Carolyn White: Living the Good Life 5-7-12
In order to target the problem areas – which at this age are all over my body – in March I hired a fitness instructor named Gena Rose (of Dance West Studio in Cedaredge) to get things going in the right direction. After listening to my needs and goals and giving me some healthy-eating advice, the first thing my new coach did was put me on a treadmill for a light cardio warm-up. Continuing with our conversation, she gauged how long it took before I became breathless from the combined efforts of both walking and talking.
“Man, am I ever out of shape,” I panted a surprisingly short interval.
Peering at the digital readout of my heart rate, which was being monitored through the electronic hand grips, Gena assured me, “You’re fine, it’s in the normal range at 86 beats a minute …” and then suddenly her dark eyes widened with surprise. Both of us gasped as the numbers began shooting upwards, clear to 117 before slowly easing down. “What the …?” She exclaimed, pushing on the reset button.
Beat red and sweating, I responded with a slightly embarrassed giggle, “I just had a hot flash.”
“Oh, those,” she smiled understandingly. “They’ll ease up once you’ve developed more stamina.” (I wondered how long that would take?) After shutting off the machine Gena then lead the way up the 25 or 30 steep, varnished stairs to her studio. (Those were a challenge, too, so I paused to take a few deep breaths once we’d reached the dance floor.) “We’re going to do some isometrics,” she instructed, “which are very low impact exercises which work each muscle group. Let’s start with squats.” She demonstrated. “Put your right leg out behind you and bend your left, making sure that the knee doesn’t go beyond the toes, okay?”
“I can’t even SEE them!” I grunted, imitating her position while struggling to stay balanced.
“You’ve got it, nice job,” she encouraged, continuing, “Now, straighten your shoulders, hold your head up and take a step forward. Good, good … now … bend the leg behind you a little more toward the floor …”
“My knees don’t work that way,” I half-joked, biting my lips as the two of us lunged across the length of the room and back. Afterwards, I massaged my thighs and groaned.
“Feel the burn?” she grinned.
“Do I ever!”
“That’s good. We’re making progress. Ready to keep going?”
“Perfect. Now let’s face the mirror.” Gena handed me a large, heavy ball. “I want you to swing this from side to side without moving your hips.” She grabbed a second one. Watching our reflections, dressed in my cobalt-colored sweat suit, I was reminded of the girl from “Willy Wonka” who had turned into a giant blueberry. “Ok, left, right, left … and four and five and six,” she guided … “watch those hips! Don’t move them!”
“That’s kind of hard to avoid since they’re attached to the rest of me,” I pointed out. EVERYTHING was jiggling!
She set her prop down and got behind me, holding my hips firmly while continuing … “And six and seven … keep going … great! You got it!”
I did my best to conform, especially after she added “this will help cut down on that belly fat. Keep going … 10 … 11 … 12 … you got it!” I practically threw the ball down at that point, but she immediately replaced it with two small dumbbells. “Hold these out in front of you and then curl inward 12 times. Ready?” We counted that one down; did it again with my wrists facing the opposite direction; yet again with the arms out to the sides; and finally finished with the elbows flexed behind my head. It felt like the shoulders blades were going to snap in half but somehow I made it through. Then, just as I was ready to call it a day Gena enthusiastically announced that we were going to repeat the entire series again. Twice.
Afterwards, I flopped onto a floor mat and tried to duplicate the movements as she effortlessly twisted her body into a pretzel and then repeatedly lifted the leg closest to the floor (that one hurt my calves). Then, she rolled over to a sitting position, leaned forward and touched her nose to her knees. “See how far you can get,” she instructed in a muffled voice.
My neck and chin jutted forward about an inch. “That’s all I can do.” My spine wouldn’t budge.
“Exhale and try to get a little further,” she suggested.
I managed an extra inch while each disk protested mightily. Gena leapt up, got behind me and gently pushed. That time I managed to touch my toes, although barely. Score! Smiling, I acknowledged the little milestone and wondered if it would be worth celebrating later with some chocolate … then thought naw, I’ve come so far.