The hard part is fitting in fitness


April 25, 1999|By Nancy Menefee Jackson | Nancy Menefee Jackson,Special to the Sun

For Chuck Schumacher, 33, heading to the baseball diamond in early spring is a habit. He's been doing it since he was 8.

But unlike a lot of grown-ups, Schumacher didn't switch to softball as he aged. He still plays baseball, albeit in an over-30 rec league. "I just happened to see an ad in the paper about the league," the Crofton resident says.

A lifelong athlete who played football, basketball and baseball through high school, Schumacher finds that in his 30s the challenge isn't staying fit, it's fitting it in. Between his job as a sales representative and the fact that he and his wife are expecting their first child in October, his playing time is limited.

He still plays basketball at least twice a week in the winter, but he has substituted golf for football, and he is hooked.

"They say hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things because it moves and all that," he says. "But to me hitting a golf ball straight is more difficult."

Schumacher has tried jogging and lifting weights, but in the end, he prefers to stay in shape by competing. "It's challenging," he says. "I like the camaraderie of competing against other guys with other people."

Some weeks, he says, he'll play two baseball games, each lasting three hours, and then fit in a round of golf.

He planned to golf a lot this year -- to get it out of his system before the baby arrives -- but he's off to a slow start, due to a broken thumb with a bone chip. The injury doesn't keep him from coaching his baseball team. Still, he hopes to be gripping a bat and a 5-iron within a few weeks.

To enable his body to make the same moves he did as a kid, Schumacher, who plays center field and pitches, is religious about stretching before every game. He sits down, legs spread, and stretches his inner leg muscles, and then does straight-legged stretches to work his hamstrings. He also runs before and after every game. At home, he uses a step machine to keep his legs strong.

Schumacher avoids fried foods and salts, and tries to eat a balanced diet. But he counts hours, not calories, trying to squeeze in the competitive sports that he loves.

"Some days," he says, laughing, "I'll play golf on Saturday and baseball on Sunday, and then the wife's wondering if you're ever going to be home."

Pub Date: 04/25/99

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