Most of my young adult life, I was in pretty good shape. For a number of years, I worked out for a couple hours every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday morning at the gym. I was lean and mean, and learned a lot about lifting weights and nutrition from a dedicated group of fitness buffs who were also members there.
I even partnered up with a semi-pro bodybuilder from California for a while until I missed a workout without letting him know I wouldn’t be there and he got a little psycho on me.
Unfortunately, that unwavering workout commitment gradually went by the wayside during my 50-something years, and by the time I turned 60, I found myself pitifully out of shape, 40 or so pounds overweight, tired, depressed, and not much motivated to do anything about it.
The low point came when I needed a new pair of blue jeans, and I went to a Beall’s department store to get some. As my waist size ballooned over the years from 31 to 32, 34, 36, stretchy-36, 38, then stretchy-38, I vowed never, ever, never to buy a pair of 40-waist pants. No way; no how.
So I walked into the store, grabbed a pair of 38 Levis, and headed to the dressing room. I squeezed into the things, managed to zip them up and button the button, but I could barely breathe, and there was stuff bulging out all over the sides.
It was ridiculous.
I stood there looking in the mirror, sighed, peeled them off, folded them back up, and went in search of a pair of “fat pants.” Size 40-waist. Those fit a whole lot better, and didn’t really look too bad, but I nearly cried as I set them on the checkout counter.
Even so, I continued to do mostly nothing about my condition, until one day I saw a Facebook post from a long-lost childhood friend about his winning a world championship in what is called Masters track and field. Ready for this? My old friend, Bubba, was 64 years old, and his world championship victory was in pole vault.
Yes, pole vault.
I’ll save the rest of that story for a future column, but one thing led to another, and I actually started training with Bubba, learning how to pole vault, getting back in shape. This photo is me at the Oklahoma Senior Games, where I won a gold medal and qualified for the National Senior Games.
That led to my studying for 10 weeks to earn my personal trainer certification, a desire to help other seniors find their way (back) to physical fitness, getting a gig as a trainer at my gym, and the start of John Clark Fitness.
Most folks know it’s a lot easier to get out of shape than it is to get in shape. Shoot, just sit on the couch all the time and eat. You’ll get excellent results, I gua-ran-tee.
If your goal is to get healthy, let’s keep it simple, for now – put down that bag of chips, and go outside for a walk. You can get a simple pedometer at Walmart or Academy Sports or somewhere, strap it on your wrist or stick it in your pocket, and track your steps as you go around the block a few times. I’m old school but I know there are also apps you can put on your phone that add up your steps for the day.
A few simple stretching exercises before you start is always a good idea, and a comfortable pair of shoes is important.
Eventually, you’ll want to work your way up to 10,000 steps a day, but take it easy in the beginning, if you need to. Try starting with one mile – that’s about 2,000 steps on the pedometer – and increase distance gradually. Listen to your body. Set a comfortable walking pace. Stay relaxed and breathe.
Give it a try.