Wha? After Forty Years, I Don’t Hate the Gym


I recently joined the gym after years of avoiding it. I’ve joined gyms before. In years past, joining meant signing up and going four times and then paying my membership until they finally let me off the hook. I have always hated the gym. It didn’t matter how shiny the equipment, how big the pool, or how fantastic the juice bar—the gym was scary.

I always thought everybody was so perfect and fit. Where were the people who were working to get into shape? They already were in shape. All of them. Or so it seemed.

But now that I have joined the gym and have kept on going, I wonder if it was all my perception because there has been something so glorious that has come with age:

I don’t care what I look like working out.

And I look ridiculous. Really, really ridiculous.

Today I (mistakenly) went to an advanced step class where I spent 90% of the time going in the wrong direction, which is actually quite an accomplishment considering the statistical probability of that happening.

Instead of being horrified, disheartened, and humiliated, I laughed.

In my younger years, I would’ve been terribly self-conscious. I would not have laughed, and I would not have gone back. But as I tried to mambo on and off a step to gangnam style, I could not stop smiling.

There are beautiful people at the gym, in the classic use of the word. But there are many beautiful people there, in the inspiring sense of the word. I have exercised with my great aunt (she’s 87 and says she “loves this music!”), a man wearing breathe-right strips, and a nurse straight off of the night shift. These people motivate me to come back and mambo-salsa-gangnam myself in all the wrong (and maybe even someday the right!) directions again.



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