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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
Should exercise be easy? A question for the sages.

In the last episode of vasaris' ever-so-exciting-journal, I talked a bit about Curves Founder Gary Heavin's book and the reviews on Amazon that I found funny, and why.

marveen brought up a point in the comments that I find very interesting. I had noted that Curves is a place for beginners and a place for people who hate exercise but would like the benefits of strength training. marveen reported that kelticviking said that that means that we want it to be easy.

My response?

Well, yeah.

And I suspect that dislike of this is part of some of the vitriol poured out by some of the reviewers.

Soccer moms want it to be easy. The type of people who join Curves are basically kind of lazy because they don't want to do it the 'right' way.

After consideration, I have to agree. I do want it easy.

I don't apologize for that.

One of the reasons that I have always had difficulty with exercise is something simple. I have what my doctor called, many years ago, 'exertion induced asthma.' Dunno if it's an actual medical term or him basically saying 'she exercises and *poof!* can't breathe... oh, well.'

It either way, it's a problem many people who are extremely overweight have. Exercise absolutely sucks when it literally makes you want to die because your lungs don't merely burn -- they're swelling shut. It's difficult to even consider an activity that has been known to cause you to cough until you retch. When you are so out of shape that walking to the mailbox makes you wheeze badly enough that your average emphysema victim counts himself lucky he ain't you...

Yes. You want it to be easy.

I'm not trying to make fun of kelticviking's response, because he is absolutely right.

I do want it easy.

I admit that I don't care if I ever bench-press 100 lbs (go marveen! That's fabulous!) but I do want enough muscle that it'll be easier to maintain my weight once I've hit a place I want to stay at.

Ease is part of what makes Curves so attractive. Whether someone is like me (grossly overweight with the endurance of a dead gnat), my mom (morbidly obese with arthritis and other disabilities), elderly (with or without significant disabilities, we have a couple of older women who could barely walk who are doing so much better now), or just one of those soccer moms who want a magic pill -- or just some place that they can get their exercise routine done quickly -- they're not wrong to wish for a place where it's easy.

We also want it to be a place where we're comfortable, which isn't your average gym if you're overweight or for some other reason have issues with body-image. I've entered gyms and then left because of the feeling that all the skinny people are staring at me and thinking 'Geez, how lazy is that silly bitch to be so overweight?' kay_wray mentioned how she'd been at a gym and had someone call her Fat Ass to her face while the management just ignored it. I've spoken to others who have tried the gym route, complete with personal trainer, who have felt so demoralized by the attitudes expressed by other gym members and their personal trainers that they've quit, never to return. Do I inherently think that all gyms are like that? No. But enough are that many women who are not already reasonably thin won't even try them because they fear it.

Some of that will be the subject for a rant, I expect.

In any case, I won't apologize for wanting it to be easy and in a positive atmosphere where I feel like the people around me, members and employees alike, care about me. Just because it's easy does not make it fake exercise or particularly false strength training. It's just a different goal set, that's all.

And nothing to be ashamed of.

I don't diss people who want serious strength training -- I may eventually work up to a place where I consider it myself, but it's something for the future. For now, though, I'm happy enough to touch my biceps and feel muscle and not squish, or run my hands down the outside of my thighs and think, 'Hey! I can feel the line of the muscle under the skin (and fat).'

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

Ditto wanting it easy! Nothing wrong with that.

*hugs teh arielchan* Hihi!

*Cthulhu-chan offers chocolate*

Nope, nothing wrong with easy.

*snatches chocolate and stuffs it in her mouth*

I had the easiest weight loss ever, personally. I dropped 20 pounds and 6 sizes (from a 12 to a 6) in two months from nothing more than eating healthier and walking to my classes every day.

My mom lost 50 pounds from a combination of Weight Watchers and Curves, but she had to quit Curves when she threw her back out.



Whatever works! That's awesome. Go, you!

I'm sorry to hear she threw her back out, that's of_teh_suckage.

*C-chan nods in agreement, sparkly eyes peering out from what looks suspiciously like a pirate-hat with Cupid dancing the macarena around the top*

*vasaris stares at the hat and then at C-chan, who is trying to look innocent, which is very difficult for an Elder God to do. Even a chibified one.*

You'll be even more outraged to hear I was 150 lbs and fairly fit (i.e. muscles/cardio) at the time. At 5'6" that's plump but not unpleasantly so — or so thought I.

My new mountain bike arrives tomorrow (!!!) and then I'll be signing up at the local Curves. L.A. is SO NOT bike friendly in general, but over the last 3 years my neighborhood has gentrified through the roof and bike trails are now in place and actively used. I'm really excited (I used to bike everywhere when I lived in Seattle).

So do you get a free month's membership or something if you refer people? Because I never would have known about Curves if you hadn't brought it up in your journal. I so need the strength training, but encouragement and routine have to be part of the package. If you're fit enough to nit-pick their routine then good for you, but I'm relieved to know there's an effective alternative to the hard-body scene.

