Expanding My Exercise Options

Though I began exercising as a jogger and continue to faithfully chug along, I also experimented from time to time with fitness fads that blossomed and faded as reliably as lilacs.

1194984629266779613fitness_architetto_franc_01.svg.medA year or so after I started running, I attended a pre-season basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors. During halftime, a group of bouncy women in leotards, tights, and my age group demonstrated a current craze called Jazzercise. Executing basic dance moves accompanied by vigorous hand movements, they cavorted around the court: smiles flashing, eyes twinkling, breath controlled, gentlemen entranced.

Within a week, I joined a dance-fitness group. Attired appropriately from headband to leg warmers, I leaped about to the soundtrack of Flashdance, awkwardly imitating the instructor’s rhythmic moves.

My relief when the dancing ended — and my breath quit sucking paint from the walls — became terror when everybody grabbed a mat and began doing squats, lunges, leg lifts, pushups and sit-ups by the hundreds. Unable to see because of the sweat streaming into my eyes, I floundered about and prayed the fun would stop before I passed out.

aerobics_5Because the icy streets of winter made running risky, I continued to pursue alternative forms of exercise.  I thumped with the lightness of Big Foot in step classes, had difficulty extricating myself from the pretzel poses of yoga, and took to dance routines requiring hand weights like toddlers take to vaccinations: squirming, wailing, and indignation.

Later, I traipsed through Pilates, boot camps, Curves, Tai Chi, and Zumba. With each venture, I felt increasing gratitude that no one I loved was watching. Though I failed to impress with either grace or coordination in these classes, I excelled at sturdy shoes and punctual arrivals.

At some point, frustrated by cancelled classes and closed gyms, I bought videotapes and DVD’s so I could exercise at home, where I discovered an unexpected advantage: no one was around to notice when I failed to keep up with the svelte Jane Fonda or admired the short-shorts of Richard Simmons. Bashing about in my basement, I tried Tae Bo with the menacing Billy Blanks and made it through interval training with the chirpy Denise Austin. Neighbors never called to ask if I was OK, so my stumbling and swearing must not have been too troublesome.

My dream of being enshrined in the exercise hall of fame didn’t end with running, cardio classes, and DVDs. Oh no. I managed to find several more ways to cover myself with sweat and glory; but I’ll save those mistakes for another day.

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21 thoughts on “Expanding My Exercise Options

  1. Janet, you once mentioned a stretching routine you do every morning and I forgot to ask for details. I feel like the tin man without his oil can most mornings and I know I feel better when I’m moving about. Would you share information about the DVD and routine you do every morning? I promise not to just store it with old VCR tapes of Sweating to the Oldies.

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    • Mercy, my stretching routine is all in my head — which tells you it’s not very extensive. I do 3 reps of 4 to 6 stretches a physical therapist taught me years ago, and hope I’m still doing them correctly. We need to talk.

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  2. Alas, I’ll have to turn to the new source of instruction, YouTube. I’d love to talk but right now I either have no voice or I’m spasmodically coughing. Ebola has been suggested but exposure to planes, buses, metro cars, and 20,00 children at the Smithsonian American History museum is more likely.

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  3. My goodness Janet, Do you really swear? One of my horrifying High School memories is having to run the muddy back roads of town while our Gym teacher followed in her car…Before the arthuritus, My passion was hiking and cycling, the stiffness and gray hair qualifies me for Aquafit for Ladies. Bouncing sweat less in a tepid pool. Great post, great motivation, going to bed early tonight, as always with Ben Gay..

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    • Unfortunately, Sheila, from time to time I do swear. I learned from a master. When frustrated by a car that wouldn’t start or a cow that wouldn’t move, my dad swore with a creativity and rhythm I’ll never equal. Again, your horrifying high school experience made me chuckle — at 6:15 in the morning with only a sip or two of coffee. Quite a feat.

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      • It’s okay Janet, I swear too. My gym teacher was the hefty type, with a greasy cowlick, in pure white, snug track suit. She also invented a fitness test, which was a relay race, running and bending to pick up cat-food tins in the snow. My sister could not stand Miss Crehan, and brought a velcro strap to class. When Miss bent over to pick up her cat-food tins, Pammy loudly scritched the velcro. It passed into legend how Miss bolted inside holding her ass. Pammy failed the test.

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    • Barbara, I appreciate your comment about my writing in this post being visual, something I strive for with varying degrees of success. I don’t know that it matters how we exercise, just that we do so, and most every day is about right in my book.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, exercise. I, too, have tried dance and exercise classes, weight-training and jogging. Sometimes though, I can’t help but consider my Grandmother who, never having officially “exercised” a day in her life, was fit as a fiddle at 95. How did she keep in shape? Gardening, canning, scrubbing laundry on a washboard, using muscle instead of machines to clean, walking everywhere— all those activities comprised her ticket to fitness!

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  5. What I find most frustrating about exericse as I age is that I seem to need to do more of it just to maintain. Teaching easily gave me my 10,000 steps a day. With retirement, not so much. I too have discovered the benefits of a basement gym. For me it’s an elliptical with a book holder. Reading an extra 45 minutes a day? Sure! Add phys ther back exercises and a weekly yoga class and I call it good.

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  6. You’ve made me decide to start exercising again. I do laps in the summer, and then return to nothing when we close the pool. I’m too far away from town to join a group that can monitor my activity. So I have to rely on self-motivation which is able to find so many excuses.

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    • Somedays it is difficult to get going. But I find that when I do, I enjoy choosing my activity and doing it at my pace for as long as I want and when I want. Though, full confession, I used to be group dependent as well.

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