Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a . . . Health Club

This is not me
     Last year, in Dec. 2009, I got myself a membership to a sports club for Christmas. I had to sign a one year contract, which made me nervous because I was afraid I'd start out with a burst of enthusiasm, exercising two or three times a week in February and March, then by July I'd never darken the sports club door again.

     It turned out I did go to the club more often in the beginning. But I still get over there once a week, sometimes twice a week, to take a spin on the bicycle and grunt and groan on the weight machines. The truth is, I really don't like to exercise. I just like to hit things. I like baseball and tennis and golf. The trouble is that these sports -- especially the way they're played by late middle agers -- do not provide much of a cardiovascular workout. And some of them can be dangerous for us aging baby boomers. Think tennis elbow, sprained ankle and torn cartilage. In fact, I've retired from the tennis court and now limit my racket sports to the Ping Pong table in the basement. And golf . . . well, golf you can play in your sleep.

     Last year my doctor told me that riding a stationary bike was easier on my brittle knees and ankles than running (not that I did much running) or playing tennis, or even walking. So that's what I do now.

That's not me either
     Some people can read while they use the treadmill or bike. I cannot. So I time my trip to the sports club to early evening reruns of half-hour comedy shows on TV. I am now more familiar with "Friends," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "King of Queens" than I'd like to admit. Then there's always "people watching." I enjoy the spectacle of the women's Zumba dance class that takes place Mon., Wed. and Fri. at 5 p.m. There are young male bodybuilders in the corner. Girls on the ellipticals with their ponytails bobbing up and down. Some middle age women seriously into the treadmill. And a few of us older guys huffing and puffing on the machines.

     The funny thing is, at first I thought I might feel self-conscious exercising along with a crowd that's younger, better looking, and in better shape than I am. But it turns out that everyone is very supportive. I never get a condescending comment or dirty look. Just some occasional helpful advice, or a friendly greeting. And when I see a guy even older than me, who's fat and out of shape and shaky on his feet, it doesn't enter my mind that I'm better than him. I think, good for him.

     I don't get to the health club as often as I should. But it's still worth it. I think I'll sign up again for next year.

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Anonymous said...

A year-long contract! Yowsah! THAT'S a commitment!

Doesn't your library have digital books, those little cellphone-sized miracles that hold an entire book? You just supply the earphones (and sometimes a battery.) I love those!

Too much George Costanza could make you want to hit something... and you're trying to get away from that! said...

Reading your post,now I feel badly. I was suited up for the pool this morning, and David said the road was too slick to drive, so I stayed home. I love water aerobics. We do our Zumba in the pool.

joared said...

Good luck! Years ago we chunked down several hundred dollars for a family membership in a health club. Not long after before we even used it they went bankrupt. A huge number of the membership, including some who were attorneys, met in nearby Univ. auditorium to learn we could sue but would cost us more than we could recoup if we won. Months later I learned the owner of our old club had been able to open another club in a nearby city and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it. I've never joined a health club since though a different ownership opened one nearby that has proved to be successful.

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