Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just another day

I am sixty-two today.
I could actually start drawing social security.
That is scary.
Today, I have eaten one bowl of oatmeal, one scrambled egg and about 12 carrot sticks
Everyone at work says, “Go out for a nice dinner on your birthday”.
Unfortunately Thursday is also training night.
Thursday is the next day after Wednesday and it is a training day.
It may also be a birthday but I am going to training.
Birthdays are for little people and younger people intent on getting older.
Young people believe that getting older is the fastest way to everything.
I can honestly say that once you get to older, the ability to achieve anything frequently takes everything.
So I will go to training.
Training is rewarding. You can feel it for days but the effects can last years.
So Thursday is my birthday but it is my training day.
So I will go to training.
I will celebrate another year passing with as many circuits as I can do in one hour.
I will celebrate my training day by ignoring my birthday.
In reality every training day is really just a reverse birthday.
At the end of each training day I can feel the added days accumulating.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where has all my energy gone?

Tuesday night.
Seems Tuesday comes more often that it used to.
A lot of people are gathering. Looks like a big class.
I count eight; this does not include the trainer, who is still out in the gym working some “hopeful soul” to exhaustion.
Soon she will be working all eight of us to exhaustion, “building our endurance”, meting out punishment, draining our energy and seemingly increasing her own.
I once saw a Star Trek movie about just this sort of thing. A “creature” appeared on the Star Trek and would slowly drain the energy from those around her, leaving a mere shadow of the person. Kirk barley escaped with his life.
This same scenario has been played out in the new TV series, “Heroes”. It seems one of the entities can absorb the powers of the others increasing his or her own abilities exponentially.
So mid way through the exercise, every one is sweating and breathing hard and moving from one station to station when an “ululation” of triumph and joy explodes form the trainer.
She hops around in time with the background music, actually the foreground music, you don’t miss this music, it is angry and it drives you to and through the exercise, waiting for the next person on the mitts.
I am usually walking around in a “fog” at this point, have stumbled into the trainer, failed to hear the instructions, failed to adequately count past two and gotten lost in an activity and just kept on keeping on.
I don’t think anyone else in the group has to dig that deep into reserves (as they are in much better shape) to get through the paces but each one of them is going full tilt, burning calories and pumping heat and energy into the room.
And here is another clue as to the flow of energy in this class.
At the end of the session, the trainer always thanks everyone for the “good work”. The twinkle in her eye burns a lot brighter and the laugh is a lot lighter as she leaves to “wrestle down” another soul looking for physical redemption and offering her the price of their energy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Getting Ready

Tuesday night and we are all gathered for another session of Ultimate training.
The core group and new recruits gather around the tables and begin preparation rituals.
First everyone wraps their hands.
I have found multiple methods on the web promoted by various trainers.
These all seem fairly complex so I like use a very simple technique.

1. Palm is facing the boxer.
2. Place loop over the thumb with wrap hanging down the back of the hand.
3. You should have about 30 feet of wrap looping down and laying on the floor.
4. Watch out as many people will walk on your wrap
5. Now bring the wrap up and around your wrist for two consecutive cycles
6. Then take a loop out and over the thumb between the first finger and the thumb in the webbed space above the area where the fracture of Rolando may occur.
7. Wrap will now be going down the back of the hand again and may be immediately brought up to wrap around the knuckles for at least two cycles although some purists like three cycles.
8. You should now have about 27 feet of wrap left.
9. Hey quit stepping on my wrap.
10. Now take the wrap which is again hanging down the back of the hand and sweep it across the palmer surface of the hand toward the lateral aspect of the elbow,
11. And upon encountering the wrist go for a cycle or two around the wrist.
12. Immediately sweeping the wrap upward and diving between the first finger and the second finger before again going down the back of the hand.
13. Around the wrist from the anatomic side and then up between the middle finger and the ring finger
14. Again down the back of the hand, loop the wrist counter clockwise and up along the palm to dive down between the ring finger and the fifth finger and then
15. A quick turn to loop around the knuckles securing the “tweeny” wraps between the fingers.
16. Only 15 more feet to go but first stop and see if (a) you can still feel your fingers (b) the tips of your fingers haven’t turned purple (c) and confirm that they actually do resemble little sausages attached to the hand
17. Next take the remaining wrap and loop it around the wrist clockwise and move up the arm
18. And if you have enough left you can begin wrapping the chest
19. And finally on the last turn secure the Velcro locking strip
20. Wasn’t that easy

Aren’t you proud, you now have a large cloth ball on the end of your arm and you get to do the other hand then figure out how to stuff these specimens into a 16 oz. boxing glove?
Come on people, comes the command, don’t make me wait or there will be “hell” to pay.
Now who is the runner?

Monday, January 5, 2009


A friend asked, why Trysynthesis?

