Thursday, November 4, 2010

Found: A Suitable Gym Experience

I have no excuse now that I am retired for not exercising. I realize the need to pay attention to my body if I want to avoid becoming a big round ball. I see too many older people put on the pounds and collect an assortment of maladies and problems. And so I head for the gym. I don’t expect miracles. My goal is to put off the inevitable as long as possible. 

Before moving I belonged to a succession of gyms. The first one had a variety of equipment, and a limited number of exercise classes. There were a considerable number of younger people in cute outfits who were there to socialize, pick up a weekend date, network, and otherwise complete a variety of tasks that had nothing to do with exercise. And there I was, older than most, sweating in what can kindly be called an older version of modern gym wear: a pair of cheap sweats purchased at an outlet and an oldie-but-goodie T-shirt. Nothing fancy, nothing close-fitting, nothing matching, but the outfit worked for me.

Did I mention the men at the gym? Besides the women in charming tight clothes, there was a group of fanatical men with oversize muscles sweating, grunting and groaning their way to ever bigger muscles. They wore tight clothing too. 
After a while I moved on to a women’s-only small workout center. It was fine for a while, but the routine got boring. And much as I like to meet friends, I was there to work out , and not so much to socialize. The socializing became distracting.
At about that time a friend told me of another women’s-only workout place opening near my home. I signed up. The equipment was newer and the place larger than the other women's-only gym. The center was fine for several months, but then the recession hit and the place closed.
Next stop was a cheap gym. For $10 a month I could work out to my heart’s content. I averaged twice a week, if lucky. No classes, but you can’t have everything. Or maybe the right way to look at it is – you get what you pay for. I passed the gym on my way home from work. It was a big place with lots of equipment and worked well for me for several months.
Then the gym went all out on a publicity blitz and marketing campaign seeking new members, and at the offering price was inundated. That was great for the company, but bad for me. I was still working, so had limited flexibility for my workout schedule. A lot of people went to the gym after work in the late afternoon. It became annoying trying to maneuver from one piece of equipment to another, seeing what was available and making a beeline for it before anyone else grabbed it.
Then we moved. The local community center has a fabulous modern, well-equipped gym. The price is more than the bargain $10 a month, but worth every penny, and not as expensive as a lot of fancy gyms nowadays.
 I am in gym heaven for a number of reasons:
·         The workout areas are clean, bright, and spacious, and the equipment in excellent condition.
·         It is not too busy or crowded.
·         There are no twenty-ish young people in fashionable attire seeking a social life.
·          A lot of the men and women are my age and older.
·         Popular apparel are sweats and old T-shirts.
·         I fit right in.
·         There are a variety of classes, many geared toward seniors.*
·         I feel comfortable.
·         There is no pressure.
·         It works for me.

I try to go three times a week, but usually make it twice a week.  I feel good when working out, and feel good when I leave. And hungry.
So I stop at my favorite bagel store, buy a bagel and go home and eat.
I know there is something wrong with this routine, but can’t figure out what…
*Seniors as in older people, not high school or college seniors.