What an adventure with the eldest grandkid and his dad! The family lives in France, just a short TGV “very fast train” trip to the French Riviera – but not the snazzy, glitzy spot you might expect.
My son planned a hiking and exploring vacation in and around the area of the Cassis, an informal and welcoming port city, swarming with families. We filled 3 days outdoors, hiking, playing along the waterfront, outdoor lunches and dinners, and even a bit of rowing in 3 great days. We loved experiencing a new and beautiful place, but best of all was the relaxed rhythm of our time together.
We were prepared for a daily quad and glute burn. As we drove weaving through the city searching for our Airbnb we passed people walking, running, bodies slanted forward up the steep, narrow streets, riding bikes, pedal powered, and e-bikes (the grade was 10% or more everywhere), and we all agreed that being a resident of Cassis would certainly keep you strong and fit. and we were ready for those hills!
A 7 mile hike on the first day sure took care of jet lag. There’s nothing like a good workout to reset your internal clock. The Calanques National Park cliffs look like massive dribble castles, the terrain is all rocks and boulders, unbelievable unrestricted views, and sheer drops – my vertigo kicked in again and again watching people leaning over the unfenced edges looking down to azure coves below. I repeatedly yanked my fearless son and grandson back from the precipices. Besides my heart racing in fear, we admitted that our legs were wobbly at the end. Michael said it felt like we did a million lunges!
Families, kids, and and teenagers were everywhere scrambling over rocks, up and down the challenging trails. On another hike in Park Mugel, in the neighboring port town of La Ciotat, also part of the Calanques, the views were amazing, and people sat on the edges of walls hundreds of feet above the sea below, once again triggering my vertigo. It is certainly the case that the parks we visited have a more open feel than parks in the US – scary but also wonderful.
Michael and I were among the minority of older hikers in the parks and in the cities. But thanks to training – all those squats, lunges and RDLs, we were up for everything. We even found a rowing race one morning, where my grandson and I were allowed to row on the ergs which were set up for the racers to warm up.
Strength training and aerobic exercise a few times a week is associated with lower risk of death from all causes. But that’s not really the upfront reason that we train.
The best result of strength training and aerobic exercise is the ability to spend this kind of quality time with kids and grandkids. We’re in it for the long game!