A friend who is usually athletic has been so busy traveling for work that for weeks—maybe a few months—he had no time to hit the gym or play sports. He gained some weight and wasn’t feeling great. Now that he has a break from his business projects, he is furiously active regaining better health and fitness. As I write, he is skiing in VT for the second time in a week, and in between ski trips, he sent me the following amazing email update:

“Hate to tell you this but I am back on the physical tread mill….

Two tennis lessons this weekend and we played twice
Working out at 6 am every day on the TRX I sent you
ERG training for an event in Feb
Today I did a double TRX in the morning and personal training tonight

I think I am going to get back in shape in the next 90 days…..if I don’t have to work ;-)”

(The TRX is an exercise program that involves two straps with handles that hang from the ceiling and are used to pull against and create resistance and balance.)

What amazes me is his determination and passion for physical activity. If I play tennis four times a week, I remember when this friend played tennis four different times in a two-day weekend. He has such astonishing drive, and clearly thrives on so much effort. But he always minimizes my awe and respect. He says that he has been active in sports and gym time since he was a kid. It had always been an integral part of his life that he took for granted.

As someone who grew up without those models, without parents who did anything physical and friends who hardly did any athletics consistently, it is all a huge effort for me and has been daunting my whole life, until I semi-retired and began playing tennis a few years ago. I love how I can urge friends from high school to do anything physical, because they are overweight, unfit and diabetic. They think I have morphed into a mad jock. But I know about the people who go to the gym each morning, play tennis six days a week, and have always included exercise and sports into their daily or weekly routine.

I have to report that as hard as it has been to keep doing crunches, as difficult as it became to spend the 3 hours visiting the gym each time (including 1 1/2 hours of driving), I can’t get enough tennis and squash playing into my life. I am scheduled this week to play on five consecutive days and that after two hours of squash planned for today. How attitudes and interests do change. It’s very interesting…and I am still awed by anyone who is at the gym at 6 am…