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    He Ain't Heavy

    Exercising with kids.

    A Gym Is Where You Find It continued...

    The only problem with this kind of workout is that some of the other parents tend to cast suspicious looks over their take-out coffees. Fortunately, the kids remain unfazed. As I did my dips recently, two youngsters came over to inquire. My explanation sounded shaky. But they soon joined in, and I found myself competing for the toadstools.

    In fact, the possibilities are practically endless as long as you are willing to experiment -- and to adjust your goals a bit. "Fitness does not need to be counted in sets and reps," says Elizabeth Trindade, who has conducted "Strollercize" classes in New York's Central Park since 1993. "I personally believe that once you have children, the days of perfect fitness are over. That life is gone. This is the new one."

    It's never easy to start a new life. I admit it would be nice to break away for solitary, carefree runs once in a while -- to experience an occasional 30 or 45 minutes of blessed irresponsibility. But having children, after all, is a lesson in compromises.

    In fact, after implementing the experts' suggestions over the course of a few weeks, I felt pretty darned strong. True, I won't be running any marathons any time soon. But at least my kids can't lift themselves up by my love handles.

    Phil Barber is a writer based in Calistoga, Calif.

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