Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Rapidly Fading

It is rapidly coming to a close, 2010.
I was in the gym this morning exercising, new routine, no free weights, just body weight exercises.
My exercise partner was on board.
The body weight exercises included pull ups or chin ups for those as old as me, dips (no not talking ice cream one or two scoops) body weight dips, sit ups on a decline bench while catching and throwing a weighted ball, leg pull ups while hanging suspended by your arms, etc.
We did 6 stations and somewhere between fifteen and twenty five reps per station and repeated each station three times.
Then it was over.
The next time I am in the gym it will be a new year.
I will be approaching Medicare, not quite there yet, but I can smell it.
I wonder if I will get a senior discount on the monthly dues?
I have been worried, as much as I am there, that they might actually start charging a higher membership fee, you know wearing out the equipment faster.
They did get a whole new load of fancy machines but the spin bikes still look like they have come forward from the 1800's.
I wonder, did they have spin classes in the 1800's?
Sparta was in this morning, patrolling the room, exhorting her small class to new levels of exertion.
Ammo is recovering from the flu.
The Ambassador has been decommissioned due to a back injury,
Cheshire now has the flu.
Finally Transformer seems to be back but maybe not all the way.
Even Sparta has been fighting an injury of sorts and some platform took a large chunk of my shin.
The classes on Tuesday have grown to 35, Thursday class is usually big but it was announced we would be doing the 800 crunches which turned into 1000 and a lot of the regulars stayed away.
The Saturday class has also gotten quite large, 25 to 30.
I occasionally think back to when the class consisted of 4 or 5 regulars.
In spite of everything 2010 has been a good year until this month.
My daughter got some really terrible news regarding her health and it has made it seem like I am walking in mud.
Retirement has turned into a part time job and close to full time anxiety.
The gym will be my best therapy in 2011.
I want to get to 163 pounds, 25 chin ups and an Iron Cross.
I have to hurry, Medicare is just around the corner and I don't think they cover Gymnastic Ring Injuries.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Real Gift, You Get To Stay on the Field

It is early in the gym.
The laughing ladies are here, the trainer is here, poser is here.
My partner shows up.
We chat with the ladies and are summarily dismissed by the trainer, "Don't mess with my clients".
We wander off to another part of the gym as I say, "What do you want to do today, shoulders"?
More a direction than question.
"Sounds good to me", comes the reply and we start.
My lift partner is at least 6 to 8 years younger; I know the day is coming when his age and strength will leave me in the dust but for now, time and tolerance, are on my side.
He has even commented, "I don't think I will catch you because I am not willing to hurt that much".
But I have noticed, of late, he is willing to hurt, a lot.
He is moving fast, to heavier and heavier lift weights, in spite of the aches and pains.
It is getting a little difficult to stay 20 to 30 pound ahead on the big muscle groups and 5 to 10 pounds ahead on the small muscle exercises.
It is just a matter of time and nature but for now he is pushing me to new levels of performance while his muscles are racing to peak performance.
I watched the National Triathlon from Hawaii this past weekend and the competitors ranged in age from 19 to 80 years of age.
The 80 year old was completing his 21st Triathlon.
There was the answer, it isn't about being the best, it is about being able to stay in the game and play with some of the best.
I think I might offer up a leg workout next week and try to go to 600 pounds, I expect he will stay right there or better.
I am looking for him to go to 700.
That will be a test I won't enjoy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hey It Is Christmas Even At the Gym

They don’t decorate the weights but they do have a tree in the lobby and wreaths on the doors.
Maybe the mood is a little more festive.
“Hey get that seasonal music off the system, you are killing the workout”!!!!!
Well maybe not all that festive.
Although in Boot Camp, Sparta put on a pair of Reindeer antlers, as she received blows in boxing.
There is something about swinging at a young lady with reindeer antlers on her head that just doesn’t seem right.
Sparta also sponsored a holiday carry-in to be consumed right after Boot Camp.
I think she expected more participation but the array of treats was eclectic to say the least.
The every present cheese cubes were there along with some great Guacamole and Salsa.
The chips were high fiber crackers and I can still attest to the level of fiber two days after the event.
There was some sinfully delightful sugar coated puffs that seemed rather addicting.
A very nice cranberry relish and a jar of pickled beets rounded out the fare.
The libation consisted of Champagne.
Every body stayed and ate sparingly as we are all in the midst of a weight loss contest and every time you gain you throw $5 more into the pot.
Surprisingly the beets were not a big hit.
You can eat a whole jar for very little cost in total calories.
The fiber crackers were the biggest hit making the doctor side of me think every one there was suffering from some type of GI problem.
As the last of the Champagne disappeared, “Well it is time to go lift”, not spirits but weights.
The spirits were already lifted for far too long it seemed.
So she walked out of sight to pump heavier weights deep into the night.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mr. T, High Tea, Low T

People it seems are finding bathtubs scattered all over the planet in case one would have a sudden urge for a bath.
Houses are unwrapping, morphing into rain forests and other exotic habitats.
Is this the solution to the housing problem and global warming all at the same time?
It all has to do with some lady named Alice and Low T.
I remember growing up and watching Mr. T on the television; I am sure he didn’t have any worries about Low T, High Tea, bathtubs littering the landscape or waterfalls suddenly appearing in his kitchen.
Back beyond Mr. T, it was the British that worried about High Tea and the shortage of tea coming out of the Indian Colonies.
In America the colonists threw the Tea into the harbor.
I would assume a Tea shortage ensued and the colonists would have suffered from Low T for the rest of that winter.
In these modern times there must be a lot of Low T going around.
Radio ads ask incessantly, “Do you suffer from Low T”?
My wife recently went to a Tea Room and bought a Tea pot and lots of exotic tea so we no longer have to worry about Low T supplies in our house.
I did ask her though, “Did you go see Alice”?
She looked at me like I had lost another marble and busied herself making a fresh pot of Tea.
But the ads do suggest we need to See Alice.
So I began wondering, if this is the same Alice that Arlo Guthrie sang about and the Restaurant of the same name, Alice’s’ Restaurant?
The lyrics suggest this may be the reason they keep telling us to go See Alice.
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

Or just maybe we need to go See Alice, you know, the other Alice, the one that fell down the rabbit hole, since it seems the world may have taken that same plunge.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I am not your Mommy

As Sparta patrolled the gym floor, calling out slackers, pushing others to move faster, to no one in particular, “Where is the runner”?
On to the next station, the pace is intense, the activities arrayed in just the right order to totally destroy any illusion of “easy”.
This is Boot Camp but I just had to say as she walked past, “Wow everybody seems to be struggling”.
I don’t know what I expected but got, “So what”?
She patrolled on, exhorting someone else down the line to move faster, jump higher, more push-ups, pound the heavy bag or ramp up some other activity that was going too slow.
She didn’t quite say it but I certainly heard it, “I am not your Mommy, if you can’t keep the pace, you know where the door resides.”
This is Boot Camp, just like training in the army or some pro sport; no one really cares if you are struggling.
You are either going to make it or move to a different activity like eating or television watching.
It is interesting to note that the women in Boot Camp don’t complain as much as the men.
I guess that is the fault of our real mommies who tried to protect their little boys at every turn.
I guess most of us are still looking for Mommy.
But here is a little secret.
It ain’t the lady patrolling the gym in Boot Camp.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Was Going On Strike but instead went Looking for the perfect Diet

I had decided to forgo writing another Blog until my friend had posted her first Blog.
But I am unable to “stop talking” and besides it may be years before that Blog sees the light of day.
I have chilled the Champagne to toast the Blog (when it finally arrives) but even that seems too little incentive to make it happen.
Besides I want to talk about the search for the perfect diet.
I must admit it is a struggle to find a diet that is satisfying, has anti-inflammatory properties, is varied and not too hard to prepare unless your live in cook worries about the preparation. (I am not blessed with that kind if life style so I do worry about ease of preparation)
I have been intent on exploring all aspects of “blenderized foods” along with creating recipes from ingredients found in the home.
How much of the daily intake can come as a smoothie?
This mornings smoothie; one medium apple, unpeeled, diced, one half cup of blueberries, two tablespoons of organic peanut butter, five grams of Glutamine, five grams of branched chain amino acids, water and ice, first pureed and then blended.
Voila, a purple looking near ice cream consistency smoothie.
Taste, B+, satisfying, B, varied, B, enticing, C, (I must admit I am not attracted to purple drinks).
Approx. Nutritional Data: Cal-295 Prot-20 gm. Fat-18 gm. Carb-35 gm.
Today’s smoothie was made with ingredients in the fridge so if I stick to the routine tomorrows fare looks like I might have to try an Avocado, Almond smoothie with a hint of Jalapeño. Adding onions would make it too much like Guacamole so I will go with non-fat milk and omit the onion.
Approx. Nutritional Data: Cal-523 Prot-20 gm. Fat-37 gm. Carb-37 gm.
Other ingredients in the fridge include, eggs, sauerkraut, Horseradish mustard and a fair amount of shredded cheese which sounds like a perfect omelet.
This egg white omelet will consist of 4 egg whites, one half cup of sauerkraut, rapidly heated in the saucepan, and three table spoons of Horse radish mustard along with shredded Cheddar cheese.
Approx Nutritional Data: Cal-255 Pro-21 gm. Fat-6 gm. Carb-12 gm.
I will let you know how it turns out.
The search goes on and I am already wondering about various dining treats that could include beets, black beans, Brussels sprouts, pickles, tuna, salmon, salsa and hummus.
A black bean salmon smoothie or a beet tuna smoothie chills the imagination and may just kill the soul.
In the end maybe I should stick to protein shakes and multi-vitamins.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

