Who's tired of hearing about this stray dog? Me too, so here's to moving on!
Can you believe that nothing funny has happened to me today? Me neither. Consequently, this is loooong and thoughtful post...so don't say I didn't warn you.

The Gym
May 25, 2007

If you know me well, then you know how I feel about my local YMCA. I wouldn't describe myself as your stereotypical 'gym rat'-- but I do love my Y membership like it's my third grandma. And if it were my grandma, I'd be making out like a bandit in the estate-planning department, since I visit her so often.

I joined the YMCA about a year ago. I decided to take the plunge and spend the money for three reasons. First, we qualified for a reduced rate through the financial assistance program. Second, I heard that James could hang out in the kid care room while I exercised. And third, I wanted to tone up a little bit and maybe even start running again.

Pretty much I was like every other mom in America--broke, flabby, and desperately needing an occasional break from her child. And based on the remarks of Oprah's guests, I felt like every other mom in America, too. I wasn't unhappy with my weight and body, but I certainly wasn't satisfied with it either. I felt confident as a mother, but wasn't convinced that I was any sort of great mom. And I had 1,000 blessings to be grateful for, but still managed to find 1,001 details to complain about. I wasn't sad, but I wasn't thrilled. I was alive, and that seemed pretty good.

Not surprisingly, my YMCA routine mirrored my overall attitude at that time. I'd think about what a pain it could be to cart a kid around as I pulled James out from his carseat. I'd feel an overwhelming sense of embarrassment as the front desk person scanned my membership card and learned that I qualified for financial aid. I felt an enormous sense of relief as I left James with the sitters at the kid care center. I was pissed off when the scale told me that I still weighed 153 with my shoes off. I resented any woman who had a better physique than me, and felt unbelievably superior to the ones who didn't. And of course, I was frustrated by how damn slow I was on that freaking treadmill.

And then, one day, it all came to a screeching halt. I had an attitude adjustment. Thank goodness.

I was plodding along on the treadmill at a ten minute mile pace, firmly concentrated on my lack of speed. So concentrated, in fact, that I didn't notice when a middle aged Hispanic man climbed onto the treadmill to my right. In fact, I actually felt his stride long before I ever caught sight of him. From the vibrations on the floor and the pounding that I heard under the hum of my mp3 player, I could tell that this runner to my right had a pretty serious limp.

I always used to size up my 'competition' on the treadmill. In other words, I looked at their speed, their gender and their age, and then used my ridiculous reasoning skills to decide who was better--me, or the competition. After a split second assessment of this 'competition,' there was no disputing the better man--it was him.

This middle-aged man had obviously suffered a stroke. The left side of his body, from his face to his leg, was almost completely limp. His treadmill was only set to 2.4 miles an hour--slow enough for him to step forward with his right foot and slowly drag his left leg to the front. His knuckles were pale as he grasped the handrails for every ounce of support that they could possibly provide. He walked that way for two miles--almost an entire hour.

And me? I prayed hard for 6 miles--almost an entire hour. I asked God for forgiveness that day, and I asked God to bless me with a grateful heart. I also prayed for that man--for his recovery, for his strength, and for his stamina. And I prayed for the desire to make a conscious change. I was tired of being the average American woman...I wanted to enjoy my life.

And now I do.

Today as we walked into the Y, James and I stopped and counted every single fish in the large, crusty tank. I felt an overwhelming sense of love as I watched James play trucks by himself and with his favorite kid care worker, Christina. I felt relieved when I decided that I'd rather walk on the treadmill than run, and didn't allow the woman to my left to be a factor in my decision. I laughed to myself as I watched an old man flip the tape in his cassette walkman, and gawked in wonder as a tiny woman bench pressed one hundred pounds. And of course, I was purely grateful when the man with the stroke stepped onto his treadmill and began to walk. His left leg doesn't seem to be dragging quite so much, his speech seems to be a bit better, and I could be mistaken, but I think his treadmill was set to 3 miles per hour.

Life is good.


Vanilla said...

This is a great post. I love it, and can totally relate. I always check the speed of whoever is running next to me.

Vanilla said...

Thanks for your kind comments on my blog.

I love your blog, I can't tell you how long I've spent on here tonight reading your posts. Heck, I enjoyed it so much that I'm willing to admit I've got nothing better to do on a Friday night than read blogs.

I'm sure that I'll be checking back in frequently.

Grandma said...

Glad I did not put on eye make-up yet.Makes you realize everyone goes to the gym for their own reasons,everyone has their own obstacles,goals, and triumphs.Thanks again for your wisdom. I have always and still do learn from you. love, mom

Michemily said...

Jogging and these pilates workouts are getting to me. I want to see results! I guess I need an attitude adjustment. Thanks for the encouragement.

Cool, my word verification is "wingz." Ha ha.

Anonymous said...

God works in mysterious ways!

Rob & Katy said...

i needed to read something like this today,amy. thanks.

that man will be in our prayers.

Amy said...


Dona and co. said...

My little sister, Sarah, has a knack for making friends that are unique, sort-of quirky, and amazing. It would appear that she has done it again. Your blog about the gym made me cry.

Sarah's sister

Anonymous said...

That post about the old man really touched my heart.Thank you for brightening my day.