This is for the woman who hasn’t cut the tags off her Christmas jogging suit. For the guilty who have chased a Metre-cal dinner with a late night cheeseburger platter. This is for the proponents of tunic tops, the wearers of vertical stripes and dark colors. You know who you are.
Spring comes and your good intentions swell: you buy a Vogue Beauty Guide, maybe do ten windmills that night. You try an exotic avocado diet – for lunch. But by April it’s the same old story. The azaleas are blooming and so are your thighs. Another summer of long sleeves and beach cover-ups. Another defeat.
Well, take heart. In Dallas there’s a whole new world of exhilarating, not-too-strenuous ways to get in shape for Spring. Fitness experts have taken a fresh approach to body conditioning and now there are fabulous ways to lose inches, shape up and feel better. We won’t discuss diets here. We’ll let you sort out your calorie counters and Dr. Stillman recipes. But we will take you on a tour of fun ways to shape up, almost all of which you can do in the home. We’ll look at posture, ballet, jogging and exercise classes. And who knows? By April you may be tucking in your tunic.
Whether you’ re talking to a karate expert or a prima ballerina, the word is: posture. Even an obese woman can improve her appearance dramatically by standing and sitting up straight. Good posture facilitates blood flow and prevents pinched nerves. Poor posture results in chronic back problems and sometimes curvature of the spine.
The old trick of placing a book on top of the head is a valid check for postural alignment. Try it. Be aware of how your body feels as you move. Notice your reflection in store windows. Hold your stomach in and you’ve already lost an inch from your waist.
Louise Williams, who has been instructing exercise classes in the Park Cities for 30 years, gives a few suggestions:
“Remember, you grow into the way you use your body most of the time. Most people favor their right side. I have my students overcompensate by exaggerating use of their left sides. Try it. It well help to return your body to its original symmetry.
“As a child speaking before a class you probably stooped forward, plastered your arms to your sides and locked your eyes to the floor. Well, you can relax now. Hold your head up and your stomach in. Let your arms loose. Practice standing pretty.”
Veteran ballet instructor Denise Brown suggests women imagine a vertical rod through their bodies. “Pretend you’re a horse on the merry-go-round. Don’t bend the rod, don’t yield to the slump.”
And don’t head for the corny dogs once the ride’s over.
Ballet is ideal for the hopeless romantic or the pragmatist who draws the line at weight machines. It’s an enchanting blend of inspired music, pointed toes and exalted French commands. Ballet is also a no-nonsense workout, the ultimate in discipline. It’s terrific for your cardiovascular system. A basic ballet workout uses more muscles than jogging, and it doesn’t necessarily mean “football calves” for women, dance instructor Denise Brown says.
“Bulging muscles are a result of improper stretching. For years we did not stretch our calves with the same vigor that we contracted them. That’s why you see some overdeveloped calves. But none of my girls have bulging legs.”
So much for that excuse. Ballet classes are offered throughout Dallas in both private studios and city programs. Here’s a sampling of some of those classes, and some tap, belly and modern dance as well.
1. BALLET-Park North YWCA,4434W. Northwest Highway. Classes for beginners, starting April 25. Eight, once-a-week sessions for $24. Evenings. Call 357-6575.
2. BALLET- Denise Brown School ofDance, 5936 Sherry Lane. Beginning lessons for adults offered evenings. Call368-5250 for times and costs.
3. BALLET- Dealey Recreation Center, 6501 Royal Lane. Free beginningballet classes for women, Wednesdaysfrom 12:30 to 2 p.m. Call 361-8010 formore information.
4. BALLET – Dallas Ballet Center,3560 Forest Lane. Beginning ballet, alsotap and gymnastics. Call 351-6232.
5. BALLET- Dallas Ballet, 3601 Raw-lins. Women’s classes offered. Call 526-1370.
6. DANCE – Buster Cooper School ofDance. 8036 Spring Valley Road. Variety of lessons available. Call 235-6363.
7. DANCE – Dealey Recreation Center, 6501 Royal Lane. Modern dance, tapdance and belly dance offered. Call 361-8010.
8. DANCE – Reverchon Park Recreation Center, 3505 Maple Avenue. Aerobicdancing offered. Ten lessons for S10.Call 521-2690.
