runnersI listened to part of a piece today on The Story, a newish show by the fabulous Dick Gordon who moved to Chapel Hill after his NPR show The Connection was taken off the air for being too controversial. Anyway… today’s show featured a segment called “Jane Fonda’s Legacy,” a story about the aerobics craze that began during the 1980s and continued into the 1990s, leaving many of us with shin splints, bad feet and sciatica worse than our mothers’.

Dick interviewed a former aerobics instructor named Carol Espel who taught aerobics in New York City and had to have both hips replaced at age 44. This story really resonated with me since I taught aerobics from 1984 until 1995 or so when I had to quit because of chronic knee problems and foot neuromas. At the time I was 43 and proud of the fact that I was teaching college kids. In the interview Carol reminisced about the ego (Leo) that was involved in never admitting when it was enough. We kept going “through the burn,” popping aspirin and tylenol to alleviate the pain, buying orthotics and doing whatever it took to keep going, addicted to the driving music and the endorphins. I’m sure runners will identify with this as well.

Now the Pluto in Leo generation (1939-1956 and some stragglers in 1957 and 1958) is 50 and 60, and we are exercising like no other generation before us. Leo rules sports and games of all kinds and Pluto brings a compulsive quality to the sign that it’s in. We Pluto in Leo folks invented compulsive exercise and created a new disease: exercise bulimia. There’s even a new procedure invented just for us called “hip resurfacing.” When our grandparents had their hips replaced they hung up their running shoes, but not us! We just get resurfaced and hit the trail!


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