Day 15 - The stone circle

Friday, Day 15 - today we are leaving again and packing up our tent and all the associated crap so I knew I’d have to be pretty prepared to get something in before we got going.  I also really wanted to utilise a set of stones in a little circle further down the campsite and this weeks’ strength session was the perfect one to do with those.  So this morning I woke up at 7am at the same time as my husband and the Ginger nut while Big La La slept in (which helped me feel less guilty as he couldn’t exactly take the tent down around her so I hadn’t missed out on packing up too much), and got down to the stone circle.  

A few months ago I attended a MovNat workshop which is a method of training all about how to use truly functional movements to train and get “strong to be useful”.  I love this - it’s so much more than about getting buff or lifting heavy, or shaping your butt or whatever else people exercise for - this is a completely applicable way of living that I have found really helps to translate the way I want to encourage women to get into their bodies, with next level understanding of our bodies in natural movement. The weekend workshop was one of the most physically intense weekends of my life - we were barefoot most of the time, it was over 30 degrees on Hampstead Heath and we were getting down on the floor crawling, rolling, getting up and down, climbing trees and jumping over things.  I was sweaty and covered in dirt for 2 1/2 days, my hands and feet ached constantly and I absolutely loved it!  This wasn’t blokey lifting and one upping each other, this was a celebration of the natural movements our bodies can do and how we can apply it in the real world.  For my work purposes I spent the whole weekend thinking about how getting women into their bodies at a time when we become detached from the true function of them might take getting them into a natural environment - interacting with the earth and trees, getting down to the ground and picking something up in order to move it and put it down, moving on, up, down and around obstacles, or balancing on and over a space, the required multiplicity of movements might just get us finding our centre, connecting with our strength and having some fun at the same time.  

So back to these stones for today, one of the exercises we did was to learn about picking up heavy objects and moving them around using the most efficient movements possible.  On the MovNat weekend we did this with logs, but block of stones work perfectly as well.  This is the first session in my programme in which I encourage clients to find a weight to shift around in comparison to using a resistance band.  The reason for this is that this is a foundation programme designed to give you all the building blocks and pillars of strength you need to go off and do anything you like - team sports, running, weekly circuits, crossfit, tennis, whatever it is you want to go and have fun doing - but most essentially with a fully functioning body, not one where you are just ploughing on and hoping for the best.  Lifting heavy (or challenging for you) weights requires some good basics of stability and can really compromise your abdominals if you have a diastasis recti, so I wouldn’t recommend it while you are building the foundation, healing a DR or any other pelvic issues but I do fully recommend it when you are stronger and fully functioning as lifting weights is essential for all women for a good health span.

There were 3 good size stones there, I checked I could lift them and then chose 2 that suited me for squat type movements and deadlift type movements, which need to be heavier.  The emphasis for the session is to develop comfort in a squat so I warmed up by doing some crawls with knees towards floor and then bear crawls which are with legs straight, some bunny hops with bum towards heels and then a hip mobility warm up moving in and out of a squat rotating around and lunging forwards.  The exercises were then:

1) Squat clean - like a “clean” with a bar if you know what that is, or otherwise it’s a movement where you pick up the object with straight arms, drive hips forwards and then shrug shoulders and whip your elbows underneath to catch the object in your hands resting on your upper chest with your knees bending to absorb the weight.
2) Deadlift - knees straighter but not straight, back straight (core pulled in) and you are bent forwards at the hips so you feel the hamstrings stretching out first, pick object up with straight arms and drive hips forwards fast to get the propulsion to pick up the object standing up straight. Reverse with care and control to place back down. The picture (bottom left) is at the top of the movement after the hip drive - remember the squat position starts deeper and with more knee bend than deadlift.
3) Front squat - aim here is to get the hips below knees in the lowest part of the squat and keep the object on your chest and elbows up the whole time - the minute your elbows dip down and upper back rounds out you’ve lost the position and you’ll be working too hard in the wrong places.
4) Shoulder press - with the stone I pressed it from my chest up until arms straight above me, it would be different with a bar as hands would be further apart.  Either way, in the highest position its very important you hold the ribs down and don't arch the lower back - keeping connection at the front of the body - which requires the ability to stretch the shoulders open without the ribs flaring.
All exercises 4 rounds of 12 reps.

I finished, had a little stretch and move around to warm down, went to get some bread and then went back to the tent by which time Big La La was only just waking up, phew!  2 hours later and at least 3 attempts to get everything into the car again we were off, and went to meet friends in a very weird and unique place in the middle of France called Lac du Salagou, with an incredible restaurant in the middle of nowhere - it felt like we were eating on Mars!  Then on to Avignon, what a wonderful city and lots to explore. A Bientôt!