We each experience thousands of interactions on a daily basis, see all types of activities, hear so many diverse opinions, and comments that life can become rather confusing.
I personally feel the need to synthesize a summary of each day.
This daily introspection gives me the opportunity to better appreciate all of the people and experiences of the day.
It is not easy but it does help me better understand life. It is a good exercise and I find more joy in my life each day.
So if the days are confusing, go home and Try synthesis.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Training, Tuesday Night:

I get ready with trepidation.
I go because something very deep in me makes me go.
I know I will be happy once I start.
It is refreshing to see the others coming in. I know I won’t be alone.
Being alone or one of three in this class is like being in a College round table class.
There is no chair in the back of the room. There is no way to feign participation.
This demands active participation. This demands sweat. This demands effort scrawled across the face.
This demands being able to eat two large bowls of PAIN and asking for more.
But unlike the Urchin in Oliver, who did not get a second bowl of gruel, another bowl of PAIN is easily served up.
The trainer comes into the room, evil grin, cut across a determined face.
Seems someone challenged the trainer as “just a girl”.
That is a dumb thing to do.
Do you challenge a Cheetah to a race? Do you challenge a Grizzly to a test of strength?
This is not a “girl”. This is a honed machine. She is so high on life and exercise, you only pray you get one-half of this joy. A full dose to the untrained might be lethal.
Turning to the group, she says I guess I’ll have to take some of my “frustration with this bozo” out on you.
The group appears to physically shrink as she calls out the stations and the exercises we would encounter over the next hour.
Only actual medical excuses (here are the stitches from this mornings surgery), obvious “open bleeding wounds” or an abnormal EKG would be a valid reason to go a little slower.
It turns out some “kindness” is offered. Between sets, running the stairs, punching the heavy bag, etc. she says, “take a breath” and like people wandering into an oasis from days in the desert, deep draughts of cool air are inhaled to replenish oxygen long gone from muscle and brain.
Then the question, “are we all back?” “Let’s get going”.
It is interesting, the second time through the exercises, I frequently feel like I left my brain a few breaths short of oxygen because the punch sequences really elude me. Everyone looks a little hazy, like a Courier and Ives Christmas Card. I seem to float or stumble through the last part but I make it and even keep up during the last 10 minutes of crunches, leg lifts and finally the glorious stretch when muscle is pulled back into place, attached to bone and joints slowly reorganize.
As my one exercise partner says, “getting old ain’t for sissies”. “I say this (exercise-Ultimate Fitness-Boot Camp or whatever) is not for sissies”.
It requires strong “teeth” and a “taste “for pain, which is best served cold.
Plenty of oxygen also helps.

So this is Rehab

Exercise time again, Tuesday night.
Big crowd, eight people show up.
I am joyful, should be easy, multiple stations, some for rest, some for breathing.
Maybe tonight I can keep the gloves up.
Trainer walks in, no really leaps in, bad sign, energy seems really high, hair looks sweaty, she comments on the smell of mildew in the room. I wonder, so this is the smell of “fear” and pain. Stations called out. A runner is the timer, three laps, a push up station: 50 pushups: No s--t, did she say 50? Ryan looks over; yeah I think she said 50. Next, the squat station, 50 then flip to the pushup. Next station, crunches, partner doing curls with 50 or 30 pounds, your choice. Yeah, I’m sure I will do 30 pounds with every one watching, guess again. The jump rope is next followed by the heavy bag and then the speed bag and then sparring with the mitts, oh yeah and don’t forget the slip line and start over again.
The music CD goes in, an eclectic mix featuring such bands as Disturbed, actually rapidly becoming my favorite group.
The process starts. Everyone goes hard at it for the first couple of minutes but the runner seems slow and the intensity drops a notch as all begin thinking of pacing themselves to get through the class.
Switch, comes the yell as the runners staggers in and drops to begin the pushups or drops to resupply his head with blood which has most likely pooled in the lower extremities and gut.
She stalks the room, I imagine us looking like a Zebra herd, knowing a lioness is walking the perimeter. Anxious, pawing the ground, who will fall tonight, a random thought and then the image of the Zebra being disemboweled jumps into my mind, a sight so common on nature shows.
The narrator always explains how the weak are culled and really most of the time they are ready to become the next lion meal, probably out of a shared vision of a bigger picture.
If you believe that then you must have fallen asleep in some class on self preservation.
Everyone advances to the next station and the next and the next and I notice when doing the pushups that my arms have turned purple from the fingers to the elbows. Either this is due to lack of blood flow or my oxygen levels are in the basement.
Then I am putting the gloves on and putting them on the wrong hands, this answers my previous question, the oxygen levels are in the basement and the old brain cells are running slower. This is further confirmed when she tells me, one two and I throw a two, drop my hands loose my balance and try to brush off the next punch by slapping at her mitt.
She has found the weakened Zebra and in spite of the nature narrator I am not ready to go down as a defeated pile of oxygen starved tissue.
I focus, get through the punching, and actually make it through the second round by reaching way down deep finding some last reserve and moan internally when she says now for abs.
Immediately she picks up her ears as if saying, “Did I hear a (Zebra) whimper”?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The “Super” Suit

