The kind you find in a second hand store
And when it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more
Twenty-five minutes. Almost non-stop. Raspberry Beret–Prince’s 1985 hit. Not the whole song, just the chorus. My mind is supposed to be clear, blank. Meditating. Not matching my gait to a pop song. I’m out for my fitness walk, the weather sucks, I’m the only person I see.
“Whoa” you say. “Walk? I thought you were supposed to be some big runner.”
I was, fourteen months ago. Overuse injury, I took a long break. And when I started up again I had trouble with cramping in my right calf. Running’s off limits. I’m riding a spin bike… and walking.
Today is snowy, but just a dusting. A couple hours to the east they got the bomb-cyclone. I’m not making this up. Not only do they now give a person’s name to every storm with more than a quarter inch of participation, but they’re also inventing new types of storms, as well. Today’s storm was a bomb-cyclone. They named it Grayson.
Yesterday was cold. Five degrees. This was better for meditation. Step, ouch my toes hurt. Step, ouch my toes hurt. It was my mantra. I was too preoccupied with numbness to sing any songs. I was the only person out walking yesterday too.
As a family, we gave ourselves a spin bike for Christmas. I set it up in an out of the way corner of our house in front of a small smart-TV. Here’s my plan: as I exercise, I’ll binge-watch all the shows everyone talks about, but I’ve never seen—the Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones. I started with Stranger Things, but the sound was all screwed-up and I could follow the plot. So instead, I watched a documentary on the 2015 CrossFit Games. CrossFit is a chain of gyms. Each year, they hold a competition to see which CrossFitter is the fittest in the world.
It took me four sessions on the bike to watch the whole thing. I’m sure this seems weird, watching a documentary about people exercising while I’m actually exercising. Maybe, but it was really motivating. When I got off the bike each day, I wanted to do push-ups, sit-ups and squats. I’m sort of bummed that I finished it.
This morning, when I wasn’t singing Raspberry Beret, I was thinking about the CrossFit Games. The guy who came in second place, Mat Fraser, was a miserable soul. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a clear display of poor sportsmanship in my life. He railed about his poor performance in every scene. The winner of the losers. That’s what he called second place, although he threw-in six or eight F-bombs as he said it.
Mat showed zero gratitude for his fitness, for his almost-win. He’s the second fittest person in the world, but all he could muster was disdain and disappointment in himself. I was envious of his achievements. My longest run in the past fourteen months has been four miles, and even that distance hobbles me.
It occurs to me that, like Mat, I’ve probably been whining a bit myself when I talk about my fitness, my exercise—although I do it without the F-bombs. I’m suddenly seeing things differently. I’m feeling some gratitude. I’m exceptionally fit for a guy in his mid-fifties. I never get sick. I have the motivation to get out and exercise even when the weather keeps all the sane people inside. I have a spin bike and a smart-TV and a family that gives me the time I need to get my blood moving.
I thought I was going to write about Prince today, but really I’m writing a thank you note to Mat Fraser. In my senior-level business management class in college, the instructor told us everyone has redeeming qualities—at the very least, they can serve as a bad example. Clearly, I needed this example. Today, I feel better about myself than I have in months.
I read on the internet that Mat went on to win the 2016 CrossFit Games. I hope he’s able to give himself some peace now.