When I was a kid, getting enough exercise was never a problem. Saturdays were spent riding bikes all over town, we walked to and from school, and we actually had to get up to change channels on the TV.
Now that I’m firmly implanted in middle-age, getting enough exercise seems to be an excruciatingly elusive endeavor. There’s absolutely nothing I enjoy doing at the health club. Weight-lifting hurts, treadmills are boring and aerobics are best left to the Jane Fonda types. If they offered a seven-minute yoga class, I might go for that.
They say that the best exercise is one that you enjoy; one that you will do. In looking back over my non-athletic life, the only physical activity I’ve really enjoyed has been skating. All types of skating; four-wheel, inline and on ice.
For the past ten years that I’ve lived in Chicago, I’ve really enjoyed ice skating a great deal. For four months during the winter, I keep a pair of hockey skates in my office and often hit the outdoor rink after work. The thing is, I don’t actually go that often anymore.
While I was in the monastery during the nineties, I really got into inline skating (i.e. Roller-blading). I could skate to my heart’s content on the monastery’s empty parking lot and ended up dropping quite a bit of weight. (Down to 180 lbs, actually.)
Yes, I was one lean, mean, praying machine.
I thought about getting out the old Roller-blades again, but where could I safely skate? Empty monastery parking lots are hard to come by. The running-bike-thing along Lakeshore drive is festooned with runners, bikers, dogs, strollers, and skaters, all of whom seem hell-bent on breaking the sound barrier. I tried riding my bike there once and it scared me to death.
Finally, I found a place, devoid of people that might get in my way – the ice rink where I skate during the winter.
It’s completely unused and ice-free. Well, during the day there’s a kiddie day-camp sponsored by the Parks & Recreation Department where lots of kidlets play some kind of soccer-hockey. Other than that, it’s all mine.
So, I donned the old skates yesterday and took a spin. Frankly, it seemed to take quite a bit more work than ice skating, but I’ll get used to it. Maybe I’m just used to skating when it’s not hot outside.
The only thing that bugged me was that every five minutes, a group of tourists on Segways would buzz by and stare at me.
(I thought, “You’re on a goofy Segway and you’re staring at ME?”)
So, maybe I’ve found a means of exercise that I don’t loathe. Come November, I’ll switch from wheels to blades.
Maybe now, I can finally cancel that stupid gym membership.