Herald-Journal
Herald and Journal, May 10, 1999

Richard Simmons, beware!

By SUE FINK

I'm so relieved.

Now I know for sure that Tae Bo is not for me. The "Dimension" segment on WCCO's 10 p.m. news recently confirmed it.

No more feeling guilty about not joining a Tae Bo class. Some of my co-workers have been doing Tae Bo. This combines karate kicks and punches with other movements for a total body workout. Maybe this would be the class for me. God knows I need to get into some kind of exercise routine.

The TV report showed a large Tae Bo class at a health club. It looked kind of fun, but sweaty. The people they interviewed thought it was a great workout. They said it was more motivational to take the class with a group. Video tapes are available, too.

I was thinking, "Hey, maybe I could do that."

Near the end of the piece, they had a doctor look at a Tae Bo tape to see what he thought. His opinion?

The high kicks and twisting movements may be a problem for sedentary middle-aged people. I could feel my back going out as he spoke. There is nothing that strikes fear in my heart like the words "back spasm."

It has been 17 years since the first time I put my back out. The pain was excruciating.

I was helping my husband and my father-in-law get some hay bales off the field. My father-in-law, Don, drove the tractor. Tom walked along picking up the bales and throwing them up on the hay wagon. My job was to stack the hay. We had only gotten to the fifth or sixth bale in the field. As I picked it up and turned to carry the bale to the back of the wagon, my back suddenly locked in place.

I yelled for Don to stop. At first, he thought I was kidding. When he saw the look in my eyes, he knew I wasn't. I managed to straighten up, but I could not get down off the wagon. Tom lifted me down.

I tried walking around to see if I could shake the kink out, but it didn't work. I limped down the hill toward the house. By the time I got there, I noticed my left leg seemed to be dragging a little bit. I was walking like the mummy that had just escaped it's tomb in the old horror movie.

My kids had great fun pointing this out to me while I was recuperating. They liked to imitate my walk. Some day I hope they have kids just like them.

Several weeks of pain pills, muscle relaxants, and a heating pad eased my pain. It took a long time before I stopped the leg dragging, though.

Fear of back pain seems like a pretty good reason to avoid Tae Bo. Of course, I could just try to lose some weight and get into shape. The gist of the TV report was that you shouldn't just leap into doing strenuous exercise.

Do you suppose they might have some kind of a mini-class for wimps?

I must admit that I have another fear that keeps me from joining an exercise class. Fear of being seen in spandex. I would have to go out and buy the obligatory cutesie-pie outfit to wear so that I could sweat in style.

Somehow I don't think my barn sweats would be welcomed to such a class. I guess I'd better try working out at home, first. I could wear a T-shirt and shorts, I suppose.

Here's what my exercise gear would consist of:

  • shorts, good and long, like down to my ankles, $40.
  • black T-shirt, size large. Black makes you look smaller, right? In big, white letters on the front it says, "Needs Improvement," $30.
  • New tennies, not the K-mart blue light special, but the real thing, $90.
  • The knowledge that I am exercising in the privacy of my own home where no one can see me? Priceless.


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