By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
At the advanced age of 61 (my age is advancing while the rest of me is regressing), I am happy to say that I don’t need to join a health club.
That’s because I have a personal trainer: my granddaughter, Chloe.
Chloe, whose age has advanced to 2 and a half in the blink of an eye (my other eye doesn’t work as well as it used to), keeps me in shape like no professional ever could.
That was exhaustingly evident during a recent trip to Safari Adventure, a children’s activity and entertainment center in Riverhead, New York.
For me, a child at heart, which got a strenuous workout and pumped enough blood to actually reach my brain, the place was a gym where I had a one-day membership.
Ordinarily, Chloe keeps me going with activities such as playing hide-and-seek; running around the dining room table; pushing her in her toy car (she honks the horn) or on her tricycle (she rings the bell); having foot races in the backyard; making her fly like Supergirl; doing bench presses with her; carrying her; catching her as she goes down the slide; helping her go up and down stairs; taking her to the park and pushing her on the swings; playing catch; playing soccer; frolicking with her in the kiddie pool; jumping in puddles; or simply walking hand-in-hand to and fro wherever we may be.
If these were Olympic sports, I would have set the world record for gold medals and you would have seen me (and Chloe) on boxes of Wheaties.
As it is, I have already gone through a pair of sneakers since Chloe started walking, even though I don’t see her every day, much to my chagrin because (a) I love her and (b) I could use the exercise.
I got plenty of it at Safari Adventure.
The first thing I had to do was take off my sneakers, which for once avoided wear and tear, even if my feet and the rest of me didn’t.
Then Chloe led me to a huge inflatable slide. I thought she wanted me to watch her go down, but she had a better idea: She wanted me to go with her.
Getting to the top entailed going through a rubber obstacle course. I couldn’t stand because I am too tall, so I had to crawl, which must have been a pathetic sight since I kept toppling over like I had been out on an all-night bender.
Chloe patiently waited for me as I caught up with her at the stairs, which she scampered up in a flash. It took me approximately the length of time it would have taken Chloe to read “War and Peace.”
Then — whoosh! — down the slide she went. I followed, slowly and clumsily, suffering rubber burns on my elbows and knees in the process.
“Again!” Chloe said when I reached the bottom.
This exercise was repeated about half a dozen times until Chloe took me by the hand and led me to the bouncy house, where my conditioning reached a whole new level. Actually, two levels: up and down.
It is safe to say, though not safe to do if you are a cardiac patient, that Chloe got the jump on me. This was the routine: bounce, bounce, bounce, plop! Every time she did it, I did, too, which made Chloe giggle with delight.
If I had a dollar for every time we bounced and plopped, I could have paid off my mortgage.
Then Chloe led me back to the slide, then to the bouncy house again, then to another, even taller slide. At least this one didn’t have an obstacle course.
After an hour and a half, Chloe was ready to go home. I was ready to go to the hospital. But it was invigorating, and fun, and I’d go back to Safari Adventure in a rapidly pounding, chest-exploding heartbeat.
Thanks to my little personal trainer, I’m in the best shape of any grandpa I know.