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Newspaper & Magazine Articles: Blog2
  • Writer's pictureSusan Flanagan

Let's get Physical | The Kids are Alright | Dec. 6, 2011

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

It`s 7:40 on a Wednesday morning in mid November and the first female premier of Newfoundland and Labrador sports a grimace as she faces her opposition.

On this chilly morning the opposition is not Lorraine Michaels questioning the feasibility of the Lower Churchill. It is not Kevin Aylward or any of the Liberal leadership hopefuls calling for a pre-Christmas sitting of the House. On this day, the major force opposing the undisputed leader of Newfoundland and Labrador is a stiff westerly wind gusting between 45 and 75 km/hr.

The temperature hovers above 0 and a half moon watches over Kathy D`s set jaw as she runs along the trail. I say hello but she’s in the zone. Decked out in black pants and jacket, she’s clipping along at a five- minute / km pace. That’s an 80-minute Tely 10 if you train for the distance. Not bad for an almost 60-year-old who only took up running about a year ago. A 130-pound woman maybe in her 30s follows a few paces behind like an obedient Japanese wife. Is she a body guard or personal trainer or supportive friend? I don`t dwell on the question as it`s not my right to know.

Although she`s always in the spotlight, Kathy D is a shadow of her former self. Through her dedication to fitness and living more healthily the premier of the province has lost over 100 pounds.

So if Kathy D manages to squeeze a work out into her hectic schedule, how can we justify not finding the time?

Who or what is your biggest opponent?

Medical ailments? Childcare issues? Lack of time? Too many extra-curricular activities?

Or is it lack of motivation? Procrastination? Laziness?

Everyone seems bogged down in things to do. If you become discouraged, remember it does take coordination to keep fit. Yesterday for example, I had to pay #3 to take care of #5 so I could run for the half hour #4 was in for a bass lesson. Half an hour is barely time to go anywhere so I may as well park the van and do something right out of the music school parking lot.

My husband and I will be in our 60s while surprise baby is still in grade school, so keeping fit is an important thing. Important enough to pencil in my day timer. I find if it’s written in there, I’ll schedule appointments around it. Otherwise it’s too easy to let it slide. If Kathy D can manage to keep fit alongside cabinet shuffles and premiers’ meetings, then so can I. And so can you.

Of course we’re approaching that time of year when exercising outside gets more difficult and dangerous due to slippery roads and snow-covered walking trails. What to do?

Take it indoors and head to Mile One or Jack Byrne Arena for family skating. Or swimming. Although the Aquarena closes for a month every Christmas (Dec 16-Jan 16, 2012), the New Y on Ridge Road has finally opened its swimming pool and it`s even wheelchair accessible. And there’s always city or town pools like Wedgewood Park or Mount Pearl. You can also do spin classes, hot yoga or karate, traditional aerobics or even kick boxing.

Now if you’re like me your children may be at the age that they no longer want to spend every waking minute with their loving family. My first four spent an entire three years in B.C. attached to my hip, so when we got home I was surprised that they ever wanted to see me again. Anyway, don’t take it hard if your children choose to opt out of family events. It’s probably not a reflection on you. And it doesn’t mean they’re pathetic sloths - oops did I say that? That`s not very parentally correct – it means they’d sooner find their own way of getting exercise. Although sometimes they may need a little nudge.

I have a child built like a Nigerian marathoner, and although he does play hockey, he mostly exhibits slothlike tendencies. Don`t get me wrong; he`s a good boy. He takes care of surprise baby almost every day and does his newspapers without complaint, but the most exercise he gets besides two ice times per week is walking to Breen`s for a Coke or lifting his mouse hand to play a video game.

So although my husband and I get enough fresh air and exercise, we sometimes have trouble convincing all five children to do the same.

One thing they will all do with us is snowshoe or ski. It’s a bit costly to take a family of seven downhill skiing especially once you factor in travel, hotel and meal costs. But for cross country skiing or snowshoeing we own our own gear so we’re all set.

Both Pippy Park and Butterpot offer rentals if you don’t own your own gear. And it’s dirt cheap. For my family of seven, it’s $10 per hour or $36 for the day. Pippy Park also has a cross-country ski sledge available for individuals with physical disabilities. Mind you the Pippy Park rentals don’t start until January (see details below).

Rentals at Butterpot are on a drive-out-the-highway-and-try-your-luck basis for Saturday or Sunday afternoons when there’s snow. Saturday morning rentals are reserved for children in the Jackrabbit program and their parents.

One thing I’m going to try this year is the Friday night snowshoeing at Pippy Park. I may go on a hot date with just my husband or I may take some children. Who knows, maybe I’ll even see Kathy D. I imagine she’ll be in the zone, a look of concentration on her face as she thinks about her opposition – the wind.

Susan Flanagan is a runner who would rather not reveal the premier`s favorite running spot as it may become overrun with paparazzi.

C.A. Pippy Park Winter Activity Centre

The Winter Activity Centre is located at the North Bank Lodge on Nagle's Place off Allandale Road.

Pippy Park Winter Activity Center Information Line: (709) 737-3651 (weekends - in season) H.G.R Mews Community Centre: (709) 576-8499 or visit City of St. John’s website

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