I have actually thought about this quite a bit over the years. I am now just shy of my 65th birthday, but I first joined the Center when I was 58, attending off and on for about four years. However, for the last three years I’ve been coming very consistently, at least 3 times a week. I’ve made good use of the center, at various times using the pool, the track, the free weights and the exercise machines, even taking Zumba Gold classes and trying my hand at pickleball.
What I’ve realized over these last few years is that the Center is a place of hope. I would wager that there is not a single person who regularly walks through the doors who is not trying to live a healthier, fuller, more positive life. Whether we are 55 and jogging or 75 using two canes to get around the track, whether we are 5’2” pressing 50 lbs or 6’4” grunting out 20 lbs on the stationary rower, whether we are 30 minutes on the stair master or 5 minutes on the elliptical, we all still believe that our lives can be good, perhaps even better, than they’ve been in the past. Yes, we are no longer 25 and our brains and our bodies may not be as sharp as they once were, but we’re still active and vital and, well, alive! Every member still has faith that there will be a tomorrow and that life still retains at least some of its joy.
Two years ago I convinced my dad, who was 92, to join me at the gym 2 or 3 days a week. A good day meant 10 or 15 minutes lifting weights and a mile walking the track with breaks every few laps. Lots of schmoozing and joking with other members too. My dad would comment enviously on the speed of the 40-year-olds who passed him on the track. I would have to remind him that he was over twice their age. However, competitive spirit notwithstanding, he was never happier and more relaxed than when he was at the gym. He died almost a year ago, but six days before his death, he was still walking the track, and he still had the hope—and the joy—that comes from believing that life can be better. I am still so happy that we had that final year on the track together.
Of course, there are many other reasons why I love the Niles Family Fitness Center: the comforting routines, the new challenges, the friendships, the facilities, and the warm and loving staff. But I think the best thing is the hope that I see in myself and in every other member.
Thanks, Linda, for giving me the opportunity to share what I’ve been feeling during these sad and difficult times. I miss you guys and I hope we see each other soon.