Sunday, May 27, 2012

Time for a Change (of exercise routine)

In 2011 I started dieting and walking as a means of improving my health. I touted the simplicity of the exercise plan: treadmill walking only. Several years ago I used a trainer and developed a weight / machine plan that fell by the wayside soon thereafter. Now after a year of walking I have revisited the simplicity aspect and found a weakness in that theory: variety is absent.

Earlier this year I participated in several organized 5K events with modest success. I finished without collapsing, dying, or not finishing. Getting outdoors made my efforts feel more real; seeing people, feeling the breeze in my face, seeing birds and deer added a new dimension to my walks. But still something was missing; my pace and total times remained fairly constant to my disappointment. I will never be a speedster but being a bit faster (before my eventual slowdown due to age) would be nice. No improvement in my performance had occurred in recent months and I had hoped to improve.

It was obvious that I needed a change (something that I advocate in many areas of life) of technique as a means of improving my performance. Some research and thought lead me to two choices. A local running club that organizes one of the 5K events that I participate in has a 5K training program beginning next month and my health club offers a variety of conditioning classes that warranted serious consideration. The running club’s program would be for eight Wednesdays at 6 pm at a local park. One of the conditioning classes is given on Sunday morning. Have you ever experienced late summer afternoons in San Antonio? The temperature could easily be over 90ยบ and that fact alone is the main reason I decided on the indoor Sunday morning class.

Do you remember your awkwardness when you started at a new school as a child or the first day at a new job? The first time anyplace can be somewhat daunting. I remember my first writers’ group meeting a few years ago and the level of uncertainty I felt just trying to figure out where to sit or how will I introduce myself. On a recent Sunday I found myself experiencing one of those moments as I walked into the Conditioning Room at the health club and faced a dozen new faces and a high intensity instructor.

The class participants went to a storage closet and began moving a variety of items onto the exercise floor area: steps, bar bells, hand weights, stretching bands, balls and a large semi-circle rubber ball – nameless and purposeless to me. Later I found myself balancing on the rubber ball on one foot and I still didn’t know the name of this torture item. An image of a giant medicine ball pushed around by a 100 sweaty men during basic training momentarily flashed through my head.
Without many instructions the music began, the instructor tells me to follow one person and we begin. I am lucky I can do waltz for a few minutes, now I find myself trying to keep time to the music as I moved up and down on the steps. I almost broke out in laughter at my efforts. Finally I found a rhythm for one move and stuck with it for several minutes. Then to my surprise, we stop and shuffle off to the gym for laps (yes, laps!). One lap forward, then one backwards. After a few laps we return to the Conditioning Room and rotate to a different exercise. Now I am hefting a barbell behind my shoulder for lifts and lunges. Each series of exercises is intermixed with laps in the gym.

Once or twice the instructor encourages me with a bit of guidance or a curt instruction. I point to my knee and even so “NO” at one point. At this stage of my life I know my limits and will approach them but not exceed. A friend of Iris’ recently went all out at a single Zumba class and couldn’t walk for a week.

Near the end of the hour we head to the gym and the instructor tells us to sprint. We sprint to one end, stop and then sprint back. Fortunately, I am not last. In fact, one participant doesn’t sprint, run or walk at all. He just stays near the exit, waiting to go back to the class.

Stretching moves and cool down time end the session. To my surprise I am not dead or laying prostrate on the floor. I have survived. The sole after affect is some thigh soreness the next day, which is gone by my Tuesday 2 mile walk.

More will be written about my progress in the future. In the meantime, I am looking for my next 5K charity walk. I’ve got to go now because I am off to my torture class, oh, I, mean Conditioning Class.

Mystery item - Bosu Ball

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  1. you are invited to follow my blog

  2. I didn't know what Zumba was till a few days ago when I asked a co-worker.

    You are doing much more than me and I am much much much younger than you. I wish I could be as motivated as you dad. Keep it up.

    When is your next 5k? I may join you. But probably for a 1 mile walk! Yay.

  3. A time for change – this is what most of the people are looking for, transforming their lifestyle into a healthy one. It may not be easy at first, so it's a good thing you decided to hire an instructor to guide you through the process. How is it now by the way? It's 2014, I hope you continue this good change in your life.

    Derrick @