Friday, September 3, 2010

Adventure in Wheel-ing

A few weeks ago, I joined a new gym. Last year's econo-gym membership was a big waste of money as I never had the time to go when I had energy, or energy to go when I had time (after 7pm or before 5am). Lured in by a lap pool and childcare, I jumped ship to a national chain with a new gym in our area. I have always done well with group fitness classes and this gym offers lots of classes that seem really cool. Plus, they have a pretty nice kids area set up with a very reasonable fee so that I can actually work out during the time a normal person would be awake!

As part of a scheme to win a free trip to Hawaii (which didn't end up working), I spent the first 2 weeks of my membership trying out each fitness class the gym offers. The one I was least looking forward to: Yoga/Pilates.

I have never been a huge fan of yoga classes. I went a few times when I was pregnant, but have never really gotten into the stillness of yoga, the "let's relax and listen to our breathing", the "pay attention to the tiny muscles in your forehead... release all of the tension between your eyebrows". I am just not made to slow down that way, and the idea that I am "exercising" by laying on the floor in Corpse Pose ticks me off when I'm in a foul mood.

But, I found that I really enjoyed the yoga/pilates class at my new gym. I was sweating! I had sore muscles the next day! And, most positive of all, my tight-since-having-children hips actually stretched out a bit and felt wonderful! I'm a little addicted now just because of the hip stretching alone! Not to mention that anytime we are seated for stretching, she always reminds us to "put both your butts on the floor", which I find really cute since she is a tiny, blonde yoga-ess.

I am far from a Yoga Master. I am decently flexible and probably above average in the balance department. On most poses, our instructor shows us a beginner position and a "level 2" position. Occasionally there is a "level 3" position which is prefaced by her saying something like, "Only try this if you have been coming for awhile" or a threat (in teacher tone) like, "If you can't keep your back straight on level 2, I better not see you trying this!" Most of the time I'm cool in level 2. On some things, I am flexible enough to pull off level 3.

Today's adventure, and story, begins about half way through class with Bridge Pose. Like this...

I assure you that I am as toned as this lady and looked HAWT in my light pink, skintight yoga-wear. (!!)

Anyway, so I'm rocking the Bridge Pose and figured we were finishing up (though, knowing the class a little bit, I wouldn't have been surprised if she had said, "Now, grab your ankles and slowly walk towards the green wall to your right.")

Then, she busted out the Level 2... Wheel Pose. "If you feel comfortable here and have the flexibility to attempt this..."

Never one to shy away from a backbend Level 2, I was thinking I can do this! I can push up into a back bend! (Those of you who read yesterday's blog are coming to understand that my internal dialogue often includes gross overestimation of my abilities...) And then... I went for it! Arms above my shoulders, I pushed up from Bridge Pose to Wheel Pose. I made it! I am sure I didn't look as bendily perfect as this lady up above, but my heels stayed on the ground, I didn't pull a muscle, and I didn't tip over. I call that "Mission Accomplished"!

So, here I am in the dimmly lit group exercise room in Wheel Pose. My upside down view of 1/2 of the class revealed that only 2 or 3 of the 15-20 people I could see had attempted/successfully made it to the Wheel. And then, I realized my problem.

How am I going to get down from here?

A quick picture flashed in my mind: like some generic comedy flick, I pictured being stuck in Wheel Pose and having to call out to the Yoga-ess for help getting back down to the ground. Honestly, I was scared for a few seconds that I was going to hurt myself trying to get out of Wheel Pose.

In the end, I ignored the desire to call for help and decided if I threw caution to the wind to bend myself in half, I would do the same and drop myself back down to the mat. I ended up bringing my head directly down onto the ground, probably not an ideal exit, and rolling my spine down until I was back to safely laying flat on the ground.

Whew! Crisis averted!

And you know at dinner tonight, I bragged to Eric all about how I kicked some awesome Yoga butt and Wheeled like a champ!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Porch swing reupholstery fail

We have a second generation porch swing that came with us from our old house when we moved last year. Handed down from our friends (who graciously left it on the porch when we bought the house from them), I admit that I love the idea of having a porch swing more than I love actually using it.

The sad grandpa porch swing was relegated to the random mow strip/concrete pad on the side of the house when we moved because of how tiny our back porch was. But then, this spring, we landscaped the back yard and suddenly the porch swing had a home!

The only problem: the fabric was worn thin from years of use, misuse and unuse. (Is that a word?)

"Have no fear!" I told Eric. "I will reuphoster it and make it look fabulous!" I was well intentioned and truly believed that I could take on this little project with little to no effort required. I can sew! I've made pretty elaborate Halloween costumes. I was on costume crew for a few plays in college. I have made some of my own clothes.  The "how to reupholster your porch swing" sites online make it look so easy!

The problems started early on. And remember, this is late April or so...  Our probably very cheap porch swing (sorry Clifts!) has an all in one cushion and cover, meaning I couldn't take off the cover and use it as a pattern to create a new one. Oh no. In fact, I actually needed my husband's help to dismantle the ENTIRE swing so that I could remove the pad/cover in order to measure and plan out what I needed.

Mid May.

Pad removed and spread out on the dining room (no doubt tracking in 10 years of hidden dirt and who knows what), I measured and planned. Headed to the fabric store and found some super cute weatherproof fabric, which was more expensive than I expected.

And yes, I got home to discover that my fabric was about 2 inches too narrow! So, back to the store a few days later only to discover... the fabric was gone! No problem, I thought, I'll go all Project Runway and "make it work". I bought the same fabric in the same pattern but in complimentary colors and used it as edging down both sides, widening my fabric enough to do the job.

Late May.

I get this great idea to use a staple gun to affix the fabric on to the original pad/cover so that I don't have to sit outside in the 90 degree weather handsewing an entire porch swing. It seems like it would work! But after stapling the pad to my dining room floor (hello cheap laminate tile flooring!) and then dragging the whole thing outside, it quickly became apparent that my little quick fix idea was not working.

Did I give up? Never! I doubled the fun by using craft fabric glue spray, spraying the crap out of the back of the fabric, glueing it to the old fabric and THEN stapling it on!

Yeah, my head is hung in shame.

Early June.

I decided to go with it, despite Eric's incredulous looks, and see if it would hold together. At this point, other than a few visible staples, the cover actually looked pretty good. We even sat on it once.

Mid June.

I haven't mentioned that I live in a windy area. This is important because it only took about a week for my "fancy" porch swing cover job to start coming apart and flapping in the wind. At first it was just the bottom, which didn't actually impede the use of the swing OR show the original cover, so I let it go. Eric wasn't pleased.

By late June - 2 months into my "simple" project - basically the entire cover had come apart and was folded over itself, dangling off the swing, blowing in the breeze. Yes, I somehow made a 10 year old porch swing with an entirely worn and destroyed cover look WORSE than it did when I started. Did I fix it right away? Nope. Instead, I spent the summer pretending that it didn't exist.

I did make a few lame apologies to Eric for my lameness and promised I would fix the porch swing, but my heart wasn't into it.

So finally today, yes it is early September, I took the first steps to rectify my porch swing reupholstery fail. I am giving in and will be hand sewing the cover. Baby steps. Today, I pinned my cover back on to the swing so that this weekend, I can do the sewing. From far away, the porch swing actually looks pretty good. See?

But don't get too close!!!