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Hello, my name is Indigo Bunting, and I love the gym. Part II: How It Began November 25, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I talked up the gym with lots of people, trying to get them interested. Still, it was several weeks before I actually signed up. Because I was offered an extra month’s membership for doing so, I took a leap of faith at the signing and paid for a whole year up front. Please, please stay in business, I whispered prayerfully to Atlas and other impressively cut gods. I signed up for unlimited classes at a ridiculously low rate in exchange for signing before the opening. I did not join the pool, which would have cost me more. Sadly, I am not a swimmer.

Then I waited. The gym opened the last weekend in June, and I went the day after I got back from Northbrook, their second day of business.

Did I mention that I love gyms?

Who could have ever predicted this? I was the fat kid. I was the kid who hated gym class and would give just about anything to get out of it. Team sports—the very thought of someone relying on my physical ability when there was an obvious lack of any such thing—made me quake with fear. As far as I was concerned, sports existed to make me look stupid, or at least served as a handy backdrop for making that happen.

I dieted all through high school and college but could never lose any significant weight (in retrospect, by that time I wasn’t actually fat anymore, I just was surrounded by so much thin that I had no way of knowing). I’d occasionally try to take up running, but it never took. I am not a runner.

Then, after college, I acquired a roommate who was an aerobics instructor. When I heard she would be joining our group house and that she was a fitness freak, my defenses immediately went up. But it turns out she changed my life. She got me to go to aerobics with her. And there I found a place where I could exercise and no one was counting on me. I could just do it for me, and I could do it at my own pace. I became utterly addicted.

This was, no doubt, in part due to the fact that I was in a long-distance relationship and desperately needed some way to channel all that . . . energy.

That’s a bit of a digression, but I mention my exercise beginnings because since those beginnings (in October 1984) I have never stopped exercising. Next to my deadlines, there is nothing in my life I’m more disciplined about. I am not an athlete. I do not have washboard abs. Whenever I try something new, I am sore for days. But dammit, I have a desk job, and I need to move. I’ve only got one body, and I want it to work for as long as possible. So I set aside an hour a day, for me, to make sure it all happens.

[Tomorrow: Part III: Yes, It Is All About Me]

Comments»

1. Mali - November 25, 2008

Ok, you put me to shame. I get to the gym about three times a week, and should really have an hour a day like you. I’m impressed. You’re motivating me to do more.

You’re either a gym person or you’re not. I am. Where I live is hilly and windy. And, to quote a former Prime Minister, I live “in a very pluvial country.” So I don’t like exercising outside, and the gym gets me out of the house and off my computer chair. Having a trainer motivates me too. I am fitter and stronger now than when I was 30 (the Cinque Terre walks were a breeze), even if I am … erm … a bit bigger.

2. Adam Byrn Tritt - November 25, 2008

I think you put it quite well, especially in you last paragraph. People have looked at me getting up early to walk, telling me to take it easy, enjoy life. I do. I see and hear things they do not and often seem to have the world to myself.

And, when I am older, which I shall be baring any “truck what truck” incidences, I will still be able to enjoy myself when the folks who always sat on their bums are sore and kvetching.

I once heard a fellow complain he did not have the time to exercise. Another fellow looked at him and said, “If you think exercising takes time, you certainly haven’t been sick. And dead is twenty-four hours a day.”

My trick is to remember I am built like a french car – I must be gentle with myself and know my limits so I can push them firmly but slowly.

I repeat: “If you think exercising takes time, you certainly haven’t been sick. And dead is twenty-four hours a day.”

3. Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb - November 25, 2008

This is interesting…I too hated PE my whole life. Couldn’t imagine bumping someone aside to catch a ball. Couldn’t catch a ball if you paid me to, anyway. Yet the minute I got out of those classes, it turned out that I loved exercising. First I got into swimming, then into running (25 miles /week up and down Main Street in your home town), then I joined a gym, then in DC I did aerobics at lunchtime. Take away the competition and I love movement. Put in the competition, and I turn to stone.

4. indigo bunting - November 26, 2008

Mali: A confession. I probably only get to the gym three times a week, and I probably exercise about six times a week (there’s always a day of chores or something on the weekend that makes me take a day off). The other days I stay at home and get on my NordicTrack, take a walk, or go ice skating when the rink is open. I try to mix it up as best I can. Your words “I am fitter and stronger now than when I was 30 (the Cinque Terre walks were a breeze)” bring me great delight!

Adam: Very good points. In fairness, the fact that I have no children definitely gives me an advantage over choices of how to spend my time, and I feel lucky to have been able to make that choice.

Lali: A fellow exercise lover/organized sports hater! I wonder if you ever ran past me in our previous lives? Your comment reminds me to note to

Cedar Waxwing: If you read this, I discovered exercise in YOUR hometown.

5. Helen - November 26, 2008

Hello, my name is Helen, and I hate the gym. Mainly because the lights are too bright and the music is too loud. If somebody opened a gym featuring mood lighting and folk music I would consider joining.

I think though, as you and other commenters have pointed out, it’s really about being active, and that I do love. Mostly when I can do it outside though.

6. indigobunting - November 26, 2008

Helen: I think you’re definitely in the majority. I love being active outside too. Don’t get me wrong. But often I can’t get the level of workout I feel I need (because I don’t run, and I’m not such a great biker) on a regular basis. So a mix is good for me.

Except for how much I hate driving in it, I’m looking forward to snow so I can cross-country ski…

7. Cedar Waxwing - November 26, 2008

What do you mean if I read this. What an idea! Of course I read it. I read everything you write!

Really — exercise in Elgin? I once tried to jog (in Elgin). I came back home with chest pains and thought I was having a heart attack. Where did you take aerobics in Elgin? The Y on Mclean?

If I lived near you, perhaps you’d be my inspiration to get off my butt and exercise.

I, too, hated PE. I was afraid of the ball in baseball, volleyball and basketball. I was afraid of the sticks in field hockey. I couldn’t serve (nor lob) in tennis. I was always the last one picked for teams (and rightly so).

We actually do belong to a gym — the local YMCA. I’m just too damn self-conscious to utilize it. Not because I look out of shape, but because I am.

8. indigobunting - November 26, 2008

CW: I think it WAS the Y on Mclean! Does that have a track outside?

9. Cedar Waxwing - November 26, 2008

I don’t think the Y on McLean has a track outside, but maybe it does. Elgin got a huge new exercise complex downtown a couple of years ago. Indoor track, pool, state-of-the art whatsits.

10. indigobunting - November 26, 2008

(sniff! tears in eyes) It’s so beautiful!


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