A note about this post: This article was originally written for the RCPS wellness newsletter by Beverly Edwards, teacher at RPCS and winner of their Step Challenge! Lucky for us, she's letting us share it with you. As part of our initiative to get Baltimore moving, we offer corporate wellness programs including sponsoring step-challenges like the one Bev describes here. If you'd like more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I was in college, I met my friend Patty from Milburn, NJ, located half an hour outside of New York City. Patty once took me to a walk-in dance class on 62nd and Broadway. The teacher was the famous Luigi, “King of Jazz Dance,” as he was dubbed by admirers. I’ll never forget Luigi ending the class with his famous catchphrase: “Never stop moving…never stop moving.” Little did I know that these words would become my mantra while participating in three RPCS VivoFit Step Challenges sponsored by Charm City Run and our Wellness Committee.
Over the years, I’ve tried to get exercise by riding my recumbent exercise bike for 20 minutes each morning and taking occasional walks around my neighborhood. I always knew that this was not enough, but I thought it was all I could manage with such a crazy schedule. When Sean Donmoyer announced the first step challenge, I thought it would be the perfect way to “step it up,” as it were. I purchased the discounted VivoFit, set it for the customary 10,000 steps, helped my team come up with a clever name and went to work. I soon discovered that I was building up stamina and could easily reach 12,000+ steps. Encouraged by my team, I began to get excited and started aiming higher. We didn’t win, but I was pleased with my results and my increased energy level. I had a new spring in my step! The competition was motivating and, above all, fun. During the second round, my team (The Step Sisters—loved that name) also didn’t win, but my daily step average hovered close to 20,000 steps. Once I even pushed myself above 30,000!
When I found out that the third challenge would be a solo effort, I decided to go for it. Life has taught me that there is little over which we have control, but this was something I could tackle. Would I be able to reach the top? I’m no spring chicken, and I knew I’d be competing against younger opponents, some of whom are marathon runners, but I was determined to give it my utmost effort. I was stunned when my first week’s results (158,568 steps), was 24,813 steps above my closest competitor! Although my number was high, I assumed I’d be behind the younger folks. Boy, did I become motivated after that. My highest weekly count was 176,139. Unbelievably, I came out on top. I WON!
People have asked me how I accumulated so many steps. The answer comes from my mantra from Luigi: “Never stop moving.” When I talked to my mom each evening, I walked during the conversation instead of plopping on the sofa. When I set the microwave to 3 minutes to heat up a cup of tea, I strolled rather than stood. When I shelved books, I took a few extra steps around the stacks. At home, my son Luke thought I was completely nuts, saying “Mom! Just stop already!” He ended up being proud, however, when he saw what I was accomplishing. His “Great job, Mom!” was music to my ears. My students started watching the numbers on my VivoFit and became little cheerleaders for me, too. Perhaps I was setting a fitness example for them?
There were few embarrassing moments along the way. I liked going to our track above the gym when it was empty and dancing to the bouncy music on my iPod. One Saturday, while strutting to a Motown song, it occurred to me that there might be a security camera recording my “groovy” moves. As I passed through the lobby to leave, I sheepishly asked the security guard if there was, indeed, a camera. His broad grin gave me my answer.
Sometimes I’m shocked at my current age (think double nickels). By some standards, I am considered a senior citizen! How can that be? I don’t feel old. The step challenges helped me realize that, despite the number, I’m not ancient. For me, the key to staying young seems to be Luigi’s philosophy: “Never stop moving.” I declare, with apologies to Dylan Thomas, that I will not go gentle into that good discount from Denny’s! I will continue to step, step, step my way into the great unknown.