I am the daughter of a gym rat. My dad was a lifelong athlete and became a Golden Gloves boxer in the Navy who said he remembered sparring with Charles Bronson back then. Not sure who won, but I can imagine my tenacious father giving it all he had. When my sister and I were under 10, he taught us a bit about the pugilistic arts, having us don gloves, headgear and mouth guards before we took playful swings at each other. My standard line is that it is a good thing I am a pacifist, or I would have developed a mean right hook. With him, I also jumped rope, rode bikes, skated, went sledding and jogging.  He instilled a love of fitness. When he retired in 1998, he and my mom moved to Ft. Lauderdale and for another 18 years, he worked in a gym until Parkinson’s robbed him of his physical stamina. After he could no longer work, he still worked out at the gym and when he could no longer do that, my mom took him swimming (paddling and floating mostly) and would walk with him around their condo.

In addition to some of the aforementioned activities (not boxing), my mother used to swim with us when we were kids, attending our swim meets as well.  We would work out in front of the tv as we watched Exercise with Gloria and Jack LaLanne. In retirement, she taught water aerobics and senior stretch class, called Stretching With Selma. Whenever I would fly down from Philly to visit them, the gym and pool were among the highlights. I attended my mom’s classes and was impressed by the vitality of her students in their 60s and beyond and was not about to let them show me up! One woman was in her 90s and walked 1/4 mile each way in the Florida heat to get to the class. My mother would offer to drive her and she refused.


These days, the gym is my go-to destination for fitness and release of stress. Once upon a time, (five years ago), I was there five or six times a week as part of my burning the candle at both ends routine that included little sleep and too much hustle-bustle activity. On the way home, on June 12, 2014, I had a heart attack which required cardiac rehab, more structured workouts and actually less time at the gym, per the instructions of a doc who asked if I wanted to get sick again. She insisted that I needed time to reset between workouts. Naps are now part of my health regimen. I am there, at Planet Fitness (a.k.a. The Judgement Free Zone) three or four times a week, for 45-60 minutes each. In between, I walk through my little town of Doylestown, PA once or twice a week, often carrying my Hugmobsters Armed With Love sign, offering FREE HUGS, since hugs are emotionally and physically heart-friendly.

While at the gym this past week, I had what I call a gym-spiration. I clean off the machines after I use them as thoroughly as I would want someone else to clean it if I was to use it next. I am mindful to do the same thing in other areas of my life, so no one needs to clean up after me.  There was a time when I wasn’t as conscientious, somehow imagining that the cleanup faeries would somehow whisk away clutter.  They never did. When I lived that way, it made it difficult to find what I needed when I needed it. It made it inconvenient for others as I might have had to scramble to locate something for them. I am not naturally organized and in fact likely an undiagnosed with ADHD person. I have to keep corralling my mind from distracting thoughts. I create systems that keep me in line. I am not fastidious or white glove clean, but adhere to what I call The House Rules:

If you open it, close it.

If you take it out, put it back.

If you drop it, pick it up.

If you make a mess, clean it up.

Simple as that.

Other gym-spirations:

Lifting weights helps me lose weight, and I have come to realize that I need not carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I go at my own pace and not that set by anyone else. There is nothing to run away from. I used to think I could move faster than my fears. Unless faced, they have always caught up with me.

I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Sweat is liquid awesome”.  Right after the heart attack, I believed I had to produce copious amounts in order to feel accomplished. These days, I know that I can be awesome and cool at the same time.

Input from friends on the topic:

“That level of thinking about other people is sadly lacking in our culture right now. I think part of it comes from having so much information coming in all the time; we become narcissistic to protect ourselves.”

“I always set the weight back to it’s lowest setting as well as cleaning. Seems that some muscle head always wants to show off by leaving it at a ridiculously high weight.”

” Sadly not everyone is as thoughtful as you. What I disliked at the gym was having to smell offensive body odor, leaving machines sweaty and losers who use 3 machines simultaneously so no one else can use them. They get mighty pissed, heaven forbid, you attempt to use one and need to change the settings. Don’t even get me started on disgusting men who use the toilet and don’t wash their hands. Or how nasty they leave the showers.”

“If I could give one tip for people – it’s not an exercise or nutrition regimen. It’s to walk your talk and believe in yourself because, at the end of the day, the dumbbell and diet don’t get you in shape. It’s your accountability to your word.”-Brett Hoebel

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