Last time I saw my cardiologist, he made the brilliant suggestion that I try to find an indoor track at a local college, so I can keep up my walking practice when the weather gets too cold. I need the aerobic exercise to build up my endurance and stay strong. His idea was a very good one, especially given the past few days, when the temperature here one morning dropped to -16° F —without the windchill.
As it turns out, there just so happens to be a local college five minutes from our home, where Al earned his master’s many moons ago. So that makes him an alumnus and me a spouse of an alumnus, which gives us access to their wonderful recreation facility—including an indoor track. We also get alumni pricing, which is about a third of the cost of the community gym I had joined last year (and barely used).
So, a couple of weeks ago, Al and I went over to the college on a Thursday night for a tour of the facilities. Now, I’ve read about undergraduate institutions building great health and fitness spaces to attract students. This place is no exception. It’s clean, well-equipped, well-lit, with plenty of exercise options, a beautiful indoor pool and an elevated indoor track that encircles the gym. The track is made of some kind of rubber, so it’s easy on your feet. And we get to use the faculty/staff locker rooms. (Given how long it takes me just to tie on my sneakers, this is a good thing.)
We have since joined and made it to the gym three times together, with Thursday being our date night. Al and I both do the track, though he combines running and walking. I also ride one of the stationary bikes. Al is experimenting with the exercise equipment, weights and swimming laps.
I was a bit wary, at first, of being around all those healthy young undergrads. We certainly stand out, with our 60+ physiques and graying hair, amidst all the cute girls with their perfect thighs and bouncing ponytails, and the cute guys with their flat stomachs and strong shoulders. But the front desk staff have been very polite and welcoming, and no one really pays us much mind. We’re just part of the mix.
That’s fine with me. Actually, I find the youthful vibe invigorating. It’s fun to watch the baseball team as they practice hitting balls against wall mats down in the gym as I walk my laps, or the Frisbee team tossing and catching, or whoever else has the space reserved. I draw energy from the young adults who zoom past me or race on the treadmills in the room with all the stationary bikes. And it’s fun to wave to Al as he speed walks or jogs around me.
We both feel better. And it sure beats feeling trapped inside in sub-zero temps. I still hope to keep walking outside when weather permits. I’ve also found a great Pilates studio for full body workouts once a week. But it’s nice to have a good gym buddy, too—especially when he’s your honey.
Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.
Image Credit: Thom W