Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
To live more comfortably in your body, what can you do (besides whine, whimper, act curmudgeonly, and grab the stairwell when going down)?
Hang onto your bandage wraps and therapeutic creams as we dispense fit pro advice about ways to exercise cardiovascularly when your joints are HOLLERING!
Kymberly: Hey, I said it first!
Alexandra: I thought it first!
K and A: We thought it at the same time. Whoa! Twin telepathy. ……. Ahh haa haaa made you look.
K: Now that you wonder whether we really do have twin telepathy, I can tell you what Alexandra was thinking. Nada. But I am thinking that getting into a pool and doing laps or taking aqua classes are the best options. The more of your body that is under water, the less stress on your joints. If pools are not a realistic option for whatever reason – no pool handy, hate to get wet, you only wear a bathing suit in the privacy of your bathtub–whatever–then we have to come up with more clever solutions.
A: Try cardio machines that take some of the load off your lower body joints, such as indoor cycling, rowing, elliptical machines (as opposed to stair steppers or treadmills). Take advantage of a group spin or row class. For one, you can have the instructor fit the equipment to you, so you are in protective alignment. You want to be sure that the seat of your cycle is set high enough for your leg length, for example. Nag, nag, nag.
K: Add in some resistance training or Pilates twice a week. Strengthen the muscles around painful joints so that the muscles bear the brunt of the load.
Perhaps invest in a certified personal trainer or one-on-one licensed body worker (such as a Feldenkreis teacher, CranioSacral therapist, or MELT trainer). Get your form, equipment settings, shoes, stretching plan all checked by a professional. And I don’t mean us. We’re way too busy bickering about who suggested the pool first.
A: Find a local gym with a “seniors” program (a euphemism for “anyone older than myself”) and take a group low-impact class. The variety of movement will decrease the potential for pain from repetitive stress. Unless you take my sister’s class – in which case your pain will increase tremendously. Got the last word.
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And we found wellness galore! Originally known as “Temescal Sulphur Springs” (“temescal” is the Aztec word for “sweat lodge”), the spa was first advertised in 1860 to those who desired the health and recreational benefits of the medicinal waters.
So there we were, over 150 years later, clad in our swimsuits, robes and sunscreen, deciding which of 19 pools to go in first. From our concierge (yup, great service at the spa), we learned there is a recommended order for a few of the pools, so these are listed in the order that we used them.
Aqua class in the lap pool: A combination of cardio (for the heart, and calorie burn) and muscle toning, our instructor (and long-time friend) Meg Root made this class fun for everyone. From a 17-year-old to an 84-year-old; from total beginners to fitness professionals, this aqua class is accessible.
Saline Pool: A natural antiseptic, salt water helps with a variety of skin conditions, reduces acid levels after a workout (think of lactic acid buildup), and oxygenates the cells.
Mineral Baths: These are the geothermal mineral waters that come directly from the earth at Glen Ivy, and are what made it famous back in the days of the California Gold Rush. At 104°, the waters are known to soothe aching joints and muscles.
Club Mud: This pool is pretty fun and funny. You grab red clay (Silica Dioxide, Aluminum, Iron, Calcium Oxide, Magnesium Oxide, Potassium Oxide, & Titanium Oxide) and rub it all over yourself, then sit in a heated “cave” while it dries. The clay softens your skin, draws out impurities and exfoliates dead skin cells. It can also stain a light swimsuit, so don’t wear your brand new white one-piece.
Hot Pool & Cold Plunge: You’re encouraged to go in the hot pool for a few minutes, then do a 30-second dip in the VERY cold plunge for up to 10 cycles, but I did a half-body 10 second plunge in the 55°-65°F cold, followed by a 5 minute “recovery” in the hot. My legs were tingly. Athletes use this type of therapy to shorten muscle recovery time after intense workouts, but it’s good for anyone who wants to increase blood flow to the muscles. I increased my blood flow by jumping OUT of the cold plunge quickly. See the expression on my face?
The Grotto: First of all, you know it’s going to be quite the experience when you enter an elevator to descend below-ground! Once there, the staff members paint your body with copious amounts of green body moisturizer (aloe vera, shea butter, coconut oil and other ingredients including eucalyptus). From there, you go into a warm cave room and let the lotion soak into your skin. You then move into the shower room, which has shower “pods” that spray warm water from above and the side. If you can drag yourself away from that, the final room is a cool, misting area where you can have tea and apples. After removing impurities in the saline and mud pools, the grotto is where you go to moisturize.
Somehow in our busy schedule of relaxing, we managed to eat lunch and go in most of the pools, though the Roman bath, sauna, and steam room will have to wait for next time. If you are near Southern California at any time, we hope you’ll check out Glen Ivy Hot Springs. Repeatedly lauded as one of the best day spas, it’s hard to believe we didn’t know of its existence until a few years ago. But we know now!!!!
May your 2014 be full of wellness, health, family and friends. And if you want a list of 44 benefits to Steam Bathing, click this link from our friends at Mr. Steam.
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