Crafty Friends

Daily Prompt: Craft

When I look at who my friends are, I am often surprised. The women I spend the most time with are between the ages of 20 and 40. I am almost 69.  I never even noticed that my friends were so much younger than me, or at least that so many of them were, until recently. I’m not sure what changed, but I’m glad it did.

 

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Me, Lucy, Jasmine and Alisha hiking Grays Mountain

I am a personal trainer at a local gym and, well not to brag but it does make me darn proud, there aren’t many women my age who can keep up with me.  Even though I don’t seek out young women to work out with, we seem to find each other.

 

Working out together is in some ways an intimate experience. We help each other with our form, which means looking at each other’s physical strengths and weaknesses. We know what makes each other sweat, laugh, and cry. Forty year’s difference in age doesn’t seem like much; fitness is a great equalizer.

Last night I had three of my young workout partners over for dinner. I wasn’t paying much attention to their conversation as I was clearing the table, but I heard them talking about someone who had made such a positive difference in their lives, inspired them to go college, and was proof that obstacles were just challenges in disguise. “Who are ya’ll talking about?” They started laughing, almost hysterically. “What’s so funny?”

 

portabello

 

“We’re talking about you!”

“You guys are embarrassing me.”

That’s when I saw it clearly for the first time. I could be mother or grandmother to these women, but instead they are my best friends. When they started telling me the ways I had inspired them, it was my turn to laugh.

 

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Jasmine, Alisha and me working at Bucklin Park

Yes, I inspire them, but they do the same for me–and they motivate me. They keep me focused on giving my best in a workout, they are interested in my life and never me old—well not much!  They respect my education, my fitness, and what they call “wisdom.” I call it survival strategies. If I didn’t work in a gym, I can’t imagine how our lives would have ever crossed. I love my job, and like many of you, feel it is my craft. These young women have been my inspiration to refine my craft, continue to improve, and learn. Because of them, I am the top trainer in our club. They have helped me better at almost everything I do. Because of them, I really feel that I have turned my job into a craft and look forward to going to work everyday.

 

I can’t do squat!

 

Daily Prompt – Sidewalk

I can’t do squat! And I mean that literally. The older I get, the less cooperative my knees are and the lower I can squat. This is probably the biggest reason my backside is flat as a pancake. Well, maybe not literally but pretty close. And every year, especially now that I’m closer to 70 than 60, what little rear end I have droops lower and lower. It’s been years since anyone told me that I squat “ass to the grass.”

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Seriously, who needs a butt when they can do an extended plank like this!

 

When I ask a potential female client what her goals are, nine times out of ten, it involves her booty.  For many women, working out is all about the butt. Harder, firmer, higher, rounder, smaller, less jiggly, ad infinitum. And the squat, of which there are hundreds of variations, is the all-time glute day favorite.

There are some girls (and by that I mean women under 40) who do glute work every day. I call them the “Queens of Squat,” and they love it when I bestow the title upon them. When I see one of the queens working out, I can’t help it, my mind starts reciting my pet gym mantra, “we must, we must, we must improve our butt.”

While my caboose may not be high and tight, it’s not too flabby either. And I owe my somewhat fit, tiny hiney to an exercise I lovingly call the “side walk” or “penguin walk.” My clients call it the walk from hell. There are several variations. If you are suffering with knee pain, choose a style that doesn’t require you to bend your knees. Remember, if there’s pain, you must abstain.

I like using a resistance band, but the “side walk” can be just as effective with your body weight, sans equipment.  If you tightly squeeze your gluteus muscles during this exercise, you will feel the burn. When a client tells me she thought of me every time she went to the potty, I know I’m doing my best work.

Here are the basics.

  • Position your feel shoulder width apart. The band should be taunt but not stretched. You can place the band above your knees or closer to your ankles. If you have a resistance tube, step on the tube and hold the handles to create resistance.
  • Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to activate the gluteus muscles.
  • Keeping your feet in line with your shoulders, step sideways to the right keeping the band tensed. Without releasing the band’s tension, continuing side stepping for 10 reps.
  • Repeat to the left for ten reps.

Trust me, you’ll be thinking about me tomorrow.

Who are you, anyway?

My ideal reader–Who are you, anyway?

When I told some friends that I was writing a blog, their first response was, “are you making any money yet?”

“Money?” I thought. “Blogs are for making money?” But I didn’t say that because I figured they must know more about blogging than I did. Heck, almost anyone knows more about blogging than I do. That won’t be the case for long though. In case you haven’t noticed, this “Fundamentals of Blogging Course” is actually paying off. Go figure, huh?

Sadly, but not surprisingly, none of my friends asked to read my blog or even where they could find it. Good thing I’m not counting on them to buy anything!

One of my co-workers asked me if I was going to be published. “Published? Well, I’m publishing posts when I can remember how.” That was the end of that conversation.

