently, was the wrong answer.


28 days of stretching exercises.


+++


I'm ordinarily of the view that exercise is for weirdos, which is why whenever I'm forced, and that is the right word, to do any by being challenged to a Sadventure, I do the absolute minimum I can get away with. Doing warm-up and cool down exercises, if you ask me, just extends the torture. Thus, I avoid them.


For me, I tend to have a good stretch in the morning as I wake. I do this horizontally. Sometimes the cat joins in, and I look on with envy, as he expands his body length twice-over. We both then roll-over, and go back in for more snoozing time. He usually has a second stretch at the top of the stairs as we both begin pad down to our respective bathrooms. Me in considerable more hurry than he. Like all cats, he reminds me daily that he is charge of my mortality. He then has a second, upright, routine as he hits the hall, just before the bathroom door, first stretching out his forelegs, then his back legs as I start to do an Irish jig on the third from bottom step. Thinking about it, running for the toilet first thing probably needs its own warm-up routine.





Anyhow, not any more. I am to do at least twenty minutes of gentle stretches each day for 28 days. I can do two sets of ten before and after a trek, or all in one on my none-training days. The good thing about the modern era, as I see it, is that I can at least select something from YouTube each day so that I'm not doing the same routine over and over and over, like in my teens we had to buy a DVD, which promised to get you in the best shape of your life in some impossibly short period of time, and all with the false hope that we too will grow taller, change DNA and shrink sideways, or else we are doing it wrong. No one ever mentioned that doing it daily would bore you rigid long before any weight loss was recognised.


Unfortunately, what hasn't changed is that all the presenters are young, incredibly supple, quinoa-eating eager beavers, showing off their heavily toned midriffs. A nice gentle stretch for them is medieval torture for my hamstrings. On the plus, listening to them gives me a nice change from arguing with the cat.


Day 1


PsycheTruth sounds more like a clairvoyant than a fitness freak. "This video is great to do twice a week," she begins. No. Really, no, it isn't.


"You don't want it to be painful....you're just going to bend over and touch your toes." Eh?


"Remember to breathe," she advises towards the end of the video. For a moment there I was lying on the floor, wondering why I'd passed out.


Day 2


Caroline Jordan looks like she's hanging out in some children's toy room before I realised it wasn't. At least it was a normal house. And she told you when to breathe, and when to breathe out. That's a relief.


[This will] "improve performance in push-ups and pull-ups." Yeah, like I'm going to be doing any of those in a hurry.


"Pull your belly button up." Is this a thing? Is it even possible? Mine just sort of hangs out down there.


"And put yourself into twisted child pose." I did. It amused the cat no end. Makes a change from being in twisted adult pose, I suppose.




Day 3


Amy Dot does her training in a "quiet spot where no-one's gonna bug you for ten minutes." She chose the sun-sprinkled sea shore with an azure sea sparkling behind her. Me: A tiny space in the living room, with a cat standing on the sofa meowing in confusion, and a strategically-placed lamp-shade for me to wallop with every raised-arm stretch, of which she had me doing many.


Thank God for Welsh Dressers - stopped me from falling over for much of this video.




Day 4


Was supposed to go for a walk today but I was in CBA mode. Instead, I decided to clean the house. Never done a warm up and cool down pre-housework before. I selected Yoga with Kassandra


Didn't make a jot of difference to be honest.


Day 5


Today I mustered up some energy to train and thus it seemed apt to do a video that was about warming up and cooling down. I spotted one that was only 8 minutes so it was very, very appealing by PsycheTruth. Especially as it stressed it was for beginners.


In reality, it was just more contortionism with nubile twenty-somethings that requires an advanced degree in acrobatics. I failed to do half of the stretching exercises twice over. I also noticed a technical issue: it's nearly impossible to follow along with the instructor when one's got one's head trapped inspecting one's nether regions facing the opposite direction to the TV.




Day 6


Like your typical rebel, I opted for Full Body Stretches: Part Two without bothering with Part One.


