Most second birthdays are marked with balloons, cake, party hats, maybe a weird rent-a-clown and the concealed dread that the toddler is entering a famously cantankerous year. Not for us, though.
Aside from our disciplined avoidance of processed sugars and almost unnatural fear of clowns, we have another reason for wanting the Moving Crew's second birthday to be free of traditional narcissistic indulgences: It's time for a fitness assessment of our own, and we need you to conduct it.
When we launched this column and its sister online chat in September 2003, we asked what was working for you in the realm of fitness, what wasn't and, most important, the top obstacles to making regular exercise -- whether that's a daily 20-minute stroll or a grueling three-hour Lance-a-thon on the bike -- a part of your life.
Many of you told us that your top five obstacles were lack of time, time, motivation, support and time. Where, you asked, can fitness squeeze into a day already bursting with pre-dawn wake-up alarms, Cheerios to feed small people, eternal commutes, demanding jobs, all that e-mail, Sisyphean chores around the homestead and annoying social obligations? Not to mention, um, the things you actually like to do?
And, you continued, when I do make it to the gym, sidewalk, pool, court or field, how am I supposed to know what to do, with so much contradictory workout advice fluttering around? And did I mention I'm really busy?
So for the past 24 months, we have served up ideas for quick workouts, varied workouts, fun workouts, solo, group, hard and easy workouts, and provided inspirational tales and the most strenuously vetted science on what works and why.
In our inaugural column, we snuck up on you bearing gym clothes, running shoes and some innocent questions about your workout habits. Since then we've had a flurry of high points (including how to stay fit during pregnancy, a didactic on interval training and our survey on why you hate your gym) and some, well, less stellar performances that provoked worthwhile dissent (dismissing single-set weight lifting as not so beneficial and implying, in an online chat, that bicycling should be considered weight-bearing exercise). But we're pleased with the ratio of fan mail to finger wagging.
But enough about us: Now that we're 2, and now that we've gathered a bigger, more eclectic crowd, we would like to hear your thoughts about this whole enterprise, and what we can do for you.
What are your primary challenges in starting, maintaining and advancing a fitness program? Have those conditions changed over the years? Tell us how you get your exercise and whether you work out regularly. Is your approach working -- that is, do you feel more fit than you did in years past?
And then, all right, back to us: Has The Moving Crew helped you? Scared you in a useful way? If yes, how? What do you think is missing, or lame? New ideas? And what would you like to see in our biweekly online chats?
So: Tell us. (And make it the truth. We know all about the phenomenon of exaggerating one's workout regimen. We have this very good friend who has been known to do it, too).
E-mail responses to: firstname.lastname@example.org; U.S. mail is Washington Post Moving Crew, Health Section, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20071. We're also online today -- to take all your fitness questions, or to hear your thoughts about the above -- at 11 a.m. at www.washingtonpost.com.
All are welcome to send comments, except for clowns. Even if you're a clown in good shape. Especially if you're a clown in good shape. That would scare us even more.
-- John Briley