Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Season's First Ride

I finally released the Jake from the trainer and took it for this year's first ride on the gravel roads. I apologize for the lack of pictures, but the view hasn't changed much from last year.

The temptation during the first ride is to go ahead and see what's over the next hill. After all, I was fairly disciplined with my basement sessions: the legs and heart and lungs should all be up for it.

The ugly truth, however, is there will never ever ever be an indoor workout that matches the effort required out of doors. I kept the first ride to 20 minutes; I'm guessing my resting heart rate will return to me sometime before supper.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Major Tom as rendered by Shiny Toy Guns

The other night as I dozed before the television set, I was suddenly struck with longing. I woke up, shook my head and realized what had hit me: some car company was employing a clever remake of Peter Schilling's Major Tom.

A little history: Peter Schilling was a contemporary of Nena's, both of whose management capitalized on that brief, surreal window in the 80s when "the New Wave" received a second, larger shot at life via video. "Major Tom" was Schilling's international hit, a song of desire, desolation and alienation (and, possibly, adultery and substance abuse) that was nearly undone by a goofy video.

It's a little unnerving to see kids these days take a shine to music I've almost completely forgotten, even though I once laced up my ALDO certified Italian shoes to dance to it. Unnerving, but also invigorating. I think Shiny Toy Guns gets the hunger at the core of "Major Tom." I won't be buying the car attached to the song, but I don't mind visiting their site and offering some scant info to get the "free" download. This is commercialism I can buy into.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Playing At Fitness

This month's ish of Men's Health describes a fitness camp in the rain-forests of Brazil. It can be read online, but the link, unfortunately, doesn't include any of the photos in the magazine. Basically, campers (all male) pay to strip down to their surfer shorts and run around the jungle like they're Tarzan.

You could not pay me enough to join a group like that. First of all, I hate group exercise; I hate to exercise in front of anyone. Restricting the group to men is a further disincentive. Add the flaky element of "let's pretend" ("We're warriors!" "We're an elite corps of primates!" "We're all Tarzan!") and you've just described my idea of Hell.

And yet, and yet ... there is an aspect of "play" that I miss in my fitness routine (such as it is). Years ago I took an early morning Aikido class at the YMCA. I had mixed feelings about the experience which became decidedly un-mixed the morning I was dropped on my head by a Russian black-belt (silver lining: the Russian knew a terrific chiropractor). I didn't much enjoy the grappling, but I had nothing but love for the warm-up.

This consisted of breathing exercises, followed by stretching, followed by tumbling. It lasted about 12 minutes, and by the end of it the entire body felt ready for anything (short of being dropped on the head). The breathing and the stretching I can do easily enough on my own, but the tumbling is another matter. A large space is required, and floor mats are recommended. And to be honest, there is something thrilling about a group of 20 people hitting the floor in unison.

Hm. Maybe I need to start my own "fitness camp" (emphasis on camp -- second definition) in the verdant forests of Ontario?