Saturday, May 5, 2012

The dreaded gym

There comes a day when even an inheritance of good genes needs help.

Having the benefit of a mom who looked good right up to the moment she slipped off to glory and a dad who, in spite of years of messing around with DDT, lived into his nineties, I considered myself a fit specimen for my age.

No slouch here. Although confident that walking the dog every morning fulfilled my daily exercise requirement, when the doctor questioned just how fast I walked, I had to admit that the pooch liked to stop every five minutes to find the exact blade of grass with the most concentrated scent. “But,” I hastened to add, “I joined the Y. Took a yoga class yesterday.”

The svelte doctor lady wasn’t impressed. “You need cardio intensive exercise,” she said. “Five times a week.”

Now, I know some people rush home from work and head straight to the gym, but I totally lack an enthusiasm for this type of activity. I’m also intimidated to use equipment that goes faster than I do, so I chose a modified cardio class that broke up the hour with different types of exercise. It was the first set—the step set— that was problematic.

Anyone who has hand/foot-simultaneous-movement coordination challenges (think Steve Martin in The Jerk) shouldn’t be front and center of a class. I claimed my spot off-side, but just when the exercises began a woman next to me said, “Can you slide over?”

“No,” I hissed. “I don’t want to be in the middle.”

“Oh, you won’t be,” she said, planting herself within a swinging arm’s length next to me.

Restraining the child welling up who wanted to scream, “This is my spot,” I moved over— front and center. And as I suspected, I was so bad the instructor advised me to just keep up with the feet—if I could.

The next day I donned my black cotton/spandex pants and matching Nike sneakers with the purple edging, and decided to face down my fear of the machines. I squared my shoulders and opened the gym door.

Thinking it easier to move my legs back and forth rather than up and down, I avoided the ellipticals and headed to the treadmills, each occupied by sweating, muscular bodies. Thankful to see a paunchy man moving at a speed slower than my dog-walking pace, I chose the machine next to him.

My initial plan was to ease into my pace, but within minutes, a young woman in short shorts jumped on the machine next to me and started off running. It was a lineup of the three bears: slow, faster, fastest.

In the midst of my angst, I wondered why I cared about the age on my left and the youth on my right.
Although inclined to be comfy, I wasn’t Goldilocks looking for the perfect chair to snuggle into. I was a woman who wanted to be poised in her later years as full of life as Moses whose “eye was undimmed and his vigor unabated” at 120. (Relax kids.That’s not my goal.)

Not for the sake of aimless longevity, but for all God has intended me to do.

And if part of that meant beefed-up cardio, so be it.

Looking neither to the puffing man on my left or the sprinting girl on my right, I upped my speed.  


  1. Hence the reason we bought a xbox Kinect - no spots to claim, no young women or puffing men to ignore - only blissful (okay, maybe not blissful) exercise in the comfort of your home. Some love the gym. God bless them -- I'm not one of them. Great post, Marcia!

  2. Great post, Marcia! You had me nodding and laughing. Kudos for your ambition and so far, stick it initiative. And, ditto for me on Cathy's comment. No gym. Can't be motivated to leave home. Due to work I don't spend much time there anyway. So, I have a small stair-stepper. I do a fairly fast paced 25 minutes on it, while I am browsing the internet. Time goes quickly engrossed in my favorite blogs. Then I do some weight training - no three pound weights for me. I've worked up to eight pounds and plan to go much higher. Feels good. Then I also walk 2 miles at lunch (managing the distance in 30 minutes.) Now, if the weight would come off faster....

    1. Cecilia, you've put a whole new meaning on home exercise!

  3. Good job Marcia! You're an inspiration. :)


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