Monday, August 06, 2007

Change stations now

When does something become a habit?

I know there are studies out there that say you have to do something consistently for like three weeks before it becomes a habit, but I think it's longer than that. I think it takes months for some things to become habit. Sometimes it may take a year of consciously choosing to do something before it becomes a part of your everyday life.

My thing is exercise. I've started and stopped so many things in the past, but nothing ever stuck. I did some exercise classes at Mizzou, but stopped when my friend quit teaching the step aerobics class. The summer after M and I were married we'd run every morning together, getting up to four or five miles. I stopped when it got cold. I used to do cardio kickboxing at Red Cross, but stopped when our instructor (who also worked at ARC) got promoted and couldn't do the classes any more. I took pre-natal yoga classes and loved them, but stopped near the end of my pregnancy when I threw myself into nesting like it was a second career. Besides, I'd have looked pretty funny going to a pre-natal yoga class without a bun in the oven.

Knowing this about myself, I've been reluctant to join a gym. Why pay a monthly membership fee if I was going to quit after a few months? Besides, all those machines are intimidating and I don't really want to exercise in front of Beautiful People who look as though they don't need to exercise.

Then a few things happened that changed my outlook. First, I gained a boatload of weight (hello, baby!). Second, I got a new job that was much more conducive to exercise (flexible hours!). Third, I got sick of feeling like crap all the time and knew I needed to get moving. Fourth, I had a friend who was raving about Curves for Women.

So, I'm pleased to report that this month makes one year that I've been an exerciser. I'm one of those people now. Those people who "work out" every morning and complain if they don't get to. I am loathe to call it "working out" though, because I think that's just a stupid term. I am not working, I am exercising. I'm not even outside, I am inside. I am exercising in, not working out.

The Curves philosophy is simple...come in and go from machine to machine, in a big circle, changing stations every thirty seconds when a disembodied female voice tells you to. As my friend who recruited me put it, "You can do anything for thirty seconds," so even machines you hate aren't bad. You go around about three times and you're done. Good music plays and, if you're lucky like me, you make a ton of new friends who are also moving around the circle. Curves recommends you go three times a week. I like it so much I go at least five. Sometimes I go on the weekends, too, but my Curves doesn't really have conducive weekend hours.

My original friend has since moved on; her husband got her a hoity toity personal trainer for Christmas. But I've got tons of "new" friends who are wonderful women. They inspire me every day, and share great information like which restaurants to avoid and which I absolutely must try. It's like exercising at your girlfriend's house. They all go for coffee at Starbucks after we exercise, to which I have a standing invitation. I always decline, though, since I'm a member of the working world and must go off to earn my keep.

See, my Curves is the one in Ladue, so I exercise every morning with "ladies who lunch." One of the wealthiest women in St. Louis goes around in a circle with me five days a week. This morning she was lamenting the fact that she has house guests and two new servants, having just lost two she's had for five years. She said it's difficult because she can't just climb out of the pool now and go about her business, she actually has to stop and ask her guests if they are comfortable and if they need anything to drink since she hasn't properly trained the two new servants yet.

It's remarkable to me how different our lives are, mine and this woman's, and how it doesn't seem to matter. I like her, she likes me, and we all have a grand time going 'round. I'd have never had the chance to meet this woman if I hadn't started exercising at Curves last year. It's not as though we travel in the same social circles (she's in the Multiple Servants Circle, whereas I'm solidly in the No Servants Circle), and I'd probably have been too intimidated had I met her at a fundraiser or something. She's absolutely one of the nicest women in the'd never know she's got more money than God.

Maybe that's why people go to the gym. You know, beyond the whole keeping-your-body-healthy thing. Exercise is a good habit, but so is meeting people who give you different viewpoints and expand your mind.


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