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The Gym

February 15, 2019

The Gym – It has been a foreign place to me all of my life but one that I have recently visited frequently. I think we’re becoming friends.

For seven decades I have seen no reason to go to a gym as I have always been in shape. Years ago I was a champion surfer and I have been an avid outdoors man and fly fisherman all my life. I come from rugged pioneer stock and generally considered the gym a place for muscle men or bored yuppies looking to throw down their fat on a yoga mat.

So why did I visit the gym? The first answer was that I just simply had the curiosity to see one; I had actually never set foot in one my entire life. The second reason was a bit more complicated. Three years ago, I had a mild stroke that was an eye opener. Well, actually an eye closer as it was an amaurosis fugax, an event in which a small piece of plaque breaks off your carotid artery and blocks your optic artery, resulting in temporary blindness. It’s not a biggie on the old stroke score board but it needs looking into immediately. I did look into it and found that I had two small aneurysms in my right inner carotid artery that required replacing the artery all together. If you are interested in a humorous blow by blow, you can find it here:

Although the episode was not a direct result of being out of shape, it made me think. I was getting undeniably older and I certainly couldn’t handle a surf board like decades earlier, probably not at all. Was age making me more vulnerable to disease? Was I turning into a wimp? What to do? Well, of course, I waited.

I did notice from time to time that my waistline wasn’t as small as it used to be. When I was 28 years old I had a 28 inch waist. Now, well let’s just say it’s a tad larger. I said to myself, “Well, that’s just the aging process.” Again, I waited.

Finally, I noticed that I was perspiring much more than before as I did strenuous work in the garden or climbed long flights of stairs. I brought all of this to the attention of my doctor and bam! He sent me off for a stress test and an appointment with a cardiologist. I protested as I talked to him on the phone while shoveling 27 inches of snow. Was he sure I needed all of that? His answer was brief: “Let’s check it out: I don’t want you falling over dead on your driveway!”

I did take the stress test and I did see the cardiologist. After a lot of conversation, it boiled down to a sort of nothing burger. My blood pressure was fine, except when I was yelling at the nightly news broadcaster and there were no apparent major heart problems. However, the cardiologist noted the probable presence of atherosclerosis and recommended more exercise. I protested, noting that I could wade a river for six hours straight while casting a fly and that I walked two miles a day. He frowned. I smiled. I left his office at sort of a stand still and said that I would give it all some thought.

I did think about it seriously and finally visited our local gym with my wife. The owner is a long-time acquaintance so he gave us a no sales pressure tour of the entire facility. Afterwards, I spoke to my wife and we agreed that we were both up for it. We were going to give the gym thing a shot.

We now go to the gym three days a week for over two hours each time. I am walking six miles, rowing my guts out, crunching, and bicycling. How are we both feeling? Tired for a good part of the week but secure in the knowledge that we’re doing the right thing. Are we going to get buff? Seriously, at our age I doubt it. My six packs will probably remain empty diet soda cans. But what we are getting is slimmer with more energy and endurance. While neither one of us was technically overweight, we have both lost over 16 pounds apiece. For sure, my cardio-vascular condition is improving. We’ve only been on this regimen for a couple of months so we’ll see what develops. If all goes well, we’ll both be healthier. If it turns out that I’m getting way, way too much exercise, well, you may not be reading this blog much longer.😉

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at


  1. You’ve inspired me to be a more consistent gym rat. Definitely use it or loose it as we age. Getting old sucks.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Well done. I envy you. I’ve gone to the gym all my working life, one because in DC it was wiser to drive to work earlier than rush hour, two because I started to like squash (which I could before work), and three it helped me dealing with the stress of work (particularly the squash). I also was also fit and not overweight and therefore I could not swear on the benefits of exercise. Until…. recently I broke my ankle, the lack of movement gave me a thrombosis, once I hit better and just started to walk-run I fell and broke my left wrist.
    Now, I’m fine but for family reasons I’m unable to go to the gym. I’m so frustrated, and unhappy.
    So here is the thing. Just go at the gym and enjoy it. There is someone out there that would like to be there with you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • We just got back from the gym a couple of minutes ago. I’m still doing 5 miles uphill on a (hopefully healing) broken ankle but it’s a bitch. Hope you’re feeling better. Stay positive. Buon fine settimana 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I admire your fitness and your willingness to try something new ( and stick with it!). Gyms are out for me due to major inconvenience, but we have a workout room at home. Mostly, though, I get my exercise outdoors, like you. Skiing, shoveling snow and walking the dogs today, for instance. Good health to you!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Wonderful article! Visiting gym for last 2 years. Sometimes there is no time for gym… I sleep less, but still go to the gym. I feel better, sleep better, look better. Recently I met 72 years old man Larry, he just joined the gym, he is pure inspiration for me.. he is even teaching me how to use equipment 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Nasuko permalink

