Old Man Starts Exercising, Writes Blog: Part 10
It's Just Gravity and Me
In my youth (not the misspent one, the other, more youthful youth) I anticipated the start of soccer season year after year.
The getting fit first, then testing oneself against another. Then performing as a team. By the time we were in week seven I had kicked enough grass around, I was ready for the season.
I didn’t like the first 5 or 6 weeks out on the pitch, but once I got good, I played with enthusiasm and never made any excuse for loving the taste of victory.
Likewise, the theatre is a place where one gets fit for a role, practice with others and when one gets good, they slay the audience.
I thrill to taking a curtain call.
It has been 20 years since I hung up my cleats, six years since I played my last game and four years since my last curtain call.
After my seventh class with Diane (Compassionate Body Pilates) I felt I was starting to strengthen and balance, then I went and injured myself.
Now its week nine and I am on the upswing. I got my posture back; and I got my gait back; and I got my height back too.
Knowing the body’s position in space is an important skill for the theatre actor and since it is a non-contact sport, the soccer player as well. The Pilates sessions I am getting are fantastic in helping me control my movements. I am not surprised how much I am improving (I am), I am surprised about HOW MUCH I MISSED MOVING PROPERLY.
I missed my posture, I missed having a gait, I missed standing tall.
What I don’t miss now is my body slipping into a slippery slope of decay. I don’t miss the defeatist attitude I was carrying around and I don’t miss fearing the stairs.
Now it’s just gravity and me. It’s a solo performance not a ensemble piece. There is no opponent but the craftiest one of them all, me.
I have to remember that: “How much I missed having a gait.”
By Dan Willis
Old Man starts Exercising, Writes Blog. Part 9:
You Snooze, You Lose.
So I missed my Tuesday Pilates class with Diane Archer of Compassionate Body Pilates this week. Recall that I also missed my last Friday’s 1 on 1 and thought it would be a good idea to take to the Skys and enjoy a trampoline fitness class on Sunday.
It would be reasonable to say that I missed the Tuesday class because I was sore from tramping around, but that would be a lie. I didn’t miss the class for that; I missed the class because I went out to dinner with the Girl.
I know having had made it to my advanced years without back problems is a real blessing and I should not be tempting fate by becoming overly aggressive in my activities where my back may be at risk. Luckily, The injury in the lower part of my back subsided after a couple days and I don’t expect any permanent damage.
Today’s 1 on 1 was an eye-opener. My core strength was still pretty good, but my balance wasn’t as good as it has been. The week between classes was too long without exercise and my body was all too able to show me that.
My body also showed me that the trampoline had engaged muscles that I didn’t even know I had. Didn’t know I had them until I was running through my exercises with Diane, that is.
You know that feeling when you literally rack your chest coughing and it feels like a vice is closing around your chest? Well, I was stretching and breathing and then, “Hey”.
Then during an arch it felt as if my spine was fused. I am not the most flexible individual, but during simple bends and twists my ribs and spine let me know they were there and they were not happy.
So two things to take away. Tuesday nights at Kully’s on St. Paul is a lot of fun and don’t join in a fitness boot camp.
I can see how one might enroll in a course of fitness that is far above their level and then after suffering an injury decide that maybe fitness is not for them. I get it.
But fitness is for me. I just have to learn not to get cocky and to take things slowly. It took a couple lifetimes of neglect to become this fabulously out of shape so I should treat myself to a long and not-to-hard regimen of slowly progressing activities suitable for a man my age.
That or give up entirely.
By Dan Willis
*P.S. Note from Diane- Just a little reminder for you Dan- anytime you are thinking of skipping a session, watch this clip :)
Old Man Starts Exercising, Writes Blog: Part 8
If you have been following this blog then you know a few things about me. I started an exercise program after having a “come to god” moment while hiking in the mountains Mexico with my life-partner. If I were to participate in meaningful ways with her I would have to take better care of myself. I would have to participate in physical activities that, at my age and fitness level would require ongoing care and some lifestyle changes that were hither-to inconceivable.
Life has a way of sneaking up on you and in our daily habits where work and life takes up so much time we can forget to, or miss opportunities to take care of ourselves. Such was the case when, on Friday I lost complete track of time in the afternoon and missed my personal session (one-on-one) with Diane Archer of Compassionate Body Pilates.
Regular readers will also note that I have been less than punctual in practising my at-home, by-myself workout sessions. So it was an extra big bummer when I missed my Friday Session (Sorry, Diane!) Well the weekend was not a complete write-off where my fitness was concerned as my beautiful and uber-fit partner provided a chance for me to partake in “Sky-Fit” at the newly opened Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park on Ontario Street in St. Catharines.
Six months ago this would have been out of the question. I know because when the kids were growing up they played on trampolines. At the time with the kids the aerobic efforts to sustain any bounce on the mats was beyond me. I was a smoker and I was inactive and overweight. While bouncing with the kids would have been a joy, my joints, my belly and my lungs would not have permitted it.
