Jungle Gym - Friend or Foe?
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The jungle gym kicked my derriere! Perhaps that’s no surprise. I’ve been thinking about my physical health, strength, and flexibility for a while (for my friends who are more “seasoned” you know how that comes up) and I decided a long time ago that I fully planned on keeping active. I remember thinking, as a kid, that I would run a little every day so I wouldn’t wake up one day and realize “I can’t run anymore”. I’ve led my life with this thought in the background and have kept “sort of” active.
Well, forget about that running every day thing…my doctor said “Cease and desist” and I gave it up without much struggle. Instead I’ve been walking like crazy, and trying to add strength work (ugh) to my work outs but I just haven’t ever embraced strength (which was NEVER my thing anyway). I wanted to be able to move, to be flexible and to carry a bag of groceries. But I realize the older I get how important strength is. So on Saturday as I was taking my walk when I passed the jungle gym area down at the lake I thought “hmmmmmm”.
Now I didn’t expect great things. As I said, upper body strength and I are not known companions. But I do recall clambering around on jungle gyms as a kid, scampering, swinging, just having FUN. So I tentatively walked to the structure (boy, are these things cooler than what we had when I was a kid? The bark covered ground looked much more comfortable to manage the occasional spill than the gravel/dirt on the playgrounds I recall) and sized it up. I thought “why should everything be a workout, why not just try to play a bit more?” Ok…that chain link ladder looks fun. I approached it, evaluated whether it would hold my weight and then started climbing. I got to the top where you swing your leg over to stand on a platform. My leg just didn’t swing. I really had no intention of landing on the bark covered ground so I reversed and climbed back down. I have to work on that.
Then I saw a curved ladder designed obviously as monkey bars. Again, I didn’t really think I’d go hand over hand across the bars. But I thought I’d check to see if I could pull myself up at all. I wasn’t thinking a pull up but just an assessment of what I could do right now. I grabbed hold of the appropriate bar and hung like wet laundry on a line. With all my strength I couldn’t BUDGE this body a half inch. Well, now...... In desperation (nobody wants to impersonate wet laundry), I pulled my legs up towards my chest a couple of times. OK, I can do that a bit. I dropped off.
Humbling, completely humbling. But I do believe I’ll try to incorporate the jungle gym more often in my walks. Especially that hanging bar thing – I’d like to get a little better there and the total body stretch I got as wet laundry didn’t feel bad for someone who is always scrunched up at her desk. The next time I’m walking by and no one’s there, I’m going to try it again. The key? When no one is there