day 9 | being a guinea pig

I can now empathize with guinea pigs. I offered to be one earlier this evening for a friend who will be taking her Certified Personal Trainer examination this weekend, although I’m not sure I was a very good one. I’m a very ticklish person so she had a hell of a time trying to locate my iliac crest, which is your hip bone, and also a very sensitive area. I guess when you laugh your abdominal muscles tense up, making it even harder to locate said iliac crest. It’s just a very awkward area to be poked. Also kind of awkward are the skin fold tests, i.e. measuring the thickness of skin folds in specific areas of the body, which can be used to find body fat percentage. Basically, you pinch the skin fold and then clamp it with the scary looking skin fold caliper which will then measure the thickness in millimetres.

"Get that thing away from me!" From: slimguideinlarge.jpg

The specific areas she used were: bicep, tricep, along the shoulder blade, around that damn iliac crest, and the thickest part of your calf. I think generally, they are all measured twice, but if the second measurement has a larger than 0.5 mm variance from the first measurement, you do it a third time and take the average of the three. She had to do it three times, probably because I was still laughing. Next, she tried taking my pulse while I was running on a treadmill. Apparently, passing the examination after the CPT (I think it’s called the CEP?) is kind of based on luck, or whether you get to measure the exercise pulse of a someone on the treadmill or someone on a stationary bike. I will testify that it is very hard to measure someone’s pulse while they are bouncing around on a treadmill because I tried taking my radial pulse, my brachial pulse, and my carotid pulse, and could not discern between my heartbeats and my steps or breaths. This is when I felt the most guinea pig-like – “Oh, just keep running. I’m going to make it faster, you’re obviously not working hard enough.” Apparently, the harder you work, the harder, your heart works, and the stronger your pulse is, and the problem appeared to be that my pulse wasn’t strong enough, which meant that a five minute test got stretched to half an hour. Good thing I love the treadmill…

This was me...or would be if the next image showed a squashed guinea pig underneath the barbell. From: guinea-pig-sports-02.jpg.

The best part of today was learning about PNF stretching. PNF stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and is based on the concept that your muscles come equipped with spindles, which can act as a sensor to prevent the over-stretching (and therefore possible tearing) of your muscles. I think what happens is when the spindles feel like your muscles are stretching too much, they send a signal to contract your muscles. PNF stretching is about decreasing that spindle response so that you can go beyond what you can normally stretch and increase your range of motion. PNF is now my favourite form of stretching because instead of doing any work myself, I just lay there and let my friend do all the stretching for me. It felt wonderful. Felt like the good life.

(Oh god, just remembered that guinea pig is on the BBC’s list of 50 things to eat before you die…because I just came across a picture of a guinea pig dish…I will refrain from sharing that with the world.)

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