Every few days, I change my route home and, instead of going from my office chair directly to my bedroom or a restaurant, I somehow find the wherewithal to take the road that leads me to the gym. In the twenty or so minutes that it takes me to get from my work parking lot to the parking lot that leads me into the gym, it's quite easy to talk myself out of going. But I'm so tired, I say to myself as I drive. You know what I could do? I could go home and clean up my email inbox, organize it all nice and pretty. Or I could catch up on some of the Sex in the City reruns OnDemand. Or I could reorganize my dresser. ANYTHING but go to the gym. But, more often than not, something inside me keeps my car pointed in the direction of a step class, a kickboxing class, or the elliptical machine. And what is it that motivates me? Is it the promise of thinner thighs and flatter abs? Is it the desire to rid myself of stress via weights and cardio? Is it picturing the two vacations to warm climates I'll be taking in 2007, the bathing suits I'll be forced to wear? No. It's none of the above.
It's the ten or so minutes before my class starts, between changing into my old, worn out gym clothes and hopping my way through an hour of instructor-led torture. It's in those minutes that the true socializing occurs. The catching up with people I only see a few days a week, but who, nonetheless, get my entire life story in that short span of time. It's in that ten minutes where I'm greeted with such stunning nicknames as "Bitch" and "Whore" from the larger than life petit woman who parades around in her spandex pants and loose T-shirts like a gym mascot. It's the jokes about my smoking and drinking doled out by the tall blonde who steps and lifts and "double-times" it on the step next to me. It's the laughing and the jokes, the masochistic need I have to trade sarcastic insults with the other women who've found their way to the gym each night. That's what keeps me from giving up and going home.
It's funny, having a room full of women (and a few boys, here and there) whose company you keep so infrequently, but with whom you trade your most embarrassing or wonderful stories. A chorus of voices leaks out of the classroom even while we kick, jab and cross our way through class. Unable to contain ourselves, we hurl insults and hefty words through all of the sweat and work we're doing. We admonish "Shut up" or "Why aren't you working out, Judy?" over the teacher's instructions, cackling over orders to "kick higher" or "arabesque." I catch knocks against my character while I'm throwing punches. And it's delicious...The way it makes you forget how hard you're working, how it makes you forget the ache in your legs, the fatigue in your arms. The laughter that accompanies my gym sessions does me better than any amount of breathing through my straining, works my stomach far better than the fifty crunches we had to do.
Experts suggest that going to the gym with a "buddy" makes you more apt to continue going, is motivating enough to force you to stick to your gym commitment without even realizing it. I never agreed, choosing to view my gym experience, instead, as a solo project. I didn't join with anyone, I never went with anyone, and that's the way I liked it. From time to time I consider what it would be like to actually go with someone, to have plans to meet a friend every night. And as soon as I consider it, I let it go. Because I like my freedom, to go or not to go.
But without even realizing it, I met my motivation, my friend that I've committed to, in the form of a room full of women, who, despite age and life differences, have become my friends, and the reason I go.
Of course, I'd never talk to any of those bitches in real life.*
*Hello Judy! Hello Tisha! Hello ladies!