38 But I’ve Been Sick

The proverbial question, “How old are you”?
It is much easier to say, “38 but I have been sick” than saying 64 and getting those quizzical looks, some of disbelief, some showing empathy and some that say, “then get a move on, I need that machine”.
If you feign illness I would think there would be much more tolerance for slower movement.
In fact I actually feel 38, I just don’t move as easy as a 38 year old.
The body is not 38 and most days recognizes that fact but is willing to ignore it.
The pay back comes at night, aches that wake you up when you roll over on a recently strained arm, touchy hip or even worse an unbending lower back.
Then you see those fleeting shadows, circling the bed, those dream hallucinations that haunt the edge of near sleep.
Finally the pain or ache brings you full awake and you lie there, thinking, “Should I do arms in the morning or maybe work on some back health”?
Some would say that those questions in themselves betray a level of mental imbalance but when I dredge up those memories of the past when I was actually 38, I think I was more stressed and sleeping even worse that I am now.
There were different hallucinations that haunted those days.
So here I am back to 38 recovering from a lifetime of bad habits, trying to get to 30 or maybe 28 but a long road lies ahead.
Spin, lift, Boot Camp, run, walk the golf course, no more carts, no more easy paths and besides it is cheaper.
The groceries no longer include meat but yogurt, berries, salmon, tuna, cottage cheese, whole grain bread, pine nuts, almonds, whey protein, nothing too tasty but just right for muscle and growing younger.
So yes, “I am 38 but I have been sick”.
It is only in the past two years I think I am finding a cure.
I just want to make sure I don’t go too far and get back into diapers.
My wife has already said she is too old for any more babies.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Different Exercise: Left Brain versus Right Brain

Tonight, 6:30 PM Boot Camp, also an invitation to a private art showing by Shirley Kern, a beautiful talented artist previously of Evansville, now living in Princeton, New Jersey across the street from the home of the late Albert Einstein.
I am racing home from an out of town job and deep in my heart I am torn between exercise for the body and exercise for the mind.
In the end I chose to exercise my brain and the art of appreciating art.
Getting your head around art is often as difficult as deep squats or dead lifts.
The artist’s web site,, is definitely worth a visit.
The event was held at The Begley Art Source, which is affiliated with the Evansville Museum.
I must admit, every joint, every muscle begged me to take a day off and I was looking forward to seeing old friends, having a glass of wine and letting my eyes and mind wander over new as yet unseen art.
I was going to be allowed to look into the soul of another person.
As I walked around looking at the works I was impressed with the colors, the bold stripes, the “Ordered Impressionism” of Shirley Kern versus my memory of the drips on canvas by Jackson Pollock and his “Chaotic Impressionism”.
To me it seems one painted from hope while the other from despair.
Some pieces, especially Wings Across Open Waters, kept calling me back, as it inspired serenity and peace.
But in the end, I had to admit, the art gallery ended up being much like the gym, a whole lot of people seeking to get and be just a little bit better and make the world better for it.
Now if only we can get the gym to serve Chardonnay and Merlot along with finger sandwiches, couscous on whole grain bread, then that would be a little bit of heaven.
I might never go home especially if they throw in an art show every now and then.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Size It Seems Does Matter (At Least To Telomeres)

The river of time is inexorable, always moving forward.
But all rivers have eddies and places where the river sometimes flows backward
So, can we find a way back, to a time of youth and youthfulness?
As we live longer this is a crucial question to answer.
I am approaching my sixty-fourth birthday but I feel like I am forty; the answer, extreme exercise and an extreme diet.
It is now known that on the end of each gene there is a chain of nonsense DNA that protects the DNA during replication from becoming “ragged”.
It is like the end of a carpet piece that has extra heavy stitching to keep the carpet from unraveling after prolonged usage.
These end pieces are called telomeres.
As we age telomeres become shorter and shorter until the DNA becomes unreadable and the cell dies (This is an over simplification but I hope you get the drift)
Much of the damage to telomeres occurs because of inflammation within the organism, the same inflammation that causes arteries to harden, etc.
It now has been shown that endurance exercise protects the telomeres, as do diets with low inflammatory properties, such as the Indo-Mediterranean Diet.
So the longer your telomeres, the healthier your cells, the more true the replication and repair thus keeping cell death and cell aging at bay.
The effect of physiologic stress on Telomere length has been shown to reduce length by as much as a decade in age controlled groups.
The same can be said for inflammation, bad diets and a sedentary lifestyle.
In some bird populations the length of a telomere predicts higher levels of adaptability to changing environments.
In twin studies, the sedentary twin loses telomere length at a much faster rate than the active twin and shows signs of earlier aging.
There is no pill, no easy solution to deferring aging; it is hard won in a gym, on the road and eating foods with high anti-inflammatory potential.
So in the end size does matter- Copy the link and paste into your Browser for more on the issue.

Desiderata says it best: “Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy”----finally eat your veggies, Fish Oil capsules, legumes and nuts along with a good helping of fruit so your telomeres can keep on growing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Has Happened

I was overweight; I loved great food and cherished great music, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, etc.
I would sit for hours listening to the sounds of these great composers while digesting a six thousand calorie meal.
Then I met "The Sparta" a modern day Spartan Queen.
The first recording I heard and thought was “catchy” was a tune by the group, Disturbed.
The lyrics, as I understood them, went on and on about a “sick monkey”.
I asked the group about this and was met with derisive laughter; it seems the lyric was actually closer to “down wid da sickness” and had nothing to do with a monkey but a deranged individual attacking his maternal upbringing.
I found that this music actually helped me exercise.
Next I heard a rhapsodic melody by one, Buck Cherry, not Chuck Berry but truly Buck Cherry.
Buck it seems was deeply in love with this young lady and just had to tell the world about their escapades and limbic energies.
Again this music not only helped me exercise but drove me to exercise well beyond my preconceived limits.
On and on I was introduced to new songs, thrusting me to new levels of caloric expenditure and just like Pavlov dogs, the minute I heard a song with a great beat, I would try to get 50 more push-ups or attempt more weight on the bench.
It seems just like plants, muscles and energy, brain-derived, respond to a primal beat that goes back beyond the written record.
I have expanded my listening tastes to Nelly, Nickelback, Nikki Nana and many others.
I no longer listen to the classics except for those times I attend the Symphony (I don’t think they will be playing Buck Cherry any time soon) or find myself relaxing to NPR in the evening but in the car the volume is on max, the tunes, they are heavy, like the weights I am trying to master.
So be careful, if you inhabit a gym for a prolonged period of time, your brain and body will seek to rock to the beat of the different drummer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Old Man

That is all I heard.
It sounded like, “it’s up to you old man”.
I reeled, "Old Man", somewhere inside a wheel turned, a door closed, a latch fell, it smelled of dark and decay.
It was as if I was a bug, reduced to a small greasy spot after hitting the windshield of life.
Just hearing the words suddenly made it real; I felt my shoulders slump, I was afraid to take the next step for fear I might shuffle.
I turned to face my tormentor; “Did you say Old Man”?
“No”, she laughed, “I am older than you”, I said, “It is up to you Cardio Man”.
Were did that cape come from; this tight fitting suit wasn’t here a minute ago and what great super hero boots.
I guess, "this is a job", for Cardio Man.
Life it appears is 99% perception and at least 1% reception.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On the Ropes

It was an especially nice day, Boot Camp was held in the parking lot; the intensity was high, everyone broke a good sweat in spite of a temperature of 72 degrees and a nice cool fall breeze.
We finished with Abs, now time to train; today Biceps and Triceps.
The routine seemed straight forward, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, small weight, large weights, each time to muscle failure.
Sparta even threw in a different exercise that caused the triceps to really burn.
I looked at the clock and saw we had a few minutes left and I thought quietly, “Wonder what is next because I don’t have a “farthing” (a very small amount) of energy or strength left in my arms".
“Maybe I am going to get off a easy today and finish the last 6 or 7 minutes in animated conversation", some befuddled part of my brain postulated.
Trying to think of where it might go, I suddenly heard “On the Ropes” and I thought, “Yeah even Sparta sees that I am finished”.
But she went on, “Go set the seat height on the Preachers Bench while I set up the equipment”.
Like a lightning bolt out of a clear sky, it hit, I was headed into hell once again; the resistive training method or as I wrote in my Jan. 2010 Blog, Torturous Varying Tension Method.
This is a set of 21 up and down curls against resistance, supplied by the trainer.
Sparta can adjust the tension as she sees fit by judging the level of effort. She also continues to exhort if she doesn’t feel you are trying.
I couldn’t believe that I had to endure this after spending everything in the lift session. I even commented on this and was told, the best time for the exercise, when you are used up.
The idea that best describes this; you are climbing a rock face, you have climbed 278 feet you are cold and hungry, your fingers ache, your legs are lead, you have 21 feet to go. If you fail, you fatigue falling to your death, if you gut it out, you finish the climb.
It wasn’t pretty, I didn’t whimper, I didn’t fall to my death.
My arms say it wasn't trainer compassion but they could be lying.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Famous Quote

My mouth stood agape,breathing was tough, my brain had already checked out, my legs barely supported me and I was fearful of trying the steps.
I had just finished one and one half hours of the worst Spin Class I had ever attended.
My question, “What the hell was that all about”?
“You may not be able to outrun your demons, but you can sure make them pant”.
My next question to myself, “Why do I have to “exorcise” your demons”?
This, I guess, is the price you pay for intersecting with another human.
We all have our demons.
I have had many, some so potent, nearly scared me to death, but in the end a friend always showed up and helped me exorcise my demons.
So, there is the answer to my question.
A true friend, no matter the cost, attacks your demons and well as his/her own.
Unfortunately, it was decided to attack the demons in spin class and that included a lot of hills, a lot of sweat and a lot of pain.
I have never had hamstrings and glutes hurt that bad.
It hurt to sit on them and so far I have not figured out how to drive a sedan standing up.
So the next time we need to exorcise or exercise some demons let’s do it in a Piano Bar with Martinis or on a beach somewhere and burn them out with the noonday sun.
Oh, and the next time it is decided to exercise them in Spin Class, please put a notice on the door, “May be Hazardous to your Health” (Not Really) but at least hazardous to a sedentary set of glutes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Changing a Name

Trysynthesis is morphing:

"The Trainer, Hard Work, Hard Calories; Finding Youth".

