Even the biggest fitness enthusiast has an off day. If you work out 3--5 times a week and today is workout day what do you do? Do you skip? Tell yourself you'll workout tomorrow when you feel better?
I don't always feel like twisting my body around a cold metal pole. Sometimes I'm too sore, sometimes just plain uninspired. But I still have goals and skipping workouts does not get me closer to meeting those goals especially when it's repetition and time that brings the results I'm looking for.
So what is the solution? Exploring other forms of fitness and activity. While the concept of cross training is not new picking your vehicle can make the difference between just working out to burn calories and working out to further your goals. If burning calories is your goal, then of course pick whatever you feel like doing and go. If your splits are almost on the floor and your flexibility is improving greatly you want to protect that progress. If you want to burn calories but not set your flexibility back, banging out 2 hours on the incline setting on the treadmill you haven't touched since 1998 might not be the best cross training choice for you.
Choose wisely. Flexibility work is mostly in the lower half of the body until you get to contortion type training when you begin upper back and shoulder bending. I love to hit a speed bag because it gets me warm and doesn't affect my leg muscles, they can stay loose while hitting a speed bag as opposed to striding on the elliptical.
Many pole poses and holds require massive back flexibility. That is the ability to bend backwards and the closer your hands can get to your feet the better for these poses.
While I am thrilled with the above image and always have been, I know that I can get even more bend in my back. One day I hope to be able to bring the other arm all the way around and grab the leg with both hands.
So far this is the closest I can get, pole is a prop instead of twisting around it. Also, I need the boots to grab onto because the platform part is so much thicker than my foot it gives me something to hold onto. My foot would slip out of my hands before I could even get any kind of stretch.
Here is a compilation of stretches and yoga poses I like to do that have helped open my chest, stretch my shoulders, and strengthen my back bend. These are the best of each pose but the actual workout from start to finish with no poling involved is a little over an hour and 15 minutes.
Before engaging in any intense stretching like this please make sure you are properly warmed up. 10-12 minutes of activity that raises your heart rate into a 115-145 range should be enough to ensure safety with stretches like these. If you are new to this or feel any fear of injury make sure you have a partner or trainer with you to spot you.