By Glenn Steinberg
I was about 8 the first time I watched my dad as he grabbed his chest and lay down in pain in our home, and soon he was being rolled out on a gurney to be placed in an ambulance.
He would always return home in a few days. We didn’t visit him in the hospital for some reason only my parents knew. All I was told was that he had a heart attack. That scared the hell out of me as a kid.
He finally had triple bypass surgery and ended up living to 93. But those images of my dad never left me.
My dad talked of his “glory days” in his youth when he played basketball and boxed. But he hadn’t done much other than smoke big cigars and eat big steaks ever since. He wasn’t overweight. He just didn’t move much any more.
So in the 1970s, I put 2 + 2 together and decided a healthy heart was the key to preventing being rolled anywhere on a gurney. And the way to a healthy heart would be to move my body and keep my heart (a muscle) strong. Simple logic. No doctor’s exam — just common sense.
I started to exercise (ocean swimming) in the mid-1970s. I ran. I ended up doing marathons, swimming and bike races. It was easy living on Oahu in an endless summer back then.
I got married and became a dad in the early ’90s, left Hawaii and moved to Puget Sound, and that slowed me down to a walk. Literally! Walks were about all I got to do as a full-time dad. Usually with my kid in a stroller. I put my artist career on hold while my wife brought home the bacon and she often cooked the bacon too.
When our daughter got a bit older I joined Harbor Square Athletic Club (HSAC) in 1999 and got into fitness on a higher level again. When they began Indoor Cycle (Spin) classes, I tried one. This was for me. I was taking those classes five or six days a week. I paid former University of Washington football team strength and conditioning coach Rick Huegli, who works at HSAC, to lay out a good weight-lifting workout for me too.
At some point the opportunity came up to become an Indoor Cycle teacher at HSAC and I jumped at the chance. I have been teaching every Sunday at 5 p.m. since 2008. Nobody believes me when I tell them I am 63 years old.
I have had Olympic gold medalists, Ironman triathletes and high school athletes in my class and I give them a great hour of cardiovascular training. At the most intense time in the class, I often announce, “WE ARE CALORIE INCINERATORS NOW” to let them know how we are working hard. We burn up to 800 calories in a 50-minute aerobic/anaerobic session on our bikes.
I would love my dad to look in on my class and see me doing my thing. I know he would be pleased that I have used his example to prevent going through the pain and agony he experienced due to his heart condition. I like to think of it as a gift he “inadvertently” gave me.
My daughter is in college now. I am an artist again (part time) — visit my website at www.artbyglenn.com. I also have
a sales job in Edmonds so I now bring home some bacon too. And due to my fitness level I am never out sick and
work as hard at my job as anybody of ANY age.