    Oh,I must exercise!!
    I went to Gym and did aerobics when I was young!! XD

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Quite an outstanding piece, Allen. A fine bit of writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Congratulations.. your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Compliments. I think it is a good way to… fend off Time. And make sure your walking condition improves. I did a bit of Gym on and off. Now I’m vetted because of a disk problem. Trying to keep walking instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had a huge back surgery three years ago – triple discestomy and triple laminectomy. Just one more reason I’m walking six miles a day. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ouch. I sympathize. I’ve always shied away from back surgery. 🙂
        But in your case the result seems positive, if you can walk six miles a day. (About 10 klicks, right?)

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Reblogged this on allenrizzi and commented:

    Getting back to this old post after my harrowing cancer experience….


  10. Wry account that resonates with me. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My husband had radiation and it really tired him out and thinned his hair.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve never lived close enough to a ‘gym’ or had enough $ in membership/time/gas for the jalopey funds, to ‘do the gym’ and yet, I had a stroke – which was cleared by tests as not being one of 4 major concerns for the tests my insurance at the time would ‘cover’ and not consider ‘extras that you must shell out big bucks for to learn more” on – over the coming year and half – Carotids fine – cholesterol high, but HDL higher than anyone my age, sans my historical list of sins (drinking, long hours, smoking, hormonal treatments,etc) could claim – so, um, cholesterol not a concern – blood that was to thick but not a concern for clotting, vascular system in my lower extremeties not clogged up or damaged – one before/after test and no more! to give me IV of stuff so the gurus could see exactly where, when why, how (supposedly!) my brain had been damaged during the EVENT of having a clot in brain that damaged areas of my brain and nueral pathways – counseling on PTSD, Grief, the stressors of being poor, rehabilitation to rewire/regain functionality that I had no ride to attend, funds to pay for or whining cries for how I DESERVED to get public, tax funded (including mE!) dollars to attend 3-5 days a week, when I hadn’t been cleared to drive myself or had the $ for tests/visits to this specialist or that – in the end? Pat on the head, take one aspirin a day on empty stomach, drink one glass of dark red wine a day and you’ll be fine as frogs hair and back to work in 3 months or less – took me 3 years to even dare to or be able to put in application for 10 hour a week job, 2 hours a day, and feel as if I could talk right for interview, type out the application/submit it AND actually show up consistently if I should be hired – – Was offered full time jobs after ramping up and running my own business best as I could with what I could do, on the schedule I could do, daily, weekly, etc., and “Oh, you don’t want 40 hours a week/full time job cuz you’ll lose your disability funds, right?” and me being shocked and amazed, even 6 years later, and saying, “I never qualified for nor received, a PENNY from Disability from a system I had worked and contributed to during 28 years of work prior to my stroke – ” – Thus – glad you all got in to build your strength, work on keeping your blood flowing and balance correct, etc., but me? After my stroke and the years after it? Meh – I just don’t mess with most of what is ‘recommended” or what I was TOLD to do, back then – and once in awhile? A cold beer, on a hot summer day, doing physical job with others, actually tastes right – and I’ll have one – three – in total defiance of those who long ago told me, “you can never have a beer, again, it will kill you” – sadly, I regret it the next morning – because I never was a wine drinker, but learned to do mightily watered down wine to get the 4 oz of dark red wine into my sstem the experts recommended – long ago – now? I LOVE my water wine – no matter how much each day – chills me out and keeps me hydrated and well, on that front? I just don’t deal with hangovers that much, though on really stressful days at end of stressful weeks or months and I just give up and drink to calm myself down? I don’t sleep well – to busy getting up to visit the bathroom from drinking to much water during the day – LOL. It is what it is – 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Probably a good thing if you don’t overdo it and keel over at the gym. Take care of yourself the best you can. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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