One of the things that I struggle with on my journey to health and (relative) fitness is exercise. The last time I took this trip, I was a runner. Running is an easy, no fuss, sport. There is no equipment needed – you just stretch a little and………run. Even on the treadmill there is no preparation. That really worked for me.
This time because of various physical problems that have accumulated over the years, running is out of the question. So are any of the other in-home fitness solutions, like instructional tapes…Pilates, Zumba and my daughter’s current favorite Insanity. I can’t do those types of things any more, so I was forced to find an alternative. My solution?
I started going to an organized class once per week last fall, and after some initial trepidation, it worked for me. It was social as well as physical, and most importantly – the other women were just like me – middle-aged and needing to get moving a bit. (Sorry if any of you are reading this – that is not at all meant as a derogatory comment. You were all perfect, welcoming and helpful!) Unfortunately, though, it was held at the local high school and the classes have been put on hold for the summer. I was forced to find another option.
There are no classes held in the evening anywhere near where I live, so I made a huge decision (for me), and decided to “do it on my own” at the local pool/gym. This place is a converted school and is frequented by many athletes who, in my opinion, are in much better shape than I am. Thus, my first obstacle to fitness:
The locker room.
I have had an aversion to the locker room since middle school, when all of the athletic girls made my insecure, underdeveloped twelve-year-old self tremble from intimidation. Showers during the school day? In front of other girls? I would rather eat worms, or better yet have my eyelashes pulled out one-by-one. Nothing was more unpleasant than the thought of undressing in front of my peers. This is the stuff nightmares are made of!
Flash forward 40 (or so) years and here we go again. In order to enter the pool I needed to undress, grab my towel and walk past several other bathers, who all appeared to be in training for the next Olympics in their racer-back suits and goggles/swim caps. I would enter the pool on the “Open” side, with my two blue floatie “dumbbells” and run in place and do various stretching and calisthenic-like moves by myself for 45 minutes while the others were swimming laps in the three roped off lanes. A few children and dreamy-eyed older ladies splashed and floated around me, but I prevailed, and for the past few weeks have gotten a fairly good work out, if my sore muscles are any indication.
After I finished, I would get out of the pool, shower in the (gasp) open shower area, quickly change into my dry clothes and get the hell out of dodge before anyone could actually engage in any kind of social interaction. Although it was stressful, it was beginning to get a little easier each time and I was slowly gaining a little more confidence. Until last Tuesday.
It started out like a normal night. I put my clothes in the locker (I wore my dry swimsuit underneath – the less time in the in there, the better), put my glasses on the top shelf, grabbed my towel and was off. 45 minutes later I returned to the showers, stripped off my wet suit and took a quick shower. Wrapped in nothing but the towel, I entered the locker room, which was now occupied by 4 or 5 other women and walked up to my locker. I opened the door to get my things and found, to my horror that
This was impossible! I quickly checked the lockers around the one that I was sure I had used, and they were filled with other women’s things. Most of them did not have locks on them, but none contained the few things that I had arrived with. I never bring anything of value – a bag (to which I attach my car keys), some flip-flops, my jeans and sweatshirt and underwear. The most valuable thing in the locker were my prescription glasses.
The other women in the room immediately sensed my increasing panic, and started to ask questions. While this was very nice of all of them, the fact that I stood there naked except for my towel-became increasingly uncomfortable for me. I somehow managed to stuff myself back into my wet swimsuit and located the girl from the desk in the fitness center. Together, we looked everywhere for my things. We checked every corner, unlocked locker, even the garbage cans, and found nothing.
At this point it became apparent that I would have to call my husband to bring me an extra set of keys, some dry clothes and my sunglasses so that I could see to drive home. The desk girl and the other (male) attendant told me that they would have to call the local police and report the incident, so after Jim arrived with my clothes I went back up to the desk and gave the officer my account of the events of the evening. At this point EVERYONE in the facility was aware of my situation and any semblance of anonymity for me was completely destroyed.
I couldn’t help but start to feel like this was a targeted attack. After all, none of the other client’s things had been removed. Paranoid and discouraged, I got back into my car to drive home half expecting to find my underwear hanging from the telephone lines, mocking me as part of some sophomoric prank. I called my husband in the car behind me and told him that when I got home I wanted to order out. It was too late at this time to make dinner so we would just have pizza. Mind you, I had not consumed real pizza in several months because of the aforementioned diet and quest for a new me. Pizza (and wine) would be the order of the night. It only made sense that I should wallow in my defeat.
I got home, poured a glass of red wine and sunk into a chair in the living room to regale my daughter and her boyfriend with my tale of woe while Jim went to get the pizza. As I was halfway through the (first) glass, my cellphone rang. It was the director of the gym. Apparently after I left another woman who had been swimming laps had returned to the locker room and unlocked her locker, only to find my things inside. She must have arrived after I did and somehow managed to put her lock on the wrong locker!
My things (including my glasses) were returned to me a little while later by a friend who happened to be there earlier when I had caused all of the commotion. All’s well that ends well, a pretty anticlimactic end to my drama filled evening. I continued to enjoy my wine and pizza – after all, I had earned it!
I will continue to swim every Tuesday and Thursday evening, although everyone now knows who I am. I am hoping this is going to be a good thing.
And this weekend….I think I will buy a lock.