When I first walked into the gym, my main goal was to lose weight and begin feeling better.
I never anticipated the shift in priorities that would follow.
I was lucky; a renowned trainer agreed to take my "case".
I did lose some weight.
I did begin to feel better (better than I have felt in the last 40 years).
But the most significant change was that I no longer felt like I was nearing the age of Medicare.
I actually feel young.
I have developed a keen interest in diet.
I now know the foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, calories associated with dietary choices, the serotonin system and the GI tract, amino acid depletion and it's impact on brain function and most importantly the foods that destroy initiative.
Ask yourself the following question, "how many minutes after you eat a food high in processed sugar do you want to take a nap"?
I would guess for most of us it is less than 20 minutes.
Do you feel like going out and playing a game of tag football after eating Thanksgiving Dinner and all of the attendant deserts?
I was listening to a researcher on NPR this morning who was talking about manipulating a gene that at least in mice acts just like calorie restriction and increases longevity.
So here is my take on the issue; if we as a population are striving to live longer it would certainly make sense that we would prefer to stay active longer, be younger and stronger late into life.
It would also be wise to avoid the need for invasive health care, hospitalization, assisted living and bags of medicine (Some of us do and will need these services along with medication but in general it is good to avoid them if you can).
The only way I know to do this is to spend as much time as possible in the gym, avoid excess calories, find and maintain your ideal weight, drive reasonably, wear a seat belt, avoid smoking of any kind, use alcohol in moderation (Red Wine seems OK), avoid illicit drugs, if married- be happy and have lots of friends, if unmarried be happy and have lots of friends, have a positive outlook and hope that you have a least a modicum of luck and a trainer of renown on your side.

To Quote Mr. Spock of the Star Ship Enterprise;
"It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want".
Instead, "Live long and prosper" is the better recommendation.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bad Pain, Good Pain

I have been thinking about pain.
It has been awhile since I have experienced any real pain; in fact the last real pain I can remember is after an unexpected heart surgery.
Missed box jump, sudden twist to keep from landing on my face, “Who stuck that knife in my back”?
Landing and thinking this isn’t going to be good; Adrenalin pouring out, the adrenergic system on overload.
I tried to go to spinning but couldn’t sit on the bicycle without feeling the muscles tighten.
That was stupid; I shouldn’t be trying box jumps after carrying golf clubs for eighteen holes and doing leg presses.
The pain was real and bad; I could perceive no benefit to my person from experiencing this pain except to remind me that box jumps can be hazardous to your health when unprepared.
The other bad pain, a chest incision, an unstable chest and breathing, but that is a different story.
My brief description of two bad pains is not an exhaustive list; other pains in that category (mental pain, unrequited love, extreme humiliation, etc.) are extensive and we have all felt and been haunted by them.
Now to good pain.
Good pain does not elicit the sudden rush of adrenalin, the flight or fight; instead it is associated with the release of those wonderful little proteins know as endorphins.
This is the pain of extreme exercise, exercise to failure, exercise to the limit of endurance, the 10 yard gain against heavy hits, the end of the marathon, the success of the triathlon and suddenly the brain is bathed in endorphins, the feel good molecule.
The pain is real but it is relished and invited as a welcome guest.
It is easy to recognize good pain and bad pain;
Bad pain makes you small and vulnerable.
Good pain puts you on a plain often associated with Nirvana and minor deities.
So the next time you begin to hurt, if you don’t see Angels, be very, very afraid.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What a Great Day

I went to he gym early, 6:45 AM.
It was fairly quiet but blessed be the fates, I ran into the "Bear".
He was in, to exercise with Sparta; big weights, lots of reps, tons of "hurt".
I was happy to see him, it had been a while.
No hugs this time, just a good firm handshake.
I was into aerobics, first Stair master 45 minutes, then down to biceps and triceps.
The Bear was doing Fly's with big weights, Sparta was pushing.
I was on the outside looking in.
But I had my own agenda.
I was into repetitive curls, tricep burns and kettle bell lifts.
I had about a week of Abs to catch up on and I was guilty of missing my box jumps; Mr. Id would be very unhappy if I didn't do the box jumps and you don't want to make Mr. Id unhappy.
These are 18 to 24 inch standing jumps onto a box but beware your shins.
The "Bear" continued his lifts along with Sparta and then a neuron deep in my brain clicked.
I had previously known the mother of the "Bear", the She Bear.
I had met the "Bear" when he was a cub.
It all fell into place and I stood, looking, absorbing what a bear cub can grow up to be.
I decided right then that an Old "bear" can also continue to grow.
Thanks, "Bear" and thanks Sparta, who knows how to train we "Bears".
From the gym, an afternoon of golf in a clear crisp day with a stout wind.
The front nine was a struggle but the back nine was almost joyful as putting, driving and chipping all came together for a few blissful hours.
Dinner, Tilapia with a Tomato, Basil, Garlic Tamponade along with a very light white wine, Fete" Bastard Chardonnay while the piano played in the background.
Then a quiet evening sitting and talking with my wife and reading a great book.
Finally off to bed to dream of new days, the real days of "Wine and Roses".
So Lord if you want to take me now, it is OK.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bon Jour Mon Ami

Just finished my first workout in nine days; not too many gyms in rural France or even opportunities during the day to use the one in town.
Busy days and evenings visiting old friends, playing with grandchildren, seeing the sights, eating and eating and eating.
A lot of walking, helpful, but not as complete an exercise as needed.
Main issue, stiff muscles, unwilling joints after 10 days away.
I have lost some ground that will prove hard to win back; seems age,sedentary behaviors always get the high ground in the battle for fitness.
All soldiers know how difficult the uphill fight.
The trip, Dinard, France, to attend the christening of our grandaughter plus a chance to see old friends and re-visit a beautiful area of the world.
Our flat, above a French Bakery and small market.
The aroma of baking bread, the only alarm required each morning.
Breakfast; Baguettes, Melon, Peaches, real butter, Quiche Lorraine, Tarte de Fromage, "Where are the Branched Chain Amino Acids, the Glutamine"?
Lunch; Country Pàte, Mussels, Clams, Grilled Mackeral, Cheeses (Fromage),more Bread, Wine, "Where are the Protein Bars, Shakes, veggies"?
Dinner; Lamb chops, Roasted Chicken (Swimming in Butter), More Fromage, Pom Frittes (French Fries), more bread, more butter, and then the Cakes and Tarts, Triple layered Chocolate Mousse Cake, Raspberry tarts, little cookies (Macarons) filled with creme, "Where are the meals of lettuce, boiled or baked chicken, tuna fish with salsa, beets, Brussels Sprouts"?
Gallons of Red wine, Bordeauxs, Rose', Champange, Pastice with water. "Where is the Iced Tea, Ice Water"?
Finally to end each day; Lipitor, Aspirin and Fish Oil Capsules.
It was a good trip, the food, the sights but especially the people.
Unfortunately it is time to return to reality.
Life generally isn't lived above a French Bakery.
Dinard, an enchanting French Village on the sea, featured in the movie The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock.
A large statue of Alfred graces the beach, the birds treat it like a private hydrant, the village struggles to keep him clean, a reminder that my diet and exercise have been far from clean.
Looks like I like Alfred need to get clean yet once again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It Is A Nine Iron Into the Green

The time 11:45. No way am I going to make Spin Class, so settle down and put one down the pipe.
I tee it up looking at the tight chute known as the number 18th fairway at Helfrich Hills.
I close the club face, the ball lands within 110 yards of the green.
It is an elevated green, add 10 yards, it feels perfect, I hit the sweetest nine iron directly at the pin.
The ball rests about 10 feet above the pin and the green is canted crazily forward.
Even a soft tap could send the ball off the green, I am putting for a birdie, I am missing spin class, I want to walk away with at least a par, speed will be critical, the earth is turning at 1000 miles an hour, the wind out of the west, the grain against me, what if I get the "Yips" I try to “clear the machine”.
It looks straight in, the green is dry, fast and badly slanted (I am sure spin class has started) I tap the ball, very lightly, it is moving picking up speed, it looks like it is going in, suddenly jerks to the left by an inch and slides by the hole.
Bye, bye Birdie, a great musical but a lousy golf shot.
The next putt, up hill, about two feet and I just slam it into the back of the cup, par.
It feels good but spin class is in progress, I sprint to the car, load up and head to the gym.
The spinners are descending the stair as I arrive; sweat pouring off of glistening foreheads, arms, legs.
“Where were you, one of the spinners chastises, we just finished and it was all intervals, hard, Sparta handed off to “Mel-an-nee”, good class, too bad you missed”, yeah I thought, the Birdie and Spin.
Anyway, I am in gym clothes, I am not anxious to lift but if I get started I know it will be almost as sweet as the nine iron.
“What do you want to do today”, I mentally say to myself as I picture a golf ball softly landing 1 foot below the pin, a sure Birdie.
Yeah, but why settle for a little Birdie when an Eagle might be hiding in the iron of the gym and just as suddenly my mind is off, “Spinning” new images of golf balls dropping for Birds, Eagles and Hole-In-Ones.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Smith Machine

Welcome to humiliation.
“What is the routine today”, the usual question from Sparta on training day.
“I need to do chest”, said I with unusual confidence. I have been feeling really comfortable with the free weights in the last few weeks.
Did she read my attitude or was it just time to show me how far I have to go?
“Lets go to the Smith Machine for some barbell incline bench presses”.
She loads the machine, two twenty-five pound plates per side; I am chuckling inside thinking no sweat.
I begin the activity, 10 reps and I am fighting hard to get the last one.
“Breathe” as she loads on more weight.
“I am humiliated,” I say.
“You want me to put on two of the large plates so it will look better?”
I don’t want to play the fool so I say, “no this is fine”.
More presses, hard, more weight, harder and now she is assisting with each press, then press and hold while she removes some weight, press and hold then continue, it is no longer fun, it has become serious.
In my heart I know she will not let the weight drop on me and crush something I love, like my ribs but there is a nagging suspicion that I have crossed into a new dimension.
Finally it is over and we go to a new machine, this one she helps me push out and then I am to let it down very slowly, one----two-------three---------four---------five then push out. Here she assists.
Each time it gets harder and harder and no whimpering is allowed.
I look; gratefully my time is up.
I always go in thinking I am mastering this new discipline; then I meet the Smith Machine and two new ways to torture muscle.
I am sure I will die before I am introduced to all of the vicissitudes of this challenge.
I only wish Granny Smith had invented this machine instead of naming an apple.
Grandmas tend to be nicer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Good and Evil

