An Unexpected Exercise Regime

A ballroom dancing couple. Illustration by Dav...
A ballroom dancing couple. Illustration by David Göthberg & Co, Sweden.  Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My exercise of choice used to be Ballroom Dancing. I loved moving my body to the sound of music and thrilled in my ability to move gracefully across the dance floor. I spent hours with my dance partner perfecting the movements of the dance; and spent many hours with a high impact aerobics instructor in order to be “dance fit”. My aim was to compete in five dances, one after the other, and make it seem effortless. I could not imagine exercising without moving to the rhythm of music.

Fifteen years later I have had two children and dancing has become a part of my “before-children” phase. A firm believer in the benefits of exercise for growing children, I have walked my children to swimming lessons, skating lessons, and (on request) Tae Kwon Do (TKD) lessons. Each week I have taken them to our local community centre so that they can get their weekly quota of exercise in order to grow physically strong.

In January of this year, my husband and I decided our girls needed more marshal arts training than they were getting at the community centre. They needed to take the sport seriously and learn to perfect their form. We enrolled them in a TKD dojang (school) and have seen them blossom under the tutelage of their new Master and instructors.

But what about me? I fell into the trap that many mothers fall into: the trap of looking after the health of the family and not my own. My exercise regime suffered. My own physical activity consisted of walking my daughters to their lessons; and trying, sometimes successfully, to follow a DVD at home early in the morning before the household awoke. No longer was I exercising for up to 2 hours a day. Instead, I have watched my children partake in their lessons, praised them and encouraged them, watched physical activity from the sidelines. I have felt proud of my children’s achievements and progress, and celebrated with them each small success.

“What about mum?” the TKD Master asked me one day after a lesson. “You are here, try it.” She encouraged me to join in, noticing that I often watched with interest the participants in her class. “Maybe you will like it. It will help you with your weight, and give you energy to be with the kids.” (She knew I am a teacher of young children). I knew on some level that I was neglecting my own physical fitness but, secretly, I hoped to one day dance again. Realistically I knew that it would not happen for a long time, not while I had children dependant on me to take them to their physical activities. And in the meantime? I gained weight, and lost the fitness that I once used to enjoy. I decided to take the Master up on her challenge and join the other adults I had watched exercise with their children.

Four months ago I donned the white uniform of the TKD student. As I tightened my white belt around my waist, young voices of encouragement echoed in my mind: “You can do it mommy! I know you can!” The voices of the instructors joined those of my children as they encouraged me to do sit-ups, push-ups, and even cartwheels.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
The Tae Kwon Do uniform. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

I will not tell a lie and say that the classes were easy. I am not supple and struggled to even touch my toes. My heart beat races after the first few minutes of cardio. Often during the class I am left breathless as I strive to keep up with those fitter and younger than me. And yet … I revel in the aching muscles and physical fatigue that helps me sleep at night. I welcome learning movement again albeit without the sound of rhythmic beats. I am learning slowly to master the movements, the exercises and patterns, the Korean terms.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Attaining the TKD yellow belt. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

I felt pleased when I attained my next belt and wore the colour proudly. My children helped me learn the new patterns, and I practised a little each day when I woke up. I have slowly begun to feel stronger – certainly the muscles in my legs are getting firmer. I am surprised at how many push-ups I am now able to do (I can now do more than one!). I have reached my toes in the stretches and am now working on touching my head to my knees. I enjoy the camaraderie of the classes and still watch in admiration those who have attained a higher belt.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Testing for orange belt. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

I have just completed the test for my orange belt and feel I am now on a TKD journey. Each time I tie my belt around my waist, not only am I showing that I have attained the next level and am committed to this marshal art, but also that I have made a commitment to my own physical exercise and well-being. And the next best thing? I am exercising with my children – both in the classroom, and when we practise together at home.

Have you ever fallen into an unexpected exercise regime?

(This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

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55 thoughts on “An Unexpected Exercise Regime

  1. No, unfortunately, I have not fallen into a good exercise routine, but I’m still working on it.
    Thanks for the encouragement.

    By they way, Colline, where did you find the visitors’ flag counter for your site? I’ve seen them on other sites as well, but I don’t see any place on my dashboard to connect with one. I checked all my widgets, and they don’t have one either. I think my theme is twenty-eleven, but it is close enough to the one you use I would think they would probably offer similar possibilities. When you get time, let me know how you got the flags of visitors to post. Thanks a lot.

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      1. Another question. I noticed that page that I linked to says in the “Terms of Service” that they can post ads on the counter any time they want. I was wondering if they have ever posted any ads on yours that you were unhappy with. Also, I didn’t see any instructions concerning getting rid of the counter later if I decide I don’t want it. Do you know anything about that? Sorry for all the questions, but I like to be sure I can get out of something before I get in. But please don’t feel you have to hunt for answers. Just wondered if you already know this stuff. Thanks.

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        1. I have not noticed any ads on mine Sandra. And if you don’t like it, you can always take it off (i remember reading it somewhere – though I have not done it yet).

