I’ve taken a Pilates class once a week for the last few years. It’s been fantastic for strength and flexibility, re-shaping my slowly aging body to resemble something akin to my 25-year old self. Sure, the body is covered by 40-something skin, but the muscle tone is fabulous!
(Pilates has also given me the ability to touch my toes, a talent I lacked even in childhood. It’s amazing how good it feels to be able to accomplish such a simple thing.)
This form of exercise, where core strength is key, requires focused breathing, but was very easy to do while still smoking (I quit…see here and here). When I was still a chimney, I gravitated to any form of exercise that was NON-cardio. Huffing and puffing and gasping for breath while your throat closes on a burning stream of air just isn’t all that fun.
And isn’t exercise all about the fun? 😛
For me, strength and flexibility training is kind of fun, but I’m odd that way. I’m a happy girl when I’m pumping iron, when muscles ache in that delicious twingy way. However, the mere thought of performing any sort of cardiovascular exercise to keep my heart healthy makes my heart skip a few beats in trepidation. The only activity that ever held any remote appeal was swimming and, unless one pays a ridiculous fee to belong to a gym, it’s not always easy to get access to a pool. Particularly one located indoors to allow for swimming when there’s a foot of snow on the ground.
I’ve tried running in the past. It was painful. On my feet, my knees, the girls, my head, my throat, my lungs. I’m a tiny little thing but I have a heavy tread so I’ve always thought I sound like Frankenstein clumping down the pavement. My arms felt like they were flailing at my sides, twin windmills spinning out of control to play whack-a-mole with street signs and newspaper boxes and stray pedestrians.
I had determined I was NEVER going to be a runner.
Then I quit smoking. And faced the fact that I’m not getting any younger. And accepted that I don’t belong to a gym with a pool and, besides, joining a gym complicates my exercise plans. And I won’t exercise if it’s complicated.
I thought about walking. Walking requires nothing but a good pair of shoes. I like to walk. But, even at a brisk pace, walking doesn’t burn a lot of calories.
I sighed. I’ve been smoke-free since the first of May 2011. Smoking was a crutch I carried as my excuse not to do high-impact cardio.
So I cracked open the vault in my brain where I’ve hidden any urge to run and took a peek inside. Running requires nothing but a good pair of shoes. Running burns more calories. Running may cause me to look like a fool but I no longer care what people think. I decided I was willing to give it another try.
I spent a few dollars for a one-day pass to the neighborhood gym. I got on the treadmill and was shocked to discover I could run for 30 minutes straight without gasping for air and collapsing in a puddle of sweat. I felt good afterwards. I think the surprise of that did more to get my heart racing than the running did. 🙂
But I didn’t want to keep spending money to participate in an activity that shouldn’t cost more than the shoes. So two nights ago, I bundled up in sweat pants and a sweatshirt, head covered by a cap, and went jogging in the 20 degree Chicago night air.
I discovered it’s more difficult to run on the prairie path than the treadmill. The ground isn’t as forgiving. But I still felt good. When I reached the location I’d set as my turn-around point, I felt triumphant. When I made it back home without keeling over onto snow-covered grass, I felt victorious. I ran about 1 1/4 miles (I think…it’s hard to be sure when holding a ruler to the computer screen of Google maps to scale off the distance.)
I’ve been cruising on the glory of the accomplishment for two days. While in Pilates class last night, I thought about when I would run again.
I believe I’ll run tonight.
Have you taken up a form of exercise you swore you’d never do? What else have you done that you never thought you’d do?
I want to apologize to my few subscribers and anyone else who stumbles across this blog. My writing has been sporadic. The “theme” of the blog has ranged from free range expression to writing about writing to rants to writing about empathy to…who knows what else. I suppose the “theme” is really that there is no “theme”. Or at least not any more.
I don’t know how often I’ll write here or if I’ll write here at all. Maybe this will turn into an exercise journal of sorts. Maybe it will continue to collect cobwebs. Maybe it will become the place I put my stray thoughts. Maybe coming here will be a colossal waste of your time. Only time will tell.
So, I’m sorry. Thank you if you’ve stuck around.