Practical Body Awareness
For over 40 years, body awareness has been my mission in the world—to help people pay attention to and value how they use their bodies. Awareness is not just a luxury for people who have the time for it. We live in a world where personal attention spans are scattered, health declines because of sedentary living, and health care costs skyrocket. Somatic awareness can affect all of these things for the better.
Fitness for What?
I have never been very robust in my fitness program. Having a flexible body, I’ve always been drawn to movement disciplines where that is at the forefront: yoga, improvisational dancing, Tai Chi. Strength training and competitive sports were not my thing. In my 40s, during what I think of as my “Boy Scout period,” I did some mountaineering and rock climbing, but didn’t pursue it for very long. Prior to that my most strenuous activity was aerobic dancing. In fact, I even started my own aerobic dance classes.
For several years I’ve been observing that what strength I had was becoming harder and harder to maintain. During the period of working on my latest book so intensely, I stopped going to yoga, Pilates and dance classes for the most part. I was taking my lucky body for granted, letting things slide. The present time result is that asanas that used to be easy no longer are, and my stamina, which was never very good, is now such that a dance class sends me home for a nap. Of course I’m nearly 77, but come on—I’ve spent my life moving! I want to stay fit for the things I enjoy doing.
Strength Training for Seniors
For the past three weeks I’ve been going to dynamic strength training for seniors. Unlike the slow careful Pilates workouts that I’m used to, this is fast calisthenics, weight lifting, TRX bands, laps around the gym, and basic boxing. It’s not the least bit Lulu Lemon. I’m tired afterwards — three 90 minute sessions per week — but after a recovery day, I feel great. I’m getting stronger, taking fewer naps, getting more things done during the time between workouts and generally feeling more cheerful and uplifted—results you can read about in studies about high intensity interval training. Studies I’m no longer ho-hum about!
Moral of the story? If you love sports and lots of action, be sure to save plenty of time for stretching. If you’re like me, find something that inspires you to develop your strength and keep up your cardio. Don’t skimp on the fitness component that appeals to you the least. In school I learned that strength, flexibility and coordination are the three essential components of physical fitness. To these I’d like to add a fourth, body awareness. We all need all four!
© 2019 Mary Bond