I don’t know how to explain it, but there is magic in the black exercise clothes I wear when I work out.
Let me tell you what I mean.
I am well into the last third of my life.
For some reason after a coronary bypass I decided to get in shape and do 10 “pullups” before I die.
I needed to lose about 120 pounds or the equivalent of a 12 year old and then grow some muscle. I needed to develop some “limberosity” that is some “bendability” and finally some endurance.
So this trainer, a 54 year old woman who looks like she is 28, and who is also a professional body builder agreed to work with me. I was on trial.
I have never been on trial before, I was always at the top of my game in my profession and now I had to admit, I was the sweaty, grossly obese late middle aged male as I frequently described my next patient.
I was short of breath after one flight of stairs and lifting ten pounds was a struggle as was getting the lid off the pickle jar.
So how is it going?
I no longer work out with my trainer; I do that on my own. Instead I joined her Ultimate fitness class. This class includes innumerable methods for inducing great pain and suffering in muscle groups I didn’t even know I had. I am reluctant to continue every time I think about going which is three times a week.
But here is where it gets interesting.
Before I go to class, I suit up.
First I pull on a cyclist Jersey and a pair of biking shorts and I notice the pain is going away. I walk into the bathroom and look into the mirror, I still look old but now the pain is basically gone and I can afford a small smile. So I go back to bedroom and slip on a short sleeved exercise t-shirt and a pair of loose shorts and no pain can be found.
Now I go out, get in the car and drive to the gym. I am almost euphoric as I open the door to the gym and walk inside. I throw my stuff in the locker and wrap my hands, take my boxing gloves, pick up a towel and stride, yes stride, not shuffle to the workout room. I know I will breath like a drowning pig at he peak of the exercise, I know my thinking will slow, I know my nail beds and lips will turn dusky purple as the intensity of the exercise continues, unabated for one hour, but I will feel no pain. I will have become impervious to the vicissitudes of pain just like other super heroes when they don their costumes.
Could superman fly without his suit, I don’t think so. Could Batman become the Dark Knight with out his suit, I don’t think so.
Could I exercise without my “suit”? I don’t think so.
On returning home as I slip out of the exercise togs, the pain creeps back, ever so slowly at first but by midnight has me wrapped tightly in its grip and I am content. I have my own super hero suit and it serves me well. Someday I may decide to never take it off.

A Bad Night?

Brain: Wake up.

Come on, get up!

Me: Huh, I say.

Who said that?

Brain: I did?

Me: Where are you?

Brain: Right here, dummy, I’m your brain.

Me: So I’m sitting in bed talking to my brain?

Brain: You not talking, do you see your lips moving, the eyes are still asleep.

It’s the muscles that asked me to wake you up. They are in pain and they can’t seem to fall asleep, “sleeping ugly”.

Seems you let some trainer take you over the edge and back again, no oxygen, low sugar, on and on, carry those plates, hit that bag, yeah 200 times and again and again. Now hit the mitts, you are smiling and even laughing with all that Advil on board.

We know you dig the endorphins. But you heard her, ain’t no old guy gonna make new muscle, ain’t no old guy gonna do heavy dips without wearing his shoulders outside his skin and most likely his shirt.

Me: Shuuuuuuud up, I say slowly.

I’m giving us hope. I was sleeping better until you woke me up.

I need to do this. It is something I must do and I will grow new muscle, even if it is in my head, Ha Ha Ha.

Brain: Really funny. What if I just take you out in the country somewhere and forget how I got there? What if I forget to eat and you just pass out? What if I forget to take a bath and you end up sleepin’ on a park bench in Central Park?

Me: Wouldn’t that be you to?

Brain: It might, but at least I wouldn’t hear the “screaming of the legs”.

Me: Bad pun on a bad movie.

Brain: awright, I’m not thinkin’ straight, I’m gonna drop the gates and let all the pain on in, you are gonna suffer, you are gonna be sorry you ever hacked me off”

Me: Go for it big guy, remember I’m still loaded with endorphins and the second Advil, the muscles will get quiet before that stuff wears off.

Brain: Hmmmm! I do see those endorphins snugglin’ up to my glial cells, and it does feel pretty good. Maybe I’ll just shut down that line of receptors coming in from the boondocks. Whoa, that was a jolt. It’s pretty quiet with the muscles shut down. I think I smell snow out on the yard. Is that a fire glowing in the fireplace? Christmas songs, I can hear them in the memory section. Those endorphins are pretty cool stuff. Maybe an old man can grow new muscle. Maybe an old man can do heavy dips..

Me: Maybe an Old brain can learn new tricks.

Brain: Yeah, so keep on yawning,(cools me off), keep on dipping, keep on slippin’ but most of all, keep those endorphins flowin