Neither Creatine Nor Cross-Fit

A vegan, an atheist, and a crossfitter walk into a bar. You know this because they are all the same person, and they tell everyone very loudly as soon as they walk into the room.  -A joke someone told me two years ago

My primary form of fitness activity for most of my teenage and adult life has been running. That has taken a bit of a back seat this year for several reasons. One, with my work schedule as a teacher, it has been hard to fit in. Second, my eating schedule (quite frankly, a bigger issue) is so erratic, it’s harder to time when I can eat with when I could run. Most importantly, I’m at the stage of my life where my kids’ activities come first. Andrew plays select soccer; Allison runs cross-country and has picked up swimming. I now work out when I can. I hope/plan on being able to run a bit more next school year when I know a bit more of what to expect, but I’m really OK with whatever happens. My time will eventually come again.

I would prefer to just hike for exercise but is predicated on 1) living some place where one wouldn’t have to drive for an hour or more to go hiking and 2) dedicating hours per day to hiking. Seeing as how I can’t put check marks in either of those boxes, I’m now down to other options.

(As a huge side note, I would love to take a boxing class. Not kickboxing. Just boxing – I’ve always wanted to learn how to throw a proper punch and not break my own hand in the process. I wrestled for two years in high school and liked it; I was average at best, but what teenage boy wouldn’t like a legal brawl? It did however stunt my growth. When one cuts weight from 130 lbs to 112 lbs in one season and 135 lbs to under 125 lbs the next season, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve identified the reason I’m only 5’7”. Not that I’d be over 6 feet tall; it was the difference between 5’7” and 5’9”, but yeah, I did it to myself.)

Exercise these days is 4 days per week of riding a bike (40-60 minutes) or using an elliptical (we have a small dual machine in our bedroom) and weight lifting 2-3 times a week (usually twice, occasionally 3). I don’t like weightlifting that much; I restarted this past summer for two reasons. Andrew wanted to get stronger for soccer (he plays defense and he wanted to knock around some forwards; it worked) and I wasn’t going to let him go it alone. The second reason was it would be less time consuming than running, because I could lift at my parents house.

My father, years ago, splurged and had a real weight bench put in his basement. Here’s the picture.

Gym
This is the weight bench in my parent’s basement. As you look at the bench, to the right would be my old bedroom, now known as “the interrogation room.”

They live in a pretty small house. If they ever move out of there, I don’t know what happens to the weight system. I don’t know how he really got it in there. All I know is that I’ll probably be involved in getting it OUT of there, and won’t that be a treat?

The kicker is that my dad doesn’t really use the weight system anymore. My dad is 71, and his Medicare plan covers a gym membership at the YMCA. So he can go up to the Y and use a really kick-ass weight system instead of his semi-kickass weight system. Which makes total sense to me if I was in his shoes.

I really don’t like lifting weights for many reasons. It brings back bad memories of lifting weights in high school and college. I had a routine down of what I needed to do to stay in shape for running. I will avoid over-generalization here. But you are going to run into other athletes training. There are going to be football players. And most of them, like me, were there to put in their work. But there would always be a handful overly testosterone injected types that would yell, shout, and slam weights around. I always wanted to do the same with my pitiful weights in comparison, just for the sake of being ironical, but my desire to survive my trips to the weight room always kicked in and trumped any Andy Kaufman-esque comedy routine.

The second reason is that I just don’t enjoy lifting weights. I like what they do for my old bones (and I know it’s good for bone density, blah blah blah, cross-fit, High intensity training, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit). But it’s not an activity I thoroughly enjoy.

So why have I continued thus far? It’s simple. I get to keep an eye on my parents.

And the membership fee can’t be beat. But mostly, I get to keep an eye on my parents. I get through my school district a very reasonable rate at one local chain of gyms. I guess if my dad ever wises up and takes the weights out, I might do that. But the odds are 50-50 at best. I’ll probably go back to all cardio.

No matter how fancy the equipment, no matter how plentiful the creatine and kale shakes are, or how awesome the spinning/yoga/cross-fit-with-Corgis class is going to be, I won’t be able to spy on my parents.

It’s really a great arrangement. I go over somewhere between Monday and Wednesday. They’re currently repainting the inside of their house (because, yeah, at 70, why the hell not?) So if Mom doesn’t look so hot, I can linger a little longer before and after I’m done with the weights.

If they’re worried about me after something going down at school, I just show up to work out. See? I’m alright.

Do you need your driveway shoveled after the snowstorm? No, well, ok. I’m just here to work out anyway.

I don’t have to dig up an excuse to make sure things are ok. I’m just there anyway. Don’t mind me. I’m just making my way down to the basement.

What’s really funny is that sometimes they come down to check on ME. Which is fantastic. I’ll be doing a set of squats, and my dad will have one eye on the basketball game on the TV. But he’s actually doing the squats with me. I pointed this out to him about 3 weeks ago and he laughed – he had no idea he was actually participating in the workout.

My mom will come down and make sure the weights don’t crush me. And it’s very kind of her. But given her lupus, she won’t be able to get the weights off me. That makes her less of a spotter and more of a witness to my death – which seems way more traumatic for her should something go wrong. But we have a nice conversation all the same, so long as the bar doesn’t wind up across my trachea.

If you would have asked me two years ago about why I exercised, it would have “to relieve stress” and “to train for a trail race.” Now it’s more of “to stay in shape for an active vacation” and “to have a reason to look in on my parents”. As I’m typing this, I can honestly say this is the first time that I’ve picked out a fitness activity for a social reason. It’s not to hang out at the pub with some friends afterwards, or have this amazing experience with a group of friends. My social experience comes down to one thing – snooping. And I find rather reassuring and rewarding.

I’ll defend myself by stating that I’m just adapting to where I’m at right now. It suits me for the time being. Again, at some point, things will change, and so will the routine. But I have to admit, I like being nosey.

But I doubt if I’ll ever doing some extravagant form of exercise. And I hope to God that my parents don’t read this, much like I hope they don’t find out about the time I broke the lamp when I was nine and blamed it on my younger brother (which they totally bought), although I think I’m well beyond the statute of limitations on that one. Oh, sorry Justin – but they didn’t punish a two-year old. That was my gamble, and I was right.

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Author: Jason Kesselring

I am a 41 year old high school chemistry teacher (and former pediatrician), happily married, and a father of two wonderful children. I fell out of the Ugly Tree, and hit every branch on the way down.

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