Sunday, February 28, 2016

Senior gym rat

One of the neat things about turning 65 — which I did two weeks ago — was turn silver.

Somewhere in the mountain of pamphlets and brochures that arrived in the mail explaining my new benefits was a notice that I now qualified for the Silver Sneakers Fitness Program. I had no idea what that was and, originally, I didn't really care.

Then I had it explained to me: all I had to do was show my new health insurance card to any gymnasium honoring Silver Sneakers, and presto, I had free membership. And, by the way, did you know the local YMCA participates in the Silver Sneakers program?

I did not.

The J. Smith Young YMCA is just a few blocks from my house, so I went over there on a fact-finding mission. Yes, they honor Silver Sneakers. Yes, you have access to everything the Y offers. Yes, there are no out-of-pocket costs.

It had been years since I stepped into the Y — I once played racquetball there when I was a younger dues paying member — so my guided tour was an eye-opener. The fitness center is fully equipped with state-of-the-art cardio machines that can seemingly monitor every beat of your heart. There are weight machines, free weights, yoga classes, spin classes, pilates, zumba, pickle ball, basketball, the Josh Harris Natatorium, and floor-walking staff members available to answer your every question.

It's a jungle (gym) out there...
It was incredible.

Because my guide was female, we didn't venture into the men's locker room. I figured since I live just a few blocks away, I could go home and shower after my workouts.

But the next day I decided to check out the locker room on my own, because that's where the steam rooms and sauna are located.

I opened the door and immediately saw several friends and acquaintances in various states of undress.

"Hey, Bruce. How are you? Are you joining? Good to see you," they said.

Now what? Do I say, "Hey, it's great to see you, too?" Hmm, I don't think so.

Do I offer to shake hands? Can a man shake hands with another naked man, like two ancient Greek Olympians? Hmm, I thought, jamming my hands in my pockets. "I'm just checking out the sauna. Bye."

I decided, for future reference, that fist bumps are the way to go. They're ambivalent. And they're reasonably hygienic in sweaty gyms.

I've been to the Y every morning (except Sundays, of course) for two weeks now. I'm burning 500 calories in about 90 minutes, and every other day I'm doing weights to tighten up my core muscles. I don't intend to body sculpt, because that particular clay has cracked and dried up. But I can still tone. I know it's going to take a while, but what's my hurry?

And so far, I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying all this. I really struck gold when I turned silver. Knuckle dabs for everyone.


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