The Quintanas, Week 14: Trial and Error

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

tree sunlight picture

Seeing the light ... Credit: Michelle Quintana

Note to self: The fact that you like watching a sport does not mean you'll enjoy participating in it.

Or, in my case: The fact that I enjoy watching a sport does not mean I possess the coordination to participate in it.

Upon beginning The Healthy Families Challenge, I was asked what sports got my family excited. The answer was, emphatically, Mixed Martial Arts. For us, watching a fight is a family event.

On his 13th birthday, Christian, my younger son, invited about 20 of his closest friends over, and we purchased the big fight of the month on Pay-Per-View. We ordered pizza and set up two televisions. It is amazing how still and quiet teenagers can be when you engage them in something they are passionate about.

I even own a shirt that says Eat, Breathe, and Sleep ... MMA. Yes, even my two daughters love it. This should give you an idea of how much we enjoy this sport.

We were hoping to take some classes, but never in a million years thought we would have the honor and blessing to be trained by the best of the best. American Top Team, a renowned MMA gym, has put out some of the greatest fighters in the sport; its coaches have trained "The Pitbull" Thiago Alves, Ricardo Liborio and Hector Lombard. Our family, as we have shared often, has been taking various classes at American Top Team Doral.

As I mentioned back in Week 1, I was originally sticking to low-impact exercise, due to some health concerns. But, after a few months of watching from the sidelines as my entire family lived what we consider "The Dream," I became a little envious. I decided I was not going to let a little weakness stand in my way. So, off to ATT for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training I went.

The cardio and endurance exercises were tough, but I handled them. I cannot, however, say much for myself when it came to the art of grappling, the actual sport of Jui-jitsu, which consists of various wrestling-style holds and escapes. I was grappling with men, teenagers and the one other woman in our class. I wasn't much of a challenge for any of them.

By the end of the month, I was frustrated. I couldn't seem to master anything, and was experiencing vertigo from the fast moves. You have to escape very quickly from the different guards, or positions, in order to prevail before your opponent can counter with another lock.

It's almost like playing chess. You study your opponent so that your can decide on the most strategic position to place yourself in, depending on which direction you anticipate his or her body to move.

I just couldn't do all this and make a muscle, too.

So, with great sadness, and after two months of trying, I will no longer be attending classes.

I am still attending my great yoga classes at Pranoga, but I have to face facts: MMA is just not for me. I happen to like all my body parts exactly where they are at. I've decided to continue the endurance and cardio taught by my instructor, Danillo Villefort. With my husband, David's help, I'm keeping up with crunches and push ups, and have even added the treadmill. We have a small community gym, where I am able to work on the things that my body can handle.

The lesson in my story?

Challenge yourself, but in the end, stay with what you like, and what encourages you to continue. Back in Week 6, I was staying away from inversions in yoga. Inversions are the upside-down poses. My yoga instructor, Aditya Gir, has taught me that these positions promote a healthy flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. I am now unafraid and able to perform a shoulder stand, which is when you lie on your back and slowly bring your lower body over your head, with your shoulders set squarely on the floor. Unlike I did in my picture from two months ago, I actually perform this move with poise and grace. I have perfect form!

A helpful tip: Most fitness programs will offer a free introductory class that will let you see if it's a fit before you commit. And I can tell you first hand that you shouldn't force yourself into something that makes you feel weak and fearful and unable to endure. It won't turn out to be fun or healthy, no matter how great it looks on TV.

MMA is still my favorite sport. And I'm still on the bleachers, wearing my shirt, cheering on my whole family as they show me how it's done. But I don't miss those mats. At all.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.



How is the Quintana family doing? Check in on their progress!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.