Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mini Mid-Life Crisis

What was I thinking!

After hearing those dreaded words from my physician the other day informing me of my advancing age, I hauled myself into the gym. As I explained to my doctor, I exercise regularly and have for 2 ½ years. I have to admit that my routine has become a bit stale and I haven’t felt challenged for awhile. Maybe I need to try something new. These were the thoughts that were going through my head as I walked into the gym. I am not someone who truly enjoys the process of working out. The whole “runner’s high” thing – never experienced it. I’ve run 6k and 10k runs before………..nothing. My favorite part is when it’s over. But I realize that working out is a necessary evil in my life and I trudge on. The most enjoyable experience I’ve had while exercising has been taking aerobics classes. I think this is because I enjoy laughing even if it’s at myself. So anyway, I stopped at the desk on my way into the gym and asked if they plan to add any evening classes. I was told they do not. The classes are not well attended and they have to pay the instructors. I wanted to say that maybe the classes might be better attended if they held them when average people weren’t at work. I didn’t say that though. Instead, I continued on to the locker room and started up a conversation on this topic with a complete stranger. My new friend suggested that I try the IRON BODIES class that she was on her way to right that very moment. I made my “I don’t think so face” and told her that I thought I might be better matched with a Soft, Round, Cushy Body class. “Do they have any of those?” She smiled very sweetly and told me that the class is a great all over body work-out, you don’t need to bring anything more than a towel and water and you can go at your own pace. Uh, huh. Right.

For some reason that still is a mystery to me, I followed her into the classroom where IRON BODIES was being held. The instructor, Chris, looked like a nice enough man. He welcomed me as “fresh meat” and smiled as he instructed me to be sure to work at my own pace.

The music began. We used all sorts of toys during the class. There were steps, free weights, body bars, and rubber bands. We ran, forward and backward, we lunged, we lifted and moved to the music in ways this tired body has not moved for awhile. At mid-point in the class, as I was gasping for air and gulping down water, the nice woman from the locker room asked how I was doing. As I wiped the sweat from my brow, I told her that I didn’t think we could be friends. She offered encouragement saying that I was doing great. I was not convinced.

I don’t really consider myself competitive but at some point I completely forgot those words “at your own pace”. I don’t know what happened to me. I was determined to keep up with my classmates that have been taking this class on a regular basis. I’m not saying that I was keeping up with them but I was certainly trying. I didn’t quit. There were times I had to slow down to avoid collapsing in an embarrassing heap on the floor. But eventually we arrived at my favorite part: The end. I walked out of the gym on that day proud of my accomplishment. Thoughts like,” don’t tell me I’m getting older.”, “I’ve still got it.” “I finished, didn’t I? “ all went through my head.

Driving home, it occurred to me that maybe pushing myself to the limit on the very day that my doctor tells me that my blood pressure is high and I could be at risk for stroke might not have been the most intelligent decision I’ve ever made. What was I thinking! I think I could be having my own mini mid-life crisis. My “I’ll show you” attitude would not have played well had I stroked out on the dance floor.

Around 4:30pm the next day, I was reminded of my foolish behavior the day before. I had trouble standing up from my desk. For the next two days, I was stiff and sore beyond belief. Returning to the gym was out of the question as walking was barely possible. Oh yeah, I really showed ‘em.

You know, I really thought I was above all this. I thought getting older wouldn’t bother me. And it didn’t until that day that I woke up and saw bags under my eyes that don’t disappear after I’m completely awake, lines around my mouth and excess me around the middle that doesn’t want to budge no matter how much I diet and exercise. Oh and let us not forget the words of Dr. Good News. So apparently, I’m not above it all. I wonder if there a way to approach 50 years old …………….. (someday) …………..without having at least an occasional melt-down? Is there a way to escape this desperate attempt to hang on to our youth or is it something that we should just embrace and go for it?

Will there be another IRON BODIES class in my future? You bet but this time I will go at my own pace with nothing to prove to anyone but myself. And the next time I see a middle-aged, overweight, balding man in a little red corvette, I will still smile but it will be a knowing smile saying, hey, buddy, I’m right there with you.

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