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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: Fitness ’16

“It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and I feel like I’m wearing milk-bone underwear.” – Norm Peterson, character from the TV show Cheers.

Nobody feels good starting the new year.

Go figure. You don’t feel well after a month of butter, gravy and plastic cups filled with whiskey and ice?

The first of the year is a time to cleanse one’s system. You know: “This is going to be the year I get in shape. I’ll prove all those people wrong that bought me 36 waist pants for Christmas. I’m really a 34.”

No doubt you’ve already dug out the same bottle of Advil from last year’s failed coup of your body. You’re beginning to wonder if 2016 will be the year you rid yourself of that muffin top to become a god. Or did you really come up short at the gene pool?

Exercise can be discouraging. Particularly Day 1, New Year’s Day. At least you were a realist: Nobody practices fitness on the first day of the year. Too many football games, too little time. To your credit, you at least thought about exercising.

Day 2 and you were a ball of fire, listening to Chariots of Fire when you had your coffee then checking into the gym before sunrise with the idea you would kick off Fitness ’16 with a stint on the stationary bicycle. Too late. All seats taken.

So you lifted weights. Problem was, you didn’t pay any attention to the fitness instructor, who told you to take it easy on this, the first day of the rest of your life. Instead you tried to keep pace with “Dane,” the guy wearing a gold chain, gloves, cutoff sweat shirt, and cycling shorts. Each exercise Dane performed served as a prelude to a rock shot to be admired in the mirror. You grunted just as loud when you got home and realized you couldn’t move your arms.U.S._Physical_Fitness_Program_Front_Cover

Not to fret, after all, you did get that new pair of $150 running shoes. Why bother with the gym when you could go to Bayshore Boulevard on Day 3 and do your best Kip Keino along the world’s longest continuous sidewalk (as per the Tampa Chamber of Commerce)?

Unfortunately, you showed up in that snappy new neon sweat suit, casting you as a pretender amid the contenders, who sprinted past in shorts, shoes, tans and no fat. Dammit, why is youth wasted on the young? Just as you were wilting to a halt — the new diet of carrots and yogurt wasn’t ample fuel — came the woman pushing the baby jogger. Not only did she pass you like you were standing still, she did so while pushing a double-wide: twins. Yes, you could hear her roar.

Exhausted, you rested on Day 4. Even God took a break on the seventh day. But you used your time wisely by seeking other ways to tone your figure and the thought came to you: Why suffer the embarrassment of public scrutiny? Time to create the ultimate home gym. So you pulled out the fitness magazines — while trying tofu for the first time – – and scanned the pages.

Exercise Machine 1 burns fat and calories. No. 2 will trim and shape thighs, hips and buttocks. And, finally, No. 3, the really cool one that conditions the cardiovascular system while strengthening every muscle simultaneously in 14 minutes.

Funny how the machines do all the work. You just have to sit there, right?

Alas, fitness machines are too expensive, so using sound logic, you went with a hula hoop. The secret is moving your hips side-to-side rather than trying to swivel the thing in a circle. You figured you wouldn’t feel as stupid for using something you purchased for less than a five spot as compared to something owned after three easy payments.

DVDs became the theme for Day 5. You went to the library and checked out “Buns of Steel,” “8 Minute Abs” and the classic: “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons.

You watched them all and actually exercised. You still were sore afterward and somewhat in the dark about what program you would employ for the duration of “Fitness ’16.” However, you did notice it was getting easier to exercise.

And as they say in sales: Nothing happens until you get out of the car.

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