Health Club Newsletter, October 2019
My Love of Movement
As a young woman in my twenties exercise consisted mostly of ‘jogging’ or Jane Fonda style aerobics classes. My goal for exercising was fueled by my desire to look slim and elegant for my upcoming wedding. After moving to the Vineyard as a newlywed I got a job at a shop on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. I would often see woman dashing down the street clad in tights, Reebok high tops, and one piece thong leotards that were all the rage in the early 90’s. I no longer needed to worry about fitting into a wedding dress, but summer was around the corner and the extra layer of insulation that had snuck up on me over the winter needed to go. At that time there was only one health club on the island, located in the Tisbury Inn. I enjoyed group exercise and was curious about a new fitness craze called Step Aerobics. Filled with trepidation, I enlisted a friend to come with me for my first class. We stumbled along trying to keep up with the moves while focusing intently on our footing so as not to catch an edge and land face first, sprawled out on the platform. My gymnastics and dance background provided me with enough coordination so that I made it through the class unharmed, feeling quite accomplished and exhausted. My friend never went to another step class again but I was determined to master this newfangled exercise. After a half dozen classes I felt confident enough with the steps and the lingo, so that I too, could be seen scampering down the sidewalk to stake my coveted space to the right of the teacher. I loved learning new sequences and adding on to the routine our instructor choreographed. I liked that my heart was adapting to the demands required to make it through a 60 minute class. I liked that my thighs and butt were becoming toned. I liked that I could eat not-so-carefully and still button my jeans. But mostly, I just liked to move. My mind was focused on the expectations of what my body was supposed to be doing as per the instructor’s commands. I wasn’t bogged down with thoughts of my work day or what I had yet to get done when I got home. I was completely present, feeling both graceful and strong. This hour of exercise felt indulgent; when I was there I didn’t want to be anywhere else. It made me feel confident, less anxious and happier. Studies show that exercise, especially high intensity, releases endorphins; the feel-good hormones, also referred to as ‘Runner’s High’. This principle seemed to be working for me.
Fast forward a few decades, and I’m still moving. The step has been replaced with a mat. The sneakers have been replaced with bare feet. The Tisbury Inn has been replaced with Mansion House. And the student has been replaced by the teacher. My love of movement has given me so much, a career, valuable friendships, knowledge, a community and good health. I am grateful to be able to move, for feeling strong, flexible and confident in my skin. Thankful to be able to run through the woods with my dog, balance on a stand-up-paddle board, or climb 5,000 feet to the top of a steep volcano. There are so many benefits to exercise. Besides strengthening your heart, muscles and bones, you’ll slow down the aging process, you’ll be less stressed, you’ll boost your immune system, and best of all you will feel a sense of achievement. Your success should not be exclusively based on the numbers on a scale, or the shrinking of your waist, instead try basing your goals on physical achievements. And, please be patient, it may take 6-12 months to mentally train yourself so that fitness becomes a consistent and normal part of daily life.
The human body is designed for movement. Our ancestors toiled in the fields, raised and caught their food, built and cleaned their homes and transported themselves by foot. All of these built-in daily activities have virtually been eliminated and replaced with a sedentary, convenience-based life style. It’s no coincidence that with the dawn of the modern lifestyle, emerged the first health spas. The Father on Fitness, Jack Lelanne pioneered exercise into our lives and our homes. He was living proof that eating healthy and exercising regularly would not only help you lose weight but could add years to your life. He passed away at the age of 96, still performing his daily workout routine right up to the day before he died.
Although exercise is a regular part of my daily life, it’s my job; I know I would be doing it any way. I like the way it makes me feel physically. I crave the burn, the sweat and the soreness that comes with it. And I am always pleasantly surprised when movement has the ability to clear my mind and lift my spirits. My advice to people trying to drop weight; try shifting your focus away from what you are trying to lose and instead focus on the things you are trying to gain. A stronger, healthier and more flexible version of yourself. I guarantee the only workout you will regret is the one you didn’t do.
Fall 2019 Schedule Changes
Older news… Still interesting Articles!
Do I have to be in great shape to take an indoor cycling class?
by Kimberly Cartwright
Ever wonder if you have what it takes to participate in an indoor cycling class? Many people avoid indoor cycling because they believe that it is only for the ultra-fit, or those who have a high pain threshold. Believe it or not, of all the group fitness modalities, indoor cycling is the most adaptable to the individual and his or her fitness level and injuries/rehab situation.
In fact, most rehab protocols include stationary biking. When you are recovering from knee surgery, hip surgery, even back surgery, your physical therapist is likely to put you on a stationary bike as part of your rehab treatment.