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My workout gal pals: Jasmine, 25; Alisha, 37; me, 68; Tonette, 50. The Fab Four

 

I’m still no closer to finding my ideal reader, but I know you’re not a shopper or a publisher.

In real life, meaning physical not virtual, who are my friends? If you are my friend, there’s an almost 100% probability that you are fit and healthy or that you want to be. That’s what I do almost all day every day. I am a personal trainer. I work out, and I eat healthy most of the time.

If clubbing is one of your main weekend activities, chances are we’ve never met.

I also do yoga. This is probable is not surprising—fitness and all. But yoga ceased to be merely a physical activity for me several years ago. Yoga is part of my spiritual life now, and, yeah, I have spiritual friends.

Now we’re making progress—a physically healthy, spiritual person who doesn’t live a party lifestyle.

What else? Oh yeah, the age thing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know age is just a number and old is a state of mind. But I’m 68. While that may not be interesting in and of itself, it is a big attraction for the event called “JB”—that is me. I never intended to be old, but hey, if I’m going to be old, I’m going to be the best old person out here. Old people like me; I inspire them. Young people like me because they think I’m proof that getting old may not suck. For whatever reason, many of my friends think their age or my age or anything about age is important.

Making big strides here: my ideal reader is a healthy, spiritual person who doesn’t party and is mindful of aging.

But enough about me! Who are you! Finding our who you are has got to be the most unexpected benefit of blogging. I had no idea you were there. I’m excited about getting to know you. And if you’ve even read this far—well, I’m not sure we can be friends. Most of my friends have shorter attention spans than I do, and I can read blogs of about 500 words before …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wrinkle in Time–Self Portrait

“Thank god,” I thought as I pulled into the gym parking lot. “It’s not busy.”  Alisha, my workout partner, has agreed to take some pictures of me writing on my laptop in the gym to post on my blog. If I could ever figure out how to take a selfie without looking like I used a fish-eye lens, I would do it myself.

I’ve never mastered the art of the selfie, which is a little strange since I’m a personal trainer in a gym—the mecca of selfie-takers. Where do you point the camera, where do you look, should you tilt the phone? If you are looking in a mirror how do you keep the phone from hiding your face? Selfie-takers in the gym make it look easy.

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Selfie of The Fabulous Four, most awesome workout buddies of all time

 

Sometimes I think I’m the only person in the gym who doesn’t take selfies during every workout. Of course that’s not true, but selfie-takers stand out. They need more space to pose, and they occupy that space, sometimes for quite a while. I’ve come between selfie-takers and their mirror more than once—not the way to make friends in a gym. At least they’re not setting up an easel and doing a self-portrait in oil or repositioning a tripod to get the best angle.

Who are these selfie-takers? From what I’ve seen, they’re mostly young women with nicely toned muscles. Guys take selfies too, but not as frequently. Senior citizens don’t take selfies—at least not that I’ve observed. Workout partners, regardless of age, take selfies. I’m definitely a senior with low selfie-taking skills. But I do appear in selfies taken by my frequently younger workout buddies.

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Alisha and me

I do take pictures in the gym but mostly of my clients. A picture is more convincing than anything I can say. Here is solid evidence of progress. Yes, that’s a muscle! Even when clients are somewhat embarrassed when I take pictures, most of them smile when they take a look.

Any photo, whether it is a selfie or taken by a photographer, is in some ways a definition of who we are. I realize as I sit on a stability ball in front of some aerobic steps holding my laptop, I am defining myself as a physically fit writer. Or perhaps I’m a struggling blogger with a need to work out. Or perhaps I’m a neurotic, multi-tasking gym rat. Have to think about that.

I see gym members on the treadmills and on the weight benches while Alisha circles around me snapping pictures from different angles. What is my problem with pictures of myself, selfie or otherwise? Ah, there it is—In a sea of twenty-somethings, I am a wrinkle-in-time.jb writing gym2

A Vision of Me

My life today is not the one I envisioned 20, 30 or 40 years ago. I’m not standing in judgment of what I’ve done or where I’ve been so much as a taking a look at the paths I’ve chosen or the ones that have chosen me. Kurt Cobain wrote,

I never envisioned getting old. How the heck did this happen! It seems like the phrase “don’t trust anyone over 30” just rolled off my tongue yesterday not 37 years ago. What did I think was going to happen every year when I blew the candles out on the cake! There was always so much to do and so many places to go. “Tomorrow” tomorrow seemed like a galaxy far away.

inside every old person

New Year’s Day has always been my favorite holiday. I would put on the black-eyed peas, get a cup of coffee, find my favorite journal and pen and begin the sweet adventure of envisioning myself at the end of the year. I was usually thinner, healthier, and smarter. Sometimes I actualized some of my New Year’s resolutions and other times not. In reality, achieving the goals was not as important to me as planning them. I loved having the vision of a better me.

