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Friday, September 19, 2014


People ask me all the time: “How do you find the time to workout?”  And what I tell them is: somebody busier than me is working out right now.  We are all busy.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise, at least 5 times a week, for adults.  I’m at an age where I have to worry about things like heart disease, stroke, cholesterol, all the ((CENSORED)) we didn’t worry about in our party days, I mean, our twenties.  Basically, the older and busier we get, the more we need to make time for our workouts.

            The #1 key to working out is to not workout.  By that I mean, take up an actual sport or physical activity that you love and have fun with, and it will never feel like working out.  Also, if you choose a sport your kids are already doing, you don’t need to worry about childcare/ dropping off or picking up.
            That was how I started rowing.  Basically, four years ago, I was sitting down at the Boathouse watching my kid coxy a boat of varsity rowers.  Big Coach walked over and said:  “You don’t like like a person who wastes time.  But you are just wasting time watching them row when you could be out there rowing yourself.”  He got me with that one. 
There was an adult rowing club but, at the time, they were way ahead of me, so Big Coach said he would teach me the fundamentals of rowing.  He decided he was going to do such a thorough job of teaching me the mechanics of rowing that he spent weeks teaching me that that pin in the oarlock always points forward.  Really.  Two weeks quizzing me on which way the dang oarlock points. Then he got busy with other stuff and that was the end of my private tutelage.  It was fine, I joined the adults and at this point I’m way ahead of where they were back then.  But there is a method to Big Coach’s teaching.  Today, I forget lots of basic things (although my Rowing BFF has a great knowledge of the fundamentals).  But I have never, ever forgotten which way to point the oarlock.
            Over the years, my rowing has been interrupted by all kinds of things, one rowing crisis or child-centered activity another.  But today, I will not sacrifice my rowing practice for anyone or anything.  Committee meeting?  Take notes.  Board meeting?  Take me off the Board.  Open house?  Who cares.  I will not sacrifice my precious time in the therapeutic double with my rowing BFF, nor does my family want me to.
            Kathe and I love to row.  It’s not easy for either of us to get there by 5 pm, or 5 am, in spandex, but we do it (spandex is necessary so you don’t get your shorts or sweats caught in the sliding seat).   For the first few years, when I was  rowing on and off, it was difficult.  Unless you commit to rowing regularly, you don’t really get the hang of it.  You catch a lot of crabs.  You get frustrated.  But if you row on a regular basis, one day, it finally clicks.  Then, you don’t worry about catching crabs (getting your oar stuck), you concentrate on form (do we exaggerate the Leanback every 5 strokes like Big Coach says, or keep it at a constant 45 degrees, like the Olympic Youtube video says?  What Coach says).
            Rowing up to the Beacon-Newburgh Bridge (4,000 meters roundtrip) used to be a monumental task that required a full on massage afterward.  Now, we go to Plum Point or Cornwall Landing (8,000 and 9,000 meters) reguarly, and only turn around because we run out of time.  If we had unlimited practice time, we would keep going until we ran out of steam.  Sometimes, we chat and chat therapeutically.  Other times, one or both of us has had a hard day and we decide to “shut up and dig in” and row hard for stress relief.
            The most disappointing part of the practice is when we can see the coaches in the motorboat are coming to catch up with us, to tell us to turn around because practice is almost over.
            The other night, we were in the middle of the majestic Hudson River, digging in, the pinks and tangerines of the sunset just starting to make their way into the perfect blue sky, the mountains rising up beyond the River.  We were all business, rowing hard, but enjoying the incredible natural beauty around us.  We were lost in our own world.  Then we heard the motorboat gunning and coming toward us.
            “Do you think we can outrow the motorboat?” I asked Kathe. 
            “Only if they run out of fuel,” she answered, laughing.  “Let’s not make him come all the way up here, let’s just spin it.”  And we turned and headed for home, drinking in the sunset and turning down the burners.  Only to spend another 20 minutes carrying our boat and other boats into the Boathouse, which is plenty good exercise in and of itself.  We felt, as we always do after a good, row, fabulous.
            This Summer, I’m going to be 50 years old.  I had a physical recently.  My body fat percentage and BMI are in the same category as a college athlete.  My blood pressure is low, my cholesterol is down 60 points from last year, I am 10 pounds lighter than I was last year, and my bone density and vitamin D levels are great.  “Keep doing what you’re doing,” said my physician and dear friend of many years.  Which I took to mean, Doctor’s orders:  Keep Rowing.  And doing Zumba.
            So, my dear Readers, I say:  find a physical activity you love, and make the time for it.  Whether it’s running, swimming, hiking, kayaking, or Zumba.  Yes, it takes time.  But so does heart surgery.
            And if you want to try a great day of Family Kayaking, come on down for the Newburgh Rowing Club’s biggest Family Day of the Year:  the Great 5-Mile Paddle and Oars Challenge, Sunday 9/21 at 8 am at the Boathouse.  It’s a challenge, not a race, you don’t have to kayak the full 5-miles.  My rowing BFF and I will be rowing in it, so tell them Mrs. Lo sent you -- and I will look for you on the water!  Have a great day, everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo (photo of Mrs. Lo and Mrs. Mills in the therapeutic double)