Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Since childhood, I’ve been two things: a bit of a clotheshorse and fitness-minded. The two complement each other nicely: Working out helps me feel more confident in my clothes. But my commitment to being fit is more about being healthy than fitting into a certain dress size. I intend to live to a Ripe Old Age, while looking and feeling as good as possible doing so. As such, diet, exercise, not smoking and daily application of SPF 50 are important to me and have always been part of my routine.
I sat snugly in my infant carrier on the sideline of the Central United Methodist Church basketball court in Meridian’ while my mother led ladies in Jane Fonda workouts before I was old enough to walk. As a preschooler, I wore out my copy of Disney’s “Mousercise” on my Fischer Price record player. The day I was old enough, I joined a fitness center and attended step aerobics every day. While at Millsaps College, I joined the downtown YMCA and fell in love with kickboxing. As an adult, I discovered that marathon training gave me time to clear my mind from the stresses of law practice. These days, I do cardio on the elliptical or spin bike three to five times a week and, since January, started incorporating thrice-weekly weight training into the mix.
Exercising is “me” time; when working up a sweat, I’m focused solely on that moment, not on anyone or anything else. Additionally, there’s a sense of accomplishment and pride when you achieve a goal and push your body to do things you didn’t think you could—whether it’s running a distance or, more recently for me, doing deadlifts and power cleans. Cardiovascular activity is so important for heart health and weight-bearing exercise for preventing osteoporosis. I don’t want brittle bones—a walker would totally cramp my style when I get older.
For all those reasons, I’m excited to see more and more fitness options around town. Finding what fits your personality and having a support system to keep you accountable and motivated are key to sticking with it. These days, you can likely find something that works for you.
The local running community is strong, and it’s easy to quickly feel a part of this network. Fleet Feet Sports (500 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-899-9696, fleetfeetjackson.com) and liveRIGHTnow (email@example.com, 601-717-2012, liverightnowonline.com) organize regular group runs and training programs for races from your first 5K to marathons. Some of the runs even involve heading to a bar for a brew afterward, so you know you’ll get a reward for finishing and some socializing, too—and that’s important. (When I first started running 5Ks, which tend to be on Saturday mornings, a friend and I always immediately headed to brunch at Julep afterward—she for waffles, I for a Bloody Mary.) There’s nothing wrong with a little liquid motivation to get through the home stretch.
For those who like team sports, tennis is a great way to get active. A few years ago, I signed up for lessons at Parham Bridges Tennis Center (5055 Old Canton Road, 601-956-1105, mississippitennis.com) and quickly found myself on a team in the ladies’ league. Between lessons, practice with a team and weekly matches, there’s no shortage of opportunities to work up a sweat.
And then there’s a different type of group motivation and encouragement. For cardio, I generally stick to the downtown Courthouse Racquet & Fitness (100 E. Capitol St., 601-948.-688), but for weight training, my workout partner mandates that we use the Courthouse’s Lakeland location (2625 Courthouse Circle, 601-932-4800), for its bigger, more hard core weights. There, we get to observe the guys who have become some of my new favorite people (though I don’t know their names, other than having heard one yelled at as “Mike”). It’s a group of around eight to 10 men, with an average age of 40-something, who pump iron and talk smack three mornings a week.
In the spirit of testosterone-driven rivalry, they’re holding weekly competitions on Fridays. It began with a donut-eating contest (OK, that one wasn’t really fitness-minded) but, in subsequent weeks, included pull-ups and push-ups. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Maybe one day I’ll get brave and ask to join in. Regardless, I enjoy watching, and their friendly contest reminds me to keep pushing my own limits as I work out.
Thanks to a variety of local options, it’s easy to get (and stay) moving. And while yes, it will help you feel (and look) better in your clothes, it’s really about what you’re doing for what’s on the inside—in terms of your heart, muscle, and bone health and the mind-body connection—that counts. So get out there and find what’s right for you!