Exercise, schmexercise. Where’s it get us anyway? Baby boomer and humor columnist Jerry Zezima of the Tribune News Service of Chicago finds out.
As a geezer whose idea of physical fitness is doing 12-ounce curls and getting up twice a night to go to the bathroom, I had always thought that exercise and health food will kill you.
Then I decided, after packing pathetically paunchy pandemic poundage, to join a gym.
Even though I have maintained my boyish figure and weigh in at a trim 180 pounds, which is distributed nicely over my 6-foot frame, looks can be deceiving. So I figured that my sedentary lifestyle needed adjustment, if only to have an excuse to stop eating the many vegetables that my wife, Sue, a longtime gym member, often makes as part of what she calls a “balanced diet.”
Since I think a “balanced diet” is either spaghetti and meatballs or hot dogs and beans, I relented and signed up at Planet Fitness for a day pass, which I hoped wouldn’t lead to a bypass.
Sue and I showed up after dinner (chicken and, of course, vegetables) and saw that the gym was, according to Sue, uncharacteristically crowded.
“Maybe all these people are here to see if I’ll need CPR,” I theorized.
That was a distinct possibility after a grueling half-hour workout, which was broken down into 10 minutes each on a stationary bike, a treadmill and an elliptical machine.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I said as I pedaled furiously, two bikes over from Sue because the gym practices safe social distancing.
Since I was wearing a mask, which made it hard to gasp for air, she mercifully didn’t hear me.
At the end of 10 minutes, I had logged 1.61 miles and burned 47 calories.
I did even worse on the treadmill, going 0.34 miles and burning 34 calories.
The final indignity came on the elliptical machine, where I went 0.57 miles and burned 55 calories.
“Are you done?” asked Sue, looking fresh as a daisy.
“Huff, huff, huff!” I responded.
When we got home, I gulped down a beer.
“You’re having beer after working out?” Sue said incredulously.
“Why not?” I replied. “It’s better than broccoli.”
In fact, I felt so invigorated that I signed up for a gym membership.
Two days later, I met Joe Robles, a personal trainer who asked what I wanted to accomplish.
“My main goal,” I said, “is to stay alive.”
“I think we can help,” said Joe, who is 31.
When I told him that I’m 67, he said, “Get out!”
“My membership sure didn’t last long,” I said.
“No, I mean you look a lot younger,” Joe said. “And you’re in pretty good shape.”
“I owe it all to beer,” I said, adding that I had a cold one after working out with Sue.
“One is OK,” Joe said. “It’s empty calories.”
“My head is empty,” I remarked, “so maybe that’s where the calories go.”
Then I told Joe about my pathetic performance a couple of nights before.
“I was slower than a tortoise with a broken leg,” I said.
“You have to pace yourself and come up with a workout plan,” said Joe, who suggested that I go to the gym three times a week and do short exercises, including weightlifting on the Smith machine.
“If I don’t keel over,” I asked, “would you rename it the Zezima machine?”
“That would be awesome!” Joe said.
“Until today, my personal trainers have been my wife and my grandchildren,” I said. “They’ve kept me in good shape. Now it’s up to you.”
“I know I can handle it,” said Joe. “We have everything you need here.”
“Does that include beer?” I asked.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have any,” Joe said. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t have one when you get home. It’ll hit the spot after you work out.”
“I’ll tell my wife what you said,” I replied happily. “She’ll be amazed to know that my exercise regimen still includes 12-ounce curls.”
Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima
Jerry’s fifth book to make you laugh is “Every Day Is Saturday: Sleeping Late, Playing with the Grandchildren, Surviving the Quarantine, and Other Joys of Retirement.”