A humorous look at finding the Fountain of Youth: at the health club


Two years ago, I made a New Year’s Resolution  to exercise every day  and it’s stuck. Why? I like the high! It gets the blood to my head, releases endorphins. Half-way through I start feeling marvelous.

I look at exercise as an alternative to the FDA’s solution,  pills.

I had to find my own way until  I figured out a routine that suited me.

Seeking the Fountain of Youth at the high-priced Health Club

I’d been doing swimming aerobics at the health club pool for a while, but I thought, why not try for the heavy-duty exercise, the land exercise. Why not try a personal training group?

The first step was signing a contract, and handing over my credit card.

An extra $15o.00 plus monthly membership gave me entry into the newly formed group.

The second step was evaluating my fitness

The next day I headed up to the gym to get my fitness tested. I had to wear headgear that looked like a scuba mask to check my oxygen level on the treadmill. I carefully placed a little gizmo into my bra to record my heartbeat.

When I started by walking as fast as I could, the heart gizmo did not read my heartbeat. I went several times to a back room to put this heart monitor  closer to my heart and aging, sagging bosoms, but to no avail.

” I have another appointment coming, and you’ll just have to try tomorrow,” said the sheepish, red-faced  trainer who was about 19.

I  slowly limped out of the gym, thinking I was already a failure at land based exercise.

The next day, the gym manager, a shapely muscled 24-year old woman, figured out another way to detect my pulse. She read it off the machine somehow, or just made the whole thing up. I was glad to find out I wasn’t heartless or clinically dead.

Joining the personal training class

The next day I showed up bright and early to attend my first class. It was a variety of women of all persuasions. I was the oldest, but I wasn’t the heaviest! They all were running on the treadmills, so I joined them.

Then, the trainer rounded us all up to start our real exercise session.

The affable trainer, Greg, running the session was like a friendly drill sergeant. I furiously rowed on a rowing machine,  rapidly bounced a rubber ball off the wall,  held a plank position, and startled the entire gym when I awkwardly released the weights on a machine and sounded a loud clang.

The worst was the stair-stepper

I would only recommend the stair-stepper for people trying to get information out of a terrorist. They just have to make the thing automatically go really fast. I seriously feared for my life while on this contraption. As my heart began to jump out of my chest, I yelled,” How do I stop this damn thing.” After finding the emergency stop, I thankfully climbed off.

I did last about three months, and I did attempt things I thought I could never do again, like 100 sit ups, burpees, planks and push ups. My stomach was shrinking. I was proud of myself, but I wasn’t  looking forward to the personal training sessions. After a while,  I arrived later and later . Finally,  I didn’t come at all.

So after spending extra money, and torturing myself, I discontinued my contract.

What I needed to do was accept my age and have fun! 

I decided to try things like bike spinning, Zumba dancing, yoga,  running on the elliptical ( while I watch TV with my headphones), and lifting weights with Silver Sneaker (Medicare sponsored) exercise groups.

I also bike ride with my husband, take long walks in the woods, get down on the floor with my grandson and play like a two-year old.

To be truthful, I was never admired for my svelte figure. But I do believe the Fountain of Youth resides within yourself. The right exercise for you, and attitude are important parts of it.

I do have great blood pressure, and an athletic pulse. I have a lot of energy and feel great. Okay, I’m not at an ideal weight, but it’s been worse.

Taking those extra steps makes it possible not to keep 30 or 40 pills organized.

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Blacklick Woods: A place that brings me joy!


 

A owl who was in a cage at Blacklick for a special day.

One of the places that gives me joy is practically in my own backyard. It’s called Blacklick Woods, and it’s a park owned by the city of Columbus. It’s 2.5  miles from my house.

I go there by different modes of transportation: walking, riding my bike or car. I walk in the park mostly during fall, spring and summer.  I don’t go there much in the winter⎯only a couple of times when it’s not freezing.

I have two favorite trails: one  is a .75 mile trail tree covered trail that  circles the nature center, and another is a 4.1 bike and walking trail which is more open and sunny. You see more animals on the trail by the Nature Center. I’m guessing they like to hang out there because it’s more woodsy.

The walking trail is a relatively level path, but there’s one good hill.  Sometimes I  speed down that hill on my bike. When I”m doing that I feel like I’m 10 years old. I feel joy!

I like to watch the young mothers and fathers pedaling their bikes with their kids attached to the back of their bikes in a covered contraption.  Often, you’ll see a jogger pushing their kids in a stroller while they jog.  All the kids seem to be enjoying the ride.

I usually visit the Nature Center before I take my walk. It’s a little building with some displays and a big window where you can view nature doing its own thing. Sometimes, when you look out the window, you’ll spot a hawk or an unusual colored bird eating the food in the feeders. Sometimes, you’ll spot other animals. I’ve seen minks, possums, raccoons, and mice.

There’s a lot of different people sitting around the nature center watching the animals. There’s a big window where we can all watch the animals eating the seeds and drinking the water left by the park rangers. The little kids are almost more fun to watch than the animals. They like to point at the animals out the window. It’s the joy of discovery; it seems to make them so happy.

” Mommy, that bird likes me. He’s looking at me,”  one little guy recently said to his mom.

“Yes he does,” she agreed.

Today when I went on my walk around the Nature center, there was a deafening high sound. It was the peepers (frogs) looking for mates. I’d never heard that sound before. When I asked the guide how long it lasts. “Until they all find mates.”

The people who visit the park remind me of the animals. When it’s a nice day, they all become active and materialize. Today, many were wearing summer garb because it was a lovely spring day.

The park gave me a luxurious feeling: there’s nothing like the feel of the warm sun. When I got out of the range of the peepers, I felt the soft sweet wind.

I get a little sad in the fall when I see the leaves starting to turn colors because I know what’s next. Winter with her cold temperatures and snow. But mother nature is full of surprises. This year I kept waiting for the snow, but it never fell.

I never counted how many times I’ve walked around the trail. It must be in the hundreds.  I  never know if I’m going to spot a deer family. There’s something fun about coming across a free wild animal. Maybe it’s because you never know when it’s going to happen. If they get too close, I get a little nervous. After all, they are wild animals.

As a young mother, I used to take my kids to the very same park. The fancy playground they have up now wasn’t there at the time. It was just swings and a slide, but it was enough for them. I find it hard to believe that part of my life ever existed. I sometimes wonder when it ended. It seems like you should be able to record the date on a calendar or write it in a book. But life isn’t like that.

Sometimes my grown-up children will humor me by accompanying me to the park. The last time I went with two of them, my daughter said, “look mom!” She pointed at a barn owl, sitting in a tree during the day.

I was as excited as a little kid. I’d looked for them on owl walks, but never spotted one before.  I got up really close, and we stared at each other.

“Where you been hiding?” I asked. He just kept staring, and even moved his head from side to side.

If I moved from my house, I think the park is the thing I’d miss the most.