Health and Wellbeing

On the Roll Again

Jack stood naked in the shower as he eyed the cold water tap. Even though he had gotten used to taking cold showers, there was still a moment of pause beforehand to consider the alternative. There was always a reason to opt for the comfort of a nice warm shower instead.

He looked down on his bare chest at the developing material burn marks. It had been a while since he had seen them… in fact, it had been a while since there had been cause for them. It had been three months since he had set foot in the gym, but it wasn’t the return had been the hardest part. It had been the mental battle to get himself there that had been the hardest part.

What would they think? How would he feel? What would be expected of him? But in the end, there were no judging questions. The only person with expectations of him was himself… but the mat would soon sort that out.

He had bumped into his training partner as they crossed each other on the stairs to the change rooms. Louis was a lanky but strong New Zealander who had been doing brazilian jiu jitsu for several years. While nice enough of a guy, he was also a 4-stripe brown belt, which should speak enough about his skill on the mat.

“Hey Jack, it’s good to see you. Where’ve you been?” asked Louis.

“I… I hibernate in summer?” Jack stammered back. Louis laughed. The ice had been broken.

As the class moved from warm-up to drilling and into free-rolling he realised how unfit the summer of inactivity had made him. He would have to work on that. He remembered thinking it would be nice to get a submission on his first day back, but by the time he was one-minute into his first five-minute round his objective had quickly moved to “remember how to defend”. He had forgotten what it had felt like for someone to be lying on top of him.

By the end of the class it had dawned on him that he was back on the long journey of BJJ… and that he was far closer to the start than at the end. But at least he was back on the road. Louis had given him a thumbs-up on the way out of the gym, “Don’t be a stranger, OK?”

Back in his shower cubicle at home Jack clasped both hands behind his neck and looked upward, giving himself a stretch. The developing soreness foretold tomorrow’s pain. He let out a sigh of relief as he reached for the cold water tap and turned it on.

Health and Wellbeing

The Dangers of Binge Stepping

The competition was off-the-charts! Not in a good way, either. At least not in any healthy sense. Wherever the line in the sand separating common sense from ludicrous insanity was, they had crossed that line about 100,000 steps ago.

Jack wiped the newly formed sweat from his brow as he reached the steps leading up to the front door. It was only a casual neighborhood walk, but it was summer and the mid-morning sun had begun to take its toll. He was happy to have reached home before it had gotten any hotter.

He began doing some light stretches, particularly for his hip that had started to feel a little stiff in the last part of his walk. He looked at his sleek new Fitbit Charge and prompted it to give him a report on his morning walk: 7,000 steps, 5.6km.

7,000?! He couldn’t believe it. He had been expecting at least double that number. In an instant it dawned on him how ridiculous a proposition it would be for him to compete with his peers, some of who had reached 70,000 steps (or 50km walked) in a single day.

In the competition spanning the working week, the top 3 contenders had clocked up more than 200,000 steps. Only two weeks ago 80,000 steps would have won the very same competition. Then again, Jack had also received a message earlier that the top contender, Emily, a housewife (with two hyper-active kids), had to pull out owing to chest pains in her herculean effort to keep up with the pack.

In querying the group’s ringleader, Quinland, a regular gym-goer with a self-confessed phobia of losing (or more accurately, a phobia of not winning), about joining the competition he was both surprised, and then not so surprised at the response: “We’re probably going to take a break next week… my body is suffering.”

“Just stop. This is an intervention. You’re binge stepping and its becoming a problem. Think of your children,” Jack replied. He was only being semi-serious.

EPILOGUE: Quinland ignored Jack’s pleas, but won the weekly competition with 267,898 steps ahead of Emily’s husband, Jean-Pierre, with 243,072 steps. Emily, who retired hurt with one day of competition left finished third on 196,092. The stepping continues.

Health and Wellbeing

Of Fibits and Fitness

45… 46… 47… Jack counted his steps as he walked up the stairs back to his bedroom. Having just purchased two Fitbits online – one for himself and one for his girlfriend – he wondered how much difference the new device would make in his daily fitness regime of sitting at a desk.

But he had already seen how the Fitbit had motivated some of his friends to start walking more. It was the whole social networking aspect of it that really got some of his more competitive friends walking to walk and to and from the nearby shops for lunch. He wondered whether the same would apply to him, given that he worked from home.

General fitness had been on Jack’s mind for a little while, like a nagging thought that needed to be satiated. For a time last year he had gone to several Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes, which engaged him mentally at the same time as thoroughly exhausting him physically, but for a couple of months now he had been absent from their daily classes.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. “There was always tomorrow,” he thought to himself, “getting fit could always be done tomorrow.” He had, afterall, since the start of the year lost the 3kg he had gained in December. He smiled to himself, another day of internal conflict resolved.