Mind Body Spirit
Lexingtononians offer baby steps for a healthier new year
by Kim Thomas
With the baby New Year on its way, I wondered what small steps folks are taking to stay fit in the new year? When I see people in good health, of all ages, I wonder just how they get that twinkle in their eye, that spring in their step?
Whether it is riding a horse or playing soccer, the New Year is waiting for you to find your sparkle. It doesn’t have to be a full-on commitment to juicing, Crossfit, swimming the English Channel or mountain climbing, but the Mix has aerial classes to lift your spirits, the YMCA will work on your mind/body/fitness triangle, Kentucky Indoors can enroll you in a soccer league, Calvary Baptist has a gym that only costs $10 a month, and that’s just a smattering of the opportunities to step away from the daily mundane routine and find how easy it is to feel better.
As for me, I stand at my desk for the time I’m on phone calls, take the long way around the block if I’m walking, and I try to sing for at least an hour, every day. Enough about me, let’s talk about everyone else! I asked some of our community and artistic leaders who seem to personify good health to talk about the steps they take to well-ville.
First Lady Jane Beshear says she stays fit by doing what she likes best. “I’ve always been active and love spending time outdoors. By far, horseback riding is my favorite form of exercise AND it gives me the peace of mind I need after spending time working on my initiatives in Frankfort.” Mrs. Beshear is dedicated to addressing the spread of breast cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Kentucky. Her Horses and Hope initiative is increasing breast cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky’s horse industry workers and their families. She adds, “I like to say that horses are the best personal trainers, therapists and confidantes in the world! Riding is great exercise in itself but working in the barn – mucking stalls, carrying water buckets and hauling hay – are also a great workout. I prefer to ride every day, weather permitting, but I also love the flexibility and strength that yoga offers me. Of course, keeping up with my three grandchildren is a much-loved workout too!”
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray finds the discipline of a rigorous routine perfect for his busy schedule. Gray can be seen walking to downtown appointments, and his optimism and cheerfulness are uncontainable. He says his devotion to the gym grows from an impression gained in his youth. “I always remember that it was just one generation ago that my dad grew up on a farm in southern Kentucky, where he got a good workout all day long! That’s one good reason–fear and trembling!–that I have a regular workout routine…doing weights and cardio with a rowing machine are my preferred workouts. Every day when I can.” He tries to find time for reading to de-compress, adding, “I try, too, to remember there’s always good therapy in a good book!”
AMBER PHILPOTT anchors the news nightly on WKYT-TV, looking perfect, always nice, always pretty. She says she considers fitness and wellness a huge part of her life, “and it’s something I love talking about and sharing with others. I believe a healthy lifestyle involves mind, body and soul! In my job, the mental stress many times outweighs the physical stress. For me hitting the gym at Body Structure each day is a must, I am there five days a week. There is nothing like strapping on my tennis shoes, putting in the ear buds and getting lost on the treadmill! On Saturday mornings I take a class at CycleYou in Lexington. For me it’s like yoga on a bike. Working out is something that makes me feel strong and beautiful, it’s not about losing weight or being a certain size.”
Philpott emphasizes that avoiding gluten has also become a way of life. “Nutrition is a huge part of my life as well. I have Celiac Disease, and since being diagnosed in 2009, I have needed to completely change the way I eat. I was never a really bad eater, but I can tell you the cleaner I eat the better I feel, my workouts are so much better and even my sleep is better.”
“In my job, our hours are certainly crazy. I get off work right before midnight and while some people like to stay up all hours, I do not and require a lot of sleep. I think sleep is so important to the success of our day and our health in general, it’s something I never take for granted. Finally, I think we have to exercise our mind and soul and feed them as well. I live my life constantly on the go so I try to take at least 10 minutes for myself. At night I don’t even turn on the TV. I read. Reading for me is what calms me down, lets my mind rest from the crazy day and gives me those few moments to myself to get lost in another world.”
Lexington’s Dick Gabriel is an accomplished Shao-Lin blackbelt, but he also produces, writes, edits and broadcasts more sports and news shows than we have space to list. He says he has made a commitment to swim more often this year. “I’m trying to get back in the pool on a regular basis. I love swimming and I’ve found it to be perhaps the best exercise available to me when it comes to overall fitness; and one of the best things about it is, I can clear my head while I’m doing it, unlike running, when I would constantly be doing a mental inventory of my body, I can just find a rhythm and go.” He’s trying to form better habits, but temptations abound. “I’m trying to use the steps instead of the elevator; but I must admit, there’s something about an escalator that I just can’t seem to pass up!” he laughs.
Renfro Valley entertainer WANDA BARNETT, is a quiet, talented and unassuming fiddler with the voice of an angel who sings with a band of hilllbilly jazz outlaws called the Squirrels. Barnett considers her Spirit to be the most important aspect of her health, “I believe that if you are healthy spiritually, it rains down and through all aspects of your life. You ‘glow’ from the inside out! Barnett also thinks being eternally studious helps keep her mind sharp. “I’m an avid reader and curious person, always have been. I stayed up til 4am reading this morning. I think I would just die inside if I wasn’t learning something every day. I learn a lot when I’m playing classical music, when I’m with the New Coon Creek Girls, when I’m playing in church with that Holy Ghost stuff flying around — I call that ‘Spiritual/Musical ‘Surfing,’ just responding to the Spirit with my heart, soul, spirit and fiddle.”
