I didn't have a driver's license until I was 32 years old. Prior to that I rode the bus everywhere I needed to go. A side benefit of being transit dependent is that you walk a lot. Until my late 20's, that was my primary form of exercise. As I got older, and the pounds started to creep on, I started to realize that the residual walking you do when riding the bus was no longer enough to keep the weight off. So I started adding other things to the routine.
One of the first things I tried was buying home exercise DVDs. I bought them; working out to them was a whole 'nother issue. I am generally pretty good at following along with people, but I would get completely lost when trying to follow along with the videos. Not to mention exercising at home came with an audience that found my attempts at fitness live comedy of the best sort. It occurred to me that maybe I needed to do some sort of exercise that had an instructor or someone that I could follow along with. Me being a natural introvert, I would have to stay around the back of the class or group so as not to be noticed.
Given that thought, I can only say I started with my son's martial arts class because I was feeling particularly optimistic that day. Or maybe I was hoping that the instructors' and other students enthusiasm would rub off on me. Most likely it was because one of my neighbors smoked a lot of weed, and I had a small contact high. Whatever the reason I decided to try capoeira, I will say that it is the one thing I stuck with for the longest, despite it being the thing I was the worst at.
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art developed by slaves in Brazil so that they could train to fight without being detected by their masters. In order for the training to remain a secret, they trained inside a circle, which is still how training is conducted to this day. Although most of the warm ups and drills were done as a large group, so for the most part my clumsiness could go unnoticed, whenever we had to partner up to practice a drill, or to "play" (practicing fighting) inside the circle, my shortcomings would come into full focus. I have to say, I gave it the old college try (During one partnered drill, one of the more advanced students demonstrated a combination of movements that I was to repeat. Completely perplexed, all I could do was stare at him and ask "What the hell did you just do?", cracking up both the advanced student, and everybody behind us in line.), but I was thoroughly out of my depth. The lead instructors: Courtney, Tracey and Ellis, God love 'em, stuck with us for about six years,and through many challenges: my obvious lack of ability (and uncanny knack for pulling and twisting muscles I didn't know I had), my son's growing apathy, and my daughter's 15 second attention span for any activity that costs money to pursue. It was a great experience for all of us, in that we made friends that we still have to this day, my son learned in some ways to focus his energies, my daughter got the gist of group activities and working with others, and I learned to push my physical boundaries (I hated the thought of not finishing a drill or exercise as I despised looking like a quitter) and I expanded my comfort zone (exercising in front of other people doesn't suck THAT much). Time, money, distance and growing interest in other things ended our adventure in martial arts, but I still needed to exercise, so like so many other folks, one January, I decided I would head back to the gym.
I guess I thought I was being smart when I signed up for 24 Hour Fitness in December a couple of years ago. I thought if I started in December, signed up with a personal trainer, and started working out early, I could beat the January crush, and I might even stick to it. They even offered child care! I have to admit that I did enjoy it for a little while. The trainer, Scott, was a hoot, and it was nice to know what I was doing in the gym. My daughter hated the child care, as she was often the oldest kid there, and had nothing to do. She went back to being watched by my son (when he felt like it), prompting more panicked "Where are you" phone calls, and more activity moving with the church, butchering my workout schedule. It was the gym rats that killed me though. These are people that hang around the gym in their bathing suits, oops, I mean "workout attire", scoffing at the bigger people like myself, and sitting on the equipment, talking to their friends, in between sets of five or ten reps at a low enough weight so they can look like they are working out without actually working up a sweat. Sweat being unattractive, you see.
So I am back to squares one and two: working out at home while getting in all of the residual walking from being on the bus. Now that my son has a PlayStation 3 with two versions of the popular game Just Dance, working out at home is a lot more fun, and my critics occasionally cheer me on, since they benefit in points and trophys when I get a high enough score. Like all home workout enthusiasts, every time I try it, I add to the home equipment.
As much as I make jokes about it, and frankly as much as I sucked at it, capoeira is definitely worth your fitness consideration. Omulu Capoeira Los Angeles, under the leadership of Mestre Preguica, put up with the kids and I for a good long while, and we learned a lot while we were there. Look them up, and give them a try: http://omulula.org/