Santa Clause holding weight

For those who dedicate themselves to a certain number of visits to the gym every week all year long -- and for those who don’t -- the Holidays are a trial.

Starting a month before Americans begin the Thanksgiving trek to the Olde Ancestral Home, many folks take a look in the mirror and hear Mom’s dulcet sing-song: “Dear, I see you liked your chin so much, you decided to grow another one.”

Then there’s Christmas. Citizens who haven’t seen their feet in a while begin to dread that moment when seconds on Aunt Martha’s chocolate pie are being passed around. “Well, obviously Jason doesn’t need another piece,” someone will pipe up, to snickers of muffled merriment. So, as the year-end days start peeling off the whiteboard calendar, the gym grows populations of hardworking newbies. Problem is, there are now DMV-worthy lines in front of the stationary bikes.

Then comes January 2, when well-intentioned pledges of everlasting self-discipline overflow every available square foot of work-out place, well into late February. Sure, wheezing and sweating on the elliptical isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so resolve will give way to comfortable old routines, and life will return to normal. But for those couple of months, the gym-rat’s workout routine is in shambles.

A new set of motivations must be found to move your health regimen to the out-of-doors.

Try this: if the snow isn’t too deep, get hold of a regular bike and ride it past the house three blocks over where that guy with the facial tattoos keeps his pit bulls chained in the front yard. Yell until he comes to the window, then give him the universal hand gesture for, “I’m looking for some exercise!” It won’t take him long to release Killer and Fang, at which point you will have no trouble pedaling for all you’re worth.

For the more adventurous: pick a store -- preferably one of the big-box places owned by six of the richest people on the planet -- and grab something inexpensive that will make a visible lump under your North Face fleece vest. Make sure the security person who spots you looks capable of serious exertion; you don’t want to give anyone a heart attack. Then, upon exiting the store, “Excuse me, sir/ma’am?” is your equivalent of a starting gun: the rush of adrenaline created by a mental picture of yourself behind bars, being bailed out by your shocked and weeping family, will suffice to carry you through a fully satisfying cardio workout.

These are just two suggestions. In both cases it is advisable to plot your escape/workout route in advance. A WriteyBoard is the perfect surface on which to skull out an itinerary that avoids cul-de-sacs, police stations and your regular gym -- where some super-fit jerk may decide to jump in and play Batman. If you don’t have a WriteyBoard, get one. It could save you dog bites, serious embarrassment or both.

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