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Today I am a woman in search of a vision. How do I want to spend the last 30+ years of my life? What do I want to accomplish? What goals do I want to set? I always loved what I call the “big” goals. Thirty-five years ago I reached my goal of running a marathon.  Twenty-three years ago I received my doctorate. I have to remind myself that my goals don’t have to be “can you top this” type of goal.

Almost ten years ago, as a result of one of life’s curveballs, I left academia and the business world with serious questions about my ability to do work that required mental, psychological and intellectual prowess. Becoming a personal trainer was never a life-long dream. It was a desperate act to find rewarding work that would not cause another mental or psychological downward spiral. It was all about physicality.

When I began thinking about getting certified as a personal trainer, I was very concerned that my brain wouldn’t function well enough to pass the requisite exams. But here I am at age 67, a certified personal trainer with nearly ten years of experience.

A central theme of my life vision today is to help other people, especially those over 50, live healthier and fitter lives. As much as I appreciate the joy my hours with clients in the gym give me, I still feel that I haven’t quite identified my true vision. I think there is something more out there for me. Perhaps I worry that I may not be physically able to be a personal trainer forever. When those thoughts come, I remind myself to stay in the moment and experience gratitude for what I can do.

For now, I am on a vision quest—living each day with my spirit open to whatever insight comes.

 

 

 

 

We’re All Getting Older

Some of my favorite clients from ages  20-73

A couple of weeks ago I decided to publish a blog. I wanted it to be about exercise, health, and fitness. I wanted this blog to be a reflection of who I am. Well, I’m a perfectionist. I always get A’s. When I went to college, I graduated with a PhD. When I became a personal trainer, I obtained eight certifications. That’s who I am—an over-achiever.

My initial vision was to write a blog that would contain photographs, links to pertinent web sites, videos, recipes and anything else I could find to have a perfect blog. Maybe I would sell products, develop my own vitamin line, and get sponsors. I wrote, I researched, I found exercises, found photographs and videos and began the process of compiling and designing my blog. It was not easy and it definitely wasn’t fun.

Then I had an epiphany. The reason I want to write a blog is talk to you—my friends, my clients, members of Snap, women over 60, women under 60, men who aren’t body builders, men and women who are competitors. What I have to say is probably not earth shatteringly new or even earth shattering, but it will be about what it’s like to be healthy when it’s easy to do that and when it isn’t so easy.

For the last few years I’ve used the excuse that my age is why it’s harder to stay fit and healthy. I’m over 65-years-old and what I did last year or the year before isn’t working any more. I thought that made me unique. I thought it was all about getting older. What I didn’t think of the time is that we are all getting older. The 21-year-old woman I train who just had a baby is appalled because she is doing exactly what she did before she got pregnant and she can’t get her muscles back in shape and she has belly fat.

The 30-year-old woman I train is on top of the world because she realizes for the first time that has the physical potential to run a marathon! Two years ago she couldn’t do a decent sit-up.

The 16-year-old boy I train is amazed because even though he has always been a skinny, nerdy kid, he can do 40 push-ups and deadlift more than his body weight.

The 40-year-old woman I train is depressed because menopause is changing her body in ways she never expected, and not all of them good.

The 78-year-old man is encouraged because that after surgery to fuse 4 cervical vertebrae, he can turn his head side-to-side and do push-ups.

I was right. It is about getting older. We’re all getting older. And at some point we reach an age—and it isn’t the same for all of us—when our bodies fail us. If it’s not our age, it may be our job, our children, our aging parents, or something else—it doesn’t matter. It is a rationalization anyway.  Whether we are in our twenties or seventies or anywhere in between, whether we’re housewives, students or professionals, whether we’re parents or caring for parents, we use it as a sign from God that we shouldn’t be eating vegetables or working out anyway. So we stop. If we thought it was bad before, it is abominable now. And now we can add the guilt of not doing what we know we should be doing.

Then something happens—we realize we have to change—and we actually begin an exercise and nutritional program to improve our health. Yes! Some of us keep going day after day, year after year and stick to our plan. Our discipline is unwavering. But there are others of us who hang with the plan for a while and then fall of the wagon, so to speak.

That’s why I want to write this blog. I’ve been all those people. I started as a physical klutz, I’ve worked out and achieved some athletic prowess, I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost weight, I’ve re-invented my life numerous times, I’ve stuck with exercise and nutritional plans for decades and I’ve also had years when I did not exercise or eat healthy.

The one thing I know for sure is that if I want a healthy mind and a healthy body, I have to work for it. It sucks. It’s just a fact that I like lemon meringue pie better than tossed green salad. I prefer watching “House” re-runs more than going to the gym. But I also know that everything in my life is better if I eat salad and go to the gym.

So that’s what this blog is about—how to be healthy when you feel like it and when you don’t. Share your thoughts and ideas. It’s a work in progress. I want all of us “to live our life not our age.”