Today I was in a rush to get out of the house, and a bit angry. Husband was digging up the last bit of info so I could complete our tax forms, with me nagging (um…consulting) over his shoulder. I saw the time on his computer screen and froze. “Gotta go to swim class,” I said, and ducked out.
Because I know that I’m sometimes…shall we say…chronologically challenged, especially when it comes to dragging myself away from work, I prepare my gym bag far in advance of when I need to leave for class. Bathing suit, cover-up, towel, little zipped bag with miscellaneous little grooming supplies. Sometimes I even leave the bag in the car the night before. Today I’d left it on top of the sofa. And I’d run out so fast I didn’t notice until I pulled into the gym parking lot that that’s where I’d left it.
I had no bathing suit. No cover-up. No towel. No little zipped bag with miscellaneous little grooming supplies. Just my ID card, the clothes on my back and the sneakers on my feet.
Wait a minute, I thought. They’re pretty decent sneakers. And underneath my fleece jacket, I was wearing workout clothes—my usual yoga pants and cotton top. So I signed in, pinned my car keys to the waistband of my pants, and hit the “Wellness Center.” This is actually a giant room filled with enough cardio equipment to satisfy, well, anybody with a penchant to sweat. Especially anyone with a penchant to sweat while watching television, as each little cardio pod – rowing machine, bicycle, elliptical trainer and treadmill – came with a screen atop it. Grab a pair of earphones, plug yourself in and go. We become a room full of regenerating Borgs, except we’re moving and sweating instead of standing still.
I found a treadmill near the window, and the early evening sun streamed across my face, showing my reflection on the bottom half of my TV screen. I clicked around until I found one of my favorite sitcoms, and off I went, power-walking to nowhere.
Three thoughts crossed my mind in succession. One. It’s a beautiful evening; what am I doing walking inside on a machine? Two. What am I doing here when I could be home, sweating on my own treadmill and watching the lovely view out my back window? Three. Hey, I’m really sweating. I looked at my status board. It claimed I was walking at 3.4 miles per hour. Holy Christmas. This was faster than I’d been able to walk in almost a year. I’d barely noticed, and I’d been cranking away for a good fifteen minutes. A quick inventory and posture check told me that everything was doing fine.
So I kept going. I felt great. I felt fast, and smooth, and strong.
And who knows? If I’d remembered my gym bag, maybe I would have had a stellar aqua-jogging class, kicking ass on my sprints and cross-country combos. If I’d walked outside, maybe I would have powered up hills and taken the sidewalks by storm. If I’d stayed home on my own treadmill, maybe I would have topped off at 3.2 for 40 minutes and felt satisfied. But trying something new – even if it’s just somebody else’s treadmill and someone else’s TV – gave me the confidence to try something else: challenging my body to kick it up a notch. Just a small notch. But that’s still progress.
A half-hour later, I unplugged from the machine. I toweled off, deposited my pre-sanitized washcloth into the designated bucket, returned my earphones to the designated sanitizing station, and retired to the designated stretching room, where shoes are not allowed.
I lay on my mat, still sweating, and stretched in rhythm with my breath, with the satisfied affirmation that I could dodge those curveballs of life, could roll with the punches, could take on all of those sports metaphors and still come out on top.
All because I forgot a bathing suit. Perhaps I should do it more often.