I was barely halfway across the polished wood workout floor of the aerobics studio at my local 24-Hour Fitness when the challenge stopped me in my tracks.
Who said that?
I had been deep in thought about the decision in front of me: twelve or fifteen pounders. What did I feel like today?
WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?
It was said with a smile, and a certain breathlessness, because the challenger was right in the middle of a training program video which was projected onto the far wall. The other two women looked at me expectantly.
“You haven’t been out a Red Rocks for ages,” she said. That’s where I’ve run steps for the past seven years.
She’s right. I haven’t. Not only have I spent nearly half the year on adventure travel, but when I got home, in some cases I couldn’t walk due to foot injuries. Then knee injuries. If anything, time in between trips was doing PT and gym work.
I miss Red Rocks a lot.
Apparently, that got noticed. Frankly, I was gobsmacked. I had no clue that anyone had bothered to notice. That said, I have spent time talking to lots of folks out there. That may have made me somewhat memorable, not being so focused on my workout or my tunes that I see people. Not dead people. Real people.
I was delighted. We as a group laughed about working off Christmas calories and mulled wine. Chatted about the lousy Bronco season, excitement about the new decade.
Then I hit the weight racks.
Perhaps what pleased me most was not so much the ego-gratification that inevitably comes with having someone notice you, but she took the time to acknowledge that in a way, you’re missed.
In my sometimes very focused work of training, writing and getting ready to go to and recover from big trips, I can sometimes miss being missed.
Here’s the piece: so very many women eschew the gym because of shame or fear of being shamed, feeling intimated. You don’t need to clean the house before Merry Maids gets there. I guarantee you plenty of others feel the same way you do. They need your support, just as you need theirs.
A group of you can form an impermeable barrier to the snarks and haters. They will keep you honest, and coming, whether to aerobics or weight classes or yoga. Doesn’t matter. There’s strength in numbers. Even better, as they get to know you, they understand what keeps you out of the gym. The best of GFs figure out how to motivate you around that and keep you coming back, even on days you really don’t wanna.
Especially as we pass the big Five OH (and I am almost to 70) coming to the gym is even more important, as the twin towers of aerobic work and weight bearing are what keep us truly healthy. Add yoga to that, it’s the perfect trifecta.
But we hafta wanna.
You’re more likely to wanna if you’ve been missed. There is nothing like a friendly face to greet you as opposed to some snark who disses your Target t-shirt while she sports a $100 athletic bra. You and your comfortable clothing buds can sweat and grunt in companionable silence while said snark spends her time barking at people about their clothing choices.
Have at it, kiddo. We’re going to spend that extra dime on …well, whatever we want.
And have fun doing it. And BTW you won’t be missed.