Movement: My New Motto

I enjoy the fresh feel of a new year and January. I like to think the month’s stark coldness freezes bad stuff — tattling, fallen arches, rabid bats — and encourages new beginnings.

But hearing about the number of us who resolve to exercise and give up before the end of the month discourages me. Maybe we could improve our dropout rate if we banned the word exercise and resolved to move more in ways we enjoy: walking, swimming, dancing around the living room, playing outside with children.

In terms of an exercise regime, the only thing I lacked was the wisdom to stop doing the things I dreaded.barbells

In my late thirties, after a friend convinced me we would look like Kathleen Turner in Body Heat if we took up rigorous strength training, I agreed to go with her to check out Ike’s Power Palace: a musty smelling place with a bald, tattooed proprietor, rows of dusty cardio machines dotted by drops of dried sweat, dumbbells and barbells of intimidating size, weight machines reminiscent of torture chambers, and walls lined with fly-specked mirrors where straining men checked their form as they lifted massive weights and grunted.

We were hovering at the edge of the action, feeling like flamingoes trying to get acquainted with a herd of wooly mammoths, when a voice boomed from behind the counter, “Well don’t just stand there. Come on in, ladies. I’m Ike. If you stick with me, you’ll soon have butts so tight you’ll have to hang on with both hands to keep from falling in the toilet.”

I stuck with Ike for two months, never looked like Ms Turner, never tipped into the toilet, and nearly wept with gratitude when the Power Palace relocated to Reno.Kids in swimming pool with goggles.

In my fifties, I did water aerobics during the summer in an outdoor pool: prancing about in chest-high water and working hard without sweating as the water splashed my face and drenched my hair.

Then, in a publication I no longer remember, I read a survey I do: two-thirds of the adults polled admitted that when young, they routinely peed in swimming pools. A gazillion youngsters took lessons all morning in the water where my class met at noon.

The next day, I abandoned water aerobics, dusted off my bike, and rode up and down hills for an hour — an activity I enjoyed as much as mumps.

That was the summer I finally decided to stop doing things I dreaded and to begin moving instead. Now I do what I want, when I want, for as long as I want, with no need to comb my hair.

And what I want to do is walk, hike, cross-country ski, or run. I’ve also discovered that when I exercise alone, I concentrate on the activity and I’m more aware of the strength and endurance of my body. Sometimes, I feel young again.

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24 thoughts on “Movement: My New Motto

  1. I have a weight room at home and still pump iron three times a week, but it ain’t what it used to be. It’s more of a way to stay in shape for the hiking and fishing that I love. I agree, when I’m working out I feel young.

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  2. The Y has been my salvation. I’m not exercising–I’m DANCING! The best part–the Y has 3 pools, and one is just for kids.
    I completely agree with you–you have to do what you enjoy.
    By the way, have you seen recent photos of Kathleen Turner? Even SHE doesn’t look like Kathleen Turner any more. So there.

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  3. You express yourself so wisely. I am with you. Movement is what I enjoy as I garden and go about my normal business, with a regular walk thrown in. I love the way you make me smile.
    Happy New Year to you Janet and enjoy the freshness and newness of January making for a healthy and happy year ahead.

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    • What a lovely comment, Barbara. “With a regular walk thrown in” is more and more what I do, and it’s so enjoyable. I hope that you, too, have a happy year filled with laughter and writing that pleases you.

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  4. Hello Janet- one bad thing I did, at 35 was get my drivers lice-sense, needed it for work, before that I biked everywhere. I get what you mean by move- it is meditative and stress free, I no longer drive, still love to walk. This morning I recalled calling January up north, “Wolf Moon” All my changes and transitions seem to come in Wolf Moon…Happy New Year my dear, and keep chugging along.

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      • Hi Janet- regarding the pool, I go to early bird swim, before the tots and others likely to flood us out with wee. My job is incredibly boring, I do most of my writing in The Bile Room, before work, and on post its through out the day. Hope this is the year Random House calls…

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      • Wise decision on the pool. Post its, Sheila? Why doesn’t that surprise me. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for the Random House call. Your writing certainly merits such a chat.

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  5. I had to laugh when I read the part about peeing in the swimming pool. I just have to hope there’s so much chlorine in there that it doesn’t matter?!
    I agree with your final sentiment to just “begin moving”—especially relevant after this past week of sitting in front of plates filled with ham, turkey, pies and cookies.
    Enjoy the New Year!

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    • I’ve face those same plates, Rita; but something tells me that you are so active the festive foods don’t really matter. I loved your post filled with winter photographs and you and Tim being out there participating.

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  6. I, too, have a bowflex machine that I use (in)frequently. It just seems like there are so many reasons not to exercise this morning. My wife has started Pilates lessons, and I am considering going wit her. Sometimes it is easier to do the exercise that our body needs, if there is an appointment and another person involved. Happy New Year.

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    • I suffer from those same reasons not to exercise, which is why I prefer to get it done as soon as I’m awake and have had a cup of coffee and a chat with my husband. An early start leaves less time for my mind to surface the many reasons I should skip my planned exercise. My wish for you is a Happy New Year and many more of your entertaining posts.

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  7. I love your idea of movement! I’m one of ‘those’ who always resolve to exercise again and barely get started before I peter out. The movement I’m choosing is dance, by myself so no one can see my outdated moves.

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