I’ll See You at the Gym . . .

Over the course of the last year or so, I have had several extended absences from my local gym, where I’ve been a member for about five years.  First, there was a minor surgery that kept me incapacitated for a couple of weeks.  Then, there were the panic attacks that resulted from experiencing said minor surgery, and a dental procedure that prohibited me from going out for about ten days.  Most recently, I contracted an upper respiratory infection from my granddaughter that required courses of Amoxycillin and the dreaded Prednisone.  If you’ve never been prescribed Prednisone, you’ll have to accept it as gospel from me that you don’t ever want to.  If you are required to take it, rest assured that you’ll not be fit company for  a dog—let alone a fellow human being.

ExerciseAs we age, our circle of friends, family, and neighbors diminishes slowly (primarily due to death and relocation). The older we get, the more rapidly the number of those “connections” dwindles.  So, it’s no surprise that, for many of us, going to the gym and making new friends becomes an important step in maintaining contact with the outside world.  And so it has  become just that for me. There are several age groups of people who use the gym. First, are what I like to call “The Kids,” those boys and girls under 30, who charge in with headsets blazing the latest music, to pump iron and punish the stair climbers.  Many are in high school, or college, they are always in a hurry—and most of them hardly need the workout.  They politely nod as they quickly go through their routines.

Next, are the middle-aged, career-oriented men and women, between 30 and 65, who really do need the exercise, since they spend most of their workday sitting at a desk, more than likely in front of a computer.  These are the “beautiful people,” who usually slip into the gym at the break of dawn, or after seven in the evening (as their work schedules permit).  They tend to use the various machines (rather than the free weights) and gravitate to the treadmills, where they can watch either sports or a news channel, as they mindlessly complete their proscribed time on the machine.  They, too, are polite, and generally offer a rhetorical “How’re ya doin’?” or “What’s up?” (neither of which requires a response on your part).

The final group is comprised of the “Old Timers,” mostly men (but a few women, too) over 65, who are undoubtedly retired. It is to this group that I belong.  We can be found working the machines, and walking on the treadmills during the afternoon hours of the day (when the others are either at school, or working).  In general, we are neither in very good shape, nor in very bad shape.  We are simply just working hard to stay in whatever relative shape we are in.  Progress is desirable, but by no means necessary.

At my gym, there’s Brian, Michael (more about him later), Jill, Jim, Big Jim, Sandy, Greg, Dennis, and a host of others—and we’re all friends.  We know all about each other’s surgeries, favorite teams, grandchildren, most trustworthy mechanics, and likes and dislikes (especially when it comes to restaurants).  Each has an endless repertoire of stories that he or she has told numerous times, and embellished differently on each occasion.  Who cares?  We love to tell them and hear them over and over again.  One member likes to make homemade pizza, and brings an ample amount in occasionally to share with others in our group.  At Christmas, there’re always people who bring in cookies, or other treats to share.

One story that exemplifies the easy going attitude of my group is this: For several years, (literally), I had been referring to one of the gentlemen as Ron.  Ron drove a little red, convertible sports car.  One day, I said to Sandy, the owner of the gym, “Hey, here comes Ron.” I pointed out the window at Ron’s little red sports car.  Sandy gazed out the window at the car, and said, “You mean Michael.”  I replied, “No, Ron.  See, there’s his Miata.” Perplexed, Sandy pointed at the vehicle again, and said, “That’s Michael’s car, the little red one.” All the while I’d been calling Michael by the wrong name, he hadn’t bothered to correct me.  When he got inside, I went over to him and said, “I’ve got a bone to pick with you?”  He looked surprised.  “You mean to tell me,” I said, “that all this time I’ve been calling you Ron, when your name is really Michael?”  He shrugged his shoulders. “Ron, Michael.  It doesn’t matter.  I know you, you know me.  That’s all that matters.”  And he was absolutely right.  The very next time I encountered Michael at the gym, I said, “Hey, Harry, how’s it going?”  Without missing a beat, he replied with a smile, “Pretty good, Bob.”

