Monday, August 9, 2010

Celebration Week Moment: Exercise and Working Out

Going into all this, I expected exercise to be the hardest part of the journey, in the end it has been the easiest and was the fastest to change.

Where I came from: I have always loved to swim. From the time I was a little child I was happy to spend hours in the pool and I didn't mind swimming laps either. But other than that I have never enjoyed exercise. I got bored and tired easy and never really stuck with it growing up. After I got sick in 1991 and then the nerve damage and strokes in 1996 what little I did went to none. By this past November (2009) I could barely do the walking I had to for my life, let alone think about exercising. I would park as close to things as I could, avoid activities with friends that involved much effort and use any mode of transportation I could to avoid moving.

My strength was nil. The first few times I worked out with Gui I could barely hold up my arms to walk the length of the pool and the notion of lifting a weight was beyond my imagination.

Where I am now: There is rarely a day that goes by that I am not at the gym, and if I can't make the gym I am exercising at home. If I don't exercise I feel like my day isn't complete. Whether it is a day with the trainer or cardio I need that now. My typical week involves 3 days of strength/weight with a trainer and 3 days on my own doing cardio (usually treadmill or swimming). When I travel the first thing I check out about a hotel is what is the fitness facility available and there have been times when I have gone as far as to purchase a short membership to a gym in the area I am traveling in just to have the ability to work out. When I have friends visiting, or I am visting friends, the first thing I do is drag them off to the gym.

Heavy weights and strength training are by far my favorite exercise. I love the feeling of having pushed my body to where it doesn't want to go. I have greatly come to value the burn of exhausted muscles and the soreness the next day of a good workout. I can now leg press more than my own body weight and can lift more than most females!

Beyond my formal workouts, the best part is being able to exercise in my daily life. I can easily walk the airport or the mall, I can go for a hike on a mountain or walk across a beach. I no longer have to make decisions in life based on if my body can keep up or not. I am physically able to go where I want, when I want and not worry if I am going to hold everyone else back. Now people have to keep up with me!

What has surprised me the most: That I am a gym rat now still shocks me. If anyone had ever told me that one of my greatest comforts would become turning the corner and seeing a Life Time Fitness (especially when travelling) I would have laughed them off their seat, but that has come to be. At the end of a hard day or in a foreign city nothing feels better than that security of being "home". And even if I can't find an LTF just having that time to workout really returns me to a much more centered place.

I have to admit last week I even realized I have become a gym snob (I have been called LOTS of things in my life but realizing this about myself stopped me in my tracks). I am truly spoiled at LTF. We have amazing clubs, outstanding equipment and it is just the full package. When I have to use another facility (last week in Alaska a Planet Fitness) I have to stop myself from doing the automatic comparison and it not being anywhere good enough. Who would have thought I would ever care about the quality of a gym, let alone felt one was below my standards.

My biggest surprise in it is all, the fact that I started working with a trainer, and still do. This was not part of my original plan. I tried it because I had a free session available to me, I kept going because I happened to start on Black Friday when the club was offering a significant discount and now I can't imagine not having a trainer in my life at some level ever. I was able to see the stats yesterday and since November I have worked out with a trainer around 82 times....75 with Gui and 7 with other trainers.

I have said before and will admit again, I was totally wrong about the role and benefit of a trainer and who should work with one. They are not, as I believed, muscle bound brainless jocks meant only for those who are looking to bulk up. These are some of the smartest, most highly trained professionals you will encounter and their reach goes far beyond building muscle. Anyone looking to be healthier, stronger and have a body that works better should consider this option. A good trainer is a combination coach, nutritionist, warden *smile*, physiologist and therapist. They truly address all the components impacting your body and align them all to get you to the next level.

My goals: I need to get my cardio to be as strong as I am with the strength/resistance work. I do the cardio, but most days consider it a necessary evil. I don't enjoy the treadmill (yawn) and so do just my minimum. In order to make some other goals, I need to get that up. I also am trying to expand to other options, like the ellipitical, so that I am not working the same muscles over and over.

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