Thursday, February 27, 2020

Fitness Community

In January I chose community as my focus word  in 2020, and in a blog post I promised to share some of the communities that have enhanced the meaning, joy, and quality of my life. I’m not writing about them in any particular order but am presenting them as situations arise. Since the situation of my seventieth birthday arose recently, I’ve been reflecting on and giving thanks for my fitness community.

In 2008, after nearly forty years of working, I retired. Almost immediately, I developed a case of sciatica to accompany my already aching knees. At that point, I determined I hadn’t worked most of my adult life only to spend my “golden” years hobbling about and tossing and turning in my sleep to get comfortable. So I joined a gym and began a pilates class. Gradually, I began to notice an improvement in my fitness level and realized that certain body parts didn’t hurt as much as they used to. 

When a new fitness center opened closer to my house, I joined it. It is a beautiful facility with state of the art equipment and a wide variety of programs. I’ve attended barre and yoga classes there for several years. 

But it isn’t the facility or even the fact that I can now move in ways I wouldn’t have dreamed possible twelve years ago that keeps me regularly attending the classes. Rather, it is the supportive community of women and instructors that spur me to keep on keeping on. 

Yoga seems to be all the rage right now, but you'll be
hard pressed to find a yoga instructor more informed and
more fun than Kara. She keeps us laughing even while
we're attempting torturous moves like the one above.
(You can see for yourself how amazing she is at
Champagne and Yoga on Youtube.)

Carol is our barre class instructor, and her extensive ballet
background is evident. Don't be intimidated, though.
No one else in the class can get this low on the barre, but with
her encouragement and with persistence, many of us have
seen great improvement in our flexibility.

Getting started has never been particularly difficult for me. I’m great at starting things. What I’m not so great at is sticking with routines or habits that are challenging or not a lot of fun (such as diets). But I’ve found if I’m surrounded by a community of positive, like-minded people, I’m much more diligent about pursuing my goals.
That is what my current fitness community does for me. I look forward to visiting with these ladies several times a week as we moan, laugh, and make progress together toward living healthy, active lives. 

I'm not going to divulge any ages here, but Carol and Peggy
 offer proof that exercise keeps you fit and flexible.
My classmates and instructors inspire me and hold me accountable, but more than that they are good friends. And is there anything more beneficial to our health than having good friends? If you have trouble sticking to an exercise routine, I highly recommend finding or starting your own fitness community.   

We don't just exercise together, we socialize.
With the exception of one, I didn't know any of these women
before joining my current classes. Now we go to lunch
on a regular basis and enjoy getting to know more
about each other. Maybe their friendships
have been the greatest benefit I've gained from

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Celebrating Seventy!

Take that, J.Lo!
I just passed another birthday involving a big, fat zero … this one with a seven in front of it. But I’m not depressed. On the contrary, I’m celebrating. Not since my fortieth birthday have I approached a new decade with a sense of dread. Once I got past the ridiculous notion that being young was the ultimate goal of life (how can that even be?),  I became grateful for the gifts that can come with growing—yes, I’ll say it—old.  

As I approached this birthday, I realized my celebratory attitude stems from gratitude—a word, I fear, that has almost become cliche since Oprah’s gratitude journal brought it to the forefront of popular thinking  several years ago. But the value of being grateful was known long before Oprah came up with the journal idea, and the fact the concept has enjoyed widespread popularity as of late doesn’t diminish its importance . 

So here are some things I’m grateful for as I begin my eighth decade:
  • I’m here! So much goes into this observation that it would take a post of its own to do it justice—and that post would be very long. For the sake of brevity, let me say I’m grateful to ancestors who passed along good genes. I’m also thankful to be living in an age and a country where knowledge, good food, and healthcare work in tandem with those genes to promote longevity. I’m aware that nothing is certain and circumstances can turn on a dime. But worrying about what might happen in the future is useless and steals joy from the present. So for today, I’m celebrating. 

  • I’m healthy! The same factors that go into longevity also contribute to a level of health that enables me to enjoy life. I certainly have my share of minor aches and pains and senior moments but nothing that keeps me from celebrating the opportunity to get out of bed each day and pursue both physical and mental tasks.

  • I’m productive! I'm grateful to have things to do that are enjoyable and worthwhile. I’m retired but that doesn’t mean I’m useless. Not working for a salary should never be confused with not working. 

  • I’m supported by family, good friends, and faith! As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been giving much thought to the idea of community and am extremely grateful to have supportive groups of people in my life. I’ll be exploring these more fully in the future, but first I had to write about this significant birthday. 😆
This post is not meant to be an opportunity to brag (although, yes, this picture might be a bit of showing off). I realize I've had very little to do with so much of what I’ve been blessed with. Rather this post is an expression of gratefulness and hopefully encouragement. No matter what age you are or what stage of life you’re in, I pray you can look around and find many things to celebrate and to be grateful for!