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Jennie makes it hurt so good while proving that I’m wrong

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POSTED May 6, 2010 2:24 a.m.
Jennie, I believe, is determined to kill me or, at least, prove me wrong.

She’s the 9:30 a.m. Tuesday muscle blast group exercise instructor at In Shape.

For the past 24 years I’ve held on to three assumptions. One, I will never have any real noticeable muscle definition in my arms or anywhere else in my upper torso. Two, I’d never push myself to the point it “hurts so good” when your muscles burn because basically I saw no value in it. And three, I’d never ever really enjoy group exercise classes unless it just involved a lot of jumping around and step movements.

I actually came to the realization that Jennie had pushed me into a new zone, if you will, while in Mary’s Wednesday cardio skills and drills class. My shoulder - which I had cracked in a cycling accident 20 years ago – was hurting from the workout the day before in Jennie’s class. Not a “hurt” hurting but from simply being pushed beyond what I was used to doing. About 15 minutes into Mary’s class it dawned on me that it was hurting but it was not painful. This was good because when I felt my shoulder to make sure it was OK I realized that I had actually managed somehow to build up the muscle across the point wrapping the shoulder blade that years ago I used to be in pain off and on from the injury. Diet had eliminated the bursitis but being pushed by Jennie actually strengthened the shoulder.

How I got to this point is pretty amazing as it underscores the fact it is never too late to change your habits for the better and to literally improve your lot in life.

Growing up I was the poster child for couch potatoes. I looked forward to PE classes about as much as cotton farmers look forward to a boll weevil infestation. I’m not exaggerating too much when I say the only weight I lifted for the first 30 years of my life was getting up and down. I wasn’t lazy per se but working in the yard or doing much of anything would tire me fairly easily. Some of it had to do with my weight but a lot of it had to do with my inactivity.

Even so, I was pretty happy with myself after losing significant weight 24 years ago and getting hooked on cycling and aerobics. I had convinced myself that any real muscle strength – let alone definition of any sort - wasn’t in the cards.

Part of it did not have to do with the fact I was kind of embarrassed by the fact I couldn’t do pushups nor could I pump iron as it were. It is one reason why I avoid the weight room at In Shape like the plague.

I was content to go nuts in the 6 a.m. classes and drive instructors like Angel up the wall.

Then my schedule changed and I started hitting the 9:30 a.m. classes where the likes of Margy, Jennie, Jenny W., and Mary used more weights than anything else.

It didn’t happen overnight but I soon noticed slight pain that had been fairly frequent in my shoulders and back started disappearing. Without realizing it, the repetitive exercises with hand weights and bars were literally strengthening muscles which in turn eliminated routine pain.

Now I need to make it clear that I will never be a muscle type. I guarantee you that it isn’t in my genes nor is it anything I want to do. I might one day have a solid two-pack – if that – but that will be about it.

Even so I have to admit that Jennie et al have surprised me by enabling me to build strength while maintaining a decent cardio fitness level.

Now if I can just do a couple hundred pushups like Jennie can at a time.
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