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Retail curtails my workout at the mall

Tammy Swift, columnist

When choosing an exercise buddy, it is essential that you select someone entertaining, motivating and — most importantly — aligned to your own personal belief system about exercise.

For instance, when I last had an exercise buddy (in 2005, to be exact), I was careful to recruit a delightful and amusing friend who would not humiliate me in workouts and could be swayed to take the occasional detour through the health club parking lot to go to Dairy Queen instead.

But 12 years have passed. Oddly enough, I have not seen much progress with my standard, rigorous Peanut Buster Parfait Bench Press and Hot Cross Bun Fit.

So when my younger, fitter and much more gung-ho friend, LaWanda, became convinced we should consider mall-walking, I grudgingly agreed.

This would require no expensive monthly memberships, although I suspected I would spend about as much on Orange Julius and chair massages. Even my less-than-toned physique could handle walking — heck, I saw septuagenarians walking the malls all the time. If I picked up a Hickory Farms Holiday Basket for my mother first, I could consider it strength-training.

And, best of all, I would not have to drive to Dairy Queen, as there was a food court right in the middle of my new gymnasium.

I had hoped that LaWanda would be as easy to dissuade from exercising as my previous workout pals had been.

Turns out I grossly underestimated her.

She did not seem to believe any of my excuses — which ranged from diphtheria to a car fire.

Once we actually got to the mall, she proved to be as difficult to distract as ever. She did not appreciate my suggestions that we stop to chat with that nice Army recruiter or that we carbo-load for our workout at the Cinna-Roll Barn.

Nope. No luck. We just walked. Initially, I tried to impress her by walking as quickly as my legs would carry me. She even remarked that I was leaving her in the dust.

But my gazelle-like pace had floundered by the time we reached JCPenney. My knee hurt, and I could feel a sciatic twinge shooting up the back of the other leg. This seemed like an opportune time to stroll over to the luxury shower kiosk and stretch out in the display tub to see if it would adequately accommodate my towering Amazon frame.

That was just the beginning. Our second lap around the mall took at least 25 minutes longer, partly because I needed to stop at the pet store to pet bunnies, watch the Roger Maris movie in the mall museum, order a Diet Coke with lots of ice, buy a GoldenDoodle calendar at a kiosk, stop at LeeAnn Chin's for a sample of Bourbon Chicken and try on frames at LensCrafters.

You call it mall-walking. I call it mall-balking.

It's circuit-training, Tammy-style.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at