I am neither a fitness expert, physical trainer, nor a gym instructor – but I have learned a bit about fitness and exercise. If I tell you anything that isn’t right, please read the first dozen words again!
In one of my other lives I owned a sports, leisure and fitness centre. We had 3 gyms: a men’s gym, a ladies only gym, and a mixed cardiovascular gym. I promoted the gyms as part of the business – but I couldn’t lead by example. I found it impossible to push myself beyond my comfort zone in the gym – but yet I would go ‘til I dropped on the squash court because someone else was pushing me.
The other thing I learned is that the ordinary person doesn’t need a gym to be fit and healthy.
In yet another of my past lives I milked cows for a living. (I know, Lads, you are sick listening to the same ol’ thing!) The cows dried off in mid-November and I had it ‘handy’ from then until calving at the end of January. I was in my prime, but over Christmas I would put on more than half a stone in weight.
At that time I believed that the only meaningful exercise was pushing weights, running a marathon, or playing against Raharney! I did none of these things and I couldn’t understand why I lost the weight again as soon as the cows calved. I wasn’t pushing myself, but foddering, cleaning the shed and just operating at a steady pace was enough to stay in shape. Lessons learned: All you need is to be cardiovascular fit and allow the engine burn off the fuel intake.
Walking does it for me and I am lucky to be involved in a little bit of farming which gives sufficient exercise to the essential muscles. I always use the stairs at airports and hotels. I leave the car parked well away from wherever I am calling to and I often take the ‘long way round’. An English friend mocked me one day in La Zenia while I was carrying a box from my jeep parked 100 metres away.
‘That’s the Irishman’s way for doing it, instead of parking close to the door’, quipped Reg. I put down the box, tapped him on his protruding oversized belly and replied: ‘This is all part of the Irish exercise programme’. He had the good grace to utter ‘Touche’ and we both laughed.
Back to my Mullingar gym. One time we got the carpark tarmacadamed and beautifully lined. There was a yellow box at the main door in order to keep the area clear for foot traffic and deliveries. Then I began to notice a big car parked on the yellow spot between 1100 and midday most days. I watched and I waited, before finding that the offender was a business lady from up town. Because I was annoyed I timed it to meet on the spot as she was leaving. I confronted her in a non-aggressive manner – but it was a risk, as I could have lost this member by saying anything.
‘We have a half acre car park, so can you tell me please, why you persist in parking your car in the no-parking area blocking the doorway?’ ‘I only have half an hour in the gym and I’m always in a hurry,’ the lady replied. ‘Let me tell you something’, sez I. ‘If you left your Merc at home, walked down and had a cup of coffee with me, it would do you more good than what you are doing!’ We became friends and she turned into a walker!
The gym is fine for building upper-body strength, body building, sports people or for someone who actually enjoys it. Enjoying it is the crunch – because you will not stay doing any exercise unless you enjoy it.
Whatever your age, the case is proven that being physically active will help you lead a healthier and happier life. You will have a lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. Weight loss is an obvious benefit as well as having stronger muscles and bones. You will experience an increase in energy as soon as you get into a daily exercise routine and find it easier to enjoy a full night’s sleep.
‘Everything counts’, and getting into the habit of using the stairs instead of the escalator will all add up.
Walking is the greatest and easiest exercise of all. Whilst running or jogging can be hard on the joints, walking as briskly as you can for your age, will do you nothing but good. It is the perfect cardiovascular exercise, which strengthens the heart and burns those pesky calories
And no membership fee; you can do it anywhere, anytime, with no equipment other than a good pair of shoes!
A man’s life is dyed the colour of his imagination.