I quite enjoyed this one because the lead trainer has a mate who looks just as embarrassed as I would feel if I was being video-ed stretching my legs in a half-cocked manner. The mate has none of the finesse of the lead instructor, although by comparison to me, she is practically ready for Swan Lake.




Day 7


Today I met the delight that is Emi Wong, whose intro is pretty exhausting, but freely admits that she is lazy doing stretching exercises, she's not flexible and she has no patience for stretching that she can only be bothered to do ten minutes.


Unfortunately she has edited out the bits when you transition from one pose of torture to the next, you're supposed to pause the video but that just adds to the palaver of it all, and extends the ten minutes to who knows what. That said, I found her routine the most enjoyable of all. I think the fact that the max one is going to hold one's position is thirty seconds that it kept me busy enough to not concentrate on the agony of it all.




Day 8

Relented and did the Full Body Workout Part 1 to see what I was missing. Same agony, different poses it transpires. The good news - there was only seven minutes of it.


Day 9


Can't actually find the routine I followed - but what I loved about it was the accompanying exerciser fell over, not once but twice! Thank God they didn't edit it out because it's reassuring that I am not the only calamity in the world.


Day 10


Quite possibly the most annoying so far...someone who enthusiastically extols getting up at 6am and doing a vigorous exercise routine. Blogilates doesn't stop moving. I reckon she's had waaayyy too much coffee. She doesn't stop talking either.


Day 11


How to stretch after leg day by the lovely Jan, who gets his girlfriend to do the exercises! Definitely my kind of video: delegate the hard work to someone else!




Day 12


I returned to my old mucker, Caroline Jordan, who transitions elegantly from pose to pose. I, however, don't. I cannot even manage most of the very simple activities. I had assumed all this would get easier as I go along. So far, so not.


Day 13


More Caroline Jordan - my cookies obviously appeal to her. What appealed to me most about her 12 minute cool down video was that she talked a lot in her introduction, well over a minute and a half! My favourite kind of cool down: sitting on the sofa waiting to be told where to go and what to do!




Day 14


The halfway point. The point when I start to take stock - I am definitely more fluid in my movements first thing in the morning, and feeling more agile mostly when out splattering around in the Winter mud - but this may be because I'm not actually getting out as much I should.


However, when coming back from a long walk, I have a very strict cat-centric, priorities-first, routine. For starters: the cat must be fed. This involves stretching down to collect his bowl and replacing it with more cat food for him to turn his nose up at. This activity has not got easier: In fact, it was doing this that I realised that I can no longer touch my toes without bending my knees!


This was confirmed when working out with Tom Merrick. I also discovered a new, interesting, and very disconcerting fact about the mid-life body: I can no longer stick my head between my legs should the need arise. I'm not sure why this need might arise, but I'm sad nonetheless.


And the second part of my routine is to run the bath, which involves stretching one's torso around an inflexible shower screen, and popping in the plug: I no longer fear pulling a rib muscle during this manoeuvre. Aside from that, can't say I've noticed much by way of change, except that I've learnt the bath takes exactly ten minutes to run, which is the perfect time to do the cool-down stuff.


Aside from me moaning and groaning myself into unattainable positions, can't say I've noticed much difference so far, aside from learning what I can't do.




Day 15


More from Caroline Jordan, this time 12 minutes of the 'best stretches'. Not a single one of them happened in bed, under a many togged duvet so we fundamentally disagree. Was fairly sedate nonetheless.


Day 16


Jessica Smth TV has a dog, it's conked out by her feet. In fact, is has not moved throughout the video. I came to the conclusion, whilst trying to distract myself from muscle pain, that the dog is probably stuffed. Still, I am just about getting used to the cat staring at me with a WTF face throughout.




Day 17


Bowflex initially really appealed as he promises a five minute, full workout. He stands around and talks whilst the camera pans over two very lithe, but barely clothed women who do all the work. For a moment I thought I was watching a 1980s game show.


