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My View: One man's exercise is another man's stupid

By Jim Schneegold

Until a few months ago, I truly believed I could still do all the physical things I used to in my 40s. Well, sort of. I retired from softball long ago after having my knee drained eight times in two months. Back then, I could still do all of my yard work, driveway snow removal and sports.

In the wintertime, I only needed a snow shovel and an hour of free time to knock off my 50-foot driveway. In the summertime, my neighbor (after watching me use a broom on my driveway) used to come over and ask if I wanted to use his leaf blower. “I like the exercise” was my macho response.

Suddenly, as if Father Time decided to make an unwarranted visit, I needed to rest after 25 feet of snow shoveling. During one of many breaks, I’d say to myself, “Hey, look! They have snow blowers on sale.” The same was true for cleaning off the driveway lawn clippings in the summer. While reading my morning paper on a lazy Sunday morning, I’d read “Best sale of the year, leaf blowers for $19.95, today only.” I’d instantly justify the purchase by convincing myself that if I used the blower, I’d have more energy to do all the other things. I wasn’t getting older, I was getting smarter. Brilliant strategy, I say!

When it came to exercising, I was proud of my six-day-a-week YMCA routine. A few years back, I was usually the oldest person in boot camp. That is until I hurt my lower back and had to go to rehab. No boot camp for four months. While resigning myself to a lesser activity, yoga class, I became the marketing poster child for establishing what I affectionately named, “Rehab Row.”  This was the back row of people who didn’t want to actually do yoga but were too hurt to do the tougher classes. I’d watch the other injured boot campers slowly succumb to my enrolling alternative.

The monthly cycle would continue from getting hurt in boot camp, to rehab row in yoga. My yoga instructor would ask me, “How stupid are you?” I finally got smart enough to realize this instructor was right and I never did boot camp again. Then the YMCA came up with the great alternative, body pump. No running! We just lifted light weights, so I thought it would be a piece of cake. Then my upper back got all messed up from that.

When I look in the mirror, I can’t help but think that my reflection is some cruel joke. I can justify that I can at least do a modified version of what I used to but my back disagrees. Only the health care providers are smiling at my dilemma. I can hear their snickers when I find out that they’ll give me $200 toward my YMCA membership if I continue to work out and hurt myself, I mean “stay in shape.”

Regardless of how often I do stupid things, and how many rehabs I go through, it still hurts to walk by the classes I used to be able to take. I reluctantly pass the gym where I used to take body pump and boot camp, wave to those friends who still haven’t had to visit Rehab Row, and make my way up to the yoga class on the second floor. Now I have my new yoga friends where we chat about our aches and pains from tougher classes we took long ago. Brilliant strategy, I say! That is until I start getting brave and my yoga instructor looks at me like, “STUPID.”

Jim Schneegold doesn't like that he can't exercise the way he once did.

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