Monday, January 02, 2006

Sandbag Workout (part 1)

The year 2006 began with more excitement than I needed or bargained for. A massive storm struck Northern California. And at 4:15 a.m., a neighbor rang our doorbell to alert us to mudslides and flooding. Fallen trees from the hills behind our homes were washed into the valley. A culvert was blocked, creating a powerful, muddy river that smashed through the home directly across the street from ours.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men — in this case sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, and various county workers — could not subdue Mother Nature. Our neighbor lost her home and the cleanup all around us is no small task.

That a tragedy brings out the best and worst in people was in evidence. Most neighbors acted as good neighbors should, helping in any way possible, wading through mud, muck and water to salvage what was salvageable. Inevitably, though, gawkers showed up, at times clogging our small court of six homes. A few “adults” allowed their children to play barefoot in the river of muck and water as parents took photographs or made home videos.

It was a missed opportunity to teach their children something about decency and good manners. The loss of someone's home and emotional suffering of the owner is not just another “event” and photo opportunity. Even a few giggling "adult" women waded barefoot. Crazier yet, there was shattered glass buried in the muck.

How does any of this fit into a fitness blog? Reporters are taught to look for the local angle. There was a fitness angle even in this.

My son and I went to the firehouse to fill burlap sacks with sand for warding off rushing water. While there, I discovered that swinging a half-filled sack of sand into the back of my pickup is very close to the exercise called the kettlebell swing. I’m serious. When everything dries out, I will fill several sacks at various weights and keep them for swings, cleans, and presses.

“Out of the mud grows the lotus,” according to a Chinese proverb.

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