I joined a gym. And I like it. Color me shocked.
I didn’t expect this to happen. I’ve never been much of a joiner. But I’ve been going for almost a month, and I feel really good about it. The gym is clean. It doesn’t stink. The machines aren’t complicated. The people are nice and are all sizes, shapes, and ages. And despite some soreness, I’m not in traction.
A desire to be fit again is my motivation. I don’t know if I will lose weight. I hope so, but I’m not expecting it. I sure need to. Between moving to Delaware from NYC, a sedentary job and couch potato-hood for the last 15 years, menopause, the pandemic, and retirement, I’ve put on way more than I need. But not being able to move as I age is a real fear. You know—use it or lose it. I see it happen, and I don’t want to go out a blob on the sofa.
I blame yoga, another activity I didn’t expect to enjoy, for my gym membership. I began yoga classes last summer and I really feel so good afterward. I’ve only missed one class. Yoga taught me how to breathe, and how to get on and off the floor. There are certain poses, though, that I just can’t do. They’re not pretzel poses; I’m simply not strong enough, and my stomach sometimes gets in the way. It’s annoying.
So the seed was planted. Get fitter. My friend Jen told me about the gym she goes to. She’s a good deal younger than me and has lost weight. She looks great. But it’s the way she feels; the increased energy she exudes. I want that, too.
I was a fit kid. I played outside, rode my bike everywhere, and swam all summer. I was the most athletic girl all the way through junior high school. I won presidential fitness awards in gym and blue ribbons on swim team. I shimmied up the rope as fast as the boys.
When I lived in DC in my late-20s, I took Kenpo karate classes. I only got to yellow belt by the time I moved to NYC, but I enjoyed it. I didn’t have the time for fitness in NYC, and since I walked everywhere and was a drummer in several bands, it wasn’t an issue. Not long after I met Sandy and moved to Dover in 2005, we took boxing classes, which were a short-lived blast. Foot problems and then a knee replacement took me out of that game. And the boxing gym, sadly, closed a few years later.
After that, I was at a desk behind a computer all day, too exhausted to do anything else.
Fast forward to last summer, and well, I was starting to feel like Jabba the Hutt. But that’s changing. I’m aiming for going to the gym regularly two times a week, and maybe three. I met with one of the gym officiants and we laid out a plan. Until April, I do the bike for 15 minutes, then what’s called the 30-minute workout on the machines (which takes me longer than a half-hour, but that’s OK) and bike again for another 15 minutes. In May, we check in and reassess.
Astonishingly, I still haven’t closed all the rings on my watch’s exercise app. It’s a goal now. I’m tantalizingly closer every visit. But yoga has taught me not to push it into pain. I’m taking it easy, using the lowest weights on the machines for now. I’m happy to huff, puff, and sweat on the lowest settings.
Sometimes I don’t feel like going, like yesterday. But I went anyway and felt better. Sandy is going with me at least twice a week, which is very helpful. We are getting fit together. In our early 60s, we can’t really imagine living without one another.
I know I’ll never have the body I had in my 20s, 30s, or 40s. It was great, but that ship sailed. But I know I can feel better, look better, and not have to worry so much about falling. Or if I do fall, knowing I can get back up, assuming I didn’t break anything. It’s important for me to be able to move. And have more energy. And really, to live a better life. ▼
Beth Shockley is a retired senior writer/editor living in Dover with her wife and four furbabies.