It’s the end of an era.
For the past 25 years, with a few years off in the middle ’90s, I’ve been a member of a local gym.
A mile from my house, the facility is part of a heath insurance network in our area.
There are multi gym locations. But over time, our location seemed to get a bit run down. Look neglected.
Then a super gym – LA Fitness – came into town.
Gradually, our gym — that was once so crowded you had to sign up on a clip board for the treadmill and elliptical machine — was eerily silent.
One of ten treadmills would be in use. There was no line for the weight machines. The familiar faces disappeared.
But I’d locked into spin (cycling) classes and loved my instructors. Once you start a routine like that it’s hard to let it go. You get to know people. They expect you to show up!
In the last year, the decline in gym attendance became even more noticeable. We speculated as we spun, “Are they closing this place?”
This month the notice went out. June 30th the Palm Bay branch would close.
My world is small. Working from home creates a very nominal social life. I’ve no co-workers. Facebook is my water cooler time but I may be the only one at the cooler, say, 2:01 in the afternoon.
So when my gym closed, I felt it.
My first foray into spin classes originally started at 5:30 am. But I was writing late into the evening in those days and getting up early became impossible. The afternoon spin class became more practical.
I loved the instructor. She was a cyclist so her classes felt “real world.” And she played the best music.
Her replacement was more of an aerobics teacher with peddles so I gathered my courage, set my alarm and returned to the morning class. 5:30 am.
By now my writing routine had changed so I could endure an early wake up call.
The instructor was another cyclist with a good play list. For the past five years, I’ve “spun” with these guys. They were my Tuesday and Thursday morning routine. 5:30 spin. Followed by 7:0o am prayer. Then home to work. Or, if need be, nap. Then work.
Through the sleepless, hellish menopause year, I was at 5:30 spin. The routine kept me grounded. I found myself longing for Tuesdays and Thursdays.
We became friends. Laughed. Joked. They put up with my “Whoops!” and “We can do it boys!” interjections.
They celebrated when The Wedding Dress hit the New York Times.
My instructor tolerated the moments when I had a story breakthrough and ran from class to collected a pencil and paper from the front desk.
They understood when I left class 5 minutes early so I could get home, shower and change for prayer.
I listened with sympathy as she detailed a long journey of healing with her cat.
The class became more than a way to exercise but as a way of life. A way to build relationships. And hopefully, burn 500 calories in 50 minutes.
Today was our last class together. Next week, I’ll join the throngs who migrated to LA Fitness. (It’s the closest facility to our house.) And start a new era.
Change is never easy. I’ll miss seeing these folks Tuesday and Thursday. But I’m kind of excited to see what the coming days bring.