Every now and then I really mess up and watch a 24-hour news channel.
I don’t mean to, it just happens; the news flashes by, I become mesmerized; it is overpowering, it is hypnotic and it causes a “Ball of Sorrow” to grow inside of me until I feel like I am going to burst.
If you have seen the movie, The Fifth Element, you might understand exactly what I am talking about.
An alien person is exposed to all of the evil on this earth, wars, murders, man’s continued inhumanity to man and decides that the world and it’s inhabitants are not worth saving.
This same story was played out in Sodom and Gomorrah in a biblical account ages ago.
Tibet has struggled, Haiti struggles, Pakistan is wracked by disaster, China is in trouble, Russia is on fire, children are murdered, women have ears and noses cut off because they want equality, Al Qaeda wants to destroy anything that is different form their version of the world, the Pope calls the ordination of women the “worst sin in the church” while avoiding the issue of abuse and a the crimes against individuals and humanity.
The world seems beset by evil and people that pursue it for their own pleasure and “grandification” when it would be so much easier to just, I hate to say it as Rodney King said, “Can’ t we just love one another?”
This is something that comes down to us from history, “Love one another” and we need Rodney King to remind us?
Good is necessary to advance civilization but for now if the news and the headlines are any indication, we are going the wrong way.
Evil seems to be way ahead if you are keeping score or maybe the recounting of it is what sells commercials.
I for one am going back to the gym, the pain is pure, the motive is self help and the people, they are excellent role models and easy to “love”.
I wish the world could spend more time getting fit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grasshopper Goes To School

“My lift partner is out of town, would you like to sub for a few days”?
Whoa! What a question! Does a Lion like to eat raw meat, is 16 ounces equal to a pound, is the cube root of eight two, does light travel 6 trillion miles a year?
The answer to all of the questions including subbing, you bet.
I answered with some mild trepidation because I know lifting for Sparta is different than lifting for most; it is a serious business.
“But what the hell”, I have always secretly hoped to be asked to lift with the trainer and here it was, Christmas in July, Free Gin and Tonics, I just hope I don’t break something important like my ego or a long bone.
Day one, the question, “What do you want to do”?
I stammer about and finally decide on shoulders.
“Good I can do shoulders but lets add a twist, 10 sets of 10 reps in each exercise; a quick multiplication, 100 reps per exercise.
“Pick your weight with some caution”, good advice I was later to learn because once you pick a weight you never want to be forced to drop down to a lesser weight, in fact the unofficial rule says you are always allowed to increase the weight but never decrease the amount you are lifting.
This is worse than the rules of golf.
Shoulders went very fast as Sparta was in a hurry and had new clients coming in for training so we barely talked, I grunted and sweated and did the lifts as I became more and more sore and unsure if I could make it to the end.
Then, it was over, “See you on Friday, if you can”?
“I will be here”.
Friday rolls around and I am back, “We will do biceps and triceps”.
Same game, 10 sets with 10 reps for a total of 100 reps per each individual lift.
We start with Biceps curls, 100 reps, triceps pushdowns, 100 reps and on and on until we have completed five exercises and 500 reps; I could tell just looking at her that number one, she was not in a hurry today and number two, we were not finished.
She looked around the gym and I saw her eyes linger on the Dip Machine, “Let’s do 5 sets of full body weight dips, 10 reps.
Two things, at least it isn’t 10 sets, secondly I out weigh her by at least 60 to 80 pounds so I am disadvantaged; but I guess that isn’t her problem.
We complete the 5 sets, 50 reps total and I am reaching out to shake her hand but she looks pensive and finally says, “Let’s not leave 50 on the table, let’s finish with the last 50.
They were not deep, they were not pretty but as the last one tore even more muscle, I knew I had left nothing on the table.
Right fist in left palm, I bow, “Thank you Master, When lift partner number one returns school will be out but know, Grasshopper is learning".

Monday, July 26, 2010

It’s A “Sparty”

It has been awhile since I last updated the Blog, writers block, lack of material, laziness; who knows but now a story to tell.
The time is July and Sparta is having a birthday.
This usually prompts the group to begin planning a party; everyone likes a good party and the occasion is perfect.
(A question-how old is Sparta?
Hint- on my sixty third birthday we started Boot Camp with sixty-three jump squats, so when we were recently asked to start Boot Camp with thirty-two jump squats, maybe)
Sparta is consulted as to the best opportunity to get together; a time and date are set, the place, where else but Evansville’s most up scale Nouveau Fusion Restaurant (my interpretation of their menu), Bar Louie.
I first met this restaurant in Hyde Park (Chicago) and it never disappoints.
It is hot and we have elected to sit outside since the total count was approaching forty.
My wife and I were ten minutes late but arrived just as the guest of honor was strolling up, Sparta.
The dress (Sex and The City has come to Evansville) ranged from cocktail formal, midsummer attire, off the shoulder tops, Caribbean casual, western chic to blow your mind beautiful.
The mood festive in-spite of the heat and sweat and the beverages were stout.
The fare was from the small plates side of the menu; Hummus, Tabbouleh & Tzatziki, Chicken Nachos, Bruschetta Pomodoro, Tempura Shrimp along with multiple types of salad and tender Sashimi Tuna.

But the best, the card, the gift and the Carrot Cake,

The card, the creative work of Cheshire, was meant to be sung to the tune of “Wendy”, this was accomplished by a smiling Sparta and an uninhibited Deb from Oakland, the city not in California but Indiana.

The Carrot Cake (Sparta's favorite), a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday followed by a heart felt thanks from Sparta summed up the reason we all came; a birthday, a party, but even more, a time together for fun, friendship but most of all to fête a friend, mentor and teacher for her commitment to us. As I have said before, it is more than just a job for Sparta.

In closing I certainly hope we don’t have to wait another full year for this much "good times" and you all best be in Boot Camp Saturday.

The Lyrics

Who keeps an eye on all of her victims
Watching for our slightest mistake
Who’s coming in to demand more effort
Everyone knows it’s Sparta

Who’s counting down the punches you deliver
Snickering as we all grimace in pain
Who’s kicked our asses and caused us great soreness
Everyone knows it’s Sparta

And Sparta has stormy eyes
That lights up with each of our lies
And Sparta has guns that shock
And Abs that rock
(Abs that rock)

And Sparta will take no shit
She wants power with every hit
And Sparta will help you out
With screams and shouts
(With screams and shouts)

And everyone knows how much we love Sparta!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Have To Set The Record Straight

If you have read past Blogs, it would seem that exercise is painful, difficult to accomplish and led by a merciless instructor.
Exercise is difficult, it is painful, it is demanding of muscle, joint and “mind”.
The instructor, not merciless but an expert, exhorting everyone to achieve levels of performance never achieved before, only achieved in dreams or remembered as past glories; always trying to keep everyone from injury.
It is each of us that have to decide to push ourselves to new limits.
You can stop, drink every few minutes, jump rope slowly, run slowly, lift the smaller weights, count two punches for each one, cut yourself short and in the end gain less than is possible.
Good exercise really demands each deciding to take themselves to the limit, to muscle failure, to breathlessness, to sweat loses, measured in pounds.
So when I hear people muttering about “how she killed them” I really want to congratulate them for “killing” themselves.
Over the past several years I have seen so many people change so much that even they themselves could not fail to notice it.
Whole supermarkets of fat have been lost; endurance has continued to improve even in the eldest.
So in summary exercise is like sin; it frequently hurts but it is usually a whole lot of fun.
Unlike sin, it doesn’t send you to hell just makes you feel like it for a few days.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It Is Great To Be Back

Vacations help clear the mind, reset the machinery.
It is a time to re-connect with family, to re-establish the love and ties that bind forever.
But, vacations extract a toll, travel, new diet, different sleep patterns, toward the end trying to find something to occupy the time.
So I really mean it when I say, “it is great to be back”; especially since I am a "creature" of habit.
That is what having OCD does to you.
I was able to return to Boot Camp on Saturday.
But then I always wonder, who missed me, who really “loves me”, do I really contribute?
Ammo sent a note, “Hope you are having fun with family, miss you”.
Fierce, “Where were you, missed you”.
“Mel-an-nee”, I "luv" her, she goes all out, 150%, “really missed you, glad you are back”, I am flattered.
Ambassador, “great to see you, come see my new house, I am ecstatic”.
Cheshire smiled, talked to me; that was welcome enough.
Judy and Elmo, always ready to smile, I felt their welcome.
Two weeks away, solidifies connections.
I could also tell that being away for two weeks, endurance changes quite a bit.
The class was held outside in the parking lot and included flipping a large tractor tire, laps, two jump rope stations, a crunch station, jump squats, over the head ball toss with a twelve pound weighted ball, farmers carry with kettle bells and several other stations; the class has gotten quite big and peaked out at 24 while I was on vacation.
The music was supplied by car speakers and kept the pace intense.
There were no rest stations and the circuit was completed three times.
Sparta, agitated, driving the class, demanding performance and sweat, yet no welcome back just a large club beating, until you quit or succeed.
I didn’t quit.
I knew I would soon see how bad it was; I was scheduled to train at the end of class.
Then a surprise, “I gave your training time away”.
Something inside got a lot smaller.
I felt terrible for the reaction but that is life.
I trained anyway, with some joy, the new participant didn’t show, but the pain came a lot faster and was much deeper.
Great to be back but adjusting, that will take longer than vacation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Today Was a Good Day

The second day of vacation; what an oxymoron.
I received a voice mail (sent on Saturday, saw it after Sunday Mass) from a good friend, it hit the spot.
It was what I needed to move on.
You see I have “retired”, sort of, haven’t really thought of LAW (Life After Work).
I know there is because others have done it and quite successfully.
I on the other hand have worked since I was six years old, started delivering papers followed by other jobs to numerous to count; I have loved it.
It gave me a routine, a standard approach to each day and coins in the pocket.
Now I am rudderless so to speak and I need to find the “wind” again.
I was looking for a gale but would settle for a breeze until I got the voice mail.
There is something out there I need to do.
It was re-emphasized, plainly, matter of fact, without presumption.
It is time to get to work and finish on a high note.
This was further brought home during my evening exercise routine.
I was one of three people in the gym and I was going to do chest and back.
I decided to do ten clean dumbbell bench presses, full range, no short throws.
Sparta would approve of this plan; I think.
I picked the seventy fives and started for the bench when a younger man came over and said, “You are going to hurt yourself, here let me help”.
I assured him I was going to be OK and did ten clean presses as he anxiously watched just over my head.
“How do you do that”, he asked?
“Two years of weight lifting, a trainer and a desire to keep getting better”.
The next step may be difficult, it may mean a change, it may mean re-learning, humiliation, struggle; but I want it.
The oxymoron, “How do you have a vacation when you no longer have to answer to a clock”?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

