There was a time when I could be counted on to spend five hours a week at the gym — the "gym" being my garage or the dirt road north of town. I don't have the temperament for a public gym. And now that I'm in my 40s, I no longer have the temperament for five hours of this and that.
When I was a 16-year-old yoot, I would occasionally head downtown with some friends to Winnipeg's YMCA to make some ruckus in the weight room. One evening a middle-aged gent showed up, did a few warm-up exercises, then stood in front of one of the mirrors and performed 20 minutes of what was then referred to as "calisthenics." (The Canadian Armed Forces had a routine that my father(!) adhered to, called 5BX.)
One middle-aged guy in decent shape performing a 20-year-old fitness routine, while my buddies and I (each of us weighing in at 145 lbs, dripping wet) were doing our utmost to swell up to Franco Columbo proportions. He comes to mind because now I'm a middle-aged guy, sticking to a light weight routine I was taught in high school: five upper-body exercises (curls, reverse curls, upright row, shoulder press, push-ups). Back in the day, the idea was to perform five sets of 12 reps using a light barbell (I don't think I ever did more than 40 lbs) within seven and a half minutes. When I was a 16-year-old lad that wasn't impossible, but at 42 I'm inclined to stretch that to the 20-minute mark.
There was a routine for the legs, too. I can't recall it exactly, but it seemed rather Soviet in design — lots of jumping and hopping on one leg. Rather than tempt cardiovascular seizure, I'll finish the work-out with a brisk walk. The idea isn't so much to build a bod for the beach as it is to keep limber enough so that a day of raking the lawn doesn't cripple me for the next two weeks, while adhering to a regime that doesn't take up more than two hours a week.
Of course, any fitness expert could take one look at my routine and point out a dozen blind spots. I could point out a few, myself: there's not much there for the back, for instance. I tried doing some chin-ups the other day, and quickly realized my arms were up to the task, but the back-end of my shoulders (the "lats") were not. But it's a flexible platform. A few tweaks to it, and I'm sure I'll be doing what this guy does before the summer is over. Or not.