Take one aspect of your life where it’s been “same old, same old” for a long time. It’s comfortable but there’s something missing. You’re going through the motions. Little frustrations nip at you but you don’t seem to have the energy to make a change. That pretty much sums up my experience at the fitness club.
Jody and I started going to this gym about ten years ago. It was fine – a reasonable variety of machines, super low cost, friendly staff. After my dear wife died, I simply carried on, sometimes sporadically, usually without much enthusiasm.
Yesterday, a voice inside said “You’ve been sleepwalking. Wake up.” So … I got my gym clothes together and set off for a workout. I considered it an experiment in paying attention.
A staff member whom I really enjoy was at the front desk. She was all excited about a job she’d just got at a high end pub in London. She wasn’t sure if she’d also continue working at the club. “Really, I feel done here.” Could that be my voice speaking?
I thought of the many staff members I know. They’re fine people. A few of them have been especially kind to me. Is that enough of a reason to stay?
This visit I really looked around. The main room was sort of … dark. A few machines had “I’m sick” signs attached to them. Was I creating a reality here or was the environment just plain blah? And so what if it was? The most important thing is what I create, rather than what the surroundings offer back to me.
I went into the locker room to change. The soap dispenser took several seconds to deliver a dollop to my palm. Assuming I’m a fairly mature person, that shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe this is all mental. Nevertheless, I kept looking. The paper towels wouldn’t rip properly from their machine. Cubicle doors banged hard when they closed. Months ago, I asked the manager to buy some little fuzzy pads for the doorjambs but she never did.
After stretching, I reached my favourite elliptical machine. I knew it was my favourite because none of the others worked perfectly well. That’s okay. At least I had my own personal steed. After pressing the start button, I realized that the intensity was too high. My first few minutes are usually a stroll in the park, but immediately it was a grind. Soon I got into the flow pretty well, but on the cool-down, I had to struggle rather than relaxing into the end. Hmm. Are inanimate objects in the habit of sending coded messages to human beings? Perhaps.
The last couple of months, I’ve been going to a sports medicine clinic for my knee. I’m not really worried about the joint because after all I have a spare on the other side! This clinic is located in a downtown fitness club. Guess I’ve been sleepwalking on that journey too but today I decided to go there and ask for a tour. I opened my eyes upon arrival. This is a “clean, well-lighted place”. (A quote from Ernest Hemingway).
A smiling receptionist (who earlier in the day I had sung with as I left my physio appointment) ushered me to a little table. Right away, another smiler approached me with her hand out in greeting. “Jessica” made gentle eye contact and clearly had no interest in some canned sales talk. Actually she did more listening than talking. And there was absolutely no sense of hurry about her. I realized that she was “seeing” me, something I deeply value. As members walked by us, my new friend greeted many of them, and clearly each was happy to see the other. Hmm again.
As we talked, I counted many smiling conversations happening near me. And there were a lot of folks here to exercise. I listened to the energy in the building and it was happy. Jessica was happy. Gosh, I was getting happy.
At one point, I said “Okay, sign me up.” Jessica looked over and said something like “Really?” There was an amused and quizzical look on her face. I had sensed into the truth of this place. This could be home. I didn’t need the grand tour or pricing options or a long list of benefits. I knew.
I had my tour. I signed on the dotted line. I clutched my free gym bag and water bottle to my chest. All of that was fine. But Jessica’s care and the glowing passersby did the deed for me.
I had walked in the door at 6:55 pm. I walked out at 9:00. Towards the end of the evening, something that Jessica said made me wonder, and I had to ask the question “Was your shift over at 7:00?” > (Pause) “Yes.”
I intend to pass all this goodness on to the people I meet here. Naturally I want to get fitter but more than anything I want to create a new community for myself, to contribute to the members and staff every time I walk in the door. It’s a fun thing to do.