Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Gift of Music and Exercise
I woke up this morning feeling very refreshed.
That’s what happens when you fall asleep at 9 pm, in the middle of watching The Muppet Movie. We were watching it on a school night only because it was rented from Red Box and we just had to get it back before those dollar fees started adding up. When you fall asleep at 9pm, you tend to wake up at 6 am very refreshed. So there was no question that I’d go to the gym after dropping Sam off at school.
I puttered online for a bit. Then I puttered in the kitchen for a bit. And by the time I was climbing the stairs to wake up Sam I was losing my steam. Suddenly I felt really sleepy again. I couldn’t stop yawning. I started that dangerous game of talking myself into not going to the gym this morning.
It would be soooo much easier to just skip the gym. I had sooo much to get done at home. Maybe I’d go later today (although I knew the chance of that was about 1%...I either exercise right away or not at all).
But then I remembered how exercise helps me feel better. I remembered how my blood sugar likes to spike when I don’t regularly ‘burn it off’. I remembered that I have lots of plans and goals for this spring and summer, lots of trails I want to hike and lots of bike paths I want to explore. I really couldn’t afford not to go.
I dropped Sam off at school and headed around the corner to the Rec Center. Just pulling in the parking space made me feel better. All around me other people were getting out of their cars, headed off to fitness classes, lap swimming and lifting weights. I was reminded how much I love living in a town where a good percentage of the population is active and fit. It’s very inspiring on those days when you let yourself forget how important it is to be healthy - every day.
I checked in at the front desk and headed up the tall staircase. My favorite bike was sitting there, empty, waiting for me. I got myself set up - towel draped over the handlebars, arm rests wiped down, book perched on the display, seat set on ‘12’, ear buds unraveled and plugged into my ipod, water bottle tucked into its slot.
With headphones popped into my ears, I was off. Knowing I was still dragging a bit, I cued up the work out play list, and the music filled me with energy. I pedaled away for a good hard 30 minutes without slowing down. Each time I thought I’d sit back and open my book, a new song, with faster rhythms would start up and I’d once again find new energy.
And that’s when I realized something. I love to work out. I love to ride the bike so hard that sweat pours down the sides of my face. I love it when my heart is racing. And I love it all even more when there is great music pounding in my ears.
It’s not a coincidence that I love these two things, working out and music. I appreciate them both. I am in awe of them both. I have the most respect for the things in life I don’t know how to do, and other people make look easy. Knitting falls into this category. Water color paintings do too. But music and exercise are two of the big ones.
Growing up with a deformed foot, exercise was never fun. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t athletically inclined. I physically couldn’t do the motions necessary. And on top of that, I had to hide the fact that I couldn’t jump in. I spent a good deal of mental energy trying to get out of sports and athletic situations. Which is why, over time, they put a very sour taste in my mouth.
That’s not to say I didn’t live in awe of sports and people who could do them. The easy stride of long distance runners, and the graceful lobbies of a pair of tennis players was like candy to my eyes. I couldn’t imagine how that felt, to push your body in those ways.
So now that I have this amazing bionic leg, and I can do more things that take place in a Recreation Center, I feel honored and blessed. I am surrounded by people who are pushing their bodies, in such a variety of ways, keeping their health a priority.
In the room across from my bike I watch with great interest the step aerobics class. Stairs are still not my friends so I’m intrigued by the motions the instructor puts her class through. On the floor to my left is a woman about ten years older than me, laying on a floor mat, stretching in ways that look like they’d feel really good once you’re finished. Across the room I can see the racquetball court, and two men slugging out their competitive drives as they try not to knock each other out with their swiftly swinging racquets.
I’m a part of this group. I’m a normal person here. Metal leg and all, I fit in. That’s not always been the case, and I’m thankful to be a part of the club.
And then there’s the music. When I’m just not motivated, when I’ve lost that burning desire to be athletic, and I’d rather just sit at home and click around on the internet, the music brings me back. Music is on the top of the list of things I cannot do, but enjoy to my core.
When the right song comes through those ear buds, I can go another four minutes, even when I was pretty sure, the second before, that I was completely done. I appreciate a great rhythm. I adore clever lyrics. And I’m a hundred percent sure it has a lot to do with the fact that I have no abilities when it comes to singing or playing any instrument beyond the kazoo.
I am in awe of the musicians who play that music that fills my ipod. I concentrate on listening for different instruments within a song. My friend Paul plays the bass guitar, so I listen for that. My son loves is acoustic guitar, so sometimes I see if I can find one in every song. My feet match the pace of the drums and my brain gets distracted by the lyrics. It pushes me on, for another five minutes at a time.
I finished up my work out today feeling very proud of myself. As wiped out as I felt, as I made my way to the exit door, my energy had returned. After the bike, I’d lifted some weights, then did some work of my own on that floor mat. Leona Lewis belting out Bleeding Love pushed me into several extra sets of sit ups. My leg was full of sweat as I limped to the car. I knew that once I got home I’d wipe it out and take that refreshing shower.
The gift of exercise and good music was just the thing I needed to start my day right.