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Notes on the Valley: Finding ways to stay active

A loss in a recent recreational game of basketball made blogger Monith Ilavarasan reflect on how he has challenged himself to stay active amid the COVID-19 pandemic
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I recently went to go shoot some hoops at Fallon park with a few friends. Although none of us were ever on a high school or college basketball team, we had been playing pickup games since high school.

As kids we would meet at Amaral or Nielsen Park every Friday to play games with all the people who lived nearby until the sun went down.

I’d like to say we won more than we lost but luckily there’s no scorekeeper who could fact check that claim.

At our recent Fallon visit a group of high schoolers asked if we would be interested in playing a game. We looked at each other and thought -- sure, why not? We could use a light warmup.

It had been over two years since we had played an actual pickup game and an easy win over a bunch of high schoolers was just what we needed to get back into the groove.

They destroyed us.

Immediately after we asked for a rematch and it was somehow even less close. We were completely exhausted and I had never felt so sore in my life. We went home, had some drinks, and talked about the good old times when we could be more competitive.

As I’m getting older I’ve been wondering how to keep in shape. The pandemic definitely played a part as it completely stopped my ability to go to the gym or play team sports. It did spur my partner and I to go on much more hikes around the Bay Area on weekends which I was thankful for. However, the lack of consistent, intense activity on a daily basis has taken its toll.

I’m at the stage in my life where I no longer have aspirations of becoming a professional athlete. However, I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate a routine in my schedule that allows me to stay in shape.

For me, the most consistent thing I’ve found is going on walks. Everyday my partner and I challenge each other to have one “outside”.

Since we both work indoors, this pushes us to make sure that we spend a portion of our day walking outside and breathing in the fresh air.

We make it a point to walk to our nearest grocery store in order to get our daily groceries, and to do as many other errands on foot as we possibly can. This means we have to allocate more time to everyday errands, but it forces us to be active.

Other than that, I’ve tried to take up a practice of doing body weight exercises inside our apartment. We live in a small one bedroom, but I’ve carved out a portion of our living room for pushups and our bedroom doorway for pull-ups.

They don’t make up for what’s available at a nearby gym, but they do make me feel like I’m at least maintaining some baseline level of fitness.

As Covid restrictions recede into the background I’m looking to once again get back into going to the gym regularly and playing team sports like I once did. Maybe one day I’ll get back to my former glory days and take on those high schoolers again.

Editor's Note: The "Notes on the Valley" blog is written by Monith Ilavarasan, who grew up in Pleasanton. After a career in tech, he took a sabbatical to be a community organizer. He has continued to work in tech and shares his thoughts on the people, places and events that make up and shape the Tri-Valley.

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