On the endless list of reasons why I love to workout would be the fact that I’m not exceptionally great at anything I do. I am blessed with good health, coordination (with practice), and a decent running speed, but I’m certainly not bringing home national titles or Olympic laurels. There is always, always room for improvement and growth in my fitness, and there is always opportunity to try something new.
I officially began my career as a fitness instructor in September of 2010. (Interestingly enough, this blog goes back even farther than that, so I’m certain there are numerous first hand experience posts regarding this very topic. However, I don’t feel like searching for them, and I do love to tell stories, so I’ll continue.) At the time I was a student more than half way through my BS in exercise science. A professor (now great friend) of mine told me that the recreation department would be looking to replace their current instructor for the A.B.L.E. program, and she had recommended me for the job. A.B.L.E, or “A Better Lifestyle through Exercise” was a three day a week class for senior citizens; minimum age requirement was 65. Monday and Wednesday consisted of aerobic and strength training, Friday was yoga.
There were anywhere from 10-15 incredibly dedicated participants in the class, and most of them had been attending that class for decades (my oldest participant was 93!). To say that I was intimidated when taking over this class would be an understatement…I was downright terrified. I sat in on about 4 or 5 of the previous instructors classes to get the feel for everything, but it was no match for the first time I stood in front of the class on my own. As I officially introduced myself to the class, one of my participants shouted out “I hope you don’t plan on playing any of that rap-crap”. I assured him I wouldn’t, popped in an aerobics version of Broadway show tunes (thank you Silver Sneakers!), and shakily stumbled through a routine.
It was a learning experience, for all of us, but eventually we all melded into a routine. They taught me patience, and how to slow down (this was no bootcamp!) and in return, they humored me by attempting and learning to love new exercises and moves.
And they also taught me to fake my way through yoga.
I spent HOURS in front of senior yoga videos on youtube coming up with some sort of routine that resembled the one the class had already been doing for years. I faked my balance and strength and ability to slow down and relax for many weeks worth of Fridays until one day…I relaxed. I stretched. I found I truly enjoyed yoga Fridays. And more importantly, I loved the way I felt after a good hour of yoga.
I taught the A.B.L.E. class for over a year until I had to unexpectedly pick up and move to New England. I think about my participants often, but more so, I think about how I haven’t practiced (not even a single class!) yoga since.
There are numerous reasons why I aspire to take up regular yoga practice. The most obvious is because my flexibility sucks. Stretching post workout is one of those things I insist upon for my clients, yet somehow manage to overlook after my own workouts…every single time.
But another overwhelming reason is because I am absolutely inspired by anyone who can pull off some of these amazingly beautiful inverted poses, like so:
I have a friend from back in the days of waiting tables at the beach in SC who has since moved to sunny California and taken up regular yoga practice. She posts the most amazing photos on her Instagram account that make these poses look incredibly easy and exceedingly difficult all at the same time. It is the strength in mastering of the exceedingly difficult that intrigues me the most; the idea of achieving some sort of zen in our new beautiful backyard and giant porch doesn’t hurt either.
But if I learned anything in school (and life?) it would be that such feats of athletic awesomeness do not happen overnight, and thus I must start back at the beginning:
senior citizen beginner yoga. (Also, it took me a few years to learn how to do a cartwheel. And a handstand against the wall still hasn’t happened. That’s what we are working with here, folks.) I’m hesitant to join a class, simply because I am in the stages of feverishly trying to save money, and drop in classes around here are in the $10-$15 range. So the online search has begun.
Friday afternoon, at the recommendation of a facebook friend, I found myself a nice little 11 minute beginner video at Doyogawithme.com. As it turns out, the rate of speed with which I am accustomed to doing yoga is apparently equivalent to melting glaciers in the yoga world, for I could not keep up with this “beginner” video. Thus, the quest continues.
I’ve received some great advice from some friends already, but would love to hear more. Obviously this is not my forte in the fitness industry, but I feel compelled to learn more. If you are active in yoga, how did you start? What is your number one tip for someone looking to start practicing? Books, DVD’s, websites, words of wisdom?
Thanks for your help.
Crazy runner (with really tight muscles) who wants to learn to slow down and relax (and do handstands).