Someone showed me a gag gift recently. It was a little block of wood with printed instructions which said: “Place block of wood in center of floor and walk around it twice, then sit down and relax. When someone asks you if you’ve gotten any exercise today, tell them you walked around the block twice.”
What isn’t funny though is when not getting enough exercise means you are no longer in good enough shape to do the things you love to do.
I happen to love kayaking. But a year ago I figured I was done kayaking forever. I hadn’t been in my kayak for two years! And it didn’t look like I’d ever be able to paddle again.
Two years ago I had surgery which did not allow me to kayak that year. The following year, it was just plain too difficult to get into and out of my sit-in kayak … I didn’t have the leg strength anymore. I didn’t think I could ever get it back.
This year two things happened. First, we found out about Sit On Top (SOT) Kayaks, and tried two very different ones on the water. I immediately found that the SOTs were much easier to get into and out of than the sit-in kayaks I was used to paddling before my surgery! Notice I said “easier.” They still require some leg strength to lower yourself onto the seat and lift yourself off again when you want to get out. But not nearly as much. So kayaking once again seemed possible.
But even an SOT kayak would be a little easier if I were stronger. So I decided to talk to EasternSlopes.com Senior Editor David Shedd about doing some exercises to strengthen my quads. David is my son and an exercise nut who goes in for extreme races with his fianceè Susan. He asked me if I’d like to work with a personal trainer. Well! You can believe the answer to that was an enthusiastic yes! So our friend Marilyn Donnelly (wife of EasternSlopes.com’s Executive Editor, Tim Jones) set me up with an appointment to see her personal trainer, and…
We drove to Concord, NH, where I met with Jason Aziz. Jason has a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology, and is certified as a Strength & Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S.). He also has his own website: jasonsfitkitchen.com.
Jason is a delightful and brilliant young man—and a wonderful teacher! He asked me about the problems I was experiencing with getting into and out of a kayak, my joint history in general and my knees in particular, Then he designed a set of exercises that would accomplish what I wanted without hurting me. These exercises are effective for me – but they might not help you and might even be harmful for you because you might have different problems. You need to have an exercise program that’s right for you. If you are interested in a session with Jason, email him directly at email@example.com. He taught me these exercises to do at home, gave me printouts, told me to keep in touch, and come back in about six weeks.
Working with him was fun, but working alone at home not so much! But I have stuck with it, and now, three weeks later, I’m able to do all the sets he recommended, three times a week.
The exercises he chose for me are fairly simple. I use a strap that goes around the hinge of a door, with hand grips at the ends. I pull on this and do a squat. Then I stand and swing out my right leg. Again a squat, stand, and swing out my left leg. A set is 10 of these, and I do three sets, three times a week. When I started, I couldn’t do very many—certainly not three full sets of 10! I worked up to these numbers over the three weeks. Not easy, but not that difficult either!
I’m so happy with the results and so confident that I can enjoy kayaking again that Warner sold my kayak and got me a new liquidlogic Coupe kayak for my 75th birthday!
We are going on vacation soon and I plan to spend lots of time on the water in my new Coupe. I’ll let you know how it went and what Jason had to say at my six week meeting. We seniors can do more exercising than just walking around the block! And more exercising means we can get out and do more outdoors and have more fun in life! If you, like me, have been hesitating to do what you want to because you’re afraid you aren’t fit enough, talk to a professional; whether that’s a personal trainer at the gym, a physical therapist, or your physician, make sure you get help from someone who is an expert and will take the time to learn your history and your needs. And then, go out and have fun!