…In The Way That Best Works For You

In my many years, I’ve had brushes with that hobby called fitness.  Somewhere in here is my short-lived attempt at appreciating CrossFit, which ended in puke.  I also have many instances of hiking, which is probably the most consistent of all my exercise methods.  I used to love to bicycle and in my later years when I would purchase a bike (happened a few times), the spark never caught, so it went nowhere.  I’ve owned and gotten rid of weights before like probably many people have.  But the one thing that has eluded me is enjoyment and consistent application of aerobic activity.  I know aerobics is important to building stamina, something I desperately need; something I’ve always needed.  But every means of getting it was not resonating with me.

Probably about 15+ years ago a product came into popularity that did pique my interest.  It was the rebounder, a durable mini-trampoline.  All the claims seemed to make sense to me, so I made the purchase and started a routine.  It didn’t last and the device went into storage.  Recently, I pulled the same rebounder out of the garage, dusted it off and started again after 15+ years of not using it.  My experiences then and now have been parallel, so I only need to explain this once.

Rebounding can be easy and it can be extremely hard.  The workouts that came with my device fooled me each time I’ve tried to make progress.  I’m going to try and be more motivated this time since there’s more at stake, even though the required effort is going to be much higher since I no longer have youth on my side.

To explain the rebounding activity, there’s two ways to do it, the easy way and the "real" way.  The easy way, which is the version you do in the first timers workout, you can just use the weight of your body and bounce on the rebounder.  Maybe you have to push a little bit with your legs to get back up again, but the telling part is that your butt is going up and down as you bounce.  That’s actually not the way you should be doing it, but because of the tempo of the workout, it is easy to do.  The first timers workout is under 15 minutes and I’ll be honest, it took me about a week or so to build enough stamina to get through it.  It was humbling.

I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t settle for just staying on the first timers workout, but I knew what was waiting for me when I would advance to the beginners workout, since I’d been through it before and the memory was painful.  As memory serves, I eventually did get through the beginner workout and even added the abdominal workout afterward before I burnt out.  But, baby steps first.  The tempo of the first timers workout is at 100 bpm, like I say, it’s enough to just bounce on the device.  The beginner’s workout starts at 120 bpm for the warmup and then hops up to 126 bpm.  At this tempo, and absolutely at 126, you cannot fall fast enough to simply bounce and you are forced into rebounding the correct way.

To do it the correct way, you are essentially levitating.  Your butt is in near the same position the whole time and your legs are pistoning down into the rebounder.  It’s hard.  It’s really fucking hard to keep that tempo and not get winded.  But that’s what stamina building is all about.  So like I said, I finally made it through the first timers after days of trying to get to that level and now I hit another wall.  So far, I can get 7 minutes into the 30 minute beginners workout.  That the full warmup at 120 bpm and maybe 2 minutes at 126 bpm.

One more thing about rebounding at any level.  If you have a gut, which I’ve developed over many years, you’re going to notice some quick improvements.  Bouncing up and down is pretty crappy when you have a gut and you will instinctively clench your abs to prevent any flopping.  It’s also thrown out as reminders and encouragement during the workout to "engage your abs".  So what you get is sort of a mini-plank throughout your whole workout.  And it works, really fast.  My pants started fitting better in a very short time and I definitely have less floppiness and protrusion, so +1 for that benefit.

Now, on the topic of masculinity and rebounding, I’ve grown up through very weird times.  Aerobics was a craze in the 70’s.  And while you would see men participating in aerobics with outfits that were not very manly, those men were kind of mocked behind the scenes.  Real men worked out like Arnold Swartzenbanger and did feats of strength, not endurance.  But regardless, the aerobics men were fit and often really ripped.  They probably did weights as well, but were still stigmatized by working out with women in leg warmers.  While gay culture was growing in the 70’s and 80’s, it was still not accepted and men had to be careful how they presented themselves to avoid being accused of that.  (And it seems we had made so much progress and are quickly losing it again.)

I work remotely and my work computer is in my living room, which is also where I do my workouts.  Usually, I clean up everything before work starts, but one day, I did not put the rebounder away and it was visible in the background during a team meeting.  I got called out on it.  That stung just a little bit.  But my reflection on that feeling is pretty much is driving this post.  It doesn’t matter how you are getting your fitness, all the roads lead to the same destination.  If you are doing something you don’t enjoy, you’re not going to stick with it.  So I encourage you to try anything and everything until you find the method you like.

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