The Gym

Today I worked out at the gym for the first time in at least two years. It is strange to go from participating in classes multiple times each week to not at all for two years and then walking through the doors again. I felt a little timid because the overall climate in my hometown has changed drastically during that time. I have lost interest in classes altogether and simply want to be left alone to stretch and work out using machines. But that didn’t happen.
I walk in and go to the check in counter and am immediately greeted with a familiar, smiling face. “Hey Ashley! Long time, no see!” “Oh, hey Hunter.” “I gotta take a picture of you for your account.” Then, as I was responding, the camera clicks. Who- besides the staff- knows what that photo looks like? I lay my bag down and make my way to the elliptical. Then the treadmill. Then, the ab machines. Then the leg machines. I obviously have no idea what I’m doing, nor do I care.
I spend about an hour and a half working muscles I had forgotten about and then made my way back to the counter, where I have a conversation with another staff member. Then I grab my bag and leave. This was my basic gym experience in a nutshell. I strained, I sweat, I struggled. It was glorious.

Going to the gym is fun. What’s more, it forces you to be ugly around people. Numerous men made small talk with me, not to try to pick me up (trust me), but to just be friendly and outgoing. Regulars at the gym encourage you to try harder, to work out smarter and with purpose, to set goals and achieve them. This is what I have really been missing lately.
As so many of my close friends have moved away, I had fallen deeper and deeper into isolation, and thus, depression. My motivation has been lacking. This was happening even before the pandemic and the “distancing”. I have felt alone for a long time, and while I run into people I know literally everywhere I go, it truly is not the same as picking up the phone and calling one of my good friends and going out for sushi. With at least sixty miles in the way, it has been challenging to maintain tight-knit bonds. It has been even more challenging to want to meet anyone new, or get to know anyone better.

The gym may have closed for a while, but it won’t ever leave me.

Listening to Arctic Snow by Burning Brides