Friday, February 6, 2009

The Circle Game

One of the guaranteed most pleasant excursions of the week for some years now has been the weekly shopping for food and household necessities at the Kootenay Co-op Grocery. It's a place that simply glows with health, common sense, and total concentration on giving the public the necessities of nutrition as God intended them to be rendered. None of the fruit and vegetables have been poisoned or abused, or mutated out of recognition, and the Co-op serves as a distributor for dozens of local producers: gardeners, grain growers, bakers, deli cooks, and so forth. In a sense, it's like an art gallery, full of crafts and integrity that comes not only from the expert artisans far away but from your immediate neighbour as well.
The Co-op is not as big as a super market, probably a third to a half, but it is larger than the corner grocery store, with members in the small thousands, and therefore it is also as formidable a site of the politics of the village pump or the city gates as you will find anywhere. There are possibly people in the area who do not shop there because they are afraid their intelligence might be challenged, or their standards of taste in several areas.
I always take a book, as we shop early, before the crowd hits, but I don't always get to read it. This morning was a perfect example of why.
I've mentioned Michael Stewart before, the personal trainer we met on the ferry, on his way for a day of 50 or 60 kilometre running on the East Shore, usually up some mountain or another. He's the lad who discovered complete nasal breathing on his own, having never heard of John Douillard, but being concerned about the pollution that travels about the globe.
I hadn't seen Michael for a bit, so when he turned up beside the cheese counter we had a lot of catching up to do. Yesterday he was out on a 60K, and would I like to be taken up a 9500 foot mountain this summer? And I wanted to talk to someone in the fitness business about my recent realization about the place of chairs and tables in the perfect and complete formula regarding indoor exercise. We also dealt with the recent media hype over a Catholic bishop who has gravely underestimated the death toll of the Jews during the Hitler era, some music theory, and standards for runners' footwear. He thought I should talk to Nike about my spring-loaded dojo shoes.
But I knew I had to report on what I hope is the final solution in my search for a weight control programme that is completely up to Patanjali's standards: stable and comfortable. Michael is a real pro. Personal training is his livelihood. It meant a good deal to me that he stood in there and heard me out, without a word of criticism, and then came up with a solution to some of my temporarily retired footware that I hadn't got to yet.
From the very beginning of my taking up running and reading about Mike Spino, as a facilitator, getting to pretty well jog and run as he felt like throughout an entire day at work, I've had an eye out for the possibility of what you might call an all-day programme: out on the track, in a gym, and now within my own house and yard, but of course any and all of it fitting within the schedule of my other responsibilities. It's only been theoretical, because no matter what I tried, I could never get the total co-operation of the Holy Spirit, the guy who covers the lungs and the autonomic nervous system in a contemplative, nor were all the relevant body joints always completely happy campers, as has been chronicled. Ever since I left the Summit Gym, in the fall of 05, although I have kept moving, there have been successive failures of one kind or another, and not a few significant new learning curves. I lose some weight, I get it back. Up goes the muscle tone for a while, down it slides. I readjust my sense of tolerable levels of stress. I learn or relearn how to deal with troubled joints. The music research, of course, has been one enemy of Muscle Beach, and so has the time and concentration on this blog, but, I can now happily report at the top of my lungs, so has the method.
Simply not enough in-house. Natural enough for a quasi-monk, you might say, and why did it take me so long to catch on?
Why indeed? I don't really know. What I do know is that during the Christmas season, which was already going swimmingly, the Spirit would not stop whispering in my ear about February. The month of groundhogs and boxes of chocolates would also hold something significant for me. I never care if winter stays or doesn't - inclement weather simply provides more time to read and study music - and I've never thought much of Valentines Day. My principal interest in February is that it was the month my mother was born in, and also five of my grandchildren. So what else could be of interest?
But, six days into the month, I finally see what the Personal Trainer was getting at. (I thought for a bit that the music thing was part of this prophecy, but in truth the fundamental formula secrets were nailed down in January.)
You want a real fat burning work-out that you can totally control, under your own roof? Without the quite elaborate stretch programme that should follow a running session? No showers, no special togs or shoes? In bite-size pieces that either allow you to get on with the rest of life as you need to, and on the other hand knit up the ravelled sleeve of boredom when neither books nor Bach - or even Jacques Loussier - can't do it?
Simply try walking around your house, in the clothes on your back, or your pyjamas if you're up as early as I am. Living room, dining room, halls, kitchen. Basement and attic if you have such, which we do, and also porch, which we also possess. Sound boring? Maybe, until you think about lymph glands, the Vienna Waltz and other forms of ballroom dance my parents were so good at, and start arranging chairs, tables, stools as circling posts. Think bus rodeo, barrel races at a gymkhana, Lionel trains, and the Daytona 500. Really get into it and you'll find muscles and tendons in your hips and so forth you never knew you had, and therefore, weren't really using. All dimensions exercise!
Straight ahead walking, even running, is for whimps! (I never said this to Michael, of course.)
So far my smallest unit has been five minutes, my largest one shot forty.
Honey, I'm home, and I have no idea why it took me so long, but I do know I had to do an awful lot of research and live class work to get to the point where I really know what I'm doing and why.
When summer comes, will I go with Michael up that mountain, both of us running it?
Right. The footwear solution. My dear old Dunhams, my lovely Brooks. Had I thought of putting felt half-soles in the front of them? No, I had to admit. But at home, as MT put away the groceries, I gave it a shot, and I think it'll work. And Michael agrees with me about the danger of high heels in runners' shoes, has cautioned about this throughout his career.


cabbage ears said...

Women shake their heads
at their hapless, steady men
who do not like circle games
truth never comes around.

Men shake their heads
women believe babies are god.
Neither in this species
understand that God is ground.

eastsilica said...

Thank you for the poem. Are you aware of "Rocksalt", the anthology of BC poetry published before Christmas? Otter Books in Nelson has been carrying it.It's the first BC anthology since 1977, which was the year the Jam Factory opened. I think you'd like it.