9. DANCE – Fretz Park RecreationCenter, 6950 Beltline Road. Disco dancing offered to adults. Wednesday evenings. Call 233-8921.
10. DANCE – Walnut Hill RecreationCenter, 10011 Midway Road. Belly dancing offered for beginners. Call 357-5111.
11. DANCE – Marcus Park RecreationCenter. 3003 Northaven Road. Jazz, belly and aerobic dancing for women. Call241-1078.
12. DANCE – Garland YWCA. 3821 Broadway. Belly dancing, eighteen sessions for $45. Evening classes. Call 271-4681.
13. DANCE – Lelah B. Widner Oak Cliff YWCA. 1811 S. Hampton. Belly dancing, four sessions for $12. Evenings, beginning in mid-March. Call 339-5181.
DANCE – Park North YWCA. 4434 W. Northwest Highway. Tap dancing beginning April 11. Eight weeks for $25. Aerobics dance class also offered. Classes begin March 16. Eight sessions for $16. Call 357-6575.
DANCE – Richardson YWCA. 515 Custer Road. Belly and disco dancing offered. Belly classes for beginners starting in April. Six weeks for $I2. Disco classes beginning April 5. Evenings. Six classes for $12. Call 231-7201.
Joggers are fanatically sold on jogging. They’ll probably form their own nation one day. They speak knowledgeably of improved circulation, greater stamina, muscle tone and mental clarity. Okay, we’re sold. So we asked Amy Jones, women’s director of the Aerobics Activity Center, to give us some do’s and don’t’s for beginners. Read through these carefully if you’ve never jogged before. It’s the most strenuous fitness program we’ll mention. But it could be the program for you.
See your doctor first. No jogging program should begin without your physician’s consent. Plan on jogging at least three times a week. (A weekend jogger does herself more harm than good.) If you’ve never jogged before, you should be on a walking program for at least three weeks to condition the legs. That means walking a mile (at least three times a week) for three weeks. As your muscles become conditioned, you can speed up to a walk-jog (for two weeks), then finally to a jog.
If discipline is a problem for you, consider this: morning joggers are more consistent in their running. There are fewer distractions in the morning, fewer reasons not to run. Regardless of when you run, it will take about six weeks for you to really develop the habit.
WHAT TO WEAR
Jogging suits come in every style and color. You can spend from S20 to $80 on one. But don’t feel you have to. Any loose fitting clothes will do. In hot weather, wear cotton to absorb the perspiration. During cold months, wear a hat and gloves. (Most body heat escapes through the head.)
DO spend about $20 to $30 on some well-made running shoes. Tennis shoes won’t provide support or absorb the constant pounding. Be sure your shoes fit well, with at least a thumb’s-width of space at the toes.
BEFORE YOU JOG
A good warm-up is essential. You need to stretch and condition the muscles you’ll be using in your jog. Do jumping jacks, run in place for a while. For your thighs, assume a standing position, feet slightly apart. Bend forward and touch your toes. Hold that position for 15 to 20 seconds. Don’t bounce. Repeat until you’ve loosened up.
To prepare the ankles, stand on the edge of a step, facing up the steps. Let your heels reach to the step below, one at a time. Stretch. don’t bounce. Relax and repeat.
JOGGING DO’S AND DON’T’S
DO relax your arms as you run; let them swing down at your sides loosely. Your arms shouldn’t cross your body. Relax your shoulders.
DON’T run on your toes. Hit the ground flat-footed or heel-toe, pushing off with your toe. Your entire foot should absorb the shock.
DON’T run on concrete. Try to find a nearby field or track, or run on the grass at the edge of the sidewalk.
DO breathe through both your nose and your mouth. If it’s cold, wear a scarf over your mouth to prevent dryness of the throat.
