I work out at the gym.
I had that little spell with running, but my preference has always been a 60 minute class at the gym with loud music and a motivating instructor. My affinity for the guided workout was born in the basement of my childhood home with her:
You've just gotta love Jane Fonda. Look at her hair! Her horizontal stripes! The perfect angles of her toasty warm legs! She had it going on.
Then there was a period of time when I worked at the YMCA, and had the chance to participate in real live aerobics classes. I fancied the low impact variety, and I rocked my footless tights and colorful leotards.
During college, I joined Family Fitness here in San Diego at a rate of $14 per month. That, my friends, was a lifetime membership to what is now 24 Hour Fitness, a membership that I have maintained by making those $14 monthly payments for the duration, even that one time when I forgot to go for 5 years.
As a new member back in the late 80s, I discovered the appeal of Step aerobics, but my girlfriend Aline and I were humble about the dizzying scope of our badassness. In fact, we showed off quite a lot of that ass badness wearing leotards that shot straight up our cracks, with bike shorts underneath. Then I got distracted by marriage and pregnancy, and slowly but surely the bad of my assness turned into the fat of my assness. At some moment of blind optimism, I procured a step of my own and a bunch of newer videos that promised to transform my various jiggly bits into steel. But then I had another baby and I just stayed jiggly, and happy with my babies and my snacks and my beer.
Right around the time that my youngest turned two, the wife of a local morning radio talk show host that I listen to dropped dead of a heart attack. They had two young kids. She was 39.
I went back to the gym.
Many things had changed during my hiatus, but many more had stayed the same. The fashion, thankfully, had become more about comfort and function than asscrack. I got back into Step, and it was a great way to improve my health and get out of the house for a couple of hours at a time. I kept up with my champion skill at snacking and beer drinking, so I stayed jiggly. I was jiggly-fit, though, damn it.
I maintained the status quo for several years before finding the motivation to lose weight. I’ve been significantly smaller for a couple of years now. Although I do have a pretty little gut roll that really likes me, and comes back to visit quite regularly. In fact, I’m pretty sure the little cutie is planning to stow away inside my pants for the upcoming visit to Connecticut.
But I digress. What has NOT changed at the gym is the weird subculture of the people. There’s the guy who struts around the front of the room talking loudly, greeting people by name, and just oozing cool confidence. I once saw him stocking the shelves at Albertson’s, and there was an audible thump as my worlds collided. There’s also the issue of territory in the Group X room, and the politics of saving steps, and maintaining the proper distance between your step and your neighbor’s. I’ve recently added kickboxing to my gym repertoire, and the space issue there is even more intense without the step itself to mark your real estate. And people are kicking and punching in there!
And there is the issue of how to deal with newbies. We’ve all been there at one time, obviously, but we regulars block those memories out as soon as we get the hang of whatever class we are learning. We go to our spot and we do our thing, we watch ourselves in the mirror and steal glances at the beautiful or hideous bodies around us. We are conspicuous in our horrified chagrin when someone passes gas, so everyone will know that we would never do that. We send silent supportive vibes to the newbies so as not to attract attention to them. As long as they stay out of our way, we will pretend to ignore them while laughing at them deep down inside, where it counts. If we don’t make eye contact, they can’t be certain that we see them. Just like the story my parents love to tell about how Ellie once walked across the room during their cocktail party with her hands over her eyes so no one would see her. Awwwwww! They all catch on eventually, just like Ellie must have.