LORI HOULIHAN, who is communications specialist and special events liaison for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government doesn’t consider herself the fittest of the pack, but she’s taking steps to improve her health by using a step counter to keep herself in check. “I have a small frame, but I’m not necessarily ‘fit’. I never appreciated the health benefits of working ‘on my feet’ until I got a desk job and started working ‘on my butt’ instead. Sitting all day affects everything; energy, digestion, metabolism. I recently started wearing a step counter to keep a check on my physical activity. If I check the counter and I haven’t moved much, I make myself get up and at least take a quick walk around the block. It’s amazing how much just that little bit helps both my physical and mental self. The counter came with a minimum goal of 10,000 steps a day. I’ve only hit the minimum a couple of times, but I’ve slowly been raising my daily average and have resolved to hit the daily 10,000 minimum more often in 2015.”
Lori also founded the MMMB marching band, creative musical ambassadors and activists for our community. She’s their ringleader extraordinaire.
DREW CURTIS, CEO and Founder of the wildly popular Fark, Inc., has a sense of humor that will keep him as perpetually young as the lifelong soccer player within him. Instead of working out, he plays, indoors. Curtis points out, “I play soccer 2-3 times a week at Kentucky Indoor.” Curtis says, “the best thing for solo folks to do would be come down and hang out any night because usually teams are short players. Or just get a whole team together and submit a team for the next session instead. Skill levels range from rank amateur to college-level competitive,” Curtis suggests.
Prices depend on the leagues or training a person wants to participate in. Indoor soccer is a fast-paced game and provides an excellent way to get some exercise year ’round in a climate-controlled environment.
MIND BODY SPIRIT AT THE Y
Lexington theatre vet ROBERT PARKS JOHNSON is a cancer survivor and fitness activist who works at the Y. Luckily, he shares his enthusiasm with his students at the YMCA.
Johnson emphasizes, “The Y takes a holistic approach.The Mind/Body/Spirit model has been the foundation of the Y’s vision of wellness since our creation in England in 1844. When we think of physical wellness, we need to remember a different triangle: Exercise; Nutrition; and Sleep. Healthy sleep is essential to recovery and growth. Nutrition is also fundamental: I like to remind my classes that there is nothing they can do in the gym that can’t be undone in the kitchen (or at the drive-through window.) And then there’s exercise. At the Y, we target the people we call ‘Health Seekers.’ Some people would exercise if they had to lift concrete blocks in an unheated garage. Others wouldn’t get up off the couch if it was on fire.
“Health Seekers” are people who are not workout fanatics, but they are interested in becoming more healthy and fit. A lot of them are former exercisers. Many have tried and failed to build the habit, but just couldn’t get the fire started.
These “Health Seekers” are the population that the YMCA tries to serve. Our three locations (with a fourth about to break ground in Hamburg), mean that no one in Fayette county is more than a few minutes from a Y. When you visit those locations, you’ll find clean, safe, modern facilities for all kinds of activity, from ball fields and running trails to swimming pools, weight rooms, basketball gyms and racquetball courts.
When someone first comes to the Y, I encourage them to try a lot of different things. You can attend classes in yoga, water aerobics, and martial arts. You might rent a bike, or learn Zumba. The important thing is to find something you enjoy doing. If you don’t like exercise, you won’t keep it up, no matter how many times you tell yourself that it’s good for you.
The Y is not just a job, it’s personal for him. He says, “I love to tell the YMCA story. It really has changed my life for the better. I walked into the Y for the first time at age 51. The year before, in March of 2010, I weighed 397 pounds, hadn’t had a full time job for two years, and the doctors discovered a 6 centimeter tumor growing under my right tonsil. They told me I had a 50 percent chance of survival. After a year of chemo, radiation, surgery, and struggling to walk to the bathroom without stopping to rest, I heard about a new program for cancer survivors called LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. The program offers a free 12 week membership to the Y, the guidance of a team of trainers, nutritionists, and group exercise instructors, and a chance to spend time with other survivors twice a week. I fell in love: with my classmates, my instructors, and with the YMCA.”
“When the program was over, I applied for a job there, and started studying to become a trainer. Since then, I have lost a total of 160 pounds and finished two marathons, I am a certified trainer and group exercise instructor at the YMCA of Central KY. I currently work with personal training clients, teach water fitness, am an instructor for the SilverSneakers fitness program for seniors, and best of all, I am a lead coach with the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program: helping other survivors to fight for their own lives, the way I learned to fight for my own. I tell people, and I mean it: as far as I’m concerned, the YMCA is the best job ever.”
This article also appears on page 8 of the January 1, 2015 print edition of Ace.
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