In my latest screenplay, I had a 60 year old woman climb down a ladder into a manhole.  A 20-something reader wrote me that he didn’t think a woman that age could handle it.  I’ve got my social security card. I’ve got an artificial hip.  And I wouldn’t hesitate to go down that ladder to rescue one of my grandchildren (like the woman in the story.)


But, I contacted my friend Jean, who is 8 years older than I am.  No, she wouldn’t go down that ladder. And no, she doesn’t think she could have when she was 60, either.  So, the boy who needs to be rescued in my screenplay is only 6.  Grandma just lost 10 years.  She’s now 50.  Jean thinks she could have climbed that ladder when she was 50.


This raises an interesting question – why can I do what other women my age cannot?


I think it all started back in elementary school.  I was the kid nobody wanted on their team.  I was the only kid who had to do P.E. for homework.  I always had the sense that exercise was easier for everybody else than it was for me. I never did get good enough that anybody wanted me on their team.  But, I’m competitive.  So, I did my homework. And it became a habit. 


The kids to whom running and jumping and climbing came easily just took it for granted. For me these activities were and are hard-won prizes.


I got my hip replaced after being hit by a car while riding my bicycle, because I could no longer get on my bicycle. And I couldn’t walk without a cane.  But after I got my hip replaced, I still couldn’t get on my bicycle and I still couldn’t walk without a cane.  I asked my surgeon to write me a prescription for physical therapy.  My PT said I was one of very few of his clients who actually did the homework exercises.  I didn’t tell him – I’ve spent my life doing PE for homework.


The more I asked him to help me do, the more homework I got.  Elliptical, treadmill, floor exercises, ball exercises, stair exercises, stationery bike exercises.  This was okay for 2 or 3 months while I was officially recovering from surgery – but not for the rest of my life.  I like exercise, but I want to get out of the gym in half an hour, or maybe 45 minutes. I want to get back to my life, ride by bicycle to work.


So, I asked Google how to maximize my exercise time.  And Google delivered “interval training.”  The claim is that 12 minutes of interval training is as good for my body as 30 minutes of regular exercise.  Interval training is short spurts of hard exercise (intervals) with longer periods of comfortable exercise in between.


For example, on the elliptical, go at a comfortable pace for 2 minutes, then speed up for 30 seconds, repeat.  Do 3 to 5 cycles.


I checked with my PT.  He said to do it “no hands” to improve my balance.  And do the same thing with the Helix.  The Helix is like a standing bicycle on which the pedals go sideways.


I even added intervals to the treadmill (but I keep my hands on the bar when the speed is over 2 miles per hour.)  I’m not supposed to run on my new hip (so it will last).  I was having a jealousy attack when I watched other exercisers run during their treadmill time.  But then I found  Which shows how much real exercise I’m doing based on the slope and speed of the treadmill. When I’m doing 3 miles per hour on a 6.5 degree slope, that’s 6 METs (metabolic equivalents).  When the person next to me is running at 6.5 miles per hour on no slope, that’s also 6 METs. Since I’ve been doing this for several years, at least once a week, I can now do 5 mph on a 15 degree slope, which is 15 METs, Okay, I only do it for the 1 minute interval, and then I slow it down to 2 mph on a15 degrees for the comfortable pace.  But since 15 METs is the recommended fitness level for climbing Mt. Everest, I’m pleased that I can do it at all.


I haven’t figured out how to do intervals going sideways or backwards, but I do those no hands at a much slower speed.


Bottom line: The gym has lots of equipment.  I rotate what pieces I use on different days and I do interval training on them. I go before breakfast.  I’m out of there in 30 to 45 minutes. And I could go down a manhole ladder if I need to.

Views: 74

Comment by JMac1949 Today on October 29, 2013 at 6:13pm

"A 20-something..." I remember the day in 1969 when I showed my hand written script to a professional TV & movie writer named Richard Grey who later became my surregate father and mentor in Los Angeles. He was probably pushing sixty and  I'd just turned twenty and after reading six pages and closing the binder he said, "James, you're young, good looking and so if you must get involved in this infernal business, become an actor.  Actors make much more money and they get all the women.  Writers spend days alone locked away with their fears, staring at an empty page and get absolutely no respect.  If you must write, then wait twenty years so you'll be able to write about something you know from experience.  Right now you're still wet behinf the ears and you've barely got the cradle marks off your ass.  Become an actor and enjoy the women; but remember to take notes."

20-something... enough said, R&L ;-)

Comment by Lois Wickstrom on October 29, 2013 at 6:36pm

James, so did you?

Comment by Arthur James on October 30, 2013 at 1:54am


I been trying to get Here. You got hit n a bike?

Gads. This Feb, before my Home burned This:

Mu sciatic nerve flared-up. You know hip Pain!

I use to thing folk had the Psychiatric Hip Pain.

But, It's Pain! I went to the VAMC. Moan/Groan.

I had a physiologist But I no see her frequently.

The I - 81 Interstate is scary as a airplane trip.

You need medical herbs (dandelion greens) too?

I hate when I need to use a VAMC Walker too.

I am better now. I do Sesame Street Exercises.

I would not want to go down street woman-holes.

Why do they call them manholes? Collect manholes?

They'd be fun to collect. Maybe sell on e-bay manholes?

I knew a Woman who Walk into ` STOP ' signs and bleed.

She had scars and stitch marks. WE showed Our Old Scars.

I empathize with those who have Sciatic Hip Pain. Serious.

I Stretch on and off all day. I now walk Not Like a Drunk.

I walked Improperly for years (since Fen 10,1970) Post 

war. Neighbors thought I had Poop Pants and was Drunk.

I got New Shoes that are as if I am ` Barefoot - Slippers.

Walking is a serious Full Time Walking Breathing Practice.

I Love my new soft shoes. They are Feather Light So Soft.

I do need to Find a winter Safer Boot. No drop Beer on Foot.

Comment by Lois Wickstrom on October 30, 2013 at 8:11am

Arthur, if you find a light weight comfortable and water-proof / snow-proof boot, let me know.  I enjoy the new shoes designed for proprioception. They weigh only ounces and my feet can feel the surface I'm walking on, without getting cuts and scrapes.  I also enjoy stretching.  I take stretching breaks throughout the day.  

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on November 1, 2013 at 4:30am

I couldn't, under most circumstances; many at my age (62) certainly could. Good on you for your chracters!


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