Let’s get Physical

No Pain – No Gain 

As the saying goes, after a two-year absence for reasons ranging from expense to the time it takes, to the logic that I can get the same results at home, I’m back at the gym working out. Things have changed since I was a member of a health club back in the 80’s. Does anyone remember the women – only “spa” health clubs of the 1980’s?  There was a location in Villa Park that I was persuaded to go to on my lunch hours with my female boss, she insisted – I think she wanted company in her misery. And so I did what any other employee would do to suck up to the boss, I went –  hating every minute of it.

It was all pink, cramped, crowded and had a hot tub in the changing area that looked like a science experiment gone wrong. Yes, we wore leotards, leg warmers and head bands! What a sight, I think mine were pink. That was my first experience with health clubs and I must say I did start to notice a difference from going. I felt more toned and had more energy. Even though I’m sure we looked like Olivia Newton-John wanna-be’s from one of her exercise videos.

Fast forward to throwing my back out when my kids were younger and I was lifting them up – a lot. “Mommy-uppy!” was a constant refrain heard in my household. I was sent to a physical therapist by my doctor and I healed and strengthened my back very quickly from that experience. I still feigned injury for a while after being healed so I could actually sit on the couch in the evenings with a heating pad while hubby tended to the little ones. The jig was up when he saw me in the family room dancing around with the dog and kids one day when he got home from work. After going back to mommy duty with my back, I became a regular in their Super-Slo work-outs, which were one-on-one training sessions on weight equipment with very heavy weights and super-slo reps until you reached muscle failure. The pluses were a twenty-minute work-out, once a week. The negatives were the cost and the sheer torture of it, although it was only for two-minute intervals. The results were great and I never ended up looking overly muscular like a body builder, which I was initially worried about ( I was leg pressing 300 pounds! and It felt like I was giving birth.) When the kids started going off to college and the budget got tight, I thankfully had an excuse to quit.

My next foray into the work-out world was with exercise tapes and free weights at home. Which over time became half a tape and recently degenerated to picking out only the exercises I liked doing. I started running about a year ago, which I thought I would be good at until I just recently found out-I’m not. After 2-5K’s under my belt my running time is getting worse. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to run, and will continue, but I’m just not very fast. I also didn’t see much difference in tone or weight loss from running. For women over fifty, you need an adjustment in your work-out styles. Weight training, I am learning is very important to tone and to build muscle which we lose a pound of every year after the age of 35. So even if you used to do a lot of cardio when you were younger, as you get older, you need to add more weights. Muscle burns more calories than fat and you will have more strength and balance. It is also good for your bone density.

I have just started back on weight machines and after three visits, I’ve already noticed a difference. So, my advice to women, over fifty especially is don’t give up exercise with weights. Find a gym, if money is tight, they have very good inexpensive fitness centers cropping up all over. Get into a routine and go to the gym the same time and find a rotation of days that works for you. I find the mornings to be my best time to go,  three times a week.  Pick a good time for you. I liken it to starting a new job. At first it’s really hard and challenging but you will start to get into a good routine and enjoy the results once you start seeing them, and you will.  But with this job you won’t be forced by your boss to wear pink leotards and leg warmers, which is a good thing.

Let me know what you think about gyms and working out. Are you a regular or are you struggling to go? Did you go a couple of times and now your membership card is collecting dust in the drawer? What are your stories and motivations to help us all?


About Diane Hiller

Diane has lived in the suburbs of Chicago for twenty-five years. While raising her three children with husband Jon, she has served as village president and now supports historic preservation with the Clarendon Hills Historical Society. Diane’s blog “Pleasant Valley Sunday” appears on TheHinsdalePatch.com. and chlife.wordpress.com.
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