Easing Along

Exercise Ain’t Exactly “Easin’“ Along…


Spin Class – YMCA


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.

Circuit training

Debra – Fitness instructor, YMCA

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.

Stretching session – Donna and Helen

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.

Having a ball!

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!

Thirteen down!


13 thoughts on “Exercise Ain’t Exactly “Easin’“ Along…

  1. Claire

    You’ve got me motivated now to go rejoin the YMCA. Going Sunday to get started back with my swimming. Thanks for the motivation!

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Great news Claire! Try one of the exercise classes if you can. It is a lot of fun, you meet new people, and it only takes 45 minutes. We’ll save you a spot!

  2. Guy Hawkins

    Hi Joe…. Because of my knee problems over the years, and subsequent replacements, I can no longer play tennis or racquetball, at least not as vigorously/competitively as I want… your mention of pickle ball caught my eye, and I thought I’d like to give it a try. I was surprised and so pleased to find that it’s available at the Recreation Center here in Grapevine. I’m going up there tomorrow to see about learning to play it and I think, if I can indeed play the game with these artificial knees, I’d like to join the league there at the Rec Center… Thanks for for making me aware of pickle ball.

    I’ll let you know what I find out and if it works for me.

    Actually, I see that according to the Rec Center online activity-event calendar, they play on Mon-Tues-Wed-Thurs and there are typicaly 15-30 players each day…wow!! I hope that’s true. I’m excited about this.

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      You will love it! The smaller court and slower ball makes it a much easier and more enjoyable game. Helen has had knee surgery, but does fine though she limits herself to doubles only. Her group has to fight for court time because the game is so popular here, especially among the “senior” set. Enjoy, and let me know how it goes.

  3. Guy Hawkins

    13 lbs in 12 days! That’s an astounding number, Joe…. now, IF I understand correctly that 3500calories = one pound, then that would mean you have somehow reduced total caloric intake by 45000 (3500 x 13) during that 12-13 day period. If you use/require around 3300-3500 calories per day, it’s obvious you accomplished that weight reduction by 1) reduced intake (through your Nutrisystem meals), combined with 2) some sort of increased activity level. Further trying to make sense of the information I have waded through, It seems highly unlikely that that pace of weight change is sustainable, and I wonder if and how much your weight TYPICALLY fluctuates from one day to another. My weight seems to move around 178 by an average of 4-5 lbs. I might weigh 176 on Monday, and 181 on Wednesday. Time of day, meal consumption, bowel habits can all get factored in to acute weight fluctuations, as well as fluid levels. My 6’5″ nephew weighs in at about 390lbs. His doctor is vainly pressuring him toward a 1200cal/day diet, which I suspect is much less that your Nutrisystem diet.

    I proposed to you MUCH longer time frames for weight loss… again, that’s based on my obviously incomplete understanding of the role of nutrition in biological and chemical processes of the human body… so, I’m following your reports here, and am intently interested in your experience over the next few weeks.

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Guy, I have followed the Nutrisystem plan very strictly and have logged every meal and snack. Without delving much into the science of it, I suspect that much of the first week’s loss was a lot of water weight. Nevertheless, the logs show that I consumed around 850 calories per day during the first week and around 1300 per day the second (supplemented by LOTS of raw vegetables). I also followed my usual exercise pattern of three days a week at the Y plus short walks. So far it’s working. I feel fine and have come to prefer eating five small meals in the place of three large ones. I plan to alter the program in February since we are going on another road trip and I don’t want to carry food around. Thanks for your information and for Easin’ Along with me.

  4. Guy Hawkins

    OK, wow!…that level of 850 and 1300 cals/day can explain a rapid and significant loss of weight, Joe. I think that’s why my nephew’s doctor wanted him on a 1200 cal/day diet so as to make a rapid change and thereby give him an incentive to get enthusiastic about weight loss. One time I was unable to eat anything for about 6-7 days, and during that time I lost just under 20 lbs…not a good way to lose weight, even if you wanted to lose.

    Keep after it…. I’ll be thinking about you guys tomorrow when I go to my first pickle ball “challenge”…. Mary said she’d go with me to snap some pictures…I’ll let you know how it goes. 🤕

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Great! Can’t wait to hear all about it…and the new paddle you’ll be buying to go along with your new outfit.

      1. Guy Hawkins

        Actually, I found them playing today, and they invited me in, and I played for about 45mins. I LOVED it! I was concerned that my knees would hold me back, but I twisted, ran, and jumped with the best of’em; they declared me intermediate, rather than beginner. I used to play a lot of tennis, racquetball, ping pong, and softball, so I do OK with hand-eye coordination.

        I’ll see how my legs feel tomorrow… I’ve got strength program and kick boxing tomorrow, so I’ll not go back to pickle ball until Wednesday.

        I looked at paddles tonight in the $50-95 range… I’m gonna check on line before I buy one… Uh, what outfit??….maybe…as long as it doesn’t look those clown-suits these guys I bike with wear… ☺️

  5. Donna Mostella

    Joe and Helen,
    It is so delightful to have both of you in class on Tuesdays! I feel very blessed to be able to teach that class. There’s so many wonderful people that come to the class, you can’t help not to have a good time while exercising.
    PS. I’m so glad you finally found your space! 😅

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Helen and I both feel blessed to be able to participate in a program that is so much fun and at the same time so beneficial. Having the time to exercise at the YMCA has been the best reward to come from retirement. You are a real gem and your willingness to help class members as well as those with individual challenges improve their physical well-being is truly inspirational. I look forward to every class…especially so since I found my own spot! Thanks for visiting Easin’ Along.

  6. Guy Hawkins

    I am returning to the pickleball court today, Joe, after an injury similar to Helen’s. I can’t believe I pulled my calf muscle…it’s never happened before through years of running and tennis and racquetball… but pickleball did me in… I guess age affects us all, sooner or later. My pulmonary doctor heartily approves of my playing pickleball…..

    Pickleball is becoming a passion for me, and certainly our lives are enriched by pursuing passions… so glad you have written about it.

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Sorry about the calf muscle, but thrilled that you are having fun on the court. Helen hardly ever misses a chance to play. I haven’t taken it up in earnest yet, but have enjoyed it greatly the few times I have played it. It will keep you young and I know you’ll have a trophy room before long.

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