The headline here probably should have read something like, “Chrissy K Fit Teaches You How to Breathe Through the Pain.” You know how it is when it’s sometimes hard to keep up with a workout because you feel like your body is shirking its responsibility to supply you with oxygen. Part of that could be because you need to build stamina, or because you’re not breathing properly. I’m afflicted with both issues but I find that learning and remembering to breathe correctly helps, so here’s some good advice from Grunty Crush Chrissy K.
Get to know Chrissy K via her Grunts and Glam interview here.
Planet Fitness prides themselves on being a judgment-free zone but it seems that they’ve taken this concept too far. I stumbled upon a news story about Tiffany Austin, from the Bay Area, who was told to cover up because her toned body was intimidating. Yes, people actually complained about the woman’s body being scary, according to KTVU.
Austin said she was trying to get back in shape after recovering from a recent car accident, and felt that Planet Fitness would work out. However, her first workout only lasted 15 minutes. She was running on a treadmill at a slow speed, wearing the outfit that you see in the photo above, which I don’t think is bad (especially considering some of the things I’ve seen). Eventually she grew self-conscious because she noticed other people staring at her, and then a staff-member stopped her and said, “excuse me we’ve had some complaints you’re intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?”
Here’s the full story:
I used to think the Planet Fitness commercials were gross exaggerations of the extreme personality types you come across in the gym but I guess the rumors are true. There are people in the gym who’d rather be seen and judge other people than actually focus on their work out. I’ve been a member of a few gyms and have seen it. That behavior always makes me laugh but most of the time, I encounter more people who are just there to mind their own business.
I prefer lifting and classes, and have been a member at Bally, Crunch, Lucille Roberts and a New York City Parks Gym. Bally was a Lunkhead central meat market. I got hit on a lot and a lot of the people there seemed like their purpose was to get picked up. There was one time when I was doing intervals on a treadmill, where this buff man who had been staring at me since I walked in, stationed himself on a treadmill next to me and kept questioning my various speeds, not realizing what I was doing. Another at Bally, I was doing preacher curls and a PERSONAL TRAINER told me not to do them because I’d get too bulky. WTF! Crunch was cool because I really enjoy their classes but my only beef is that here in NYC their classes are often too crowded for comfort. Lucille Roberts was entirely too girly and didn’t really encourage overall fitness. They were more about weight loss, which I think is vapid. The New York City Parks gym might as well had been Riker’s Island but I digress.
Planet Fitness never appealed to me based on the commercials, especially not the dance one (dance is one of my favorite ways to work out and I like to get down without having to think about who’s intimidated by my presence so that set off a red flag for me). I get that they want to encourage people who may otherwise be too insecure to workout, to stand feel safe and comfortable but isolating one group while judging another doesn’t makes sense–fit-shaming at it’s finest. It’s ironic, considering their tagline is “No Judgment.” I’m absolutely not the fittest person in the world but I prefer places that encourage wellness from a balanced, well-rounded perspective as opposed to environments that keep people at a beginner level.
I got sucked down a rabbit hole on YouTube researching things about Planet Fitness and not only did I discover that they have designated days where they give out free pizza, bagels (BAGELS!), and also have bowls filled with Tootsie Rolls laying around. I believe in a balanced diet and I am not a nutritionist but common fitness knowledge is that pizza can be tricky (you can make healthier variations of it but it’s still not ideal for fast toning and/or weight loss) and bagels are full of empty calories. Let’s not even start on gummy candy. You can eat what you want but is it really productive to eat these things after working out? Shouldn’t we be nourishing our bodies with fruit, vegetables and protein post work out? So, yeah…I do have a problem with that. They also have a Lunk Alarm that goes off whenever people display what they describe as “lunk-like” behavior. One of the things they describe as lunk-like is grunting or breathing to hard while lifting. Huh? Anyone who has done heavy lifting knows that both are unavoidable. You can control the volume but not doing it at all is absolutely ridiculous! One of the things that stuck with me from the trainer who taught me how to lift is that breathing is integral.
Planet Fitness is free to do what they want but they should consider remodeling how they put their plan into action. Perhaps create an environment where those who are more experienced serve as inspiration for those who aren’t. The Lunk Alarm could still be fun for actual meat heads but nitpicking every little thing, including the way someone’s body looks, is ridiculous. Isn’t part of the point of working out to achieve your desired figure?
In related news, none of this stops me from being amused by their policies. Like I said, I got sucked down a rabbit hole on YouTube where people were ranting against PF. In one case, someone said that a location removed squat racks because people were intimidated, and in other situations there were several people trying to make the alarm go off.
It. Was. Hilarious. I almost want a buddy pass to PF so that I can try to set off the Lunk Alarm too.
“My buddy has a membership there and asked if I could show him an arm workout(never being in a PF, I did not know what to expect). I picked up the 75lb DBs and started hammer curling, people went up and complained to the front desk that I was too itimidating! Really? i was still warming up! jesus … hahah.”
