“The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise.” (Peter O’Toole)

06 Sep

Fortunately I have never had to follow the coffin of a friend of mine who died from taking exercise, but I do see where Peter was coming from.

I get up, walk the dogs, go to work, come home, walk the dogs—and that is the extent of my usual daily exercise.

However, for the last little while (oh, all right—since menopause took over my life) I had been feeling pretty crappy—lethargic, blobby, not sleeping well, etc etc., and after doing a bit of research it did seem that my best solution (apart from all kinds of medication) was to get more exercise. Sigh.

So, 3 months ago, as an act of final desperation, I joined the local gym.  And, me being me, I went in both feet first. I bought a 3 month membership and signed up with a personal trainer (‘PT’). I was very nervous when I went for my first ‘fitness test’, and, as it turns out, I had every reason to me.  I was weighed and measured (eek!), set up to do 600 strides on the elliptical trainer (mean, mean, mean!!), followed by sit-ups, push-ups (although, as I only managed ONE real push-up I am not sure I can count that in the plural), and shown how to use the weight training equipment.

By the end of the session I thought I had died and gone to heaven—and not in a good way.  I literally thought I was on my way off this earthly plane. My legs had the collywobbles, my heart was hammering, I was breathing so hard I had lost the ability to speak coherently, and my face was a colour that could only be described as ‘puce’ (a shade somewhat closer to purple than red—and NOT a good look on a Sally).

I gathered what was left of my dignity (which wasn’t much), thanked ‘PT’ (when I really just wanted to poke his eyes out), staggered down the stairs, trying to get my legs and breathing under control (and holding tightly on to the stair railing all the way) and fell into the car.  Then, gathering my belongings around me, I realized I had left my towel upstairs.  If my brain hadn’t been so starved of oxygen I would have thought to leave it there and pick it up next time, but in my hypoxia-addled state that never occurred to me and it took me several more minutes before I could force myself back up those stairs to retrieve it.

When I finally got home I was met by three over-excited, leaping, bouncing, pocket-rockets all ready to go for their afternoon walk. I am reliably informed by the neighbours that I did actually take the dogs for a walk that day, but I am still not sure how we (or rather, ‘I’) made it there and back.

The next day I could barely move my arms and legs in any kind of coordinated fashion—much to the hilarity of those at the office—and, swear to God, the day after that was even worse.  It would have been SO easy to drive straight past the gym on my home every day that next week, but I didn’t.  I devised a plan that seems to work for me.  I finish work, change into my exercise gear at the office and drive straight to the gym.  I do 30-40 minutes, go home, walk the dogs and then, and only then, do I fall in a heap. I know myself well enough to know that once I am home and have my fluffy slippers on nothing short of a nuclear event is going to get me out again.

So—now that I have you all suitably horrified by my early experiences—I am here to tell you that joining the gym has actually been the best thing I have done in ages.  My second fitness test last week showed that I am demonstrably stronger and fitter than I was 3 months ago. I have lost some weight and lost some centimetres around my middle.  Some of my ‘wobbly bits’ are a little less wobbly and I am definitely sleeping better (suck on that menopause). I even (usually) manage to come out of a training session with a face colour at least several shades down from that dreaded puce!  My knees (which were never much good to start with) might never be the same again, but in spite of that I have still been pleasantly surprised at how far I have come in such a short time.

Woody Allen once said ‘Eighty percent of success is showing up’, so I am going to test his theory and keep ‘showing up’ and see where it takes me.  Wish me luck . . .

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Posted by on September 6, 2015 in Uncategorized


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