I was 16 years old when I started actually going to the gym with my girlfriends to really “work out.” I will date myself now and tell you that we wore leg warmers and neon color tights and headbands and did “high impact” aerobics. That’s correct, the kind that since the 80s has been determined to wreak havoc on your joints. I specifically remember doing aerobics for 1 hour straight, jumping as much as possible in my Reebok soft sole shoes, probably irreparably damaging my body with every landing.
My gym had the very first “Stairmaster“…the one that looked like a huge set of stairs. Definitely not the sleek versions of today. Those machines were killers! Form? you ask? Well, that was immediately sacrificed for the quantity of flights you could climb. We ruined our backs and our wrists, slumping over with twisted elbows to walk up “just a few more flights.”
During my college years, the Stairmaster continued to evolve, and the instructors at my gym were more careful to check your form on the machines. I still did my high impact aerobics. So much so that my roommate had to tape my shins every time I went to class because my shin splints were so bad. (poor Katharine. She worried about me.) Never mind that we were constantly poor and .69 cents for a package of pita bread was all I could afford, and I ate one package per day. No vitamins, no healthy meals as upperclassmen; just a fridge full of Diet Coke, and a cabinet filled with popcorn. Unhealthy habits and one adaptable body.
I started running. I started running because I ditched the gym for a little while, having moved off campus. I slowly built up my confidence, strength and endurance. So running it was, and that’s all it was.
I discovered step class:
Huge discovery. I was obsessed. I could do every move imaginable on that step, and with 2 to 3 risers to boot. Alas, my love for step faded too.
Kick Boxing…loved that of course, just for a while. I have to say though…gets you in great shape. Pilates came next with some added cardiovascular benefit from the elliptical trainer or running on the treadmill. Pilates personal training became extremely expensive, and I had to stop that.
“Spinning” or “Cycle”:
I had to call my gym at 5:30 am to ensure a spot in these classes for the following day. After I bought my cushion for the bike seat, my padded bike shorts, and my cycle shoes, I was good to go…for a while.
Yoga…ahh Yoga. Love this. I remember Lilias Folan on PBS during the 70s. She was such a serene soul as I remember when I watched her for those few minutes before Sesame Street or Mister Roger’s Neighborhood came on. Back then I thought she was a little strange, but today I want to be surrounded by Lilias-es!
Karate! I earned a blue belt in Kempo Karate when my kids were really young. Loved that. Learning Jiu Jitsu is a great way to learn how to protect yourself and become strong at the same time. I miss Karate. Maybe I’ll go back…
Currently, cross training is working for me now, but I’m interested in this Crossfit thing.
There is one source of exercise that I have really found to be good for working out at home. I love this DVD, and it really works. It is called “The Butt Bible” and the trainer’s name is Pauline Nordin. She is Swedish and a little scary, but she keeps your attention and uses good old-fashioned exercises that work. (Hint: once you get to the exercises, you can turn down the TV volume to almost zero, and turn on your iPod mix. This softens the intensity of Pauline’s military style, and you can enjoy the workout a little bit more)
p.s. I cannot write about fitness trends without mentioning my “epic fail” at Zumba. This is one fitness activity that I absolutely can not do. My girlfriend once told me during class, “I think you are better off just running in place.” HAHA!! She was so right.
“Am I fickle, or is fitness fickle?”