ADVENTURES IN EXERCISING
BY JANA SEITZ
A little cardio is easy to throw in. For example, hit the auto button on the back door of your car and see what falls out.
We’ve all heard it before: Exercise during the holidays is key to happiness during the holidays. Everyone knows they should, yet few find the time. My column about places to hike while enjoying unique shopping experiences was scuttled for now by weather and life. Instead, I’m sharing a few methods I’ve discovered to assure exercise and fresh air during the hustle-bustle. Adventurous exercise truly can be found right in your own backyard on your daily grind.
Lose Your Keys… in the Westchester Mall. This is a fantastic way to get a nice fast-paced walk in, protected from the elements, and still get some window shopping done. Since you have to re-trace your footsteps and return to every store you visited on every floor, it’s easy to get your heart rate up. It’s perfect if you missed your chance to squeeze in some exercise before that 4 p.m. sunset; you now have until 9 p.m. to do it under artificial lights. Muzak is piped in too, so no need to fumble with headphones.
Another easy option is Locking Your Keys (and Your Phone) in Your Car in a State Park (such as Lovers’ Leap in New Milford, Conn.). This really kindles the Christmas spirit, as you must rely on the kindness of strangers to get home. “Perfect strangers” are called that because everyone is perfect until they turn strange. During the holidays, it’s familiarity that breeds contempt, not perfect strangers. I met the loveliest people in the White Turkey Deli on Candlewood Lake, where a team magically assembled to assist me while I went knocking on doors to find a wire coat hanger, turning several more complete strangers into friends. The walk along the highway and around the beautiful lakeside neighborhood of Brookfield reaffirmed my faith in mankind. We all waited for AAA, singing carols and drinking hot cocoa. (Okay, I made that last bit up, but it felt as if we did.)
Roller Blade or Roller Skate …at a Self-Storage Unit. Most are available 8 to 6 daily. We rent a unit at Westy’s in Port Chester, which is an integral part of my holiday decorating. We have had it since moving here twelve years ago, and my children have grown up wandering its halls while I swap seasons with the efficiency of completing a Rubik’s Cube. I let the kids roam freely as there is rarely anyone else around, the echo of their voices always lets me know where they are, and it’s really clean. There are three floors to explore, all exactly the same, with a super smooth floor for skating. And the music is fabulous! One or two laps and your legs are noodles. Then you can move on to arm work: pulling boxes out of the unit, loading them onto the cart and into your car, then doing the opposite when you get home. A little cardio is easy to throw in. For example, hit the auto button on the back door of your car and see what falls out. Sometimes it’s that one box with 50 fake plush snowballs, so you get to run sprints to catch them before they disappear down the hilly driveway and into the woods.
I had an exceptional workout last week while I was gingerly poking through the boxes of Halloween to return Thanksgiving to its rightful place and retrieve Christmas. It was so darn full I decided to pull EVERYTHING out (again) and pack it back in chronologically (again), leaving Christmas in the hallway. I was short on time and making careless errors in my haste. I tend to turn into “Helga” when I have tasks above my pay grade to complete on my own, finding superhuman strength which enables me to fling heavy objects around effortlessly, adrenaline coursing through my veins.
I tripped on a bed slat and fell flat on my face in the valley between Easter and Mardi Gras. I tried to spin around on my back and was promptly attacked by a winged creature from Hell with his sidekick rubber gargoyle. A falling star came from above and crashed on my head, barely missing my eye. Then I was buried by an avalanche of giant plastic Easter eggs. And there I lay dying, for a while, counting my resting heartbeat and wondering if this was how it would all end. But I recovered and rescued myself with help from Helga, flinging the holiday minions off like a dog shakes off the lake.
Volunteer at a Christmas Tree Sale. This is the marathon of Christmas exercise routines. There’s really no way to train for this event. It’s a nonstop race to the finish in whatever weather Mother Nature throws out. At least I’ve wizened up and stopped going to Christmas parties the night before and the night of. I don’t know how to keep tabs on exercise with my cell phone, but three co-workers who do report 19,072 steps, 12,569, and 11,555 steps on sale day. If they could measure the equivalent for arm lifts, it’d be off the charts. Here’s how: pick up 320 trees from the church lawn, carry to stands, cut and pull binding strings off, spin them round for customers, cut off ends with a chainsaw, carry to cars, throw on top, tie down, pile up shorn tree limbs, carry to street, blow needles away. Repeat. This takes a passel of volunteers in shifts, most of whom report muscle fatigue and back soreness the following day. No torn ACLs or broken bones yet, thank goodness. Recovery is imminent. And you have a whole year.
So, go ahead. Eat, drink, and be merry this December. Christmas will surely throw you an opportunity to work it off.
The author, far right, and members of her Christmas Tree Marathon Team — Mark and Cynthia Howard, Francis and Nicole Jenkins, and Lizzie Bommer — outside Christ’s Church
Santa makes wishes come true for grown-ups, too — in this case the missing car keys.
Exercising in the halls of Westy’s
The near-fatal falling star