I am totally inspired by a friend of mine who wrote of her experience doing yoga to write a blog to all of us who have tried different forms of exercise. I was inspired to write mind you not to exercise like her .. just to clarify and set some expectations here.
Now my friend who tried yoga is athletic - I mean like really good shape, runner, biker, cross fitter - yeah you get the picture. She is fit. She is tight. She is really nice so I will not hold that against her. She like most of my friends who do it regularly actually look forward to work outs that challenge them, I like them so I will not hold that against them either.
I have never really liked exercise - or what I think of as organized exercise. I can walk for miles, and I mean miles, particularly in cities at NYC pace which is of course where the whole "power walk" comes from, should just be known as plain old how to get from point A to point B walk for us NYC natives.
We don't just walk, we aggressively walk, we leave people who meander behind. It took me like 10 blocks once to realize my boyfriend, now my husband, was no longer next to me. I was talking to myself and of course it's NY no one noticed. He missed some brilliant conversation during that time, he is not a fast walker. Not like me who learned to walk at that pace at age 8 when I first got to the States.
Exercise - this is the girl who told her teachers in high school that she had asthma, could not afford a doctor (partially true my parents did not have the coveted Blue Cross Blue Shield that was the insurance at the time - I do not know if there were others), and bought a Primatene mist inhaler to get out of gym. Worked well for a long time. What don't judge??? They wanted me to change, do you know what changing is like from panty hose and then getting a possible run into sweaty legs. Ewww. Also they wanted me do things like learn the uneven bars and balance beam - listen my fellow Romanian Nadia did enough for that sport so that the rest of us do not need to.
I mean I really did not like it - maybe the square dancing was tolerable - the rest not so much. This is also the girl that had friends, ok so they were not productive friends but they were fun, from another school miss said school and wait for her in a car to complete the President's Fitness Assessment which meant walking around the outside my high school (big hill -- this is not an exaggeration) timed, in this crappy gym uniform - no thanks. Go to bottom of hill, get ride, wait a bit 'cause we all know I could not cross finish line in top 10%. It was all strategic planning - my brain exercised. Now multi mile walk to hang out with same friends - that I did with no complaint.
I was not fat then - I thought I was and I look at pictures and realize not so much - but exercise and I were not on friendly terms.
As I got older I tried aerobics, home and in classes. I am not meant for classes - the other participants always seem to know which side the instructor is referring to and I always seem to go the other way. I do not want to sweat and get red faced with other people. I also do not particularly feel anything other than an annoyance for the bouncy haired instructors who are yelling at me with a smile on their face. Please if you want to be the drill sergeant from Platoon do it without the perky boobs, hair and with some sweat looking like you enjoy being the sadistic control freak you are. I tried doing it at home - Tae Bo anyone ? That lasted a whopping month at which point I realized I could leave the VHS tape in my VCR and get exercise when I had to switch it out to a Blockbuster movie rental.
I tried belly dancing - ok so you would think the aerobics directionally challenged experience would have taught me that this would not be a good idea, but hey I figured I had the belly for this. Finally my less than bounce a quarter off my abs section was good for -- well not sure what it was good for but I looked a bit like I had a disorder or a muscle condition which released my arms in spasms and I tripped over the veiled skirt they gave me. I lied to all and said I loved it -- I stopped going when they put bells on my waist and even those were out of sync w rest of class.
Yoga was next - I mean really yoga - every one freaking loves yoga right? I liked it most of the time but I never took to it as much as my friends. I wanted to but when my favorite part was the nap at the end and I realized that they were pointing out to me that I did not breathe correctly, seriously I am pretty sure I can breathe otherwise I would have not made it to write this blog so much for yoga not being judgmental. I just never got past the point where I was not judging myself against the people in my classes who seemed to look like the positions were named - locust, downward dog -- they did not have wobbly woman as one of them, I would have rocked it.
I went back to walking and pretty soon I had this brilliant idea that I could run. Like run in my 40s. My knees laughed, then groaned and then reminded me with their friend the heel spur that yeah if you did not run all of your life then chances are you are not a runner. I also saw that I did not even like it, my favorite activity to do in the fresh air (ok not so fresh in NYC is really my favorite) walking was not pleasurable anymore when it turned to running and breathing after a while felt like stabbing and knees wanted you to bend them and just sit my ass down. No -- not a runner, except when I am walking in the 'burbs or near woods. I pick up speed because I am more likely to be afraid and freaked out there than anywhere in a city, I know how to navigate a city, woods and unpopulated areas - yeah those are in horror films for a reason. I mean you never see Jason or Freddy chasing down subway riders now do you ? If you do it is a shitty as sequel done by someone pissed off that it really only happens in the 'burbs or rural areas.
I tried weights and I always like them for like a month, then I get some delusion that I am bulking up too much (I am not) and then I stop based on that reason, I stop because I do not enjoy it, but hey that sounds lame even to me.
I will not try spin - do I need to fall off a bike to know I will not do it well ? -- or Crossfit, I am not jumping on box unless it is to get a glimpse of Idris Elba in his pool in the buff. I will not Spartan race, mud on my face is for facials at best, or I can go back to Astoria to get in touch with my inner ancient civilization collective unconsciousness via a frappe or a good souvlaki.
I know it is good for you and I battle weight so it is really not just good but needed for me. However, I loved dancing in clubs when I was younger and that is not something I could replicate though it helped with weight (the limited funds that made me choose booze/cigarettes or real meal am sure were part of it).
About 2 1/2 years ago I decided I wanted to try tennis, a friend of mine told me he also started much older did not mention at the time that he was a natural athlete all his life. My family's reaction, polite smile and asking me if I was going to mention my relationship with them at the gym as it may not be a good idea for their reputation. I liked the outfits.
I went to a beginner clinic - that is what it said Beginner Tennis Clinic. My reading skills are fine, far outpace my exercise ability, but apparently the people who signed up with me took beginner to mean far advanced and need a cheaper option than individual lessons.
I did not know how to hold a racket, though in typical me fashion I had purchased a lovely tennis skirt and the little socks (so far BEST exercise outfit of anything I had ever tried - those skirts are soo awesome). I borrowed a tennis racket and at the end the instructor politely took me aside and told me that he would find a class for my level. That was code for holy cow you do not even know how to hold a racket level.
The club did just that and I spent a few months learning things like how to hold a racket (trust me there is way to do it so you do not get hurt), how to stand, how to return a ball and not hit it like a home run. This sport looks much easier and like it requires less coordination on TV than it actually does.
I have not only stuck to it but have looked to play more and more. I never thought I would say this but I actually miss it when I am not playing. My family now is pretty happy to say I play and they ask me for pointers - they do not play - because they have seen me and they are more than mildly shocked that I am playing as well as I do.
Exercising is not a competitive sport - yet it is treated as such. It is meant to find whatever you like and do it and when you do, you will actually seek time to pursue it. It is meant to challenge you not break you.
Now it is time to be off to play in my weekly league, my 2nd year, last year the ladies I played with told me I was the most improved player they had seen (nice way of saying we were not sure when we first saw you but guess you proved us wrong). I want to get better and yes I still love the outfits. I seek my friend's advice on technique and still take clinics. I am pretty sure Venus nor Serena would ever play with me but if they did -- well I would lose but one return and this girl would be over the moon.
Here is my friend's blog on her yoga experience - trying things is not only about finding the fit it is also about eliminating the things you do not want to do.