9.08.2009

Exercise- Comme les Français

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.

7 comments:

vicki archer said...

Lovely story Jennifer and so true about those stairs, xv.

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

The two times I visited Paris I lost so much weight through walking everywhere! I still do walk in place of cars and public transport when I can. Even my four year old has the stamina to walk very long distances. Alas, I have not lost more weight thorugh this but I still agree in principle. xx
ps Don't forget to collect your award dear Jennifer. xx

ScentScelf said...

I recently enjoyed a sort of physical boot camp by spending five days in San Francisco, hoofing it nearly everywhere. Even in the good old U S of A, it is possible to lead a more active life as part of everyday activities.

You'll get some odd looks, perhaps. Something to ponder though, while driving yet another lap in search of a better parking space. ;)

When I was pregnant the first time, we lived in what was essentially a fourth-floor walk up. Never bothered me so much, but getting down while in labor was a bit of a challenge...THAT is what I would probably think of if I ever had the pleasure of encountering your 10th floor home in Paris. {chuckle}

Good on you for continuing your project!

La Belette Rouge said...

I live on the fourth floor and I have twice walked down the stairs but never up. You and Madame Chic have inspired me to take the stairs. I assure you there will be non-chic huffing and puffing.

Fantastic to discover your lovely blog!!! Thank you, Josephine, for bring two L.A. gals together.:-)

The Daily Connoisseur said...

I love all of these thoughtful comments! Thank you from the bottom of my heart :)

Thanks Vicki- it is so true about those stairs! I live in a three story town home in Santa Monica and those stairs in France prepared me for every last step.

Josephine- I lost weight in Paris too- which amazed me because I upped my pastry consumption by about 80%! Also I can imagine having a four year old you get a lot of walking done :) Thank you again for my lovely award. I cherish it! xo

Scentscelf- I am loving your San Francisco vacation... it sounds like it was a wonderful experience. Yes, I am still in awe over the particulars of those ten flights of steps and no elevator. Women in labor... moving furniture... Quelle nightmare! But good for the physique :)

La Belette Rouge- Welcome to the blog! I am thrilled to find another L.A. blogger. Your blog is fabulous- I've added you to my blog list. Thank you Josephine for bringing us together! xo

Rebecca said...

Walking is definitely the way to go, particularly if there are stairs. :-)

I can't wait to read more about Madames Bohemienne and Chic and the lessons you learned from them!

M.Lane said...

Oh, I agree with Rebecca, I can't wait for another installment of this story!!

I was working in Seattle a week at a time and walking those hills while I was there [to and from my hotel en route to numerous great restaurants and martini joints] saved me from having to buy all new clothes at Nordstrom!!

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

 
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