Weight Set

Unexpected and FUN exercise

Tracey Columns

Many of us in the second half of life are always on the look-out for new ways to exercise our bodies as well as our brains. Ascribing to the ‘use it or lose it’  philosophy, we spend our time completing healthy hikes or tackling challenging, mind-numbing puzzles. We understand that in order to enjoy a full and satisfying life, we need to keep everything firing on all cylinders for as long as we possibly can. It’s the right thing to do.

But doing the right thing, in this case staying fit, can also feel like a real slog. While I never seem to tire of exercising my brain, I can get really bored with repetitive exercise programs. I need to regularly change things up in order to stay motivated.

So you can imagine my absolute glee when I happened to stumble into one of the best mind and body exercise sessions I’ve had in a very long time, maybe ever.

The problem is … I can’t ask you to join me, you won’t find it at your gym or health club, the city recreation programs have never heard of it, and there aren’t any infomercials to watch or DVDs to order. What could it possibly be, you ask? Allow me to explain.

My husband and I are in Humboldt Light Opera Company’s summer production of Mary Poppins, happy to be cast as Miss Lark and Admiral Bloom, minor characters who get to have a great deal of fun.

In the show, one of the biggest production numbers is  “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”? You’d be one hundred percent correct if you thought simply learning how to spell that word would be brain teaser enough. It is.

But over the weekend we attended a rehearsal to learn the ‘choreography’ for that particular musical number. This was the super charged exercise session that had our hearts racing and our brains spinning. Why? Each letter has corresponding hand and body movements. Eventually, everything is strung together in the time span of about 15-20 seconds. Or at least, that’s the goal!

On rehearsal day, the cast filled the space. As is the way, ages tended to group together. The teens seemed to collect in one corner, while the littlest kids sprinkled themselves among caring parents and adults. And the geezers? We wisely staked out the very back row.

I’ve known most of these people for years. We always have fun doing these shows and I think it’s safe to say, we’re a pretty good-natured group. But when our fearless choreographer, the talented, patient, and young Melissa Hinz, ran through the number the very first time? Well, we geezers could have easily been mistaken for a herd of deer caught in the headlights!

And yet, that was the exact moment when the fun began! In spite of what felt incredibly overwhelming, I loved knowing that my mind and body would be working to learn something so downright complicated! While my arms and legs went all over the place, my focus was keen. I was poised to master something new and it was exciting.

It helps to be old enough to recognize that learning is a process, one that takes time. I also understand that if I’m diligent, I’ll have all of this entertaining rigmarole locked down come opening night. And finally, while the youngins’ will surely grasp this piece far more quickly than I, it’s doubtful they’ll be having any more fun that those of us in the back row!

Come see for yourself! Mark your calendars for Humboldt Light Opera Company’s production of Mary Poppins, July 31 – August 15. (http://www.hloc.org/)

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)