My sneakers are very lonely. They used to get worn regularly for visits to the gym. I needed them for the elliptical, the treadmill, and the stationary bike. I always lived close enough to a gym so that I could walk to it. Sneakers, or as I used to call them back when I was a teenage — gym shoes — have been a basic ingredient to my exercise life for the last decade.
Sometime around 2007 I looked at a picture of myself and hated what I saw. Instead of the trim fellow I had been, I was staring at a pot-bellied man in his mid-forties. There was absolutely no resemblance of the former high school track runner. This man also had a case of rosacea from consuming too much alcohol and having too much stress in his life. I was an out-of-shape middle-ager. That it was posted on a Facebook page, my own in fact, made it even worse. Changes needed to made. Immediately.
I quickly joined a gym and made a promise to myself that I would go every single day, no excuses. I did this for one complete year. I changed my diet, lowered my alcohol intake, and began to live a healthier lifestyle. I lost a total of 15 pounds which was very nice. After the end of that year, which I had marked on a calendar, I continued to visit the gym but this time a less restrictive 3-4 times a week. It was fun, I maintained my weight, and I even made a few friends. During my divorce, it was probably the one thing that kept me from being unhealthy and unhappy.
I introduced Gorgeous to the gym after she moved in with me. She loved it immediately and incorporated it into her day while I was at work. She told me that she would better my output on the elliptical. I hadn’t thought it was a competition but somehow it became that, briefly anyway. I began to get texts and emails at the office with the numbers that she was getting on the machine. Those numbers began to climb to an aerobic output that I had never reached, and I threw in the towel almost immediately. She was a human machine on a machine.
Since retiring we no longer belong to a gym. This is more of a financial decision than a lifestyle one. We take walks instead, many of them quite aerobic in nature, and then we come back home and stretch on our mats. We’re doing everything but weight training, which is probably not good. I think sometime in the next year, especially after I begin to get more money from my pension, I’m going to want to look at a gym membership again.
Our community has a “fitness center.” We see it through the windows of the clubhouse on our walks. It looks like there’s a handful of machines in there, possibly more. We probably need to check it out. As a friend of mine would most likely put it, “It doesn’t look like it sucks.” Once the season really ramps up here later in January, I’m told there are aerobic and yoga classes held there. Really, we need to check it out.
I suspect that this is where the rubber meets the road with our decision to retire early. It’s fine having older seniors as neighbors, but I’m admittedly skittish about going into a gym setting and only seeing people older than me. Part of the whole gestalt about going to a commercial gym is that you see all ages. While I do get disgusted looking at those young things that flaunt their six pack abs and cellulite-free bodies, it does help having them there as motivation. If I’m already one of the most fit in a room, where’s the motivation? Gorgeous and her impossible-to-match elliptical numbers might not be enough for me.
I know, I know. I’m being incredibly insensitive here. By the way, I turn 55 in two weeks.
Dr. Freud? Do you have a minute?