Off the Grid: New Sports Delay the Aging Process – The Spokesman Review | Candle Made Easy

As we get older, I notice that some of our peers are taking up new sports. They’re not just dirtbag climbers or year-round ski bums, waiters in the off-season, or buying new mountain bikes as part of a midlife crisis. They do things that require storing gear in a garage, which requires them not actually living in that garage.

As I pedal my bike and wear my running shoes, I consider what new sport might have appropriate social status for us. Not necessarily when we’re playing, but maybe when we’re subtly bragging about it at a wine tasting fundraiser. Or a sailboat show. Anyway, I’ve read that learning new things keeps us young.

We might not even have to play or do the thing. I think it counts if we just keep the accessories in our garage, which already houses a range of sports activities that we claim but rarely do, from a dart board to crash pads to kettlebells. And a vintage weight set that was only lifted when moving.

Deciding which new activity to invest in was a challenge. The term ‘cucumber ball’ came up a lot, but I’ve only heard people over 65 or the occasional early retiree claim the sport, so we’re not qualifying yet.

Golf seemed another viable option, with the added benefit of requiring a significant amount of spending on equipment and new shoes, making it a front-runner for me. Then I remembered once playing golf and dropping an obscenity within earshot of my grandmother and having to drink one of her Bartles & James afterwards to calm myself. Out of 8,000 swings, I made contact with the ball about three times.

I’m picking up Pilates when I become a snowbird in my retirement. I took salsa lessons once and couldn’t get over counting my steps. Sailing is too dangerous (because I will try to get on a boat and go to Fiji).

Besides, it should be a couple thing. We’ve been married for two years now and we’re running out of opportunities to spend time together. While making tacos is an endless source of joy and connection, we’re not sure it contributes to our longevity like a new sport would.

So I booked us private tennis lessons for our anniversary. advantagesMission: At least some new gear for the garage and these cute little outfits. Disadvantages: I couldn’t hit a ball to save my life no matter how big you make the bat.

When I was born a few decades ago, my eyes were so crossed that church people gave my parents money because they thought I was mentally handicapped. For almost a year both eyes were fixed on the tip of my nose. They decided to have surgery when I started walking – mostly against walls. I had a pirate patch for a while, and now all I have is a shaky eye and an inability to tell how far things are.

I pour drinks on the counter. I trip when I go down the stairs. If there’s a dark spot in the ground, I’ll trip over it. I scare my husband to death driving a passenger. And when it comes to ball sports, I usually end up getting a black eye – or swearing at my grandmother.

So far I’ve only been running back and forth on balls that my husband is praising across the court. It reminds me when I clean up after the kids or something. As soon as I pick up the art supplies on that table, I sprint across the house to get a glass from that windowsill. Apparently I’ve been training for tennis my whole life.

I’m punching the air like someone hallucinating. The ball is inevitably meters in front of me or meters behind me. Sometimes I’ll run after the ball like I’m passing it like in a Looney Tunes cartoon and casually tap it back.

Most importantly, and I hear that’s the key to being a good tennis player, I grunt and yell a lot as I swing around the court. It gives legitimacy to my efforts.

I thought everything was going great. I’m a runner – I’ll chase balls for 50 miles if I have to. Unfortunately, shuffling across the forest floor isn’t the same as trying to sprint across a plaza. “Sprint” is a loose term. I’m more like I’m racing a rhino, which explains the shape of my knees.

When I woke up the next morning, the flaw in my optimism was clear. It took me 5 minutes and lots of moans of legitimacy to get down the stairs. Maybe I’m ready for this Pilates class. Or we could go straight to joining a backgammon club. Whoever coined the phrase “aging gracefully” didn’t play tennis, I’m sure.

Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at

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