So I've started running again.
If my mother reads this, she will probably freak out. (NOT AGAIN! Didn't you learn your lesson all those other times you tried?!?)
I come from a family of bad knees, caused by ill fitting patellas. I've had runners knee on and off over the years. More seriously, I tore the meniscus in my right knee about 4 years ago- just as I was about to start training to become a Pilates teacher. I travelled to Birmingham for my first weekend of practical training and I could barely walk. I spent almost all my time in my hostel room bed, reading. I took a taxi to the training centre and hobbled about... I felt like such a joke. Fortunately, Pilates can be modified for every injury... it's true! So I was still able to participate the in training that weekend. :-)
But I keep coming back to running. I started when I was in my mid-twenties, off and on until 4 years ago when I truly stopped.
Here's the 2 main reasons why I love running:
I prefer to run outdoors, in a beautiful place. A nice day is even better, but even rain is ok. I've been fortunate to live near beautiful trails and rivers with paths, so I almost always run there. It feels so free in my head when I am jogging outside- I am simply looking at the world, and smelling the scents, and feeling the air on my skin. This picture is from my running route in Norwich, beside the river. So beautiful there. :-)
2. Measured cardio endurance.
I am not a fast runner. Seriously, I am super slow. My crowning achievement was running 5km in 28 minutes. Anyone who runs seriously would laugh at how slow that is! But I measure my time- from my first run wearing old track pants and a t-shirt, armed with a digital watch, I timed how long I could jog without stopping. That first time, I ran 1 minute and walked 1 minute. But the most amazing thing happens when you run and time yourself- you can run for longer EVERY TIME you go out. There's something so satisfying about running for 28 minutes straight when you worked up from 1 minute 6 weeks ago. (Incidentally, I'm only up to 5 minutes right now!)
I am taking it real easy this time around. No pushing too fast and too far without testing out the knee first with short runs. I've been pleased to note that I have no aches in my knee either during or afterwards. I credit this to my recent post-rehab protocols training with Body Harmonics. I took away so much from their hip and knee course, and I created a series of exercises specifically for my knee. Every time I do Pilates, I include about 8 minutes of specific exercises for my knees. So it's ok Mom, this time, I know what I'm doing! Maybe experience and knowledge can conquer all?
Do you love to run? Please share in the comments why you love it! Happy running to you :-)
Old Man starts Exercising, Writes Blog.
Part 2: This is Just for Me.
There is lots of “stuff” that surrounds taking care of your self. The media and self help gurus are quick to tell you that you don’t quite cut it and with just a little more effort (or one of their gadgets or new info just released) you can be a better person.
Listening to that chatter doesn’t have the effect they think it does. I have never been motivated by some stranger telling me to eat healthier, exercise more and be more mindful. As a matter of fact, those messages come at me with such amazing frequency and zeal that they sound like the propaganda of a despotic ruler. I call it the Tyranny of the health industry.
My healthiest days were when I was in training for league soccer. Starting in March and working out until September we would go twice a week for training plus 14 weeks of matches and play-offs, if we were lucky. I loved that.
Then from October to February, I continued riding a bike or when I was living in the Snow Belt, cross-country skiing. Solitary pleasures that get me out of my head in into the world.
I wasn’t “getting fit”, I didn’t give two shakes about my diet and no one, not even Richard Simmons himself could convince me that I should do more.
Fast Forward half a lifetime later and I find myself pursuing a healthier lifestyle by eliminating (read: reducing) poor food choices and taking up a course of pilates with Diane Archer of Compassionate Body Pilates.
Today, after spending 8 hours hunched over my workstation I was knotted and tired and in a pretty crappy mood after a workweek full of stress and doing things for other people.
Not long after my one-on-one session with Diane started, I began to feel that stress slip away. Just the controlled breathing and stretching that came with our first few moves was enough to change my perspective to “this is just about me”.
I was opening up my lungs, checking my body positions, deliberately moving through the routines and feeling my body doing a little more of what it was meant to do. It brought me to a place where I was finding selfish pleasure; observing where I was pushing through the tightness and coming out the other side.
Blood was flowing better and my mind began to clear. I was relaxing into the work-out with the Diane’s gentle corrections making my efforts all the better.
What a luxury this was. It dawned on me that a private session in my home with a Pilates instructor was worth the expense. That the “selfish” just-for-me attitude wasn’t wrong-headed, but something that truly matters as my life-style choice.
Now as I write this, once again at my workstation, I am sitting taller, my posture is correct and I focus a little more on my breathing. I am relaxed and mildly rejuvenated.
My energy level is a little higher and my outlook brighter.
I came to an exercise program in my mid-life because I want to share activities like hiking and cycling with my uber-fit partner. But in the midst of today’s session with Diane, it struck me that I should have been doing this sooner.
