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Age brings wisdom - but destroys flexibility

Every January the same scenario plays out.  Resolutions are made and the gym is full of folks with good intentions and heads full of steam.

For the first few weeks of the month, the gym’s regulars spend a minute or two complaining about the lack of parking spaces, but overall the health club is a fun place to be at this time of year.

Last fall, I began taking yoga classes at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center in an effort to strengthen, stretch and rediscover the limber limbs of my younger days. 

Five minutes into my first class, I was unpleasantly surprised at how impossible this seemed. Now, months later, I’m getting the hang of the downward-facing dog and look forward to class each week, but I still find myself struggling to reach poses that come easily to the others in the class.

Others, I should add, who are 10 to 20 years older than me yet are able to achieve yoga poses my body is unable to even consider at this time.  


Toward the goal of keeping up with these nimble baby boomers, my 2012 fitness resolution included signing up for a Flexibility Introduction class. There are two specific machines at the Healthy Living Center that had captured my curiosity, but also a strong dose of nervous fear. 

These are machines designed to facilitate stretching and increase flexibility.  Usually, one might be able to stand to the side, watch someone else use a particular machine, and figure out what to do without asking for a demonstration from the staff.  

However, the machine designed for the hamstrings made me nervous because it was far too easy to imagine an "I Love Lucy" scenario where I ended up trapped in this machine.  One leg would be pointed in a direction it was not designed to go as I tried in vain to alert someone to rescue me without drawing everyone’s attention to my ridiculous plight.

If it’s true that one really does get older and wiser, then I should pat myself on the back for seeking instructions on how to use the flexibility equipment instead of striking out on my own. However, if getting wiser is a benefit of aging, then a disadvantage would be the loss of flexibility and strength.  Ahh, God has a real sense of humor, doesn’t he?

I’m going to keep at my resolution, though, and I will consider it a complete success if and when I lose my fear of having to be rescued from a stretching machine or yoga pose of any kind.

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