The wonderful thing about stationary biking is that only you are in charge of how much resistance you are pedaling against, and only you are in charge of how fast you are pedaling. Your speed and gear are the factors that determine the intensity or difficulty of your ride.
In an indoor cycling class, it appears that everyone is doing the same thing. Only you know how much intensity you are pedaling against, and at any time during a class, you can shift the intensity up or down, depending on how you feel and what your goals are.
We may feel pressured to “keep up” with others in a group exercise class. Often, injuries occur when we try to accomplish physical feats for which we are not yet ready. The wonderful thing about indoor cycling is that whatever condition you are in is a perfect place to start.
Letting the cycling instructor know about injuries and rehab is a great idea because the instructor can help you adjust the bike set up to suit your specific body geometry, taking into account the length of your legs, how flexible you are, limitations in range of motion, hyperflexibility, etc. When your bike is properly fitted to your body and to your condition at that time, you will be able to have a safe and appropriately challenging ride. Best of all, you will be “keeping up” with everyone in the class while doing what is right for you.
Congratulations! You are in perfect shape to take an indoor cycling class, just the way you are. Looking forward to seeing you in class!
By Vanessa Kent
I have been a student of yoga for about 10 years now. I will say that my understanding is in its infancy as there is so much to learn through study as well as experience. Perhaps though, we have lifetimes to explore, so, no hurry! Below are some of the gems of insight I’ve collected along the way. I hope they will inspire your own investigation into this mystical modality said to assist us in navigating being embodied once we find ourselves here.
Some say Yoga is a science, others a religion, a healing modality, or perhaps a philosophy. For many, it is a form of exercise, a means of gaining and maintaining strength with flexibility. For others it is a way of life. Yoga, it’s been said, isn’t the “what” but the “how”. It’s the presence with which one moves about. The awareness one brings to action, a practice in living consciously. It’s a harnessing of one’s personal power to mindfully choose action rather than going about unawake and unaware bound by habitual patterns of behavior and thought. Yoga is said to be skillful engagement with life.
For me, yoga is a way of being in the question of life. It’s a way of exercising my body, a dance between both discipline and compassion. It is a tool through which to focus my mind in order to go deeper beneath mind into more meditative states of flow and oneness. It allows me to practice being with emotional weather moving through. Yoga assists me in developing compassionate awareness and kind attention for myself and others as we navigate this life and all of the changes continuously happening within as well as outside of ourselves.
Yoga is a means of being in and with life as it ebbs and flows within and all around us. Practice is key along with the courageous willingness to “begin again”. Please join us on the mat to begin or continue the conversation of this ancient practice that continues to be so relevant today.
We look forward to practicing with you!
Is it easy for me? Absolutely not. Yoga requires “tapas”, discipline, in order to build the heat necessary to catalyze change. Change in the form of growth beyond our own limiting sense of self, of other and the world around us. It can be very uncomfortable to be with certain sensations, whether physical or emotional. Sometimes though, the only way out is through. Meaning, that which one resists persists. Meaning, the more we are able to practice mindfulness, a being with the sensations of life, the more we develop tolerance. Tolerance allows us to to be more willing and able to feel.
An increased ability to feel can sometimes seem a blessing and at other times a curse. The more pleasurable sensations such as joy, happiness, love oneness with life, fulfillment, hope, pure potentiality, these for most, are more comfortable states. Feelings such as self doubt, dissatisfaction, sadness, grief, disappointment, fear, and despair are some of the states that tend to be resisted. This resistance of the the less pleasurable states accompanied by the alternate grasping onto of pleasurable states is said to be the root of suffering referred to in yogic philosophy as attachment and aversion.
Taking time to come to your mat to check in with how it is you are feeling in the present moment allows one to explore how to be with these temporary states as they move through. Yogis of old developed the techniques of practice to bring these feeling states to the surface of awareness. They knew an incarnation was fleeting. Desirous of a full experience of being embodied, their intention was to be able to feel all that came up from a place of expansive awareness, seated in presence. The more one is able to witness that which is moving through, the more one is able to feel. The more one is able to feel, the more completely experience is processed on all levels, body, mind and spirit. A fully processed experience leaves little to no karma ( a big conversation for another time) to be worked through in its wake.
It takes practice to be with these continuous states of change that accompany being human. Buddhists say that a human incarnation is “auspicious”, extremely special, because of the awareness that accompanies it. Coming to the mat gives the practitioner the opportunity to develop this awareness, along with kind attention, as well as compassionate presence. Expanded awareness empowers one to consciously choose how to be in THIS moment, where life happens.
Past is gone, future is illusory, only now is said to be real.