One thing that members of my group all have in common is our ability to talk, an acquired talent to expound upon, even pontificate upon . . . well . . . just about any topic at all. Virtually anything is grist for our respective mills—and that includes politics and religion. Hell, when you’re “old,” you have the understood “right” to say virtually anything about everything—and we do!  We don’t have time to be politically correct.  We’re old.  So, we think it, we say it.  It’s that simple.  And maybe that’s what we need the most, not the exercise machines, not the treadmills, and certainly not the weights.  We just need to be comfortable in our own skin and to be (just like the song from Cheers says) in a place “where everybody knows your name”—and for me that’s the gym.

Do you go to a gym?  What kinds of experiences have you had there?  We’d love to know.


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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of four books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at: http://www.joeperronejr.com.
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10 Responses to I’ll See You at the Gym . . .

  1. macjam47 says:

    I go to a gym to use their warm water pool for exercise two days a week. Since I am an early-bird, there is usually no one else in the pool. The rest of the week, I work out in our home gym which is very well equipped with everything from free weights to a multi-exercise machine, TRX, treadmill, bike, elliptical to a Pilates reformer and tower, and everything in between (we’ve built our gym over 45 years). The only thing it’s missing is the camaraderie of others. I exercise in the early morning, my husband in the afternoon. There is no excuse, at our house, for us or for visitors not to get in some exercise.
    I do remember the days when I was younger. I would rush to the gym, do my stuff, and rush out to move on to the next item on my busy mom of three schedule. Those were the days before exercise was a big deal. In today’s world with air conditioned homes, it is more difficult to meet new people. When they aren’t out and about running here and there with children or grandchildren, they are inside their homes. Our neighborhood has homes with beautiful yards, patios and decks that no one ever uses, not even the children. Our society is becoming more and more insular. When I was a child, people sat on their porches, talked over the fence, and visited each other. It was a lovely time. Sure people sat outside in the evening because it was cooler than inside, but it made for good neighbors, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some very valid observations! If you follow my blog, you know that one of the things I lament most is the loss of real “neighborhoods,” and the interaction that goes along with them. We HAVE become an insular society. Thanks for contributing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Allie P. says:

    You just called me beautiful. I’ll take it!!

    Love my gym. The nicest people go there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. balroop2013 says:

    Well articulated! It took me back to those days, which you mention as “beautiful people”…too busy to talk, so busy that exercise is more of a chore for them, which needs to be completed even if they have to step out of their house at the break of the dawn…when most people enjoy their beauty sleep…that is the best hour of sleep, at least I have always thought so, cursing the alarm! They never even bother to nod as they assume they expect anybody around…

    Well I belonged to those “beautiful people” who never give a thought to such leisurely days, who think their life would never change, who never feel the need to make new friends as they have plenty at the work place. Day passed like a whirlwind and sleep closed upon like a beloved till that monster shook me out of it! Those were the days!

    I never thought making friends would be so difficult that we would have to go to the gym, we would have to initiate a discussion with small talk. My Mac is a better friend and I love it more than anyone now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Balroop. I, too, love my Mac. It has enable me to have friends from all over the world, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Although I’m not a true shut-in, my physical activities have become quite limited, so I am grateful to the gym for my real, live friends, and to the Internet for my hundreds of cyber friends. The other thing I love about the Internet, is that it has enabled me to stay in touch with dozens of old high school friends whom I feel I know better than I ever did back in the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. davidprosser says:

    A great read Joe. I envy you the ability to go out and mix with people (even if it is in a gym). You’re quite right too, age has given us the right to let rip with opinions wanted and unwanted sometimes. Glad you got over the panic attacks.
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, Boss! Loved every moment of it and thought how true each statement reflected upon aging. Until you get there, you really don’t understand! If I watch my calories and walk each day, I lose weight immediately. I procrastinate too much! I do use my walk time for peace within with God. Often, I sing out loud as I walk. Others smile as they pass me by. Peace within gives me inspiration. Inspiration brings writing. The rest is history, smiles!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Those who have Medicare supplemental insurance may be eligible for free gym membership under the Silver Sneakers program. But even those older folks who must pay for their membership should do so. The gym is our friend and, as you suggest, the place where we make friends.
    I have been an active member of a local gym for years and go three to four times a week. I walk often as well. There is no way I would consider giving up and sitting down. Way to go, Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

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