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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Getting the Blood Pumping - Annie West

Before I start, let me confess that I'm not an exercise addict. (I can hear my friends chortling right now at the thought!) My idea of the perfect exercise is flipping the next page over in a terrific book, perhaps while reaching occasionally for a nice cool drink!

However, my sedentary lifestyle is catching up with me. I spend long hours in front of a computer these days and it's convinced me of the need to keep moving, making the blood pump harder and using those slack muscles more. Otherwise I fear I'll turn into a stiff, hunchbacked writer who can barely straighten from her office chair.

Besides, I find that fresh air and a bit of activity make me feel better, readier for writing and full of renewed enthusiasm. Also, there are times when a walk gives me time to focus on a story idea and provides a brand new twist or emotional dimension to the plot I thought I'd already worked out.

Sometimes my exercise is restricted to pottering in the garden (which sounds so nice when in actual fact it's a bit of a jungle right now. Everything's got out of hand so much I could actually have a man eating tiger or two out there and not know it - so you can guess this is not a picture of me in my yard). Taking the dog for a walk is good too - it blows the cobwebs away and if I'm lucky it means my old pooch is too tired afterwards to bark at possums in the middle of the night.

I'm not into competitive team sports any more, though a few of my friends are and I can see the allure of getting together with mates for an invigorating game of tennis or football or whatever. Thinking of team sports I decided to add a photo of a cricketer, symbolic in many ways of summer sports here in Australia. Though why you'd want to stand in the blazing heat of a cricket pitch all day... (ahem). In midsummer I prefer to watch others play sport.

I belong to a gym and when I'm in the habit of going regularly, it's fantastic. I can feel the increased energy levels and I move better (no I don't mean I sashay elegantly, but that all the moving parts work more easily!). Swimming's fun but these days I tend to spend a fair bit of time lolling rather than doing laps. I like bushwalking and have been known to enjoy a long stroll by the coast or in the mountains. Running just seems like too much effort. I have a friend who swears by dancing, and particularly the tango as a way of keeping fit and enjoying herself. Another very energetic person I know runs triathlons and yet another prefers Tai Chi for a bit of disciplined but gentle exercise.

How about you? What do you do to get the blood pumping? Are you a sports enthusiast or do you prefer something a little laid back? If you're not so mobile these days, what are your preferred activities now?

To help get the discussion started, I'll give away a copy of my current UK release PASSION, PURITY AND THE PRINCE to someone who comments. Actually, my bookworm heroine, Tamsin, does have a fave sport, and her hero, Alaric, is into all sorts of extreme sports. Maybe I'm making them do all the exercise I never get around to! Visit my website to read an excerpt of their story, which is available from Mills and Boon, The Book Depository (with free postage) and UK Amazon.


46 comments:

Laney4 said...

Hey there, Annie!

My blood pumps when I play competitive badminton. I play twice weekly through the summer months in a non-air-conditioned gym (previously an airport hangar) that often reaches over 100F. Throughout the school year, I play four or five nights per week at three different schools (a local one, another 15 minutes away, and the final one 30 minutes away). To be honest, I enjoy the socializing more than the badminton, but I push myself to play (hard) when I'm actually playing (as there ARE breaks between games occasionally).

I used to walk daily but my walking partner quit in order to walk with someone else (whose son had recently died, so her friend needed her then). So I walked with another woman for a couple of years until her hip gave up the ghost. When I mentioned this to another girlfriend, who was 77 at the time, she said that HER walking partners no longer walked and perhaps we could walk together instead. (When I asked her why her partners no longer walked, she said they died! Sounded ominous, especially after I'd already agreed to walk with her!) We walked for 2.5 years until she had to quit to be with her ill husband, and now she has given it up completely (and her husband is much better). Today I walk alone when I actually make myself walk. I often meet up with "regulars" along the trail, so I quit reading my book (yes, I read while walking, as my eye can follow the yellow center line on the paved trail easily) and I can enjoy their company instead. The trick is to make myself get dressed and out the door by 8:30 am to meet up with my walking partners (and that isn't easy to do for me)!

Annie West said...

Wow, Laney! I'm impressed. Badminton is a real work out. You must be incredibly fit to play so often and competitively. I've only ever played the hit and giggle kind of badminton and wondered what it would be like to play more seriously (I used to love tennis).

