Monday, February 19, 2007

Get An Atlas Body

I am an Atlas Man. Like many young boys, I too, wanted big muscles and to not be pushed around by the bigger kids. So I saved my money earned from odd jobs and doing chores, went to the post office, got a money order, and waited with little patience for my package to arrive. For an 11-12 year old boy, 3 weeks is a lifetime when waiting for the magic answer to one of life's most oppressing dilemmas. I'm not sure how much the course originally cost, but I remember thinking that for the princely sum required, it must surely be something special. I think I had been doing with the program for about 4 weeks, of the 12 that came with the course. I had gotten stronger, strong enough to shove one of the bigger kids down. I was quite proud of my self for about a second. Boy was he mad. I stood my ground that day, and learned an important lesson, Strong is good.
30 years later, I realize now, even more then when I was prepubescent male, that stronger is indeed better. Not for the purposes of standing up to bullies, but to stand up to the ravages of time, and the insidious decline of muscle mass, and an increasing waistline. The last time we moved, about a year ago, I found In a bunch of stuff, my copy of the Atlas course, complete with membership card and certificate. I flipped through the pages, smiled at the exercises, and put the course in a binder that was put on a bookshelf and again forgotten. A couple of weeks ago, I opened the binder and looked through the routines and came upon the perpetual lesson. And here it was, the true wisdom of the Atlas course is at last revealed. Daily exercise. Almost 80 years ago, Atlas, like others before him, had figured out that we needed to get up and use our bodies, everyday. If we all did the recommended 100 pushups and 100 deep knee bends, plus the other handful of exercises, everyday, aside from being stronger, we would all be healthier. After going back and looking again at the course, it is an absolute master piece. Strong doesn't mean setting a world record in competitive lifting. Strong means being able to pick up a crying child and carry them up the hill, across the yard and into the house with out hurting yourself or the child in the process. It means being able to climb more than one flight of stairs with a full laundry basket and not getting winded. Strong is being able to carry a full pack and hike for 10 - 12 miles. Strong is being able to row across the pond to a secluded spot, make love, and row back. Strong is good.