Jim Kampman has belonged to the YMCA since it opened in Monroe.
It was a great place to sit in a hot tub. He kept meaning to exercise, but never was able to sustain any of his programs.
Then he got bad news from his doctor, and he decided to exercise in earnest.
Last Saturday, thanks to a program called Couch to 5K and he entered the YMCA Run for a Cause 5K race, his first race ever.
“I am a very lazy man,” said Kampman last week. “All I ever did was sit in the hot tub. Everybody knows that. But then I got the news, ‘you get your body moving, or we’ll move your body for you.’”
He learned that he had a serious medical condition that required he change his sedentary lifestyle.
“It was like anything in life,” he said. “You deal with it, or it deals with you. It wasn’t a choice. So I had to overcome my significant disdain for exercise.”
Just about then, he got a mass email from one of the YMCA’s personal trainers, offering to help people who needed some help getting their exercise routine together.
“I came in and talked to this lady and I told her my tale of woe, and how I sat in the hot tub and how I sabotaged myself,” said Kampman.
He’d had a lifelong pattern of starting an exercise, overdoing it, injuring himself and giving up.
“I am probably the only man in the world who took a yoga class and hurt himself,” he said ruefully. “I hurt myself in yoga, in the weight room, even in water aerobics. The lifeguards came up and said, ‘You should leave the pool, you’re a danger to yourself.’ I sabotaged myself so I could sit in the hot tub.”
The personal trainer listened, then suggested that Kampman get into the Couch to 5K program, which she said was a gentle, easy, step-by-step program.
“I said I thought I could do that and she said she wanted me to enter this race,” said the man, who teaches performance art at an area community college.
Kampman at first resisted, saying he wasn’t going to enter anything he didn’t think he could win, and the trainer looked him in the eye and told him outright he wouldn’t win it. But he would finish.
Robbed of the opportunity to sabotage himself by overdoing it, Kampman undertook the training about ten weeks ago, beginning with walking for five minutes, then walking faster for two minutes.
“You could probably read the newspaper and do this,” said Kampman.
He tried to sabotage himself a few more times, but his trainer kept him on course.
Then he joined the running club of YMCA coach Tania Price.
“I don’t run,” he said. “It’s like a walk on caffeine.” Price, however, didn’t point out his weaknesses, he said. Rather, she focused on his strengths. The encouragement kept him going, he said.
“That’s why I believe in the Y,” he said. “They are highly qualified, skilled people who could be doing other things, but they want to help people change their lives.”
The program definitely changed Kampman’s life for the better, said coach Tania Price.
“I think it’s fascinating,” she said. “He does a little bit more each time, and he’s seeing significant changes in his physiology.”
As he thought about the upcoming 5K, his expectations were realistic, Kampman said last week.
“I’ll push myself until my body says to chill,” he said. “But I’ll finish.”