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Russian folk dancers on water-jet skateboards. Where’s that video?


Noel Renee Rutledge demonstrates the “Cossack squats” that help her high school volleyball team stay in shape during the offseason.


Mark Rutledge

Saturday, January 27, 2018

My friend Chuck Hall recently posted on social media a video of someone riding above the ocean on something that looks like a water-powered jet-pack skateboard.

“I'm doing this before I die,” Chuck had written next to the video.

My comment: “I'm not doing this, so that I might go on living.”

Chuck is just the type of guy who might actually jet-propel his upper-50s body high above the waves and get away with it.

A stunt like that would almost certainly snap my spine like a twig.

It's not that I'm out of shape or otherwise unhealthy. I have jogged and worked out for most of my adult life. For my 50th birthday, my wife gave me the Beachbody P90X workout series. Portions of those workouts still help convince her to stay married to me.

But despite my accomplishments with physical fitness, I can still injure my tender back taking a nap.

The fragility of my fitness has hit home during the past few weeks. One injury after another has challenged my ability to stick with the usual exercise routine. It all started when I tried performing a warm-up exercise for Russian folk dancers.

Noel Renee, my 6-foot-1 volleyball player, demonstrated the “Cossack squats” — which apparently do not require accordion music. It’s an exercise that helps her high school volleyball team stay in shape during the offseason.

Keeping her feet on the floor, she moves from side to side, shifting her weight from one leg to the other. The extended leg goes to a toes-up position as the other leg bends at the knee until that foot is resting flat on the floor.

I made it halfway to completing the first side-to-side rotation before my right knee vigorously objected. For weeks, the knee kept insisting that I might never jog again.

During the downtime, I thought of my former coworker and encourager at The Daily Reflector, the late Alvin Taylor. He had retired as editor but still helped out with the editorial page.

Alvin's generous nature and distinctive eastern North Carolina accent made it enjoyable just listening to him talk. He was tall, like me, and still jogged in his 70s, which provided a steady source of conversation between us.

I once shared with Alvin that a dull pain in one leg was hindering my jogging. He smiled dismissively and said, “Oh, I guess something hurts somewhere every time I go out.”

I stopped telling Alvin about my occasional aches and pains. Now, I think I might have advanced to his “seasoned-jogger” status. The recent knee pain has moved into my lower back, and a shoulder is expressing doubts about continuing its support for certain movements in that arm.

As for my friend Chuck, I think he got a better batch of DNA than Alvin and I did. Chuck is a grandfather who spends most of the year in Hawaii — working construction and riding his mountain bike. Through the magic of social media, some of us from the old neighborhood get to ride vicariously on his handlebars along gorgeous island bluffs that look down at the crashing blue Pacific waves.

Chuck’s a tough old bird, but that flying water-jet-skateboard thing worries me. I don’t think he should try it until he can Russian folk dance with a girls volleyball team.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.