While living in Paris I quickly befriended the French family of my friend B in my study abroad program. B's French mother (I will call her Madame Bohemienne) was free spirited- the type of Parisian woman with wild, curly hair, bright yellow walls and a penchant for throwing raucous dinner parties. She was so different to my French mother (I'll call her Madame Chic). Madame Chic and her husband came from a long line of aristocrats, had a posh pad in the coveted 16th arrondissement and a vacation home in Brittany. Their walls were cream. They were reserved. Madame Chic (in stark contrast to Madame Bohemienne's artistic locks) had a French bob with nary a misplaced hair. The two women could not be more different- but each wonderfully unique and full of lessons- ones which I was only too eager to learn. But, I digress. This post is on exercise.
The first time I visited Madame Bohemienne I noticed she lived on the 6th floor of her building. And there was no elevator. No elevator?! Six floors is a lot of stairs. The first time I climbed those steps I arrived sweaty and confused. Every time I visited her thereafter, I would prepare myself for the mammoth climb. Half way up I would curse the ancient building and its lack of elevators. I felt like I was perpetually in the scene from Barefoot in the Park when Robert Redford was shocked by the amount of stairs leading to his new apartment. They would never end! I would, inevitably wind up at her door, completely out of breath and in need of a tall drink of water (or perhaps a drink of the stiffer variety). And when I was invited to one of her many dinner parties? Forget it. The heels came off and I braced those steps- cocktail dress and all.
Madame Bohemienne was amused by my lack of stamina for those stairs. She would refer to me (and my people) as lazy Americans- too accustomed to being dropped off precisely where we wanted to land. She would float up all six floors without batting an eyelash or even breaking out into a pant (!) and claimed (rather maddeningly) that the walk was good for the derriere. She would say since she didn't work out at a gym she got her exercise in moving through the city and by walking up her stairs. This, for me, was food for thought.
Now, back in America, I am still a member of Equinox, but I don't use that as an excuse to avoid certain staircases every now and then. When met with taking the stairs or the elevator, I take the stairs and I think my derriere thanks me every time.