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Saturday November 18th 2017

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Needed: Thousands of Running Wolves!

By Jake (Richard) Jacobi

Shortly after Running Wolf Fitness Center opened last fall in the Phillips Community Center, I and my neighbor joined. I’d never exercised in a gym, and I’m pushing 70 years. My neighbor’s about my age.

We found Running Wolf through our diabetes support group, A-POD (A Partnership of Diabetics). A-POD moved into rooms in the same newly reopened Phillips Community Center.

In my prime, I was a pretty good walker, and I swam in lakes in the summers and irregularly swam laps in a club in the winters. Just the same, I developed longstanding ankle issues and let myself get too big. In 2009, five years into my retirement, I ran into my own personal buzzsaw: a torn hamstring from doing the splits on sidewalk ice, renewed ankle pain on both sides from favoring the hamstring and in August of that year, a diagnosis of Type Two diabetes with peripheral neuropathy of the feet, which makes me slightly balance-impaired.

Over 20 months, starting in January of 2009, I lost 100 pounds, most of it in the winter of 2009-2010, during which I started recording everything I ate and  going to a club regularly to wade laps. In April 2010 my doctor took me off my meds, because my blood sugars were stable.

That was all to the good, of course, but the drastic weight loss was hard on my muscles and metabolism. My calves, especially, were woefully reduced from what they had been in  my salad days, and my pulse was faint, so that a couple of care providers had trouble finding it.

It was this that I was dealing with when I came to Running Wolf. I’m going  to a pool most mornings to do water aerobics and swim a few laps, but I also need to do something which calls for greater exertion. At Running Wolf I’ve found more than enough things I can do to fill a session of 90 or more minutes two or three times a week.

I shun the treadmill and ellipticals because of my ankles, but I’m using three or four of the weight machines for 40 or 50 minutes, and I use the “dip” machine, which is an abdominal exerciser, and the free weights. I also invented something I call “belly ball.” I put a plastic exercise ball on the floor and lie down on it prone and, keeping my feet off the floor, I pull myself ahead with my hands. The ball rides down on my body, and I use my hips and knees to scrunch the ball up higher, so I can pull myself forward again. This makes for just the right kind of puffing for an old guy.

My best machine is the rotary torso, which trains the muscles on the sides of the trunk. I started using this machine with 40 pounds of weights and now use 70 pounds, and I’ve improved on my other machines, too. At home I’m recording proteins as well as calories, carbs and fiber. My muscles are better, and my pulse is out of the doldrums.

Running Wolf’s diversity of clientele is gratifying to see. What goes on there is serious inner-city preventive medicine. This country badly needs several thousand more centers like Running Wolf, and with fees like Running Wolf’s–ten bucks a month.

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