The good, the bad – the "exercise" ugly

I’m in pain today…the second day after a new exercise class. It’s that type of pain that you think/hope will not be as severe as say walking on fire or the last time it was days/weeks/months of non-activity and then you exercised and woke up 2 days later – in pain. However, backstory first…

We all have fitness goals – yes, even those obviously overweight people you see at the grocery store, carts loaded with carbs, ice cream, cigarettes and wine – which you have judged as those without fitness goals. Their goal is to do everything that isn’t ‘fitness’ related – to some that is a goal. It just isn’t mine.

I am one of those people who has flirted with fitness/exercise my entire life. As an overweight tomboy t’ween I was into softball games, tether ball, and roller skating (pre-rollerblading) with kids of the neighborhood. In high school I as a PE assistant basketball coach, which I really liked and I loved gymnastics. I detested, loathed and avoided any track and field sport which meant no running….but then I was a social cigarette smoker – so running was out!!! As you can see, I was conflicted, I really don’t like to exercise, don’t like sore muscles or getting sweaty. But I am drawn to sports… and am also lazy.

In the ensuing years I have learned to play tennis, golf, and ski. I’ve taught yoga and Jane Fonda-style fitness classes. I have joined gyms and hired trainers to get me into shape, and  I’ve even considered becoming a “fitness instructor”, but life and circumstances intervened. I even stopped smoking 20+ years ago and got to the point where I was running 25-30 miles a week. Still did’t like exercise – it’s hard work,  but I was committed to the benefits. I even did ‘hot yoga’ 4 times a week for 18 months – and that is work what with counting the travel time,  it is like a 3 hour commitment – to stretch.

Yes, I know all the benefits from exercise. I actually LIKE all the benefits I get from exercise. The sleeping better, weight management, the clean, sharp lines of toned muscles, feeling great – all good things. Doesn’t make me love exercise though.  I have yet to experience the endophin highs that some claim exist when exercising – if only that would have happen maybe I would have fallen in love with exercise. (‘Sigh‘). And because I don’t LOVE exercise I go through periods where I can workout and be consistent, until I’m not. Never know when it will occur, neither the doing or the not doing.

Once I moved to the suburbs, got married and went back to school, walking became my exercise. (oh, and in fact my knees finally gave out – no more running for me, EVER.) Last year when I quit working I re-joined a neighborhood gym…only to discover that I didn’t want to throw weights around or stand in line 30 minutes to get into the already over-booked yoga/zumba/bike classes. So here I was again, walking for exercise and doing some in-home stretches – lamenting how flabby I was becoming and wishing I could find something that I wanted to do enough to join in again.

I had become one of ‘those’ people: having relegated “serious” physical exercise to the bottom of the priority list. Afterall, I was exercising…walking a few miles every day is exercise. Then last November led me to a Groupon purchase for Barre3 classes, “where ballet barre meets yoga and pilates”. Fast forward to last Thursday and the exercise class that is now my new obsession.

And today it is the exercise ugly – where my legs feel like tree stumps and I groan like an old man when I try to sit or stand up. Oh, I feel other muscle groups when they are engaged, but sitting/standing/kneeling require thigh muscles – ones that are use to moving with ease and flexibility without having to support yourself with the help of walls and pieces of furniture. There is no ease or grace of movement as I sway side to side like a robot until my muscles warm up enough to walk like humans were meant to walk…normally. It is that type of pain that actual feels good in it’s painfulness. I know, I know I could have taken the easier, softer way and not joined in with “my over-the-top, type-A personality or I’m not old/out-of-shape/too flabby” head thinking and felt less pain today. That was an option that appeared and I dismissed in short order. I mean, the monkey may be off my back, but the circus is still in town. And I’m the ringmaster.

I just do not do half measures, even when pain is the obvious outcome. I have too many blessings to not count this pain as one of them. My legs still work, as do my lungs and heart. I have scheduled my next class for Monday…hoping for more good than ugly by Tuesday. In the meantime, ice packs and ibuprofen are my new BFFs.

Ciao~

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