Column: Who should get gym time as Richmond starts to re-open?

Long, long ago, before the Time When Time Stood Still, I explained in this space that I had become a gym rat, hitting the treadmill at least three times a week.

Well, that was in January, and I was writing at the Richmond News office on Ackroyd Road.

Now, it’s the Month of Eternity in the Year of the Pandemic, and I write from my home office, and the community centre I was frequenting has been shuttered for months.

After pouting for a few weeks at the beginning of the shutdown, I decided the trails around my home would become my new treadmill and I started going on daily, then twice daily, walks ­— later adding a bit of running. Now I walk/run 50/50 at least twice a day.

Add to that, long walks on the weekend – this Saturday was a five-kilometre walk to a bakery in the rain — and five kilometres home.

A few weeks ago, I was going stir crazy and walked 12 kilometres from downtown Vancouver to my home in South Vancouver: three and a half hours. Except for a slight ache in my hip, I bounced back and was back to my walk/run the next day.

My ability to walk and run as much as I do is wholly due to the fact that I am blessed with very good health and strong legs and bones.

Not everyone is so lucky and I am grateful every day for my health (and my good mental health ­— not to be taken granted for — ever!).

But now that municipalities are looking to slowly open up public facilities again in some limited capacity, we need to focus on who needs them the most.

My sister normally swims several times a week for therapeutic reasons. It’s the only exercise that her body tolerates. With pools closed already for two months, she has had a sharp increase in pain. She needs to get back to the pool.

And I am sure there are hundreds of other people like my sister who have physical disabilities or mobility issues, especially seniors, who need our recreation facilities much more than me.

I can keep running through the trails forever ­— well, you know, until I die. But there are many people who can’t run, can’t walk, can’t move with the same ease as the rest of us able-bodied folks.

If I were making the decisions at city hall — ooh, wouldn’t that be interesting — I would insist that recreation facilities are made available first for those who actually need the exercise equipment to keep them healthy and out of pain. People who need it the most should be the top priority.

We will most likely have restrictions on how many people can enter facilities at a time to ensure physical distancing for some time. I am worried those precious spaces will be filled with able-bodied people and those who really need it will be shut out.

I am staying on the trails.

Let those who really need it become the gym rats in the Year of the Pandemic.

© Richmond News