If you are reading for a heart-warming story of redemption and glory, you may be disappointed. Given the fitness of the other participants and my partner I figure I was about 45% effective in my participation during the exercises and routines. After all it had been about 40 years since I was last on a Trampoline for any length of time and 9 weeks of Pilates training, no matter how skilled a teacher Diane is, is no miracle cure.
However, what 9 weeks of Pilates training and 4 months of non-smoking has done for me is to give me back a relationship with my body that I thought was lost to the depths of time. So feeling confident (and wanting to participate with my Partner, who was going to go with or without me) I put my hand up and joined her for a Sky-Fit Session early on Sunday morning.
Our instructor Laurie welcomed us to the session personally warning us not to push too hard, to have fun and to simply pass on exercises that were beyond our skill level.
If you have not been to Sky-Zone you do not know that it has become a favourite with the Birthday crowd and every Saturday Afternoon there is a cacophony of children squealing, music playing and general joyousness. Sunday in the AM was thankfully more subdued, so I was able to focus better on keeping my feet under me.
After the warm ups, we went from one grid of tramps to another where we worked alone and with partners springing and springing for the hour-long class.
Thanks to my Pilates training I felt strong enough to take up the challenge of the aerobic exercises and confident enough that I wouldn’t make a complete fool of myself. Given the two extra bowling balls I carry around my mid section the “L-Sits” did hurt my back a bit but otherwise I am not stiff or sore at all.
It will take a long time before I become passable on the trampoline for fitness or whatever, but I figure mixing it up a little with the Pilates and Aqua-fit, continuing as a non-smoker and hiking regularly with the girl, I will come to enjoy the free-flying feeling of the jumps and twists at Sky-Zone.
By Dan Willis
Old Man Starts Exercising, Writes Blog: Part 7
Getting into Pilates with Compassionate Body Pilates and Diane Archer was a roll of the dice. Without any notion of what was involved or why it was appropriate, I jumped in with both feet.
It was proved pretty early on that I didn’t have to know anything; that Diane was the expert I needed.
To outline, in no uncertain terms, why you should be doing Pilates with Compassionate Body Pilates and Diane Archer:
You will live better, longer.
I know that is a pretty big claim to make, but I have learned that flexibility, balance and muscle strength are key indicators of longevity.
You can read more about a simple test here.
Sometimes simple answers can tell us a lot about complex problems and it makes sense to me that working my body for these three indicators of well-being is a good thing.
The word “morbidity” describes the opposite of flexibility, balance and muscle strength. It describes the production of disease. The more morbid you are in your elder years the crappier your life will be.
“But, Dan”, I hear you say, “Smoking may take 10 years off my life…but it’s the LAST 10 years.”
And of course, if that is actually your attitude, “God Speed to you my friend, God Speed”.
But if that kind of thinking is wrong to you, like it was to me, and you are thinking about flexibility, balance and muscle strength, Compassionate Body Pilates by Diane Archer is a great place to go.
Here I am at Week 7 and am already feeling the benefits.
A peaceful feeling begins to wave over me even before I take my first warm-up breaths. With Diane’s easygoing attitude and constant encouragement present at every session, it is enough to say “Hello” and already I start to stand a little taller.
After all, my Coach is in the room.
I am really starting to relax after the set of roll downs we do, dropping the chin to the chest and leaning forward as we try and feel each vertebrae, reaching for the ground.
Moving on to some balance moves, I am surprised at how I am able to do multiple rotations on one side without falling over and how the other side is not as good. Room for improvement on both sides for sure, but I never new that my balance was different on each side until today.
Then we are going to stretch out some of our bits.
Here the “Rolling Ocean-wave” breaths turn to harder and more forceful inhalations, and, harder and deeper exhalations because with every breath I take, I am compressing part of my core as well as moving into the stretch, compressing it more.
I picture myself as being in a dangerous accident, pinned in a crevasse at the Glen. With no room to spare I am yet able to draw breath, affirming that bar other, life-threatening injuries, I am not giving up the ghost today.
Gently prodded back to reality, I find myself doing some simple squats. I inhale to bend knees and raise arms to shoulder height, and then exhale to rise up to the start position. Bum out, knees behind feet.
This time I am not rolling up a wall, leaning into a ball as I squat. I am progressing in strength and as I do Diane makes my tasks a little harder. Each time I return to an exercise I can mark my progress now by how much harder Diane makes it. This time I am squatting in the middle of the room.
I make it harder for myself sometimes too. When I am balancing my pelvis over the little roly-poly pilates ball (not the actual name), rolled back in a shoulder arch, I lift my hands to make it harder. The arms come up almost by themselves. Diane noticed, and then made me do that on the next three exercises. Breathe.
As I experience progress with my balance, muscle strength and flexibility I notice something else. There is a shrinking possibility of morbidity as I breathe through the class.
I get stronger, my production of disease gets weaker.
By Dan Willis
Director Media and Sales Publicita Online Marketing
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.