TransActive Fitness: Old Habits Need New Understanding

There is me, doing single arm rows, rowing away. 

Mike: “Pull your elbows in close to your body!”

I feel into the motion, focus on my elbow without any tangible change. 

Me: “I thought I was.”

Mike, looking at me curiously, “Put the weight down. Let me see something.”

I put down the weight and Mike asks me to row again, elbows to my side. They are not touching. 

Mike: “May I touch your elbow””

Me: “Yes!”

Mike presses my elbow to my body for me. It feels awkward, and when he removes his hand I can’t hold it there

Mike: “Hmm. No worries, this is just another one of those things that we can, and we WILL retrain. Keep it as close as you can. I will show you some exercises after that will help. Keep doing it the best you can while focusing on keeping your elbow in, and we will work this out.”

My body has spent 40 years adapting to having a large breasts. That’s 40 years of spent avoiding squishing, hitting, and accentuating their curves. This has caused physical and mental obstacles that affect me in ways I never would have understood without working with a trainer post top-surgery. Stick my chest up and out? Row with my elbows in? Pull my shoulder blades back and together?

There are muscles that need retraining. There are ways of thinking that are deeply ingrained and need to be uprooted. There are protective mechanisms in my psyche that require safety to be relinquished. MIke is coaxing these changes, gently, firmly, persistently, one step at a time.