I Was A Step Aerobics Addict!
Stepping up and down was first used in the 1950's as a cardio fitness test, but was honed by exercise instructor Gin Miller in the mid '80's, while she was recovering from a knee injury. Not wanting to compromise the injury, she found that marching up and down on her back step offered a suitable, low-impact alternative while she healed. She took the idea to many potential financiers but it wasn't until 1989, after Reebok took a look, that MIller's inspiration took flight.
(A step LAW is that you will never step off the front of your step, only sideways and backward!)
Some of my favorite instructors are...
- Keli Roberts
- Gin Miller
- Petra Kolber
- Amy Bento
- Tracey Staehle
- Kathy Friedrich
...and there are many others.
Stepping, which happens to be 20 years old this year, incorporates many different moves, but instructors can add a few of their own. Exercise videos are a great way to stay in shape in the comfort of your home. Gyms offer a variety of equipment, classes and schedules to fit today's hectic lifestyle and you can bring or find a workout buddy.
A healthy way to pick up a date!
One Saturday morning, many years ago, my husband was awakened by the strange, rhythmic tapping of my Nike’s on our kitchen stool.
“What’re you doing with our stool?” he asked, either rubbing sleep from his eyes, or checking his vision.
“Look!” I pointed at the TV, to a svelte looking brunette doing ‘turn-steps’ on a super-sized, wooden box. The year was 1991 and the show was It Figures, led by exercise guru, Charlene Prickett. “I want one of those! Can you build me one?”
“Can I have some coffee first?” he yawned.
One week later, made to Charlene’s specifications, I was marching atop my new step. The behemoth of a box, with measurements suitable for a coffin, came to be known as the ‘beast’.
It wasn’t easy finding a place for this monstrosity, seeing as how we lived in a mobile home along with two large dogs and our most recent little stress tester, our two-month-old daughter. So, I first tried propping it up against the kitchen wall. It made a handy little plant shelf until the first time it got bumped over and smacked the floor like a wrecking ball. Scared the baby right out of the high chair. I tried setting it at the end of our bed, like a pretend cedar chest, until I cracked my ankle on it as I fled from the room during the “quake of ’93.” It finally found a home in our closet, safely secured in place with our heavy, winter coats.
I considered joining one of those after-school step classes that meet in the local school gym, but I wasn’t sure the ‘beast’ and I would be welcome seeing as how there’s only so much room.
Friends tried to talk me into a gym membership. After all, the downside to stepping alone in your living room is that there are no backsides. You know, those rock hard guys to parade past you, tripping up your step pattern. But hey, I could buy popcorn at the cinema which happened to be right next to the local 24-hour fitness center, and park my derriere on the bench outside. It’s as good as seeing Crowe in The Gladiator. Use those windows, ladies!
One bit of advice moms-to-be; don’t step while you’re in the middle of labor. Yes, I’m dedicated, but at one point I was maybe a tad bit overzealous. My second child, deciding she wanted to be out for the holidays, pushed the hormone button in the middle of a fabric store a week before Christmas. The lines were long and the patience stretched more than boardwalk taffy. As if that wasn’t fun enough, she then decided to keep kinking and unkinking the hose. My oxytocin levels were on a roller coaster ride for over twelve hours. (Even today her favorite two words are “just kidding.”)
Uncertain whether to admit me, the hospital staff told me to walk around the hospital to get things moving. I thought I’d speed up delivery a little with a few turn-steps and back lunges on the emergency exit stairway. Bad idea. This scared the…meconium right out of her and she had to fight through the soup to find the light to freedom. Needless to say, she was too inert as they weighed and suctioned her to scream her protest at me.
Baby Two had been my “chocolate” baby, compliments of Hersheys, Baby Ruths and Snickers. After the normal water retention loss, I found I still had more than fifteen pounds to lose, so with Baby One creating Tupperware towers in the playpen and Baby Two propped in her car seat, sucking her binky to the beat, I stomped away most of the post-pregnancy padding and pretty much maintained for the next couple years until I, you might say, fell off the step.
By the time Baby Three came along, exercise had slowly been crowded out by parenthood, two jobs, community service and a new puppy. The ‘beast’ was put into retirement alongside our dusty bowling balls and badminton set until one day, while mowing the back lawn nonchalantly in my bathing suit, I caught my reflection in the sliding glass door. No! I gasped at the image! I tried blaming the smudge marks, but alas it was nachos and brownies reincarnated. Neglect was rearing its ugly head, and belly, and thighs.
So I penned the puppy, fired my pizza delivery boy and reevaluated some of my volunteerism. The ‘beast’ is back and I’m stepping with a wiser purpose: commitment to my body, mind and...did I say mind?