Submitted by Susanne Bacon
I’m not a couch potato exactly. But when I hear the word “work-out” I shrink and try to bow out backwards. Maybe because the term “work” in work-out sounds like … well, something that is not entirely fun. Yet, I’m sure I’m not at the bottom of the scale of sporty people either. Work-outs simply don’t have that much of an appeal to me.
As a child I was enrolled in a sports club with multiple programs. I was on a track and field team in first grade. I joined a gymnastics team in third grade but was uncomfortable, as the coach was male and I very shy. I hugely enjoyed my time as an aero wheeler in fourth grade – for whatever reason I excelled in that and received special training. I dropped sports clubs as school got more demanding. And I always hated school sports (twice a week, sometimes including swimming at a pool half an hour’s walk away from school) – teachers were not really encouraging the ones that did not make the top ten everywhere.
I started power walking in my mid-thirties when I realized that I needed to keep in shape after having seen a particularly pudgy picture of mine in my own trade magazine. That was a turning point. For years, day after day, I went for an hourly walk through fields and forests, around lakes and along little rivers, anything that my suburban neighborhood in Germany offered, starting right at my front door. I found it exhilarating. My weight dropped, my mood rose, the landscape was changing on a daily basis. Moving became an addiction.
When I moved over here, to Steilacoom to be precise, I was happy to find walking routes galore around that pretty little Town on the Sound. Sidewalks made it a safe feat in most places, and the stunning vistas of the Sound and the Olympic Mountains were encouragement enough to go for my daily walks again. It takes no kick to the shin if you can walk a picturesque distance starting and ending at your front door.
I have only come to really appreciate what I had until then after moving to where we are living now. Sure enough, our stretch of road has a sidewalk, but at the next big crossings that ends. When the weather is bad, the shoulders turn into muck, and the cars passing by spray you in addition. When the weather is good, the shoulders work for me, but I’m wary of the speed some drivers keep when passing me. In short, power walking from my front door has been a no-go from the start.
These days, I have to kick myself real hard to go for a walk. Because I have to take a ride to one of our parks first before I can start my walking routine at all. It takes a lot of spontaneity out of my work-out in nature. My husband has signed us up in a local gym. I’m not an indoor person, and the torturing machines and trainers inside remind me of my ambitious sports teachers and gyms of yore. I go along, but I have a hard time enjoying myself. I go there for the purpose, but not for the fun of it.
Thank goodness spring is coming along with mighty strides now, and I’m looking forward to hiking tours long and explorative with my husband. It’s not going to be a daily thing, of course. But it will be a nice change in a routine of sit-ups on a mat, running on an elliptical trainer, and benching weights. Of late I have been seeing more and more signs pop up in Lakewood, announcing construction work. I keep hoping for more sidewalks, not just for the schoolkids, but for all citizens (And thank you, City of Lakewood, for doing so much of late!). Not just because it is so much safer and more sophisticated for a city than rough shoulders. But a power walk starting and ending at one’s front door is really something that would give me a kick.