yogaThis morning, after a two week hiatus, I went to Anytime Fitness, which forced me to ponder yet again one of those ironies of middle age: not having any fond memories of gym class as a kid, yet now paying money to, essentially, go to gym class.

Immediately after I walked in the door I was confronted with the #1 thing that makes going to the gym tedious. Sartre said that “hell is other people.” I would rephrase that to say “hell is other people at the gym.”

I instantly noticed that there were far too many people at the gym, including people I’ve seen at the gym before, which reminds me that a more accurate saying might be:”Hell is other people you know at the gym.” This also explains why I can’t exercise at home, given that there are always family members around, plus exercise ruins the fun of being at home.

The only time I was at the gym when no one else was there was on a weekday morning with blizzard type conditions 3-4 years ago, a memory I still cherish. This past Mother’s Day there was only one other person at the gym in the late morning, which was a Mother’s Day gift of sorts. One would think a Saturday afternoon around 5:30 would be a time you could have the gym to yourself, but when I tried that a couple of months ago there were several young men there doing show off things with weights; two men insisted on doing vertical jumps onto a platform next to the machine I wanted to use.  I desperately wanted to say, “You are all reasonably attractive men, why aren’t you home getting ready for dates?”

WP_20150523_14_31_34_ProBut, Saturday morning it had to be today, because I had no excuse not to get in some exercise, because the rainy weather made it impossible to be outside mowing the lawn.  Last Saturday my hamstrings got a workout as I cleaned out the hall closet, which had become a purgatory for stuffed animals. The kids later had to do a “sheep and the goats” type of routine and choose which ones to save.  The Saturday before that my quads got a workout from the base running I did at the parents vs. kids softball game to celebrate the end of the girls’ softball season.

This morning, due to the crowd at the gym, I sought refuge in a 20 minute fusion workout in the special private fitness room. It is only in recent weeks that I’ve started using this private room and I’m thinking it is the best kept secret in Monona. There is a projector and you choose which Wellbeats workout you want displayed on the screen and follow along. By yourself. With the door closed. No one else there to notice if your yoga pants are accidentally inside out, or if you can’t keep up. I could just sit and read a book or the New York Times and call it a workout and no one would notice.

This room is larger than my living room. Surprisingly it is always available even when the gym is crowded. It is a perfect hiding place.  This is the smallest fitness center in town (with the largest monthly fee), but it feels like the roomiest when I slip alone into this room, which is why I keep going. Maybe next Saturday I’ll bring along some stuffed animals and softballs and incorporate those into the fusion routine.


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