Friday, March 18, 2011


Exercise options -- you can ignore them all, but how many times have you heard from doctors that exercise must become a part of your daily life?

You can buy an expensive major machine, and IF you learn to use it ... well ... even if you conquer it, more than likely, sooner or later, it will end up in a closet and haunt you for years.

You can buy a sure-fire, guaranteed: something for $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Um hmm ... You can send it back for a 100 percent refund, no questions asked, guaranteed. Uh huh ... But you won't send it back -- it'll live in that closet, or maybe you'll give it a friend.

What do I think?

I tried to DO Yoga. I took few classes, but I didn't really want to learn how to breathe, and I didn't like the humming -- I didn't feel comfortable in the special, sort of pretentious, out-of-this-world atmosphere.

The positions are mostly easy for me to do, because of my dance background, but that basic Yoga sitting position -- well, it never suited me. Nope. I am not happy, sitting with my legs crossed, and my knees flat on the floor.

Gee Em, why didn't you stretch and learn to do it?

Because I was learning to do ballet things like brisés and split grand jetés (leaps), and was, like most professional dancers , obsessively concerned with pointing my toes.

And, I didn't want to be embroiled with methodology, and all the styles -- Pure Yoga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Kundalini. -- and all the history. The philosophical mumbo-jumbo of what you should have on your mind while taking a Yoga pose made a Yoga class, for me, exhausting before I ever learned the basics.

Yes, I tried "Pilates" -- actually met Joseph Pilates, and instantly disliked his Germanic bullying ways, and his "apparatus" -- resistance springs, Trapeze Table, High Chair, Ladder Barrel, Spine Corrector, etc. Instead, I worked with Carola Trier, who used Pilates' apparatus. She was impressively skinny, and constantly demonstrating her own flexibility, holding her leg up over her head (split high). Anyhow, I learned from Trier how essential it is to exercise one's abdominal muscles. It's a law about staying in shape, a law I still obey -- use your abs or lose strength, (and your stomach-in, stand-tall posture.

So should you do Yoga? Or Pilates, or something similar? Yoga is booming in Hollywood and New York -- celebs and ordinary guys are doing it -- improving their bodies and souls. My friend who is a Yoga instructor says, "Transcend your ego and discover your inner humility."

If you like the atmosphere and the transcendental talk, it's definitely an option. In New York city it costs $17 to $20 per class, less perhaps, if you sign up for a course, but don't sign up until you check it out.

What about joining a gym? It can be helpful -- pushing up and down on various machines keeps you busy, and you may sweat, though you probably will not lose weight. You lose weight by eating less and exercising makes you want to eat more. Working out in a gym is NOT what I'd recommend -- it's boring, seriously boring, after a month or so.

Ballet classes can be fun -- no matter how out-of-shape you are, though a classroom full of mirrors can be seriously distracting/distressing/depressing. I suggest that you observe what your classmates are wearing, and be sure what you wear is similarly attractive and doesn't restrict your movements. A beginners ballet class can cost $8 to $10. I recommend trying two classes a week, but don't sign up for a bunch of classes until you try ballet for at least two weeks.

If you don't want to spend money or take classes, walk. Don't wander, have a destination -- visit a park, or try shopping in a store on the other side of town. Try a mile, and then, try more than a mile. Walking is also something you can do while standing tall, (not all the time but some of the time). Trying using your abs whenever you see a red car, or a traffic light, or a stop sign.

Yoga, Pilates, working out at a gym, ballet (or jazz or tap, ballroom, any kind of dance class) -- or depending where you live -- swimming, roller- skating, biking -- all are possibilities. But the one and only SURE-FIRE, GUARANTEED exercise that I recommend is walking. Walking alone or talking-walking with a friend.


Carola said...

I find using the machines at the gym to be pleasant, sort of zen-like, not boring. I don't overdo it, although I try to slowly progress to heavier weights.

Linda Phillips said...

Walking and dancing!!!!! Yessssssssssssssss

Any stationary bike I ever owned sat and sat and sat.

I do love Yoga...but don't see it as a way to keep one's weight down. It is wonderful for the soul, if you want to be in that mind set. So is chanting and of course, meditation. I personally love Yoga.