The well appointed grounds of Clover Park in Santa Monica, CA host baseball teams, softball teams, soccer teams, football teams, groups of martial artists, frolicking neighborhood kids, adults, and dogs. A circuit of exercise stations, including pull up, step up and parallel bars, a ladder, monkey bars, a climbing rope, sit up benches, a balance beam and more punctuate the winding half mile path bounding the park. Most of the time the temperature is moderate and the sun is shining. Logistically, it’s easy access, there’s parking, and at midday it’s uncrowded. It doesn’t get much better. So, I’m a regular.
Another one of the regulars, a tanned, former pro European footballer who lumbers about the perimeter in bulky running shoes, sweat pants and a sweat-soaked t-shirt always greets me with a smile, and with his Scottish brogue. “Yer lookin’ good…fer an old guy.” The giveaway is the graying hair. Like hearing a familiar accent in a foreign land, he recognizes me as a member of his club. But, while we certainly share cultural and chronological connections, my bare feet and trim waistline leave him wary. I respond, “Aye— and you, too.” He continues, commenting on our difference in girth. “Yer younger than me, aren’t yeh? I’m 54. And, you’re a fitness guy— this is yer business. Yeh workout religiously.”
I tell him he’s right. I’m younger, and fitness is my business. Naturally, I can’t help but throw a slow pitch: “I’ll bet even now as you’re feeling stuck you’re probably working out even more than I am, but you’d like to do less and make greater progress, right? All you need is a little tweak— it’s in my book.” But he’s quick to defend, and grabs ahold of a heaping handful of mealtime indiscretion hanging just behind his shirt. “I jes don’t have the motivation, like yew dew, to do that kind of workout any longer. As well, I like me drink— don’t wanna g’ that up, yeh know. I’m OK…for an old guy.” I tell him he’s right, and we continue on our separate paths. In another 15 minutes he’ll pass by again, and we’ll repeat the exchange.
Before he makes his third round, though, I’ll be across town at the local Co Op sipping my vegetable juice recovery drink. And, before he completes his fourth, I’ll have picked up dinner— a pound of pasture raised, grass fed ground beef, a half dozen red potatoes, a cucumber, a bag of mixed greens, and a pint of coconut water— and will be carefully lane-splitting LA traffic, looking forward to firing up the grill at home. Again, it doesn’t get much better.