I often feel and look like I got crushed by an anvil hours after exercising or even when I wake up the next morning (it gets that real). This is especially true after pole dancing where I often bruise, or hardcore Pilates and H.I.I.T., where my muscles may feel stiff or strained.
Check out this doozie following a pole dancing class:
So, yeah…don’t ever believe the hype that dark skin people can’t bruise but I digress.
Anyway, I’ve amassed an arsenal of sore muscle pain relief products that I want to share them with you because they need angel wings even though they’re inanimate objects.
1. Shea Moisture Joint and Muscle Relief Balm
The Shea Moisture joint and muscle relief balm has a nice lavender and wild orchid scent, and they’ve added shea butter for moisture. As per the container, lavender has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate muscle spasms, shea butter moisturizes and heals skin, and it also contains peppermint, which is anti-inflammatory and good for muscle tension. It’s greasy but there’s no testing on animals and it doesn’t contain petroleum, synthetic fragrance, parabens, gluten, paraffins, phtholates, and other chemicals I can’t pronounce. It’s simple to use. You just rub it into the affected area and wait until that good numbness starts to take effect. I like this stuff because it won’t leave you smelling like an 80-year-old woman (no shade to grandma, but I’m just saying), thanks to the nice floral infusion.
Arnicare is a creamy white homeopathic medicine that is also paraben-free and scent free. It’s good for general massages as well as bruising, swelling and stiffness.
3. Traumeel (by Heel)
Traumeel is similar to Arnicare in that it’s a white, creamy, homeopathic and scentless. I find that it’s excellent for bruises and according to the Vitamin Shoppe, it’s also paraben-free.
4. Tiger Balm Ultra Strength
Tiger Balm Ultra Strength is a miracle in a jar. It’s a white petrolatum-based herbal infusion of goodness. This is my go to for so-sore-that-I-can’t-move muscles.
5. Tiger Balm Cream
The cream is not as strong as the jelly but it still works. Tiger Balm is best for soreness and stiffness but the thing I hate about the cream is that it smells like toothpaste. That’s not the worst smell in the world but c’mon son, you don’t want to walk around with your entire body smelling like toothpaste. Keep this one in the house!
I don’t think any one is better than the other because they’re suited for different things, and different levels of pain, but that’s trial and error based on the individual, hence why I have so many (that and because I’m a product junky). From my experience, my favorites are the Traumeel for bruises and the Tiger Balm Ultra for sore muscles, because it gets that serious for me. The Shea Moisture Balm has the best scent and I enjoy using it for massaging muscles at an intermediate level of pain. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t like grease, because I know some of you are texture freaks, then you’re better suited for the creams.
I entered a pole dancing competition despite my aversion to them, and learned that competing in the pole community and in general, unless it’s with myself, isn’t my bag but I’ve finally come to terms with admitting it.
The thought of competing with other people has always turned me off. I’m not afraid of it, however, I’d rather stay on the outskirts of a culture where we are taught to care about toxic opinions and to constantly be better, faster, smarter, stronger and intimidated by other people, seemingly without compassion. It creates an unhealthy environment that’s easy to get caught up in even when you try not to.
I realize that some competition with others is inevitable like, in the event of a job application. I’ve also participated in spelling bees, board games and things of that nature, so I am not oblivious but I don’t like what it does to people, self included, and now I realize that I just shouldn’t compete if I absolutely don’t have to, especially with regard to pole dancing.
I started pole dancing in 2011. For me, it has always been about fitness, strength, friends and confidence. I even worked up enough courage to perform in two showcases but there aren’t enough opportunities to simply just perform. It seems that many people in the pole dancing community seek validation in the form of competition, as if this is the only way to convince the rest of the world that pole dancing should be considered an actual sport but I digress. Eventually, I came across the chance to enter said competition (it doesn’t matter which one) and while my intuition begged me not to do it, I applied anyway. I figured it couldn’t hurt and reasoned with myself that it would be a good opportunity to perform and grow as an artist.
I didn’t get chosen and I immediately began beating myself up. I doubted my skills, wondered why I wasn’t good enough, chastised myself for entering and compared myself to dancers who made it–finding things that I felt were wrong with them that I could have done better. That is a version of myself that I don’t like. It’s one thing to constructively criticize yourself within reason, but succumbing to feelings of inadequacy is a recipe for falling into despair. Rejection is natural and common but it doesn’t always mean that you’re not good enough. It can simply means that it isn’t your season, but sometimes reasoning disappears when competitions are involved because we throw ourselves to the mercy of judgement and forget our other major triumphs, particularly trying in the first place.
I fell in love with pole for the camaraderie and the understanding of how hard it is and how much work it takes. Yet the culture of competitions seems to diminish those notions by forcing people to live up to expectations that may not be suited for them based on a variety of factors (body type, flexibility, etc). I’m not bashing competitions and I’ll graciously attend one since the dancers are amazing and inspiring, but they’re simply just not for me so, I’ll continue working on my personal craft until a neutral showcase comes along. Now enter patience, another life lesson that has yet to sink in.