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The entrance of the Meri Lou Murray Washtenaw County Rec Center

Reluctant Gym Rat

Fitting in at the county rec center

by Nehama S. Glogower

Published in August, 2019

Becoming a grandmother finally pushed me over the edge. If I had the slightest hope of getting up off the floor after playing with a toddler, something had to be done. It's not that I hadn't tried to get in shape. I owned (and used) the entire set of Sweatin' to the Oldies with Richard Simmons. But somewhere along the line that routine lost its zing, or maybe the VCR broke.

Finally, accompanied by my husband, I went to the Meri Lou Murray Washtenaw County Recreation Center off Washtenaw Ave. on Platt. We joined a wide range of ages and body shapes. Sure, there are those folks who attack the ellipticals with ungodly speed, and others who casually lift those twenty-five-pound dumbbells, but I'm soothed by the knowledge that some are older and slower than me. In other words, I fit in. Everybody fits in there.

James entered our lives shortly after we joined. We figured working with a trainer for a month or two would get us started. Three years later we still meet up with James most weeks, and each time he has some devilish new exercise for us. After warming up on the elliptical machines (gentler on our aging knees than a treadmill) we wander out to the hallway to meet him.

He rubs his hands together and says, "How are you doing, kids?"

"Okay," I answer cautiously.

"Just okay? Come on!"

He doesn't seem to appreciate my efforts, coaxing me to try again, put a little more weight on the machine, one more plank. Our legs are rubbery when we walk out of the building. The next day we still feel muscle twinges.

We get to the gym a few times a week. There are bonus points if James sees us during those visits. We recognize the folks who play competitive badminton and pickleball, the track walkers, the ones who prefer the treadmill, those who prefer the NuStep. We put in our time on the elliptical. One of us watches home renovation shows on HGTV and the other watches the sports network. We've become part of the gang. The other day an older gentleman stopped me and said, "I'm always glad to see you. You remind me of my mother."

"I hope it's a pleasant memory," I said.

"Very much so. Very much so."

As for the grandkids, we're keeping up and having a blast.     (end of article)

[Originally published in August, 2019.]


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