I’ve Been All Mysterious Lately…

…about my whereabouts and shenanigans, I know. But it’s been a crazy few months, and there’s been a bit of internal philosophizing in the process. I’ve been caught up in a few things. Good things, mind you, but still demanding of my time.

First, I have become licensed to teach Silver Sneakers classes at my local gym. It’s a workout program designed for an aging population, for people who can’t necessarily (or don’t want to) handle high-intensity or high-impact exercise classes.

They might not be silver. But they're sneakers. And they're mine.

They might not be silver. But they’re sneakers. And they’re mine.  Notice the paisley water glass in the background. I have issues. 🙂

Working on this licensing has prompted me to contemplate how different my life is from anything I would have imagined it to be. I moved to central PA ten (10!) years ago, and thought I’d be here six months. I never imagined that I would meet someone here who’s as fun and fantastic and thoughtful (and single at the time!) as George, and yet, there he was, ready for me. If anyone had told me when I rolled into town with my luggage in tow that a decade later I would still be in central PA with a wonderful and supportive boyfriend by my side, I wouldn’t have believed them for a second. And if you’d told me that on top of that, I was going to end up in the fitness industry…well, “preposterous” isn’t quite the right word. Ludicrous, that would have been more like it. But you know, you break an ankle, you have a bit of a health scare, you realize you’re not bullet-proof. At least, that’s what happened with me.

For the record? It take a LOT of work to get ready to teach a workout class. There are hours of videos to watch (over and over again), choreography to work out, steps to get into your head, notes to jot, that go into every single class. Hats off to the people who have done it so long they don’t have to really get into the prep. In two years, I might–MIGHT–be in that place.  What’s even harder for me to understand in my own internal motivation: I just signed up for Zumba licensing. Like, one discipline isn’t enough? I need to get two? What are they–potato chips? You can’t have just one… 🙂

Ooh, what else, what else?

Right. So I finished a book. Writing one, not reading one. It’s been a long process! The writing started probably two years ago thanks to a friend and writing partner who had an idea he wanted to bring to life. Between research (because it takes place at a specific historical point in time) and a ride on several heavily emotional, creativity-crippling roller coasters (the loss of both my and George’s fathers, totaling our car), there were large chunks of time which found me staring blankly at my computer screen, kind of like this…

While funny, the pencil under the nose is not conducive to wordsing out a story.

What kind of book is it, you ask? It’s a mystery! No, I’m not refusing to tell you; it’s a mystery novel that’s kind of noir-y and full of disreputable men and tough-as-nails women. And YES! Hooray! It is done, and it’s been pointed out to me more than once that many books are started, but few are finished. The fact remains that I have one of the most patient writing partners in the history of human patience. But we recently made the push to get the final chapters written (hence, again, my lack of presence in blogworld) and are now…

Holy pockets! What did I just say?  Did I say I just finished a goddamned book? Like, it’s here, it’s corporeal, it’s not spinning in the ether anymore?

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

Time to get my editing hat on and make it beautiful before the pitch letters go out.

So that’s why I’ve been decidedly absent from my blog. Philosophizing, writing, teaching a gym class or two (three times a week, what on earth was I thinking?).  And working at a few different jobs in between. I’ve barely even had time to cook; thank goodness George kept me fed, or I would have been reduced to gnawing on dried beans and the questionable contents of those odd jars at the back of the pantry. You know the ones. In back, to the left.

Anyway. I also haven’t been taking many pictures lately, but I’ll leave you with one I snapped on the 4th of July, celebrating with some floating lanterns and some family, down by the river.

Away it goes!

Away it goes!

🙂 What? I’m not a robot, you know. It hasn’t all been work.

Resolutions: How to Gym

As 2013 winds down (thank GOD) and New Year’s resolutions come into focus, there will be plenty of people venturing into previously uncharted self-improvement territory.  They’ll sign up for that French class, swear to read books more and Facebook less, scrupulously count calories, chew countless wads of Nicorette.  They will also swell the ranks of gym memberships.  For the first three weeks of the year, my Zumba class is going to be packed, and time on the treadmill or arc trainer will be at a premium.  And then?  Newbies will start to fade away, because gymming it hasn’t worked out as they expected.  I’ve seen it happen the last two years.  I’ve done it myself.

This is all true.

This is all true.
Image from loldamn.com

Working a lifestyle change into a daily schedule is hard enough in the best of times, never mind a change that thrusts you into a new environment where your vulnerability is at its peak. You’re publicly declaring that you’re flawed and want a change, and you don’t know the people around you/how to Zumba (or lift, or Step, or what the hell is an arc trainer?)/your own limits.  And you’re around a bunch of people who seem like they have it together within this strange new world.  What’s not to be scared of?  What’s not to find intimidating?

