Exercise is one of the easiest ways to lift your spirits and keep you fit and healthy. When I divorced, I was 100 pounds overweight. For years, I had eaten to suppress my emotions in my marriage and my weight sky-rocketed. Once divorced, I decided to get my weight under control my diet and exercise.
Over the course of one year, was able to take all my excess weight off. This was the first time since I was a child competitor swimmer that I exercised. I have to admit it felt good once I got beyond the initial 6 weeks. I started with an indoor bike, a few years later I started running. Varying the type of exercise keeps my mind engaged and have found that assists with balance. This year a new exercise opportunity popped up in an unexpected place.
My teenage daughter is a dancer, she takes about 7 hours of lessons each week. She has her eyes set on attending a college that specializes in Dance down the road. As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time at the dance studio. This year the dance studio decided to offer Zumba lessons in one of the studios that are unoccupied one of the evenings we are there. I had heard so many positive comments about Zumba, I decided I would commit to Zumba one night a week for the dance year.
The first night I was very pleased to discover the other students were like me in the 40+ crowd. The instructor had high energy and as soon as the music started … I just fell in love with the beat. Took me back to days gone by of dancing Disco … yes, Disco!
My first Zumba class was challenging with trying to get the bottom half of my body working with the top half. The instructor’s moves were fluid and she made the moves look so easy. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of myself in the studio mirrors and couldn’t help but laugh because I looked as uncoordinated as I felt. Encouraged by my classmates; I kept going. I finally decided it was best just to focus on my foot work and hips and forget about the arm movements for the time being. That made it much easier to not feel like a total klutz.
Talking with my classmates briefly between songs, I discovered that each had been doing a Zumba for well over 6 months each and most attended 2-3 classes a week. Their hip and foot work were awesome and their arms flow like wings of a butterfly. By the end of the class, I found myself having had quite the work-out and absolutely loved dancing to the Latin music.
My classmates encouraged me to come back again … which I have. Most Monday evenings are now spent in a Zumba class which I have come to love. Still working on that him to arm coordination; but as I tell my daughter … practice, practice and that too shall come.
Tips on Starting a New Exercise Routine
- Commitment – Commit to a minimum number of weeks or months that you will stick to a schedule no matter what. Six weeks should be the bare minimum since it takes that long for a new habit to become second nature. I have also found that it usually takes me at least 3 weeks to start really enjoying a new exercise routine.
- Schedule in your calendar – Now that you’ve committed, determine when you are going to do your exercise and write it in your calendar. Keep this appointment like any other important meeting.
- Perseverance – Understand that the new movements may feel awkward and you may even have some sore muscles the next day. At times, it may be discouraging but remember that this too shall pass and you need to honor your commitment of time to allow the new exercise routine to become part of your life.
- Expectations – It is natural to watch those also exercising around you to see how they are doing. But it is absolutely key not to compare your progress to theirs. You are doing this for you, not them. What I have often found is that those who are more advanced than me offer words of encouragement because you remind them of what it was like to first start.
- Enjoy yourself – Above all else enjoy yourself and celebrate you taking care of your health and doing something wonderful for you well-being.