The Local Gym- What A Surprise

Several months ago I decided that I wanted to do more to try and keep myself fit and healthy. I looked around our little town for some sort of gym or health club and I found that we had one. Just one. The facility has a gym and two pools so I thought okay, I’ll go have a look. 

Hubby and I ran over there on a Saturday afternoon to ask about pricing and to have a look at the facilities. 

I have to say that I choked a bit when I saw their price chart. They have a strange system here. The plans that were affordable for me were set up with strange hours- you had to choose a certain three hour block of time in which to use the facilities. Thing was they have all manner of classes and programs running so, on certain days, you might not be able to swim ( that’s really what I wanted to do) because there was a class being held in the pool. 

After some hemming and hawing I ended up choosing the ” eight days a month” plan. I can use the facilities at any time of day for a total of eight days a month. They threw in Sunday’s as a free day. So basically I can go three times a week- if they aren’t closed for cleaning or a holiday. 

I used to go to Gold’s Gym in Saipan – any time any day for $35 a month. I’m paying double here for eight days. 

Anyhow- I got a membership and I love being able to use the pool and gym again. 

I was a ” gym rat” and if you know anything about being a gym rat you know that there is a whole other culture in the gym. You worry about having the right clothes and accessories. Everyone is strutting around showing off their muscles and such. 

I didn’t really know what to expect and I was in for a total surprise. 

That first day that I walked into the gym I looked around and thought- humm, must be senior citizen’s day today. I seemed to be the youngest person there and I’m over fifty. If I took a guess I’d say the general age group present was between 60-80. I noticed that they were a pretty spry bunch! 

There were several grannies walking side by side on treadmills watching a local sports event on the huge wall mounted screen. A couple of grandpas were laughing and joking while leisurly pedaling stationary bikes. 

In the corner of the gym a stretching class was being held and a mixed gender group of elderly folks were concentrating on the teacher’s instructions. 

I wandered back to the free weight area and thought about my routine when I noticed a man with one leg on the press machine. When he was done he grabbed his walker and made his way over to the next machine. 

I felt like I was in the twilight zone. The only gyms I’d ever been in were filled with young, scantily dressed patrons. That fit the description of no one in this gym. 

Actually- it was such a relief and I thought- I’m always coming on senior citizen’s day! 

After my workout I wanted to try the pool . They have a fantastic walking pool. I watched as about a dozen or so elderly folk walked, bobbed and floated around and around the 19 meter pool. 

I was kind of self- conscious walking across the mat floor to the pool as everyone was watching me. I could hear whispers of ” gaikokugin” ( foreigner). I made my way gingerly down the steps into the pool and was greeted by several folks saying ” Konnichiwa”. I nodded and returned the greeting. 

I walked round and round with the group – surreal. Not a young person in sight. 

Soon everyone started gathering in the corner of the pool. I had no idea what was happening so I just kept right on going round and round. About the third time ’round a little old lady in a flowered bathing suit and pink swim cap flagged me down and said to get ready for ” teacher”. Teacher? Yes, teacher, it was time for walking class. 

Walking class? As soon as I asked ” teacher” came bounding into the pool and after greetings and bowing we commenced ” warming up” for walking class. 

Walking class was like nothing I’d ever participated in before. ” Teacher” led us is a series of various walking exercises with everyone going at there own pace. There were some who bounded right along and others who gently floated doing the best they could….at 82 years old. 

One old man, I call him the smiling ojiisan ( grandpa) – he just bounced and bobbed along with the biggest grin on his face! You could tell that he was having the time of his life! You could also tell that he was popular with the little old ladies… 

At about the third set I was pushed ( gently) to the front of the line because I was faster than everyone else. 

Class ended and after cool downs and bows and thanking the teacher for teaching -we were dismissed. 

I left feeling amused, surprised and relieved because I found out that it wasn’t senior citizen’s day. This was a normal day! 

As I left the facilities I saw the pool group sitting at the tables in the lobby eating bento lunches. 

My husband said young people don’t have the time nor the finances to go to a health club.  Wow, well… Okay then. He was right- the gym and pool are always crowded with seniors. I’m the young person! 

Now I have many friends at the ” club”. I’ve gotten to know the ” smiling grandpa” and many little old ladies. All lovely people! It’s no longer a strange place for me. It’s become familiar and part of my life here. A place where I’ve met friends and have integrated just a bit more into the community. 

I had quit going for a time but realized that was a mistake. I do much better when I stick to a regular exercise program. 

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