Pushing your physical limits

Catherine, newly retired, goes on an exercise adventure to avoid a fate of doing Hokey Pokey classes with 80 year olds for the rest of her life. Using the tools of baby steps, a cheerleader and a guide to discover just what her body can do, she leaves the Hokey Pokey in the dust!

My adventure:
I had often thought of exercising. I worked at a desk all day and was very sedentary. At the end of the day I would have aches and pain. I had thought that an exercise program would help. However, I never found time to exercise other than a 2 k walk a few times a week and a weekly yoga class.
January brought retirement.  Retirement is a new adventure. My motto became “Because I can” . I leave my watch on my dresser.  Time is something to be enjoyed and not watched.  So on  a wintery mid-January day I joined our local Community Centre and started to take classes.  I started with classes that were very gentle including one that featured dancing the Hokey Pokey!   In a few weeks, I moved to the more physical classes.  I took a series of classes to learn technique. I progressed to 5 classes a week. I focused on my core and really did the classes to the best of my ability. If I was going to do this daily, I wanted to do it right.  Soon I was enjoying these classes. Sweat became a good thing and not something I dreaded while mowing the grass. I used the classes as a tool to learn from the instructors who know their stuff and who teach the class without modifying it for the older people in it. I pushed myself. It was bliss when I could hold a position because my core could support it.  I was really doing something for myself – a new adventure for a 56 year old.
‘Why did you feel it was important for you to do this
I knew I had to do to this. I had to be active as my body ached. I have been treated for breast cancer and exercise is a known risk reducer.  I also have arthritis. I do have an increased risk for heart issues post treatment. That was my motivator.
‘What was the risk(s) for you – what worried you about going forward
I worried that I couldn’t do it and might be destined for a life of the hokey pokey. There were days when I napped after class. I was in a class with a volunteer instructor who was over 80 and I was struggling to get through class. Gosh, how could I be younger and be in worst shape.  In hindsight it was all baby steps.
How did you overcome the worry (emotionally)
I went with a friend to class and coffee afterwards. It became a social outing and minimized the risk of not going to class. I really didn’t care what I looked like. I laughed at myself as I went left when everyone else went right. I embraced the consistency of being the reverse of everyone else.  I took the class seriously but was able to laugh at my ineptness. I then decided that if I was going to do the classes, I wanted to do it correctly. I wanted to change my lifestyle. I took a series of classes to learn technique. I then focused on what I was doing. I used heavier weights and focused on the muscles being used.
How did you physically mitigate the risk (as opposed to overcoming it emotionally)’ 
I decided that if I was going to do the classes, I wanted to do it correctly. I wanted to change my lifestyle. I took a series of classes to learn technique. I then focused on what I was doing. I used heavier weights and focused on the muscles being used.
What was the actual risk outcome (ie. Did the thing you worried about happen?)’
No, the thing I worried about didn’t happen. I got stronger and better as weeks went by. I felt like my body expected me to go to a daily class. My Hokey Pokey days are behind me!
Was there a downside (it might not be the thing you worried about). 
I miss the classes when I cannot make them.  Who would have thought.
What should you have done differently
I didn’t have a plan that would increase my ability. I did increase weights each week. It really all fell into place. I kind of showed up, followed the instructor, took the heavier weights that no one else wanted. Perhaps a plan to say after 3 weeks, I will do this, would have been beneficial.
Would you do it again’ – yes
Any regrets –
I should have done this years ago.
What are the 3 most important pieces of advice you’d give someone else interested in doing this’ 
1/ Take private lessons to learn technique – do it right!
2/ Start with the gentler classes
3/ When someone corrects your position, take it as a positive, embrace feedback and see it as a tool for positive change.
‘What will you do next?‘  My plan is to try running.. I feel that I have a runner heading inside me.

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