Dick Van Dyke is 90 years old, still dances and eats a pint of ice cream every day. One of my buddies at the gym is Al and Al is 80 give or take. He comes in 5 times a week to work out and he told me it is the secret to his longevity (that and his wife is quite a bit younger and he has to keep up with her – if you know what I mean).
Jack LaLanne finally died at the ripe age of 97. If you didn’t follow this amazing fitness pioneer, you need to look him up. Back when kids wanted to look like Charles Atlas, Jack was doing it right. In his tight jump suit, he was doing things that worked and will still work. Look up the word Burpee (exercise) on the Internet and then ask yourself if you can do ONE.
If the answer is no, then I have good news for you. You CAN do it, but it will take a plan and some time and some pain of sorts. The old saying of how do you eat an entire elephant comes to mind here. One bite at a time is the answer. You start with as big of a bite as you can handle and just don’t stop eating. I have another concept to impart. Eating this elephant is going to take you a lifetime.
Like Jack did and now Dick, and Al, they move to keep moving. My pal Ren Fitts is a gym rat now after being told he was heading for a wheel chair. Does it hurt to push yourself at the gym? You better believe it does. Arthritic knees and joints scream their displeasure and we just push through it. It’s going to happen one way or the other, so why not fight against it?
The simple truth is it’s not too late to start. Did that get through? It’s not too late to start. I know. You say you have no history of exercise and you would be lost at the gym. You don’t know how to use the equipment and you would feel like a sore thumb at a coin-flipping contest. Let me think. There’s about a hundred other reasons for not going, but let’s take a look at how to get started.
Roseland, Jenkins, Blue Heron, and Emmitt Hutto Drive have good walking trails and they are free. Get a comfortable pair of shoes and go to one of these places. Your goal is to walk a 15 minute mile. When you can do this, you are ready to join a gym. I go to the one named after the clock, but there are others. The mornings are full of seniors, so that should be your target time, if possible. The evenings have the testosterone/muscles group and the place is crowded, so try to do the mornings.
Almost any person exercising will answer a question and help you with a machine, so don’t be bashful. The treadmill is a good starting place. If you start there, aim at walking at a 3.5 mph pace for one hour. When you can do that without needing a crash cart, move on to the elliptical machines in front of you. During the transition time where you worked-out on the treadmill, observed how to use this particular machine.
When you can do 30 minutes on this piece of equipment, you are ready to use the machines in front of those. You have watched many people during this time operate all of these individual machines, so now all you have to do it imitate them. At any time, you can ask one of the personal trainers (free of charge) to explain how to safely operate any of the machines. They will happily accommodate you.
You are now ready to bump up your training to a whole new level and you have a couple of options. You can hire a personal trainer to train you and train you they will. It’s not cheap though, but we are talking about your future health and fitness. Another option is the Group X classes. Spin class is intensive stationary cycling. Boot camp is anything goes and you are probably not ready for that. Strength & Body Pump is organized and intensive high repetition weight lifting. Zumba is cardio dancing and Yoga is pretzel human body twisting (I don’t do it but should). Do not fear these classes. The instructors are great and will recognize and accommodate your fitness level.
Join a gym or don’t. Exercise is more fun in a group dynamic though and you will meet interesting people who share your desire for better fitness and health. It’s your body, so take care of it and maybe, just maybe when you are 90, you will eat your daily pint of ice cream and then get up and start dancing.