I'm glad both you and your old walking partner survived those joint walks! It sounded a little ominous that her previous partners had died. I enjoy walking to and sometimes head off on the path around the lake here which is very pretty. It's great exercise and I do enjoy the company when I walk.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, Annie! I LOVE your idea of exercise (flipping pages of a novel)!

I drag myself to the gym four times a week, where I flip pages of magazines whilst on the treadmill and bike.

Congrats on your UK release. Can I just say your cover heroine has the most lustrous-looking hair?

Annie West said...

Vanessa, she does have lovely hair, doesn't she? And that dress...sigh. I'm jealous. A little different from her prim look at the beginning of the book.

Hm - reading while exercising - you're like Laney. I'm impressed you make it to the gym 4 times a week. I try to get there but keep finding other things to do (like writing a few pages). I did recently try a zumba class too. Now that DID get my blood pumping!

Amazingrose said...

Hello Annie,

I love your idea of getting your blood pump. Apart from sitting around reading am also a volley-ball player. I train twice a week and go to competitions mostly every weekend.

Congrats on your new release.

Annie West said...

Hi Amazingrose,

Another reader-for-exercise! Great! And volleyball too - I used to love playing that. Can't remember though when I last tried my hand at it. It was always so satisfying if I managed to keep the ball off the ground or get it over the net!

Thanks for the congratulations. I'm very pleased with this latest book.

Helen said...

Annie

I too should get out there and do some more exercise but alas my favourite exercise is turning the pages of a great book LOL. Although i have 5 grandchildren that keep me busy and that is very enjoyable. I do love sport but watching it not doing it LOL

Whoo Hoo on the new book I can't wait to read it

Have Fun
Helen

Phillipa said...

Annie - I love exercise (oh, I do sound weird).

I mean, I'm hardly slim - in fact, I have a constant struggle to keep the pounds from piling on, even though I visit the gym or swim 3-4 or even 5 times a week. yet , if I didn't go, I'd be even fatter, stiffer and more stressed. Sometimes, after writing all day, the first human I see is the receptionist at the health club. That is sad. I always have a coffee afterwards and read the papers - possibly why I'm not losing weight.

I also love walking esp in the Lakes District and my all time fave activity, discovered last year, is body boarding. Sigh....

Cathleen Ross said...

Do you realize that while you are sitting and writing an exercise scene, your brain actually thinks you are doing it?
That's why writing is so tiring. I don't know how many calories it uses up though.
Lovely cover. I have The Desert King to read next. Do you think if I win your next book while I'm convalescing and read an exercise scene, I lose some weight?
Cathleen

Annie West said...

Hi Helen,

Running after little children is great exercise. I'm surprised you get time to read!

Annie West said...

Phillipa, now I'm really starting to feel guilty! I never get to the gym so often. But like you I feel much better for going.

Oh, I haven't been body boarding in a while. But summer is coming here...

Sharon Archer said...

Annie, I'm sooooo not an exercise addict either! And I know exactly what you mean about feeling as though I must do something!

I was swimming regularly but now I'm ashamed to admit I don't. It sort of fizzled out when we went away last year and I never got back in the habit when we came home.

I think winter has a bit to do with it too, don't you think? It's so easy to curl up on the sofa with that book when it's all cold and wet or frosty, outdoors.

Well, it's spring now so maybe it's time to start doing something energetic...
perhaps tomorrow!
;)
Sharon

Annie West said...

Hi Cathleen - you give me such hope! Know I didn't realised our brains believed we were going through what we wrote! Hm, I think there'll be some exercise scenes appearing in future stories! And then I'll send you copies so you can lose some weight as you read - now woudln't that be marvellous!

Hope you enjoy my sheikh. Hope you're recuperating well too! Glad to hear you've got some books to read while you get better. Take care of yourself.

Sharon Archer said...

Actually, we did do some dancing lessons last year, Annie, and a basic set of rock and roll. Now that's a lovely way to get the blood pumping! Might have to book some more lessons....
:)
Sharon

Annie West said...

Hi Sharon,

You're right, with spring around the corner I think it will be easier to get out and get the blood pumping. That's the downside of not doing competitive/team sport - no one is relying on you to be there. I'd hoped to get to the gym and for a few long walks early this week but I'm got a bad cold and it's much easier to rest and recuperate with a book than force myself out in the nippy wind to exercise. Hopefully tomorrow!

Annie West said...