Day 18


Ah! Finally, a quick round of stretches with the man with a voice that you'd love to wake up next to. Realistic, no faff, quick 5 minutes of constant activity by Adam Michael Brewer is probably the closest I've come to enjoyment so far. I like how they all wobble and fall over and treat it as normal.


Sure is in my house: even the cat falls over when balancing on three legs, and frequently drops of the bed mid-stretch. That takes real skill.



Day 19


Getting a bit more ambition now - I did a 15 minute stretch. Actually that's a lie, my bath was beckoning when Tom Merrick started on his squat and pike at the ten-minute mark. Although, fear had its place: that kind of pose is just plain dangerous after a long walk!


Day 20


I loved the caution preceding the video by Dr. Bri: Please consult a physician before beginning this programme. I keep saying this exercise stuff is dangerous but no one listens - they are all brainwashed into believing it's good for you.


Day 21


Had to have a few days off as I fell over my Amazon deliveries and twisted my knee. So much for stretching being injury prevention!


Stretch 21


Okay, today's oxymoronic 'feel good stretching routine' was yet another video of the woman doing the work and a man barking voiceover instructions by FitnessBlender. I don't know if it's just my Cookies which are sexist or whether or not this is the industry standard.



Stretch 22


I've decided that I need to work on my flexibility. Unfortunately chose a 'how to warm up for flexibility: beginners' and was very amused to find it was for ballet dancers. That's a whole level of unattainable hell. Amused greatly by the instructor having a very young dancer doing the activities because she informs us, 'I'm too old for this'. She was about 24, I reckon.


Stretch 23


Following yesterday's ballet shocker, I opted for much safer '5 minute mobility stretch routine 2.0' by TappBrothers. No idea what happened in 1.0 but even I could follow along without too much difficulty! This is because there's only five moves.


Stretch 24


Gong one better today, I opted for 'The only 6 stretches you need to become flexible.' by the Bright Side. I was dismal not least because I do not have a bar to hang myself from, and I don't trust the door frames. So for me, it was the 5 stretches I could do before I realised this wasn't a follow-along video. More of a one-stretch video for me.


Stretch 25


The Hip Stretch - unlock the hidden fire by KamaMovementTM. Actually, it just unleashed quite a bit of profanity.




Stretch 27


I couldn't resist 'Fix Your Sleepy Butt' which came up as 'Up Next' for today's viewing. As you'd expect had an eyeful of a woman's butt as its thumbnail. Of course, once clicked on it reveals there's three buff men, fully covered, talking about why their butt won't grow. Eat more nutella, lads. Works for me.


Decided it wasn't in the spirit of this Sadventure so instead opted for by Adison Briana. Turns out it means hanging around like a Frog for ten minutes.


Stretch 28


How to get Flexible Legs for Beginners - was way too advanced for me, led by someone who is pre-puberty me things, is not the way to go. 28 days of hauling my ass around the place, is not going to take off thirty something years off me.


Instead I decided I could finish this Sadventure with my favourite: Emi Wong, who freely admits stretching is not her thing either. That's probably why she has a video specifically for stretching in bed! Okay she didn't have to fight for space with a cat, but this sure beats doing it on the floor, particular because there's fewer 'oooh look how dusty it is under the Welsh Dresser/Sofa/table' moments.


Reflection:


I can't say I'm any taller, fitter or thinner but if the way to measure this is how capable I am a re-filling the cat's bowl, then there's definitely been some progress.


I also learnt I have no sense of balance.


And that I can't touch my toes without bending my legs.


I'm not sure it prevented injury - but this could be worse and is difficult to qualify.


I still do not feel like doing a whole bunch of exercise when I'm trying to recover from walking ten or twenty miles. I can't say I didn't get aches and pains post-walking either.





@psychetruth @amydot @carolinejordan #stretch #exercise #sadventure #cooldown #warmup #flexible @yogawithkassandra #yoga #housework #contortion @emiwong @jan #delegate #plank #midlifecrisis #touchtoes @tommerrick @AdamMichaelBrewer


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