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Fitness in the New Year: what is best?

When John B. (Jack) Kelly, Jr. died early at age 57 in Philadelphia in March 1985, his body lay in the Philadelphia morgue unidentified for 2 days. Here’s how that happened.

A member of a classy bricklaying family that included his sister Grace Kelly (yes, Princess Grace) and a father, John B. Kelly, who won 3 gold medals in Olympic rowing, Jack Kelly, Jr. was a star athlete himself who had been on 4 Olympic rowing teams and medaled all over the world.

On the day that Jack Jr. died, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, he had been running many sprint rowing races with his son Jack III, and losing every time. He remarked at “being tired” and wanting to get more fit. At 57, Jack Jr. was still in great shape.  His pedigree as a rower was much stronger than his son’s, and perhaps this drove Jack Jr. to challenge his son over and over as he was losing over and over.

Finally Jack III just said, “No more”. So, seeking more fitness, wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and no identification, Jack Jr. ran a couple of miles back toward the Palace Hotel where he was living at the time.  He dropped dead with a massive heart attack on a corner a few blocks from the hotel, unidentified and unrecognized in the street.

Most of us aren’t that driven, or that accomplished.  Thinking that we need more exercise is something that all of us are prone to, however, and maybe that thought just isn’t true. Maybe we are exercising just the right amount.

Fitness isn’t even the first thing on the table for health.  Over and over studies have shown that #1 is quitting smoking, #2 is flossing your teeth, and #3 is salt/potassium balance with much less salt than is currently in most of our diets.  All of these preventions have proven out in longevity with health.

#4 Fitness:  Are you injured? Elsewhere in these blogs I have written about starting back to exercising after injury or layoff, and I stand by the idea of walking out 10 minutes and walking back 10 minutes, and continuing at a graduated rate.  Have a checkup and clear doing moderate exercise with your doctor. Even if you pass without having to do some remedial work, consider whether you want to be in rehabilitation or hospital environment to do the exercise. Especially if you have lung or heart problems, these environments can be a lifesaver.

So, you are not broken down, what to do?  Probably the least effective thing you can do is to go out and join a health club.  My friends in the industry tell me that only about 3% of folks who sign up for monthly payments with their credit card automatic withdrawal actually go after the first trip or two, though the automatic withdrawals go on and on.

Find something that you like doing that doesn’t hurt you and keep doing it regularly. Why not get a personal trainer? Or sign up for a specific class.  Many of the younger fitter clients are going for Crossfit.  Crossfit is cool if you are at that level, and if you are not, it is torture and injury.  If that sort of thing is your goal, then get with a personal trainer who can get you up to speed for the classes.  Even one class of some of those activities can injure you so that your next fitness class will be getting Rolfing® Structural Integration and restoration of movement.

Personally, I am paying attention to #1 (last time I quit was 1983, and I intend to stay that way), and #2, #3, and #4, plus having an advanced Rolfing series this year.

In closing, this article by Jane Brody in the NYTimes is a real wake-up call for those of you who love salt, which she says is the cheapest way to enhance flavor and texture and preserve food.




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