If You Are Watching Calories, Better Wear Your Glasses

I have been playing a “game” with food and calories.
How much of a certain kind of vegetable, legume or other types of non-dairy, non-meat products can one eat and tolerate.
I have been buying a large variety of such foods.
One sweet potato; weighs about one pound; I guarantee you can’t eat the whole thing after microwaving to a “mashed” consistency.
The more you eat, the more it seems there is, until I finally gave up after about 30 minutes and still had at least half left.
Brussels Sprouts, I topped out at about 35 in one sitting. The GI tract kept growling most of the night. I must say though that 35 sprouts does quench the appetite.
Pickled Beets, one jar, about 100 calories; that jar lasts at least three meals. It is really tough to eat 100 calories of beets in one sitting.
Asparagus, I have not found my limit except I know I begin to smell even after a few stalks.
Macaroni and Cheese, hey that isn’t a vegetable but there is no limit.
My worst Faux Pa, Black Beans.
I decided the other night to eat a whole can of black beans.
What the heck, 100 calories, lots of fiber, no carbs.
I tell Sparta and immediately she starts laughing.
“I would guess that is 100 calories per serving.".
"I think it was 100 calories per can".
“Guess again, Dr. Nutrition”.
I hurry home, about 500 calories per can, fooled by fuzzy vision and Urban Legend.
Everyone knows beans are "super food".
Yeah, another lesson, more ain't always better and read the labels carefully.

A Little Remembrance

“He’s scrappy”, I heard my Dad tell the headmaster.
He may have said crappy, but I hope not.
Four feet eight inches tall, eighty-nine pounds; I thought I was a giant.
Boarding school taught me a whole new lesson about giants.
You may have a heart of a giant but eighty-nine pounds is no match for one hundred and forty to two hundred pound kids.
There was no room on the basketball court, there was little if any room on the football team, track was the only option and the 660 meters was my given distance plus the high jump. I wasn’t very good at either.
I had a good number of black eyes, bloody noses but like a true giant, laughed a lot.
I also spent a lot of time “hiding” in the gym.
Jimmy Howard, African American, easy smile, spent most of his time in the gym
He was always lifting, exercising.
He was about six feet tall, one hundred and eighty pounds and could bench press between five and six hundred pounds. ( I asked my brother and this is how he remembered it).
I don’t know why, I have tried to find him over the years to ask the question, but he took an interest in me and started teaching me his method of weight lifting, work on the parallel bars, the rings, the Peg Board along with the rope climb.
He also stressed sit-ups and chin-ups.
It was a simple time.
It was a good time.
I would wish it for every child growing up in this new technologic world.
I am trying to get that time back.
I am still kind of scrappy or crappy, you will have to ask Sparta.
Oh, and the next time I lift 500 pounds; it will be to pay a hotel bill in England.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sometimes It Is Hard To Go To The Gym

Last night as I was pulling on the exercise clothes, for a fraction of a second, I wanted to stay home and have a big slice of roast beef, meatloaf or both along with mashed potatoes-gravy, warm biscuits with dark cinnamon flavored apple butter, sweat yams covered in melted marsh mellows, a deep brewed dark African coffee with a glass of red Merlot all followed by peach cobbler, warm, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream decorating the top.
I could almost smell the food being served in the dining room.
I imagined sitting down afterward, unwrapping a cigar and having a Sherry in a mahogany paneled room while a piano plays in another room, “Improv Jazz”, not too loud instead mellow and soothing.
Is this “heaven”?
It felt more like “sin”, forbidden but alluring.
Then the still damp, cold, constricting Under Armor snapped me out of the reverie and back to the reality of the routine, exercise, a protein shake, cold beets, a few blueberries and Green Tea.
Occasionally a veggie burger or hard boiled egg replaces the beets.
Tuna from a can or bag is a real treat when mixed with hot and chunky salsa
It is all about choices, calories, intake.
I guess I miss the bread more than anything but that is one major step on the road to perdition.
The Cigar, just a prop from days gone by.
At least the Jazz doesn’t have any excess calories.
I collect my gear.
I will soon be riding in spin class, boxing in Boot Camp or lifting in the weight room.
I watch as I head down the steps careful not to slip on any of those “mashed potatoes” or “candied yams” but I do wonder if those rolls were whole-grain.

Friday, May 28, 2010


“Woo Hoo”, often erupts during Boot Camp like the blare of a trumpet.
I don’t know where she comes from, her goal, “I just want to have fun”.
Sounds like a California type thing.
You know, California girls, Valley girls, just wanting to have fun, Beach Blanket Bingo, Frankie Avalon, the Beach Boys.
But “Woo Hoo” is not really Valspeak (Valley Speak) but instead a phrase more recently popularized by Homer Simpson.
The Urban Dictionary defines “Woo Hoo”: (A word used when you are overly excited, hyper, having fun, or when something great happened to you. You can also use this word repeatedly when you are bored and want to annoy someone as an expression of excitement meant to annoy.)
“Woo’ Hoo” is defined by the internet free dictionary as a sailfish.
“Woo Hoo” the song, was recorded by the band, Rock-A-Teens, in 1959.
“Woo Hoo” the song, has been featured in such films as Kill Bill Vol.1 and Glory Road.
The French psycho-billy band Le Wampas featured the song under the title “ye ye punk”.
Chevrolet used “Woo Hoo” in the ads for the Chevy Cobalt, and to think, we bailed them out.
If you change the spelling slightly to Wu Hu, you are then referring to a nomadic Chinese tribe that lived from the 4th to 5th century AD.
It was Tex Avery who created the original version of Daffy Duck in 1937. Daffy established his status by jumping into the water, hopping around, and yelling, "Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Hoo-hoo! Woo-hoo!".
So where does that leave “Woo Hoo/Wu Hu” in Boot Camp?
An ancient Chinese Nomad just passing through, a fan of Daffy Duck, Homer Simpson, Kill Bill Vol. 1, possibly a seafood fanatic or an owner of the Cobalt, your guess is as good as mine.
“Twenty-five jump squats and now”, is where it leaves the group when too many “Woo Hoos” fill the air.
I guess it has been good for my quads but standing too close, it does seem to find its way into the deeper recesses of the brain and occasionally “jiggles” the hind brain.
In Freudian Theory the thoughts and desires banished to the unconscious mind motivate the behavior of the conscious mind.
So be careful when you “jiggle” the hind brain or you may release a Hyde from a Jekyll.
And boy, do Hyde’s ever love jump squats.

What Time Is It

“What time are you going to the gym tonight”?
“5:30 P.M., tonight is spin, I am going to try to get a bike”; “I think I will stay and lift after the class or maybe even lift before spin if I get there in time”.
“Well I won’t be home until later, most likely 8:00 P.M. or so”.
“There are more "black bean" burgers in the freezer”.
“I might just get a protein shake”.
“What time is it”?
“5:00 A.M., I’m off to spin and get strong”.
“Have a good one; you should spin in the evening or on the weekend one of these days with me”.
“As soon as I get comfortable with this whole bike thing, I will”.
“What time is it”?
“It’s about 8:30 P.M.”.
“Did you spin tonight or just work out”?
“Well I am going to bed as I am really tired”.
“I will be right behind you”.
“What time is it”?
“Looks like 2:45 A.M.”.
“Are you having trouble sleeping”?
“Yeah, I think I have too much energy to fall asleep”.
“Well don’t get any ideas, I have to spin in the morning”.
“Well that’s a new spin on an old story”.
“What time is it”?
“4:45 A.M., guess I will go ahead and get up and get to the gym early to spin”.
I think to myself sometime later, “What time is it”, as I roll over and look at the clock, 5:24 A.M.
“Might as well get up and start this day”.
“What time is that luncheon”?
Note to wife, call me and let me know, “What time is the luncheon”?
“Are they serving something I can eat”?
“Just quit complaining and go with the vegetables”.
“What time is it”?
“I think it is, uuuh, it looks like 1:45 A.M.”.
“Why are we talking at 1:45 A.M.”?
“Guess, because we can’t sleep”.
“Is the gym open”?
“Yeah I think the one in Newburgh is open”?
“Want to go spin”?
“I thought you would never ask”.
“We can eat the leftover sprouts on the way”.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


There are in this world a group of people I refer to as High Performance people, people with the characteristic of “hyper-formance”.
These are the individuals that push the limits of human endurance, strength and tenacity; the hyper-milers, the cyclists, soccer players, Iron Men/Women, gymnasts, the strong men, those that would attempt the Ultimate Triathlon;
(Swim the English Channel, cycle the Tour de France, run the Marathon des Sables, all in sequence).
As of this writing I don’t know if the above is a recognized triathlon but each leg does exist and one individual did try to accomplish this very daunting task, Mr. Chris Pountney (2007-2009; Search Ultimate Triathlon).
The challenge,
(The Marathon des Sables is a 240-km foot-race across the Sahara desert in which competitors must carry all food and kit. It is often described as 'the toughest foot-race on earth.'
The Tour de France is a 3,000km, 3-week bike race through Western Europe which even many elite riders are happy just to finish. The route changes each year but always takes in some intense climbs through the mountains.
Swimming the English Channel is an incredibly difficult 35-km swim in cold water which takes months of daily training to prepare for, and on average 14 hours to swim. It is regarded as the pinnacle of open water swimming
These are amazing people with amazing endurance and some of these “hyper-formance” people train at the local gyms in our fair city.
One, arrives early every day, stays late, trains people, exercises with the power lifters, leads Spin Classes, supervises and participates in Boot Camp, choreographs Power Pump and somewhere in all of this attends to the activities of daily life and family.
A few of the die-hard “Boot Campers” attend two sessions of Camp on the same day interspersing lifting or Power Pump between the Camps. These same people attend multiple Spin Classes and find time to put in several hours or miles on the treadmill many times a week while holding down jobs, raising children and even cutting the grass.
Others spend hours a week, like “Superman” or the “bench presser” (looking to best a 400+ pound bench press), both training for upcoming competitions.
The power lifters squat with bars loaded at 400 to 600 pounds.
Dumbbells flys with 100 pound weights are not uncommon.
The early risers, “the”, that gather three time a week for aerobics and strength training also gets a big nod (my wife can be counted in this group) because I am sure that even my blood pressure is not up at 5:00A.M.
The doctor in me wants to measure the aerobic capacity and study each of these people but if I instead accept them as role models, given time and a lot of sweat equity, I may yet achieve “hyper-formance” and discover my own Ultimate Challenge or extreme limit.
Has anyone ever Circum-Polared the globe on a bicycle or survived on a fiber bar a day?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Will I Ever Get It

