Friday, March 18, 2011

Exercising Mom's options

My mother is, quite frankly, rather adorable. When she reads that, she'll say, "Oh, honey, I wish you wouldn't say that."

But she is. She is sparkly and sunny, with energy and a figure that women one-fourth her age (she's 80) wouldn't mind having. For years, she was a primo lingerie salesperson at a department store in Paris, Texas, a 30-minute drive from where she and my dad were living. During the three days a week she worked, she wore a pedometer. Most days, she'd surpass the 10,000-step mark, meaning she walked at least five miles.

Since she and Dad moved back to Dallas, though, she hasn't been walking as much. Until my dad is more mobile, she spends most of her time with him. But since she is so spry and so spirited, and because I know first-hand the multi-layered benefits of exercise, I decided to make it my mission to get her moving.

So I bought her some no-cotton-moisture-wicking socks and a pair of tennies at Target. Then I picked her up and we headed to the Lake Highlands Family YMCA and her appointment with Clint Elliott, fitness trainer extraordinaire (and really nice guy).  He asked Mom a variety of questions about her hobbies (gardening); her fitness goals (not sure; be stronger and just move more); what she likes to do (swim, though she hasn't in years).

Then Mom, being Mom, had to know more about Clint: What got him into fitness? Had he ever been to YMCA of the Rockies (a Barker- family favorite place)?

Clint started Mom off on the treadmill for about five minutes. I, the over-eager daughter, held my tongue, which would have suggested Mom take regular-size steps and walk her normal brisk pace. But she did what was comfortable, and thus, correct.

Then it was on to two leg machines, the names of which, yes, I should know. On one, she put her legs against a panel and pushed; the other, she put them behind a roller and lifted them.

"Oooh," Mom said, "I can feel this in my thighs."

"You may be sore tomorrow," Clint said.

"I hope so," Mom said. "I''ll feel like I accomplished something."

She did some arm exercises (on machines I also should know the names of), and then stood on a squishy round something-or-other. She did a pretty darned good job of staying vertical; Clint said she had "excellent balance." 

For the cool-down part of Mom's workout, she stepped on the treadmill again. This time, she felt more confident. She upped the speed a bit, and raised the incline to 1.0 percent. She walked about five minutes, then said she thought she'd better stop.

We stayed for at least an hour. As we left, Mom said said she'd like to come back. Clint suggested next week, and asked when we'd both be available. I said I didn't think I needed to be there. Without a moment's hesitation, Mom agreed.

So next Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., while I'm sitting at my desk staring at a computer screen, Mom will be exercising her body, clearing her mind, strengthening her already-strong spirit. And bringing herself closer to a goal I so-casually-mentioned when we talked to Clint: Walking a 5-K with her third-born.