Thursday, December 21, 2006


That seems to be on a lot of people's minds right now. I had hoped to get in some serious weight training during the off season, but for obvious reasons, that hasn't happened. I am just starting to be able to do some of the exercises I did before, but at a much reduced weight load, of course. Still, I realize the value of weight training.

When I first started, probably 19 years ago, when my youngest was a baby, I was at home during a leave from work (gee, you think I deserved it after having 4 kids??), but was actually working part-time evenings. So I was home all day, and the only day time TV I was interested in was anything to do with fitness. I was determined, even then, to not let myself slack and get out of shape (actually, I was trying to get back into shape), and this was still before I started running. There was the usual aerobics and yoga (a totally new and foreign concept back then), and then I found on PBS an older woman doing some weight training (she might actually still be on TV!) and Denise Austin. Both were doing some light weight training. I didn't have any weights other than my husband's barbell set, which was scattered all around the house in various stages of lost (since he rarely used it), but they did suggest using soup cans or other canned goods. I had those.

From that primitive start, I began a regular weight training routine, along with my aerobics. I noticed even from the light weight of the cans that after a while my biceps started taking on some definition, and lugging around another baby seemed a little easier.

The following spring, when I actually started running and was back working part-time days, I joined the community college gym (a mere $80 a year, but even back then a stretch for my budget). Once I joined the gym, it was like I was in heaven! All the things I dreamed of: weight machines, free weights, exercise bikes, treadmills. I couldn't get enough of it. But I was restricted to just the 3 days a week I worked away from home. That's when I became more exposed to weight training. Without really knowing anything at all, I watched the guys to see what they were doing, and scaled down my own routine from that.

After I had my 4th baby, I started suffering badly from carpal tunnel. Apparently this is fairly common during pregnancy and after birth from all the bodily changes (I'm not going to go into the actual details) and the fact that I was working evenings as a medical transcriptionist, so I was spending 5-8 hours a night straight typing. My wrists got so weak and sore, I couldn't even shift my 5 speed car with one hand. Once I started even the slightest weight training, that problem started clearing up, even though that too was difficult at first. I haven't been bothered once from it now in the 19 years since, and I have often told the women at work who have the problem and those who even have had surgery, that weight training is the way to go.

So its been on my mind a lot lately, and I've been trying to figure out not only some time to get this done, but what I can do in my condition right now to get those muscles that are weakest built up to be able to handle the load of heavier training to come.

After my run workout on the treadmill today, I was on my way to the locker room when I ran into the weight training instructor at the gym. We have talked briefly before, so she knew a little of my accident and my condition. She complimented me on my running. "Boy, I wondered who was pounding out those miles in there. You're pretty fast." NOT! But I won't let on to that. Anyway, the conversation got around to her classes and why didn't I come, etc. I have been meaning to take advantage of her free classes at this gym, but its 3 days a week at noon, or 2 nights a week. If it weren't for all this stuff with my dad, I would have the time to go at least 2 times a week, so I am going to have to seriously figure out a schedule here. I have to wonder if this is an answer to my trying to get back into the routine. She's the same age as me (53), but probably 3 sizes smaller and way more fit looking.

If nothing else this next year, I want to achieve total body fitness, and having the muscular and toned look she has without being bulked up. I think that would be the ideal, and I know it would help with all 3 disciplines. I know I have lost a lot of muscle tone, and am really just getting back some strength in my upper body, but I also know I am way off what I was before, and I need a way to get that back without straining or over doing it. I don't want to make weight training my main focus, but want to use it to enhance my other fitness levels.

I am going to try to go to her class tomorrow and see how it goes. I figure that way I have the whole weekend to recover if it bothers me.

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