It was nearly a year ago that certified personal trainer Marcia Adair of Martinez heard a rare public presentation by Mrs. Claus, but the memory is still strong.
"She struck me as very knowledgeable and compassionate, very patient with her husband-client," said Adair, adding how impressed she was with the teaching ability Mrs. Claus shared with her fellow personal trainers.
Studiously avoiding an answer to questions about her first name - Mrs. Claus says she values her privacy, and prefers to keep the spotlight on Santa - the wife of the jolly old elf is more than just a background figure in the legend's household.
In fact, if it weren't for Mrs. Claus, Santa's rounds may have ended years ago.
"He lets his weight creep up on him," Mrs. Claus said. "Santa knows how much the kids love the chubby cheeks and the 'belly like a bowl full of jelly,' but those are all attributes of someone headed for a heart attack."
Early spring, before the toy orders pile up, is the off-season for North Pole Industries. Mrs. Claus used that time to study health and fitness, eventually earning degrees in physical therapy and biomechanics. She then received international certification as a personal trainer.
That was nearly two decades ago. Since then, Mrs. Claus has become famed among personal trainers for her expertise in training heavy athletes for endurance.
Mrs. Claus has worked a near-miraculous transformation in Santa's health. "We started with assessing his cholesterol levels and heart health, and then tailored a diet that took off the excess fat," Mrs. Claus says.
"We then put him on a year-round exercise program, focusing on 'run-walk' endurance-building exercises, weight-lifting for muscular endurance and yoga for flexibility," Mrs. Claus said. "He really appreciated the yoga after that first year; it helped with those twists and turns in the chimneys."
That exercise and diet program builds all year, until a day of "carbo-loading" prepares Santa for the big night. "I feed him lots of brown rice, whole-wheat bread and whole-wheat pasta to store glucose in his muscles," says Mrs. Claus. She'll then put him through a series of stretching exercises to make sure he doesn't get stiff on the long sleigh-ride from the North Pole.
After takeoff, Mrs. Claus won't just kiss Kris Kringle goodbye. Under that famed red suit, Santa now wears a heart monitor wired to a satellite transmitter. From her home station, Mrs. Claus keeps track of Santa's heart rate to make sure he doesn't overdo it. After the big night is done, she'll help Santa cool down and loosen his tired muscles.
But what about Mrs. Claus? How fit is the world's best personal trainer? "Just a little aerobics for me," she laughs. "I get most of my weight-training lifting cookies out of the oven!"
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