July 8th, 2012

Getting in Shape By Accident

In the past two-and-a-half years, my daughter has gone from being the sort of kid parents worry about because she exercises so little to the sort that parents worry about because she exercises too much. She looks great, mind you, and is developing the stamina of a world-class athlete. But her level of commitment can reach scary proportions.

Then again, I'm sure that part of the reservations her mother and I have about her fixation on fitness derive from self-interest. She is running us both ragged! Today, for example, she asked her mom to take her to what they call the "hood gym" after a family outing to see Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window at the Fox Theater downtown. Three hours later, they still hadn't left. And then later, after I'd finished getting my mother to bed -- my parents now live in an apartment a little over a mile away -- I came home to find that Skylar was still insisting on going on one of the late-night bicycle rides I recently introduced her to.

I do love riding at night on the back streets of our neighborhood, when the traffic is minimal and I can "see" what's coming up behind me from the way headlights light up the scenery in front of me. And I especially love it during this time of year, the Monsoon, when the moisture rising up from the ground sends all manner of creatures out and about and ensures that my otherwise compromised respiratory system, which always does better when there's humidity, is functioning at its best. So it would be disingenuous of me to complain about being forced to do what I would want to be doing anyway. But Skylar's strength of will is ensuring that I end up doing what I would want to be doing anyway, yet might not actually get around to doing, a lot more often than would otherwise be the case.

She also makes me go with her to the gym at the JCC a couple times each week. My preference would be to be using the basketball courts, normally, but since they are occupied by summer camps right now, I don't mind wandering around from one machine to the next, doing weights to pass the time while Skylar is on the treadmill. It also seems likely that the interest she developed in tennis last year will be rekindled if we play on the JCC's lovely clay-esque courts, rather than the beat-to-hell concrete ones at middle school near our house.

In short, without making my usual vow to get in shape during my lungs' happy time in Tucson, I am rapidly getting in the kind of shape I was in back in 2006, when a year's worth of turmoil had convinced me that preserving some semblance of sanity demanded that I lose twenty pounds and teach myself how to jog and bike in this 100+ degree climate. Instead of using the time spent exercising to listen to music on my iPod, though -- a favorite pursuit -- I am passing it in conversation with my daughter, which makes me forget that I'm working out 3/4 of the time. Just as Skylar's mom is really coming to treasure their long sessions at the hood gym, I am so, so delighted to be having so much quality time with her during our daily bicycle rides, even if it does mean that my already compressed free time -- I spend, on average, five hours a day caring for my mom and, by extension, dad -- has been reduced to very little indeed.