When you don’t use it, you lose it, they say. Sitting in a chair at a computer for hours at a time doesn’t help arthritic joints. So I’m back in the gym and signed up for six sessions. My trainer was a pretty young whipper-snapper in awesome shape (think college soccer player and marathon runner) who tried valiantly to teach this old granny new things to strengthen my core. You want me to do what?! I have crushed discs in my lower spine from falling off a horse at the age of fifteen. (The horse wasn’t actually moving, but that’s another story.) When my trainer held out a big rubber ball, I crossed my arms. “Nope. Not going to lie backwards on that thing. Not unless you have an ambulance waiting at the curb to cart me way.”
Crunches, no problem. Step up, step down, no big deal. Leg lifts, fine and dandy. Yes, I can put my hands flat on the floor, just not in public. Push-ups? I can now hold a plank position for a full 20 seconds, but never in my entire life have I been able to do a single push up. Exercises on my stomach on the floor? Oh, how I tried. My trainer got down on all fours. “Are you okay?” Argh. I was shaped like a beached canoe. Groan. When I finished the set with clenched teeth determination, I rolled like a sick buffalo and slowly made it to my feet – in full view of three rows of treadmills and exercycles, all occupied. Even when turned away from all those runners, steppers and peddlers, there is that hideous wall of mirrors. Shoot me, please. Just shoot me.
I may not be Jane Fonda who is still in disgustingly good shape in her late 70s, but I’m not totally sedentary. I “ride” a recumbent exercycle 7-9 miles a day with the tension cranked to 10 at home and out of sight in what we loosely call the “play” room. I do floor exercises in the privacy of my bedroom, many of which my trainer taught me, added to those given to me by a physical therapist who taught me how to unpinch a nerve that got pinched while using one of those elliptical torture devices.
Now that I am “trained”, I’m ready to embark on the quest for strength and stamina. I even have the sweat-wicking clothes to prove it. My daughter, Shannon, and I met at the gym. We laughed ourselves silly as we went from one machine to another. I was working on (non-existent) upper body strength. Let’s just say my arms are called “chicken wings” for a reason. After an hour, we had each burned approximately 200 calories. To celebrate, we drove to Starbucks. Shannon was a good girl and had tea. I had a vente caramel latte. Did I feel guilty? Not a twinge.
Work out? Sure! Next time, it’ll be a piece of cake.