Wellness in North County: Your portable gym

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I never saw the gym as a destination in itself, but as a place to help me get the most out of my recreation. I liked the gym for the most part, but quit going a few years ago when it occurred to me I didn’t need it to be healthy. As I waited on that day to achieve a parking place near the gym’s front door, I realized the full extent of my folly — I was in my car, waiting to walk in and get on a machine. Once inside, I went nowhere for 10 minutes on the walking machine before hopping onto a bicycle that also went nowhere. So, why didn’t I park across the street, or walk the five miles to the gym from my house?

As a kid, there was never a disconnect between fun and fitness — I rode my bike and surfed and was in great shape. Now that I’ve lapped the sun many more times than I care to admit, I don’t ride bikes everywhere and I don’t surf for hours each day. Still, I want to be in the best shape possible, so what to do?

The first thing I do is get up with the sun (my cats see to that) and take a three-mile walk. With few distractions, I am able to plan my day and take in all the natural beauty of North County while greedily sucking in mountains of clean air. Along the way, I see things I would never see in any gym — pods of dolphins, kids romping freely, lost toys that end up with my grandchildren and, sadly, bottle tops, cigarette butts and candy wrappers, which I pick up. While the trash might seem a negative, packing it with me and depositing it in the official Rob Machado receptacle is what I consider a bargain for my admission to this magical mystery tour.

Since my three-mile jaunt is not quite enough to balance my caloric intake, I do at least one other physical activity — surfing, bodysurfing or swimming. If time doesn’t permit these, I do some sort of exercises at home.

I am currently on week three of a 10-week program taken from the book “You Are Your Own Gym.” The book, which was loaned to me by my good friend, fitness guru Dr. Jon Montague, teaches a variety of strengthening exercises that take no more than 20 minutes to complete. One nice thing about the exercises is that they require nothing but your own body and a few household items like towels, chairs and brooms.

There are exercises that help you pull, push, bend, squat, jump, balance and stretch, all things required to live a fuller life. While most of the movements will seem familiar, some will not.

I now spend less time driving to a destination and more time being there. I am more fit that I have been in a decade, and I am enjoying the time spent in motion. Speaking of time, I have a birthday coming up soon and a very small surfboard (thank you forever, Marty Gilchrist) that I hope to ride this winter. Bodies in motion stay in motion. Get yours off the couch, out of the car and into life.

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