Quirky Stories

Maeve Binchy and Low Impact Aerobics

220px-Binchy33by Lynne Marshall

I was saddened by Maeve Binchy’s death last year, as I had enjoyed so many of her books, I kind of felt like I knew her.

The last book I’d read of hers was Heart and Soul“Maeve Binchy tells a story of doctors and staff, patients, family, and friends at a heart clinic in a community caught between the old Ireland and the new.”  That’s what part of the book synopsis reveals, and, as a Medical Romance author, having the story take place around a cardiac clinic got my attention.

Anyone who reads Ms. Binchy knows that she likes to throw several characters together by some sudden change, then follow this one or that one off into their personal lives, then do the same for the next and the next until circling back around to the big part of the book, and where they all fit in.

Which reminded me of, and leads me to, another Maeve Binchy book that I thoroughly enjoyed called Evening Class.  “A class called Introduction to Italian. A class where people from every walk of life come together. A class where long-buried hopes come alive again.”  I loved how the diverse group of characters slowly became friends as they studied the basics of this new language, and how they eventually planned a group trip to Italy.

So you may be scratching your head about now, wondering what in the heck all this has to do with low impact aerobics, right? bigstock-Vector-Silhouette-of-a-woman-w-6054502

In typical Maeve Binchy fashion, I’ll tell my part of the overall story.  I’ve always prided myself on being physically fit and healthy, but over the last year I’ve been hit with a couple of setbacks.  I tore my retina then I broke a bone in my foot. Nothing major, but both conditions stopped my forward momentum in the exercise department for several months.

Fast forward to low impact aerobics.  When I realized I couldn’t comfortably continue my all girls’ gym workouts, I went searching for something less stressful.  A flyer came to my house for Adult Education courses, and I found the ad for low impact aerobics and quickly signed up. Then I realized the class was at the local Senior Center. I rationalized that it was a new building and probably had to utilize as many rooms as possible for financial reasons.

When I walked in on the first day of class, I almost turned around and walked right back out.  Everyone was definitely a senior citizen – 70s all the way to one 90 year old!  Yes, I’m a baby boomer, but surely I don’t belong here yet! I’m not ready for this! The class can’t possibly suit my needs.

The instructor played music from the forties and fifties while we exercised, she also had a tendency to speak to us like we were children – probably expecting most of us to be senile?  Also, the teacher engaged all of the students in conversation while we went through the stretching routines—there around sixteen of us–which gives this writer a chance to learn new things.

Being fair minded, I let all of the above roll off my back along with the age bit, and took a chair.  Yes you read right, we exercise in chairs!  Red haired girl performing fitness exercises

Well, we start out that way, anyway.  Each part of the body gets thoroughly stretched while sitting in that chair, and guess what, it doesn’t bother my still-sensitive foot (the one with the newly-healed broken bone).  Next we use balls to work our abdomens and legs, then we stand to do more stretching exercises, then free weights for our arms.  After a short break—it’s a two hour class—we come back and do mild dancing for the aerobics portion.

Notice I’ve shifted from I don’t belong here to we?  Once I dropped my pride and said, I’ll try it once, I was hooked.  The class is exactly what I need. Besides, how often can a woman my age be the youngest in the room?

Just like Maeve Binchy’s Evening Class, I’ve come to learn so much about everyone in the class. We consist of diverse cultures and life experiences. There’s a Chinese couple, a Japanese lady with a name that rhymes with taco, An African American man with early Parkinson’s, a red-headed woman named Rusty (who used to be a natural redhead, but now she’s just going for that look), and there’s the ninety year old lady who likes to sing at the end of one particular dance song and who can still do the boot scootin’ boogie be it an extremely modified version, plus another American couple who each has one bad knee and who hobbles through the dance routines but they don’t give up.  And more.

As I already mentioned, it’s kind of nice to be the “youngest” again. They miss me when I skip a class, worry about anyone who misses more than once, and we always sing happy birthday for the guilty parties. The last birthday girl floored me. This cute little peppy lady who always sits on my right and who volunteers as an usher at our local Cultural Arts Center had turned 81!  I thought for sure she was in her early seventies. You never know, right?

It got me to thinking—wouldn’t it be interesting to learn the four men and twelve women’s stories? Or as a writer worth her salt, I could make up all of their stories and write my own Maeve Binchy-styled book titled Adult School.  I’d switch back between the 1940s, 1950s and the present.  Hmm, I think I’m on to something.

I may not be emotionally ready for this class held at the senior center, but, like any good Maeve Binchy novel, the interaction suits my needs. I feel a part of the group. We do line dances, waltzes (no partners, just moving around the room – one-two-three, one-two-three) the Charleston, the cha-cha, you name it! After each dance we have to check our pulses to make sure we’re challenging our hearts. I usually am.

Though I’ll admit I enjoy the class and the diverse students, and the senior center offers excursions to all kinds of places, don’t count this baby-boomer in any time soon for taking a road trip with the old folks!

Have you ever felt like a fish out of water, and how did you work it out?

Lynne’s two current books:

978-0-263-89896-5         9780373657568

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26 thoughts on “Maeve Binchy and Low Impact Aerobics”

  1. LOL, Lynne! Sounds like your class is great fun regardless of age/gender/ability. There’s a whole big story right there in that room and I bet each member has something really special to contribute. Personally I hate starting any kind of class because you just don’t know what’s expected of you, who else is going to be there, or whether you’ll ace it or flunk it. But I also have learnt that pretty much everyone else feels the same, so if you go with an open mind and willing heart you’ll get on just fine!

