Lately the boys have both been mildly obsessed with fitness. While sitting in a waiting room, Little Dog picked up a copy of Men's Health and told me he wanted to look like one of the guys photographed shirtless to show off his bulging muscles. "I want to be a muscle man. I'm going to need some weights," he told me. And this has been mentioned several times since. Big Dog has been similarly interested in hitting the gym and getting in his exercise as part of a new fitness points system his gym teacher introduced. It is all kind of amusing, and I hope that if they express this interest now they'll be better at establishing more lasting fitness practices than I have as grew up. Setting new healthier lifestyle practices gets a lot harder as you get older. Or so I have discovered.
See, recently I've been trying to get myself on a better track. While I was on sabbatical this fall, I doing Pilates at a local studio. It has become an obsession. At the same time, I reintroduced running to my routine. I've made several attempts to get back into running over the past year, but have never been 100% successful. The thing is that I don't like to run outside. I prefer a treadmill. And if I restrict myself to a treadmill, I have to find time to hit the gym. That isn't quite as easy as it should be. If I try to use the gym at work, I have to shower and get dressed before returning to work, and that paired with my busy meeting schedule and the fact that some of my co-workers don't have any issues with scheduling meetings right over the traditional lunch hour makes it pretty easy to put off. If I try to use the treadmills at the YMCA, I have to go when the kids can go the the childcare area and depending on the mood of my more tempestuous younger son, that doesn't always work out. It also means that we are limited to weekends since trying to get to and from the gym after work makes for a crazy day. And let's not forget that I don't actually love running. It is just an efficient method to get some exercise. I don't get the runner's high and I don't run for the pure joy of running, so if it isn't convenient, I don't find myself properly motivated to make it happen.
The solution was easy. Get a treadmill at home. If it is right here more or less staring at me, I'll be more likely to use it. And it has been true more or less. What I didn't bank on was the boys catching treadmill fever. Last weekend as the boys watched TV, I slipped downstairs for a run. I had almost finished when Little Dog came into the bedroom.
"Can I have a turn?" he asked.
"Sure, just let me finish," I said, expecting that he'd give it a minute, get bored and that would be that.
I was wrong. He got on and ran. And ran and ran. He'd occasionally switch from running into a glee-filled skipping and hopping pattern. He worked up a little sweat and when he finally decided to stop, I told him he could Big Dog and let him have a turn if he wanted. And boy did he ever.
Big Dog chose a more traditional running gait, but he kept demanding that I push up the speed. Then it became competitive. They wanted to be the faster runner of the two. They wanted to run longer than the other. They were loving it.
Last night after listening to the boys beat each other senseless as brothers often do, Mr. Dog suggested they go for a run on the treadmill. They were giddy. Again, the joyful running and brotherly competition kept they busy and tired them right out. They may have the goal of getting "super fit" and having "lots and lots of muscles" but my goal is simply to tire them out. If they happen to get all muscled up in the process, I'll count that as a happy byproduct. And maybe a tiny bit of their excited running enthusiasm can rub off on their old mom.
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