I am one of those guys who is really out of place at a gym; a fish out of water. I spent most of my life as a slender book worm with little interest in sports but as age, fatherhood, a desk job and an affinity for a cheerfully empty pint of beer, I knew something had to change. I had to get active, channel that participaction! action and sign up with the program. For the first time in my life, I needed to get fit; but how? And when?
Looking at my lifestyle, the first thing I had to figure out was how to cram two hours of exercise a week into my regime. Up early for work, home to make dinner and wrangle kids, exhausted by 9:30 and not up for anything more intensive than watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs, I knew that if I was going to find some time to sweat off a pound or two, I was going to have to get creative. Picture my poor spouse, frazzled from a day chasing two little ones, finally seeing her relief shift come through the door at 5:15, only to say, “Hi honey, I’m home – and off to the gym! Kiss the kids goodnight for me, I’ll be back at 8:00!” Somehow…. I don’t think so.
If I was going to run off and pump iron somewhere, I was going to have to take a kid with me. I couldn’t picture the li’l 2 year old strapped to my back as I swayed on the elliptical machine. Well, I could actually, but I didn’t see it as a very good way to fit in at the gym. In my search for a six-pack schedule, it had to be seamless and hopefully offer more to the kid/hostage than a lame babysitting session.
After looking around a little, I was pleased to find the perfect resources, right here in New Westminster, close to home and super simple. As so many residents know, Canada Games Pool houses a fitness center on the a mezzanine overlooking the pool. I am no expert on what makes a good gym but this place should have everything you want and many of the folks up there look like they know a thing or two about gyms. There are lots of free weights, weightlifting machines and exercise machines. It can get busy and the pool makes the atmosphere a bit thick but hey, it all goes away when Bono starts singin’ through the ear-buds you know?
The best thing, and the feature that solves the “what to do with the kids” issue, is that across the courtyard, in Centennial Community Center they have child minding (score!). While daddy is huffing and puffing away on the Stairmaster, junior is running around with a dump truck in his arms screaming “I’m Prince Philip! I’m Prince Philip!” and I can’t hear him. (Not even one bit). After an hour of that, sweaty papa picks up the pampered prince and packs him of to the change room again. After we quickly slip into our swimming togs, we spend an hour in the pool for some daddy – kiddo quality time.
My little trooper loves the kid pool and watching his neighbours walk about in the pool. We see some of the same kids from week to week and have become friends with one or two. The staff in the community center and the pool are the best and are always cheerful and ready to accommodate any challenge. There is a real difference in the morale of a place when it is ‘for-profit’ over when it is for the betterment of humanity. I get a kick out of it. It’s as if going swimming on Sesame Street.
The schedule works seamlessly each time I have tried it. 5:25 at the child minding 5:30 at the gym, 6:25 to end child minding at 6:30 for a one hour swim (Family swim begins at 6:30 on Monday and Wednesday, and at 8:30 Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Schedule here for current season). By 7:45 the tuckered tot is back at home and ready to pass out from all of the fun (Score 2!). Besides the good times, dad is learning the joys of exercise and mom thinks he is a hero by giving her a toddler-free 2 hours twice a week. Hey, mother of two; you take what you can get!
So this is my victory story for the big “Hyack your Health” series on Tenth to the Fraser. It might not work for everyone but it is darn good at removing those excuses. The center is cheap: $8.00 per visit (after child care) if you don’t buy a value pack. I think it is closer to $6.00 a visit if you get a card and pre-pay. If you can’t swing it, I am pretty sure New Westminter Parks and Recreation has a program to lighten the financial load. Give it a shot in 2010. Who knows? I might see you there. (I’ll be the one rocking out to Neil Young in my iPod).