The Long Road Back to Fitness


I went to the gym today.

Boring sentence to start a blog entry with, isn’t it? But it means a lot to me, and also, I suspect, it means a lot to my friends and family. It may be a cliché to say that I’m not as young as I once was, but the sad truth is that I’m not as healthy as I ought to be. And now that I stare down my 37th year, my eldest daughter’s 4th and my youngest daughter’s 2nd, I’m reminded yet again of my family’s medical history, which warns me that I need to take better care of myself.

My mother’s father died of a heart attack when he was 65, and on my mother’s side of the family, there have been multiple bypasses. As I’ve heard it said that children inherit their hearts from the mother’s side of the family, this bears watching. I also note that I also have a mild arrhythmia, which is consistent with my mother’s side of the family. Finally, Erin has diagnosed me late at night these past several nights with sleep apnea, which suggests a predilection to all sorts of other conditions in the future, and the solution to which is the same: lose weight.

So, to make a long story short, if I want to walk my daughters up the aisle (and I do), then there are steps I have to take, and they lead me to my gym’s front door.

It was a decision I took several years ago, back when Erin and I still lived in our apartment and I neared my 30th year. And to assuage Erin’s fears, I had my friend Dan sign me up at the gym where he was working out, and thus began our tradition. Three days a week, as best we could, we’d head out around 5 p.m. (after Erin got home from work) to do a workout. It became something shared between us, a venue for our friendship to continue to grow, as we talked about all the geek news that was happening at the time.

Unfortunately, it became something that only Dan and I shared, and Dan ran into a number of dramatic life changes to his life that hampered our ability to go out to the gym together, and eventually shut it down. That shouldn’t have happened. I should have gotten into the habit of going to the gym on my own, but I didn’t. The task of taking care of Vivian and Nora and pursuing a writing career also left me with little time to make the trek. So, a few days ago I realized that though my gym membership continued to charge me just under $40 per month, I hadn’t been to the gym for months. In terms of my health, I find myself back at square one.

But, not entirely. I still have that gym membership, after all. And it comes with a daycare centre to take care of Nora while I work out. All they ask is 24 hours notice, and it’s either $3 per visit, or $10 per month added to my membership fee. And, of course, Vivian is now spending her mornings at pre-school.

So I said that I would go, and my father said that he would go with me. Just to check it out, you understand. He and I share a number of traditions — a fair number of them centred around food. Just about every Saturday, now, he takes me and the kids out for breakfast. It might be good to add new traditions centred around fitness.

It didn’t take much effort to get back into the gym, even though the security features had changed, yet again, and they needed to take my picture. Adding Nora to their daycare database was a breeze. And they took my father aside and sung the praises of gym membership, and he signed up, looking perhaps a little bit bewildered as all of the paperwork just flew by (sorry about the initiation fee, but thanks for the free gym bag I received for referring you, Eric). I guess the people at the gym can’t help but be high powered salespeople (har har), so we ended up signing up for a complementary fitness test, to be taken next Wednesday. Finally, we went out and did a short cardio set before I had to go and pick up Vivian from pre-school.

It felt good. I managed to match my average performance when I was exercising regularly, and I got to read the first chapter of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (twenty-four minutes on a reclining exercycle is an excellent time to brush up on one’s reading), and left with only a minor, healthy ache in the legs.

So, hopefully, a new tradition begins. My father and I will be exercising together Monday and Wednesday mornings. And, fingers crossed, Dan will return, to take gym with me for the third day of the week (starting this Thursday). That will be good. I miss our visits.

I’ve a long way to go before I’m happy with my weight and appearance. Measuring myself on the scale, I discovered that I was 253 pounds, 8 ounces — a long way from the 238 I achieved while exercising regularly, and a longer way from the under 225 that I’d like to be. But the first step has been taken, and I feel confident that it will be followed by another step, and another one after that. It takes a while, but the journey is well worth the effort.

Wish me luck as I chart a course back toward fitness.

Note: The photograph above is entitled Gym at Work 3 and is by Killer Biscuit. It is used in accordance to his Creative Commons license.

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