So I’m sitting inside this world-class, health-care facility when the medical man across the desk decides to compare me to a car.

“You’re not stalling,” Paul VanWiechen says while examining my test results, “but you’re not as efficient as you used to be, either. You can use an oil change.”

Ouch. What a shot to the ego, er, engine. It is time, I figure, to pull over to the side of the road and park. And sulk.


Until, that is, the medical man — an exercise physiologist at Cleveland Clinic Canada — offers me a warranty.

“Do what I’m about to tell you to do for three to four months,” VanWiechen says, “and we should see as much as a 20 per cent improvement in your cardiovascular fitness. You’ll be a relatively new man.

“Don’t misunderstand,” he adds. “You won’t be going on the payroll of any professional team, but you won’t end up in a hospital ward any time soon, either.”

Well, it’s too-bad-so-sad about me not being able to join the pros — what with the megabucks gulped up by free agents on the weekend and all — but then, I suppose that, even in tip-top shape, there really wouldn’t be room on a roster for any middle-aged sports columnist who prefers raisin-bran muffins daily instead of protein shakes. The no-hospital vow is good enough for me, anyway, I figure. I’ll take it.

So, I’ll spare you the details, but I must condition myself to walk on a treadmill at about 3.8 to 4.1 MPH, for 15 to 30 minutes most days of the week, for the next three to four months.

And then, VanWiechen vows, I’ll be paunch-free and will no longer be wasting oxygen.

And what was cool about all this is that VanWiechen was able to assess me in less time than it’d take to have your car analyzed at one of those lube, oil and filter joints.

VanWiechen, see, is equipped with machines, computers and gizmos worth megabucks at this new, state-of-the-art Cleveland Clinic in downtown Toronto. I spent some time with VanWiechen in the exercise-physiology area but the clinic features a who’s-who of experts and specialists in virtually every area, including renowned sports-medicine doctor Tim Rindlisbacher.

Thorough head-to-toe medical programs are available in a high-rise setting that, since opening a few months ago, has attracted a bevy of prominent sports figures, including club executives, agents and athletes.

I’d tell you more, but I’m out of space and, besides, I have to get on the treadmill now.

Do yourself a favour, though, and check out

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