A recent issue of Esquire contained the oddly compelling story of a man doing the unthinkable: walking, not driving, to the mall. But not just walking a couple of blocks. Walking 60 miles. The author's trek took place on the East Coast. Had he lived out here, he could have saved himself the trouble (not to mention the blisters) and just interviewed Marc Abrams.
Like many people, Abrams, a doctor with a North Hollywood practice in family medicine, walks for relaxation and fitness. He just does it more than most of us: 15 miles each weekday and 25 miles each day on weekends. In his student days, Abrams once walked from Palo Alto to San Francisco (35 miles) and from Oxford to London (about 45 miles).
He also swims half a mile before he walks, swims another half a mile before bed and, somewhere in between, he does 1,000--that's five sets of 200--push-ups. Abrams, 47, has been working out like this for 20 years, without missing a day.
"You only have one body," he explains, "so you may as well take care of it."
With his distinctive loping gait, and a newspaper or magazine--he reads several daily papers and a wide variety of magazines, including American Heritage and Archeology--clutched in one hand, a small radio tuned to one of the classical stations--he's an opera fanatic--in the other, Abrams is a familiar sight day and night on his route. He lives in the Silver Lake hills, and walks from Echo Park to Hollywood.
Oddly, no sporting goods company has yet discovered him and decked him out with shoes and logo to wear.
"I wear whatever my wife finds on sale," he says, looking down at his battered Asics, one of four pairs he'll demolish in the course of the year, putting as many miles on them--nearly 7,000--as on his Acura.
Abrams grew up in a small apartment in south Philadelphia, where he had to go outside for fresh air and open space. He always exercised, playing football in high school and college. Not bad, he says, "for a short, underweight Jewish kid from Philadelphia."
The only time he was out of shape was his first year in medical school at Stanford, when he gained 25 pounds. Today, he's 5 feet, 10 inches and 150 pounds, with a resting pulse of 40, and 2% body fat, a fraction of the 15%-20% average.
"Do I watch what I eat?" he jokes. "Yes, I watch it as I put it on my knife and fork."
He's able to consume virtually limitless pizzas, cookies, cakes, milkshakes and chocolate, averaging 4,000 calories a day, and up to as much as 6,000 calories on weekends, without adding weight to his ultra-lean frame.
Abrams walks year-round, in any and all weather, though a little less in pouring rain.
"I'm crazy," he says, "but not a lunatic."