Keeping Up The Good Fight

Jeremy Koerber demonstrating the one-arm row. Both weight and reps can be increased. No dumbbell? Try a jug of milk or a can of paint. Almost anything will do.

Jeremy’s second is the pushing motion, and for that he favors pushups.

“A pushup is the most basic exercise, and it utilizes your body weight,” he said.  “If you can’t do a standard (floor) pushup, make it easier by leaning at an angle against a wall or counter top.”

Again, do 8-12 reps, three times, gradually reducing the angle and working toward the traditional on-the-floor method.  An additional benefit of pushups, as you progress, is that your body is in the renowned “plank” position, one of the best exercises for the all-important core muscles.

Finally, leg-centric.  You can’t beat a squat.  It requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.   The essential thing to watch is form:  Keep your heels flat and push your butt out, eight to ten, etcetera.

In the 1950s, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) developed a fitness program for its pilots called “5BX” (Five Basic Exercises) and later one for women called 10BX. Both are as good today as they were then, in my opinion.  They require no equipment, just dedication, and if you go from the very bottom to the very top, you’ll be ready for the Olympics (no kidding!)

Variations on the traditional pushup. If you have shoulder problems, you can still get some of the benefits by varying the position, as shown here. A countertop will do just as well as a workout frame. An alternative is the “girl” pushup (sorry, ladies), with knees on the floor.

Right at the beginning, they insisted that “Walking is a ‘best’ exercise,” and it still is.  This has belatedly been recognized by makers of fitness watches that count steps, putting you in competition with yourself to take more steps today than you did yesterday.  Great idea.

One last admonition, based on my own experience.  One of the running books I consulted back in the ‘80s when I got seriously into long-distance running was, never run distance two days in a row; always give your body 48 hours to repair itself.  I followed that faithfully and it’s the reason, I believe, I never had any of the notorious running injuries that plague the devotees.

Unlike them, I never became addicted to running or obsessed by it.  It was something I had to do, not wanted to do, and in an odd way that was a benefit.  Still, I recorded my times and distances, and did compete with myself.  For some reason, running—outdoors, always, in all weather—I never found boring.  Hateful, sometimes, but never boring, and boredom is the great enemy of fitness.

Since my hip replacement, no longer allowed to run (doctor’s orders), it’s been a serious effort to find a replacement that keeps the weight down and the interest up.  Backpacking with mountain boots seems to be working.

Incidentally, my orthopoedic surgeon says my arthritic hip was genetic, not a casualty of running.

“If it were,” he told me, “Your other hip would also be bad, and it’s perfectly good.”

Damned genes.

Gray’s shooting editor Terry Wieland has spent his life, it seems, kicking bad habits.  The latest?  Bread pudding.  Carrot cake.  You get the idea.