How to walk up the stairs without getting out of breath

July 28, 2021

Like most people, I didn't think I’d ever get old. It wasn't that I didn't logically know that it was inevitable. I just never wanted to acknowledge it. Even a passing thought about my age was so stressful, I just avoided it.

The years went by, and other than a few wrinkles, grey hairs, and some learned wisdom, I never felt my age. I still felt like the wild child who tore through the punk rock clubs of New York in the 1980s. But that was forty years ago. And I was certainly not a kid anymore.

It wasn't until some life circumstances made me move from the building I’d lived in my whole life on the Upper West Side to a high rise in Queens that my age truly caught up with me. Unlike my old building and it's always reliable trusty elevator, this new building's lift always seemed to be on the fritz. With a unit on the seventh floor, I had to take that march up and down the stairs every time I came and went. Not one to stay home, I came and went a lot.

A lifelong New York resident, used to walking, hopping on the subway, or getting in a cab to get around, I wasn't prepared for the harsh reality of ascending stairs while in the middle of my fifth decade of life. I’d always assumed that since I never really got tired when I went out dancing or took a long stroll around the park that I was in decent shape. But after only a couple of days of climbing up to my new apartment, I realized something was wrong.

Only a couple of steps up my building's stairwells, I was completely out of breath. It was a feeling I wasn't used to. In many ways, it was alarming. Would I have to do what I was determined never to do? Would I have to join a gym?

New York was infested with hip, trendy gyms for young professionals and the old and out of shape. I passed them daily. They were unavoidable. I’d walk by and either mock the sweaty woman on the treadmill silently or to a friend while enjoying a feeling of superiority enjoyed by those who were naturally thin.

Now I had to face the music. I needed to get in shape. So I swallowed my pride and joined a gym only a couple of blocks away.

At first, the gym was actually good. I would do my time on the treadmill and the stationary bikes. But after a while, I started to get a little aimless. To my surprise, I enjoyed working out but didn't know what to do other than the same handful of standard exercises. All of my workouts were based on those little illustrations on the side of the machines.

Discouraged and bored, I stopped going to the gym regularly. It wasn't long before that slog up the stairs of my building became a test of endurance again. In the summer, the added heat made it harder to breathe, and being drenched in sweat made things worse. I’d had enough.

Since I had a fear of riding my bike or jogging in the streets of my beloved city, the next logical step was to go back to the gym. Only this time, I told myself that I’d get a personal trainer. But with that came its own set of stressors and anxiety.

I had seen personal trainers at my gym before. You couldn’t miss them. All of them were young, attractive, and in unfair shape. There was something about having this hot young person standing next to my old sweaty being, barking orders at me that was a huge turn-off to the whole idea. That said, I needed the help.

While looking online for a good workout routine to utilize, I scrolled through endless videos of the same perfect youngsters that were in my gym. The things they were doing seemed very unrealistic to me. But then I came across a company that offered personalized one-on-one trainers.

Instead of having to look and deal with a damn model, standing right next to me in the gym, my new trainer, Kris, guided me through the screen of my smartphone. Using the aging punk rocker's smart watch, my smart watch, and a revolutionary new motion-tracking application, Kris was able to keep an eye on what I was doing even though we weren’t even based in the same state.

I love Kris. There isn’t the pressure of having to keep to a schedule. I enjoy the fact that my trainer understood that I needed to work at my own pace. Most of all, I like the results.

Before long, I no longer dreaded those all too common days of no elevator. Even when it did work, I found myself taking the stairs anyway. It felt good being in shape instead of just assuming I was. And it felt better, reaching the seventh floor and not being out of breath.

"I want to be able to walk up the steps without having to catch my breath." That was what I told Kris during our first video call, our first meeting. That modest goal seemed like a distant memory as I aimed to tackle a more significant achievement. I wanted to make it forty floors up to the top of my now beloved building. Kris already had a training program ready for me.

Based on the story of CoPilot member Natalie

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