Sharon,

Dancing lessons? I was thinking of trying some salsa classes. How did you find it? Someone I know is learning to jive and having a marvellous time!

gigi said...

I wish flipping the pages of a book burned more calories than it does. Life would be sweet then.
Oh Annie, I don't putter in the garden I work in the yard sometime. I don't do it for exercise it is just one of those jobs that has to be done.
I do get on my treadmill and walk about 35 minutes a few times a week. I know I should do more but lately I have been so tired. I am contemplating making an appointment with the doctor and see if there is a reason for my fatigue.
I thought exercising was supposed to increase my energy level.

Sharon Archer said...

I know what you mean about those team sports and people relying on you to be there. I've got a friend who plays tennis and another who plays netball... They both go without fail even though I think they're a bit crazy at times. Especially when they've got a cold and should really be curled up in bed with a lemon drink!

The rock and roll was fabulous - not like exercise at all because it was way too much fun. We should have gone back when the Xmas holidays were over but having that time away sort of broke the "habit" of going to the lessons.
Our bad! Might have to twist my dh's arm and get us moving again!
:)
Sharon

Silvia said...

I have the same idea regarding exercise. Flipping pages, but instead of a drink I reach for the chocolates... Which is of course putting the weight I lost back on immediatly LOL.

Don't really like sports, sometimes I watch the figure skating but would never try such a thing myself. Don't have the figure for it.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Annie, the phrase "lazy as sin" was termed for me and my relationship with exercise...
I have to force myself to exercise it but of course when I do get going, I enjoy it.
I think for writers it's vital to get moving. I have been doing Pilates twice weekly for years and when I have a break from it, boy do I know it. It counteracts all those hours in front of a screen. I know we are supposed to take regular breaks from the computer but when I'm deep into "the zone" with a story, hours can go by.
Team sport has never been for me but I do go to Curves whenever I can, swim lots in summer just because I love it and walk whenever I can.(That sounds impressive but "whenever I can" is open to interpretation!)
I used to play golf fairly competently and hope to get back to that one day when I have the time.
I love the title of your new book--very intriguing!

Laurie said...

I try to swim and walk everyday. However, as the weather grows colder I will have to use the Nordic track machine. I'm going to follow your advice and try to read while I exercise. Never attempted that before!

Alison said...

It sounds very dull, but I actually enjoy walking and housework, so I kid myself I get exercise that way!

Leni said...

I'm not a big sports fan and prefer a more laid back pace. I'm a food lover so I can't get away without exercising. For that I just follow along with aerobic DVD's, a small low impact stepper, and yoga.

lenikaye@yahoo.com

Michele L. said...

Ooo...I know what you mean. Flipping the pages of a good book sure outweighs getting all tired and sweaty. Alas, we do all have to exercise sometime though. My favorite form of exercise is walking! I love to shop and do lot's of walking.

I used to go to the YMCA and had fun with a dance class called ZUMBA. I haven't done that for a while though. I love dancing and exercising together so that would have to be my next favorite form of exercise.

I better get my butt in gear and do some walking! The sun is beautiful today and is perfect for a walk!

Annie West said...

Gigi, good luck with that medical appointment - better to be sure everything's OK.

I know what you mean about it being work in the yard! When I get out there it seems to be hard yakka (Aussie for hard work) rather than a little light weeding. Now spring's here everything is growing a pace and if I don't tackle it soon I'll be overgrown - a bit like sleeping beauty!

Annie West said...

Sharon,

Isn't it amazing how much more we'll do if others are expecting us to be there? I suppose it's good we don't want to let them down. And as for getting out of the habit...tell me about it. I've had a lovely time with a couple of trips in August but it meant the gym and I became strangers. Now, with a heavy cold the last thing I want to do is drag myself down to the gym. Feel like I'll be twice my normal size before I get there. Though I did try Tai Chi last week and will definitely go back for that. Good luck with the rock and roll!

Annie West said...

Silvia, your reading habits sound fantastic! Flipping pages and eating chocs - sigh. That sounds so tempting right now!

Estella said...

In the summer I garden(not putter). I dig new flower beds, rearrange the plants in the beds, grow a vegetable garden and can the produce.
But, alas, in the winter I get my exercise turning the pages of a novel, too.

Annie West said...

