So laugh at me. I joined Curves. Yes, a few months ago, realizing that I was no longer my same tall and slender self (so what if I haven’t been seeing clearly in the mirrors for a few years), I walked into my neighborhood Curves and signed up for a free week.
I can’t believe how nervous I was about walking into a fitness center for women. I’ve tried gyms before: a downtown Y – too much testosterone; a university athletic center – too young and noisy; a suburban fitness center – too pushy; a downtown athletic club – too much like work, and the list of reasons and excuses goes on and on.
Oh yes, and did I mention my Wii Fit. Actually it’s a good workout, but I can’t stand the sound of that balance board saying, “Oh my….” in a condescending tone when I step on it. I also hate the voice that reminds me of my GPS saying, “We haven’t seen you in a while,” to which I reply, ‘It hasn’t been that long.” Or, “Would you like to hear a fitness tip?” to which I answer, “No,” or the worst of all, “You’re overweight!” (just by a little) to which I cringe and wince with embarrassment, even though nobody hears her voice or sees my weight.
I have to admit it: I don’t like exercise for the sake of exercise. I’m happy to walk a few hundreds miles across Spain or ride my bike around Lake Erie. I love to swim, hike and cross-country ski. I even enjoy a round of golf once in a while. I used to play tennis and field hockey. And, I was a pretty good gymnast until I broke my collar-bone falling off a balance beam in fifth grade. But I really don’t enjoy running on treadmills, riding exercise bikes, working the weight machines, or God forbid, tripping over my feet in an aerobics class. Actually, I don’t mind it once I get going, but it’s the getting going that seems to be my problem. Based on my behavior, I’d rather organize my closet, file my old sermons, weed the garden, or even clean out the garage than actually get in my car and drive to the gym.
Anyway, a few months ago, I ran out of excuses and joined Curves – my neighborhood women’s fitness center. It’s convenient. I can walk there in fifteen minutes, saying Morning Prayer with my iPod. It’s not pretentious. I arrive at a simple storefront with purple curtains blocking all the windows – it gives me a new appreciation for the burka. It’s friendly. I walk in and am greeted with a smile by one of the two owners. There’s a pot of coffee brewing on the over-sized window sill. It’s clean. There’s even a sign asking me to please not wear my street shoes on “the circuit.”
I register on the computer. It says, “Welcome Tracey,” and then reminds me to weigh-in once a month. There’s even a pair of reading glasses, just in case I can’t read the screen. It tells me my target, whatever that is, and then, off I go. I move from machine to machine (30 seconds on each) with a recovery station in between. No recovery for me – I’ve got to get in shape. So I run in place or do sit-ups, push-ups or leg lifts on the floor – trying to make the most of those thirty minutes.
And then there’s the music. Nothing like working out to the beat of “Y-M-C-A” or “In the Mood” with that wonderful 30-second reminder, “Change stations now.” It’s actually a good workout, and thank goodness for the fans strategically placed throughout the room with little signs, “Please adjust for your comfort.” How else can they possibly keep a room full of women-of -a-certain-age comfortable?
And then there are the other women – my sisters in the struggle for fitness. We’re all ages, shapes and sizes. It’s one of the most interracial and multi-cultural places I hang out. I can be exercising with a few African-American women, a couple of Slovenian women, a woman from Columbia, another from Brazil, and a couple of white bread Midwesterners like me. I can be sweating next to a life-long Euclid resident and someone who moved into town just last week. And then there are my heroines and role models – all those older women who actually stay in shape. Sure they don’t move fast or push as hard as I might, but what the heck – they are out there at the age of 70 or 80, working out and having fun. I hope I can say the same when I get to be their age.
Oh and did I mention the games? I haven’t signed up yet, but there’s a different trivia question every day. If you answer enough of them, you can actually win a t-shirt. You can also place your Avon order, request a mass to be said for your friend, sign up for a bus trip, examine the menu of a new restaurant in town, hear about the closing of the local butcher shop, or check out the business cards on the bulletin board. And if you’re lucky, you’ll learn the results of last night’s winner of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” or ” Dancing with the Stars.”
But what I really love is that when I go to my Curves, I am a part of a diverse community of women who are all there trying to lose weight, stay strong, and get in shape. It’s a wonderful sisterhood. Now, I just have to get there enough to see my name on the list for good attendance. But, what the heck, I signed up for a year, so I’m committed.