Sheltered Islander: Cheap and Easy Cardio Workouts

Cardio is free on Shelter Island!
Cardio is free on Shelter Island! Photo: Ruslan Huzau/123RF

First, the traditional method of jogging is best. Right now is perfect jogging weather. Cool enough, still, that you won’t melt, and the trees are in their new, green glory. Plus everyone gets to see you jogging. This impresses people. If you’re a jogging man, people think you have wonderful self-discipline. If you’re a jogging woman, men mentally add you to, or remove you from, their list of potential women to pursue. When women see other women jogging, we have three thoughts:

1. Motive evaluation: If you’re jogging in a smart little outfit with jewelry and makeup, we know you’re jogging by the house of the man you want to notice you. If you’re jogging in a sloppy outfit, we know you had a fitness moment that will pass as soon as you crawl up the steps to your house.

2. Isn’t there a bra anywhere on earth that can restrain jogging breasts? What does it take? Straps with the tensile strength of the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge?

3. We ask ourselves, “How did she find the time to jog? Are her kids at school? Are her chores done? No man to take care of?” (My grandmother always said that a man counts for two children.) Does she have a maid? Did she—perish the thought—deliberately take time for herself? Did she put her own cardiovascular health ahead of vacuuming or laundry? Say it ain’t so…

There are many highly effective ways of increasing your heart rate on Shelter Island that are free (and no cute outfit required).

Try this: Jog down New York Avenue with one, or both eyes closed. There are a number of giant old trees with roots that lift the road here and there. After traveling 5 to 15 seconds with your eyes closed, your heart rate will be high enough to qualify for a medical stress test.

We’ve all had this moment: There’s a dump truck full of gravel on the ferry. The ferrymen signals him forward just enough to fit one more car, your car. I’ve pulled over and signaled the car behind me to take my place and they have wisely refused. So I get on the boat, which is riding very low in the water because of the multi-ton truck ahead of me. My heart beats like a hammer for the next 10 minutes. Every wave lifts the boat and shifts the gravel on the truck and handfuls of gravel drop on my car. When the truck drives off, the whole ferry bounces up about 10 feet and all the remaining cars shift together and kiss bumpers. I’ve often thought the ferry owners are missing an income opportunity here. If they sold Xanax with ferry tickets, they’d clean up whenever I had to share the boat with a big truck.

Another fun and cheap way to get a cardio workout in the summertime is to plant your blanket and beach stuff just a few feet from the water, without checking to see if the tide is coming in or going out. Then go swimming with the kids. When you see the water getting too close to your blanket you know you’ll never make it in time to save your stuff. However, if you do nothing, the outgoing tide will eventually deliver all your things to you, albeit soaking and ruined.

If you’re on Shelter Island, because we love looking after each other, somewhere two mothers will see what’s about to happen, jump up and go over to your blanket, grab the edges and pull it up to safety. I know this is true because I was out in the water, not having checked the tide, and watched in horror as my lovely Hawaiian quilt was about to be floated out to me when two unknown angels grabbed the blanket with the sandwiches and the Coca-Colas and hauled it to safety. During those few moments before my rescuers came, I couldn’t move: Do I leave the kids in the water unsupervised to grab lunch? It seems like an easy decision: I should stay with my small children. But it wasn’t, considering the basket on the blanket contained excellent New York cheesecake…

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