Zumba, Yoga, Body Pump, Body Combat, Spin, Pilates, these are some of the group workouts offered at my local YMCA. I have been a member of a YMCA off and on since I was 5 years old. I was always an active child and competed in USGF Gymnastics from the age of 7 until I was 18. I practiced 4-6 hours a day, 6 days a week for most of my young life. I loved it. I was committed to it. I had some crazy-ass coaches who would probably be put in jail or sued in today’s world, but I still loved it.
I was in peak physical condition with 2% body fat (I know, because they checked our body fat right after they weighed us in every week) I ate ANYTHING I wanted, and a LOT of it. My metabolic rate must have been off the charts. I did not hit puberty until I was 16. So my body changed a bit after that. When I stopped competing I was still pretty active but no where near to the point of before. It took years for my metabolism to change and slow dramatically. However I still continued to eat. It caught up with me in my mid to late 20s.
I am 40 and just started to do something about it. I exercise 3 days a week. OK that is a lie. Some weeks I get to exercise 3 days. Some weeks I don’t exercise at all. Some weeks 2 days.... you get the picture. When I have my period I don’t exercise at all. AT. ALL! I groan, and whine and eat chocolate or pasta. Then, when I feel better, I usually get back at it.
I have been eating better and cutting out the carbs. Ok that is also a lie. I SHOULD be cutting out the carbs because my triglycerides are through the roof but I am definitely conscious of my carb intake and make an effort.
I am comfortable with my current weight and my body. OK I AM SO LYING! BUT, I am definitely headed in the right direction. The weight is ok, I balloon up 5 or so lbs every once and a while but I bring it back down. My body is mezzo mezzo. I am so so so jealous of that kick ass body of my early 20s. I mean God DAMN! What I wouldn’t give to be back in that body just one more day. (I am also sorry my husband never had that pleasure either!)
Now, I have stretched out boobs, belly and thighs that shimmer with silvery stripes. I have a gut that has been carved open and sown back together twice, with the precision of a haggard, worn out, OB/GYN who just saved my life.... again. But I wear these with pride. They are my battle scars and I earned those stripes. However, I do want to take care of myself and be healthy. I think that my motivation is not appearance but longevity and health. The “looking good” is a bonus, if it happens.
I have tried many different types of workouts. I have done the at home dvds, Wii, and the myriad of YMCA group classes as well as their fitness room. Each have a different affect. Each a different purpose. Everyone has their own.
Let me start with Spin. The spin people, are fucking crazy! And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean with all due respect.... CRA CRA! I got on that bike and within three and a half minutes I was drenched with sweat and looking at the clock in amazement that an hour did not go by. I laughed when the instructor, who is a friend, said to “turn it up” (meaning the tension on the bike.) Turn it up? I can’t even pedal with it off, let alone with tension on it! And Girlfriend is an absolute NUT! I mean her energy level is beyond intense. She draws a huge spin crowd. Girlfriend has her own following and for good reason. One workout will guarantee you walk crawl out of there 5 lbs lighter... Just from sweat! Being a fellow Italian, I can also say she is loud. I mean, my-Aunt Rose-yelling-at-the-kids-to-get-off-of-her-stoop kind of loud. With her voice and her spinning legs, she could power the Mid-Atlantic region. I am in awe of her and will never go to another spin class again, until I have trained for some sort of bike marathon. Then MAYBE I will attempt another of her classes.
Then there is Pilates. SNOBS! Seriously, W - T - F! Now, let me preface, I have not been to a pliates class in a very long time and have never been to one at my local Y. But the one I went to years ago, when Pilates was all the rage, was awful. If you were new to the whole scene you were looked down upon. If you wore sweats and an old Bonner High School football T-shirt, you were looked down upon. If you laughed when you were in a seemingly, very sexual position, you were looked down upon. The competition seemed almost dangerous. When these women should have been concentrating on what they were doing on those crazy machines, they were too busy trying to outdo those around them. I walked out of that class, the lowest on the totem pole and was happy about it. Bitches, man!
Then there is the whole in-home work out thing. Which you REALLY have to be motivated to do. It is just too, too, too easy to turn off the DVD and turn on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Although if I had to recommend any DVD, Shawn T. is the bomb! His Hip Hop Abs, Rock! Not only do I love love love watching him he is very motivating.
Then we have Zumba, which I LOVE! I love to dance. I am not good at it, but I love it. The whole Zumba vibe is chill and fun and no pressure. There are old and young, fit and not fit, good dancers and really bad dancers and I always feel comfortable shaking my groove thang with these ladies. A good friend of mine is a Zumba instructor. She is amazing. She exudes positive energy. I love when she says, “No one is looking at you except you! Cause we are all too busy looking at ourselves so just keep moving!” She picks really great music that makes you want to move. She choreographs the moves with the music AND the words, which makes you feel like you are a backup dancer at a concert. Which helps when you feel like you are going to pass out... You don’t want to let Justin Timberlake or PitBull down!
My other new favorite is Yoga. I have been to many Yoga classes. There was only one class when I did not like the instructor. She just seemed miserable which just does not vibe with Yoga. I don’t know how you can do Yoga and not feel good. It is almost impossible.
I have done the hot Yoga. The first hot Yoga class I went to, I was unaware that it was a hot yoga class. So when I sat down on my mat I thought, ‘wow, when are they going to turn on the air?’ The room was packed and I was sweating just taking off my shoes. I practically water boarded myself while doing a downward facing dog. I was breathing through my nose, as I was instructed and thought a bug flew up my nose. It was not a bug but my sweat dripping off my chin and upper lip into my nostrils. In Yoga, breathing is key. It’s rhythm and flow is an essential part of the practice. So, when you are drowning in your own sweat, breathing becomes difficult. OH and the smell emanating from my body was, how can I put this, was like walking through the zoo on an August afternoon. Not pretty. I was not aware that my body could produce smells like that. Combine that with everyone else’s smell, the fact that there was no other air to breath and concentration becomes compromised. When I was not water-boarding myself or smelling myself, I was in a great zone. That is what Yoga does for me. It puts me in a “me” zone. The peak pose that day was wheel pose, which is a back bend. I was able to do it and felt great that I did.
The other thing I love about Yoga is you are forced to concentrate on you. Your mat, your breath, your pose, your body, your muscles, your flexibility. It does not leave room for other distractions like, what am I cooking for dinner? What time does First Born have guitar lessons? What do we have going on this weekend? Will Little One ever want to sleep in his own bed? When is the car inspection due? etc. , etc., etc. Those thoughts may try to creep in, but you are always brought back to your breath.
Sometimes I need to release those good endorphins with a high paced, great cardio like Zumba. I need to shake what my mama gave me and feel sexy. Other times I need to just be with Yoga. Right now they are the only two programs I stick to, mainly because they are the only exercises that I WANT to do. I look forward to them and hope I will continue to do so. Those are my favorite. The next on my list to try are Body Combat and Body Pump. As soon as I try them, I will be sure to report back! Do you have a favorite workout? My blogger friend wrote a piece on running. Great stuff. I will never be a runner. I just don’t have it in my nature. But I envy those that do. I did run across another blog all about exercising and being healthy called “Mommy’s Downsizing” It is a hysterical blog and I recommend it highly.