My Part-Time Job

 

About seven years ago.......

.......... I willingly (read: “was happy to”) leave the ranks of the fully employed when I retired as a civilian from the US Navy.  I knew that it was important that my time during retirement be fully engaged or else I would soon gravitate to submitting to mind-numbing tasks, like watching television all-day, alphabetizing Lila’s spice rack and/or the dreadful evil spirit ....the refrigerator.   The refrigerator is real scary for it carries with it the rare disease called frustration; the more you eat, the more you hate yourself so the more you eat, and so on and so on and so on.

             Well, I was not about to let that happen and, therefore, I decided that I needed a part-time job....something that would be fun, but with absolutely no responsibility and of course, a good salary ...remember that I had by now left the work force.  The thought of getting even a part time job back in the work force was absolutely not very satisfying to me...and my price would be way too high for the kind of work that I would want to engage in. 

 A case in point:  I was quite involved with my grandsons during the time when they were in elementary school, e. g. helping out on class trips and even in the class on occasion.   The elementary school principal, whom I knew quite well from my relationship with the school, asked if I would like to help out in the playground for about four hours each day.  At first not understanding that it was a job offer, I was subsequently informed that the “job” would pay $10.00 per hour.   Now, I am not knocking the big salary of $40.00 a day, which maybe would be around $25.00 per day after taxes and whatever else, but there would have to be an even easier way to make even more money.

And yet, I could not find that way...in fact, almost every job or opportunity really wanted someone to work very hard (imagine that, my how the times have changed)....Oh, and the money is not all that great.   It did not take me long to realize that these “working” kinds of part time jobs are not going to “work out” (forgive the pun) for me.  It was time for some real cool thinking...no responsibility, no scheduled hours, no pay (oops, did I do wrong on this one) and maybe even some fun.

Before I retired,

             ..........I had been involved in a limited exercise routine and soon realized that getting more involved in a fitness program would be both beneficial physically and emotionally.  First, it would provide me with a focus for the beginning of each day and it would also provide the improvement of physical stamina and strength.  And, as we all get older, certainly these aspects of body and health building are ever more significant.  So it was decided that involvement in a physical fitness program would be my part-time job, but it became even better than what I have just described.  My good fortune was that many of the other members of the fitness club where Lila and I go to were about as crazy as I was and the social interaction between all of us became an important element of my part-time job.

 

During those early days of retirement, well, I was like a kid in a toy store with a credit card.  I would be happy to do just about anything...as long as I did not have to wake up during the night and go to work.   Let it be known, that “during the night” became much later in the morning to me as soon as I did not have to get up and go to work.  Instead of waking up at 6:00 am and off to work at 6:45 am, I would now wake at 7:30 am and after having a leisurely breakfast of cold cereal and reading the paper in a more leisurely manner than I would do before I stopped working, Lila and I would head off to the gym at 9:00am.  Now that is not too shabby!   I should have mentioned that Lila and I both go to the exercise club which is as important to her as it is to me.

For a little background,

...........Lila and I had joined the club twenty-two years ago, when it was primarily a racquetball facility and many of the personnel at my work organization had all joined to play racquetball.   For many years this game was extremely popular and everyone was playing regularly.  But little by little, people seemed to fade away and eventually just Dale, a friend and coworker, and I were the only ones left that were playing racquetball consistently.  And finally, after many more years Dale was no longer available to play racquetball and I then had to look for other players or an alternate means of exercising.

During this evolution where racquetball lost favor, the club had been increasing the availability of Nautilus exercise equipment and I tentatively began to “work out”.  It was hard work and not nearly as much fun as racquetball.  I could not fathom why anybody would exercise this way and moreover why was I exercising this way.  There is the phrase that body builders use “No Pain, No Gain”, now is that stupid.  I had to hurt to feel better.  I wasn’t working...I was supposed to be having fun....yea, this was real fun. 

So like they say, I hung in there for a little while and soon I was starting to actually feel stronger...can you believe that...I was actually getting stronger.   It was getting to be fun...fun because I could see improvement and feel better.  Maybe the phrase, “No Pain, No Gain” really meant something after all.  I continued to increase the scope of my weight training exercises and also the level of weights for those exercises.  And, at the same time I was also involved in various cardiovascular exercises intended to improve stamina and to try and keep my weight down.

Our part-time job........

            ........became exercising when we retired and from about our usual time of 9:00 am to noon, on average, that was were one would find Lila and me.  Each day we would use certain exercise equipment or free weights, which are uniquely designed to work some specific portion of the body.  And each day we would “work” a different part of our body and give the muscles used in the body during exercising the previous day a chance to “rest”.  In addition, we would use some type of cardiovascular equipment, such as a bicycle, cross trainer, treadmill or a stair master for at least thirty minutes each day.   

