Going For the Burn

(One of my columns from The Beach Reporter 10/22/92. Still going to classes 25 years later!)

The other day I was quivering and sweating through a new class at the health club called “sculpt and abs,” and it dawned on me: I was there voluntarily, of my own free will. In fact, I was actually paying a monthly fee for this torture. Wouldn’t I rather be eating pastries?

Your mind starts doing weird things when you are on your 5,000th stomach crunch. You start thinking about how nice it would be to just settle comfortably and plumply into middle age. You realize you are fighting a losing battle with gravity. You would kill for an apple fritter.

People used to be able to age gracefully. Now there are white-haired women in my exercise classes and on the Stairmaster – on level ten, no less. Whatever happened to soft, cushiony grandmas with bosoms the size of a shelf?

Now they are all in exercise classes. They wear bright pink or purple leotards and tights. They are not baking pies or knitting in their rocking chairs. They are making the rest of us look bad. Continue reading

Still Exercising After All These Years

(Originally published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 3/1/2006.  Don’t let this happen to you…)

This is the time of year when health clubs, packed with people with good intentions in January, start to see dwindling attendance. I’ve noticed it every year no matter where I am working out. All those resolutions, made so optimistically after the holiday eat-a-thon, start to fade into the clamor of “other stuff that needs to be done first.” Before you know it, your yoga mat is crammed in the back of the hall closet along with your Tae Bo video and your running shoes.

I’m here to say, don’t let it happen to you. Maybe you didn’t turn into a size six after working out for two months, but if you can get through the winter blahs, just think how much better you will look and feel when you have to get in that bathing suit at spring break.

An acquaintance asked me the other day how I stay in shape, even though I passed the AARP qualifying age a few years back. I replied that I have been working out now for thirty years – if I didn’t look halfway decent by now I would have to deaden the pain by consuming large quantities of Godiva. This person was stunned and dubious that someone could really stay with an exercise program for thirty years, but it’s true. There are some of us “boomers” who jumped on the Jane Fonda and Jim Fixx bandwagon (now that is reaching back) and never got off.

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The Day of Living Dangerously

(Originally published in Main Line Life on 1/9/08)

The first week of the New Year. I wake up and feel a pang of nostalgia for the last century – those halcyon days before I discovered that everything I liked to do was either bad for me or destructive to the environment. I am so tired of being good.

Maybe what I need is a day of being completely decadent – an entire day where I will do as I please and feel no guilt about it. I will eat no bran, and nothing with the words “lite” or “heart healthy” on it.

I start out with a huge breakfast. Bacon and fried eggs. A piece of white bread toast with real butter. Coffee with the caffeine still in it. Altogether, I am getting a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I will not go to the gym today. No step class or yoga, no pulse monitoring as I try to reach my aerobic plateau. The most exercise I will get is lifting the remote to change the channels on the television.

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Walking the Main Line

(Originally published in Main Line Life magazine May 2010)

The idea sprang on me suddenly, and once it had I was powerless in its grip. It was a gorgeous day, and I had just dropped my car off in Devon to be serviced. I had no desire to wait in the customer service lounge, my brain rattled by hours of blaring television. I needed some quiet thinking time and I needed some exercise. My “service consultant” asked me if I would like a ride home, and I quickly replied, “No, I think I’ll walk.”

Now this might not sound like a big deal, but home is in Haverford, seven miles east of Devon. Not exactly the Appalachian Trail, but still. I reasoned that at any point in my walk I could hop on the R-5 and take it to Haverford, where home is only five blocks from the train station.

I was already wearing my trusty Merrell walking shoes, and I wore a light jacket and had no purse. Lately I have taken to traveling light; my credit card and some cash tucked in the pocket of my jeans, and my Blackberry and a house key in my jacket pocket. I set off, deciding to stay on Lancaster Avenue the whole way home.

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