Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fitness is a Culture all its Own...Not Mine! Oh, but Now it is!

We recently made a move not everyone would say was wise--I'm personally not sure it was wise, at least speaking from a financial standpoint. We joined the YMCA...a move we've never made before because it seemed so expensive. Still, with January being a half-price initiation fee month, it was tempting in view of a few significant factors. We don't have medical insurance, and though physical activity can increase the need for medical care, it also can lower the need for medical care (especially at 48 and 58 years old)...or the risk, for that matter, of death.
We joined partially because Tim sees various friends involved in hockey, and wrestling, and baseball...(he tried baseball and gave it up when he got hit in the face by one). He has lately been asking to get involved in some form of sports. I am not good at keeping kids enrolled in things. I don't know how people do it, it's a foreign culture to me. So he was feeling left out, and you can tell by looking at him that a little exercise wouldn't do him any harm. We try, by biking, and walking, and tv show exercise programs, and just lately Tim bought a nifty skateboard and has gotten pretty good at it. But he needs more structure, and so...Tim was one factor.
Then there's Gary. He has no interests outside of work. A person could think that surely he has one or two, but this is a description of a typical night for Gary after work: He changes into more comfortable clothes. He sits in his recliner. He reads the newspaper. He does paperwork. He eats dinner (preferably in the recliner). And then he dozes off. I have to wake him up to go to bed. So Gary was another factor. I'm hoping he will find it interesting and helpful and healthy.
Then there's me. I have never been very fit. I remember even as a little kid (well, when you consider for 7 years I was the youngest, I was at a disadvantage...) whenever there were sports that involved even short bursts of running, I got completely winded very quickly. I'm talking, Red Rover, let alone our short sprint race across the Continental Divide. Who knows if there was anything physically malformed within me...it wouldn't surprise me, but I think I would have died by now if there was! By God's grace I'm still alive, and I intend to be at least until Tim grows up, and hopefully longer. So when I went to the orientation tonight, the woman was amazed that in all my many years I had never been enrolled in a fitness organization. So I am the third factor in this decision.
Another factor, a very important one to me, is that while I'm home with Tim, and Gary's out for the day, and Katie's off to college, the only people I am in contact with are Christians. I might occasionally talk to a neighbor, but 98% of my time is indoors, in my house. I shop as little as possible, because I don't need to spend the money. I don't work outside the home, I don't belong to any clubs. Our only social environment is church, which in itself is completely adequate for my own perceived needs. But how in the world can I be getting to know the unbelievers around me? How can I share the delight of knowing Christ with someone who has no hope, no peace, no confidence? I have to wedge myself out of the house and into the world a bit more than I normally would. This is a fourth factor.
One more factor is the hope of having Tim meet more kids, homeschooled or otherwise, in the area, and make friends with them. This would be for his benefit and for the hope of sharing Christ. He shares the desire to make Him known to others; I've seen it in him from the time he was small. So this is factor number five. I look forward to seeing how these all pan out, which factors are most successfully addressed over the next few months.
There is something very uncool, uncultured, about a person like me in a fitness place. The first day I tried one of their fitness machines, I noticed a woman nearby (who I know from a previous church)...she had her water bottle, a sweat rag, a book...I fumbled with the machine, trying to turn it on. I finally figured out you have to get it moving for the lights to come on. I started going on the machine and it didn't take long for my heart rate to climb into the warning light area...I wasn't going fast enough to slow down, either. I guess it's a good thing I am doing this! Does a heart rate of 135 mean you're dead? If so, no one seems to have noticed. I guess I got away with it for now.
I also tend to walk to the end of the wrong hallway over and over again, looking for the right room I'm looking for. And I don't have the right kind of clothes. I go in my jeans, because I don't have sweat pants (I don't want any), and I don't have any fitness clothes. My logic is this: Pretty soon my pants will be too large for me, and so would any fitness clothes I bought now; why not wear my jeans out by exercising in them, so that I get the wear before I have to throw them out? So I look uncultured and I don't have my water bottle and I go to the ends of hallways and turn around.
Today I at least had my tennis shoes and not my clogs, as I had the other day. That was an improvement. I got on a machine and moved it while I pushed the buttons. I'm getting a little cooler! There was a little tv set on the machine, and the Simpsons were on. I turned the channel to the news but there was no sound. I noticed others nearby had brought headphones. I think I'm going to have to bring a gym bag to carry all the things that would make me cool. I don't think I have a gym bag, and when I looked around, no one had one with them. I don't know how they carry all their cool equipment: water bottle, book, headphones, membership card...without dropping something every few feet.
I couldn't get the heart monitor to work; I think it was broken. Maybe it was a good thing, or I might have been further troubled by a warning light. There were red dots along the bottom of a screen. I finally figured out by a little burst of going faster that the faster you go, the more dots fill up the space. One of my columns of dots, where I burst faster, had two; the rest had one. The screen could have contained dots about 20 high, I think. I was going pretty slow. I could feel the sweat starting up (I hate sweat), and my cheeks were getting red like they get when I do things like that. The girl next to me was having no trouble going a lot faster than I did. She had her water bottle, her headphones, her fitness clothes. You could tell it wasn't her first day here. I wondered about my fourth factor, the hope of sharing Christ. No one seems to notice that the room is full of about 50 people. They look straight ahead, like in an elevator. No one is talking to anyone else. No one looks to the side, or turns around to look behind them (like I did). At least I didn't have to be embarrassed being such a beginner. No one noticed anything I was doing. I know that if I even talk to someone, I will definitely be different. I will be counter-cultural just in saying hello.
The machine told me on its little electronic message screen that I was 20% done. This was the first time I had the upper hand. I knew in my hyper-beating heart that I was about 95% done. I'd worked for about 15 minutes, and my goal was to work off 100 calories. (That's another thing where I think I had the upper hand. I think I worked off about 500, because it didn't know how fast my heart was going.) I almost stopped at 50...then I thought, "I think I can make it to 75"...then when I hit that, I started the countdown to 100. So now, I am feeling so fit and so cool. I've worked out at the gym tonight. Yeah, I'm finally in the groove! Groovy.

No comments: