Today was a bitter cold and snowy day in Minnesota. It was only 2 degrees. It could warm up 31 degrees and just be freezing! The commute was awful. My wife spent nearly 3 hours driving in icy stop-and-go traffic. I shoveled the driveway twice. Add this stress to the normal workday, taking care of the kids, and all the things people do to get ready for the holidays and you’ve got reason to be crabby and frustrated with life.
That’s why, at 6 pm in somewhat blizzard conditions, the family piled in the car and we headed for Life Time Fitness and Marlena Nord’s Latin Fusion aerobics class. We listened to great music in the car. When we arrived, we put the kids into their excellent child care. We know the staff well and our kids love to get to run around in the gym and have fun just as if they’re outside in the middle of our Minnesota winter. They even have a setup of computers so the kids can get some “homework” time in…they’re only 2 and 4 years old. After the kids were settled in, mom and dad were on their way to a much needed break in the day.
Our aerobics instructor, Marlena, is from Venezuela and was born to dance. She is about the most positive and encouraging person you can meet. It’s as if she brings the sunshine with her wherever she goes. She even taught Donny Osmond how to “baila” (Spanish for dance) on TV.
I’ve been taking classes from Marlena for around 15 years and there is a reason I keep going back. Her classes are good for my health and fun! So, this Tuesday night in the middle of our week, for one hour, my wife and I were treated to Marlena’s instructions and upbeat latin music while we attempted to move our bodies in a somewhat similar fashion. It wasn’t always pretty on our side. There was a lot of laughter and smiling when we messed up or couldn’t follow, but the point is that we tried. We did something good for our bodies, we learned something new, and… the big one here… we had FUN at the same time. Exercise should be fun! If it isn’t, you’re a lot less likely to do it and gain any benefits from it. Taking care of yourself is a lifestyle and this class is something that is easy to build into the day. Another aerobics instructor from Life Time, Charmel always says “There are 1440 minutes in each day. I only need you to shake it up, be present, and not care how you look for 60 of them.” It’s true. It’s a small “sacrifice” for the benefits you gain.
A great separator in life are the people that get started. You don’t need to wait until new years resolutions to try it. Today is the best time. Don’t put it off. There will always be an excuse for not doing it. Get over it and do it today.
Another oasis in the week is Shannon Bruce’s hip hop aerobics class (also at Life Time Fitness) which I’ve been attending on a regular basis for four years. Shannon has an incredible ability to break down complex dance moves so that nearly anyone can follow them. You might not think that a 43 year guy would be into hip hop, but I am. There are people of many ages and, surprisingly untypical, there’s even a physics professor from the University! What these folks all have in common is a “Child at Heart” spirit. They are willing to take a risk at looking silly in order to try something new that will help keep them young and have fun doing it at the same time! In the process you can also build some great friendships.
The group fitness classes at Life Time work for my advantage through motivation and fun. I’m motivated by the teachers and the other people in the class. I believe that if they can do it, I can, too. The fun makes the time go by quickly. Since my brain is working all the time to try and follow the steps, it doesn’t get overly repetitive. By committing myself to working out regularly and eating right, I was able to lose 25 pounds and help control my high-cholesterol level naturally. The important point is to find what healthy activities are fun for you.
Your oasis is the part of your day you look forward to. It’s a reward for work well done. It keeps you going. It refreshes you. You are rejuvenated. An oasis is a gift to yourself. It’s something somewhat unexpected that you find each day.
I look at my exercise routine as an oasis. I will make a valiant effort to get there 3-5 times a week not just because my doctor said I should to stay healthy, but because it is my oasis. I look forward to it like beautiful palm trees and a serene quiet pool of clear water in the middle of a desert. I know that afterward, I will be renewed…and I didn’t even have to get on a plane to do it.
At the end of your day you can look back and say to yourself…”I’m so glad that I lived today…if just for that refreshment. The rest of the day was just a bonus.”
You can build other oases (plural) into your day. Hot cocoa after shoveling snow is an oasis. Laughing at a funny movie is an oasis. Playing piano or trumpet is another oasis for me. Anything that is enjoyable and builds you up can be your oasis. I have a tool called the “Rejuvenate List” that can help you in this regard. More about that in a future post. Kids naturally do things that build them up every day. Their jobs are to play. For adults we need to consciously build it into our day or we’ll skip it and get burnt out quickly.
What is your personal oasis today?