Clearly you needed--at the least--to go to a different gym.

I weigh almost twice your quoted weight right now, though it IS going down.

Nobody has said anything remotely negative to me even when I'm there by myself, without kelticviking looming over my shoulder. Nor have I seen any sneers aimed in my direction.

That's not to say that there aren't snobs at my gym, but he says they don't like him, either, so it's not one's fitness level that causes their attitude.

If the personal trainers were part of the problem....I understand some of them believe in a drill-instructor approach, but I believe that he who pays the piper calls the tune, so as their employer the client should make the final decision about coaching methods.

I've had memberships at 5 different gyms: the Y, Bally's, Gold's, Crunch, and Sports Club. I also travel a lot, and though the general consensus in Eurocentric countries is thinner=better, it really is worse the closer you get to places like LA or NYC. Seattle wasn't nearly as punishing in comparison.

Beyond that, it's clear that the best fitness regimen is the one that you can stick with. No end of science and efficiency will help if you can't get yourself to do it in the first place.

'I see,' said the blind man....

Funny, the larger the city the worse the conditions....

Perhaps the small rural town here contributes to the atmosphere of friendliness. (The whole Twin Cities area is only around 20,000 souls all together.)

Yes, ultimately what-works-for-you is the most important criterion.

Re: 'I see,' said the blind man....

Y'know, that wouldn't surprise me. Blaine hasn't exactly got a huge population and sometimes I think I know a quarter of its population on sight and a third know me by name (it's disconcerting when someone calls you by name and you think 'uhhhhh, you look vaguely familiar.')

Of course, we've still got obnoxious teens, but then, who doesn't? *wry smile*

My new mountain bike arrives tomorrow (!!!)

Awesome. I hope you live in an area where the smog isn't going to waylay you and choke you to death. On my last visit to LA county I discovered that smog makes my eyes swell shut, my nose go into training for the New York Marathon, and my lungs catch fire. It was horribly unpleasant until I put my hands on some Actifed.

So do you get a free month's membership or something if you refer people?

Heck if I know. I don't think so as I didn't get a free month for the one other person who I've gotten to join at my location. But that's okay, as I'm simply happy to know you're going to try it :) *happy dances* I sincerely hope that your experience will be as good as mine has been. As they're all locally owned franchises I imagine atmosphere will differ some, but from what I can tell from visiting Curves members, they're pretty much uniformly uplifting.

I've been giving some serious thought to actually starting a Curves LJ-comm, if one doesn't exist already (I haven't looked yet.) Dunno. We'll see.

*hugs* You'll tell us about it when you join, right? *grins madly*

I will definitely weigh in (can't ever resist a pun) with how it goes.

It's driving me crazy that delivery time is still 2 whole hours away. ARRRGH. I want my precious bike NOW!!!

On a related note, I must have been out of my head when I plunked down the equivalent of 15% of the cost of the bike itself (sans accessories, but still) on a customized schmancy Timbuk2 messenger bag...

Decided to take a book break and saw this post and just had to comment!

Sometimes it's not a matter of "wanting" it easy but having to go easy for whatever health reason.

I gained weight taking antidepressants(that my doctor swore did not cause weight gain) yeah right! Get yourself any presciption book and you'll find out one of the universal side effects is weight gain. He kept telling me it was over eating from the depresson. Funny I had been suffering from depression and had lost weight before those pills!

So I added 100 pounds to really make sure had a reason to be depressed as if dealing with the original problems wasn't enough. Now my tits sag so bad I can pin them to my panyhose to keep my panthose from rolling down over my belly! Any woman who is overweight will know of what I speak in relation to the pantyhose or even panties for that matter when they want to roll south! The manufacturers of ladies undergarments expect a 1" band of thin elastic to stay up over Mt.Belly Roll!

Try sitting in church with a straight face during a funeral while you feel your pantyhose rolling down over your belly, knowing when you go to stand up you have to somehow gracefully get those thin nylons back up without people thinking you are trying to do the Macareana in church!

So, along with the wight gain came the physical problems. High blood pressure, hugh cholesterol, arthritis, etc. and now I can barely walk up a flight of stairs, can't walk for any length of time so I have a handicap car parking sticker and a wheelchair.

Do I want to lose this, you bet!I have been trying since I gained it! But I can't start out with a one hour high endurance fitness program! I would have a heart atack on the spot. And that would not be a pretty sight when some paramedic ripped open my shirt and bra to do CPR and those two saggy sisters flew out a if they were on springs!

That is why they have places like Curves where people who need slow and easy can go. They aren't just for so called "lazy" soccer moms. Some of us who have had life beat the shit out of us need a place to get started.

I personally would hope the person who called the overweight woman a "Fat Ass" would find more compassion the day her body fights back and won't do what she wants it to do!

