Working out lifts our self-esteem (and hopefully some body parts)

Bodies are annoyingly unpredictable. Have you noticed?

Doesn’t matter if you are male or female, when it comes to our bodies, as we age, nothing, and I mean nothing stays put.

It’s true. You had better appreciate where things are today, because the chances are very good that tomorrow morning when you wake up from your peaceful slumber, you will discover that something has shifted. And about the only recourse you have against severe “shiftage” is to try and stay one step ahead of it.

Yep. Exercise.

What’s that, you say? You would rather have gum surgery than squeeze into a leotard and sweat to the oldies?

Well, get with it. First of all, no one wears leotards any more. And all the people who sweated to the oldies in the ’80s have moved on to workouts like spin, HIIT and Tabata.

If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, it’s OK. Until I joined our fine neighborhood fitness club, neither did I. But I quickly learned that there is an entirely different universe when you walk into a fitness club, and I’m not just talking about the terminology.

Twenty years ago, working out was mostly done through exercise videos, and it was all about the outfits, when leg warmers and headbands were all the rage. It was about looking and dressing like Jane Fonda. Today, it’s about sweat.

Then, it was all about following every move exactly. Today, it’s about having fun and modifying every move to fit your ability.

Then, working out was serious business. Smiling was out of the question. Today it’s still serious business, but the journey also includes laughing it up with fellow classmates as you all try your best to keep up with the instructor. In most classes, you will most likely end up on the floor, rolling around in a sweaty fit of laughter.

Yep, fitness has changed. Fitness is now fun.

When you walk into a fitness club, you will see people of all ages and sizes. They are sweating on treadmills and elliptical machines. They are enjoying water aerobics and riding stationary bicycles with a dozen other folks – all peddling wildly but going nowhere. They are lifting weights and doing yoga. You will hear laughter and chatter. And the weirdest thing of all? They are actually having a good time.

Because I wasn’t sure where to start to keep my body parts stable, I hired one of the trainers at the Cheshire Club to work with me personally. She was wonderful. I saw her once a week for several months. She was half my size and kicked my butt every week.

One day after an exhausting and almost debilitating session with her, she sent me a text, “Are you sore?” I made the mistake of texting back “Nope. Feel great.” It was the wrong thing to say. A trainer’s sole reason for existing is to make people feel their muscles, and my answer gave her motivation for our next session, which I barely remember.

I’m not saying it’s all fun – fact is, people-watching and social exchanges aside, it takes an extraordinary effort to spend an hour bending your limbs into angles they were not meant to go, or huffing and puffing on a treadmill. There are a lot less painful ways you can spend an hour.

But the results make it all worth it. When you finally look into the mirror and see a reflection of the person you used to be. Or step on a scale and see real results. Or better yet, when someone says, “Are you losing weight?”

Or when you can finally fit into your favorite jeans without lying on the bed and wrestling with the zipper. Now those are results worth sweating for.

And worth the ice cream cone you’re going to have to celebrate.