ONE WOMANS VIEW:   Parachute opens

Contributing writer

Somebody has said that minds are like parachutes; they only function when open. In order to make intelligent life choices, it is sometimes necessary to lay aside old prejudices and preconceived opinions.

I recently made such a choice with mixed feelings and hit pay dirt.

I used to think people who joined health clubs and fitness centers were either gung-ho young jocks or rich bums throwing money away for exercise they could get free by taking a walk or riding a bicycle around town. I now publicly admit (and this is not quite a historic first) that I was wrong.

Last summer in Tampa, David and Catarina Rziha opened a fitness center, which has become quite popular in the community. With my limited budget and preconceived notions mentioned above, the place was open for several months before I gave any serious consideration to joining.

However, I received some cash from friends at Christmastime and decided to spend part of it to join the center for January and February, when it would be too cold for outdoor exercise.

Of course, I have known for years that I feel better and have better control of my diabetes when I get some exercise. Often I have resolved to walk more. A few months ago I acquired a bicycle, the one form of exercise I have always truly enjoyed.

However, you would be amazed at the number of excuses I can find for not getting out and taking a walk or riding my bike. It’s too cold today; it’s too hot today; it’s too windy today; there are things I need to do in the house; I just don’t have the time right now.

Membership in the fitness center leaves me with no excuse. The temperature is kept at a comfortable level. Wind does not penetrate the building. The facility is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. One Sunday when my day was filled with other obligations, I exercised from 10:30 to 11:30 in the evening.

The center is well equipped with machines that do not cater only to accomplished athletes. The treadmill I use can be set as slow as you choose. The hand weights start at 3 pounds, and the weight machine starts at 10.

Of course, jocks who wish to impress their girlfriends by lifting 110 pounds or more are welcome to do that too, but I don’t suppose I will ever get above 10.

The benefits of this type of exercise are already evident. My blood sugars have lowered significantly. Although they are often still higher than I’d like, the improvement in only a couple of weeks is marked. The physical therapist assures me that working with the weights will also strengthen the muscles around my fake knee.

My other therapist tells me that such strength training is good for the brain, possibly staving off dementia. Believe me, I need all the help in that department I can get.

My friend and workout partner tells me it has increased her lung capacity, so that she does not get as short of breath as she used to. I suppose if a person spends enough time there, it could even take off a few pounds. I’m not really counting on that.

So far, believe it or not, I actually enjoy my time at the fitness center. Televisions are conveniently placed for watching while I work out. I have a friend who sometimes meets me there, and often there are other people there to meet and greet.

You know me; I love to go where the people are. Although I admit to getting pretty tired, I leave with a really good feeling. Since I joined the center, I have only missed one day.

The time spent does vary. Some days I only have the time, stamina, or motivation for 30 minutes; other days I may hang in there for an hour or a little more.

I’ve about made up my mind to forget my Scottish ancestry and keep up my membership, even when the winter is past. After all, there will still be the “too hot” and “too windy” excuses for not taking my bike out.

If you have trouble getting motivated to exercise and live near a fitness center, I highly recommend it. Your workouts can be as gentle or as strenuous as you wish. In fact, mine hardly deserve the name of workout, but the benefits are still significant. See you between the treadmill and the weight machine.

 

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