Friday, February 3, 2012

It's hell getting old

Because I’m (ahem) getting up there in age, my physical ailments seem to be taking longer than they did in the good old days, and my right shoulder is no exception. A few months ago I wrote about some physical therapy I was doing due to some tendonitis and an impingement in my rotator cuff.

The good news? I finished my physical therapy, and right around Christmas I was released and sent home with a plan to continue therapy on my own.

The bad news? Apparently my rotator cuff’s idea of “continued therapy” did not include parking myself on the couch to watch “A Christmas Story” for the third time in front of a roaring fire. Who knew?

So I had two options: I could either (1) go back to physical therapy, or (2) sign up for a gym membership, continuing with the strengthening exercises I had so happily given up over the holidays. I opted for No. 2 and joined the same gym that my friend Julie belongs to because I like Julie.

Or I did like Julie, until she asked me join her for her Piyo class.

Here’s how it went down:

Text from me to Julie: “Hey! I just joined your gym!”

Julie’s text: “Cool. What days are you going?”

Me: “I’m headed there today.”

Julie: “Want to join me for Piyo at 12:15?”

Me: “Whodawa? Piyo? Please advise.”

Julie: “It’s a combination of Pilates and Yoga.”

Me: “What the heck? I’ll be there.”

Because, really, my philosophy has become, “That which does not kills me, makes for a great column.”

So I showed up, and placed my yoga mat right next to Julie. I figured, “If I go down, I can reach out and take her down with me.” We’re good friends like that.

The instructor bounced into the room ready for action, and I was out of breath just from unrolling the yoga mat. This discrepancy was unnerving, to say the least.

The next 30 minutes were a blur of leg kicks, downward dogs and windmill stretches. Although difficult, I completed the whole session without injuring myself or anyone else (see: Julie), which is growth for me.

Yes, my rotator cuff and I were feeling pretty good about ourselves.

A few days later I headed back to the gym to do some weight therapy on my shoulder and heard about a Pilates class that was starting in 10 minutes. Pilates is one half of Piyo, I reasoned, so it must only take half as much energy. Without the “yo” it’s only half a workout, right?

This, I could do.

Until it started. And it was hard. And it was 45 minutes, and I’m a big proponent of the 30-minute-limit to all workouts.

We did 10 reps of each exercise, which is a bit much if you ask me. At one point the instructor yelled, “You guys are doing great.” (At that exact moment, however, I was collapsed flat on the yoga mat from exhaustion after doing three out of the 10 reps of in-the-air scissor kicks. I’m pretty sure she and I have differing definitions of the word “great.”)

There are countless clichés about getting old, but for each one I hear I can punch holes in the wisdom:

• “You’re only as old as you feel.” Well, I feel like crap, so now what?
• “Old age isn’t bad if you consider the alternative.” Not if the alternative is ice cream.
• “Youth has no age.” Ah, but my rotator cuff does.

But then I hear my plainly-spoken mom, 80, wisely state: “It’s hell getting old,” and my only rebuttal is “Amen, sister.”

Eileen Burmeister lives, works and writes in Roseburg. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter @EBurmeister.

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