Bike Dancing

So, exercise is a thing.  And people should do it.

I have trouble with this.

Part of this is the physical limitations I have, from a knee injury to asthma to generally weak joints (but very strong muscles).  Part of this is also that I get FUCKING BORED, Y’ALL. No, seriously. I’ve done the watch-a-movie-on-a-treadmill thing. It doesn’t work.  If left to that, I’ll do it once every 4 years and never again.

I also don’t enjoy doing sports clubs — besides the fact that I can’t play most team sports well enough to do it, I simply don’t have the time.

Climbing is a thing, but climbing is tricky sometimes.  Like when I haven’t been home in 2 weeks and don’t really relish the idea of spending yet another evening out.  Like when my knee decides that this isn’t a good time for it to bear any amount of weight, let alone push me up a wall.  Like when my allergies are bad and any increase to my breathing is an instant shut-down of my breathing into sneeze-coughing.  And, frankly, like when I just have some clumsy days and shouldn’t be trusted to be able to grab the thing I’m looking at without bruising myself first.

I do like climbing, and it is good exercise.  But it’s not a good daily fit for me. Additionally, climbing is almost exclusively weight training the way I do it (since I can’t sprint up walls and expect to be breathing at the top, yay asthma again).  And weight training is good, but it’s really the aerobic exercise the body needs to stay healthy — to say nothing of helping my lungs and heart compensate for my dumb asthma.

Sarah and I have had an exercise bicycle for years.  It’s the simplest bike in the world — it doesn’t even plug in.  It doesn’t have pre-programmed workouts or difficulty settings. It doesn’t even have programming.  What it does have is a gauge to tell you how long you’ve been going, how fast, how far, and how many calories and RPM.  And instead of having computerized resistance, it’s built so that the harder you pedal, the harder it becomes to pedal. It’s the low techiest of low tech indoor exercise bikes.

In April, I started working from home full time.  It’s still sort of new, and I wouldn’t yet say I’ve got it mastered, but it did provide me with an opportunity to do a brief daily workout either before I got going in the morning or over my lunch break.  So I started taking a few minutes on the bike every day. I started at 10 minutes and, within about 10 days, was up to 20 minutes. By mid-May, I was going consistently for 30 minutes and was adding some intervals of my own — which is to say, biking at a good clip for a while and then busting out with as much speed as possible for 30, 45, or 60 seconds depending on how I was feeling.

But the only reason it works is because it isn’t just riding the stupid bike.

It’s bike dancing.

I created a playlist for myself currently at 18 songs and set it up to be randomized.  Some of the songs have associated dance moves with them (such as “Jai Ho!” from the movie Slumdog Millionaire).  Some are just get-up-and-dance songs. Some are old favorites and some are brand new. So when I’m on the bike, my legs are pedaling, but my arms and the rest of me is dancing.

It helps.  It keeps it from being boring, and it keeps it from feeling tedious.  And because the playlist is random, I never know when I’m going to suddenly start doing the Ranka dance from Macross Frontier or using Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” to do bike crunches for 3 minutes (spoiler alert — not easy).  When my breathing is good, I can even sing along.

When I started the interval training, I used to take the last 30 to 45 seconds of every 3rd or 4th song for my interval.  Now I can consistently do an interval at the end of every song for the duration of the 30 minute biking, though they aren’t all necessarily the same length.  For every song in the playlist, I’ve got a cue that tells me to start pushing as hard as I can until the next song starts.

I’m trying to develop a system I can keep to, not something I’ll start and never do again 6 months later.  I’m trying to develop a habit I can keep for life. I’m 35 years old now, and I’m increasingly aware that this is my one shot to take really good care of myself and set myself up for a healthier later life.  I want to be one of those awesome, spry ladies who is 75 but acts like 45, not the other way around. And I want to be healthy enough to do the things I love and take care of the people I love for as long as I possibly can.  To do that, I have to start it no later than now.

So, that’s what I’m trying to do.  I will say that I’ve gotten really, really good and wild gesticulations and not losing my balance on the bike.  I’m absolutely positive that I look truly ridiculous, but then, being at home, there’s no one to see it but Sarah.  And she already knows I’m ridiculous. So who cares?

Maybe another day I’ll put up my playlist.  It’s all weird, though, so we’ll see. However, if you have any suggestions, I’d take them under consideration to be added to the rotation!

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