Pinch of Faith: Fitness for the exercise averse: there’s got to be a better way

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As I continue to walk the journey from breast cancer back to full recovery, I made a commitment to complete a 12-week program that will help me regain my strength, learn nutrition pointers, and network with others who are facing some of the same post-surgical challenges and issues. This is something I must do for myself in order to heal fully.

At our initial meeting, we were introduced to the class facilitators, given a folder with a calendar showing the meeting dates and times, some samples of sunscreen, and a pink T-shirt to proclaim to onlookers our battle with cancer.  

I was intrigued to learn that other women were not so different from me, and immediately felt a strong connection between us. 

The exercise instructor urged us to schedule a one-on-one session to test our level of fitness and learn what our goals would be as we progressed over the upcoming weeks. I made my appointment, knowing that I would most likely remain on the “bunny slopes” for the entire time. I am not a big fan of exercise if it involves any degree of perspiration or effort on my part.

She suggested we wear loose comfortable clothing and tennis shoes to our meetings, and since that is my daily attire, I had no problem with that directive. We started out with my answering questions about my overall physical health, which I aced.  

While I was filling out the form, the instructor left to get something. She came back and placed a strange metal box on the table. Curious to learn what it was, I inquired and was told it was a device that would measure my flexibility. I could have saved her the trouble and told her it was nonexistent.

“Now we are going to test your core strength,” she advised. “You will either walk on the indoor track or do the treadmill for 10 minutes.” Fearing expulsion from the class before it even started, I chose the treadmill as it had support bars to grab, and I knew I would need them.  

“You can increase your speed and incline by pushing these buttons,” she advised. I nodded my head, knowing that I was starting out at my top speed and those buttons were going to remain untouched. As the seconds slowly ticked by, I tried to focus on something else and began chattering about different things as she observed my tortoise speed.

Maybe this will be the worst of it, I consoled myself. Not so. I was led over to a raised cushioned platform where I was told to lie down. Ah, a nap, I thought erroneously. “Bend your knees and do a modified sit up.” Surely, she was joking I thought, but out came the stopwatch and I knew this was for real. I managed to raise my head off the cushions a bit and repeated that Herculean feat a few more times, assuring myself that I had nowhere to go but up from this point on.

I was to learn about the strange metal device next. With my feet firmly planted against it, knees straight, the objective was to push the gauge atop the device as far as possible with my fingertips. She, with her long arms, willingly demonstrated, making it look very easy. I reminded her that I have very short arms and just touching the gauge would be challenging, which it proved to be.  

I explained to her that I figured out many years ago that if I could grow five inches in height, I would no longer have to concern myself with losing weight. So far, this has not been possible.

The next challenge was to place my back flat against the wall, lower myself to a seated position, and hold that for as long as possible. It was not long, I can assure you, and I prayed I could raise my torso back into an upright position and not have to crab walk out of the gym. 

The last (thank the Lord) challenge was balance. I was instructed to stand on one foot and raise the other one off the floor and hold that pose. It quickly became evident I was not ever going to walk a tightrope in the circus, and in my pink T-shirt, I could have easily been mistaken for a pregnant flamingo.

I feel certain that I scored poorly in every area of fitness, but with a little work on my part and patience on the instructor’s part, I am confident that I shall improve and introduce my own version of a fitness video for couch potatoes.

Copyright © 2023 Mary Margaret Lambert

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