The month of December means many things to many people, but often a season of excesses – excesses of stress, holiday parties, food, drink, spending, and perhaps more significantly, scurrying to end one year well, personally and professionally, while preparing for the start of the next.

It is often a challenge to prioritize, to keep values in order and to maintain one’s sense of humor by not taking oneself too seriously.

A reminder of Christmas playfulness.  Photo taken at Shelburne Museum 2014.

A reminder of Christmas playfulness. Photo taken at Shelburne Museum 2014.

In that spirit, I share with you what has become an annual tradition – the writing of a holiday poem gifted to me from the wonderful athletes I train at BCBS of Vermont.  These folks are burdened with bucket-loads of work and stress yet diligently and with good humor take time several days per week to exercise during their lunch break.  (Kudos to BCBS for providing this opportunity for them!) I love this poem because it is funny, irreverent and yet captures the energy and enthusiasm of each. These people “get it”.  They “get” that cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and just plain choosing to be active is what daily life should be. They, in turn, are reaping the personal benefits while their employer reaps the benefits of employee loyalty and performance.

Take a few minutes to sit back and enjoy this year’s offering.  Picture a group of men and women dressed in athletic attire sweating it out in a dedicated studio space in which a collection of free weights, stability balls, jump ropes, medicine balls, ladders, foam rollers and the like reside. Periodically I schlep in my large bags of “toys” – Bosu trainers, wobble board, rocker board, dyna bands, dyna discs, cones, tubing, agility dots, slides, and a collection of balls.  Woohoo! Sometimes we meet outdoors and sometimes we take to the halls for lunges, skips and jogs. But, throughout all there floats the sound of “c’mon, you can do it,” and “good job” as camaraderie is articulated.  And of course there’s my “Are we having fun yet?!”

A Visit from Elf Freeman

 Twas the week before Christmas and all through the gym Everyone was moaning and groaning, “Oh, let the fun begin”…

The mats and the weights were distributed with care; And we hoped that we weren’t in for a tortured affair.

 The victims were scattered all over the room; Thoughts of caterpillars and side planks still loomed

While visions of lunges and wall sits danced in their heads, Taylor said loudly, “I’d rather be sleeping in my bed”

 When inside the gym there arose such a clatter, We sprang from the mats to see                    what was the matter.

Away to the doorway we flew like a flash, Like when Linda gave orders to make a mad dash

 The weight of the weights in our newly gripped hands, Gave a luster of sweat to the tightly stretched bands

When what to our wondering eyes should appear, Is a red haired lady with all of her gear

 She’s a little slave driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment I was going to be sick

More rapid than eagles the stretches she gave; And she whistled and shouted                           and called us by name

 Julie and Renee and Janet and Will, Get on one leg and only stand still!

Susan and Holly and Lisa and Tom, Touch your left knee to your right palm!

 Run then walk, now walk then run, She asked with a smile, “Are we having fun?”

To the top of the Bosu to the end of the hall, Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!

 Stop and go the other way she proclaimed,We could all feel our quads going up in flames!

Back to the mats with post and with haste For some more exercise at a fast pace!

 More pushups, more sit-ups and more rotation too, It was not time to bid Linda adieu!

Hoping and praying that the torture would soon end, Tom knew he couldn’t do one more bend!

One by one we glance at the clock, And each of us can only gawk!

For it is 1:30 and it’s not through; There was at least 10 more minutes and we all knew.

 Our droll little bodies drawn up like a bow, And the flab of our chins were as white as the snow

The stump of our legs held our bodies beneath, And the steam it encircled our heads like a wreath

 She was bubbly and happy a right jolly ole elf, And she laughed when she saw us                        in spite of herself!

But I heard her exclaim, ere she drove out of sight—

                                      “What a great workout today, you’ll feel it tonight!!!!”

Seasons Greetings and Peace to All.

Seasons Greetings and Peace to All.