PUMPING IRONY: Season’s Greetings

As a youth, I’d hit the practice court in an effort to raise my hoops game. Now it’s all about avoiding embarrassment.

I ran into one of my old basketball buddies last week at the co-op, and he reminded me that the gang would be getting together again for another season of hoops in early December. He looked to be in great shape. Of course, he’s at least 10 years younger than me, and he regularly creates embarrassing moments on the court for yours truly. This was all the impetus I needed to get out to the gym last night.

Here’s a little secret for folks who have trouble motivating themselves, gym-wise: Write it down on your calendar just like you would any meeting or social obligation. Then, early in the week, tell your spouse/partner/roommate/drowsy stranger sitting next to you on the bus that you’ve got this gym thing you’re doing later in the week. Last night after dinner, I was wavering a bit on the idea of climbing into the car and driving 20 minutes to bounce a basketball around for a half hour, until My Lovely Wife said, “You’re going to the gym tonight, right?”

I try to set a good example of fitness discipline, so I was pretty much stuck at that point. So I pulled on my sneakers, climbed into the car, drove across town, and spent 40 grueling minutes hoisting jumpers from various angles, mixing in a few layups for good measure. At my age, you don’t have to get into a pickup game in order to work up a good lather, because you’re using a whole lot of muscle groups that tend to get ignored during even the best bodyweight and strength-training routine. Plus, you get to run around — in short bursts, at least — which most of us geezers don’t do very often at all.

In my 20s I could happily spend four or five hours at the gym — between pickup games and just fooling around with the round ball — but I’ve got a bunch of miles on these knees now and they let me know when it’s time to stop. Besides, the shots were falling, for the most part, and you never want to leave your “A” game on the practice court.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty OK, all things considered. So, I figure I’ll schedule another couple of sessions before the season kicks off. Back in my youth, this sort of preparation was accompanied by the idea that I might be able to raise my game a couple of notches. These days, it’s all about avoiding embarrassment.

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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