As we celebrate heart health month, focusing on cardiovascular fitness, I’m reminded of the hundreds of profiles we’ve published at Marin Magazine over the years highlighting inspiring (dare I say, slightly insane) local athletes: There was ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes, who, on the eve of his 30th birthday, put on some running shoes after dinner in Marin and ran to Half Moon Bay (Forest Gump has nothing on Dean), and one of my favorite interviews with a then 7-year-old Ella Woodhead, who, along with her chocolate lab (and parents nearby), swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge. We featured Sausalito Council member Melissa Blaustein in 2019 when she swam across the English Channel, and how could we forget über-triathlete Kathy Winkler, who thought running around the Big Island was a great way to celebrate turning 50?
The drive and commitment of these friends and neighbors can be a bit intimidating for those of us who aren’t quite wired to these extremes. However, for the rest of us suburban strollers, podcast peddlers and weekend warriors, the county abounds in opportunities for fun physical activities. It’s hard to think of a better playground than Marin County, where nearly 85% of our land is public open space, offering hundreds of hiking and biking trails, coastlines and bay shores to explore by board, kayak or boat. And then there’s the fitness and yoga studios. How then, I wondered last fall, did I gain 10 pounds during the pandemic? Apparently, typing does not burn calories!
Knowing I needed support, I created a text thread with some like-minded friends called “Pants by Christmas” to share tips and funny memes and motivate ourselves to stick to the program and fit back into our jeans. Our first stop was the newly refurbished 9 Corners Med-Cryo Spa in Novato, now in the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center. I’ve known the super-fit owners, Cat and Randy, for years, and introduced them to my pro-pants posse by explaining that I was willing to “have what they’re having” for a few months to break through the persistent pudge.
First step: a ProLon fast, which is a five-day reduced- calorie program created by the Buck Institute, University of Southern California gerontology and the National Institutes of Health. Full disclosure: This fast is not designed only for weight loss. If you follow the plan, most people lose at least 5 pounds, but the main benefit is a cellular cleansing called autophagy, which promotes longevity.
As we listened to the spiel, which included the green light on coffee, I was 100% in. “Just to be honest though,” I piped in, “I’ll probably have some Tequila one or two of the nights — it’s the low-glycemic option.” My honesty was met with a wall of objection from the group. “We’re all in or we’re all out,” was their ultimatum. Ouch. I conceded, and amazingly, we all did it. It was the perfect kickstart. I didn’t lose much weight, but I felt better than I had in years. Next step: fitness. I went back to Susan Hauser’s hot yoga class (I hadn’t been in about two years), and I didn’t bend or flex nearly as well as I used to, but I loved the energy, and looking around at the sculpted figures of the men and women in the room, it was clear that this is a committed crew and their hard work has paid off. I’m sure they have most likely each had their own moments of reckoning, and through dedication, have earned their beach bods. This is just one studio, one discipline — there are so many options: The Bay Club, PilatesWorks, to name a few, and the latest craze seems to be Yoga Republic in San Rafael. And, like my small Pants by Christmas text thread, I get the feeling that community is part of the equation for all of these studios and fitness clubs, as in, if it’s fun and my friends are doing it, I’ll be successful. Happy ending: The encouragement of the text thread worked. I didn’t lose all 10 pounds, but I’m going in the right direction and happily fit into my jeans by Christmas.
Is there a program, sport or fitness studio that has helped push you in the right direction? Please let us know — we’d love to share your stories in our upcoming issues. As always, we appreciate any and all feedback!
More from Marin:
- Stewards of a Historical Gem: How the Sweetwater Music Hall Was Re-invented as a Nonprofit to Preserve a Legendary Venue
- How the Austin Family’s Historic Marin City Pole Home Became at the Center of a Legal Fight Against Discriminatory Housing Practices
- San Rafael’s Huckleberry Youth Programs Surpass Fundraising Goals With Roaring ‘20s Benefit