Every time I convince myself of significant progress in my “quest” for health, vigor and new strength, every time I become a little too full of myself; there is Sparta.
An example.
A few Blogs ago, I wrote of weights, reps, speed; I was self-satisfied.
Being self satisfied is dangerous; it is like believing your own “press releases”.
It is OK to have “press releases” just don’t accept them as “true”.
Never put in writing, what may come back to haunt you.
Best of all worlds; let someone else write about your achievements.
This past Saturday, Boot Camp, followed by training.
The first machine, the reclining bench press; a machine to help build chest muscles.
Sparta readies the machine and loads up a small amount of weight; do the standard number of reps, wait a few minutes, more weight, again a specified number of reps but with a twist, “don’t do them so fast, slow the tempo”.
"This is different; it is a more difficult", I say, Sparta explains, “The momentum factor is gone, now it is all you”.
Finished, sweating some, more weight piles on, the magic 180, “now do slow reps”.
Sparta gets ready to assist. She never does this unless asked or she anticipates failure or possible injury.
No surprise, she helps me finish.
Next drop sets, again slowly and with each set I can feel the arms turning to soggy pasta, not even al dente.
It is like this at each station, light weights, slow motion movements and critiques of my technique.
Each little addition brings sensations of new muscles being recruited and old scars being pulled into action.
“Feeling anything different”?
“Yes” I say matter-of-factly, “I do believe this might pull my incision line apart; the next thing you could see is a live beating heart, mine”.
Concern appears to register until I start laughing, but truthfully I can actually feel the attachments on the sternum coming into play.
They fatigue quickly.
The last machine, the last set, "21", she says; more laughing followed by 21 with mainly Sparta doing the most work.
I know I am going to be sore in a few hours, for a few days and have a badly bruised “ego”.
The best remedy for that, pain relievers and another big piece of “Mom’s own Humble Pie”.
Luckily my wife knows me well enough to keep a large supply of that on hand.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Well It Is all About Ken

Monday, get to the gym early and head up to claim a bike for the full one and one half hour spin class.
I am excited; I have never been in this class.
I usually end up in the 45 minute class on Monday and the one hour class on Sunday.
So I set up the bike and begin the ride.
The first 45 minutes goes by as expected, it takes 45 minutes, the music is OK.
Several new players file in at the break as some of the first group pile out.
I stay; I gave up a bike during the last one and one half hour session.
Then the question, “What do you want CD-1 or CD-2”?
Cheshire speaks up, “CD 2”.
“Ok, it is number 2”.
The first notes crash out over the loud speakers; the didjeridu intones and is joined by an African voice.
It is an eclectic mixture but hauntingly beautiful; it drives the effort.
I say to no one, “Good, I love this one”.
“Well, it is all about Ken”, says the trainer.
“Yeah it is all about Ken”, comes another voice from the darkened room.
Can you blush in the dark?
I did.
What the hell was that all about?
The trainer adds, “At least in Ken’s world”.
I am puzzled, usually an attack is frontal, this is more devious, Ninja style, striking from an unknown direction for an unknown purpose.
Maybe if I am saying it to no one I shouldn’t say it at all.
I turn to cement.
It is an easy transition.
I just need to be careful how far I sink since I need to hear the cadence and command changes for the class.
I turn the resistance a little harder on the flats, harder up the hill, harder climbing the wall.
I don’t even finish climbing the wall, “Only five minutes to go”.
I have worked harder than usual, but in spite of that the second forty five minutes is reduced to less than ten (at least in Ken’s World).
A time warp has invaded Ken’s world; it seemed to coincide with the “cement state”.
What is going on?
Is it psychology (to get more work from an angry peon), is it a reaction to a Blog, is it a form of subliminal torture or is it just carry over from the second grade, you know going after the odd kid?
Maybe 63 year old people are odd if they do the one and one half hour spin class.
Now I even wonder if they would pick me for Red Rover Red Rover.
I assume this new form of “persecution” will continue for an unspecified period of time, so it is good I have a large supply of Sakrete because in the end it is “All about Ken”.
Who said that?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother’s Day at The Gym

My mother never claimed I was bright.
Ooops! Looks like I and the guy behind the desk are the only people in the gym today.
It is Mother’s Day.
I have just gotten back from Baltimore (seeing our daughter, son-in-law and especially our Granddaughter-who is truly a special lady) and I really need to get the travel cobwebs out so I do what always works, head for the gym.
I was sure it would be packed with the post-brunch Mother Day celebrators trying to get rid of the Eggs Benedict or the really rare beef and potatoes.
No such luck.
The place was empty.
The question, "Are we going to go out tonight" suddenly took on new meaning.
An alarm bell began sounding way back, deep in the recesses of my brain.
Maybe I shouldn’t be here but home celebrating with the mother of our children.
Maybe this is a bad idea.
But, what the heck, I am already here so quit worrying and get with the program.
The Stair-Master beacons.
I set the intensity higher than the usual, maybe I can get in a really strenuous climb in less time (to get home-that alarm is insistent)
It works, at fifteen minutes the sweat covers the machine and I am breathing very hard, at twenty minutes the legs are feeling rubbery, it is getting harder to stay with the pace.
My toe keeps catching on the next step.
At twenty-five minutes I shut it down.
It is not the 3.9 or 4 miles but a respectable 2.19 miles with 375 calories burned.
Wait a minute, breathe, head to the weights.
I want to do chest today (move fast because the alarm bell is getting distinctly louder) so I start heavy, 75-15 reps, pull downs 120-15 reps 70-15 reps, pull downs 110-13 reps, 65-struggle to get 13 reps, pull downs 100-mangae 11 reps.
Reclining flys, go heavy and follow up with heavy reclining dumbbell presses.
Same routine.
Move to the recline machine, 180 as many as possible times three sets, sweating heavier (that alarm is making me sweat) wiping hands frequently, next machine 210-15 reps times two then 190-11 reps times one.
Grab a mat, military sit-ups as many as possible, the alarm in my head has moved to the frontal lobes as is starting to sound like a tornado siren.
It is taking too much time.
Danger, danger, some invisible robot seems to be saying.
I am having trouble concentrating.
But I persist, lateral crunches, foot off the floor, then the other side, now 100 crunches, straight legged.
I am getting dizzy from the continuous roaring in my head; I get up, decide I am finished and head to the locker room.
I may not be smart but I am a quick study.
As we are a little later sitting in the restaurant and I pick up the glass of wine to toast this wonderful lady, the mother of our children;
It is finally all quiet on the Cerebral Front.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is This Stereotyping or What?

This weekend, famed physicist Stephen Hawking rocked the residents of this world with his declaration that aliens are likely to exist but should be avoided at all costs.
Whose world did he rock?
Certainly not mine.
I have seen all the movies, The Day the Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds, The Twilight Zone, Body Snatchers, we stereotype the poor extraterrestrial.
Only in ET did we make the alien seem like a decent sort, just befuddled and lost.
Now a famed scientist who should know better adds to the furor.
“Aliens are most likely microbes, fungus or dangerous.
The one clarifier is that the term microbe can also include fungi and even viruses.
Well I couldn’t let this one go.
Athletes Foot is a fungus and we don’t panic over it, what about Candida, another common saprophyte that likes to live on the human skin, that doesn’t send people screaming into the streets.
We use fungus to make cheese and a lot of people eat fungi sautéed in white wine.’
So if an alien fungus shows up it best beware as it may end up stewed in white wine and butter on the Iron Chef.
Microbes on the other hand can be bad news especially if they invade a human and cause pneumonia, sepsis, or other infections.
These babies sometimes kill.
But in general microbes are advantageous to man such as the ones in the gut that break down foodstuffs, the ones that ferment alcohol, the ones that long ago became mitochondrion and supply our bodies with energy, the ones that digest leaf liter and help make soil.
In fact wasn't it a microbe that saved mankind in War of the Worlds?
Finally he suggests that an advanced civilization of “Nomadic Humanoids” might show up, steal our resources and/or sauté us.
I am much more worried about earth bound humanoids and the evil deeds we inflict on each other.
Your chances of being killed by a careless driver 1 in 85, your chances of being murdered 1 in 210, of a nuclear explosion 1 in 400.
Global violence accounts for 14% of all deaths.
The chances of discovering intelligent alien life is about 1 in 30 million.
The chances of running into an alien on the street that wants to cook you, infect you or steal your stuff has to be about 1 to many billions.
So I for one am appalled at the idea of snubbing our noses at potential “buddies” in this rather large universe and see no benefit to hunkering down in this backwater galaxy and beating each other up; it will ultimately come to a bad ending
Maybe some intelligent aliens have a better way; but please, before you land, leave your weapons and large stew pots on the moon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spinning With The Bear