 

Free Weights are not named because of any monetary significance, but rather because there is a free  movement of the weights giving you a greater opportunity to strain yourself as one exercises a particular muscle group.....again depending on just how careful you are.   I place the concept of straining oneself first, because that is what happens most of the time when people are not generally trained correctly and thereby do not learn proper form.

 

             In the gym there are groups of people who come at different times of the day to coincide with their life’s schedules; e. g. there is the 6:00 am group who come to work-out before heading off to work (they have to be crazy to get up that early) and the mid-morning group (of which I am a member) which includes the seniors (I know that is not me, of course) and also those who work evenings and nights, as well as the mothers who can take advantage of the child care facilities that are available at the gym.  Of course, there is also the evening crowd (they are really desperate as they give up their precious evenings) who arrive late each day to work-out.  The mid-afternoon group is the smallest of all and seems to be a catchall for those who just cannot make it any other time.  Now these groups really do not ever come into contact with each other and if you visit the club at these different time periods, you may not even know that you are in the same club.

The reason I tell you all this insignificant information, is because the mid-morning group is acknowledged to be the best of all...we have a terrific blend of people who do not exercise under time constraints.  And, as I said before, we are the seniors---almost all retired and the younger crowd who also can and do exercise regularly.  What impresses me most about these people is that they are interesting to talk to and fun to be around.  They make the work of exercising even easier because they offer support, comradeship and someone to share the “pain” with. 

My exercise routine....

.......when I get to the gym each day is as follows.   I first have to say hello to Diane, Ed, Jack, Joe, George, Harry, Manny, Sam, Irv, SuSan, David, Kevin, Milt, Dan, Vivian ...and of course there are many more!   When I walk in, it is like arriving at a friend’s place and everybody you know is there to greet you and make you feel at home.   Lila says that I really like to exercise my jaw more than any other part of my body, and if you asked all the other people there they would agree....but it really only seems that way.   This camaraderie makes going to the gym a warm and friendly experience that I generally look forward to each day.  

 But even more than that ....these same people are there to provide support when I need to learn about something that I want to buy or repair, or they may loan me a tool or even help me fix something.  They will loan me a book, talk about their experiences and even share a meal and conversation.  So when I have a problem, I start by talking with the “guys” at the gym...they usually have the answer or the means to arriving at the solution.

 Well, I told you about the social side of the gym, but the exercising has allowed me (and Lila) to take on activities and adventures that I am sure would not have been possible otherwise.   From some of our trip reports on this web site, you can read about the experiences during our travels...where we have hiked in the mountains and engaged in some other interesting activities.  Our exercising regimen has made it all possible...more than that it has slowed the aging process considerably and for that we are both very grateful.

 Certainly the cardiovascular exercises have been singularly important in improving and sustaining our endurance...I do believe that this element of our well being has actually improved over the years with age, because of the cardio exercises.  Thirty minutes a day or more on a treadmill, stair master, bike or cross-trainer is a daily event.   It can be extremely boring, but when I also exercise my mouth at the same time...time passes very rapidly and without much “pain”.   It is a necessary and important part of my workout regimen. 

 With an improving endurance capacity, I have started to participate in “spinner bike” programs.   These are resistance bikes that are adjusted to reflect the strain of peddling up steeper and steeper hills coupled with also peddling while sitting or standing during an extended class program.   To make it even more interesting, the leader, who no doubt is a torturer by training, also has us do pushups while we are peddling.  It is a powerful workout that feels absolutely wonderful when we are finished. 

 In addition, my weight training involves the use of both free weights as well as other equipments designed to localize the muscle building process.  As I mentioned above, distributing the weight training over several days ensures that I do not exercise the same body areas on successive days.  I have been thoroughly amazed at the weight levels that I have been able to master and the positive effects that it has achieved for my body.  As I have become older, I have been able to hold the weight levels relatively constant, but can also feel the effects as I may tire more readily.  Nonetheless, the weight training has provided me with significantly improved bone density and body toning, which would not have been achievable otherwise. 

 There has been one additional major element of my workout routine that Lila and I have embraced ...Yoga training and conditioning.  I am not prepared to write with any vast understanding of the subject, but making use of a variety of Yoga poses, I have been able to considerably improve body flexibility through muscle relaxation.  It has been startling the extent to which my body stiffness (Why do all the wrong parts of my body get stiff as I get older?) has diminished as I have continued to utilize Yoga relaxation and stretching techniques.  I look forward to not only continuing this training and performing the various poses, but expanding my involvement in the Yoga experience to further improve body flexibility and achieve greater relaxation levels (not that I would need to relax). 

In summary........,

            ......I cannot stress enough the benefits that Lila and I have derived from this part-time job...it does not pay well in a monetary sense, but its physical and emotional rewards cannot be overstated.  I do not believe that there is an individual that will not benefit from this type of activity and while it may not be a part-time job for all who participate, it should at least be more than a pastime.