Generally speaking, I play by the rules. If breaking the rules has no bearing on others, it doesn’t bother me when others break the rules, However, in certain situations, I become very impatient when people don’t play by the rules, particularly when people’s actions make them appear disrespectful of others around them. The gym is a fascinating study in human behavior (or misbehavior, as the case may be). People walk where you’re supposed to run; people use cell phones despite signs asking you not to; they hog equipment when conversing with others, even when people are waiting to use it; they take over two stretching mats when they could make do with just one; yes, I’ve seen all of this and more.
I used to belong to a gym that was also a medical fitness center, which means they also helped people heal from things like heart attacks, strokes, broken bones, etc. Being a medical fitness center translated into this: the average age of people utilizing the gym was A LOT older than typical gyms. Therefore, oftentimes (though, not all the time), the people committing such heinous crimes (ha) were the elderly. And so, I found myself getting darn frustrated with a bunch of very sweet, though not always with it “older” people (I really should be careful of whom I call old). When we let our membership to that gym lapse, I didn’t miss certain parts about it, that’s for sure.
A few weeks ago, Sweets and I started watching the next season of one of our very favorite shows: Lisa Ling’s Our America on the Oprah Winfrey Network. If you haven’t ever seen this show, please, go now. Find your TV listings. Set your DVR. You can thank me later.
This one particular episode we watched was called the Secret Lives of Seniors. It discussed the challenges of aging, specifically the desire and need to remain independent, despite a body that might need help. I was moved by the show and that surprised me. I had living grandparents until I was in my late 20s and now we’re dealing with our very own aging parents (ha, I’m kidding; my parents and Sweets’ parents read this blog regularly, so I figured it’d get their goat if I said something to that effect). But, seriously, I really did feel like I had “exposure” to the aging process prior to watching this show. And yet, something in me softened as we watched it. I gained a new, albeit still incomplete understanding for what it means to maintain independence as you age.
Around the same time that we watched Our America, Sweets and I had a conversation about my well-being. I wasted no time after that conversation and decided to re-join that medical fitness center. And, even though I had been running outside in very cold weather, I started running on the indoor track again. Some things don’t change: the place is still crawling with older people. I’ve been playing around with what times I go to the gym – early morning after dropping off Gavin at daycare, lunch on days I work from home and evenings after work. No matter what time I go, *they* are still there. (Amazing what retirement does for one’s schedule!)
But, this time it feels different. If someone is walking in the Jog lane, I ask myself whether they even realize there are lane specifications. I’m faster to smile than I am to huff. Just last week, I started taking a barbell power class and found myself following the lead of an older woman who was in the row in front of me (she was pretty much kicking my ass in this class!). This time around, rather than getting frustrated, I find myself thinking that I’ll be darn lucky if I’m as mobile and independent as these people are when I reach their age.
Have you learned anything from generations other than your own (older or younger)? Has a TV program ever moved you to see the world differently? What heinous crimes have you witnessed at your local gym or exercise center?