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A Shared Story: Work It Out Without Me

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"It’s very important to have the right clothing to exercise in.  If you throw on an old T-shirt or sweats, it’s not inspiring for your workout. ~ Cheryl Tiegs

It’s a known fact that writers never break a sweat if it means they have to exercise. Most of my days, when I am not searching for an excuse not to write, I am sitting at a computer keyboard. That’s enough of a workout for me. I don’t have arthritic finger lumps, I have tiny biceps. Then there is the up and down movement of my mouth while talking or eating. What more of a workout do I need?

I have occasionally made the decision to ˜get with the exercise program,’ but not anymore. I’m tired of donating what’s left of my money for a health club membership card I know will sit in my billfold until one of us expires.

The last time I went to a gym, I looked at the young, cavorting members and became immediately conscious of my state of under-dress. I was wearing a timeworn University of South Carolina T-shirt, circa 1962, the year I would have graduated had I not wasted so much collecting fraternity pins. The gym shorts I wore that day had once belonged to my husband Babe, which is to say that either he used to be much smaller or I am in big trouble and I seriously don’t want to go there.

I stepped inside that oversized den of stinky sweat and throbbing tendons, looked at the throng of well-turned-out women in gymnastically correct leotards and coordinated thongs, and I cringed. At that moment, a craving for chocolate dropped down on me as if it had come straight from God.

So who in their right mind ignores a directive from Himself? Spinning around so fast the revolving door didn’t have time to turn, I headed straight for Sweet Mama’s Bakery where Mama doesn’t give a French fig fritter how I’m dressed. God didn’t intend for me to die all sweated up and dressed like a throwback to the Sixties.

That night, Babe, my good humored, patient husband, lifted the lid on a pan of Southern fried chicken. Hell-ooo, he exclaimed, Something tells me another health club expired today. The

dirty look I gave him replaced a less than ladylike digit gesture.

In the past, Babe has supported my infrequent urges to eat cabbage and kale for seven straight days in hopes of losing a pound. He even claims to like kale although he doesn’t have the slightest idea what it is. On our last anniversary, the last of the big-time spenders gave me a new bicycle in lieu of the ten days at Canyon Ranch for which I had outrageously hinted. What a guy. It is true that I have joined too many health clubs while believing in the fantasy of regaining some resemblance to the size-eight I used to be. Where there’s life there’s hope, they say.

My friend Craig once joined a gym following a New Year’s Resolution, and being a humorist of some note, he asked, Has anybody ever died in this place?                                                         

The trainer assigned to give him the nickel tour didn’t bat an eyelash and smiled with a mouth full of Chicklet teeth. I wouldn’t be caught dead in any other place, she said.

His question and her response gave me pause. What did this silly notion of mine to keep my body fit have to do with anything? Whatever possessed me to heed that nagging inner voice each time it shouted, ˜No pain, no gain.’ Did I pay attention to it in order to stay healthy or because I wanted to reclaim a portion of my youth? At my age, the portions are few.

When I am even older and my brittle bones clack like a set of bad-fitting false teeth, when my hair has turned white and wiry and falls out in clumps, I may experience a little remorse. I might regret having spent too much time at my keyboard instead of sweating while straddling a stationary bike.

But until the dawning of that day, I’ll ride my little old lady’s bike every now and then and I’ll keep working my jaws up and down hoping for a trickle down result.

The bad news is it won’t restore my youth; the good news nobody expects me to wear fashionable workout clothes ~ not in my neighborhood.  

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