The glorious reward at the end of the Body Dynamics Monday morning Cardio Class (10 am Eastern by Zoom; you could come, too) is the all-too-brief period of stretching. Barbara has a roster of Old Faithful stretches that she talks us through, depending on what fresh hell she’s put us through…

…and today she clearly felt she’d asked something of our quads (those long muscles down the fronts of your thighs), because we did the one where you hold your foot against your butt and point at the floor with your knee, standing on one leg like a sweaty, gasping flamingo.

(You think flamingos don’t get sweaty and gasping at the end of cardio class? That’s because unlike Body Dynamics, they exercise in private and don’t invite newcomers. YOU aren’t a member of THAT club!)

Barbara never fails to provide direction for people at all levels of fitness, because this is a low-impact cardio class filled with the halt and lame, the fat and stiff, the geriatric and the hopeful. There is NO “typical” Cardio Class member, and Barbara is careful about making sure no one is trying above their abilities.

So when we did the flamingo quad stretch, she said “If it’s hard to grab your foot behind you, put your leg up on a chair or the sofa, like this.”

Very often, I’m the one using the modified forms and finding them to be exactly right for me, but in this case, I happened to be holding my own foot as she gave the variant form.

Of course, for me, I need a LOT of momentum to get my foot up that high. I have to kick back hard and hope I can catch my toes in my reaching hand, and then I work my hand down my foot until I can reach around my shoe to get a good grip. It isn’t pretty, but I can do it.

And I felt a tiny flush of pride that this is something my body CAN do instead of needing the modified form. I’ve ALWAYS been able to kick my foot back that far, and can slowly and torturously work my way into a sound hold so I can join the other panting, fluffy flamingos.


If I keep doing that a few times a week, I’LL STILL BE ABLE TO DO IT WHEN I’M EIGHTY.

This isn’t “run a mile” or “do the Jumping Jacks where you hop up and down,” both of which require a long nap and a huge amount of bitching in their aftermath. No, this was a simple stretch that feels pretty good. This was the REWARD for all the other stuff.

And all I have to do is keep doing it. When I’m tottering around the old folk’s home, I’ll have the capacity to catch my foot behind me and stand like a flamingo. Oh, sure—that’s not a skill greatly in demand for the average senior…but what about strong thighs? What about tendons and ligaments that still flex and move? What about a knee that’s been gently challenged and oxygenated by such a stretch?

What about the hand strength? What about the balance? What about the belief that I don’t have to be limited in my movements?

That one silly stretch…it’s huge. HUGE!!

This stuff is really going to pay off later. Awesome!

Love this image. I look EXACTLY like that when I do this stretch. (Well…maybe not EXACTLY.) See? She’s wearing flamingo pink!