I get a real kick out of going to the gym. On most days it’s filled with a bunch of old people and I have to remind myself that I am actually one of them. All of that white hair seems so incongruous with what we are doing. There are some folks who are incredibly strong and able to do things that would cause me to collapse. There’s a white haired woman who hits the elliptical and stays there almost running for more than an hour and a half. Nobody seeing her outside of the gym would ever imagine the fortitude and strength that she has. Of course there are always a number of people who stick with the bicycle at a very leisurely pace, but at least they are out of the house and moving. The speakers blare all of the best music from the late sixties and early seventies. I sometimes find myself wondering what all of the old geezers think of the Rolling Stones belting out Satisfaction and then I realize that they were just teens and twenty somethings when that music was popular. We are all Baby Boomers grown older who aren’t yet ready to throw in the towel.
I have to admit that the mind and the body are not always in sync. My brain tells me that I am as young as ever until I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wonder who the old biddy is who is staring back at me. I suspect that my fellow gym rats feel exactly the same way, and we all have a great time sweating to the oldies.
I laugh when I think about the last Rolling Stones concert that I saw. Keith Richards was rocking but he almost looked mummified with all of his wrinkles. Mick Jagger had is usual swagger but when he danced he no longer resembled a crazed rooster. Instead he mostly moved and swayed and barely lifted his feet from the floor. Still I have to admit that he used a great deal of energy to perform and he didn’t even appear to be missing a beat or needing a dose of oxygen. The group is rather remarkable in that regard and the concert was attended by every imaginable age group, so they are still very much relevant.
It seems to me that age is as relative as Einstein tells us that time is. With a few blessings of good genes and an avoidance of terrible diseases it’s rather amazing what seniors are able to do, especially if they keep their bodies and minds active. In my own case, a daily exercise regimen, regular mathematics tutoring and daily writing and reading keep me sharper than I might otherwise be if I allowed myself to become a slug. It’s tempting to surrender to age, but I’ll leave that for a later time when things really begin to break down.
I used to watch Jack Lalanne’s exercise program with my mother when I was a young girl. Even back then I was impressed with his physical acumen, but he became even more amazing as he aged. He had always urged his viewers to take care of their bodies and minds with a regular fitness routines and a good diet. My Aunt Polly was particularly taken with his advice and I have to admit that following his lead has served her well. I doubt that many would be able to guess her age. In fact I’d like to take her to one of those carnivals where she might win a big prize for fooling everyone. For as long as I remember she has been unwavering in keeping herself fit and only recently with the deaths of her son and her husband has she begun to age a bit more quickly.
My mother used to tell me that she was not as old in body and mind as I seemed to think that she was. She insisted that she might even have more joy of living than I did as a young woman. Of course I silently and respectfully rolled my eyes at such assertions. I knew how old she was and thought she should slow down and knit a blanket instead of dancing across the living room or enjoying the latest pop music as much as I did. Now I feel foolish because I understand exactly what she meant and I am the one embarrassing my children and grandchildren. They simply don’t know how much fun and youthfulness I have inside because my countenance and my age tells the lie that I am now a senior citizen.
In fact, I am only as old as I feel and with that standard I still have a very long way to go before I turn in my track shoes for slippers and a rocking chair. Even then I think I’ll follow my mom’s example and do some of those sit and be fit exercises that she did each day that I wrongly thought were ridiculous.
As I watch all of my new acquaintances at the YMCA I really do believe that sixty is the new forty. Alongside them I’ve found a renewed vigor that has given me energy to tackle new learning and to travel along new roads. It’s a lifestyle that is invigorating and so necessary. Thankfully my doctor has been a taskmaster who has resurrected my youthfulness even if it is not visually apparent.
Those of us at the gym are an odd lot indeed. We’re filled with wrinkles, graying hair and sometimes no hair at all, but there are twinkles in our eyes and an extra lilt in our steps. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we were to one day break out into the same kind of moves that the younger folk down the hall are making in their Zumba class. For now at least age is little more than a mindset and I know that I am as adorable as I was at twenty one.