Tag Archive | Fitness

Shape your booty

Back when my children were very little, I did the uber-early morning 20-Minute Workout (the one that made Eddie Murphy’s character in 48 Hours exclaim, “TV has changed!”) before the kids got up, and Jane Fonda’s original workout on LP later in the day.

(Stopping to turn the record over gave a few-seconds-long breather. I can still hear the pops and snaps of the LP. Sigh.)

The kids knew that was mama-time and left me alone; afterward, we did a fun session together of Mickey Mouse’s Mousercise, also on LP. No cartoon images to follow – it was all music and imagination. The kiddos really got into it, proving you’re never too young to exercise if it’s fun.

Nor are you ever too old, as long as you’re mobile (and willing to adapt as needed) and as long as it’s fun.

Tracey Mallett’s The Booty Barre series is fun. And hard. I wish I’d had it at 26, when I was doing the aforementioned early morning workout, or even at 36, when I was a gym rat, instead of at almost-56, when it’s much harder to execute a high ballet kick. Hell, it’s hard to do a medium ballet kick.

But you do what you can as best you can and don’t do what you can’t, which, for me, is anything that comes close to a push-up, courtesy of hanging-by-a-thread rotator cuffs, even after open surgery a few years ago. (Yes, you can exercise too hard, though what precipitated the surgery was catching an unconscious student and lowering her to the ground. Go figure.)

When Tracey says it’s time for plank work, I do child’s pose, cat/dog or maybe hold a still plank. Or I work a mean fast-forward button if I’m in a hurry. Her workouts combine ballet, Pilates, a touch of yoga and a touch of kick-boxing and give a considerable nod to the Lotte Berk Method.

Did I mention they’re tough? Great cardio for an old gal. But seriously, they’re super-fun, in a sadomasochistic kind of way. That means you’ve got to love the burn. And the sweat. Because you will. Burn and sweat, I mean. Love it? That’s a personal decision.

After the first day I did a 20-minute segment of The Booty Barre Plus Arms & Abs, I got up at 4 in the morning for a trip to the bathroom. “What is wrong with my thighs?!” went racing through my head before I realized it was the workout. Cool.

I haven’t been sore again, though after today’s super-intense barre section of The Booty Barre Total New Body, I suspect I will be.

But I’ll be kicking and grooving again soon. Can’t wait.

Age is a battlefield, and here’s a new weapon

We baby boomers don’t go down easily — we’re a stubborn bunch. When age creeps up on us, we find a quick dodge (over here, in this new hybrid with the Grateful Dead and DMB stickers) or a new weapon to add to our arsenal. (Restylane, anyone?) As Pat Benatar sang, “We are young, heartache to heartache, we stand …” but unlike those ’80s power lyrics, we do make demands for products to help us A-word more comfortably.

And some crafty person or company usually complies. Such is the case with these handy little doodads from Do or Die Fitnesss. Just when my bony knees and achy wrists were making me think gravity might have to win out because donkey kicks and plank pose were becoming torturous, these little pads came to the rescue. Not only do they ease the ouchies as a yoga or even thicker Pilates-type mat could no longer do, but they add an element of wobble, which adds a nice core workout as well.

Just don’t plan on using the knee rings shortly before donning shorts or an above-the-knee skirt — the circle dents on my knees take quite a while to fill back in. And don’t leave them on the floor if you have grandkids or dogs in the house — they look remarkably like chew toys to the kiddos. Oh, and concentrate when using them, because you can slide off.

The flat neck ring is great for ab work or savasana  (corpse pose in yoga); it adds a level of comfort while keeping your head level whether you have neck issues or not. But if you’re doing ab work like crunches and have an ouchy lower back or bony sacrum, it’s great for double-duty as a nice sacral pad. Waayy better than feeling your bones grind into the floor/mat.

Also in the double-duty category: You can use the wedges to elevate your heels for squats or stand on the rings for any standing exercise to add just a bit of balance/teeter factor. Every little bit helps.

At about $45 for a complete set, they are darned expensive, but you can find them for less at some sites online. And, like most things, they’ll probably come down in price. But when it comes down to comfort, if it keeps you exercising, can you really put a price on that?

Shake your groove thing (just don’t break it)

Exercise is still a fact of life, pretty much daily, though at this point I don’t go into DTs if I miss a day or two. And the intensity has been forced back a few levels, not so much due to age as to injuries (some self-inflicted, some K9-inflicted), pushing too hard/being too competitive and just plain knuckleheadedness.

Running is reduced to walking, barring the occasional sprint with a dog or two. Until last fall, I still ran once a year, in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, but 2010 was the year I just walked — and was OK with it.

Extreme-yoga-induced sciatica prevents forward bends, and double rotator cuff surgery has me banned from gyms — “What part of ‘you can’t be trusted around weights’ don’t you get?” my mildly exasperated ortho doc asked me after I’d slightly torn them again within a month of joining the Downtown Athletic Club with the hubster. So I’m reduced to baby weights and working out at home. Like a good girl, I gave away everything heavier than 12-pound dumbbells and an 18-pound bar, though I did sneak to the store and buy one 20-pounder for one-armed bent rows. What can I say?  But weight lifting is mostly therapeutic — lots of reps of 5- to 8-pound baby weights.

Whatever. It works and the Big Buff ’80s are long gone. My wiser (and three-year-younger) friend Rhonda, my weight-lifting partner in the BB80s, still manages to sling some heavy ones — she says I’ve been her cautionary tale of what not to do. (Just like my three-year-younger sister said she watched what I got in trouble for growing up and did the opposite — or at least made sure she didn’t get caught.) I’m glad I could be of service to those I love.

Speaking of love, I love, love, love my Wii Fit Plus — I weigh (almost) everyday for informational purposes and trendspotting (after years of not owning a scale because it made me nuts) and workout on it on some non-weight days. It’s pretty groovy with it’s record-keeping functions and offers all kinds exercise activities. If you don’t have one, I’d recommend adding it to your workout arsenal, especially if you already have a Wii in your house.

But my go-to workouts these days are mainly of the DVD variety, usually Lotte Berk Method variations and Pilates- or dance-based moves. The ones I’m loving right now are a fairly new one and an older one I pulled back out.

Jackie Warner’s Xtreme Abs Standing Abs workout is great. Perfectamundo, in fact. It’s just hard enough, lively without being perky and doesn’t hurt any of my ouchy zones (I do it sans weights). I think it’s not suggested for beginners (rated intermediate), so proceed with caution if you’re a newbie, but I love it. L-O-V-E it.

Reminds me of all the standing abwork we did when I coached the girls soccer team at NLRHS. Didn’t we have fun, girls? Can’t you admit it now?

My slightly older but ever-so-goodie that I’ve been doing again lately is from my old friend Kathy Smith, also known as the living Barbie. We’ve worked out together since the late ’80s. And I actually got to do a long phone interview with her in 2004 — she’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever talked to, just so you know. Don’t hate her because she’s a beautiful Amazon woman and your husband likes to watch her workouts for entertainment purposes. She’s in her late 50s and looks incredible. 

Actually, forget looks. She is. Her Total Body Lift is a Lotte Berk/Pilates/dance-inspired workout with the typical “we love to work out” Kathy Smith flair. Again, this one doesn’t hurt anything that plagues me. It’s also considered intermediate, but if you follow the modifier, you should be fine. Kathy won’t let you get hurt. And she’ll laugh with you if you teeter — and admit when a move is a bit too tough even for her. You’ve got to love her teaching style. If you don’t, well, that renders me speechless.

And that’s hard to do.