Journey to Splits: Weeks 9-16

Want to catch up on the beginning of my journey? Read about my first eight weeks here.

Now that another eight weeks of training have passed, I wanted to do an update about my splits progress. I get a lot of questions about my flexibility training, especially around how frequently I stretch, so I thought I would break down what I worked on this time through.

After the first eight weeks of consistent flexibility training, I was feeling pretty good about my progress. I felt like I'd come fairly far, from having what was more or less just a lunge to finally having my front calf touch down. It was very motivating to see such a difference in my body, which made it easy to continue sticking to my training plan in the coming months--at least to start.

As a reminder, this is where I was at the end of my previous session (week eight):

I continued my regular splits training (a 90 minute intensive flexibility class once a week, plus intermittent stretching throughout the week) throughout this next period.

Here's where I was on week nine:

While there's not much difference between those two weeks, I did start to feel like I made a little progress on week ten:

I missed a class the following week due to a migraine, and then the week after that I was out of town for my usual class and had to pick up a later class that week. All of this is to say that there were some gaps in my training schedule over this two week period and I was a bit less consistent at this point. (I know that missing a class here and there might seem like a minor detail, but since I've been relying on this weekly class for the bulk of my training, missing one here and there feels like a lot!)

I was back in action on week thirteen, but without much change:

I was realizing at this point that my progress over this eight week period was going to be slower than I'd experienced in my first eight weeks. Sure, some of that was impacted by the inconsistency in my schedule during a couple of those weeks--but some of it was also that I made some progress very quickly in the first eight weeks and my body just wasn't going to keep up that pace. It was definitely disheartening at times to look at pictures week after week and not see any change (and to even feel that at times I had actually regressed). I love having regular progress photos, but there were definitely days that I would be analyzing the difference from week to week and finding myself worrying about whether I was moving in the right direction. I had to stay focused and remember that I was in this for the long haul.

I also tried to make it a point to look for progress that might have been happening in other areas, especially ones that might not be as evident on camera. Did I get deeper in a certain stretch than I had in a previous week? Was my backbend getting stronger? Was I relying on yoga blocks for support less and less?

On week fourteen, I wrote this with my weekly Instagram update: "Might not LOOK any closer, but I FELT lower than ever this week."

I remember settling into my split in this class and it feeling juuust a little bit different. I took that as my small win for the week and it helped me stay on track. At this point in my training, I was starting to incorporate more stretching into my weekly routine outside of my usual 90 minute flexibility class. I was regularly having my pole classes stretch, plus I was teaching my regular PiYo and stretch classes. Though none of these were the same intensive stretching as my regular flexibility class, they did help me keep up the work throughout the week.

Finally, on week sixteen of my splits training, I was here:

While I see a pile of things in this photo that could be better (straighten out those knees! point your toes!), I also can see the progress. I was lower than ever and not using my hands for balance, instead starting to find a little bit of a backbend in the pose. It was an exciting way to wrap up my sixteen weeks of training and definitely motivated me to keep up my efforts moving forward.

What's Next

I've continually said that I'd like to have one more intensive stretching class per week, but at this point it hasn't fit into my schedule. (Yes, I know I could probably just do a long training session at home...but I definitely prefer to be in class for this when possible!). I'll continue to look for opportunities to stretch in between my classes.

I'm also seeing some progress when it comes to backbends. Though I'm not tracking these as closely as my splits, I'm looking forward to continuing my work on these skills as well.

Otherwise, I'm just going to keep staying focused and putting in the work every week!