Turkish Get Up

The time away from the gym environment has been exciting. Exploring training sessions using the advancements of modern technology. Providing the opportunity to remain in shape while remaining home. The sessions outside the gym were different from being inside a facility. We worked with everything at our deposal. Even ordering some new gadgets to help along the path. Those acquired tools taking months instead of weeks to arrive. Left us working primarily with equipment gathered over the years. Like the home gym unit gathering dust at my mother’s home. An item purchased more than twenty years ago. Seemingly found more attention in the last four months. More than the multiuse piece of equipment was used in the previous twenty. Training session in the home came to a close this week. As Monday marked our first day back inside the gym. It feels important to reflect back on the time spent away from the gym. The improvement being made over the last four months. With the unique experience of the pandemic training sessions. Our first workout back inside the gym on Monday was an interesting session. Much more challenging than my thinking would have been. With more space to spread out inside. There became area to run movement we were challenged to execute during quarantine. Though one of the most exciting movements happened in the final days outside the gym. My ability to execute the Turkish get up. A movement having been beyond my ability.

My first attempt at the Turkish get up was a while ago. Thinking about that beginning attempt, the try happened over a year in the past. When starting to experiment with the movement. The Turkish get up simply could not be performed. Bernard provided the example for the first time. A movement I had never seen done before he performed it with ease. The move can be located on YouTube. With plenty of videos to show how the movement would be accomplished. Basically, the Turkish get up begins by lying flat on your back with one leg in a bent position. The bent leg has the foot resting flatly on the floor. With the opposite leg remaining extended along the ground. My first goal was to perform a sit-up. Extending the arm opposite my bent leg out to my side. The hand firmly planted on the ground. My arm on the same side of the bent leg would be extended over my head. Something I tend to pay less attention to performing. So, now we are seated on our behind. For description sake, look at the Turkish get up from the left side. Meaning the left hand would be firmly planted on the ground. The right leg would be bend with the knee pointing to the sky. The left leg would be lying flat on the surface. With the right arm pointing toward the ceiling. At this point, I would be in the sitting position, ready for the next movement. The following step was the most complex I remember ever being requested.

From the seated position. With my left hand, flat on the ground. My right leg bent toward my chest. The concept would be balancing my weight between my left hand and right foot. In doing so, the idea would be lifting my hips up off the ground. Engaging the extended arm and bent leg as my balance points. Attempting to lift my hips as far up toward the ceiling as could be accomplished. Once my hips elevated off the surface. The flatly extended leg, which would be on the left side. The left foot would move back toward the right foot. Passing under my elevated hips and continuing behind my body. The left knee would plant. Leaving me in a kneeling position with the lower part of my left leg extended behind. The completed movement would have me in a half-knee position. With my left knee on the ground directly under my hips. While my right foot would be on the floor extended away from my body. To complete the movement involved placing my weight on that right foot and standing. Once in the completed standing position. The object would be to descend with the same formula. Kneeling down onto my left knee and extending out my left arm. After my left hand contacted the ground. My weight was distributed between the left hand and right foot. The left foot was past under the hips by moving it toward the planted right foot. The left leg was extended forward and set along the ground. With the hips being lowered back into the seated position. More accurately falling onto the surface. From this point, my upper body was gently lowered back onto the floor. One Turkish get up was totally completed.

Our original attempts at the Turkish get up were made over one year ago. It becomes challenging to remember the exact timing of the movements introduction. The Turkish get up was beyond my capabilities when it began. With little ability to maintain balance between the bended knee and extended arm on the opposite side. Lacking that skill of balancing myself, the exercise struggled to be completed. One concept appearing prevalent with my cerebral palsy has been hip tightness. The struggled ability for my hips to move freely. This challenge became a major challenge in performing the Turkish get up. In addition to experiencing difficulty holding steady balance. The raising of my hips was also holding me back from movement completion. They weren’t getting high enough toward the ceiling to clear a path for my leg to slide under. When the struggle was discovered. It became the only item we began working with. Starting from the seated position, with one knee bent and the opposite arm extended out to the floor. We spent time learning how to lift my hips off the floor. Practicing the feeling of distributing my weight between the two balance points. Lifting my hips as high into the air as was possible at the time. Then, trying to gradually lower myself back onto the ground. Repeating the process for some repetitions on each side. The example of lifting my hips off the ground five times. Switching sides to repeat the practice with the opposite leg bent and arm extended to the floor. The exercise was attempted for a few weeks in a row.

