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RAW IN CUENCA”Slow burn” is for people who don’t care for weight training

by Susan Schenck

I hate working out at the gym. Give me yoga, walking, dancing, hiking, biking, skiing, and the mini-trampoline anytime over weight training. Even though lifting weights has never been a joy, I forced myself to do it for the better part of the last 26 years. After moving to Cuenca, I gave myself a one-year break from gyms. It showed. I lost strength and firmness. Now it’s back to work.

The main forms of conditioning include strength, speed, endurance, and flexibility. As you get older, the importance of preventing muscle loss increases dramatically. One study showed that getting alkaline through greens helps prevent muscle loss. But there’s no way getting around it: You have to do some strength training.

My health mentor is a 93-year-old man who has profited from decades of a raw-food diet and extensive fasting. Dr. Stanley Bass, N.D., D.C., Ph.C., Ph.D., D.O., D.Sc., D.D., is still able to go jogging — and he works out regularly. He turned me on to the “slow-burn method,” which I explain below.

After much research, my husband Allen and I concluded that the best fit for us was Fox Center on Avenida Ordóñez Lazo. We’re not in 24 Fitness anymore, but this works. You can pay $30 for a monthly fee. But since I hate working out, I do the slow-burn method, which requires only a half hour every five days. So I can pay $3 per workout, a mere $18 for 6 times a month.

On the 10-minute walk there (and back), I have to cross the redondel at Avenida de las Americas, a.k.a. “Death Circle.” Coming from California, where pedestrians are like the sacred cows of India, getting safely across this intersection took some serious adapting … and running! This is my “warm up” for the strength training I’m about to endure.

So what is the slow burn? You take the largest weight you can possibly handle. You do only three to six reps. If you can’t do three, it’s too heavy. If you can do seven, it’s too light. You have to experiment each time you go to see that you have the right weight. (At Fox Center, the weights aren’t marked, so you have to remember the notch, or write it on some chart you carry with you.)

Let’s say you’re working out your biceps. You curl your arms up to the slow count of 10, hold for a count of 3, go back down for a count of 10,and hold for 3. You do each muscle once — 3 to 6 reps per muscle. It takes a mere 30 minutes to do an entire body workout — then you’re free from the gym!

Slow burn is so powerful that in six months, you can regain six years of muscle loss! You should be very sore the next day. Then you can relax and do fun exercises until five days later. This exercise, albeit intense, is the answer for people like me who hate working out. You spend only three hours a month at the gym. (In contrast, using the old-fashioned method, the gym took up three-four hours of my week, not to mention another three-four hours a week in driving to and from.)

Allen, in contrast to me, loves working out with a passion. He’s also available for personal training.

Find a gym very close to where you live or you likely won’t do it. Some gyms in Cuenca close for the two-hour lunch break. Fox doesn’t. I find that when I go at 3 p.m., the gym is empty. But in the evenings, it tends to be crowded.

Fox Center, like most local gyms, offers other activities in addition to weights: spin, cardio machines, dance classes, and more. Another great work-out place for women is Curves, but they don’t offer a daily entrance fee; you must pay $35 a month.

Susan Schenck, LAc, MTOM, is a raw food, health, and weight loss coach and the author of The Live Food Factor and Beyond Broccoli. She resides in Cuenca and can be reached at livefoodfactor@yahoo.com.