I don't go to Curves or anywhere else, yet. I am starting even slower than Curves. I had to start with 2 yes "2" minutes on the treadmill. I am up to five. That is a huge accomplishment at this point and to go into a regular gym and have some dingbat who doesn't know me or what I've been through call me a fat ass would not go over too well because I would NOT have been able to let the remark go.

I am for the most part a very quite reservesd person but I don't care for ignorance. And calling somene a fat ass who is clearly tryng to improve that part of her anatomy would be enough for me to have something to say. Politely, but still I would have to say something! It's sad that the management of the establishment did not!

I'm happy to see you are NOT apologizing for doing what is best for you. We all do the best we can to get in better physical shape, no matter where we do it! And you're right that *some* of these high impact places are not concerned about those of us who have more than three pounds to lose. Sad but true.

Good luck with your exercise routine for the coming year!

*hugs* I wish you were in better health.

*stares at statement* That sounded mildly idiotic, although it's quite true. I imagine you wish that exponentially more than I do. *wry smile*

Do you think you're up to trying some of the exercises at home? I know you're in a lot of pain, so maybe not, but exercise can be good for your mental and physical health if you think you can handle trying it.

I can get a copy of the book with at-home versions of the exercises relatively cheaply since I'm a member. You'd want to clear it with your doctors, but if you want to try it let me know and I'll see about getting you guys a copy. I'm told it's also got quite a few yummy recipes and all, too.

*big hugs* I'm at -116 and continuing to count down. With your courage and encouragement to inspire me, how could I not?

Blessings be upon you and your family right now, Christina. May all of your tests go well and painlessly, with excellent news at the end.

And give invidereliana a hug for me and remind her that her generous heart is an inspiration to us all -- without her voice speaking up I'd never have known you and been the poorer for it.

I'll point out that a crippling level of self-consciousness is indeed a larger problem.

I used to have that problem as well. It stemmed from the school years of having classrooms bursting into derisive laughter whenever I was clumsy....which made me nervy, which made me even more clumsy....Right.

It took me years to get over it. I finally quit staring at the floor and hiding in my hair (you know, when you comb it down around your face so you can hide your face by ducking your head) and actually started looking at other people in public areas (the store, the library, church). Once I actually noted the direction of their attention the majority of the time, it was wonderfully freeing.

Most of the time, other people don't give a damn about you.
They're busy with whatever the hell they're trying to accomplish (shopping, studying, exercising, getting to their destination). During the process, they're thinking about 1) what they're doing now, and 2) what they're going to be doing next. A random passerby generally gets about 1.5 seconds of attention unless you're colliding or something. (Although if you dye your hair a screaming neon green, you should expect to be stared at for much longer.)

I know there are exceptions*, but the vast majority of the time I have found the above to be true. It's quite liberating.

* For the exceptions, I prepared by sharpening my tongue.

Re: I'll point out that a crippling level of self-consciousness is indeed a larger problem.

Oh, I agree. Often it's a self-perception problem -- like I said, I feel like people are staring at me when I enter areas mostly populated by thin, athletic types. That isn't to say they are (although I have overheard portions of conversations with that just that gist, which I usually ignore). This perception is admittedly *my* problem but having a place to exercise where I've never had that feeling, where nearly everyone is in various stages of overweight and working to get it off is very comforting and positive for me and others. The number of Curves members that I've talked to who have cited the 'everyone's normal, not one of the skinny types that make you feel bad by existing' is proportionately quite large.

Hell, I'll admit that some of my problem going into more traditional gyms is simply jealousy. I'm not a fan of that sensation so I'd just as soon avoid it as the not entirely fair perception that everyone under 200lbs is pointing and laughing at the fat girl.

I think it's a sad thing to say about society to say that one feels bad about being overweight and then often feels prevented from doing anything about it because of self-consciousness about body image. It's sad that it takes quite a few 'gosh, you're looking great!'s to make up for one 'what the hell is she doing with a gym bag/exercise clothes/whathaveyou? It's not like it'll do her any good, she's so fat.' -- and yes, I've heard that one too, from people passing me as I make the short trek from my car to the door of Curves. But that's the subject for a different entry, I suppose.

Go tongue sharpeners! I got several on sale at Wal-Mart. ;)

Re: I'll point out that a crippling level of self-consciousness is indeed a larger problem.

I suppose it also helps to have male companions (my soon-to-be-ex-husband was the same as kelticviking in this respect) who eye skinny women and mutter something along the lines of "God, get yourself a steak sandwich, girl...."

Because bones poking out are NOT aesthetically pleasing, and I don't care which women's magazine lied to tell its audience that they are. Curves (you should excuse the term, heh) and softness are attractive qualities in everything else--why try to eradicate them on your body?

(I think it was kelticviking who said that the doctors pushing thinness above all were just drumming up business for themselves.)

I don't WANT to get much under 180-200 at the lowest. At that weight I should be able to wear a size 16-18 again.

( Tongue sharpeners! Bwahahaha!)