Monday, January 21, 2013
I haven't set foot inside a gym since I was at school, and even then it wasn't my favourite place. That position was held by the library. I didn't hate it, however, and some
of our activities were very much fun. We lived in the North of England so Scottish country dancing was on the curriculum, and sometimes we played a version of statues where,
when the music stopped, you had to be on some piece of equipment or rope or you were "out". My NZ school was too new to have a gym so it was mostly outdoor exercises and competitive (VERY competitive) sport in which I had no interest. I tell a lie. When I was teaching years ago I ventured once or twice into the gym with the girls for an
after-school aerobics session. The students were amazing - almost protective of these beings who led them in more conventional classes, and always ready to encourage us when
But until today that was the extent of my familiarity with a gym. So bootcamp trainers, multiple and fearsome machines, and lycra clad super athletes were, in my mind, the
embodiment of today's fitness centres - and definitely not for me. So it was with some trepidation that I turned up today for my first session of the 20 to which I have committed.
Why then did I go?
Well, the sessions are FREE because they are a combined trial run by the gym (which has a resident physiotherapist) and the local health board to see how excercise can
improve the situation of osteoporosis sufferers. Something good for me for which I do not have to pay - no contest, I'll do it! I came across the course by accident on the
way back from persuading a video library to unlock a DVD I purchased on-line and which must have escaped their unlocking device. This was the day after I had sat for 30
minutes in the doctor's surgery having an infusion of something supposed to help my bones - fate? happenstance? a happy coincidence? Karma? stochastic? Serendipidy? Not the
time, I thought, to look a gift horse in the mouth.
So, to use a cliche, it was with some trepidation that I ventured forth (actually I ventured the 25th minutes it took to walk there; I thought I might as well incorporate the daily walk so that if all went to custard I would, at least, have done my usual excercise.
But I didn't need to worry. I think I might have been one of the younger people there, and the others (who were at different stages in the course) were friendly, helpful and devoid of lycra. The trainers were not dressed in jackboots and lycra either and, although they definitely had that "no nonsense" tone that goes with the territory it tended to instil confidence in their ability to improve your performance. The machines were not as terrifying as in the imagination: I think my viewing of the Biggest Loser finally paid some sort of dividend as the trainer thought I had used a rowing machine before! I haven't. The same for the instrument that strengthens muscles around the knees by making you lift a weighted bar laid across your ankles.
But the VERY BEST bit was the assessment at the beginning, and if nothing else comes of the 10 weeks this makes it worthwhile.
After filling in a form about medical history I went through various excercises and measurements which I think I will have to repeat at the end of the 10 weeks.
- there's very little room for improvement in the straightness of my back - so the dowager's hump isn't incipient, and I will do my best to ensure it doesn't have a chance!
- my balance is good. This was a huge relief because I've had a fall or two and was beginning to worry that it was becoming a problem. Now I know they were just accidents.
- I'm very fit. The physio said that she had trouble keeping up with me when I did 2 minutes of knee lifts! Thank you Leslie Sansone! Thank you SP for inspiring me to get walking again; thank you fitbit for encouraging me to walk up hills.
- I'm stronger than many my age and was given heavier weights than the others for my arm excercises. This was particularly pleasurable for me because I broke my left wrist in
3 places about 18 months ago and my wrist strength is normal in both wrists!
All in all, a positive experience. Thursday's session is circuits which will be another new thing.
What would I say to others about joining a gym?
First of all, if expense or access present problems, I don't think it's absolutely necessary for fitness. If you can walk/jog and/or skip, do jumping jacks etc, and do ST at home (Spark articles and videos are helpful here) I suspect it's at least as effective as formal exercise at a gym.
If shyness or lack of confidence are holding you back, and you've always quietly wondered what it would be like, I'd say give it a go. Just like anything else, however, I think a bit of a consumer survey would be useful to ensure that where you go suits your needs and comfort level. Some places are for athletes, others more for the general public. The gym offering this course also advertises physiotherapy - not just for sportspeople and athletes but for those recovering from surgery or illness. There wasn't a body-builder in sight! Many offer free trials; one of these would be useful, if only to get the assessment of current fitness.
Off to do my ST homework!