Last week I began – for the umpteenth time – a new fitness campaign.
As I have blogged previously, now rapidly approaching my eighth decade, I am of the vintage that used to play sports simply because I enjoyed them, on top of which the joyous inner benefit of feeling relatively fit came as a welcome but unintended by-product.
In my youth I regarded such fitness training and practice as I undertook, whether at the encouragement of a coach, or even just for myself – as little more than a necessary chore. I lived to play whatever-game-it-was-at-the-time and (with all due modesty) kept myself in a pretty decent state of fitness generally by playing sport at every opportunity.
[I should perhaps add here that I never played any sport at any degree of excellence beyond competence].
Upon reaching middle age – having got married, had children and engaged in a normal social life – I discovered that, along with sundry other items of baggage naturally acquired during my advancing years, I had gained a stone and a half in weight.
I gradually realised that, going forward, being healthy & fit was potentially an advantage, even if this was only because (a good rule of thumb was that) quality of life probably mattered more than longevity, a view that subsequent living experience has not altered.
Accordingly, since then – inevitably hampered by endless diary engagements, social events and ‘good living’ opportunities – I have made the effort to take exercise whenever I can without getting obsessive about it.
These days I rather enjoy the feeling of being fit (as opposed to unfit) and therefore make the effort to walk regularly – I can no longer run due to the cumulative effect of various sporting and other injuries – and attend the gym at my local health club when I can.
My normal practice over the years has been to begin a fitness drive … carry it on until diary engagements or other commitments contrive to prevent me taking exercise for two or three weeks on end … and then give up altogether, having first vowed to ‘begin again properly’ on the next Monday when I can see a week or more ahead where my ‘other commitments’ are thin on the ground or (preferably) non-existent.
And thus my life has continued over the past fifteen years.
Which brings me, as I indicated above, to last Monday and the beginning of my latest and current fitness regime.
On this occasion I have noticed some telling pointers. I have been struggling to do more than 15 minutes on the health club stepping machine, where previously (aided by earphones and a small television screen in front of me) knocking out 30 or even 40 minutes with relative ease was the norm.
On the ‘sitting bench press’ machine I have been struggling this week to do more than 10 reps at a time of 40kg where – in my best previous concerted fitness campaign – I was capable of two sets of 60kg without any problem at all.
And so it has continued around the entire array of weights gym machines.
I’m only mentioning these things out in case they are of potential interest to Rust readers.
One piece of wisdom that old people learn (and sometimes boringly pass on) is the unanswerable advantage of listening to your body and accepting your limitations.
It’s all relative, of course.
Which reminds me of the joke first told to me when aged 13 and in my first year at public school, at the point where I still had only the vaguest notions of detailed Facts of Life yet just about enough to get the gist.
A young bull is standing with an old bull at the top of a field. Way below a herd of cows are chewing the cud and doing what else cows do.
The young bull says to the old one “Why don’t we charge down there a fuck a couple?”
The old one looks across at him and say “No. Why don’t we just amble down there and fuck the lot?”