It’s been 18 months since my hip replacement, and I’ve noticed I’m entering a new phase.
For the first few weeks of my recovery, I was just so grateful to do ANYthing without pain, that walking down the street for coffee was the most exciting day of my new life. While re-building my strength and stamina over the next few months, I had plenty to keep me busy and interested in physical activity.
But recently I became bored with my regimens, falling prey to the common practice of doing the same activities over and over – the things I like most, that I’ve gotten most proficient at, or just what I have time to do. So I conducted
A Winter Experiment
I considered many possibilities for infusing something new to my regimen and ultimately chose practicality, which meant taking some classes at my neighborhood gym where I already have a membership.
I’ve taken thousands of gym classes in my life, so this isn’t technically “new” for me.
But for the last 3 years – before and after my hip replacement – I could not have handled the intensity of a typical gym class. They moved too quickly or involved too much jumping for my degenerating and pain-riddled hip. Step and Zumba classes were out of the question – too much repeated hip flexion and torque of the hip joint. As for “Total Body Conditioning”- type classes, I’ve never been a fan of doing thousands of bicep curls and shoulder presses with dumbbells. So over the years, I had stopped thinking about going to any of these classes.
Now, feeling fully recovered from my hip replacement, I was ready bump things up a bit. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to keep up, but I grabbed some dark sunglasses, a floppy disguise hat, and headed out to some gym classes.
Here’s what happened
First, my most important finding: It’s time to bring back my own semiprivate training! More on that in a moment …
Happily, I was reminded of the advantages of participating in a class:
- Someone else does the thinking about how to keep you moving for an hour. Who doesn’t love a break from thinking?
- The group atmosphere makes you work harder than you would on your own. (Though this can also be a disadvantage if you’re not so experienced at listening to your own body and honoring its boundaries.)
- You get variety, because you’re not relying on your same ol’ go-to activities, the ones you do all the time, that you’ve gotten so good at.
- It’s social – which is good, if you like that sort of thing….
What can be tricky or unpleasant about “classes for the masses” :
- You can hurt yourself, easily. If you have particular conditions – arthritis, a weak back/core, hyper-flexibility, unstable ankles, an old (or not-so-old) shoulder injury – and are not knowledgable about how to take care of your body – opportunities for injury abound in some of these classes.
Not one of the instructors leading 4 different classes asked if any of us had conditions before diving into an hour of jumping, running in place, overhead moves and aggressive (ballistic) sit-ups. They did offer general modifications, but those were couched in terms of “If you’re too tired or not strong enough to do this or that,” rather than “If you have an irritated shoulder or a back condition – or you have survived more than 50 years on the planet, ahem! – you might like this version instead.” Which leads me to the next point:
- You can feel old and/or inadequate. Yes, you are there in the gym with young, fit people and some crazy blaring noise they call music. But often these classes entered a discouraging zone that simply reminded me I can’t do as easily what I used to do. (Picture getting up and down from the floor to change exercises every 20 seconds. Now picture me with this look on my face, “Are you kidding me?!?”) And let’s remember I’m no couch potato – I’m pretty fit!
In one class, the opening “warm-up” move was rapid deep squats (based on the instructor’s demonstration). Even though I know better, I followed her without thinking (you know, music blaring, the excitement of starting out, everyone else is doing it …). Then I felt my knees reminding me that’s not how “we” warm-up, so I adjusted my pace and depth.
Thanks, but No Thanks
When I set out to get some movement – whether it’s walking to the market, going for a hike or experimenting with a class – I’m aiming to feel good. The last thing I want is to feel old and broken. So …
Here’s what’s happening next:
- I’m gonna build some strength and stamina in my own studio, with my peeps!
- I’m bringing back Semiprivate Training, with fun and varied circuits incorporating movements that make us feel good, strong, happy and wise. (because we’re also keeping our bodies safe!)
- As it gets warmer, I’m going outside more, planning to make use of parks where all kinds of fun moves can happen.
- I’m leaving the dark glasses and floppy hat at home.
Introducing “No Spring Chicken” Training, where you will feel like this:
I don’t know the dates or times yet, but I’m working on getting them scheduled. Comment below or write to me if you have an interest, especially if you like certain times of the day or days of the week. Cluck cluck!