Forget Cancun and Key West, let’s make ‘SB07’ about getting fit

There was a blizzard on Monday, so it’s hard for me to write the words that will follow. But a little snow has never stopped me before; so onward! Onward to spring break! We’re all chomping at the bit.

So pleasant is March, don’t we all think? Right after the bleak, cruel, skin-curdling February, March prances about with sunnier days and more sunlight hours. It’s about this time that we begin to arrange our spring break plans — which hopefully include a prison-break-like movement toward the equator.

This year’s spring break (“SB07” as it will be referred to in this article and should be referred to in life) promises a lot of the same things that all spring breaks promise. It means home, if not rest. It means warmth, if not sun. But above all, it signifies a well-earned change of pace for us all. It’s a time for moving. General movement and physical activity should be a priority as we enter the skimpy clothes season. The holidays are over, and although the walk to class hurts in the harsh cold, it’s no longer an adequate substitute for a visit to the gym.

I’m not impervious to reason, so I understand if you’re not standing up for a jog in the snow. I’m certainly not. But I will introduce a new idea: the treadmill (or the elliptical if you’re so inclined). I made my first visit to the gym yesterday. Yes, I did. I ran for a whole 20 minutes! At an incline! I snapped on the tunes and jogged in rhythm to “Fergalicious,” which I now recommend to all my friends and even some of my enemies, because it’s that good. When Fergie sings: “My body stays vicious/ I be up in the gym just workin’ on my fitness” it’s very empowering. You say, “I know what you mean, Ferg.” And smile at your own private joke.

After six minutes, I wanted to slow down, but then she repeated the line again and I made the whole 20 at a 6.0 mph pace. (Apparently the treadmill odometer is broken and I was actually going about 5.0 mph, but I prefer to call it as I read it. And I read 6.0.) But now I’m just bragging.

With all the mental exercise that we engage in here in wintry New England, it’s easy to forget about the body. Late at night, when you’ve been guzzling coffee and sleeping erratically, it cries out. It gets worse around midterms. I have eyes and a mirror. I know.

My idea is this: Let’s make SB07 all about physical activity. Let’s all start up a routine or something. My suitemate tried to write one up for me earlier in January, but the timing was all wrong. I never started. But now is the time! I’m not suggesting any diets here. Heavens no! No dieting! In fact, I discourage it and, later this afternoon, will be passing out king-sized Snickers bars in front of Commons for the ride home.

As I talk Spring Break Sports, I’m really only addressing those from warm climates. If you’re stuck in the cold next week, then maybe try hockey. I’ve never played so I’m not going to recommend it, but it’s a suggestion.

Now, to the sun-worshippers!

Bring out your volleyballs, I say. Bring them out! Bring your badminton rackets, your beach Frisbees and beach paddles with the little ping-pong balls. Bring your waterskis, your golf clubs and your croquet mallets! This is the season, folks.

Each spring and while it’s warm in fall, the TD courtyard, which is adjacent to my bedroom window, is overrun by a crowd of avid volleyball players. While the noise sometimes carries while I’m trying to nap, I now yearn for their games to return. Perhaps, in these next weeks off, they will be inspired to practice and get the games going upon their return to the Elm City at the end of the month. I know I’ll be practicing.

I’ve often tried to set up my volleyball net on the beach, and it never stays because of the wind. Without fail, it falls over and I lose all hope. And after an hour of struggle, I lose dignity too. But on SB07, things will be different! I have renewed hope. I really want one of those all-purpose nets so that I can play badminton, too.

Whatever happened to badminton? The Yale Badminton Club’s “News” page on their Web site hasn’t been updated since ’04! A sport as majestic as that should never be so readily cast aside. We all remember the animated game of shuttlecock between Maid Marian and Lady Kluck in Robin Hood. Was that not fun enough? More badminton, please!

And as long as I’m asking for things, more croquet! Talk about a relaxing activity that I can get on board with. Just grab a cool drink, an umbrella, a lawn chair and a mallet. I heard a rumor that it used to be a Yale tradition to play croquet on the Davenport lawn at midnight or something. It’s not a justifiable rumor, but it certainly is a good idea. I would support it. I would even do it myself. I’m putting croquet on my activities-to-try list right now.

And on a final note before I run out of space: some advice on waterskiing. It’s hard at first, but then becomes really rewarding because you get to take control and experiment with balance. It’s like a physics lesson but way funner! Duh! It takes more upper-body strength than you’d think. Getting up is the hardest part. When I was learning, I didn’t quite grasp the technique that I like to call “letting-go-of-the-rope-after-you-fall-so-that-you-don’t-drown” and I ended up with a mouth full of water and a bad attitude.

All in all, two weeks is never enough, but it is something and should be valued as a perfect opportunity to learn a new sport. Even if your sport is laying out poolside, or shopping for a new bathing suit, I can respect that. We’ll start up a club team when we get back.

Charles Gariepy is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College. His column appears on Wednesdays.

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