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The Exercise "Special"ist (Part 1)

Hi everyone! After a two week break, here we are again. Thank you for tuning in and continuing to follow my blogs. I appreciate all my loyal readers and welcome any newcomers. Those of you who have been with me from my very first post may remember it being about who can exercise. In it I gave a variety of scenarios and explained that no matter where you might be in your life at this moment, you can begin or continue a fitness journey. Modifications might be necessary, but yes you can!

The people portrayed in that article were in a class of individuals fitness experts call "special populations." If you have ever spent time with anyone in this group, you will know how special they really are. Their abilities surpass many others expectations (sometimes even their own) and what they push their bodies to do is beyond amazing even with mental and/or physical limitations. With that being said, this writing will address not the impossible but what IS possible according to their specific needs.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Olympic Games in Tokyo were the ParaOlympic Games also held in Japan. We saw athletes of all kinds compete against one another in an attempt to be recognized as the best in their particular events. What they failed to mention is that every single competitor left a winner whether they had a medal around their neck or not. These determined, distinguished persons have dedicated numerous hours to be able to represent their countries in front of millions of others despite the daily obstacles they face.

How do they go about becoming first class athletes? The same way any other one would...practice. If you recall the first one I listed was someone born with a birth defect or what is seen as one. Say this now adult (or maybe a soldier wounded defending his country) is missing anything from a couple fingers or toes to entire limbs. Now what? Is it an arm...they still have legs. And since every day is lower body day imagine how strong they are. Of course, hopping, jumping, running, or skipping like a ninja and swimming involve the use of the lower body so with a bit of creativity workouts could get rather intense. Just don't try beating them in a hack squat, hamstring curl, leg press, or quad extension max lift competition.

No least for them. For you, however, I recommend not taking them on in a bench press, pushup or triceps dip duel. Despise those upper body push/pull machines at the gym? These superheroes thank you for leaving them alone. Also take note that although there may be no obvious leg stumps at all, their arms are sometimes used as legs to propel them forward or backward so they can get where they need to be extremely quickly when necessary. Imagine carrying your body weight on your hands, shoulders and wrists 24/7 and how fatiguing that would be. Now we know why they don't need to do Waist Up Wednesday workouts.

Nothing left? Everything gone except their torsos? Look at my beautiful abs! Don't you wish you had a six pack like me? Don't cha...don't cha. Try rolling over without using anything but your midsection. Did you make it from your back to your stomach or vice versa? If you have abs of steel you probably got close, but for the majority, I'm guessing not. Of course this unique group has probably figured out a way to make it look easy. Ab rolls are difficult enough even when using a slight push off so visualize not having that cheat available. Banana poses are made substantially easier without the added weight of bulky attachments called arms and legs. These are done by simply contracting the abdominal muscles while lying on your back. In doing this you will notice the shoulders come off the floor or mat a bit and look strikingly similar to a standard crunch. The main difference is one is held in a static position and the other is not. Can you hold it without fatiguing for an entire minute? I dare you to try it with these washboard warriors.

For the "special" individuals that may not have the resources to allow any active movement, remember that breathing is an exercise in and of itself. Focus on what your body does next time you take a breath and you'll hopefully notice the four different muscle groups that are involved with each inhale and exhale. It's not just the core getting exercise.

So after reading the first part of this series, I invite you to look at your current fitness level wherever you are at THIS point in your journey. If you are brand new, recently started, a seasoned veteran, perfectly healthy, partially or completely broken or somewhere in between know that it IS POSSIBLE to get up, get out and get moving. Today is your opportunity to move forward and your second chance to get and stay strong no matter what you look like on the outside. Your inside wants it. There's no looking back. Just do it!

I'll be back next week for part 2. So until then:

"Shift the focus from what your body looks like to what it can do." Author unknown

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