The good news is I made it to the last session of Lean in Lebanon, but it was touch and go there for a while.
Last Thursday, I was feeling a bit out of sorts and, of course, started looking for excuses not to attend Lean in Lebanon.
I had a city council budget meeting, my asthma was acting up, and to top it all off, I discovered I’d packed mismatched sneakers.
This was, in my mind, enough reason to just go home and put my feet up.
Boy, I’m glad I changed my mind.
When I got to Sports Village I discovered the evening would be a scavenger hunt where we “Leaners,” as I call my fellow participants, were divided into teams to find envelops and race them back to the tennis courts where they were opened to reveal the kind and number of exercises we had to do to move on to the next item.
By the time my team, which I christened “The Big Orange,” finished the hunt we were laughing, running and cheering each other on.
Next the whole group of Leaners assembled at the tennis courts for fun and games. We played trust games, tag, Hula-Hoop and played tennis court volleyball with huge balls. The group, almost exclusively women, was a bit tentative at first.
Most of us, regardless of our age and number of pregnancies, seemed reluctant to put on gym clothes and reveal the exact size and location of all our humps and bumps.
But after the game where we lined up in rows and rolled a medicine ball around our waistlines before passing it between our legs to the person behind us, there wasn’t a lot of ice left to break.
The game of blob tag seemed to bring out the kid in all of us. In this game, one person was “it” until they could touch another who became part of the “blob it.” Everyone who was touched formed a bigger blob to chase and corner escapees.
It was during this game that I realized how much fun we were all having and the reason the games had been chosen.
As we flew around the tennis court holding hands, chasing people and laughing as hard as we could while shouting out strategy ideas, it occurred to me that I hadn’t had so much fun in ages. All the girls (yes, girls even those of us with white hair) we’re squealing as we ran. It reminded me of nothing so much as chasing lightening bugs in the endless twilight of a summer evening.
How long had it been since we had let ourselves have so much unthinking fun?
How many times have we just sat in front of the television instead of getting in the game – even a game as silly as blob tag?
Then I knew what the purpose of the games was. They were designed to remind us of the joy of movement.
Of the simple happiness of using your body without thought and the forgotten fun of just running with the girls and giggling.
That is the message – getting in shape isn’t about putting yourself through a grueling and dreaded exercise routine. It’s about remembering how we used to be, about taking the stairs once in a while and about the people we used to be and can be again with a small amount of effort.
But most of all, they were about fun. In a world where women are pulled from pillar to post with children, grandchildren, work, housework and a million other concerns, maybe what we all need is to get back in touch with our inner child.
So it’s back to Lean in Lebanon tonight. While I still have all the same concerns as last week, now I’m actually looking forward to having some fun there tonight.
In the end I’ll be sweaty and tired, but I’ll have made more new friends, and that’s the best exercise of all.
Mary Hinds is a staff writer for The Lebanon Democrat. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @WilsonNewsWritr.