Fads come and go, but fitness is always in style (Manhattan Times)
November 12, 2009Ways to get fit go in and out of style and evolve just like anything else. Still, the new version doesn’t necessarily replace the old stuff; it just means we have more choices now, no matter what our age, income or ability.
Take roller skating for example. The clunky metal kind that you attached to your sneakers with a skate key have evolved into sleek rollerblades. Protective gear and brakes mean broken bones and skinned knees and elbows are much rarer now. But, it seems “quad skates”–the kind we wore in the giddy, gaudy days of disco skating – are staging a comeback, and are required for Roller Derby wannabees, at least according to a young woman I saw wobbling in Anne Loftus Playground recently.
My beloved blue Schwinn bicycle? Replaced with a sleek silver Peugeot racing bike with tires thinner than a strand of spaghetti. Today I’m seeing more and more folding bikes with fat little wheels like my spiffy blue Dahon, and more people are sitting tall again with upright handlebars instead of hunching over the Tour de France dropped variety.
Spinners are ecstatically riding stationery bicycles in a darkened room while the instructor calls out exertion levels. An added plus is that you can’t get lost.
In the 1970s I discovered yoga in a small gym in a hotel in downtown Brooklyn. Now there are more forms of my beloved yoga than I can keep up with – Ashtanga, Kunalini, Bikram, Iyengar, and Vinyasa to name the most popular.
Weight lifting is still a greatly satisfying way to build strength and self-confidence, and low-cost and low-tech, too. Today, free weights such as dumbbells and barbells are sharing gym space with kettlebells and giant air-filled balls.
High-tech machines, guided by a computer, tell you how much weight to use and how many repetitions to do, while monitoring your form to make sure you’re doing things safely and to the best effect. Beam me up, Scotty.
I’ve always loved to dance, except for those humiliating ballroom dancing classes in junior high school. Today, my grand nieces are gyrating to Wii-fit in between track and field competitions, and an infinite variety of dance styles are available in instruction studios or from a tape or DVD. Even easier, just start browsing video channels on Youtube and Hulu.com can help you learn to shake a leg.
But no matter what your age or background, right here in Northern Manhattan you too can learn hip-hop, salsa, zumba, tango, break dance, tap dance, modern dance, jazz dance, or ballet. Even belly dance has come and gone from fashion in several waves, as I discovered when co-authoring the book, “The Way of the Belly” with Neena and Veena, the identical belly dancing twins.
Somehow, though, I never forget the simple basics that never go out of style – a walk in the park, a bike ride along the greenway. Fitness fads may come and go, but hopefully the movie “Wall-e” got it wrong, we’re not all going to be obese and fed by machines, and moving our bodies will never go out of style.