Good exercise habits hard to start, maintain

I’m usually an active person, but I completely slacked off in August. I think I got lazy; it was hot and humid. I succumbed to inertia, which can be a powerful force and difficult to resist once you’re there in the doldrums.

Then in September, I had a cough that would not go away, so then I had an excuse for my inactivity. When I got winded taking what would usually be just a short walk for me, a jaunt to the library, I knew something had to change.

Around this time I got a free yoga class for my birthday from the studio I sometimes attend. Several months back I used to clean there in exchange for classes. I had seven free classes available to me that I just couldn’t seem to get to, but since they don’t expire I just hadn’t made it a priority.

But the birthday class had to be used within a day on either side of my birthday. I can’t possibly let something free go to waste, so I was determined to attend. You wouldn’t think that a three-day window with a variety of class times at a studio that I can almost see from my window would be a challenge. But it is remarkable the psychological barriers we put up when we don’t have regular habits in place.

There are many reasons I have enjoyed going to this yoga studio. It’s close by, it doesn’t have loud music or TVs like at a gym and it tends to focus on the exercise aspect of yoga, rather than the spiritual or philosophical elements (some of the studios in Bloomington can get a bit out there).

Most of all, they have hot classes — like around 95 degrees. I feel it helps me to limber up, which aids in stretching, and I sweat a lot which, makes me feel like I’ve really done something, even before the class starts. I realize this wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea to come out of class with a slimy mat, but it works for me. Besides, I get to go barefoot, which I consider an added bonus.

Due to the emphasis on physical fitness, most of the people in the hot classes are young athletic types. I have never seen so many small women in one place — not just thin, but tiny all over. I’m concerned that one day I’ll go in there and there will be a sign with a cartoon character pronouncing “If you’re taller then me then you’re too tall for this ride.”

Then there was the point early on in my relationship with this studio when it dawned on me that my leggings were quite possibly older than many of the students. (I suppose this does speak well of the craftsmanship of mid-90s clothing).

So, I knew that first class back would be painful on several different levels. But getting through that ordeal opened the gateway for me to start using those free classes. I’m happy to report that it got just a little bit less difficult each time.

And that’s my point. When you first begin a new venture, it may well be awful — starting a new exercise plan, learning to paint, going through boxes in the basement. You need to accept that you might not be any good at it, and probably can’t do it all, and that’s OK. But it’s keeping at it that enables you to make progress toward that goal. And once you get going, you may decide it isn’t as bad as you thought.

Stephanie Haines of Bloomington is a Greenfield native. She can be reached through her website,