I've been pretty sedentary for the past 6 years. Part of it is my hobbies--running with knitting needles is a good way to lose an eye or rupture a lung, and piano isn't exactly a marching band instrument. The other (larger) part is my body. I did gymnastics until I was 16. I wasn't particularly good at it, mind you, but I did it 14.5 hours a week, 51 weeks a year for a decade. When I hit high school, my knees began the process of dying. I don't know if you've ever had a body part degenerate on you, but it's basically awful. You go to physical therapy and they can arrest your descent, but unless you stop doing the thing that makes you hurt, you're never going to get well. When the thing that makes you hurt is putting any force on a bent knee, it makes that sport you dedicated your life to nigh on impossible.
The day I realized I was taking tylenol just so I could sleep through the night was the day I went to my coaches and quit. After that, I sat still for a long time. My body has, for the most part, forgotten just how badly I was hurting day in and day out (when it remembers, I have the most vivid waking dreams about injuring myself any number of ways back at the gym. It's pretty grim). This is one of the reasons I want to scream at the Marines for their "Pain is weakness leaving the body" slogan. Pain is not weakness leaving the body, it's your body telling you that if you don't stop that right now, you're going to irreparably damage something.
Since then, things have gotten better. Stairs are still a lesson in torture, but that's not too big of a deal unless I have an appointment in a skyscraper. Time heals all wounds, as they say.
Well, after a winter of being stuck in my apartment, unemployed, and generally bored, my body decided for the first time since I packed up my leotard that it wanted to work out. Now, I've worked out occasionally between point A and point B, but that was because it was "a good thing to do" or "healthy." Those are conscious mental decisions. My body wants to do push-ups. Badly.
So I wrote out a regimen based on my old conditioning routines. Other than bar exercises, gymnastics has awesome workouts you can do anywhere as long as you bring yourself. 5lb weights are helpful, but by no means necessary. The real trick was factoring in 6 years of not doing squat when calculating set numbers. My body still thinks it can do 3 sets of 30 clapping, diamond push-ups.
My piece of paper says we will do 3 sets of 5 regular push-ups. I may have been overestimating my abilities.
But I did my work-out yesterday for the first time in years. It felt great. It was exhausting. I really enjoyed it.
This morning I couldn't walk when I tried to get out of bed. I still almost fall whenever I try to stand up after relaxing the backs of my legs. I feel like a newborn calf.
Oh well. We'll work it off tomorrow. It'll be a good way to greet the day.