It’s raining in the desert, which is odd though not unprecedented. For a Little Rock boy it’s an odd sort of rain too – the kind that doesn’t get you wet – what's up with that? I imagine that even with this so-called rainfall the relative humidity is lower than a typical summer day at home.
I’m in southern Calfornia, the Coachella Valley to be precise about two hours east of L.A. in a land of contrasts. The Sierra Madre range due west creates a majestic snow capped wall to the arid desert valley far below. The Mojave Desert is a stark and foreboding landscape until or unless you add water then it blooms and blossoms and sprouts golf courses like toadstools.
Debbie and I have traveled all this way to enjoy a long weekend with my college friends, three fellows I swam with at SMU and their wives. We were best friends at school and despite our geographical dispersion (i.e. Montana, So-Cal, Ohio, Arkansas) we manage to reconnect almost every year. This trip was planned months ago before the quest was even dreamed up and it’s serving as a welcome respite, a chance to catch my breath and reflect.
In the first 17 days of my little experiment I’ve taken 28 group exercise classes at the Club. That puts me slightly more than 25% of the way down the path and pretty much on schedule.
I’ve been to the chiropractor twice and have managed to get two massages as well. All of the bodywork is precautionary against a back event that could stop me cold. The low back has gotten tight and at times painful but nothing out of the ordinary and so far, manageable.
The truth is, I feel pretty good. Even in this short period of time I can feel the conditioning taking effect, especially after a couple days of rest. I can also see some incipient little musculature forming in response to all the core work that’s dished out in most classes. These subtle bodily changes are nothing to write home about but are encouraging nonetheless.
A key to surviving this ordeal intact is maintaining a proper diet. For me that means upping the daily caloric intake by 500-1000. If I was trying to lose weight it would have to go the other direction but I’m much more prone to wasting away than gaining weight. After three weeks I’m within a half pound of my start weight, which counts as a victory.
Strategically, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’m trying to schedule classes in a particular way. Since most days I need to attend two classes, I try to pair up especially demanding ones like cycling, sculpt or power pump with one’s that I can handle more easily such as yoga, water aerobics or senior weights. I’m also carefully rationing the high impact classes, like Zumba, Cardio-Sculpt and Kickboxing because those activities are challenging for my low back. When I do take a high impact class I try to modify any activity that looks too jarring.
The most challenging aspect of the whole process so far has been simply managing my time. Between the classes and the blogging I’m spending an average of 5 hours a day on this project. My intention has been to curtail as many of my regular tasks as possible but I’m finding a baseline level of office work and time demands that just doesn’t go away.
The best part of the experience so far has been sampling all the different classes. I’ve been very pleased to see a consistent level of excellence among all the instructors. My expectations were high going into this venture but so far the teaching corps has exceeded them. It has also been great fun to meet lots of members and exercise alongside of you.
A member stopped me the other day to say she was trying out a class she had never gone to before because she was following the blog and decided to get in the spirit of things. That feedback was music to my ears. I appreciate everyone who's reading along and hope it will spur you to get outside of your comfort zone and exercise in a new way.