While I’m talking about moving, let me say a word about the most important sort of motion to get yourself into and that’s exercise.
I can’t imagine any would-be beauty, or any would-be shapely woman, who thinks she can get there without exercise. I have been a denizen of Nicholas Kounovsky’s Studio for Physical Fitness for longer than either I or Nick care to think about. To me, it was a beautiful place to be long before it became the Beautiful People’s place to be.
I go through my gymnastics workout twice a week (at 9:00 a.m.), and it is what makes me lithe instead of dried-twig stiff. For at one point I had a six-day-a-week, nine-hour-a-day job that simply left me neither time nor energy for anything. Once out of that, I just got lazy. Then one fine spring morning I leapt out of bed and found that I was, by now, less than a gazelle. I called Kounovsky’s that red-hot moment and made an appointment for that very day and I haven’t, unless really bed-ridden, missed one session since.
Recently I was fortunate enough to attend the Madison Square Garden performance of the Russian Women’s Olympics Gymnastics Team. To say that it was phenomenal is an understatement. Not only were the performances hard to see-and-believe, but the sellout audience was a phenomenon as well: 19,700 people the first time in the Garden’s history that a sellout crowd had ever turned out for a gymnastics performance.
And they were 19,700 enthusiastic people, I might add, bearing banners with such legends as “Right On, Olga” referring, of course, to the mighty-mite Olympics gold medal winner Olga Korbut, who, I have heard, has her own fan club on the West Coast, and sporting Olga T-shirts and all.
I found it encouraging. For the audience here was not just into spectator sports. Many of the ones seated near me were from high-school gymnastics teams, or were instructors of gymnastics. All seemed well-informed on their subject. It gives one hope that perhaps the next generation will be less into getting out of life via the drug route and more into getting a whole lot more out of life.
Exercise is more than just a way to lose weight. In fact, I have never lost one pound by exercise alone. One the contrary, you might just find your weight a couple of pounds more with regular, controlled, and muscle-building exercise for, you see, muscle weighs in at more than flabby fat. But what do you care, if the body is leaner and more lithe-ly? That, after all, is the object. And your diet, plus your thinking fat, will keep your weight well in control.
In New York City, there are scores of beautifully controlled and beautifully equipped ladies’ gymnasiums, where they put you through such things as trapeze and rings and (almost) promise not to let you fall on your pretty head.
If you don’t have such a gym setup in your town, then look up your local Y, and find out about exercise classes. Or see whether your town’s dancing teacher gives ballet classes. (If she doesn’t, perhaps you can be the incentive for one.)
I feel that real, serious ballet is probably the very best exercise of all, for all of you. I found, years ago back when I studied ballet, that my muscles really told me just how much work they were doing they were good and sore most of the time, which meant they were tightening up with every class. Flamenco dancing (now that discotheques aren’t around so much any more) is another thing that will soon let you know where your weak muscles are. When I first came to New York as a fashion student, I was gung-ho to do everything this fabulous city had to offer. I took my gym classes five times a week (my father paid the bills in those days I d still take them five times if I could) and flamenco dancing twice. And my body certainly showed the results.