There was a frustration with the challenge of the Turkish get up. A movement not familiar to me until Bernard demonstrated. Like many exercises demonstrated by him. The Turkish get up was made to look doable. But, I had another thing coming in my direction, when it could not be done. Over the next couple of weeks. Bernard could probably sense my frustration with the movement. The challenge could have been too much at the time. With a continued struggle in the process of raising my hips off the ground. Within a short amount of time we moved away from the Turkish get up. Breaking the movement down into small parts had become an overwhelming challenge. Without me totally understanding we moved forward in working on other exercises. The variety possibly designed toward making the Turkish get up possible for me to execute. So, with our movement away from the movement. It was completely forgotten about. Placed in the category of something unable to be done. When things like this happen. They can lead to a feeling of sadness. A feeling of having failed at something I wish could have been accomplished. The emotion wasn’t a new one in my life. As cerebral palsy had held me short of completely accomplishing many tasks. Though the discouragement remains when a physical task gets turned away from in defeat. Little did I realize; the movement would make a comeback.

We moved out of the gym due to the pandemic. The move altered our work out sessions to some degree. Without the space of the gym. We became limited in the exercises we could perform. Working in the smaller space did provide one advantage. A difference appealing to me from the beginning. There wasn’t as much moving around during our session. Starting by working out in my garage. Then, moving to working our sessions inside a basement room of my childhood home. Everything was in close proximity. Forcing me to limit the rest time between exercise movements. When inside the gym, some of our workout stations would be walking distance apart. I enjoyed the requirement of keeping my heartrate elevated. While saving the energy it might have taken when moving around the larger gym area. Something never crossing my mind would have been a request of something complex. It seemed we were squarely inside of performing movement of familiarity. Things we had done with success during our couple years of training. The movements Bernard was requesting felt geared toward getting us through the gym closer. He was watching me through the computer. Making working on exercise with relative comfort the logical step. It also felt like we wouldn’t be able to gain much strength with the limitation. Our sessions more goaled toward maintaining some form of remaining in shape. All resulting in shock when he brought about the attempt at a Turkish get up.

When the Turkish get up was requested my mind spun. Thinking back on the struggles with performing the movement previously. It had been months, if not a year since that first trial. But, we had been at this point many times. When an exercise was given that didn’t seem possible. Bernard went through an example for me on the phone screen. The Turkish get up appeared more complex than memory had reminded. He wanted me to perform the entire movement, start to finish. Instead of working on an individual portion of the Turkish get up. With much skepticism running around my thought process. I lowered myself onto my back for the first full scale attempt at this movement. To my complete surprise, the beginning try went really well. There were some spots of trouble. Attempting to stabilize as the leg was moves under my raised hips. At one point, requiring the extra hand to move over toward the ground. Assisting slight to extend the balance required. But, the offhand requirement wasn’t always required. As the Turkish get up was performed. It wasn’t the prettiest looking movement and would continue requiring practice. However, the joy running through me after executing the exercise was exhilarating. It felt like winning a prize for something not seeming doable. We went on to perform the Turkish get up three times on each side. They were performed with some wobbles, but still executed. The thrill of accomplishment remained throughout the afternoon.

lThese situations have occurred. Probably more times than would be considered positive. When an exercise didn’t seem possible in my mind. The seed of doubt inflicting challenge on my mindset. This becomes the most crucial time to place faith in Bernard. Trusting he places movement in front of me that seem doable. More times than not, he has been correct in his assessment. The magical part of working with a trainer. Making it even more positive has been his knowledge of my disability. Having a son with cerebral palsy along with having worked with clients who have CP. The facts make it more challenging to decline his challenges. Especially using cerebral palsy as the underlining excuse. Like the Turkish get up, he gives me movements I would otherwise avoid. While circling back to an exercise that would have been abandoned after the initial struggle. Missing out on the opportunity to feel the thrill of accomplishment. Since having succeeded with the Turkish get up. The movement has been implemented into our weekly routine. It will be worked on once per week moving forward. I was just “thrilled” by that piece of good news. But, it does give me the opportunity to continue improvement. On an exercise helping with so many aspects of my disability.






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