Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Brooklyn Garambullo, Fitness Diva

I am headed to my home state of New Mexico on what seems like a school bus with wings. Staring out the window, I watch the clouds. Hundreds of magical, light, fluffy clouds line up like floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

My attention turns to the other passengers on the flying bus. I notice people shifting in their seat, stretching, trying to make themselves comfortable. Then it hits me: traveling can turn the most seasoned traveler into a biomechanically misaligned mess.

As a personal trainer, I often hear complaints from clients feeling “stressed”—plagued with lower back, hip, knee, even elbow and shoulder problems. Not using your body to correctly support you can create problems down that long road you will eventually find yourself traveling.

So what exactly is going on? The problem is usually a misalignment created by faulty posture and a weak core. Take a mental snapshot of yourself from a side view and create an imaginary plumb line from your head to your ankles. Do any of the following landmarks stray from your imaginary plumb line?

ears • shoulders • elbows • hips • knees • ankles

If your answer is yes, you could have faulty posture. This throws off your alignment and causes other muscles to pick up the slack. Now, you all know what happens when you carry a bag for a long period of time—your muscles burn because of the fatigue. You may begin to “feel sore.” The same thing is happening when you recruit muscles that are not meant to support a forward head, rounded shoulders, an arched back, or ankles that roll inward or outward.

Identifying the problem is the first step. The second step is to correct the misalignment. Developing a flexibility program designed to correct muscle imbalances can do this. Stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak ones will begin to turn things around. Commitment to this flexibility program is important. The more time and effort you put into correcting your posture, the sooner you will see results.

Now, onto the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, commonly referred to as the “core.” Core strength is very important. The muscles that comprise your core support your internal organs, and more importantly, your spine. How can you find your core? I always ask my clients to imagine that they are preparing to be punched in the stomach. (Sounds funny, I know, but try it.)

Try and keep those muscles tight and keep breathing without letting go for one full minute. Don’t let your chest fall. Keep your breastbone up and don’t let your back arch. It may not be as easy as it sounds. Since the deepest of abdominal muscles wraps around you, it acts as your natural weight lifting belt, offering support.

Along with your flexibility program, developing these muscles and learning to use them will be a guaranteed way of making your body stronger, whether you are on holiday, working out, or just strutting through the airport looking fabulous!

I train people of all fitness levels by helping them realize their potential and using it to reach their fitness goals. I believe that a healthy lifestyle comes from within. With a good attitude and a strong core, you can achieve all your fitness goals.

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Brooklyn Garambullo has been a certified personal trainer since 1997. She has worked with such health clubs as 24 Hour Fitness, Crunch, Pacific Heights Health Club, and Equinox. In addition to private personal training, she also teaches physical education to elementary school children in San Francisco. Contact her if you dare! She has her own website, www.bmgfitnesssf.com.

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