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      2. Well, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge, but when I typed in my e-mail, then it gave me a code and said paste it to my “source code.” Since I have no idea what — or where — that is, and would probably have to have a long, drawn-out explanation, I may just forget it for the time being. Thanks for the link, though. May use it later when I get better acquainted with the terminology.

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  2. I did the same as you – after I got my kids – But for me it was karate – this happened 30 years ago. Today I am happy that I can walk and be without wheelchair and other disable helps I use a stick / cane when I am walking but those days I miss when I could do all this as you do know..Take care also later (it has helped me through my time as invalid) 🙂

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  3. Hi there 🙂
    I love this story 🙂 I am so glad you found TKD, I have never tried it personally but I love Thai boxing and Savate (french kickboxing) so good for you and so much fun 🙂
    Strangely enough my unexpected exercise regime is dancing 🙂 I joined a Morris Dancing side last year (http://mythago.org.uk/) and it was such good fun and so exhausting that it provides me with an excellent work out…it also provided me with the incentive to get (as you say) dance-fit in order to put on a good performance 🙂 now I exercise 7 days a week (details are on my blog :-)) and it is all because of dancing!

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    1. It is so funny that we have experienced the exact opposite of exercise regimes.:) I still hope to one day return to dancing. It was my first love for exercise – and always will be.

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    2. I can relate entirely to what you have experienced about dance. What I love about dance is that it is social so you can meet others who share your passion. You listen to upbeat music and the dancing itself does not feel like exercise, but the benefits are amazing – increased strength and balance and an overall general feeling of wellness and happiness!

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  4. I wish I could Colline but for me light Yoga is the best I can do for my fibromyalgia but I admire you for what you’ve done. Congrats and keep going. I had lots of fun with my ballroom dancing and karate in my younger days. 😀 *hugs*

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    1. Thank you Sonel. I have done yoga a few times – again before I had kiddies and put their needs first. The best thing about this exercise regime is that it is at the same venue as my girls’ 🙂

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    2. Sonel, how do you find yoga for fibromyalgia? What yoga positions and routine works best for you? Some find that the constant ache from fibromyalgia pain is so unsettling that they don’t want to move and not moving usually increases the pain. How long after you do your yoga routine do you experience relief from pain?

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      1. I just searched yoga fibromyalgia on Youtube the one day and downloaded a few videos and from that I chose the positions that worked best for me. That is just the thing with fibromyalgia. Sometimes the pain is so bad you feel you don’t or can’t move but I usually work through it. Yes, it does hurt but when you’ve had pain for most of your life you learn to live with it and I am not someone that gives up easily. The yoga does not relief the pain but sometimes it numbs it, if you know what I mean. I can feel it’s there but it’s more like a stiffness kind of pain and not the sharp pains that was there before.

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    1. I can totally understand! At least while I am forced to take my daughters out to exercise I can join them in theirs. Maybe one day your little man will encourage you to join him in his 🙂

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  5. This is very encouraging , Wish I had the guts to start something like you. I do a lot of walking on my own but I think to go for daily extra exercise is much healtier

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      1. I am sure I also need my heart to work a bit harder because I go up the hill and at the top I have to just go a bit slower to catch my breath again(Have to say I am more than double your age, so I do not worry that much)

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  6. Well, don’t you look amazing with your gi and your radiant smile! Congrats, Colline. I was unexpectedly thrown into a moderate version of exercise by a physical therapist after suffering some hip pain and foot pain. I’m happy to do it every morning, since it brings relief and makes me feel like I’m getting off my duff!
    Keep up the great work!

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  7. Congratulations! 🙂 After seeing my children and the other kids do their tae kwon do routine, I know how physically demanding it can get. You rock! I hope that one day, you can dance 5 straight sets effortlessly, too. 🙂

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    1. The instructors at the school I am at are really encouraging. Never have they said to me I am too slow. They do tell me to kick higher – but then they tell everyone that 🙂

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      1. Yes, the rushing and exhaustion from being very busy. Sometimes exercise just feels like one more chore to do, doesn’t it? I find that reminding myself that the exercise is something I’m doing for myself and the lovely feeling of contented exhaustion afterwards is the reward!

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  8. Way to go Colline!!! Congratulations!
    I used to be passionate about intensive yoga. Have been very lazy of late. You inspire me to get back to my routine 🙂

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  9. Congratulations on taking the big step forward, now you are hooked you will have to try different types of exercise. I have tried most and am average at most sports but I love the taking part and the energised feeling you get. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thank you. I have already tried quite a few ways of exercising. My favourite thus far has been dancing. Though I do admit that I am beginning to enjoy Tae Kwon Do.

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  10. Oh, yes. Unexpected exercise regime…feeling unsettled…seeking balance…life in transition again…stress relief required…back to dance again plus singing…in my basement! This is what started the entire dance thing in the first place – the need to expend pent up energy and tension. Oh, the joy of endorphin release!

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      1. Yes, one of them is always asking to play Just Dance. Sometimes I like to ‘just dance’ on my own, too. There is something very zen about focusing on the music and your own balance and core strength improving. Afterwards, the sense of relaxation and peace is wonderful.

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