Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gotta Move!

My road to good health actually started with exercise, not my diet. I had always exercised in one form or another starting with ballet when I was in my twenties. (Yes, I started when I was 18, too late to have a career. I only took up the violin because my mother wouldn't let me take ballet when I was younger. If anyone is keeping count of my revelations, this is number 3 at least.) I then moved on to Yoga as it was presented by Richard Hittleman. My husband and I did that program together although the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness routines were his favorites. (As he got older, it was more of the former and less of the latter.)

I switched to the Time/Life series of routines in Getting Firm in the late 80s along with plain old running in place for 20 minutes. I added weights to the routines including a 17 lb. bar which made them difficult for me and so it was easy to find excuses not to do them. By the year 2000, I was down to only once a week when I decided it was time for another change. I was also getting fat and very stiff all over. Hours and hours of playing the violin leads to sore necks, and backs, stiff shoulders, and tendinitis in the hands, wrists, and elbows. In those days, the concept of musician as athlete had not been realized yet.

OK, I thought. Let's find something that is gentle, fun to do, and not so hard that I won't want to do it every day. If there's one thing that playing a musical instrument teaches you it is that a little practicing every day is much better than several hours only once a week. Since dance was my passion, I decided to go back to routines that dancers do to stay in shape—Pilates, Lotte Berk, The Bar Method, and Yoga. I went out and bought a bunch of DVDs and some new sexy exercise clothes and I was on my way.

I now own about 62 exercise DVDs, 18 VHS tapes, and a couple of CDs you listen to as you work out. You can even download some mp3 Yoga routines from the Internet. And that doesn't count the ones I have given away to my daughter because I wasn't using them any more. I didn't want to get bored and buying a new routine every now and then keeps up my interest. I pop a different one into the player every day and work out in the comfort of my own home. If I had to drive to a fitness club every day, I wouldn't do it. Here are some of my current favorites:

The Bar Method by Burr Leonard. Unfortunately, she has created only two DVDs.

Lotte Berk. The Bar Method is actually a West Coast version of Lotte Berk which is taught in New York.

Stott Pilates. Just about anything from Moira Stott Merrithew is good. The later routines tend to be better than the early ones. Pilates matwork is actually quite difficult as Pilates himself presented it. Moira adds some steps in between that makes getting to the final goal easier.

Yoga and Pilates by Gaiam. I especially like the videos by Seane Corn and Suzanne Deason. Suzanne has a series that always includes the words " for weight loss" in the title, but I think they are good routines for anyone.

And for more traditional calisthenics and aerobics, Karen Voight. Karen's routines are very dance-like and very original even though they are traditional moves—squats, lunges, etc.

The routines can last from 20 to 60 minutes and there are routines for early in the morning or late in the evening. If all you have left is 15 minutes before going to bed, there is something for that, too. I enjoy working out to music and having the video on the TV screen in front of me keeps me focused on good form and relieves me of having to keep count (bo-ring!). I alternate routines so that I get some stretching one day, aerobics the next, and isometrics or weight lifting the day after that. I try not to work the same muscle groups too hard two days in a row although most of the routines are well-rounded and get a little of everything. Whatever I feel like doing is what I do. Nobody pushes me to go further than I want to go. That's how I keep myself from getting injured.

A friend asked me how I could be sure I was "doing it right." Well I guess I'm not 100% sure. Most of the videos explain the proper form very carefully, though. But the main idea for me is to get moving!

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget, Netflix has exercise videos. I am partial to the Island Girl series. Who knew that Polynesian dance was such good exercise for the core?