DO listen to your body. You’ll know you’re overdoing it if your pulse rate is over 120 five minutes after jogging. The average woman’s resting pulse is between 70 and 80; world class runners’ are in the 30’s.
Now that you’re ready to play Wilma Rudolph, where do you go? The Aerobics Center has a year and a half waiting list for women, so you might just as well buy one of founder Dr. Kenneth Coopers books on the subject and head for a neighborhood park. A bicycle ride to the park or to a high school running track would be a great warm-up. And if you’re really feeling strong, go to White Rock Lake or Bachman Lake and brush shoulders with the folks who take a seven-mile run in stride.
The classic sit-up has gone the way of pill box hats and circle pins. And whether its extinction is the result of physiological research or the drive for novelty, one thing is clear: exercise is in many Dallas classes an invigorating, cheerful experience. A peek into most Dallas classrooms reveals a new creative exuberance in exercise routines. The mindless jumping jack has been exchanged for graceful dance steps that require concentration and coordination. Stretching movements are often choreographed. In fact, most classes are set to music.
If the new, rather glamorized regimen is not in itself an inducement, consider this: exercise classes are inexpensive, and in the case of most city recreation centers, free. More and more women are discovering their appeal.
A word about spas. Most health centers, like Nautilus, for instance, offer regularly scheduled exercise classes in addition to the weight-lifting equipment, saunas and steam rooms. For the working woman, or the woman with a varied schedule, spas may be the answer. Check your Yellow Pages for names and locations, and do shop around.
No one can give a precise definition of Slimnastics, though people can almost always tell you what it’s not. An hour of Slimnastics is not a laborious one-two, one-two drill. It’s not calisthenics or gymnastics. It’s mostly stretching, toning and shaping. Inch reduction. And almost every recreation center and YWCA in the city offers it. Here’s a sampling of Slimnastics and other exercise programs.
1. SLIMNASTICS – Central YWCA,4621 Ross. Emphasis on stomach andlegs, stretching and toning. Classes taughtby a former student, who through the program transformed her size 14 figure to asize 10. Classes begin March 27, twoevenings a week. Eight sessions for $12. Call827-5600.
2. SLIMNASTICS – Walnut Hill Recreation Center. 10011 Midway. Weekday morning classes. Call 357-5111.
3. SLIMNASTICS – Skyline Recreation Center, 9344 Church Road. Morningclasses each weekday. Evening classesMonday. Call 341-5830.
4. SLIMNASTICS – Marcus Recreation Center. 3003 Northaven Road. Morning classes each weekday. Call 241-1078.
5. SLIMNASTICS-Dealey RecreationCenter, 6501 Royal Lane. Classes heldMonday. Wednesday, Thursday. Fridaymornings. Call 361-8010.
6. TUMBLING AND EXERCISE – Dealey Recreation Center, 6501 Royal Lane. Thursday afternoons, beginning mid-March. Eight weeks for $8. Call 361-8010.
7. EXAEROBICS-RichardsonYWCA.515 Custer Road. Aerobics theory applied to dance exercise. Movements designed to stimulate cardio-vascular system and build stamina. Evening classesfor beginners and intermediates beginApril 4. Morning classes offered for beginners only. Eight lessons for $16. Call231-7201.
8. FASHION YOUR FIGURE -SMUSchool of Continuing Education. Exercise for women with dance movements.Eight evening classes for $40 beginningApril 5. Preregistration required. Call692-2339.
9. ORTHOPEDIC EXERCISE -Louise Williams, Snider Plaza. Specialexercise to correct structural imbalances:curvature of the spine, swayback, etc.Six weeks, two classes a week for $35.Call 363-5851.
This may be the closest you’ll ever get to the Greenhouse, the posh women’s fitness retreat in Arlington. It’s a basic, daily routine designed by Toni Beck, Greenhouse exercise director. We think you’ll be pleased with the results.
Toni is a firm believer in skipping rope. “Just make sure you stay light on your feet and alternate legs. Don’t jump like boxers, with both feet touching the floor simultaneously. Take it easy and light. Step-hop, step-hop.”