.A trip (literally) on a treadmill
By Ken DeLaat
Can you cure clumsy?
I posed this question during a late afternoon meetup with a colleague/friend. I had been doing a bit of poking around about a possible story and we had just kind of wrapped things up before her latte and my smoothie were barely touched so there was some time to kill.
The reply? A definite no while citing personal evidence as to fruitless efforts to alter the affliction.
I’ve been known to ask somewhat off the wall questions that pop into my head. Some years back for whatever reason I found myself randomly asking people “So has your life turned out the way you thought it would so far?”
It’s a compelling question and I received a wide array of intriguing answers (as well as the occasional expletive laden rebuke I must admit) but learned a few years back to only ask this when unaccompanied by others particularly if one of those others is your Lifetime Spousal Companion (LSC).
But back to clumsy. The morning prior to my meeting while finishing up a few dishes by hand a wine glass...a rather nice wine glass… slipped from my hand and tumbled into the sink where it unceremoniously shattered into a number of pieces.
This is not newsworthy nor particularly startling since my history would leave a less understanding LSC to believe I was engaged in a long term plot to rid her of all nice things. The list of broken, shattered, scarred, damaged and otherwise impacted items would rival a novella in length.Thankfully Lil is both kind hearted and forgiving so long as I agree to keep my hands feet and any other part of me clear of her vast collection of teapots-no easy task given the sheer number that reside at N3WH.
But it bothered me more than usual, hence the reason it was rattling through my brain and arose quickly as a question during any lull in normal conversation. And as all questions do, it led to more self directed inquiries.
Has it always been this way? Was I a clumsy child? Wouldn’t I have possessed better balance to play the sports I did? Why are there so many solitary shoes alongside the road?…
Oops. Sorry. Drifted a bit.
And then of course there’s the real question.
Is this an age thing?
When the gyms all closed this past spring my Tamarac workouts came to an end-as did my relationship with the beloved steam bath that served as the punctuation point of any workout and admittedly at times during winter months was part of my hot tub/steambath/short swim ‘workout’.
Most days I followed a routine designed to fit well with my needs, a routine crafted together by one of their instructors a year or so earlier. It was my hope initially to develop more flexibility, a bit of strength and, perhaps even a modicum of improvement in coordination.
Self analysis concluded it was going along swimmingly (yeah, miss the pool a lot) and then came March and the whole COVID thing and both Tamarac and Newaygo Fitness, my other occasional drop in gym, closed their doors.
I pondered the choices presented. Top of the list was to take advantage of this all too perfect excuse to stop exercising. I mean, truth be told, over decades of half-hearted attempts at improving personal fitness I’ve utilized much lesser excuses to stop. Things like “Now that we have a new boat I can’t really see myself going to the gym” or “How can I think about exercising when we have a garden to take care of?”
But in reality I had begun to enjoy not only the workouts but the feeling of being somewhat fit.Tasks that once proved exhausting had become relatively easier, and even an increase in flexibility was noticeable if not substantially so and when it came to coordination?
Well, not so much perhaps but I remained optimistic this might tag along and join the other progressions at some point in time.
So I went to the basement where Lil does her daily workouts and uncovered the NordicTrack treadmill purchased long ago and while used on occasion by other family members remained a stranger to me.
Initially I thought it was broken until daughter Lesly showed me the correct way to turn it on.
After this operational mentoring I began a nearly daily session on the beast.
It wasn’t easy. I found balance was pretty important on such apparati and it took awhile before I could get through a session without frequently grabbing the bars.
I slapped on some headphones to somehow simulate my workout sessions in the gym and walked to familiar tunes slowly figuring out a bit more about the nuances of the machine.
But we never became friends and I was ecstatic when the weather cleared up enough to take my walking outside.
N3WH is on a lake and much of my 3 mile path has a lane for walking or biking, an extremely fortunate addition to any road.
And I have loved it.
Generally the walks occur in the early morning hours and the dawn brings out a symphony of sounds from the birds and other wildlife so it has been a most pleasant experience.
As summer has crested into fall there is a later sunrise so traffic is a bit more prolific but the walks have continued to be both fun and engaging in many ways.
Lately my thoughts have drifted to the inevitable arrival of winter and the likely return to the treadmill.
Oh, I know the gyms have reopened but most refer to those of us who might want to be cautious about returning. Though it varies from place to place most cite two situations that might stimulate a bit of caution.
I have none that I am currently aware of unless questionable sartorial tastes can be considered an underlying condition
2. Older Adults
When one is careening toward membership in the septuagenarian brigade it becomes necessary to accept the notion that one has indeed reached the stage of being an ‘older adult’.In reality I’ve long passed the milestone of eligibility for senior discounts (they don’t even ask anymore), been afforded the benefit of receiving Medicare and Social Security, and frequently have my door opened for me by younger women. My haircuts involve some trimming of the ears and eyebrows and my late father appears in my mirror each morning.
So for now it’s no to the whole gym thing.
Which brings us back to the treadmill and balance, or lack thereof.
Walking outside allows for a certain amount of weaving even though, when accompanied by Lil I am compelled to frequently ask for pardon when swerving into her.
The treadmill? Not so much.
It was raining today and though I’ve walked in rain from time to time I thought it might be a good time with winter looming in the not too distant future to give the Track a try.
It went fairly smoothly for the first 10-15 minutes or so until an alarm from my phone indicating a scheduled commitment sent me reaching for the phone and without any warning…
I slammed down on the treadmill and rolled back ingloriously banging several body parts and emerging with various scrapes, a skinned knee and somehow a bonk on the head.
Lil asked me how it happened.
“Uh… not sure.”
Are you hurt?
“Mostly my pride and a bit of a much diminished sense of dignity.”
Falling delivers a sudden sense of powerlessness. An out of control feeling of physical chaos that anticipates injury.
And I despise it.
Maybe it’s because there’s not been a lot of experience with it. I’m not saying I’ve never fallen but it’s been rare enough to remember most.
I recall a time I fell out of a golf cart, sober no less.
Then once when with my Dad there was an incident involving a bar stool...also sober.
And a memorable one off a porch at hunting camp...not so sober.
And of course the hardest fall occurred the day I met Lil.
All of these happened when I wore a much younger man’s clothes (thanks Billy Joel).
But this is my first significant fall as an...uh…
And I don’t like it.
It takes me much longer to heal than it once did. The fallout soreness from this recent tumble will be visiting for days longer than it used to.
Make no mistake in understanding that I’m not adverse to getting older. There have been definite advantages.
While not gaining by leaps and bounds in wisdom I am acutely aware of a tendency to do fewer dumb things as I age.
I like that Lil and I are retired and get to spend a lot of time with each other.
There are few regrets of opportunities missed, no ongoing ruminations on past mistakes nor lamentations of paths not taken.
But I’m not embracing the concept of ongoing unsteadiness.
And remain committed to attempting to hold onto some degree of fitness.
So I’ll continue to walk outside until it becomes infeasible for one like me who has never developed any fondness for being cold.
Then I may revisit the now nefarious treadmill.
As a friend said when I described the mishap.
“It’s like getting thrown by a horse. You have to just climb back on and conquer your fear.”
Difference to me is from what I understand you can reason a bit with a horse.
They have no soul.
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