Even in my athletic heyday as a teen (multiple baseball teams, singles tennis, pickup basketball) and my resurgence in my mid-20s to early-30s (multiple softball teams, doubles tennis, pick up another six-pack), I never suffered any serious strains or sprains -- a fact I attribute mostly to my notable lack of muscle mass.
Can't hurt it if you don't have it. That's my philosophy.
It's worked pretty well. While I was never the biggest or best player, my reflexes, hand-eye coordination and proper positioning always made up for my lack of strength and helped me through. For example, while I never came close to even three hopping the outfield fence in softball, I could consistently hit line drives up the middle, field several positions pretty well and regularly hit the cutoff man.
Then I hit 34 and -- BAM!
A routine ground ball one day attacked my left eyebrow, requiring 13 stitches.
Bye-bye, reflexes; hello, doom of middle age.
Therefore, I was not too surprised the day my doctor told me that my hips are tight.
"It's normal for most people your age," she said. "You need to stretch that part of your body more often."
Yet this doctor still refused to write a prescription requiring my wife to have more frequent and acrobatic contact with me. This, my fellow Americans, is the sad state of today's U.S. health care system.
Instead, the doctor told me I should consider yoga. When I asked her how a cup of milky bacteria was going to put the motion back in my ocean, she promptly ordered a hearing test. That's another story.
I had always read great things about yoga. Aside from the physical benefits, there is stress reduction, improving one's sense of awareness, the chance to wear pastel leotards -- all the good stuff. Game on.
As I am a bit reclusive, rather than interact with actual live people (or even dead ones as they are notoriously bad getting in or out of Downward Facing Dog), I decided to go the self-help route. I dug through my wife's pile of gently used exercise tapes and DVDs and found one titled "A.M./P.M. Yoga for Beginners." I dutifully waited until a few minutes before noon and turned it on.
This particular tape stars Rodney Yee, who I've since learned is some big-time yoga yogi to the stars, one of whom is Oprah Winfrey.
Had I known this at the start, that would have been my first warning.
Oprah goes through dog trainers and diet gurus like House goes through diagnoses. She has 37 kajillion dollars and none of these people can solve her problems so where does that leave me, a man who still regularly wears a jacket he bought back when The Hooters regularly had Top 40 hits?
Well, let's go to the videotape. (Seriously folks -- videotape! In this day and age! That should have been Warning No. 2.)
The soundtrack is a dreamy New Age love fest of synthesized strings, birdcalls and crashing ocean swells.
And there's Rodney, standing on the pristine sands, shirtless.
The tequila-sunrise sunrise is gleaming off his exceptionally ripped chest and abs. Even his very dated granola-guy ponytail, black, thick and luminous as a fresh puddle of Pennzoil Platinum European 5W-40, has the most awesome muscle tone.
(Swami Rodney, I also learned, dumped his wife then got in the Jackass-Boinks-Strumpet Pose with one of his students. Shoulda been Warning No. 3.)
As I lay down and tried to get in touch with my breathing, I glance up to Rodney for further instruction. There he is, lying in his painted-on Spandex shorts as the breeze caresses the beach and his impossibly sculpted physique and I'm thinking that here, alone on my cement-hard basement floor, that this is possibly one of the most uncomfortable and creepy feelings I've ever had in my life.
And I'm not even in the first pose yet.
Maybe the doctor will reconsider and at least write my wife a fairly persuasive Post-it Note.