In case you didn’t know it, it’s gym season. What? you didn’t know there was a gym season? Oh, believe me, there is and it is in full swing right now. It begins every January 1st, right after one last night of too much booze and too much food, followed by feelings of guilt and determination to “take charge.” The gym season ends around Spring Break, just in time to head to the beach to show off your new body. If you don’t believe me, just go see how busy your gym is today.
I wasn’t an athletic child. When it came to sports, I was very average. There were only a couple things that I excelled at: the pogo stick and dirt bikes. We lived down a very long gravel driveway. I’m talking several hundred yards long, and it wasn’t flat either. Someone bought me a pogo stick one year and I got very good at it. I could basically bounce up and down on that thing until I got bored and just quit. I didn’t even need my hands; I just used my legs to hold on. Once there was no challenge left to jumping, I started going places on it. Yeah, really. Someone asked me if I thought I could pogo all the way up our driveway without stopping. Guess what? I did it!
I was pretty decent on dirt bikes too. No Roger DeCoster, but I was at least competent off road. I started riding when I was 6 or 7 years old. We lived on a small farm and bordered about 80 acres of deserted, company owned woods, so I developed trails all over the place. My neighbors rode too, so we spent every day riding hills, creeks, wooded single track, dirt flat track and any other terrain we could create. It seemed to come fairly natural to me so when I finally was able to get a real motocross bike, things really got fun. I was too shy and introverted to ever go to the track, so I never really measured myself against other riders.
Those two, odd hobbies pretty much summed up my athletic endeavors. I gave no thought to my physical condition at all. Then, in 2000, at age 40, my wife and I decided to start going to the the gym. Our first gym was called The Iron Pitt. The gym literally had a “pit” where the dumbells were located. This was not a “pretty” gym. It was a body builder and power lifter’s gym. The equipment was well used and it smelled like sweat. And we loved it! The owners, Matt and Doug, were awesome and made us feel right at home. We entered the gym flabby and out of shape. Within a few months, we were solid and excited. And we were hooked.
Like most people, we eventually let life get in our way and we stopped going. There were several attempts to start up again. Because our schedule changed, we needed a gym closer to home, so we found one in a strip mall nearby. We would go at 3:30 or 4 in the morning before work. We went on vacation and came back to discover the gym was gone…the owner packed up and disappeared in the middle of the night. Once again, we were gymless.
Then, IU began taking over Bloomington and building student housing all over the downtown area. They still are and, frankly, I don’t think much of it. One plus, however, was they built a Cardinal Fitness Center downtown, so we began going again. There were two challenges with this gym. First, they were not a 24 hour facility, so we had a hard time finding the right time to go. Second, they were situated above student housing, so it was a “young person’s gym.” College students everywhere. Now, that didn’t bother me per se. In fact, being the older guy in a young gym is kind of motivating. What I didn’t like is that most of them were there to socialize and pick up dates, so they always seemed to be in the way…and I’m not the most patient man you never met. When I go to the gym, I go alone, I go to work out and go home. No talking. No socializing. No loitering.
We eventually stopped going there too. We did not enter another gym until last year. A Planet Fitness opened up right in front of our condo. I could literally walk…but I don’t! Go ahead, enjoy the irony in that statement for a moment. Now, if you follow this blog, you know I changed my diet a couple months ago and started going to the gym. Let me tell you a little bit about this newest gym. First the good news: it is open 24 hours. You can go whenever you want. It is also very clean. It smells good too. And they promote a “lunk free” zone. By this they mean, they are not a bodybuilder’s gym. They purposely try to create an atmosphere where people don’t feel intimidated.
Now for the bad news. First, it is purple. Purple and yellow…yikes! Okay, I can live with that one I guess. The second problem is that because they discourage bodybuilder types, they have a very small free weight area. You can’t really ever use them. But you want to know what the worse thing about this gym is? It is so convenient that it has taken away all of my excuses not to go!