Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I’ve been exercising all my life.  I’m no great athlete, but I’ve always gravitated to various sports I could handle.  Hand-eye coordination is not high on my list of accomplishments.  In fact, it’s so low on my list as to be virtually non-existent.  Years ago, heck, a lifetime ago, I decided to be a racquetball player.  I had speed.  I had agility.  I also could not (that’s could NOT) return a backhand shot from the left corner of the court if my life depended on it.  I wanted to.  I was sorry I couldn’t.  But, I couldn’t.  This made for a pretty short racquetball career.  It took any opponent only one or two shots before they discovered my weakness.  None of them were charitable enough to ignore it.

Solo sports became my forte.  I became a good swimmer.  In fact, during my first week as a freshman in college, I was in such good shape from summer competitions that I decided to try out for the university swim team.  I made it.  No scholarship.  I was a “swim on.”  After practicing three hours an afternoon four days a week for one month, I “floated off” the team.  Too much practice and not enough studying.

Not long after getting married, a friend introduced me to jogging; and that sport stayed with me for about 30 years.  I didn’t do marathons.  That would have required a discipline I didn’t want.  But, over the years, I would get with friends several days a week and run anywhere from three to six miles a day.  I had one friend who wanted to run 10 to 12 miles on Saturdays.  He was a much faster, stronger runner.  While I was running 10 miles, he actually was going more.  You see, he was like a puppy.  We would run together for a while, then he would need to exert more energy and would sprint ahead for a half mile or so and then come back and run with me a while before sprinting off again.

Over the years, the miles piled up until my knees got mad.  “Hey, old man.  You, fatso!  Down here!  Your knees are talking to you.  Your running days are over.  We’re tired.  We’re sore.  And, we’re outta here.”

That was when I read an article about how great weight lifting is for Baby Boomers.  It tones and strengthens and helps us stay healthy longer.  In fact, the older we get, the better weight training is for overall conditioning.  Off to the gym I went.

On my first day, I was assigned a trainer who talked with me about my goals and spent the next hour having me try various exercises and assigning me starting weights. Frankly, I was a bit insulted.  He looked at me standing there in exercise shorts and a t-shirt and nonchalantly evaluated my level of fitness. From this, he set up a beginner’s routine and cautioned me to start with low weights and increase, rather than lifting too much weight initially and pulling a muscle or throwing my back out.

The next day, I went through the first couple of exercises too easily, quickly deciding to increase the weights to a more appropriate level I thought I could handle.  I was so proud of myself.  I wasn’t as weak as that upstart young trainer thought I was to assign me such low weights. I had been exercising all my life, if you’ll recall.

At the end of the week, an exercising buddy, “Tattletale”, drove me home from the gym and deposited me on the couch on my back porch.  As I moaned in pain, my wife rushed out and asked, “What happened?”

I lifted too much weight, I whined.

“Tattletale” roared,  “Actually, his ego was stronger than his back.  Two young ladies came to the gym while your amazing husband was lifting weights.  One of the young ladies was obviously a trainer and was explaining to the other how to do the different exercises.  She sat at the machine ‘Mr. Macho’ here had just used – and had left his weights on – and she said to her friend, “You need to use enough weight to make a difference. This isn’t nearly enough.”  She added another 30 pounds to the machine your husband had used. “Try this.  It should be a good starting point for you.”

My wife laughingly repeated the words, “starting point.”

“Tattletale” continued,  “With that, your ‘Mr. Wonderful’ added another 40 pounds to his weights and strained so hard that he impressed everyone in the gym.  I was proud of him, though.  He lay on the floor without crying out loud.”

“If a 110 pound girl can do that, I should be able to!”  I retorted.

“Tattletale” replied, “The fact that she’s 35 years younger and is the state’s weight lifting champ in her division are two facts you may want to consider next time.”

The next day, my loving wife bought me a gift to use at home.  She smiled when I opened the box.  A set of dumbbells.

Date of Blog Story: 
January 9, 2008

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