I'm not one of those ladies who enjoys going to the gym. I don't own sweat-wicking Nike yoga pants or gel-support running shoes. My iPod doesn't hook to anything that fits around my arm. My sports bra barely makes the cut. Sometimes I fall off the elliptical.
And do you know you will always be okay with that? The wonderful and forever judgment-free YMCA (Ridgedale, to be specific).
I've had a few flings with other gyms - in high school, we belonged to Lifetime Fitness. In college, I was able to "run" my little heart out at both the Coles and Palladium facilities (so that's where my tuition was going). The equipment was just as good (sometimes better) and there was rarely a wait for a machine. But I had no desire (let's face it - ability) to compete in the unspoken, physical rat race you are unwillingly entering by lacing up your tennies. It's like the difference between going to dinner at 20.21 and Perkins. No, that's not right, I think even the YMCA could perfect an omelet better than Perkins...it's like picking up some weird feminine medical product at your neighborhood pharmacy, surrounded by former teachers and church ladies, versus a Walgreens three towns away? Sure. We're getting closer.
I started making the short trek to the Y more often in the recent past, as I discovered my insurance company will give me a whopping $20 for frequent attendance. This is $20 more I can spend on cheese-related products, so...I'm in.
Probably the last thing in the world that I need (other than more cheese-related products) is to work out between Kelly Ripa and Brooklyn Decker. At the Y, I'm more likely to see Cloris Leachman and Walter Matthau doppelgangers. This results in personal fitness goddess-ship.
Due to the simple fact that I'm moving enough for the exercise machine to register as "on," I'm golden. All I have to do is wear basic tennis shoes and I'm already the most athletically-outfitted person there.*
*Weekdays between 9am and noon.
Alright, I know, I know, it's not a competition (with other people). And going to the gym is all about feeling better about yourself and getting healthy (and making $20 a month). But it's a damn good bonus to work up a superior sweat.
As is always the case, with everything, there are downsides. It's not a good morning when I'm faced with the rare-but-all-too-real enthusiastic octogenarian who could run circles around me. Due to whatever brush with death they recently experienced (or maybe they used to be Kelly Ripa), they are now uber-fit and can rock the free weights like nobody's business. I am left with the worst feeling, unmatched by any other gym.
But that's the trade-off. And it's pretty rare. To deal, I tell myself that I have 60+ more years to hone my workout technique and that they have an unfair advantage - time to understand what a "target heart rate" is.
So until LA Fitness starts busing in the oldies, I'm sticking to the Y. Because a treadmill's a treadmill's a treadmill. And I'm probably falling off of it at some point.