“Do you love it”?
“You bet I love it”.
I don’t know why, it “hurts”, an all over kind of hurt that somehow feels good.
I am not always sure I can make it but I would rather die than give up, unfinished.
At least if I died I would have a good excuse to quit pedaling.
Sunday comes early this week, Spin Class, the Bear shows up.
I don’t know if he has ever been in Spin Class before but Sparta helps him set up his bike in the semi-darkness of the room and he is off and riding.
He starts all out.
The room is like a Brazilian Jungle, both heat and humidity are at or above 100%.
I am actually surprised it isn’t raining.
I guess bears acclimate easily as he pedals on, no let up.
About 15 minutes into the Spin, Sparta announces we should be warm by now.
In fact we (I) are (am) “burning up”, the sweat is pouring down the forehead, arms, back, chest in full streams.
The towels are soaked.
The music “screams” until the drums begin and set the rhythm, “Keep the pace, enjoy the flat, the hills are ahead”.
Bear continues to pour energy into it, keeping pace with the experienced riders; me I keep my head down, eyes closed trying to find some sugar, fat or even some precious protein to burn for the next climb.
This is where I usually ask an Angel, any Angel, to lend me some divine intervention.
The experienced riders are doing “crazy” levels of RPMs.
I am trying to keep pace but falling behind with each revolution.
Then salvation, I can barely believe it.
Fleetwood Mac, the song, “Big Love”.
Hey this one doesn't play until we are close to the end of the class.
I guess the Angels heard me.
We are closing in on the finish line, I can make it.
Fresh adrenaline pours into the bloodstream.
I use the beat and the adrenaline to pick up the pace.
Then it is over.
No way, that can’t be an hour.
But it is, the big hand on the clock says another class is in the books.
“Thanks to all for the good work”, Sparta intones.
“Do you love it”?
I wait to hear The Bear’s assessment.
“You guys are all crazy”.
Sure, I agree, but for me it beats electricity and/or medicine and I love it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bench Pressing, Dead Lifts, Chin-ups and Weight

Last night after Boot Camp I decided to lift following the advice of exercise Guru Rick Kampen.
Mr. Kampen has a web site devoted to health and longevity.
Frequency of exercise trumps all else according to Mr. Kampen.
(That could apply to a lot of things beyond exercise)
As he says, who wins a Marathon training once a week?
Dedication and discipline are required.
So I decided to take another dose of discipline.
His other caveat, if it hurts (my Parentheses’ and quotation marks) “I assume, real bad” don’t do it.
Since it always hurts, he must mean “real bad”.
(That could also apply to a lot of things not exercise.)
He stresses mixing it up, body weight exercises such as chin-ups can be very effective in creating strength and endurance.
Same thing with push-ups, crunches, planks and other forms of exercise that utilize gravity and your own body weight; these same exercises become easier as you become lighter so this is an added boost to stick to the diet.
Next he recommends when you do go to the gym, vary the routine.
He recommends three splits a week instead of exercising each muscle group once a week.
The most I can do is two splits since Boot Camp keeps me fairly well tapped out three days a week and spinning wrecks me on Sunday.
In the gym, high reps low weights, then moderate reps with moderate weight and then low reps with the really big guys; varying the activity keeps the body guessing.
My question, how big is big; is seventy big enough or should you try to get to 80 and 100 on the heavy days; me I am stuck at seventy or seventy-five on heavy days and that is with a strong following wind.
I personally don’t believe you can ever do enough crunches but then you will cause an imbalance with the back muscles and this is where the dead lift comes into play.
This is supposedly the Master exercise of all exercises.
You need to use feet, legs, (quads and hamstrings), arms, shoulders, hands, forearms, hips, abdomen, neck, shoulders and even the lowly platysma.
For some reason this exercise takes your breath away, not like a spectacular sunset, but like I can’t breathe, pillow over your face, drowning, kind of shortness of breath.
I think it has to do with all of the muscles especially the accessory muscles being recruited to lift the weight off the ground ten or fifteen times.
These are the same muscles that keep air moving in and out of the lungs.
Thus if they are lifting weight they can’t very we’ll breathe.
But if you keep it up, you will get better assuming you don’t pass out and crush yourself.
I was watching a youngster dead lift 415 pounds.
I don’t think I could roll 415 pounds but I will keep trying.
When I weighed in excess of 250 pounds I could barely lift 5 pounds, so the paradox, as my weight approaches 168 (still a ways to go) I can now lift over 160 pounds.
So maybe if I get to 100 pounds I’ll be able to lift 300.
Makes sense to me.
Wonder what Mr. Kampen would have to say about that?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Escape Plan

I exercise almost every day.
I feel better than I have felt in the past 25 years.
But then last night, sitting with a group of friends at a restaurant, I listened to the issues of aging and aged friends and relatives.
That is going to be me, I thought, I will be 80 in the short span of 17 years.
What is my future going to look like?
Are there escape routes?
How long can one defer the fragility of growing old with exercise and diet?
How long can faculties be held together with vigorous activity and Sudoku puzzles?
I was thinking about this as they delivered my Rigatoni Lucchese.
I ate the white beans and the few pieces of chicken, but the “guilty” pasta, I stirred it around in the tomato broth as I absentmindedly let a thought materialize, “we need a pre-formulated escape plan; it has to involve bicycles (maybe motorcycles), long road trips and possibly tents with survival gear”.
I could already feel the wind blowing over my “bald wrinkled scalp” as the caravan sped toward destinations not thought of by many octogenarians.
(Tierra del Fuego, the vast Australian Outback, the trans-Canadian highway, the route of the Orient Express, all by bicycle)
Everyone looked at me, wondering what strange paths my mind had wandered down but then as recognition began to dawn, someone else agreed, “We do need an escape route”.
“I would just as soon exit this mortal coil on a high plain in the mountains or beside an ocean”.
What a poetic way to say, “Sure beats a hospital bed or extended care facility”.
The real question, can it happen”?
The “starvation diet part” is easy, go on a calorie restricted diet, eat healthy and you will live longer according to most studies.
Cardio and weight training every day lead to longer lives according to most studies and have a very positive effect on brain function and brain cell renewal.
Do all three on a routine basis and who knows, possibly long term health?
Next leave the possessions to posterity and hope to carry enough aspirin or acetaminophen to ease the pains of the journey.
The one thing I haven’t totally figured out is how to stay in “touch” with the kids and grandkids
Unfortunately I think the wandering life might affect your outlook, attitude and appearance so you may be less welcome at the Thanksgiving table or the Christmas dinner since homeless may be a better descriptor than adventurer.
Maybe frequent Skype Wi-Fi video calls could be the answer (Skype Video Phones are available).
Also the spouse may not buy into this adventuring, making the decision even more difficult.
But in the end, the search for empty spaces and transcendent meditation should make all “boomers” consider the road less traveled.
Finally, if you exit while on the road, be happy, you will re-“cycle” faster just like in Spin class, “Everybody up and keep the pace”.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Sometimes Lie

Wow! What a statement.
Spinning Class 4/14/2010, two extra bikes so tonight I get to play.
The trainer trusts that I will give it my all and put the tension where I am challenged.
Anybody can ride for an hour with no resistance.
I have grown to trust the trainer who by the way is the timer, she lets us know how far we have to go, sets the pace and pushes us to our limits if we are trustworthy in our effort.
This trust thing goes all across the exercise spectrum, (i.e.) “Hey, I’ll spot you” and then as the muscles fail the weight comes crashing down bouncing off of the chest or the floor and the statement, “Man I have always wanted to see acute muscular failure”.
So tell me that before I bounce a weight off of my chest.
You can bet I will never trust that spot again.
So tonight, “One more minute and we are finished, everyone up and give it your all.”
The minute ends and the statement, “Really we have three more minutes; I guess sometimes I lie”.
Don’t say it is so.
I have placed you on a pedestal beyond mere humans and you are telling me you sometimes lie.
Well I will rationalize this one for you. Sometimes you have to lie because you can see that we are like Pavlov’s Dogs and begin coasting thirty seconds before the end; the mental bell has gone off.
But here is a better suggestion, I know for a fact that the count is always more than stated, I know the minute turns in one and one half or two and there really is no end as there is always one more set of heel punches or at least one more set of side planks.
So don’t say, “I sometimes lie” instead say, “you certainly didn’t hear that from me”!
Who in their right mind will ever question that, at least out loud?

That Was Then This Is Now

Last week may have been one of the best “feeling” weeks in my life.
I had energy.
In fact I was exploding with energy.
Boot Camp was fun, the music was great, the running was “easy” almost a “lope”.
The Stair Master was my friend; the weights just didn’t seem all that heavy.
I was “eating clean” the whole week. No fat enriched snacks, no extra helping of anything except for three large bowls of cooked spinach on Wednesday.
No red meat, only fish and four ounces of chicken with large amounts of L-Glutamine in between and whey protein shakes.
The brain and the muscles were on “fire” or as “on fire” as a sixty three year old muscles and brains can be on fire.
To the younger set it may have looked like smoldering rags, but to me, I was at the top of my game.
Even the trainer commented on it but attributed it to mental instability.
What a great way to feel; I didn’t want to let it go.
Then the reality of Mexican Friday, wedding Saturday, too much Tai Sunday and suddenly as if someone turned off the power, it was gone.
It hasn’t been the same this week.
My steps are slower and the Stair Master is no longer friend.
The “fire” is now just smoking embers and I think more about sleep.
I am clean again but it takes a few weeks to get “starved down”.
Each week I re-commit to the new lifestyle and even went so far as to look up foods that have a low glycemic index (less than zero is better) and high anti-inflammatory properties (closer to one thousand is ideal).
I come up with the following menu:
Breakfast: One scrambled egg (whites only) smothered in Salsa or one half cup of oatmeal.
Mid day snack: Protein Bar or Go Lean cereal, 12 grams of protein and lots of fiber
Lunch: Bag-o-tuna smothered in Salsa with pickled beets or even more desirable asparagus.
Mid afternoon snap: Hand full of Almonds or possibly 12 to 20 Blackberries (no sweetener)
Dinner: 4 ounces of Salmon or a Black Bean Burger, Brussels sprouts or spinach and 3 to 4 ounces of Red Wine preferably Merlot or Pinot Noir.
The next thing I need to remember, leave the caffeine behind and hydrate with water all day long.
I am wondering, can I can finally stick to the above diet or something very close and achieve my goal weight of 168 pounds or is it only the “dream” of an aging mind that is not quite, as “on fire” as it believes it is?
Oh, could you please pass the chicken fried steak?

