Thursday, January 21, 2010

Birth of a Salesman

While I'm not yet a threat in the under-75 class in the Boston row-offs, I have made a big jump - actually drop - in my own best time for the 100 calorie dash. That's five calories short of the total that by my calculations is how much bread and cheese you burn off while scooting the Olympic distance of 2000 metres, but it's a nice round number for my calculations and close enough for folk music. My old record was 8 minutes and 47 seconds, the new one is 8:33. The Boston clock for the 105 cals is around a flat 8.
I know, I know. In order to be the perfect flag-waving Canadian at this time in our history I should be doing something on ice, or out in the snow, not spinning a fly wheel in our attic. But the erg upstairs is the most efficient indoor fat removal device I know, and besides, when I get bored with things simply physical, as novelists and philosophers must do, I can pick up a book from the coffee table especially lofted into the top floor to be my reading desk. Or these days, interesting for utterly tragic reasons, I can look at the little image of Our Lady of Guadeloupe occupying the north-east corner of the table and ask her to help all those poor Haitians. And, anyway, I've already done my bit for the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics. Back in the clutch days, when the dignitaries were voting, the Almighty made it pretty plain that I'd better put my prayers into the balance if I thought Canada should get the Games rather than Austria or Korea.
Yep, the rowing machine is my baby, my sport of sports, my answer to every question I've ever had about a reliable fitness and weight-control programme, although it must be said, and must be said again, that I'm very grateful for all the general physiological instruction I've picked up via the recent years in the gym, Chi Gong class, some familiarity with yoga and dance, and a modest fortune willingly spent on books about it all. I don't think I'd want to row as much as I do without a good appetite for cross-training and intelligent stretching. As with every particular sport or working man's muscle use, rowing an erg is muscle, tendon, ligament, nervous system and organ specific, which means a good chance of disturbing the body's natural need for, and sense of, balance. Too much of these muscles, etc., not enough of that. Look like Popeye in one part of your anatomy, and a victim of rickets in another.
And because the rowing is obviously full of rhythm and motion, the opposite manouvres naturally conform themselves to the stillness of yoga. After all, you should be tired of movement after anything up to and past ten minutes of playing galley slave, so astute stretching simply feels good as well as saves your muscles from lumping like dried clay. My first move after I descend the ladder to and from the attic is to flop on the bed and fold up each leg in turn for the split leg child's pose, as I call it, but which is also known to more proficient yogis as the Pigeon. It's also a very comfortable way to say part of a rosary.
Which brings me to the main target of this sales pitch: clergy and religious with weight problems. The erg is the most perfect answer I can think of. The phone need never be out of reach, and the divine office and spiritual reading splice beautifully into a schedule of 10 to 25 calorie intervals. You speed up or slow down as instinct dictates, and the electronic chart tells you exactly how much lard you're burning, and all the time, if you've taken on a little reading on these question, you know that an erg is at least 50% more efficient, in terms of time over calories, than walking or jogging, without any threat to ankle and knee joints.
Take it from me: the good people at Concept 2 are not really people. They're angels, sent from Heaven to cure the West's love/hate relationship with fat and lethargy.
When I was a teenager, trying to figure out what I would be when I grew up, the one job I didn't want and wasn't going to have was that of a salesman. But I kid you not, I now could cheerfully drum from door to door with a handful of glossy Odes to an Erg in my eager hand. And so I do, through the kind offices of the good people at
And by this time next year, I will be 75, and in an easier time category for the Boston row-offs. Bless me, Father, for a I have a most sinfully ambitious eye on the record, if only to prove the genius of Ayurveda and Dr. John Douillard on the subject of nasal breathing. On that score, Concept 2 is better at building than understanding.

1 comment:

Rebecca S. said...

Well, I'm certainly glad I decided to leave a comment on your blog as I was able to see that you labelled it 'Ode to a Grecian Erg'. Funny. Really enjoyed this post and congrats on your progress. I hope the priests are listening (reading)! When my running body finally gives out I'll have to give the rowing a go.