I’m no athlete. Back when I was in elementary school in the 70s, doing the flexed-arm hang for forever and a few seconds was the true test of fit-to-be-alive in those survival of the hung-in–there-the-longest days.
For anyone who remembers, I was always one of the ‘participated’ kids which basically meant we gave our all by simply showing up, grinning, and bearing the humiliation of dropping to the floor seconds after gripping that damned metal bar.
While I can’t say I’ve been scarred for life because I never received a Gold or Excellence patch to display on my acid-washed jean jacket, that feeling of being ‘next’ in front of the basketball net’s apparatus we swung from while the rest of the class watched, does linger to this day.
Finding a groove
Not that I wasn’t fit, mind you. I danced; tap, jazz, ballet. You name it, if there was a beat, I had my jazz hands ready and my pretty shoes shined up.
The 80s saw the dawn of fitness classes and I enrolled in a bunch that had me in leg-warmers and wrists-bands pulsing my arse to the floor to Sheena Easton music. With my headband firmly in place and my cool off the shoulder top over my leotard Flashdance-style, I was 20 Minute Workoutting my behind off a few times a week. And walk? I’d say I’ve walked the length of this province thirty times over in my lifetime, easy.
After high-school, I really seemed to find my groove when it came to fitness. During my MUN days, I played volleyball with my residence gal-pals while also being the star anchor of Hatcher House’s beer chugging team.
Oh wait, that particular accolade might not count as fitness. Sorry. But I really was the best beer chugger downer.
In later years, I went back to dance, only this time discovered the fitness craze of ballroom dancing and became so good at mastering all the steps for everything from the tango and foxtrot to the cha-cha-cha, rumba, samba, paso doble, and the jive that I taught classes for years, as well as competed. I was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
While I don’t dance anymore, except in my kitchen, I still try to keep moving. I took up running a few years ago, and I go to the gym a few times a week. I also picked up snowshoeing and have started skating a few times a week at The Loop on my lunch hours.
What’s the purpose? Mostly, it’s to feel great mentally, but I also do it to keep this 50 year-old body from seizing up and to keep my weight in check. But there’s other benefits, too. The other day, after a great workout shovelling snow followed by a gym go-round, I stopped and checked my blood pressure. 106 over 68 was my reading. I texted the results to my mom, a retired nurse, and to my sister who’s currently a nurse, as I was worried the numbers seemed low. “Am I dead?” I asked them both.
A something superstar?
“You have your mother’s genetics,“ my mom proudly texted back. “What a beautiful blood pressure you have my darling,” she added. My sister responded with, “absolutely perfect.”
I’m finally a superstar for something, even if it is my blood-pressure reading! I beamed with pride. Their words might not be something I can add to a patch and sew to my jacket, but they are a testimonial I can hang on to, embrace, and brag about on social media and in this column, so I’ll take it. So, if you’re not a star athlete, don’t fret. Just keep moving and hang in there.
Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]