The words in the headline, belong, of course, to George Constanza, in the Seinfeld episode known as “The Marine Biologist.”
When I take my daily walk along the East River, I channel my inner Seinfeld, the quintessential New York City sitcom. Because a stroll along the water is a classic New York experience.
And we all crave having experiences in these crushing COVID days.
The Power of the Water
I recommend taking long walks – anywhere in town, but especially facing a body of water. It’s calming, stimulating and pleasing. The sea can do that for us, you know?
Oh, sure. I love Central Park as much as the next city resident (or dare I say it, tourist!). But I’ll take the East River any time.
I tend to start after I cross the street at Avenue C and East 20th Street. Then I head downtown, staying clear of the obsessive power walkers and, especially, very annoying (and dangerous) bike riders, who are too lazy or haughty to walk their bicycles when the path narrows dramatically.
It’s roughly a mile from the beginning of my jaunt to the running/walking track, which is one-quarter of a mile around. This place is a trip! I regularly see soccer players scrimmaging in the center of the track area, weekend warriors getting in their laps and the occasional loony who gets a kick out of walking backward and checking out the scornful looks of the ordinary joggers.
I usually keep on going and head south, toward the South Street Seaport area. As someone who tries hard to reach a goal of walking 11.1 miles each time, I do this, it’s comforting to get all the way downtown – roughly three miles from my original point.
This means, of course, that I’ll be adding another three miles on my walk back to my apartment.
On to Chinatown!
It would be sad for me not to take advantage of the rewards beyond the breathtaking scenery. I sometimes head over to Chinatown and eat lunch at one of the restaurants along Mott Street that is still – thank heavens! – in business.
I know what you’re thinking – doesn’t it sort of defeat the purpose of straining to get in shape if I gorge myself on dumplings? (Let’s leave that issue for another day, OK?).
These are tough times. Like you, I’ve been cooped up in my apartment watching sporting events I don’t care about and old movies that I’ve seen seemingly a thousand times (“Goodfellas,” anyone! You, too?).
Getting to the great outdoors is a treat. It’s also a reminder of how beautiful our city is – and always will be. My walking path is remarkably people friendly. There are benches every few feet – and even tables seating four people for anyone who wants to write a screenplay or a doctoral thesis or play a game of bridge.
One big advantage to going on long walks to stay in shape is the privacy that it offers. I’m obsessed with being smart – wearing a face mask, maintaining six-to-eight feet of distance from other folks and avoiding crowds in general.
If you go back to your neighborhood gym for the cardio classes or the weight machines, you’re taking a risk. Even if you are A-OK, can you assuredly say the same with the people sweating nearby?
But walking is a smart idea. It offers the best of both worlds. You can stand apart from anybody else and still get yourself into good condition. You can’t ask for more than that.
Give the walking a try. Congratulate yourself for feeling centered and stronger and happier. And safer!
You can thank me later.