Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Activities Offer Ticket To Full Life

“Even when he was driving freighters for 30 years across the Great Lakes, Jim Murnane wouldn't sit idle. ‘I had a stationary bike in the pilot house,’ he said. Whether the vessels under his command had iron ore, coal, limestone, salt or sand, Murnane looked forward to sailing on open waters, when shipmates could take a turn at the wheel. Jim Murnane, 74 of Myrtle Beach plays racquetball three days a week and takes yoga classes two days a week at Kingston Plantation Health and Sport Club. ‘I might as well be sitting on a bike instead of standing there doing nothing,’ he said. ‘Once you're on the lake, there's nothing to do.’ Whenever he pulled into a port, he'd find somewhere to play racquetball or golf, often with the ship's crew. Nearing his 75th birthday next week, Murnane has spent his almost 25 years of retirement on the go but on solid ground. ‘He wants to keep going all the time,’ said Jo Penney, his girlfriend for two decades and one-time competitive racquetball doubles partner until tearing a rotator cuff. She laughed, noting his frequent requests to join him for a walk around the block. ‘If you've been active all your life, you're in a lot better shape when you're older,’ Murnane said. ‘It's just natural, I think.’ Besides playing racquetball three times a week at Kingston Plantation Health & Sport Club in Myrtle Beach, he takes a yoga class weekly and plays golf occasionally. Murnane treats yoga as his ticket to continue his love for racquetball. ‘It does make a difference,’ he said. ‘It's stretching.’ He views walking as great exercise, but places greater value on yoga. For any older person venturing into yoga, he advises not to get discouraged early on, such as how some body part hurts or that a person can't reach the floor with his or her hands. ‘If you're out of shape, you build up to it,’ Murnane said. ‘It's lubricating the joints.’ A New Hampshire native, he played tennis in high school, but after trying racquetball 40 years ago, he was hooked on the latter. A hip replacement earlier this decade took him off the court for two years, but a doctor's recommendation to play only doubles tennis didn't deter him from his chosen game. Murnane likes the socialization from every two-hour racquetball workout. Larry Church, a 34-year-old trainer at the health club, said he's dabbled in the sport and witnessed Murnane's intensity whacking a blue ball. ‘If I got out there on the court with him, he'd crush me and feel good doing it,’ Church said. Murnane's fitness regimen at his age and his rapport at the club impress Church. ‘He's so steady and consistent, which is 90 percent of the battle,’ Church said.”

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