Kandy, that doesn't sound 'lazy as sin', that sounds like what I need to be doing, though I do hear you on that matter of interpretation. I'm full of plans to get back to Body Balance once a week (a mix of pilates, yoga and tai chi) which seems great for stretching out a writer's kinks plus tai chi plus the gym but we'll see. I'm sure I'd get the exercise I need if I kept this (large) yard in order but it's too close to the computer.

I hear you on losing yourself when you're writing. It's a blessing and a curse, isn't it? I love it when the story takes hold of you and you become totally immersed, but boy do you pay a price!

Annie West said...

Laurie, a nordic track machine? Sounds impressive. I take my hat off to those who can read and walk at the same time. Hope it works out for you.

Annie West said...

Alison, there's nothing dull about walking! And as for housework - I'm impressed. I wish I enjoyed it more. I love the results but the actual process...no.

Annie West said...

Hi Leni,

I understand what you mean about laid back exercise. I've been wondering for a while if I should get a pilates DVD to try at home rather than rely on going out to the gym. I don't always make it when I should and it seems to break my day.

As another food lover I hear you. I need something to counteract those calories, especially as I don't see myself giving up yummy food any time soon!

Annie West said...

Michele, I'm grinning at you combining your walking with shopping. Now that's tempting! I'm sure that would appeal to lots of people.

I've only been to a zumba class once and it was great but such high level energy. Terrific exercise but I'm thinking of something a little less strenuous next time.

Annie West said...

Estella, you sound like a busy woman! All that summer exercise and work means you deserve to hibernate in winter with some good books.

chey said...

Hi Annie,
I try to get out for a walk daily. Not bad when the weather's ok, but I don't like -40!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Annie,

For this over-70 y/o, it's chasing
the younger four of ten grandkids! Their ages: Abbey-7, Sadie-6, Tristan-5, and Jude-2.5 years.They may not give me the exact type of
work-outs I need, but they really
do keep the ole ticker pumping!

Pat Cochran

practimom said...

yeeaahh, i am fat and lazy, and the only excerise i get are running after my 4 and 7 year old (and turning pages). I do need to start some kinda excerise, just to get my blood pumping (is arm curling with a cheese puff straight to the mouth count?)

Michelle Douglas said...

Oh, Annie, I so wish I liked exercise as much as I do eating and sleeping. I do like an afternoon walk when the sun is mild and the air still... though, the way I walk is more a form of relaxation than anything remotely resembling aerobic exercise.

Could possibly stir myself to some sweaty activity to learn Latin-American dancing, though. It looks like fun (not to mention seriously sexy). From the look of Tamsin and Alaric on your latest cover, I'm guess they've all the right moves . Really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of Passion, Purity and the Prince!

Annie West said...

Chey,-40? Argh! I can't imagine it. Too brisk for a walk. It sounds like ice skating weather. Brr. Getting exercise in those conditions would be a real challenge.

Annie West said...

Hi Pat, lovely to see you here. I imagine chasing grandkids would keep you on your toes. Especially when they're so young - so many ways to get into trouble! I bet that keeps you fit.

Annie West said...

Hi Practimom, doesn't it depend on how heavy the cheese puff is as to how much energy you burn up? Sometimes I think you need all the calories you can get when you've got littlies.

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle,

Glad to hear you're excited about Alaric and Tamsin. Dead right about them having all the right moves (G)! I'm so thrilled their story is finally coming out - I didn't write it that long ago but it's a special one for me.

Walking in balmy weather sounds fantastic. My trouble is that if I go for a nice sunny stroll near the lake there's a terrific ice cream shop about 20 mins walk away...

Annie West said...

Hi everyone,

I've had a lovely time chatting about exercise (or the lack of it!) with you. I realise it's getting late so it must be time to announce a winner for my latest book PASSION, PURITY AND THE PRINCE.

Okay, so after a random draw from the names of those who have commented, I've come up with: ALISON.

Alison, if you email me at annie@annie-west.com with your postal address I'll send you a copy of the book.

Christina Hollis said...

Rats, I'm coming late to the board - sorry Annie. I just had to say what a lovely picture that is of the garden! And much as I hate to say this - gym is good. Sometimes...
Best wishes
Christina

Annie West said...

Hi Christine,

It's lovely of you to drop by. Isn't it a nice pic of the garden? I aspire to something ordered and pleasant like that...one day! Good luck with the gym!

Annie

kimmyl said...

I love going to the gym later in the day with a friend of mine. It helps me to unwind. I also love playing softball with alot of friends, we get together on the weekends and play ball.