By Alan Sivell, walker, cyclist and St. Ambrose University journalism professor
What’s your 2020 fitness discovery/adjustment? Mine is walking.
Walking is something I NEVER thought I would do as a fitness routine. But I was desperate.
My desperation began on Monday morning, March 16, 2020. It was the early days of the COVID pandemic and I just had received word from school that classes were going on line for two weeks (later to be for the rest of the semester). I thought I’d zip up to the Y where I’ve been a member since 2003 before I got ready for my online classes.
My wife, who does a lot of researching and writing for health organizations, met me at the door. This virus is serious and very contagious, she said. You are NOT going to the Y.
I didn’t and haven’t been back since. I’m sure the electric toothbrush I keep in my locker there is dead. Same with my razor.
Once “banned” from the Y, I decided to try exercise videos. I propped up my computer in the basement and danced, lunged and thrusted. I worked up a sweat and enjoyed the change in routine for about a week or so. But I am not every flexible and the routines seemed to go faster than I could learn them.
For a change of pace, I hopped on my trusty, well used, 25-year-old Airdyne. But riding a bike in the basement, even with a screen full of Netflix to distract, can be monotonous.
Spring was coming and I need to get out into the light.
That’s when I turned to walking. I started on my fitness journey in high school, running to get in shape for baseball. Then lifting weights and more running for football. In my mind, that was how one got in shape.
I snobbily scoffed at all the admonitions that people should get out of their easy chairs and go for a 20-minute walk. As if that were going to get you in shape. Heck, I walk for an hour (pace is probably the better word) several times a day when I’m teaching a class. And walking seemed like such an inefficient use of one’s exercise time. It was going to take a LONG walk and time to get what I needed for fitness.
But, with my options diminished, I decided to give it a try. I loaded a bunch of audio books on my phone, put friends’ phone numbers in favorites and began. Three miles at first as I was still trying to squeeze my workouts in before my morning online classes began.
It was a chore. It reminded me of when I began running to get in shape. I dreaded those two-mile runs around the fifth of a mile, cinder track at the high school.
But when school ended and I had more time, I increased the distance, and as experienced runners know, increasing the distance can lead to increased pleasure. Soon, I couldn’t wait to get out the door. I finally settled on a five and a half mile route that I can finish in about an hour and 25 minutes. The only trick has been strategically plotting the route around open restroom facilities.
The Journey Continues
The walks are weather dependent (Shovel those walks, please!) so I bought an elliptical to go with the exercise bike. I still have a NordicTrack skier in the closet that might see the light of day before winter ends.
As much as I’ve adapted to my new routine, I am anxious to get back to the Y, both for the equipment and the community. I know it’s reopened and I know there is social distancing. But I am going to wait for my vaccination before I head back there and recharge my toothbrush and razor.
|Meet Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell. Alan is a communications professor at St. Ambrose University and a former reporter for WQAD-TV who has exercised – and dieted – his entire life. Read Alan’s other blog posts.|