It’s not about hiking in the mountains of Mexico, or our next cycling tour of the wine regions or finally kicking her butt at Racquetball. It’s about treating myself to some time for me, tossing off the stiffness and crankiness and getting to a place of balance in my body and my mind.
That last bit sounded like what a typical fitness guru might have told me.
I just wish they had told me earlier.
By Dan Willis
I was doing an "Ask the Expert" session last week in a facebook group, and this question came up predictably quickly: What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates? I definitely hear this one a lot from family, friends and prospective clients. Most people out there know a bit about yoga and not much about Pilates. I have only been to a handful of yoga classes so I often shy away from speaking too much about yoga. I could talk your ear off about Pilates for hours but my yoga knowledge is very limited! But I gave it some serious thought last week and I came up with the response below. If you are a yoga teacher and have a differing opinion on the topic, please do join in the conversation in the comments below, I'd love to hear more from you about it!
"I can start with what they have in common: both exercise systems use the mind-body connection. That means there is an emphasis on using your mind to move your body, concentrating and focusing on your movements. And both systems use your own bodyweight as a resistance for building strength. But after that they differ a lot! Pilates has a focus on building muscle strength and stability in the core (your torso- including your hips and shoulders). There is more dynamic movement in Pilates and an emphasis on lengthening while strengthening. Yoga is more stationary (holding poses) and emphasizes flexibility. Yoga can include a spiritual aspect, while Pilates does not. Pilates is highly adaptable and therefore great for injuries and back problems. I can't speak to yoga that much because I don't know that much about it... and there are lots of different types, however in my experience yoga has a flow to it where there is a prescribed series of positions moving from one to the next. But for me, when I'm planning a class, I think carefully about who is coming and what injuries they might have and what modifications they might need, and I prepare a set of exercises with modifications specifically for them. I get to be incredibly creative and that's one of my favourite things about teaching pilates- as long as I keep to the 6 pilates principles, I can modify any movement for anyone. :-)"
If you've attended both types of classes, does this explanation ring true for you? Please share your thoughts below! Thanks :-)
I'm so excited to introduce my contest winner from the Post-Rehab Pilates Intensive Contest! Here's a little bit about him:
Dan (aged 55) is a self-employed business consultant that was in pretty good shape until he turned 40. Formerly, Dan played soccer for 15 years and was an avid cyclist. It was a desk job with a giant corporation that contributed to his gaining some extra weight. At 55, Dan wants to take control of his health. He wants to live long enough to become a burden on his children and grow old with the uber-fit love of his life.
He hopes that in twelve short weeks he will be more flexible, have better balance and learn an exercise routine that he can return to time and time again.
The words he is trying to live by are: “I will be the best version of myself that I can be.”
Stay tuned to this blog for weekly updates on his progress with the program. I love Dan's can-do attitude and I can't wait to see what amazing changes we can make to his fitness level in only 12 weeks! :-)
Autumn is the season for change and around our house this year, there are some big changes afoot. In the spirit of that change and newness, I have embarked on some journeys that reflect a new philosophy I am undertaking to follow.
I was brought up with and lived my life for the most part using advice my Dad gave me: “Do what you like, but know what you do”. Problem was, for most things I focused on the initial part of the edict and ignored the more important part that followed.
We had a good run, me and that all-about-me philosophy. But I have tossed that mind-set for a new one. It’s not a revolutionary or mind-blowing concept and not particularly original, but I had the “come-to-god” moment when engaged in a smoking cessation class provided by CAMH and Bridges community Health Centre.
There, I came to realize that the not-smoking journey would result in my considering myself a non-smoker. At some point I would be so far removed from that nasty habit, that my sense of self would not be what it currently was.
I decided to apply that idea to other things that were bothering me lifestyle-wise. And two things that jumped out at me were healthier eating and exercise. Go figure.
I decided that I would not only be a non-smoker, but I would be the best I could be in all aspects of self-care (to a point, lol).
It was fortuitous when I saw on Facebook, that Compassionate Body Pilates was having a contest and the winner would receive 12 weeks of Pilates training.
I had no knowledge of what Pilates was except it was exercise people took in classes, but I was determined to win so I did all the liking and sharing and liking that one must do to enter these contest thingys.
And I won.
Today Diane Archer came for our first session and did a bit of an assessment on my capabilities. I thought it went well. My muscles wondered why the hell they were being stretched out like that and my knees creaked and groaned a little when I was doing the squats, but I loved the breathing aspect of the session and the work required to make the deliberate movements that Diane was asking we to make.
I have classes every Tuesday and a 1-1 session every Friday, plus I will have something to do when my partner breaks out the free-weights or spins her work-out CD. I may not be able to keep up with her aerobics and yoga and plyometrics, but I am taking those first tentative steps to better health and a cleaner diet. And besides I like it that the Pilates mat is so much thicker than a yoga mat.
In case I want to nap between sets.
By Daniel Willis
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.