at the gym last week, i tried the elliptical machine for the first time.
i’ve only recently started frequenting the gym at all. mostly it’s because i like to play outside. i like to hike and swim and climb. i like to breath fresh air and get wet in the rain and splash mud all of over my legs. i mean all. over. secondly, i think using a machine works muscles in your body that aren’t meant to be worked. it can often lead to oversized arms and tiny calves (sorry boys, but if all you do is lift, you really do look dumb). that’s not always the case, but it often is. however my office has a gym and daylight savings just ended so the sun comes up at noon-thirty and goes down at noon-thirty two (no, i’m not in alaska. yes, i am exaggerating) and i work from 8-6 so i never see the light of day. therefor, i’ve started going to the gym.
because i find treadmills to be the most offensive of machines, and i have a (self-diagnosed) torn(ish) hip flexor, i just ride the stationary bike. i’m usually the only girl at the gym in the mornings. i ride hard and i sweat and i don’t care who sees. i listen to podcasts of alec baldwin interviewing republicans or ira glass sharing stories on prostitution or babysitting or both (and yes, both men are on my “cheat list“). i feel good. i like it. but last week, for some reason, i decided to try something new.
now normally it wouldn’t be a big deal for a semi-gym goer to try something new. it’s actually very healthy for mind and body to do so. but for me, at least for the last year and a half, i wouldn’t even look at an elliptical machine. with one shoe off, my father was found in the gym on said machine. he had a heart attack. he died. i often talk about my dad, about how i miss him, and what losing him means to me, but i don’t often talk about that day when it all happened. it’s because it can’t be changed or justified, and there’s really nothing left to say. but it’s part of my world and i do think about it. i think about it every day. it may be irrational or childish or both, but for some time i’ve blamed the elliptical machine. i’ve felt like using it would be like fraternizing with the enemy and the last thing i need is to end up in some ben affleck/jennifer lopez flop, so i’ve just steered clear. of course we’ve since learned that my father had undiagnosed heart disease and heart failure could have happened any time, any where. it’s actually ironic that it happened in a gym, the place where people go to be healthy, to make their hearts strong, to keep living.
so last thursday i swallowed the dry feeling in my throat and tried it out. at first my heart pounded more than it should, not from exercise, but from anxiety. my palms started to sweat, not from overheating, but from shear fear. i know that it may sound silly to be afraid of an inanimate object, especially one that usually doesn’t let you go above 12 mph. i can’t explain it or really justify it, but i was. “elliptical machine” sat on my fear list right after “spiders” and just before “people who believe in legitimate rape.” i was truly afraid of it. but i slowly got into rhythm. the motion felt good, like hiking. by the end, i didn’t lose a shoe. i didn’t die. i actually felt connected to my dad. in fact, i can’t remember the last time i could breath so openly.
i recently read “happiness is when what you think, say, and do are all in alignment.” by stepping two feet solidly onto that machine, and starting to move, i was thinking, “i’m going to be ok,” i was saying, “you’re going to be ok” and i really was “ok.” for me, that’s just one literal step closer to happy.
tomorrow morning i’ll get up at 6. i’ll go to the gym to use the elliptical machine and it will be ok.
this week i challenge you to think, say, and be ok, too.