Monday, March 29, 2010


S”p”unday or more commonly Spin Day, at high noon.
Got to the gym at 11:00 A.M., all of the bikes are taken.
Seems people smarter than me have set up the night before.
I need to call my wife as she was planning on joining me for Spin Class, our first couple’s activity in the gym.
I was disappointed as I have come to look forward to this class.
It is a very popular class, frequently oversubscribed and no one is giving up their seat.
Well, no matter, the faithful stair-master is always available ever willing to break my spirit.
In a gesture of “righteous indignation” over the lost Spin class I decide to outperform the Spinners.
I set the program, Ultimate Fat Burner, level 6, duration-60 minutes.
I am wearing a new heart rate monitor given to me as a gift and the stair-master in a show of contempt starts to automatically display my heart rate, picking up the transmission from the chest lead.
The down side or maybe the upside, I could see the heart rate but not the time.
I have to go by the big clock on the wall down on the main gym floor and the distance makes it fuzzy but I estimate the time as 11:15 or 11:20 A.M.
So I know I will be finished by 12:20 to 12: 30 P.M. before the Spinners had completed their efforts.
After entering all the settings I begin the climb
Somewhere around 30 minutes (give or take a few) into the session my heart rate registers 130 beats per minute.
The legs, OK but sweating, over the top.
Should I decrease the level?
The answer- not yet.
Forty five minutes into the climb-heart rate now around 155 but regular, legs OK but now a large pool of sweat has formed on the stair-master.
Maybe I can drown it.
I am starting to groan but the stair-master just purrs along like a well tuned machine with no emotions.
Turn it down; it seems to say with its flashing lights- no way!
Fifty-five minutes, the heart rate sticks at 160 beats per minute.
I am now seriously wet.
The stair-master is seriously wet but shows no signs of tiring, while I on the other hand am having trouble lifting my legs to the next step.
My body says in no uncertain terms that it is time to admit, the stair-master wins this round.
As I climb down and begin cleaning the equipment I can hear the faint beat of the Spin Class Music.
I am envious, at least in there I could be sitting down.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More on Spinning

I love spinning.
I don’t know why, because for me it is sixty minutes of over exertion.
Every time I start I am not sure I will finish.
I am always worried I will fall off the bike (maybe dead).
That would be humiliating if nothing else.
Sparta is right about one thing though, if you grab the music it won’t let you down.
At the start of the session last Sunday Sparta announced, “If you fall off your bike I won’t see you because I am going to keep my eyes closed”.
Just like a tree in the woods, does it make a noise when it falls if no one hears it?
It does disturb the air and creates ripples in the atmosphere and probably alters the flow of energy in the Universe but I guess technically if no one “hears” it fall then it doesn’t make a sound since sound is the brain interpreting all of the changes in air currents and energy flow in the universe.
So can you fall off the bike if no one sees you?
Here is where it gets tricky.
According to Schrodinger in a now famous thought experiment involving a cat in a sealed box, a radioactive compound and a vial of poison, at time t1 the cat is alive but at time t2 after a certain set of criteria is realized, the cat may be both alive and dead and only assumes one state over the other if someone looks or Observes.
So can you falloff the bike if no one is looking?
If Sparta is the only observer and she keeps her eyes closed then you may have fallen off the bike and still be riding at the same time.
It is only after she opens her eyes and sees you either lying on the floor writhing in pain or still riding in pain that the answer is realized.
So maybe if she keeps her eyes open from the start we won’t ever fall off of the bikes.
In truth after each session I feel like I have fallen off the bike not just once but many times.
It is even hard to walk down the steps without some trepidation.
It really doesn’t matter in the end whether you stay on the bike or fall off of the bike as long as you don’t leave until the session is over.
Besides who would ever want to leave and miss that last song?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What a Week

What a week this has been.
The Federal Legislative process grinds on and somebody is going to get crushed.
That is all I will say on that.
The Vatican has been embroiled in a widening scandal in Europe.
That is all I am going to say about that.
The President and The Pope both seem to have some issues and that is all I am going to say about that except maybe their people could arrange a lunch and they could discuss their issues over a healthy meal of Green Tea and salad.
The NCAA playoffs are in full swing and so far my favorite teams; Gonzaga and Xavier remain in the hunt. I keep hoping for a final four that includes Butler, Gonzaga, Xavier and Sienna but alas Sienna has already folded the tent this year.
Oh, and I guess Tiger Woods is going to play in the Masters at Augusta. Yawn!
A lot more has happened around this world but you can read about it or watch it on one of the 24-hour news networks.
Actually I prefer 24 hours of weather; At least it is always changing.
This was a full week in the gym, 10 to 12 hours, to be inexact. My goal, weigh in at 188 on Saturday morning. Many food demons were lurking, dinner with a group of my wife’s friends, Irish stew, Fish Pie, Salad and Chocolate Brownies.
The salad was tasty, the second helping of salad was tasty and the third helping of salad although tasty began to seem a bit much.
I did hit 188.8 on Saturday. Not where I wanted to be, 0.8 pounds over but close enough.
I finished the week with Boot Camp and training. Now I am tired and I will most likely take a recovery day because the next step is 184 and 10 chin-ups.
Then again I may go for the spinning class on Sunday after taking time for church or I may go play a round of golf although my slice is pretty bad this time of year and it vexes me; the Dali Lama said in his book “The Road To Happiness” to avoid vexing situations, so even golf may be out.
But I just can’t get excited about sitting home and watching instead of doing.
It seems to me the world stage as reported every day on the news is littered with clowns and I was never a great fan of clowns even in the circus.
So Maybe Anthony Newley had it right in “Stop The World-I want To Get Off
Otherwise I’ll visualize you in your gym on Monday, wherever that may be.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spinning, Time, Heart Beats and Relativity

Why does time slip by so fast in spinning class.
I have been amazed how quickly it is all over.
The command, “Let’s get started”, lights down, music up and then all out, stand, climb hills, chase, flats, keep it up, more hills and then “only five minutes left in the race, let's go”.
Then cool down, another spinning class is in the books.
I would think the sheer effort of sixty minutes of cycling would drag on forever.
Einstein’s theory says the faster a body moves the slower time ticks in relation to an outside observer, so for the one spinning time should seem to elongate while everyone else outside of the spin class would age at a faster pace.
But instead, time seems to speed up in spin class and here is my theory as to why this occurs.
The heart rate trumps Einstein in this case.
All living creatures including humans have about one and one half-billion heartbeats stored in their heart at birth.
So someone with a resting heart rate of 45 to 50 (Please don’t waste the time doing the math as the approximation is good for this Blog) would live on average 70 years.
If the heart rate were doubled such as in a smaller animal the life span would be significantly shorter because you would use up your heartbeats at a much faster rate.
As an example shrews and hummingbirds have heart rates that vary between 1000 and 1400 beats per minute, thus exceedingly short life spans versus blue whales and elephants that have very slow heart rates and very long life spans.
What does this have to do with spinning and the fact that time seems to move so fast?
The answer, in spinning the average heart rate approaches 150 to 160 beats per minute.
That means you are using up your heart beats thus your life 3 to 4 times faster than when you are resting.
So during the spinning class you are actually using up four hours of heart beats within one hour and the body senses this dramatic increase in the use of life units.
The mind to protect the cycler, re-calibrates reality making the hour seem like it is really only minutes, 15 to 20 to be exact.
Somewhere in this thought is a good experiment just waiting to be undertaken.

Friday, March 12, 2010

So This Is Empty

Finishing a big week..
In the gym every day beginning last Sunday with start times earlier than unusual so was able to do more than the normal routine.
Sunday, walk 18 holes of golf followed by 3.2 miles on the Stair-Master and then on to weights.
This happened Monday (Stair-Master then weights), Tuesday (weights followed by Boot Camp), Wednesday (Stair-Master and weights), and Thursday (weights followed by Boot Camp).
Friday, looking forward to exercise tonight, but noticing a lot more soreness, surely that will ease up through the day.
Attend a quick reception at 5:00 PM, ate a few light snacks (no sugar, mainly protein in the form of chicken, grilled) and head for the gym.
Forgot the Advil, still sore but I am sure I can work it out.
Change and head up to the Stair-Master; legs are dead, no action, don’t want to climb, it only lasts nine minutes. Knees are gone and calves begin cramping almost immediately.
It is done before it starts.
So no matter, I can still do the weight routine.
But just in case, I decide to start light as my arms remain very sore.
Dumbbell bench presses followed by Lat Pull downs.
Again nothing works.
I struggle to get 10 reps with the lighter weights and the pull downs just don’t happen.
I sit there staring ahead, absorbing empty.
As I was thinking about the empty and how "negative" it seemed I suddenly remembered something the Dali Lama had said:
The ultimate goal is "cultivating the wisdom of no self," a sense of grand emptiness that leaves behind the everyday pollution, both physical and emotional.
I walked out of the gym smiling, maybe tonight was good, even better than I could have imagined.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Am In a Hurry

I am going to Boot Camp tonight.
I was in the gym last night doing Cardio and free-weights when it “hit” me.
I am in a hurry.
The gentleman lifting next to me gave his age as twenty-eight; he has time on his side.
There were no older people in the gym at this late hour.
They are all at home in bed or watching late night TV.
I never want to re-join the ranks of the TV watchers or the couch sitters.
I want to be in the ranks of the late night sweaty, over-achievers that populate the gym.
It was again hammered home today after reading a Wall Street Journal article by Ron Winslow.
The article details a study that was undertaken with 50 to 65 year olds.
In 2006, 906 of the original group had reached the age of a least 85.
The common denominator, exercise.
One gentleman who is currently 89 has run 744 Marathons in his life.
Another, age 85 bicycles and runs daily.
So I am in a hurry.
I will “possibly” turn 85 in twenty-two years.
Notice I say “possibly”, there is no guarantee but it is a very short time in the future.
It is my last quarter, if I can compare life to football game, and the “team” was out of shape in the second and third quarter.
The “team” is getting in better shape but still has a long way to go.
The “team” has a lot of goals and is going to have to be in great shape to accomplish them.
The diet is the hard part but I am getting used to eating things that taste like cardboard and library paste.
Black Bean Burgers are now at the top of the list as one of my favorite foods.
I do treat myself every so often but dietary control is becoming a new way of life because I want to be successful.
Exercise is its own reward.
So I am in a hurry.
I need to take off the rest of the weight, decrease the percentage of fat and add more muscle.
Then I need to start checking off my goals, one at a time.
I am looking for a “touchdown” not just a field goal.
Maybe in the end I can make Joe Black wait to meet me instead of me rushing headlong to meet him.