This new year, like most years and like many people, I decided I needed to get into better shape. Which is, let’s face it, how gyms make money.
I saw an article online recently that said as many as 90 percent of people who sign up for health clubs as a result of a New Year’s resolution never use their membership. I can relate as I’m not exactly a gym rat.
Several years ago, when I was working in New Hampshire, the paper I worked for provided a group price at a local gym franchise. It was $10 per month, so I figured even I would get good value at that price. I gave it up after three years and four workouts … which comes out to $90 per workout. Oh, and I got a T-shirt. As long as the shirt turns out to be worth at least $325 on eBay, I made out like a bandit.
But I like the idea of being in shape and I feel better when I am. And we’re an active family. The kids are in the Bill Koch ski league at Mountaintop, at least one child and one parent has run the Crowley mile run annually since 2008 and we were regulars at the Mothers Day 5K when we had babies (and a baby jogger). So I feel like I should do something to not be the family couch Pa-tato.
My wife is a serious runner, with eight marathons to her name. I ran one in the blush of newlywed foolishness and ran sprints in high school, but I’m not a serious runner.
What I am is slow. Not sort-of slow, or not-fast, but S-L-O-W, glacially slow. I’ve never actually finished last in a race, but now that I’m up into the “masters” age group, it gives me something to look forward to.
Still, every year around this time I toy with joining a gym again … until I see the Planet Fitness T-shirt. So how to get into shape?
I played hockey — goalie — until my mid-forties, when somebody stuck an elbow behind my ear at high speed when I wasn’t looking. When it takes fingers from both hands to count all your concussions it is probably time to take up a slower sport.
I considered curling (Canada’s second winter sport, its national championship was hosted by the Macdonald tobacco company until that was frowned upon, at which point Labatt’s brewery took it over … any sport sponsored by beer and cigarettes can’t be all that aerobic). There is a club — Rutland Rocks — at Giorgetti Arena but I haven’t been able to make the schedule work.
And several people told me I should do yoga to keep me flexible enough to play goal in my golden years. I tried –and enjoyed — it a few times, and we have a couple of friends who teach so I’ll probably give it a more extended go at one of the city’s many, many studios one of these years.
But for 2017, I took up running with our dog, Maisie. It’s perfect: I already have a pair of sneakers, it gets me out of the house without a schedule, and the dog wants to stop and pee about every 100 feet, which gives me an excuse to catch my breath. And if somebody notices that I’m doing 17-minute miles, I can blame it on the hound. Good dog, Maisie.
If you live in the Northwest neighborhood, you’ll eventually see Maisie and I trundle past. Don’t be alarmed, that’s my regular skin tone during exercise and the pained look goes away once I get into shape … around May.
This article was originally published in Sam’s Good News; the latest edition is here.