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Episode 163 The January Challenge

There is something about January; new year, new ideas, new beginnings. We just returned from our usual health club visit. It was packed; all these people with high hopes. They are there sweating and grunting; young and old, limping and strutting. Hard bodies and flabby ones all set on fulfilling a personal goal. They are determined. It’s an inspirational place - these fitness centers on this first Monday of the year.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

Concepts 2 is the name of a company and the name of a rowing machine. I read about it in a column from an exercise expert in Alaska many years ago. He is a medical doctor so his opinions carry a little extra weight. He wrote that this machine was probably the best overall fitness machine he had ever seen and used. I bought one. My son bought one. Then my daughter bought one.

There is over one thousand miles separating each of us. She lives in Sutter Creek, California. He lives in Anchorage and we are sandwiched right between in Bellingham, Washington. Every January we enter into friendly competition. It is the January Challenge hosted by the Concepts 2 Company. It is a virtual competition.

We all row in our respective residence and then post our results on-line at the Team Challenge page on their web site. There are four on each team. It’s the Alaskans, The Big Dippers” against “The Outsiders”. It is friendly but yet competitive. We post our results every day and it seems like we move in tandem. Among hundreds of teams listed our two seem to be tied together by some invisible elevator as we move up the number of meters rowed.

The best thing about all of this: it gets us started. It gets us started into each new year and at the same time is so very good for our health. The experts seem to agree that is easier to sustain a workout regime if you have a partner or friend in the endeavor. This virtual challenge seems to fulfill that need. Even though you row alone you compare numbers and cheer each other on each day. The reward for your effort is very public and earns a response instantly.

The month seems to evaporate as we constantly move right along with the numbers. It is a good way to start the year. It helps maintain good habits of exercising on a daily basis. How valuable is that? It always amazes me when I read of some such disease or illness and the recommendations on how to combat whatever it is. Exercise is always high on the list; if there is anything that seems to be the elixir of life that is it.

Many people with good intentions were at the club today. They are always there the first part of January. Then the numbers fall off rather rapidly. It does take a little effort to usher in new habits but when it come our health it is definitely worth it.

In our families January Challenge rowing contest, the loosing team buys T-shirts for the winning team. I want that shirt this year. I’ve never won one.

This is Retirement Talk.