  2. Your reference to Maeve Benchy caught my eye and led me to your post, but your description of the senior-citizen exercise class really grabbed me! As a way to get to know people in my new town, I took a writing class at our local senior citizen center and ended up being delighted with all the wonderful people I met. Yes, most of them were older than me (that is kind of nice!) but they had young minds. Their diverse stories kept me enthralled.
    I’m glad your exercise program is working out. You’ve got the right attitude.

    1. Hi Sandra!
      I’m so glad you found your way over here. I love your story. Pre-conceived ideas about people or places are never a good idea, because we run the risk of missing out on some really nice life experiences. And staying young at heart is the key to a good, long life, wouldn’t you say?

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. 🙂

  3. I know exactly what you mean about being the youngest. When I moved into my mostly retired persons development I was 57 and considered young. I was young because I could climb ladders and change light bulbs. : ) Your class sounds like it’s right up my alley, and I’m a huge fan of Maeve Binchy. I think Tara Road is permanently imprinted in my brain.

    1. Janie – just had the class Tuesday afternoon and I grinned the whole time. It’s so damn entertaining. It is now the summer session and we’ve got a few new faces. More characters to ponder while I’m stretching in that chair! LOL

  4. I love that your the youngest! I’ll bet everyone in the class is trying to keep up with you. Love this story and how everyone has gotten closer. Fish out of water, you ask… usually every time I start a new series with a new cast and crew. It’s hard when you don’t know people, isn’t it? Great post!

    1. Hi Dee J! I can see how starting a new show is always tough. I never considered being a registry nurse (one who goes wherever to fill in for staff shortages) because I thought I’d NEVER have the chance to feel at home or form relationships.
      Thanks for reading my silly blog.

  5. Hi Lynne
    What a great post. Do you know I don’t think I’ve ever read a Maeve Binchy novel but your post has inspired me to rectify that as soon as possible. I love the sound of your class and please, write a story around it some day! With your wit and the way you bring characters to life with all their quirks, it would be a sensation.

    ps How is foot now?

    Anne x

    1. Thank you Anne – I think the biggest obstacle to overcome would be finding time – something you can definitely relate to. My foot is doing well, though it still gets sore, especially after our 30 minutes of dancing. 🙂

  6. I like the story idea.
    I’m a pretty outgoing person and my children get annoyed with me because they say do you have to make friends with everyone – it doesn’t hurt

    1. Hi Beth – I’m glad to know this story idea is catching on. 🙂
      I hope your good natured approach to making friends rubs off on your kids. They’ll be glad when they grow up.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. I’m glad your fish-out-of-water experience turned out fine, and, hey, sounds like you’ve got your next story…or series! I feel like I have those “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not quite belong,” moments all the time, but I’m blanking on them right now. However, the RWA National Conference is coming up, so I have a wonderful opportunity to add to my collection. 😉

    1. Ah, Sam – you’ll fit right in at National conference. I hope great things happen for you there. 🙂 Please keep me posted, as I won’t be going this year.
      P.S. You look great in pencil skirt suits.

  8. Lynne, I’m so sorry to hear about your foot, but your low impact exercise class sounds great. I can just imagine how that must have felt walking into the senior center, probably much like when my first AARP card showed up when I was only 50! 🙂

    But hey, we are only as old as we feel, right? And I still feel young. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Laura Iding

  9. love this! I teach a beginner’s jazz dance class for the UCLA Wellness Initiative; it’s a 50 minute biweekly class during lunch hour, and it’s open to all faculty and staff, and let me tell ya: the students are as diverse as they could be! I’ve got young 20-somethings, retirees and senior employees in their 70s, women and men, a variety of ethnicities, people who used to dance when they were kids and people who’ve never set foot in a dance class before, and everything in between. Teaching this mix has been such a joy in my life. No matter what our background, we’re all there to stay healthy, dance, and have fun, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

    1. Wow Laura – that class sounds like a huge challenge – for the teacher! Kind of like herding cats?
      I bet they love you for doing it and they’re all better off for showing up and moving their bodies. That’s how I feel, anyway. 🙂

  10. Silly litte blog? No way, Lynne! I smiled all the way through it 🙂 I always feel like a fish out of water at a wedding or a party where we really only know the bride and groom or the person who’s throwing the party. (my husbands hates it!) But I’m pretty good in a crowd so usally by the end I’ve met a bunch of people I might not have otherwise, found some more fodder for my books 🙂 and had a good time!

    Write tyat book – I’ll be first in line to buy it!

    1. Hi Amy – yeah, weddings are a great example of feeling like the odd man out if you only know the bride or groom.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, and we’ll see how it goes with my future writing time. 🙂

  11. Hi Lynne, you really made me smile with your blog! Well done you for having the courage to break the mould and look beyond that initial ‘I don’t belong here’ feeling. I wonder how many amazing stories there are amongst all of those long memories in your class? And now they have their very own ‘baby boomer’ to do them justice!

  12. Lynn,
    Your exercise class sounds interesting. I started going to a senior swimming class. I was one of the youngest and they like-to have killed me the first few months. I love the book idea.

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