As we near the end first week of January, I’m proud to report that I’ve kept all of my New Year’s resolutions. Or I would have if I had made any. Perhaps I’ve kept yours.
I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions. Or perhaps I should say, I don’t make typical New Year’s resolutions.
Let it be noted that this week, I took a Zumba class, attended a Weight Watchers meeting, started a new book (reading, not writing), cleaned out and reorganized my refrigerator and tried to donate a pint of blood. Tried, because I apparently didn’t have enough iron for the Red Cross. I then went out and bought a gargantuan head of kale.
If I had resolved to exercise, lose weight, read more, get organized, do for humanity and buy healthful foods, I’d have aced it this week. One down, fifty-one to go.
Notice I said, “healthful,” not “healthy.” Things are healthful. People are healthy. Kale, anyone?
Progressive thinkers that they were, my parents made me take yoga when I was ten, believing it would help me to become more focused and improve my grades. I may have told you this before. Every Saturday morning, they drove me into the city for class. While my friends were eating Cocoa Puffs, drinking Tang and watching cartoons, I was saluting the sun and hating every minute of it. I decided then that when I finally had complete freedom to make my own decisions, I’d never go within 10 feet of a yoga mat. Forty-one years later, I’ve held to it. I also remain one of the least flexible (and least focused) people I know. Such is the price of freedom.
Many of my friends and acquaintances do yoga and love it. Being barefooted, moving slowly in a quiet room, is not my cup of chamomile tea.
However, I am aware that yoga has changed vastly in the decades since I first experienced it so unpleasantly.
For example, I recently read about something called “Laughter Yoga.” I might be able to warm up to that. Also called hasyayoga, this discipline involves self-triggered laughter that spreads among people in the class. I assume this enhances the workout in some way.
I’m a fan of contagious laughter, though perhaps not enough so to combine it with exercise forcibly. I laugh plenty in Jazzercise, as my friends and I make faces, exaggerate our dance steps and share dirty jokes on the floor. But that’s genuine, not contrived.
I know there’s also “Hot Yoga,” which involves exercises performed in extremely hot and humid temperatures. Sounds like weeding the yard in July to me.
We have a friend who’s into all sorts of other kinds in a big way, so much so that he recently took a break from his career to focus on yoga full time. As part of a side project, he recently invented something called “In Sink Yoga.”
Setting aside my overall clumsiness and lack of muscular flexibility and strength, I might also find this doable. Here, take a look:
I love this for so many reasons. Did someone say “cleaning fetish?”
Maybe for his next video project, he’ll do Om on the Range.
What’s the temperature in your gym? Yesterday mine was 98 degrees.
Once, when I said something in a post about going to the gym, my son chimed in. “Don’t lie, Mom. You don’t go to the gym.”
Rude accusations aside, he was wrong. I do go to the gym. I don’t go to a health club or a fitness center or a recreation facility. I go to a gym.
Remember gym? Big room, wood floor, retractable bleachers and a basketball hoop at each end?
Yeah, the gym. I happen to exercise at one owned by a local Boys & Girls Club. It’s not air conditioned; typically it’s about 10 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. Not only that, when I work out really hard, it spins around.
This is a pivotal time in my workout cycle. My current eight-week session is about to expire, hopefully before I do. My cue is, when I start to see spots, it’s time to back off.
I dragged myself back there yesterday after recovering from a bout with my respiratory illness. The air was like melting Jell-O. I made it though my one-hour class, motivated by knowing I’ll need to put on a swimsuit and a party dress within days. As if one workout were going to do magic. So I plowed through, periodically stepping outside into the 90-degree heat to take a breath.
I need to find a summer exercise alternative that isn’t going to cost me a flabby arm and leg.
About 10 years ago, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine completed research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, finding that frequent dancing improves mental acuity and protects against dementia better than any other type of physical activity.
Stanford University published an article about the study, not because they are one of the top medical institutions in the country but, and this was news to me, they have a vibrant dance department. They tout the 2001 study and other research to promote the University’s many dance programs.
I’m not sure how this bodes for my personal sharpness or how I will fare into my golden years. Except for a few ballet lessons as a child, and as a pretend go-go dancer in our garage when I was six, I didn’t dance much as a child. Not as a teenager, nor as a young adult, except at weddings. Now, I dance several days a week.
When I was 45, I started doing Jazzercise and, when I’m not sick or travelling, I go most weekdays.
Despite popular belief, Jazzercise is a vigorous total-body workout. It comprises about 35 to 40 minutes of aerobic dance, followed by 20 minutes or so of strength training to music. Still, it’s like going to a party every day. If I weren’t burning some 500 calories an hour, I’d almost feel guilty going. Now, I learn it’s a total-body-and-mind workout.
People thought I was crazy when I wanted to have a Jazzercise party for my 50th birthday, but that’s exactly what I did. I had my 51st at IHOP.
I wonder how many more years before the intelligence kicks in.