Santa fit and ready for Christmas dash
Christmas is a chance for most folk to slow down, laze around and relax, but for one chap there is no such luck.
Tonight, Santa Claus will need all his energy and stamina to travel more than 40,000 kilometres around Earth.
Mr Claus will guide his nine reindeer on a whirlwind trip delivering presents, many heavy and cumbersome.
Far from getting to sit back and relax in his sleigh and toss out his goodies like a lazy paperboy, Mr Claus will be climbing in and out of his vehicle, scrambling across rooftops and scaling chimneys to ensure everyone's presents are waiting in the morning.
He may have a physique belying the public's perception of a fitness junkie, but beneath that jolly exterior lies the stamina of a marathon runner and the strength of a weightlifter.
"It is not just the reindeer that need to be in top shape," Mr Claus told The Southland Times from the treadmill at his favourite Invercargill gym.
"It's a pretty hectic time of the year for me and it is important that I keep myself in good nick," he said.
"My reindeer are very busy but I have to do my bit as well."
The blood pressure did go up a wee bit at this time of year and the work at the gym did wonders, Mr Claus said.
The ideal workout in preparation for a long night delivering presents combined cardiovascular and strengthening exercises, he said.
The blood, sweat and tears of a punishing exercise regime were worth it.
"When the children's eyes light up on Christmas morning, you forget about the early mornings lifting weights and pretending to scull for Olympic gold," Mr Claus said.
There were other rewards to keeping fit.
"Mrs Claus benefits and without a bit of a workout, with all those biscuits, cookies, milk, and even beer, kind people leave out for me I'd be jollier than I already am," he said.
"St Nick needs to stay in good nick. That's what my motto is.
"Ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas everybody."
The Southland Times