Having never ever wanted to be anywhere near any sign that has the words “fitness” or “workout” or even “club” in it,
I’m surprised, too.
In fact, I’m more up for a laid-back stroll, no hills please, and after that, an afternoon nap.
Choosing to move as little as possible was already apparent in high school.
That’s when my best friend and I talked our P.E. teacher into decorating the locker room bulletin boards rather than going outside. We still suited up, but spent the entire period cutting out construction paper into shapes and writing headlines with felt pens. I can’t be sure, but some collaging might have been in the mix, too.
There was more activity in college.
At UCLA, and only because there wasn’t any other option, I walked 20 minutes from my dorm to school on a sidewalk that ran parallel to Sunset Blvd. After my Girl Clown time, I transferred to San Jose State and rode my three-speed bike
a mile or so to class and then, living in New York City, walked more than I’d ever had to before.
On the heels of a bad car accident a few decades back, I settled into a yoga practice with some walking on the side.
I stayed on the mat after moving to Oregon, and had just found a yoga teacher I really liked. I paid upfront for
10 classes, and then, of course, COVID-19 shut everything down.
Those workouts resumed recently. But when the teacher refused to honor the punch card, and also said she wasn’t about to get a COVID-19 vaccine, it was time to move on.
A neighbor mentioned the state-of-the-art gym three blocks away, complete with yoga, personal trainers and a pool. After taking a tour, The Hubster and I realized that its set monthly cost—which includes an unlimited amount of classes—was way more cost-efficient than yoga from the anti-vaxx instructor.
A week later, I had a new patient appointment with a physician.
As expected, I was pronounced to be in excellent health. But scanning the paperwork as I walked out the door, I
I’d put on 30 pounds in the last 15 months.
Or maybe, because I’m loathe to keep a scale, some had piled on before.
Still, I can justifiably blame the gain on the pandemic, during which I mostly stayed home. Like a lot of folks, I also parked my caboose in front of Netflix and Amazon Prime, surrounded by tons of highly-caloric, made-from-scratch comfort food. (Three different posts from last year are about carrot cake, Jell-O salad and snowball cookies.)
Still, seeing that number was shocking.
But thanks to the gym I’d already joined, there’s a plan.
I take five classes, one each weekday. I’m also walking to and from the venue, which comes out to about 150 blocks every month. The facility was shut down for most of last year and is just getting back on its feet, so there are no weekend classes yet. On those days, I walk laps around a nearby track.
Besides yoga, I’m also trying out something I’ve never done—exercising in a warm pool.
Its official name is aqua therapy, and this sort of regime first appeared in the United States in the early 1900s as a treatment for cerebral palsy. A few decades later, it had become so popular that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was paralyzed from the waist down, was a regular adherent.
This makes sense, because aqua therapy is especially beneficial for those who want to increase their strength and range of motion, and to decrease pain from arthritis and pain related to various types of surgeries. I especially admire one woman in my class who needs knee surgery, but says her physician won’t consider it until she takes off 100 pounds.
For me, the buoyancy and pressure of the water has me successfully, and surprisingly, executing moves and poses that have always been impossible to do on land. The sole downside is that my solitary bathing suit has begun to fade, but that’s also a reason to buy a new one, or maybe two.
Now, having been a gym member for only three weeks, I’m amazed that I’m already stronger.
But more important is my upbeat emotional state.
As it turns out, there’s fresh research that shows why.
A new study—which tracked more than 18,000 middle-aged and older men and women, a demographic that I’m a part of—concluded that our exercise habits may influence our sense of purpose in life. Taking these findings a step further, a certain amount of regular exercise will likely give us a positive sense of purpose. Finally, those who commit to a consistent regime are the most likely to stay active over time.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’ll never be as thin as I was in my 20s.
Likewise, I’m a very good home cook, and I enjoy both making and eating my comfort food recipes. If you tried any of them, I’m sure you’d feel the same.
But now that this once-every-100 years pandemic is finally abating, at least in this circus tent and likely in yours, a healthier way of living has me on a high that feels very, very good.
Of course, I have no idea what this journey might bring.
But for now, my intention is to find out.