Getting Awesome for Rugby

I started rugby when I was 16 years old on a lark, and it's completely changed my relationship to fitness. Rugby has allowed me to partially refocus my thoughts about exercise, shifting the emphasis from what my body looked liked to what it was capable of. Everyone on the field was starting from ground zero, so my lack of coordination wasn’t too damning. I was also made into a forward because I was tall and somewhat solid, so I was expected to do less fancy footwork and artful passing and more hitting and tackling. This was a space where I was not only allowed but encouraged to act a bit more “masculine” than everywhere else. I also played a key role in set pieces like scrums and line-outs; my team depended on me and I was able to deliver results to them, and this helped me with my social needs. Rugby is a wonderfully strategic and intricate game, with a raw physicality that I learned to appreciate. For the first time I was able to enjoy runner’s highs and the feeling of slowing washing the dirt and sweat off and putting yourself together in the shower after a hard game. I started getting fit on my own time to play better, doing push-ups, crunches and short runs as well as ball-handling drills with friends. My weight and appearance barely budged. 

During undergrad I fell off the rugby wagon because of school work. I returned to the sport last summer, for social and psychological needs as much as for physical fitness. I found that I couldn't get full extension when lifting on line outs. A couple times I was paired with the toughest girl on the team for tackle drills and I couldn't bring her down. It turns out adult women are bigger and stronger than 14 year olds. I am taking the off season right now to improve my strength and fitness so that I can be competitive again. I was also recently certified as a coach, so I want to learn about off-season fitness to give good advice to my future athletes.

One thing holding me back is my posture, so I'm adding more 'pull' exercises (increased sets of dumbbell rows, lat pulldowns, time on the rowing machine and dead hangs) to improve it, as well as doing some stretches and trying to be conscious of my posture in my day to day life. I guess that the daily posture work is my one new fitness habit. To track this I'm taking my picture from the side and the back once a week to see if my shoulders are rounding less and my head is moving back.To improve my upper body strength I'm doing benches and overheads. I'm also adding the goal of being able to do a pull up, both to help my upper body strength and my posture. I'd like to follow the progression of lat pulldowns and dumbbell rows -> inverted rows and dead hangs -> assisted pull ups -> negatives -> full pull ups. Right now I'm trying to transition from phase one to phase two. I'm trying to find facilities that would have a bar for inverted rows. 


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