I get it, I do.  I’ve got a lifetime of avoided workouts under my belt and a bunch of unhealthy living I’ve had to undo.  Thus, I am here to help the intimidated, the uninitiated, the lost-at-sea-in-the-weight-room.  Here are five tips to help you gym it like a veteran and approach this sweaty domain with a more positive, less “I am an athletic freak show”  perspective.

1) You aren’t going to be able to do everything the instructors (and gym/class regulars) do, perfectly, from the start, every time.  And THAT IS OKAY.  It’s more than okay; it’s expected.  That’s why they have instructors, see?  We weren’t born downloading Zumba routines into our brains from the Matrix, and we didn’t spring fully-formed to life in the gym with the innate knowledge of a clean-and-press.  These things take time and practice.  I’ve been doing Zumba for two years so I can rock it with the best of them, but in Step class?  I am the low impact derp.  But I’m getting better every time, and that’s what matters.

Fact.

I know this all too well.
Image taken from pinterest.com

And speaking of Step class…

2) Try everything.  You may think you just want a place with weight machines and a treadmill, and then find you love kickboxing.  Mixing up your workouts prevents boredom, which is an attendance killer.  Plus, different workouts push you in different ways.  I thought I would just want Zumba and for the longest time gave the hand to Step classes.  I broke my ankle a few years ago, I’m a little bit clumsy on the best of days, I was afraid of stepping and jumping and falling and re-injuring.  Then I got talked into Step classes.  Now I look forward to them, and regularly test my limits.  That doesn’t happen all the time; Body Attack still makes me want to stab myself in the face.  But I feel that way about it because I don’t like it, not because I’m afraid of it and haven’t tried it.

p.s. I did fall once, in Step.  And I survived.  I do Body Attack if it’s the workout that fits into my schedule.  And I survive.  Lesson = learned.

3) DO. NOT. ROLL. YOUR. EYES. AT. ME.  Don’t roll your eyes at me, don’t roll your eyes at the instructor, don’t roll your eyes when staring down a difficult exercise.  The instructor’s job is to challenge you.  Your job is to work toward that challenge.  If you don’t like it, go home.  Do NOT try to make me your eyeball-rolling ally, because it will not happen, newbie.  I’m there to work my ass off, not be your sister in snark and give you tacit permission to opt out.  Now go squat.  SQUAAAAAAAAAAT.

Also, don’t talk over the instructor when they’re trying to tell the class something.  They usually have information you’ll want, so listen to their tips on correct form or how to adapt an exercise for skill level, and really?  Do you have to text while you’re on the bike in Spin class?  Really?

If you feel like you’re not getting anything out of going to the gym, ask yourself how much you’re putting in, in the first place.

But you've got to take part to get there.

You’ve got to do your part to get there.
Image from wineandbutter.com

4) Joining a gym with a friend is good.  Making that friend the only thing that gets you to the gym?  Not so much.

Here’s the story: I joined my gym because my friend Amy goes there, and yes, it’s easier to walk into a gym with a buddy at your side than without. But if you walk through those doors solo, nobody’s going to hit you with a stick, I promise.  As life goes, Amy and I have wildly different priorities.  Example: she has kids.  I don’t.  Sometimes, she’s got to go to tae kwon do or Girl Scouts or a birthday party and can’t make it to the gym.  So…if she can’t go, does that mean I shouldn’t go?

The answer, for those playing at home, is no.  Of course not.  When our workouts can coincide, that’s great and we have fun, but when they don’t, I still want to feel great and have fun.  Zumba is ON!  Amy doesn’t have to walk around in my skin, feel my sluggishness when I’ve not gotten exercise, deal with my couch potato bloat.  I do.  And as much as I like having a gym buddy, it’s still my responsibility to myself that should matter most.  Have I relied on friends to get me to the gym when I’m feeling unmotivated?  Absolutely.  But the person that’s gotten me to the gym on a regular basis?  Is me.  It’s what happens when you make yourself a priority instead of a dependent variable.

5) Stop.  Worrying.  About what other people think of you.  About what you think other people think of you.  You know what the other people in your gym think about?  They’re thinking about their own workout, about how their lungs are in their throats or how their arms are reaching that fatigue point.  They’re thinking about their next water break or their form.  What they’re not thinking about?  Is you.  Unless they’re the people who are worrying about what you think of them.  More often than not, we get in our own way.  Stop looking around.  Don’t look at me, don’t look at the guy next to you, and for the love of all that is holy don’t look at the clock.  Look at the person in the front of the room, whose job is to help you.  Let your ego go and be in the moment.  You’ll be fine.

The Oatmeal can explain it all for you.  (Click here for the full comic (this is just the first panel), and you should because it’s worth it.)

the oatmeal gym

Notice, it’s all what we imagine, then impose upon ourselves.
Image from theoatmeal.com

Happy gymming!  See you ’round the arc trainer!

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