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.

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The New and Improved “About Me”

Today’s “Fundamentals of Blogging” is to revise/re-write my blog’s “About.” According to the lesson plan, I needed less of a list and more of a story; more of what the blog is about and not so much about me; more of what I want to accomplish with this blog and not so much about what I’ve already accomplished. 

If you have time would you read my old “About” and let me know if you think I should change it to the new one? (Gotta say I’m pretty impressed with myself for being able to figure out how to create a link to my “about” page. This course is amazing.)

Here’s my new “About”

I blamed my dislike for all things physical on gym suits.  They were baggy and disgustingly ugly. Did I say they were one piece? No one, not even the really pretty girls, looked good in them. I became a professional at devising ways not to “dress out” for PE.

Then I met a guy. He liked to run—all the time. So I started running. I don’t even remember his name. But after he was gone, I kept running. Then I wanted to run better so I started going to the gym and, well one thing lead to another, and I became a fitness junkie. I was obnoxious about it—all I wanted to do was workout, run, swim, bike, play racquetball o! r talk about doing something physical. Like I said obnoxious. Screenshot (22).png

I’ve done a lot of other things—got a Phd, run marathons, raised a remarkable son, had good jobs, lost good jobs, made some good decisions and some seriously bad ones. As a result I’ve  re-invented my life many times. My friends say that I’m an inspiration. I say, “Really?” But I’m still here, and that certainly says something.

That’s what this blog is about—re-inventing life, rising above circumstances and situations, becoming a better person. I’d like to think that what I write about can inspire you, or someone you know, to do things you never thought you could.

Today, at age 68, I’m a personal trainer. Can you believe it! And I’m good at it.  The girl who never went to PE now spends her entire day doing PE. Wow. Can it get any stranger than this?

Parts of my life are great, maybe even better than great. But then there are the other parts. There is always work to do, and I want inspiration. That’s why I need you.

Tell me (in 50 or words or less—just kidding) how did you do it? How did you transform yourself, turn things around, make lemonade—you know what I mean?

Drop me a line.

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 …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey on my back

Daily Prompt-Understanding

“What the hell are you thinking?”

I’ve wanted to say this so many times. No, shout it. “How can you possibly tell me you are not eating carbs and not drinking wine! Look at you!” My mouth is shut; my mind is not.

I love what I do, and I’m good at it. My clients and I have a mutual respect and appreciation for each other. But there are moments, thankfully brief. . .

“Just stop! Stop! You are going to kill yourself.” If you would just let me take that dumbbell from you and not drop it.

My Buddhist guru calls this Monkey Mind. “Let the monkey out for a few seconds,” he tells me, “then let it go. He will destroy your serenity.” I breathe.monkey on back

I think I’m mellowing out. “This is hard for you, but you’re getting it.”

Ugh, here he comes again.  “Listen to me. I have more experience. I have more education.” I particularly like this one because, after all, I have a PhD and eight personal training certifications.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, now I remember. I was so caught up in myself that I forgot what I wanted you to do.

Get off my back, you hairy monkey. AmScray. “Didn’t you hear me?” my mind shouts. “Pull the bar down easily; don’t yank it.” Monkey mind, monkey mind.

The monkey is leaving. I sigh in relief.  “Yes?” I exclaim. “Your form is perfect. Your shoulders are back; your chest is out.”

Here he comes. AmScray. Get off my back you hairy monkey. “I am the trainer. You pay me to be right.” do what your trainer tells you

I wave farewell to the monkey. “You’ve got it! Perfect!” I say aloud. My client beams.

Sneaky little thing. Ten seconds. Ten seconds. That’s all you got today, you furry intruder!

“You are so patient and understanding,” my client says to me. “I appreciate you so much. I never thought I could do this.”

I breathe. I smile. “You’re doing great! You work hard and pay attention. This was a hard workout.”

Take that, you obnoxious primate. You can never say anything that will make me hurt my client or dislike my job. Ten seconds! That’s all you get.

 

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.

JB Tonette Alisha Jaz_3
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

If it’s good enough for Einstein

Daily Prompt – Countless

“Twenty sit-ups,” I say enthusiastically and start counting, “One, two, three, four. . .”

