Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
 
Working Out To Stay Healthy For Real

Working Out To Stay Healthy For Real

I’ve been feeling depressed and lonely, lately, and social media has been letting me down, so my plan is to write something light and casual here. It’s probably going to be short because I have to get ready for ballet in about an hour.

I went to Saturday morning ballet for the past two weeks because my Thursday class was canceled. The Saturday morning class is fun because it’s much bigger and it’s taught by a grand old dame with an expressive speaking style. Too bad I can’t understand a word she says.

Her combinations flow a little better, too. I guess that’s what you learn after teaching for decades (probably). The other thing you get from teaching for decades is a lack of desire to demonstrate the combinations, so you only explain them instead, and the one person in the class who can’t understand your Japanese has no clue what’s going on.

Anyway, I like the Saturday morning class, but I also like my Thursday class. This teacher is young, is still performing, and demonstrates everything all out, so that’s impressive.

She uses a combination of simple Japanese and French ballet terms, so I almost always know what’s going on. When it’s clear I’m not getting something, she says it in her nearly perfect English. Although, one time, she very adorably kept referring to my toes as my fingers (it’s the same word in Japanese).

The other thing I like about going to dance on Thursday is that after class, I feel like I’m nearly done for the week. There’s no Saturday obligation to worry about.

My arms are sore today because, on Tuesday, I discovered Caroline Girvan, a fitness Youtuber with really high-quality at-home workout videos. They are the kind of videos you’d expect to pay for. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time.

I haven’t found another fitness Youtuber that doesn’t conflate beauty and health. Most of the time, it’s not that big of a deal, exercise is exercise, except that they design their workouts around creating a certain aesthetic (mostly growing your butt and slimming everything else).

I’m in my 40s. I’m over the size of my booty. I want a well-balanced workout. My goals are having things like strong bones, so I can fall over and not break anything, and being strong in general, so I don’t fall over in the first place. I don’t want any muscle imbalances that contribute to pain, so I can maintain my mobility and freedom of movement. I want to be able to use and enjoy my body for as long as possible.

As far as I’ve seen, Caroline Girvan has only mentioned weight loss once as a personal goal someone might (in theory) have in one pep-talk-type video. It wasn’t in an exercise video. As a matter of fact, she hardly speaks, at all, in her exercise videos. There is no unnecessary blabbing. I didn’t think that mattered much, but while doing a workout where she didn’t say a word, I was able to just get into the zone and concentrate on the exercise.

In one Q&A video, someone asked her if she competed in bikini competitions. Her response was that she was not interested in dietary restrictions, so no.

I was so happy and relieved to finally find a fitness guru who actually prioritizes fitness over beauty. Not only that, but she actually understands that fitness and beauty are not the same things. I’m so tired of hearing people saying that they’re doing certain things (usually severe calorie restriction) for their “health,” when it’s very clear that they’re doing them for aesthetics.

Ok, I thought I’d be able to say more today, but I stopped to watch a little bit of Caroline’s Q&A video again, so I’m out of time.

One comment

  1. Finding the right groove with someone is one of my favorites! Especially when the groove you share is uncommon. Caroline is what I call ‘a baby’s bear’s chair’, you know because she’s ‘just right’. How cool for you!

    Though classes with Madame sound incredibly challenging. I’ve dipped a teeny tiny toe into learning my favorite foods and activities in Japanese. Making my face speak Japanese is HARD! All the other accents want to come out. Irritating. Mostly I want to order in restaurants and not sound like a goober. My chances of going to Japan are zero. Mick and I both have tattoos for one thing, and for another I am simply too big. This isn’t a bust-down on myself, just fact. You’re there, you know. Sometimes I watch the live cam at Shibuya crossing and I’ve never seen any truly overweight people. However I thought it would be wicked cool to see you there waving up at the camera. Video chat from the comfort of our homes? No, no. no. Haul your buns across Tokyo to go to THE most crowded intersection in Japan to wave at a traffic cam so your dopey friend in America can see you. This is how it is with me these days, all giddy notions and wackiness.

    Have I ever told you how much I respect your devotion to your studies? I am so easily distracted – willingly so. I groan about it enough but part of me enjoys my bower bird approach to learning things. Every addition adds to the whole and sometimes is so good it means reworking a lot of things that were already there. I am making peace with my lack of competitive motivation too. I want things all the time, I am a basket full of wish lists and bucket lists, but zero discipline. None. Either it’s fun and I’m learning or I’m taillights. Your ability to focus and not mind the boring/painful parts and pursue things for YEARS is a wonderment. I am proud to have such a friend. And I get to live vicariously in your adventures and listen to your thoughts. You unpack yourself with truth, you know. It might be the keenest of your skills. Plus you’re mad courageous to live so shriven of home. I hear you when you say you’re weary. Rightfully so. People scoff when Americans go to McDonalds in Rome. But I get it. It’s a comfort to just be somewhere you’re absolutely certain of how it works. You know all those quiet rules that only come with being a native. Damn it feels good to be somewhere like that, even if the McNuggets suck. And in Japan? Ye gods. The stress of trying to not look like a clod and knowing they are too polite to ever tell you when you goof it. Oy. Navigating must be like Highland sword dancing – stepping very carefully or you’re dead. With the added bonus of trying to think in two VERY different languages. And there you are tear-assing along doing All The Things. Shopping your memoir. Ballet. Like real ballet, not the evening ballet with the girls which quickly devolves into ballet and margaritas. And no one signs up for the next 8 weeks of classes but they keep going out for margaritas. Because why the hell not?

    A phrase and sentiment very popular here at the moment. Why the hell not? My neo-hippie curls are leading me to mischief and I don’t mind a bit.

    Much love to you, dear heart. ~ LA

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