Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Celtics, Sheryl Crow, and Strong Pipes

Tuesday night, Boston Celtics president Rich Gotham let me hold the Larry O'Brien World Championship trophy at the Best of Boston party, an annual fete hosted by Boston magazine (my employer). In addition to debuting the top-selling issue of the year and throwing a memorable bash each July, the Best of Boston event also recognizes one local charity for its work in the community. This year, the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation was a natural choice, as the organization's off-court contributions to the city are just as praiseworthy as its championship play on the court.

While lifting the sparkling new hardware into the air- so I could say that I did- and to help Celtics brass nestle the trophy into its soft chamois cover to prepare for its transportation, I had one thought:

Damn, this thing is heavy!

Luckily, a little weight-lifting and a lot of low-push up ensured that the trophy remained safe while in my grasp- and reminded me of the importance of strong pipes, a theory further supported by Sheryl Crow's lithe and lean arms, strumming away at an array of guitars during her concert last night in Boston. While her look for the evening included a slammin' outfit that any om gal might covet, her most impressive fashion statement was a figure that not only seems to have conquered cancer but also reversed the effects of aging. Um, you go, sister!

So here are my picks for moves to chisel your arms, which in addition to being one of the season's hottest accessories (a la the former, almost Mrs. Lance Armstrong) also enable you to do cool stuff like lift trophies and babies and beach chairs. What's more, these upper body exercises can all be done at home, so you can spend less time in the gym and more time at the parties, concerts, and sweet summer events of your choosing.

Dolphin pose/Forearm stand.

A handy move with dumbbells that I learned in Pilates: Lie on the floor, face down, arms at your sides at 45-degree angles. Keep your forehead on the floor, legs are mat-width distance apart (assuming you do this on a yoga mat), feet turned out. Do a set simply lifting and lowering 2 lb. weights (or cans of soup in a pinch!); next, trace circles in the air, being sure to get both directions. Finally, lift your arms off the floor, then raise and lower them to shoulder height (think: airplane); try ten repetitions. Be sure to keep your tailbone tucked throughout to protect your lower back.

Stop breezing through low push-up: Time and again, I watch people short-change chaturanga, thereby diluting its myriad of benefits to the triceps, biceps, chest, and abdominals. Remember not to drop your shoulders lower than your elbows; maintain a 90-degree angle.

Start volunteering to hold the baby: Lift a friend's child or fallen spirits. Offer to carry someone else's burden for a while, or at least their groceries. The strength of our physical bodies is not separate from the strength of our spirits. It's that simple.

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