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Kawhi Life: Climbing to the top in the new year

It’s a new year, but will it be a new Kawhi? What mountaintops are left to climb in Toronto as we head into 2019? We have some very literal ideas.

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NBA: Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard is a Toronto Raptor — for at least one year. While the team’s on-court success has its part to play, we’ve decided to do our part in selling the city to the Klaw. Each week we’re talking Toronto, and letting Kawhi know what his life could be like here.

This Week in Toronto

So it’s the new year, 2019, bright and shiny and presenting us all with a fresh, blank calendar on which to begin our resolutions. If you, like me, have already failed on that front (e.g. I’m eating a cookie as I type this), take heed: it’s a long year and there’s still plenty of time to make good. (Now, put down that gotdamn cookie.)

To that end, the most obvious and by now most well-known resolution is of course: going to the gym. Come every January 1st (or, OK, 2nd, once the hangover wears off), Toronto’s gyms are typically filled with people attempting to whip themselves into shape. The lineups for the treadmill grow, the sounds emanating from the squat rack rise in desperation, and let’s not even get started on trying to track down that errant pair of dumbbells. It’s a mess, is my point.

(This is even true if you, like me, happen to live in a building that has its own gym. Not paying a membership fee — I mean, outside of rent or condo fees — will decidedly not save you from having to deal with the sudden influx of people who have discovered the desire to exercise. And if your in-building gym, like mine, happens to be the approximate size of a decent-sized meat locker, the effect of everyone else’s New Year’s resolutions is enough to turn you off the whole exercising idea for good. But I digress!)

A humble suggestion of something different: climbing gyms! Think on it. A person can get the full-body work out they desire, but avoid (I presume) the sudden mad crush of people trying to get more typical gym-based exercise. Plus there’s the built-in fun of having a more tangible goal to achieve (reaching the top!) versus just finishing a set of ten to fifteen consecutive movements (which will presumably sculpt the body you’ve always wanted, or whatever). Add in a mix of different walls to climb — and alternative modes like bouldering — and you’ve got yourself a whole new arena of activity to explore.

Now, the more perceptive of you may have noticed my use of a presumptive parenthetical in the previous paragraph. This is because, full disclosure, I’ve never actually been to a climbing gym. Oh, sure, I’ve walked by one — the relatively new Basecamp Climbing, in my neighbourhood, built inside a former adult movie theatre — on my way to somewhere else; I’ve glimpsed one from a car window — the Rock Oasis in the east end — as I cruised on to a different location. I’ve even heard people tell me about how good such and such a place is, e.g. the Toronto Climbing Academy — which really does sound very official and prestigious — before studiously changing the subject.

So, we arrive at an impasse. Fortunately, this one seems quite surmountable. All I have to do is resolve to show up at a climbing gym, learn how to use the equipment, and then put my body to work scaling the obstacles put before it. How hard could all that be? It even works as a metaphor! The upside here is endless. Let’s call it now: 2019 is the year we make climbing gyms the thing.

But let’s start in February, you know, to let the new year buzz die down a little bit.

(OK, maybe March?)

Should Kawhi Care?

Well, no.

(But then again, some of us have noticed Kawhi disappearing post-game — after stolidly engaging in his media responsibilities (most of the time) — to do what many of us would assume is the unthinkable: lift weights immediately after playing in an NBA game at an extremely high level. Per Blake Murphy, spelling it out for The Athletic:

After the game, Leonard did what he normally does, whether he scores 15 or 25 or 45: He went upstairs at Scotiabank Arena and worked out some more. Forty-five points, 35 minutes and a win were not enough. The body is already warmed up and the science suggests that within the rigors of the NBA schedule, postgame is as good a time as any to get a lift in.

This a man who could maybe use a fun way to work out in 2019.)