The Second Half: A year of exercise—lite

By Kathleen D. Tresemer

Most of the people I know in their Second Half do not hold memberships in health clubs or gyms. I find I am an exception to the rule, at least in my circle of friends—I take yoga classes weekly, I visit the gym for aerobics and weight training, and I haul wood in the winter and hay in the summer. With all this, I should have a figure like Wonder Woman and the strength of Supergirl—what’s an old broad to do?

Second-Half pal Geri says: “Joining a fitness program is expensive! Add the gas to drive there and the time it takes…I simply can’t justify it.”

I get that. My yoga classes at Lazy Dog Studios are roughly $8 per session when I buy the six-class card for $50. I know I could get a cheaper class—they even have them at my gym for a nominal fee—but I am paying a bit more for a yoga master who is trained in therapeutic yoga and is also a physical therapist. Older bones and joints have years of wear and tear, as well as problems unique to the aging process. I want someone who knows about those things and can keep me from injuring myself or, at the very least, from making something worse.

I don’t believe in the old “No pain, no gain!” adage. I want to walk out of an exercise session feeling better than when I walked in—in my Second Half, I think I deserve to make that a priority.

“What about the shame of it all?” said Second-Half gal Peg. “Those commercials with a dozen 20-somethings all taking a Zumba class make me too embarrassed to set foot in one of those places.”

I suffer from the same concern. My Second-Half body is not a good match for those Lycra exercise shorts and midriff-baring workout tops. I tend to work out in a Harley-Davidson sweat suit Hubby bought for me, or maybe a roomy men’s cut-off T-shirt and baggy exercise pants. At my gym, none of the other folks is dressed all cutesy, and nobody is looking anyway. I could go in there dressed in a plastic garbage bag and get nothing but a nod from fellow gym rats.

However, just remember not to run any errands on your way home from working out, especially if you dress like me. All it takes is one chance encounter with a former employer, the loan officer at the bank, or the nurse from your medical office to keep you from making that mistake again. The well-groomed woman I bumped into looked at me with such concern (or maybe even horror), I expected her to escort me to the nearest homeless shelter. My new rule: never run errands after working out—not until I lose 30 more pounds, get some cute exercise clothes, and more closely resemble those bouncy chicks in the Lucille Roberts commercials. As I said, NEVER!

“I’m really too busy to fit it into my schedule,” others say. In my Second Half, I need to make the time to exercise. If I didn’t, I would simply hover around my computer for days on end, never leaving the house.

“Go against your better instincts,” my dad would say. “Push yourself to do more.” He was an Air Force colonel—we had weekly inspections and bounced nickels off our tightly-made beds. Now that I think of it, we never needed an exercise program in those days—we just went outside to play. What does that tell you?

A Second-Half guy in his 70s with joint problems complained: “I haven’t worked out in years, and I don’t want to get hurt. These gyms don’t really cater to an old goat like me.”

Old goat or not, I have just the thing for you—Golden Eagles LITE Fitness Program. This program is for 50-plus folks who: have never exercised, have not exercised in a while, or have recently finished rehab/physical therapy and want to maintain and improve fitness levels.

Golden Eagles LITE was developed by the Rock Valley College Division of Fitness & Wellness and offered through the Center for Learning in Retirement (CLR). It provides participants with small-group exercise under the direct supervision of highly-qualified staff. It takes place in the beautifully renovated Physical Education Center (PEC) on the RVC campus. Here are the basics:

→ Class meets two times a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 3 p.m. (Feb. 1-April 7)

→ Instructor-led group sessions focus on developing cardiovascular fitness, strength training, flexibility and balance

→ Participants receive comprehensive fitness assessments

→ Instructors guide and assist you with your individual exercise needs

Golden Eagles LITE participants complete an individual intake assessment including health/medical screening and orientation.

This program is only $50 for the 10-week session—that’s a steal! Contact CLR at (815) 921-3931 for more information, or visit the CLR website at

So, for all of you “old goats” out there, no more excuses! I may not hop around like the kids on those TV commercials, but I can already see improvement after my year of beginning a yoga and exercise regime. And I don’t use the word “beginning” lightly. I figure if I’m living to the age of 120 years, I’ve got lots of time to reach the expert level. As for now, I’m not pushing myself too hard.

Just like my wrinkles and gray hairs, “feeling better” kinda snuck up on me!

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at

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