In my 40s, I went to the gym five days a week, religiously going Monday through Friday. I bet you’re impressed, right? Hold your horses! There are three different kinds of gyms and very different reasons to go to each one. Be very careful which one you choose, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The first one caters to, “The Gym Rats.” To coin one of my 4-year-old grandson’s favorite expressions, “They are no joke”. That group takes the whole exercising thing very seriously. They have muscles on top of muscles, six-pack stomachs, and profusely sweat like springtime rain. The noises; grunts, groans alongside the sweating from lifting ridiculous amounts of weight are loud and sounds exactly the same as when…oh wait, never mind. And let’s not even talk about the smell. It is memorable, not in a good way.
The second kind of gym is the Big Box variety, and nationally advertised. Open 365/24/7. I have no idea what that means, or who goes to the gym in the middle of the night! Are they wearing pajamas instead of workout clothes? Come to think of it, they probably don’t even wear pajamas.
Never mind, back to the story. These gyms are gigantic, generic. Filled with all the exercise equipment anybody could want. No one knows your name, and no one cares. You’re just a number, there were lots of numbers before you and there will be lots after you.
The third is the kind I go to. The number one requirement is being small, friendly and social. Exercising your jaw is very important. It must have a juice bar. Apparently, I am not alone. The reason I know this is because no matter where I’ve lived, I’ve always been able to locate one that fits what I’m looking for.
I consider the most important part of exercising is socializing. Second is snacking, and after fulfilling both to your heart’s content, if there’s any time left, light aerobics. Sweating is optional, and as far as I’m concerned, never necessary. I read somewhere that women don’t sweat… they glow.
I had located the perfect gym: it fits all of my requirements. Needless to say, I had made friends with everyone. I used to think people knew who I was because I walked with a cane, but everyone assured me, I was memorable with or without a cane. I was never brave enough to ask anybody to explain exactly what that meant. I decided to take it it was a compliment. If you disagree, please keep your opinion to yourself. LOL.
I was minding my own business pedaling away on the elliptical machine. I especially liked this machine because you were elevated just enough to have a perfect view of everybody in the gym. Doing whatever it was they were doing. Lisa, a girl in her late 20s, early 30s, whom I had spoken with many times, stopped in front of the machine I was on. She looked at me. I have seen that look before, and yet I still play along and asked, “ What’s up, how are you today?”
Remember how I told you I’m a slow learner? People stop to talk to me all the time, so I’m very used to it. She didn’t look all that happy, and said, “You are so friendly, and you can talk to anybody. Exactly how do you do that?” I have a very strict rule I unconditionally hold myself to. When somebody comes to me for advice, the first thing I do is repeat the question they asked back to them, to make sure that is exactly what they’re asking.
I did just that, and her answer confirmed that I understood her question correctly. The reason I am non-negotiable when it comes to this tactic is for two very good reasons. First, repeating the question makes sure I have it correctly. Second, the person asking now is confident that I understand exactly what their question was. The fact it gives me time to figure out exactly what I am going to-say to formulate my opinion never hurts.
I take giving advice very seriously. If you want to be right, just let me know now. We can go to that and save ourselves a lot of time. If you want my truth, I’m willing to invest the time, and give it to you. Just remember, this is only my opinion. I don’t have a rule book, I can only offer you my wisdom. And I should tell you right upfront, the way I have gotten it is from all the mistakes I’ve made in the past.
It is so very important not to come off as a know-it-all, which, by the way, nobody is. If you come on too strong, people build a wall to protect themselves. I carefully watch eyes, body language, and never listen to their words. By the time most of us reach adulthood, we know the “A+” answer. If the two are diametrically opposed, don’t bother talking, you’re wasting your time. It’s not even that they don’t want to hear you, they are not able to listen under those circumstances. “Being right” has tunnel vision, and no need (or tolerance) to take prisoners.
I can say without a doubt in this particular instance she truly wanted to know my secret. First and foremost, there are no secrets and there are no strangers. In my book, everyone is a friend, some I just haven’t met yet.
“Just go up and talk to him, whoever that is and just ask him how his workout is going!” I said in a friendly tone.
She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Obviously she was going to need more help. I stopped paddling on the elliptical. She turned around to check out all the guys in the gym. It only took her a second, obviously, she knew whom she wanted to talk to.
She directed my attention to the guy in the furthest corner of the gym doing bicep curls. It took me a second to see whom she was talking about. He was standing near the front door, by a large picture window, and the glaring sun was obstructing my view.
Have you ever heard the expression, “Nothing is ever easy”? Well, this certainly was not turning out the way I expected. She was talking about my husband. Now let me explain before you don’t believe this because it’s the truth. When I joined this gym they had a two-for-one special for spouses. When I explained that to my husband, he said, “Well, go ahead and sign me up! I can go there and lift weights”. He was training to run marathons at the time. The only thing I ever remember worth running for was to the refrigerator. He would have chosen the first gym. Working out is a serious business: no time for socializing.
I was totally in shock! I hadn’t seen him come in. We usually exchange a smile or a wink. Remember, he is very serious about working out, and let’s just say…I’m not. I guess opposites really do attract. I don’t judge him, he doesn’t judge me, and we live happily ever after.
I did a double-take. What is he doing here in the morning on a weekday? Then I remembered he told me he was starting work late today because he wanted to train for the marathon. As soon as I realized who she was pointing out, I was at a momentary loss for words.
Unfortunately, I have been known to see the humor in the strangest situations, and before I could stop myself I said, “That guy? If you wanna talk to that guy you’re going to have to sleep with him.” I started laughing and quickly realized that she didn’t think anything was funny. Think about it. She didn’t have any idea who she picked.
As soon as I saw her face turning red, I knew I was in trouble. She gasped and yelled in a whispered, “OMG, is that your husband?” I was more nervous at this point than she was. My answer was so important. Of course, I couldn’t lie to her about my husband, till death do us part. Death never sounded so appealing as it did that moment. I can’t believe I said that to her. She had conjured up the strength to reach out, and I certainly didn’t want this to be a disaster and have her embarrassed.
I decided to go with “The best defense is a good offense.” Some of you may not agree, and I respect your right to differ, but I stand firm on my decision. Let’s agree to disagree. I said to her, “You are so funny. You had me for a second, I know you know he is my husband. And for the record be very careful what you wish for, he’s a handful.”
I made sure not to make direct eye contact. I have been warned never to play poker, apparently, I wear the truth written all over my face. I never gave her a chance to respond. I kept laughing and told her, “Go home, get out of here. You are so funny!” It worked perfectly. What could’ve been a very awkward moment for both of us ended up being a big joke!
This is a perfect example of when being right: the truth is nothing but wrong. As she was walking away I did add, “If you ever do need any help, let me know!” She never did ask me for help again. Go figure!