From the archives – One Step at a Time – Jan. 29, 2010.

Following is a post I originally published to this blog in 2010. The subject matter is still relevant.

The TV commercial and website made it seem so simple – buy these shoes, wear them for walking on a regular basis, and the pounds would drop off my body, previously under-worked muscles would firm up, bad posture would be corrected, and all would be right with the world. Or, at least, that’s how I interpreted their pitch. So I bought a pair of the new (actually old) rocker-style of walking shoes. By the way, these are the only shoes I’ve ever bought that came with an instruction booklet and DVD… I should have known that it wouldn’t be that simple.

I’m old enough to remember the negative heels Roots originally introduced – in the early 70s? They were supposed to imitate walking barefoot in the sand, and the pair of winter boots I wore at that time were the most comfortable I’ve ever owned. But the fad died out, for some reason, and negative heels disappeared; they probably lost out to the new wedgies and ever-more-spindly stilletoes to which I have never, ever succumbed. So when I first tried on these new rocker shoes in the store my feet were happy with the sensation, my bunion smiled, and I left believing that, with just a bit of walking, I’d quickly lose the excess poundage sticking to my ribs, and every other bone in my body.

And, yes, these are great shoes – but only if you walk in them on flat surfaces. The steep roads on Bequia had me feeling as though I’d pitch forward and begin rolling down the hill at any moment. They weren’t that great on the ice back in Calgary, either. It was not easy to find cleared streets around the city during winter, and I would have had to pay to walk around the track in a gym, or would have been too tempted to spend money I didn’t have if I’d walked in a mall. Besides, mall-walking is for senior citizens! And, even though Calgary Senior Magazine considers 55-or-older to be senior… Hurumpf!! I’m not ready to buy that!

So, what was I to do? I already knew the shoes were having an effect on my body, although not always the best effect. And I really noticed the difference when I changed into other shoes or boots. The rockers are definitely much more comfortable. It was just a matter of finding somewhere I could walk for the required half-an-hour or so every day, to get my heart-rate up, and my lungs working, as well. I didn’t think my downstairs neighbours would appreciate me taking about 300 turns around the apartment every evening.

Then it struck me – the building where I rent a storage unit! The space was perfect – private, quiet, climate-controlled, long clean aisles, and access to a washroom (important consideration). So I asked permission of the manager, and began walking there most days. Head office thought it was hilarious that I wanted to exercise in their space, but they said it was okay by them. I respect the other customers by avoiding any aisles where someone else is working at the time. But I usually have the place all to myself, like it’s my personal gym.

The best part, though, is that the time spent there not only exercises my body, but offers me quiet time to think, and to write in my head. So much so that I need to start taking a notebook with me and write down what comes to mind while it’s still fresh, and while I still remember it… Most of this blog post was composed in my head while I walked yesterday and today. (And I have since mapped out a complete novel that’s mainly set in a storage facility.)

I love that they pipe in music from a Calgary classic-rock station that plays all the songs I grew up enjoying. You old Malvernites will remember Steel River and their hit,Ten Pound Note. Well, I think this may be the only station in the country, nay – the world, that still plays that tune, as well as The Stampeders’ Sweet City Woman. Unfortunately, yesterday I had to listen to Sugar/ Oh, honey, honey (Tommy James and the Shondells? Suse will know, but no fair googling it!) and then another bubble-gum song today that has, thankfully, already disappeared from my memory. The station redeemed itself, though, with Joni Mitchell singing Carey and Elton John with Daniel. Today it was Eric Clapton in Derek and the Domino’s version of Layla and Respect by Aretha. (Franklin, not van Herk – although I’ll bet Ms. vH could belt out a very good rendition…) But the scary part, and my point in all of this rambling about music, is that I REMEMBER ALL THE WORDS!!!! Even, sadly, the bubble-gum songs. And I can usually sing to my heart’s content while I walk, unless I know someone is on that floor. It’s like driving alone in my car, listening to CKUA. I only have myself to bother with the noise, and singing makes exercising, and driving, that much more fun. I don’t need an IPod, and I avoid attracting any suspicious looks.

Plus I’m positive that I’ve already lost a pound this week. I’m sure of it. Well, pretty sure…

(An update … Not long after I wrote this, one of the other facility customers reported to the manager about “this very suspicious woman who is walking around up there,” as he put it. The staff and I thought that was funny, but I became self-conscious and quit walking the aisles. Then in May 2011, the toe of one rocker caught in a hole on the street and I fell forward, breaking my wrist. I had always doubted the safety of those shoes anyway and seldom wore them again. When it came time to clear out my stuff as I was moving away from Calgary last Nov., I gave the shoes to Goodwill. At least I came up with the idea for a novel while wearing them.)

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