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As long as I can remember I’ve done some form of exercise. (Yet, I am the most un-athletic person I know)
From the age of 2 til I was about 22, I did calisthenics. My mum had done it too when she was young and in the world of calisthenics it’s pretty much a given that if your mum did it, you’ll do it too. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s an example.
When my calisthenics years ended, I still wanted to do some form of exercise, so I took on aerobics. (This was the tail end of the Jane Fonda and wearing lycra leotards to the gym era). But my reason for exercising had shifted. I no longer did it for the fun factor. I did it so that I could wear midriff tops and mini skirts. Sadly, it was all about how I wanted to look.
Later in my thirties I got a bit crazy with exercise. (I think I used it as a release from a stressful work situation) It became addictive. I would do a class at least 4 times a week, putting off spending time with friends and family because I needed to go to the gym and if I didn’t make it to a class I would give myself a hard time and feel stressed about it.
After I went to Paris for my 40th birthday, something shifted in me. Not only did I realise it was time to make a career change, I realised there was more to life than being fanatical about exercise. My focus became more about lifestyle. Enjoying myself with friends and family, food and wine and laughs – not racing madly to get to the next pump or cycling class. I decided that my exercise would become gentler and less punishing on my body and that it would fit into my life, rather than my life fitting into my exercise. Just like the Parisian’s do. Instead of taking lifts, they take the stairs and they walk (fast) everywhere.
Today, almost six years on, I still try and walk as much as I can. Instead of walking to my local supermarket, I’ll walk to the one in the next suburb and instead of standing waiting on the escalator to reach the top, I’ll walk up it. Easy things I can do to incorporate exercise into my day to day. But now, at 45, my exercise needs and priorities have changed. Today I exercise to stay strong, fit and healthy and to take care of myself. After having two broken bones in the past few years I exercise to keep my bones strong, I exercise so that I have the energy to perform in and keep up with my business, I exercise for longevity of life and I exercise to sustain muscle tone (ie. not to be skinny or muscly). I know that when I’m reasonably fit my life seems better and I think I’m also a nicer person. I feel better about myself, less stressed and I have more vitality and enthusiasm for life.
Apart from trying to walk as much as I can, I also do an exercise DVD at home. I discovered Tracy Anderson when she was on Oprah and I was intrigued by what I saw so I bought the DVD. In a good week I do the video five times, in a bad week (if I’m crazy busy or completely lacking in motivation) it might none – realistically I aim for three. But these days I don’t beat myself up about not doing it. I give myself a break and just get back to it when I can. It still has to fit into my life. The thing I like about Tracys method is that it’s about making your muscles long and lean, rather than short and bulky – which is what was happening to my shape when I was doing lots of classes. She encourages you to use you muscles differently to how you might have in the past – no stomach crunches or heavy weights.
The most important thing that I’ve learnt about exercise over the years, is that when I’m doing it, I’m happier. So really, why would I not.
Exercise is different for everyone. Like me, you don’t have to be athletic to do something. For you it might be walking your dog, taking ballroom lessons with your partner, hiking through the bush on the weekend or dancing around the loungeroom with your children or grandchildren. The important thing is to figure out what does work for you and to keep moving.
Remember it’s never too late to start anything…as this beautiful lady shows us.
Read more about Tracy Anderson and how she discovered and created her method here
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