Like a modern day Margaret Mead, I survey my surroundings and I behold an alternate universe. In this topsy-turvy world, my other mom counterparts prance around with no make up on, their hair in messy pony tails, and some wear shapeless sweats. All are in dire need of a shower. And in another striking observation, I see that all are without their children gripped around their knees. What is this nirvana where going without our obligatory half stick of concealer and perfectly groomed eyebrows is not only acceptable, but expected? It is The Gym. And oh, what a place it is.
I am a relative latecomer to the modern day phenomenon known as Lifetime Fitness and the significant role it plays in the mommy subculture. I mean, up until a year ago, I thought lululemon was a chain of bakeries….imagine my disappointment when I discovered they sold work out wear and not decadent chocolate pastries. It wasn’t as though I was totally unaware of Lifetime and all that it had to offer. I had plenty of friends who were members and they tried to lure me in with promises of how wonderful it was. The work out equipment! The classes! The child care! The smoothies! Honestly though, I viewed their claims with some skepticism and avoided falling prey to their cult-like attempts to recruit me. After all, you can dress it up any way you want but the bottom line is that it’s still an institution devoted to exercise. I’ve spent most of my adult life avoiding any kind of physical exertion and limited my “cardio” to chasing after my kids and hoisting my daughters over my shoulders whenever we would have to make a not-so-graceful exit from Target. But as I stated in my last post, the body ages and one must take drastic measures. And in my case, drastic measures meant joining the gym.
I have to admit, I was nervous. Anything involving hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills gives me the heebie jeebies. And I truly felt like I was navigating unknown territory. What does one even wear to work out? I made a quick dash to our local mall and stocked up at lucy, the only workout wear store I knew of (because as I said before, I was under the assumption that lululemon sold scones). And even that excursion had me reeling in self-doubt because as I shopped, I noticed that all the other women shopping in the store were “of a certain age.” Had I inadvertently stumbled into the Chico’s of workout wear? And what do women do about underwear when they work out? Do they wear it? Or not? I hadn’t even stepped foot into the gym and I was already sweating.
When I entered as a member for the first time, I felt like I had landed on another planet. So this is where all the moms go in the mornings! This is why it has become perfectly acceptable to wear yoga pants almost every where you go. I finally found the perfect excuse for my slovenly ways, “Why yes, as a matter of fact, I am heading to the gym after this.” It was like a free pass to look and smell like crap ALL DAY! That alone was the price of admission. Though not that everyone looked like a slob. After a few trips, I would discover that even workout wear could be elevated to fashionable heights and that some women still looked good sans make up with sweat dripping out of every pore. Those bitches.
And I can’t forget the childcare! Hundreds and hundreds of square feet devoted to keeping your child entertained while you unlatch them from your torso: Apple computers, basketball hoops, arts and crafts, games, giant play structures, bouncy castles. And you can leave them in there for 2 hours a day!! All in the name of “physical fitness!” Genius!! Of course, not all kids like it. With their finely tuned radars up, they can still sense the presence of their mommy servants within the building and will not rest until they are rescued. Occasionally, the intercom beeps overhead and you can see all the moms freeze mid-work out and breathe out a sigh of relief when their name is not called to the child center while the lone mom has to walk with head bowed in defeat to retrieve their child. My own children merely tolerate it and will stay for 45 minutes or so. Conveniently enough, Lifetime also has a cafe with an array of smoothies and snacks– perfect for bribing my girls into staying. Again I say: genius!
I’ve been a member for about a year now, minus some months in the summer. I tried a few classes and discovered Zumba is not my friend. I took some tennis lessons, where I am proud to report I was the SECOND to worst one in the class…yes! But it still wasn’t for me. Although as a side note, that is a whole other subculture in and of itself: the stay at home mom’s tennis league. I finally decided that the treadmill was the thing for me. While most sports are beyond my capabilities, I can, on good days at least, put one foot in front of the other in a repetitive fashion. I won’t be running marathons any time soon but I’m fairly confident I could sprint down the block if I were being chased by a pack of rabid dogs. The best part is that I can listen to my own music for the entire workout. For a glorious 30 minutes, I am not a hostage to the Wiggles, The Fresh Beat Band, or Laurie Berkner. Instead, I rock out (or at least I think I do) to my own outdated 80s tunes. It’s just like heaven.
So, this brings me to yet another question. After all these years, is it the promise of escaping my servant duties for 45 minutes that finally got my ass in gear? Sadly, I think so. My children have driven me to exercise. But by the looks of my Lifetime at 9:30am on any given weekday, I’m in very good company