published July 17, 2020 in Warp & Woof
Why I Miss My Gym
Or Not …
Virginia advanced to “Phase 3” re-opening more than two weeks ago. But, yes, cases of COVID-19 are still rising in the state. My local gym has posted a sign: “We’re Open!” (at 75 per cent capacity). Masks are not required for gyms, and only this week was an enforcement mechanism announced for the mask requirement and social distancing anywhere in the state – unannounced visits by state inspectors.
Why would any 73-year-old man, like me, want to return to his regular gym workout routine under such circumstances? The rational answer is certainly, “No reason, it would be dumb!”
The desire to return to “normal” – meaning old habits – is strong, indeed. And, each week when I weigh myself, noting the inexorable gain, and each day that I fill those hours I spent at the gym with some other activity (usually reading, or ordering grocery deliveries online), I feel the pang of loss. But the gym was boring, too, right? I had long ago given up the project of making a social outlet of my low-budget gym. There was no prospect of that succeeding. So, what is it, really, that I miss?
I miss my music. But my iTunes playlists are still on my phone. There is nothing stopping me from listening to those great dancing, heart-rate-exciting, tunes while exercising at home, or even NOT exercising at home! Is it the equipment in the gym that I miss? I have no equipment at home except for arm weights and a medicine ball. But a quick Google search reveals many hits for “exercising at home without equipment” – I can easily develop a cardio-intensive routine from those, it seems.
So, what is stopping me? Has the desire to return to normalcy overtaken the more prudent response of planning for a “new normal?” Indeed, my wife will continue her telecommuting routine indefinitely – she is always home, no need for me to fill empty slots in my day. It’s almost as if we were both retired.
Except for one glaring difference. There is no place to go on a regular basis!
That must be it. Not my music, not the gym equipment, certainly not the eerie lack of social interaction amid all the sweaty bodies at the gym. No, it is the simple fact that the gym was a place to go four times a week, for a forty-minute-plus stretch, then home, shower, change clothes. Such a captivating routine it was!
I have begun practicing a promising no-equipment cardio workout Eventually, I may make it to the entire 50 reps for the whole two sets – an ambitious goal, for sure. I may need to scale back for age (jumping jacks really get me winded). I could even listen to my music once I get comfortable. Then, I will check if weight control is a secondary benefit. If so, drive another nail into the coffin of my old gym routine. Plus, I still have my daily 2.5 to 3-mile walks getting me out of the house and accumulating those 10,000 Fitbit steps.
Keeping the coronavirus away, and adding these new routines, may yet get me to 100, my oft-stated goal. If only I was more outdoorsy – I could then also derive pleasure from driving to other outdoor places that my neighborhood walks can’t take me. That would constitute such a lifestyle change, though, to be a bridge too far!
Compared with working parents worried about balancing their paychecks against getting the coronavirus, or whether their kids will even have school in a few short weeks, missing my gym workouts is surely a “first world problem.”