Five minutes later, “Ten burpees. You can do bicycle absthis! One, two, three. . .”

Countless counting! I count reps all day long. I count to twenty countless times during a day. If I expand that time frame to a week, a month or a year using the word “countless” becomes an understatement.

Counting is important in my business because it is one way to measure a person’s improvement. I’m good at my job, but I’m a terrible counter. I start out well enough then my attention turns to form or I want to explain how the muscles work in a particular exercise. My counting starts to sound like that of a two-year-old.  “One, two, three, four, five—drop your back knee—three, four…”

If my client has been training with me for a while, they quickly point out, “that’s six.”

“Right, six. We’re doing twenty. You know I can’t count. You count,” I’ll say and continue the explanation.

This whole counting thing goes back to my multi-tasking abilities—or I should say lack of multi-tasking skills. I don’t multi-task.  I don’t think there is any shame in not being an accomplished multiAlbert_Einstein_by_ken_chen.jpgtasker; I’m just not good at it.

Actually, I used to multi-task, but Mom said I was scatterbrained and teachers said I couldn’t stay on task. So I developed strategies to overcome my multi-tasking shortcomings.

I write everything down. I am an avid note-taker. I am renowned for my outlining, highlighting, labeling and organizing skills.

These strategies have created other problems, however. My obsessive outlining and note-taking has diminished my memorization abilities which in turn makes writing down everything even more important.

My spreadsheets of client workouts are extensive. I record the exercise, repetitions, sets and countless other data. Some of my co-workers consider this record-keeping a sign of professionalism, others as an idiosyncrasy. I always thought of it as a crutch.

Then I read Einstein’s words, “Never memorize something that you can look up.”

Saying the words, “wait a sec while I look it up,” used to embarrass me. I felt that as an intelligent person I should have this information on the tip of my tongue. Well, those days are over!

I am in the company of geniuses. If it is good enough for Einstein, it is good enough for me!

 

 

 

There are now 4 of us!

Week 2, Day 1 of our 12-week workout program

If today’s workout is any indication, our 12-week program is going to be amazingly insane. It started this morning at 6:00am when Tonette showed up for spin class. Honestly, that woman never stops. “I’m doing two workout a day, starting this week,” she said.

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Sheila and JB

At 6:50 am Sheila showed up. Sheila is also Tonette’s mother. This is the best part of living in a small town! Seriously, it is just like in the movies—everyone does know everyone!

 

Sheila and I like quiet for our yoga, so we booted Tonette out—not an easy task. I basically had to push Tonette off her bike. The day was just getting started.

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JB pushing Tonette off her bike! (LOL)

 

Workout time for “The Three of Us” was 1:30 pm. When I arrived at the gym, Tonette was busily revising our workout and told me that Alisha’s sister, Jazmyn, was joining us. “Now we are four,” she said. Tonette is madly scratching through her planned workout, reorganizing and restructuring. She enters in pencil every exercise, reps, sets and weight in a small notebook she carries from station to station in the gym.

“Let’s just go,” I said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Tonette loves to be in charge, and I love to let her take over planning our workouts. As a personal trainer, I am so ready to not be in charge of a workout. But even by my standards, and I tend to be a little obsessive about planning workouts, Tonnette is over the top.

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Jazmyn, Alisha (photographer), JB, Tonette

We decided to partner up. Jazmyn and I would be together; Tonette and Alisha would pair up.

 

We love our gym, but it is small and has limited equipment. This usually isn’t a problem, even when the gym is crowded. But today it was. We all wanted the same weights, the same bench, the same everything! Tonette changed the order of the exercises and moved us around, and we still argued. It was laughable.

At one point, after Tonette had told me three different things to do, I balked. “I’m doing cross cable flies,” I said.

“That’s not the fly we’re doing,” she replied.

“It’s the fly I’m doing,” I said and set up the cables for the exercise. Smiling, I looked over at her and said, “Bitch.”

“You’re the bitch,” she smiled back pointing her finger.

Like I said, amazingly insane. Workout time tomorrow, 2:30 pm.