Take a chance on new things
March 19, 2012
by Ivan Raconteur

It is possible, it seems, to teach an old curmudgeon new tricks.

During the past couple of months, I have met some people who did just that.

One of these is Lindsey Rague, a personal trainer who teaches a variety of classes through Watertown-Mayer Community Education.

I don’t know Lindsey personally, but she presented information during the “Mayer Moves for the Moxie” health improvement program in which I have participated since January. I have not taken any of her classes yet, but those who have, tell me that when the sessions are over, they know they have been through a workout.

Lindsey seems to be the a “no excuses” sort of person. One of the things I learned from her is that no matter how busy we are, we can find time to fit exercise into our schedule. It can be as little as 10 or 15 minutes at a time, but it all counts.

Lindsey also suggested taking time to do some planning at the beginning of each week If we schedule time to exercise, we are more likely to do it.

She suggested writing our workout plan on index cards in order to maximize the time we have for working out. This way, we can quickly move from one exercise to the next, rather than wasting time thinking about what to do next.

Lindsey also said we can do just about anything for a minute. I have not been able to verify that yet. Some of those minutes have seemed awfully long.

Another person I encountered in the world of exercise is Jill Hahn, who teaches fitness classes through Watertown-Mayer Community Education and Safari Island in Waconia.

Jill invited me to participate in the boot camp she runs in Mayer.

My first thought was that I have never done that sort of thing before. My second thought was that the class will probably be mostly women, which could make me uncomfortable (women in groups can be terrifying). My third thought was that I was out of condition and might look and feel silly learning new routines.

It turns out I was correct on all of these points, but it was worth it.

One of the things I have rediscovered in recent years is that the best rewards come when we are willing to step out of our comfort zone.

If we allow the fact that we are uncomfortable, or embarrassed, or feeling silly to prevent us from trying anything new, we will never experience the fun and sense of accomplishment that come with new experiences.

We may not enjoy or be good at all of the things we attempt, but one thing is certain – we will never know until we try.

Here is a little secret I have picked up over the years: if we are embarrassed or feeling self-conscious when we take a class, chances are the other participants are feeling the same way. After all, that is why people take classes – to learn new things. If we were experts, we wouldn’t need the class.

Another thing experience has taught me is that people can be incredibly supportive of those who are trying new things, and are often happy to share their experience and offer advice.

That is how it is with the boot camp. There are about 20 ladies in the class, most of whom seem to be in better condition than I am and have more experience with this sort of thing than I do. These ladies leave me in the dust every week, and watching their determination and intensity is a humbling experience.

However, from the first morning I showed up for boot camp, the other participants went out of their way to make me feel welcome. They offered support and encouragement, and showed a warm sense of humor as we jokingly commiserated about some of the torture (I mean healthy opportunities) that Jill was dishing out.

Jill, too, has been very helpful. She has shared her enthusiasm and made me feel welcome.

Guys, especially in groups, tend to give each other the business, and although they can also be supportive, they tend to use different methods to motivate one another.

I found this boot camp to be a slightly more nurturing environment than it might have been if it was all guys.

There is a lot more jumping and springing and bending and stretching in this kind of a workout than I am used to. I don’t suppose I will ever be good at it. I am slower than the rest of the class, and I seem to have two left feet when it comes to the aerobic routines. It is probably also a bad sign when one gets winded before the “warm up” portion is finished.

Despite these challenges, I am glad I gave it a try. It has given me another way to increase my physical activity. I feel better after (but not during) each session than I did before, and I have even had some fun along the way.

During the course of the Moxie program, I have also been exposed to yoga, Tai Chi, kettle bells, and even Zumba.

I realize Zumba is extremely popular these days, but I was completely bewildered most of the time I was doing it. By the time I discovered what the group was doing, they had moved on to something else. When I was heading west, they had reversed course and were heading east again.

I would like to find a yoga class. It seems more my speed, and I’m sure it would improve my flexibility.

The Tai Chi seemed fun, too, if fun is the right word.

There are more options out there for getting active than one can shake a stick at, and they are all accessible if we look for them.

Here is a bit of friendly advice from the curmudgeon: never let pride or embarrassment stand between you and trying something new. If you do, you will never know what you are missing.

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