RHYS BOWEN: Did you all watch the opening ceremony on Friday? I'm always so amused the way each country tries to outdo the previous games. I expect I'll be glued to the telly for the next two weeks. Actually I've been getting an overdose of sports viewing ever since Wimbledon. I have been watching, in horrified fascination, American Ninja Warrior, Spartan races, Olympic trials in swimming, gymnastics and track and field. Frankly I'm absolutely exhausted. And as for those athletes--how do they do it?
When I was young I was quite athletic. I played tennis quite well. I represented my college in tennis and table tennis and netball.But our training was at most running around the field once before we started playing. Nothing like these supermen and women these days. Those ninjas who can hang on by their fingertips, those Spartans who drag one another up walls, and tiny Simone Biles who can fly through the air as if weightless. How do they do it?
And then I realize that they spend their whole life doing it. We had tennis practice probably twice a week. No weight training, no distance training, no therapists or ice baths or anything like that. We got on a bus, drove to another school and after five minutes warm-up we played.
Now I have two granddaughters who are water polo players and swimmers. They have to be at school at 5:45 a.m. for weight training. They work out year round for their sport with land exercises, push ups as well as heaven knows how many yards swum in the pool. So it looks as if we're growing a generation of super heroes, doesn't it.
And I'm feeling very inadequate. I belong to a health club. I go and swim a bit every day. I sometimes work on the weight machines--rather gently. I hike with friends when I can. John and I walk (or rather stroll) every evening. But I watch the Olympics and think I SHOULD BE DOING MORE.
So, dear Reds and readers, do you still work out? How fit are you? Do you wish you could do more? Are we too obsessed with fitness these days?
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I was a figure skater when I was younger (it's cold in Buffalo — everyone skates and/or skis) and had dreams of Olympic glory — until I broke a leg and then an arm in quick succession and discovered musical theater (and boys!) in high school. It's amazing how far the sport of figure skating has come —when I was watching, it was a big deal if a woman could do a double axel and then the first triple. Now triples are the norm for women and quads for guys.
Meanwhile, Noel and Kiddo do Hapkido (a Korean martial art form) and sometimes we go to the gym together as a family. Kiddo is really into riding these days, too. I love to watch him on horseback — so thrilling!
These days I'm at the gym at least three times a week (elliptical, stationary bike, and weights) and take a weekly yoga class I love, too. After a difficult pregnancy, multiple surgeries, illnesses, and several bouts with anemia, it feels good to be in somewhat decent shape again. And I don't ever take it for granted!
HALLIE EPHRON: I don't want to talk about this. Because I am throwing away money every month on a gym membership I don't use. My exercise at this time of year is gardening (clipping bushes and pulling weeds) and walking. Not enough, I know. I promise myself, when I turn in my manuscript... You guys are making me feel like a wimp.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hallie, I beat you, ha ha!! I'm a bigger wimp. I was never athletic at all. I did love to swim as a kid, but not in any competitive way. Horrible at sports, etc., etc. I've given up on gym memberships--I just won't do it. I do, however, love to walk, but I'm even slacking on that right now because it's too HOT. By the time I get up and do an hour's worth of watering, I just want to go in and cool off. Maybe next week...
My Fitbit does tell me that I do miles every day just on all my inside and outside chores, so I am at least burning some calories!!!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Hey, I took beginning tennis (a one semester course) in college for THREE YEARS because I was so terrible. I had no depth perception AT ALL so any kind of sports was demoralizing and impossible.
I ran for about a year, then my knees gave out. I took aerobic dancing, and got a stress fracture. I can kind of ice skate--but I had on music headphones and decided, inspired by hearing O Fortuna, that I could do a backwards jump. I could not. End of story.
I don't like to go to the gym because it is too complicated--go in, change clothes, hang stuff up in a tiny locker, do something that's not fun, shower in a yucky place, have wet hair, get dressed again. I mean--why? We have a treadmill and a Nordic track in our exercise room (spare bedroom) and I love them. (I worry about upper body strength, though..)
But now--I am devoted to my Fitbit, and love it, and swear by the walking exercise.
This is the last extant photo of me doing anything physical. I think I had just nailed the 200 meter butterfly. Or something.
LUCY BURDETTE: I am still annoyed that title nine came long after my time. In high school, very few girls played actual sports. We wanted to be cheerleaders! When I wasn't selected for that, I had a short stint as a highlander dancer for our schools all girl bagpipe band. I exercised on and off through my 20s, with little periods of running and lots of Jane Fonda tapes (remember those?)Then in my 30s, I decided to take tennis lessons with a friend who was also single. I caught the bug and got good enough to play USTA tennis. I also found John at a singles tennis event. Here's a photo of us before we even started dating.
Then I took up golf because he loved it, and and skiing because he and his kids loved it. I did not love it – too cold, too much clunky equipment, too high, too scary, too icy. And I hurt my knee. To this day, John insists that was my best sport!
These days I think it's super important to stay strong as we get older. So I walk (having a dog helps a lot), go to Pilates class, and go to a personal trainer for weight training. With someone else cracking the whip, I am pushed in ways I simply wouldn't do on my own. But I don't want to end up as one of those old ladies who can't get up from the toilet LOL.
RHYS: Okay, confess... who is still super fit and what fun activities can you suggest for the rest of us?