Thursday, May 1, 2014

OLDER & FITTER?


In my whole life I have never signed up for ANYTHING that even hinted at athletics or exercise.  As a child I was thought to have a heart condition and the whole of my childhood was governed by not playing active games.  By the time I figured out I wasn't going to die, I didn't know how to play volleyball, basketball, kickball, baseball, and frankly, just wasn't interested. 

I substituted reading for my "sport" and never missed not knowing running around making sweat!.  I always said my exercise was accomplished by curling up on the couch making my eyeballs go back and forth across the written page.  Ahhhhh.  Such satisfaction!

I lived my young and middle aged life before LA Fitness or Pilates came into being.  To be honest, what one doesn't have, one doesn't miss.  And then, one starts into old age and begins  having little niggling physical things go on with my body.  That was when I realized I probably did need a little conditioning.  I walked for a while, shocked that I rather enjoyed it, but after the scare that I had last December thinking I was going to need dialysis or a kidney transplant, I stopped walking because I felt so punk.  It turned out to be a side-effect of a pill, and once I stopped taking that pill, I became my old self again, kidney and all.  However, I just never quite got my enthusiasm for exercise back. So when Riverside County arranged to hold a "50 and Fit" exercise class on the premises of Country Village, where we live, I suggested to Jerry that we participate.  The goal, set specifically for seniors, is to work toward Muscle, Flexibility and Balance.  The sessions are three times a week, no cost, everything provided!  We've now been twice and like it enough to continue.

But I do have some observations to share.

As we walked in the door we were handed a resistance band.  We vaguely knew how they would be used.  The leader said they would be used in the exercises to build muscle mass through resistance.  The fact that mine had about the resistance of a rubber band made me question what kind of muscle it was going to do any good on.  I was originally thinking of Popeye-sized muscles, but obviously that was not going to happen if I didn't get a stronger band.  But at the same time, I must admit that I thought I looked pretty darn fit stretching that band by holding it with my fingers!  It made me laugh.  I was hopeful that all those people behind me could see that I was already fit.  (I did ask for a stronger band at the second session!)

Next, the leader had us put the bands away and led us in an exercise that I'll describe as stepping left and right in a rhythmic pace, left and right: STEP! STEP! STEP! CLAP! STEP! STEP! STEP! CLAP! – back and forth many many times.  But I laughed at this too, because anyone looking at me would think I had no sense of rhythm at all..  I could not stay in step with any body else, and often I was at a dead stop, giggling at how stupid I was.

But there was a good reason for my difficulty.  First of all, our leader faces us, so her right is our left.  If she would face the same direction that we are, we would all be together.  Many of the people were confused about which way they were to move and people were going every which direction.  But I found myself at odds with both of them – like someone marching to a different drummer.  I burst out laughing again at how stupid I felt, but for good reason: The leader has music to accompany our efforts, but the beat of the piece accompanying this exercise was different than the beat she set for our movement. So I DID have a different drummer, and with a tiny bit of musical training in my background, I positively could not ignore the beat of the music that my fine hearings aids piped into my ears!  I was not out of step at all; everyone else was!

The leader of the exercise group, a youngish woman who actually is one of the employees of our complex's management company, appears to have never exercised before but has had a short course in how to lead a "50 and Fit" group.  Her spirit is willing….but you know the rest of that old saw.  She is fairly unsure of what all these exercises are to accomplish; she herself watches and follows a DVD that is playing on a table beside her.  She does – and then we do - whatever exercise the DVD instructor is doing.  Sweetly and earnestly she follows the rules, so I expect she will get better as she gets more experience. 

I really would prefer a trainer like some of those physical therapists who worked with me to get my "frozen shoulder" back to normal, but we can't always have what we want. And besides, I think to myself, if we had a "REAL" trainer, I would probably then have to truly exercise, which I think I still hate.  So I've made my peace with my silly efforts and lots of laughs, and have to assume that what I am doing now is a whole lot better than finding another book to read.

I do, however, honestly hope that by the time she gets us working on getting our gluteus maximus muscles back into shape, her skills will be honed and we will see some good results.  Have you ever looked at your behind in a three way mirror?  I'm telling you, there is nothing left except muscles, all resting!  It's worse than the flabby underarms we get as we age, but perhaps for us women, not quite as bad as losing what we held up years ago in a perky bra. 


Sadly and realistically, I'm really under no illusion that I will come out of this "50 and Fit" a new me, but in the meantime what it does is get me off the computer for an hour, give me an hour laughing with Jerry, and make me recognize that I really am not in too bad a shape for an old broad.

1 comment:

Olga Hebert said...

I think it is important to work on balance as we age. With my family history, I have as much to worry about with falling as with cancer or heart disease.

I am taking a Feldenkrais curse right now and my sone has joined me in that. He thinks it is helping his frozen shoulder.