I admire people who work out regularly and are older than me. Let’s cut to the chase. Senior citizens are kicking my butt in physical fitness. The label “senior citizen” does not apply to these freaks of nature. For this article I am going to refer to these iron people as SC’s (senior citizens). Senior citizen is too long and repetitive to keep writing. It would take commitment and consistency to keep typing senior citizens which I’m lacking, as is my physical fitness regime… or lack of. The SC’s have it and it’s not a hobby. If I played tag with an SC and I was “IT” they would safely make it to the tree and I would be “IT” for a long long time unless one tripped. Reverse this, I’m being chased by a SC and within 50 yards, I would be tagged and out, the safe tree a good distance away.
Theses SC’s are all over Chestnut Hill. These SC’s are “ATHLETES” and they are not casual about their fitness routines. I think it’s their careers after their career. I see many bicycle riders, excuse me, I chose the wrong word, cyclists and joggers, wrong again, runners daily. I said DAILY! I see my regulars regularly. They don’t see me, they are focused on the task at hand. Pumping along, eyes focused straight ahead, and in their zone. No matter what the weather is searing heat, rain, and now cold, working out as if their lives depended on it. Well they probably do but there’s real passion or OCD going on. When doing my yard work or walking down my street I will see these sports persons go by. They are in full regalia, top of the line gear, reflector vests or neon yellow shirts in the evening go by, leaving a flash of light trail behind them sending me into a flash back of younger years. It’s really trippy.
I don’t consider them seniors. They don’t look like the picture in my mind’s eye of what a SC should look like. My mind sees old people who sit on benches with silver hair, wearing white sneakers, reading the paper, people watching and waving their canes to say hello to the people passing by that they have come to know. That is my plan in 20 years. I am looking forward to spending my time bench sitting. By the way Chestnut Hill needs more benches. Seriously. I have scouted out some locations that benches are needed. Who do I contact?
Have these SC’s always been athletic or did this happen later in life I wonder? I have wondered about this a lot. I’m in that sucky place of early middle age (46) and my body is changing. I would tell you how but if your reading this it would be redundant for you to read, you’ve lived it. It’s time for me to accept these changes and take part with them because denial isn’t working, that accelerates these new “symptoms”.
I don’t belong to a gym but when I did one of the more popular classes was the silver sneakers class. Recently I accidentally called it the silver slippers class which my Mother quickly corrected. Her correction was fast and furious and I thought, Jeez you earned the right to slippers and benches, what’s with the hostility?
I was an athlete throughout my life. I then retired, not only from my career but from working out. I had kids… you know the rest. When I look in the mirror I see a resemblance of the woman I used to be, which is awesome considering how lazy I’ve become. All those years of training maintained muscle memory so I’m looking OK. Now my mind is losing memory as well as my muscles! Physically, I’m all busted up. The right side of my body is beaten down. I’ve had injuries throughout my life that I’ve worked through, quickly and easily, but these are ridiculous and won’t go away. My body is rebelling against my being lethargic. You would think it would be thanking me for taking it easy on it but it’s not! I’m used to muscle ware and tear but my “JOINTS”, I’ve crossed over to unknown territory and the landscape is treacherous. I had no idea how much damage I have done until recently.
How did I find out? I committed $50. for a month of unlimited classes at a local yoga studio. This is a big financial investment for me so I’ve decided to go six days a week and get my moneys worth. This goal is impossible and extremely disillusioned but hey, personality A. $50. bucks is a lot cheaper than a cushy rehab and manageable. Come December, I won’t be cushy. I am there to get down to business and lose weight. If I heal some injuries great but that’s not my motivation. Historically I’ve been brainwashed to think that I can perform physically like I used too, walk into any studio and take a class with no worries of it being too difficult. Friday, my ego schooled me that I can’t, sort of. I did the class and pretty well considering, but for my standards, let’s just say I didn’t bring my A game, I don’t have an A game anymore.
“Hot” yoga is the new trend. Everything old is new again just like the SC’s. Hot yoga used to be called Bikram, like juice cleansing used to be called fasting. Now it’s not PC. Of course I took a hot yoga class, jump right in there Mary and take the hardest one! What the difference between the two yogas, nothing but a few degrees. Hot yoga classes can range from 90 degrees to 105. Many stay below 100. The heat is said to have many benefits, from detoxing your system through sweat to improving flexibility. I desperately need to detox off of Halloween candy, I have a hangover and my body is full of cobwebs. I’m blowing out the month of November in a hot box.
I go to my first hot yoga class and it is brutal. The second I walked in I started to sweat, and I hadn’t put my mat down yet. Seated on a mat in front of me was practicing yogi. She was awesome and has the body I want. Lucky for me I was standing next to the wall so when I fell of balance, which I did many times, I could hold onto the wall. I started to think “I hope I’m not distracting (the yogi).” Then I realized that I shouldn’t feel guilty of my shaky, unstable and audible breathing body, I’m helping the yogi! One principal of yoga is to be single-minded, completely focused on what you’re doing. If she noticed my non-yogi self than she’s not a yogi after all! Yes, it’s a practice and I believe I was sent there to help her reach Nirvana sooner. I also realized that I AM a yogi because my ego wasn’t invested in my performance level at all. I easily admit that I don’t work out, so there. I’m sure no one noticed me anyway… they are all single-minded mind you.
I labored through the class and fought the urge to walk out for a breather. That was an extremely hard mental workout. My lungs and body wanted a shot of cool air like my addiction wants a candy bar but I white knuckled it and stayed. At the end of class you do a posture known as Shavasana, the corpse pose. Shavasana is perhaps the most important part of yoga practice says Wikipedia. Lying on the back, the arms and legs are spread at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed while focusing on deep breathing. This is my favorite posture, and the one I am the best at. My heart was pounding so hard that I swear if someone looked over at me they would’ve seen my heart pumping through my chest like you see in cartoons. That’s how fast and hard my heart was beating. I actually started praying that I wouldn’t have a heart attack or stroke. That’s the sort of thing that would happen to me. “UNHEALTY LADY TRIES TO GET HEALTHY AND DIES IN THE PROCESS.”
After the class, I leaked my way back to the dressing room where I immediately went to the water cooler, chugged a few cups and fell to a bench. When my nausea and dizziness passed, I looked around and noticed that the class was mostly full of baby boomers and SC’s! They were laughing, dressing and socializing like they just took a walk. I was ease dripping, I mean dropping, and heard about the errands they were going to run the rest of the day! My ambition was to go home to bed, and I did, for two days.
Now my motivation is no longer solely to lose weight. It is to spy on the SC’s and see how they live. I have a list of valid excuses like kids not to exercise. I bet the SC’s could come up with a list of their own like arthritis, recovering from a hip replacement or simply wanting to stay home and read. But they don’t, they are there, working their butts off and kicking mine. Am I inspired by them yes, but not for their commitment to exercise. I’m inspired by their thinking. Whatever coconut juice they’re drinking, I want some. My biggest obstacle isn’t time or body limitations, it’s my thinking. It’s hard, I don’t want to, blah blah blah. Well the SC’s are teaching me if you keep doing what you’re doing you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting, and for me that’s sustained injuries caused by extra weight. With age comes wisdom and I’ve secretly found some mentors to help me along the path of becoming a healthy, HAPPY, productive, middle-ager on the way to SC land. Did I mention their bodies are smokin hot? Well the regulars are and it shows.