The Gym

My Dad was thin for his entire life even though he ate pretty much whatever he wanted.  My Mom struggled with her weight continually.   Through high school and college, I was trim and muscular, if I do say so myself, even though I ate (as my mom would say) like a horse.  Watching me as I lifeguarded at the local beach, our next-door neighbor once remarked that the more clothes I took off the better I looked (Embarrassing but flattering to a 16-year-old).   I assumed, therefore, I had my Dad’s metabolism.  I was wrong.   Once I was married and working, I began to gain weight.   When we drove to our new home in California, my wife Muri snapped a photo of me sitting on the hood of our car in the middle of the desert.   I was wearing a bright purple shirt and I looked like a giant grape.  Thus began a lifetime of working out to keep my weight down.

I tried different diets … Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach to name a few.  I was good at losing weight on diets, I just wasn’t good at staying on the diets once I lost weight.   So I began working out.   I ran.  I swam.  I bicycled.  I played tennis.  For a while I was running marathons and doing triathlons, and the workouts necessary for that kept my weight down.  I really loved long (10 mile plus) runs … a lot of people think the runner’s high is a myth.  It’s not.  But when you are, as they say, big-boned, running takes a toll on your body.   One day as I was in the midst of a 15-mile run on the Santa Ana River Trail, a guy on a bicycle yelled, That will ruin your knees.   Naturally, I flipped him off but he was right.  My left knee now creaks like an old rocking chair and pain in my right Achilles tendon put an end to my long-distance running.

How about The Gym, you say?  Doesn’t everyone trying to stay in shape join a gym?   I did, mostly because it had a pool where I could swim.  But I did my time on machines with weights and cables that look like they could be used for medieval torture and ran on treadmills like a freaking hamster.  I tried to ignore the people strolling around in expensive workout clothes, admiring themselves in the mirrors that covered every wall.   I started wearing headphones so I didn’t have to listen to those who came to the gym to talk, especially to talk about fitness or what they ate.  Or to meet people.  But I admit, I tried to ignore it when others were jogging faster than I was or using heavier weights.   And I will admit, too, that sometimes I looked at people that were out of shape and working hard not to be and gloated a bit.   So, it’s true that I disliked the gym (and that hated would be closer to the truth) but it was partly because I hated how I was at the gym.

These days, degeneration of nerves in my middle back cause sciatic pain in both legs and my balance has gotten so bad that I’m afraid to ride a bike on the streets, so my workouts are walking and riding a stationary bicycle.  At The Gym where my wife takes an exercise class twice a week.  Yep, the place I hated in my real workout days.  This gym is a recreation center without the mirrors and the meat market flavor  which makes it easier to take (and no one is looking for 77-year-old meat).  And now, I’m one of those out-of-shape souls, so there’s no gloating to be done.  I know my limits so I expect that there will be those who walk or pedal faster than I do.  I put in my earbuds so I can’t hear the yakkers and I say, Hi, to other oldsters passing by.   I still don’t love The Gym but I don’t hate it anymore.  The gym hasn’t changed as much as I have.  Some things get better with age.

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2 Comments on “The Gym”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    …. “aging like a fine wine”!

  2. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    I can certainly relate to this being of a very similar body composition, thanks for sharing with us.

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