Six months after
joining the Activity Center, Reuben had stopped smoking, gained 16 pounds and
about decided that he was involved in an unwinnable conflict of values. "I
love fine food, society, the theater," he says. "There is a line from
Mame, 'Life is a banquet and most poor SOBs are starving to death.' And I'll
tell you I am just not too concerned about heart attacks. I'm happy for those
who seem to take so much satisfaction from avoiding them, and I surely won't
pressure them into accepting my manner of life."
He falls silent,
watching the wind ruffle the surface of the pool. Then he says, "If we have
only so much time and we prolong it only through enduring unpleasantness, why
bother to add the unpleasantness?"
Dr. Martin walks
out from the clinic in an agitated state. He has discovered a huge, possibly
fatal, colon cancer in one of his routine examinations. "The man's
internist has been treating him for hypertension for four months." He says
nothing further, but that doctor's culpability hangs in the air like chlorine
over the pool. "It happens," says Reuben in a tone of forgiveness.
A member of the
Center describes Martinez' participation this way: "Ole Reuben's just got
his line in the water; he hasn't got any fish yet." The question remains,
will he ever?
hardest thing, always, for the motivator," says Russ Harris, "deciding
when to ease off. When do you give up on someone? When do you go at it again,
harder, harder? I wonder what good I'm doing this man. It scares me."
people just not exercise?
"Eight or 10
years ago I'd have said no," Harris replies. "Now...." He turns in
his chair to face the wall.
But caution is
difficult for an evangelist. "Ken Cooper feels this is his mission,"
says his vivacious wife Millie. "He'd have built this Center in the face of
threats to his life, and I'm with him totally [indeed, she has authored, with
Ken's help, a sprightly work of encouragement, Aerobics for Women]. We are
missionary-minded. Even if people don't want it, we'll never stop trying to win
them to Christ, and it's the same in our work. All you can hope for. when
questions come up like this, is that the end justifies the means."
religious analogy so welcomed by Cooper in fact holds. He can no more imagine a
single human living satisfactorily without aerobics exercise than he can one
living without God. Upon both questions academicians still debate, but the
masses have long since chosen their positions. In the upper-middle-class
aerobics belt, doubters shall have no peace.