By John Addyman
It’s a ritual we have developed at our house.
At some point in the evening, my dear wife will tell me, “I’m going to the gym tomorrow. Do you want to go with me?
The answer in my head is always, “No! Are you kidding me?”
But what comes out of my mouth is something else.
“Sure,” I say with manufactured willingness. “What time?”
My wife goes to the gym just about every day. She takes a book and reads on the treadmill and elliptical machines. She does it so deftly that a young male collegiate lacrosse player I know has followed her example and told me, ”Your wife inspires me.”
He’s reading “Game of Thrones.”
She’s reading the entire Newark Public Library.
Anyway, my wife and I go to the gym. She has gone so often she knows just what time to get there so the place isn’t crowded and there are more people our age working out. She wants to be there when the machines she likes to use are available.
Frankly, I don’t have to look around to see the place is populated by people of a certain age (like me), I can hear them wheezing and groaning.
And I’m right there with them. I know going to the gym is good for me.
I usually feel better the next day, but getting up the energy — and off the couch — is a chore. And for the first few minutes while I’m getting warmed up, I’m making decisions on what pieces of equipment I’m going to use that day.
To do this, I approach a piece of equipment that has a drawing on the side telling you what parts of your body are going to get exercised.
And I look at the drawing and say to myself, “Nope: that’s going to hurt.” And I move on to the next machine.
Lucky for me, our gym has lots of machines and I don’t have any problem finding things that work well for me. And often, once I’m warmed up and feeling loose, I can go back to one of those first machines and try them anyway.
There are four groups of people in the gym.
First, there are the athletes and body-builders. They pump up the weights and machine difficulties to levels I can only imagine and talk to one another while their muscles pop. Good for them.
Second are the people who are on a mission to do something. They have clipboards or phone apps to help them decide what they need to do for the day’s workout. They are very serious about getting into a wedding dress or looking good in a bathing suit or making sure they are at least as fit to some important person in their lives. Good for them, too.
Then there’s the third group, a bit older and more conversational — it’s one of the ways we avoid spending more time on a machine. We all know we should be there doing physical things to stay healthy, but we all know there’s someplace we’d rather be.
And we need to spend the time in the gym to keep things light at home.
“You were at the gym for 90 minutes today,” my wife will say with a smile when I come in the back door. “Good for you! I’m proud of you!”
Then she checks me out a little.
“You’re not all sweaty,” she says. “Were you at the gym all this time?”
“Sure was,” I say.
“What we’re you doing there?”
“I was talking to the president of the school board and a judge and a guy who has a couple of Corvettes and the manager and some people I met in church.”
“Did you actually use any of the machines?” she asks.
There’s a pause while I think.
“I did the treadmill and the rowing machine and the bike,” I say.
She’s looking at me skeptically. “How much time did you spend on each one?”
“A good 20 minutes,” I say.
“On each one?” She’s standing there with her hands on her hips.
I’m thinking again.
“No, I think that was everything altogether,” I tell her.
“You were there for an hour and a half.”
“Gotta love that gym,” I say. “Love to feel the burn.”
“You didn’t get warm enough to melt margarine on your forehead,” she says.
While I’m trying to figure out what that meant, she suggests a change in our routine.
“Tomorrow when we go to the gym, you’re driving my car,” she said. “And I’ll tell you when we can leave.”
And with that I have joined the fourth group — the one where you’re in the gym because your wife is keeping an eye on you