Christine Mooney shares her insights on staying happy and healthy
LIKE every other uncomfortable teenager, I shot up a good five inches in the span of a few short months, making me all arms and legs and awkwardness. I would clip the edges of walls as I turned corners, knock into doorframes, drop things. At the time, no one noticed; I was a growing kid and understandably a little clumsy. But a funny thing happened — I never really grew out of that clumsiness, not fully. Even now I’m not the most graceful swan. My boyfriend has taken to calling me “Hurricane Christine.” Although, for the amount of damage I’ve wrought in his house, I think “Tropical Storm Christine” is a bit more realistic.
But put me in a gym, give me a sport to play or a yoga pose to bend myself into, and the awkwardness disappears. Athletics turn a switch on in my brain – the grace and agility that are missing from my day-to-day life kick in. That switch serves as a very important reminder: Despite 3D televisions, 4G LTE smartphones and virtual cloud computing, we are still, at the core of our existence, physical creatures. It is imperative to know how to use our muscles and how to move our bodies. It is a supreme gift to have these physical capabilities, and it is our responsibility not to waste that gift.
In search of a little more grace and a new arena in which to test myself, I headed over to Dragon Gym off Whitford Road in Exton. I had called the week before and set up an orientation with one of the personal trainers there, expressing my interest in the kettlebell training they offer. (Kettlebells are cast-iron weights used for strength training and other exercises). Christa Callahan, a petite-yet-strong young woman who trains in martial arts, RKC Kettlebells and Crossfit, was going to take me through the proper form for several kettlebell movements, including a squat, overhead press and the quintessential kettlebell swing.
Having worked with kettlebells before — in Crossfit and in my regular workouts — the weight felt natural in my hands, but, despite my previous experience, I still had plenty to learn. Christa worked through the three movements with me, explaining each clearly and pointing out what I was doing right and, most importantly, what I was doing wrong. I bent too much at the knees in the swing, or I didn’t have my torso parallel to the ground, or my stance was too wide in the squat. In 30 minutes, Christa helped make my movements smoother, more graceful.
The truth is, I am a physical creature, and I learned how to navigate that physicality just a little bit better. Before leaving, I set up four more kettlebell sessions with another trainer, Pat Flynn, for the coming weeks. Despite all I know, I’ve still got a lot more growing to do.