I once heard it said that retirement can be divided into three phases. There is the “go-go” phase, followed by the “slow-go” phase, which transitions to the “no-go” phase. I wanted to postpone entry into the second and third phases for as long as possible but, in order to do that, I had to improve my health and fitness habits greatly or else I was destined to be a “no-go” pretty darn quick. Improvements began at the YMCA.
One year ago this month, Helen (adorable wife) and I joined our local YMCA. I’ll share her experience with you in the paragraphs below, but, as for me, my life was changed the moment I walked through the door. Please read on.
A few days after becoming a member I attended an exercise class and shared that experience on Easin’ Along. I noted in the article (click here for a link) that my track record with gym memberships was not good. I had joined them before–usually in the winter months–but, by the time warmer weather rolled around, I wanted to be anywhere but inside a sweaty gym. Therefore, I was concerned that the inevitable would happen and, eventually, I would fall back into my old pattern whereby exercise would be something on the calendar for next week. Thankfully, the inevitable never came to pass. I LOVE the exercise classes and never miss one if I am in town.
Helen and I attend two forty-five minute classes a week. Our Tuesday class is led by Donna, a pert, perky, and skilled fitness instructor, who successfully manages to push us well beyond any self-imposed limitations at every session. More importantly, she makes it fun. On Thursday, we are led by Debra, an energetic young Mom with an engaging smile and a terrific two-step who keeps us in perpetual motion. Debra’s dance moves sometimes have me tripping over my own feet, but that only helps me to concentrate. I’m grateful to them both for their contribution to my good health.
In addition to the exercise classes, I also began a program of gym workouts. The individual workout programs are made simple by the online system, Activtrax, which insures that each routine is varied and boredom is minimized. In the initial months I went to the gym at least twice a week, along with my two exercise classes. My program was set…or so I thought.
After a few months of both classes and workouts, an old nemesis reared its ugly head. Osteoarthritis, a by-product of many years in the home building business, flared up somewhat fiercely in my hips and shoulders. I refused to give in, but I did cut the gym workout back to one session a week. The change in my routine helped and, while the pain is still there, it has subsided to a level that I can live with. I now take long walks in a nearby park in the place of that one workout.
Helen’s experience has been slightly different. She attends the exercise classes with me, but the gym workouts are not her thing. In her past she’s had surgery to repair a torn ACL; another to repair a torn meniscus; plus, she has recurring pain from an old shoulder injury. Therefore, Helen prefers to supplement her exercise program with her newfound passion…pickleball. This discovery came about one morning at the Y when she noticed a group of ladies having a gigglefest in the gym while batting a plastic ball around with a paddle. Her inquiring mind wanted to know what was going on and she was invited to join in. That’s all it took. Now addicted to the sport, she plays as much as her busy schedule will allow. An earlier Easin’ Along post will provide more information.
Unfortunately, Helen suffered a setback recently when she bent over to return a serve with her lethal backhand and felt an uncomfortable sensation in her thigh. This sent her to the sidelines. After a few days she realized that life without pickleball was unbearable and she returned to the Y to see if Donna, our fitness instructor, had any remedies that might help her return to the court. Donna patiently led her through a series of stretching routines and told her that if she performed them several times a day, she would soon get relief. The routines are working. I’m confident that she’ll soon return to action as the Attackin’ Assassin on the pickleball court thanks to the help from Donna.
Around the time this post was being prepared, I read a timely article in our local paper that included this profound observation: People who exercise a little, live longer than those who don’t. Admittedly, that is paraphrasing the results of a long study which found that a small amount exercise is better than none. We’ve all heard it before—get up and get moving—a simple walk every day will do wonders for your attitude and overall well being. I concur completely.
The joy that we have experienced on our retirement road trips have been significantly enhanced by our ability to hike along a wildflower trail, ride a bicycle around a picturesque island, or stroll through every venue of a street festival. In no way am I ready to give up any of that. Participating in an active retirement lifestyle as well as maintaining a “go-go” mentality requires more than a modicum of good health. Our approach has been to achieve that through exercise and, even though exercise ain’t exactly Easin’ it is a delightful way to help us continue Easin’ Along the retirement road.
P.S. Diet and exercise plan working well so far…I’m down 13 pounds in 12 days. Seven more to go!