I caved in to pressure from well-meaning family and friends to join an exercise class. They’ve been concerned about my lack of physical activity since I retired. Sure enough, my not driving to the office three days a week has obliterated most check points for activity. Most days find me sitting in front of my computer at home, relishing the time with crafting thoughts and ideas into essays and stories for my creative writing projects. And once engrossed, my warm chair becomes my stationary spot. When not working on the computer, sitting relaxed while listening to music is my usual diversion. My family and friends shake their heads and say – uh-uh! Stand, walk and exercise. That nag, though said lovingly, has hounded my nerves. Thus, I did something about it two days ago.
I went to the YMCA a few blocks from home. My first time there, so I was curious about that activity center for families and individuals of all ages. Entering the big lobby that looked comfortable and inviting, my initial urge was to sit on one of the thick cushioned chairs and simply look around, and watch people coming in and out. That I did. It was most interesting, and mind-opening to say the least.
A Mom seated by the counter, reading the daily paper, left her seat to rush to the room next to the lobby when the children’s noise quieted down. The children’s session had ended obviously. She then emerged from the room and headed for the sliding entrance doors with her two or three-year-old in tow. The little boy huffed and puffed as he tried to keep up with his mother, and suddenly plopped on the floor and lay on his back with legs far apart, letting out loud sighs. His face looked happy, at the same time, tired. The sliding doors closed, he was inside and his Mom was outside, patiently waiting. She allowed her son to rest a bit, his back on the floor, and people walked by him without giving notice to that little figure stretched on the floor. That must have been a familiar sight, I thought. After five minutes, the boy lifted himself up with renewed vigor and joined his Mom outside.
From the opposite side of the lobby ambled an old man with a walker. He inched his way to the machine on the reception desk and clocked himself in with his membership card. A regular member, I thought, coming for his fitness class. I wondered what kind of exercise had drawn him to the facility, and how he managed with the weakness of his frail body Then came out a middle-aged couple, both looking robust and sweaty, but definitely energetic and, I’d like to say, eager and bright-eyed – like they were ready to tackle anything that would stir their way that day. Then I wondered, what physical activity were they engaged in that gave them that special zest.
Behind me were three women excitedly chatting away. They were discussing the class they had just come out of. They were full of vigor I wondered, if they had an hour of exercise, wouldn’t they be limp and feeling tired? They then greeted a friend who was just coming in for the next session and who seemed lethargic. Would she be on that same level of vitality as that of the three women when she gets out of her exercise class?
Then came a gray-haired old man with his gray-haired wife by his side. They were smiling, their faces showing excitement for something they probably looked forward to their whole morning. After clocking in, they walked fast to the end of the corridor that led to the indoor pool. And right behind them, two teenage girls in tights whisked by to the opposite end of the building, probably to the gym or aerobics room.
I made a decision. I definitely want to be part of these happy people that come to the Y. I want to be as energetic as those three women that just came out, or as excited about an activity like those seniors that trudged in, as sparky as those teenagers, or have renewed vigor that follows the tire like that little boy. I sought the receptionist and asked about membership requirements. It turns out I need to check with my insurance carrier for possible fitness coverage. I promised to do that. As I left the facility, I looked back and said, I’ll be back.
But not until I’m actually in an exercise class will my loving family and kind friends breathe a sigh of relief. After all, they know, I’m stubborn.