The Core of a Klutz

Klutz. This would be one of the words I would use to describe myself if anyone asked. Other words describe my personality, but this word describes the way I move through space.

I no longer display the emotion of surprise when I trip over my own feet. Because it happens nearly every.other.stinkin’.day. My body has literally adapted by conserving the energy I use on facial expressions to use to save me when I actually trip. That, and I’m trying to play it off. Maybe if I act like nothing happened, you’ll start to wonder: did I actually see her trip? But in reality, yes, you probably did.

When I was younger, I used to think I was klutzy because I was growing. And then I stopped growing…and still struggle with walking across flat surfaces. Luckily, I am also really good at laughing at myself, so I don’t get that embarrassed anymore. But there’s plenty of potential for a most embarrassing moment award.

However, you can still be klutzy and have good balance. Balance is about being able to maintain a certain position in space that you chose, not gravity. It usually requires concentration and stability. You may not be able to help being a klutz. But balance is definitely something you can work on.

Why would you want to work on balance? Well, would you like to be able to keep yourself from falling over? I’m not just talking about being able to do exercises that look cool at the gym. I’m talking about functional fitness. Like being able to lean over when you’re reaching for something on the top shelf and the ladder isn’t all that stable. Like being rammed into by a large Doberman like my sister has that is a little too enthusiastic about playing fetch and not falling on your side. Or even like handing over something heavy to someone else while maintaining your center of balance.

Klutziness is something I laugh about in myself now when I’m twenty-something and can get back up again. Falls are not something to laugh about when you’re older and don’t recover as easily. It’s never too late to start working on balance. But it’s also never too early, either.

Usually when people picture stability exercises, they think of BOSU balls. But you can incorporate stability into every workout. Instead of lifting two weights at once, alternate. Just use one weight. Stand on one leg. Use unequal weights for things like shoulder presses, making sure you switch sides so they both get an equal workout. You should feel it in your core as it tightens to maintain your posture. Just use your brain and don’t invent exercises that are dangerous. Don’t be that guy/girl.

You can still do things on a BOSU. But you need to make sure that the exercises you do match your ability to perform them safely. There’s a difference between challenging yourself and being reckless. Build up your core strength with moves that challenge your inner core with balance, rather than hundreds of crunches that only work the muscles you see in a six-pack.

I challenge you to look into this more. There are tons of resources out there of difference exercises for functional fitness. Take time to invest in your well being, not just for the present but also for the future.

Once place you could start is with Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove’s book The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. This book focuses on building the deep core muscles that provide stability rather than just pure aesthetic appeal. But this is just one example of many. Remember, this is your life, not mine. Also, watch out for flat surfaces. They can be tricky sometimes to walk across gracefully.

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