Answer: You get your week’s worth of exercise. (I therefore conclude that my purchase and consumption of half a bag of mini-chocolates is justified. Oh who am I kidding?!)
You start by scanning the 5-mile walking terrain and planning your route.
The idea was to take the tram all the way to the end so that you’d be nearer to your starting point as your legs turned closer to jell-o (Thank you Helene for this suggestion!). But of course, people half your size may have something else in mind; especially because they can read every directional sign posted. “I want to see the elephants now mom! Then the rhinoceros!”, when both species were in two different directions. Suddenly it is 7 miles instead of 5.
It’s also not flat terrain mind you, with lots of mini-hills to push up. I found myself thinking of the hill climbs in spin class, and could hear the songs in my head as I cranked up the weights (Weights = # of children riding at one point in time).
Then there was the finger-dexterity challenge, where you had to feed a giraffe without getting licked by its long tongue. An added degree of difficulty was to hold an infant in one arm and gently nudge the toddler forward with the other (because she was struggling with the desire to feed the giraffe, yet the fear of getting slime on her fingers ). It’s good for leg squats and core balance, I tell you.
And then it’s arm work and endurance. Holding up a total of 47 lbs worth of squirmy weights for at least 10 seconds while catching the elephants in their watering hole.
I tell you – I have not sweat this much in a long time.
The last leg after several pit stops at the Carousel to catch some sort of a breeze, was a walk to see different types of animals found in North America — bears, bisons, impalas, cougars etcetera. It turned out to be a more leisurely stroll, sort of like an active recovery before the second wind hit.
Also, with an infant sleeping in the toddler seat (it was much cooler than the carseat and could recline all the way), there was not much of a choice but to walk-jog the rest of the way. Now this I encourage, even if it slows down the pace — it could make for a potentially good nap in the end!
Finally a cool down (literally) inside the arctic area where the polar bears, seals and puffins reside.
That my friends and fellow mommies, is an intense workout right there. The nice part about it, is that there were a lot of trees and several mist sprinklers along the way to prevent overheating. And it isn’t like any other zoo we’ve been to where the animals are behind bars or in cramped quarters. While I swore I saw a foot spa oasis as we walked back (but alas, it was only a mirage…), it was in fact a nice, long, enjoyable walk back to the car. The 4 Carousel rides in between and the mandatory tram rides were good resting periods. The Dora Adventure — well, how can you not see Dora in 4-D?
Now to gear up for round 2 (As again there is a little persistent 3-year old voice in my ear that says, “I want to go back!”) when the weather gets a tad bit cooler. No need to collapse from heatstroke. Hopefully we still burn enough calories to justify a whole red velvet cake.