The voice inside my head starts talking loudly every time I drive to the gym. It says things like, “I hate exercising inside on such a nice day. What’s the point when all it seems to do is make me hungry afterwards? Am I helping my sore back or making it worse?”
Once there, I reluctantly get on the stationary bike and start pedaling, an episode of the Property Brothers on HGTV easing any pain with distraction. My routine deviates little – machines, Elliptical, bike, and through it all racing to get finished.
Bounding down the stairs, forging ahead to the last hurdle of my dreaded workout, I almost barrel into a woman standing by a wheelchair.
The balding man she is helping has a brace on his right leg. His left side looks paralyzed, a four-pronged cane helps him to stand, moving toward the weight machine. What seems like an excruciating amount of time goes by as he stands up from the wheelchair and pivots to the bench.
I try not to watch as I move to the next machine in the circuit, but distance cannot block out the moaning. Reaching with his one functional arm, the bar is pulled down, drawn back up – each time his face grimaces and he gasps in pain.
The face of the woman with him is too tired to respond. I know she wears the mask of a care-giver and I think about the silent pain she bears. I look away, not only to honor their privacy, but because I am ashamed.
I have lost a lot of things in my lifetime, but sometimes it takes a kick in the head to see what I DO have. I have never lost the use of my body (other than a six-week period to rehab a torn calf muscle) and now that seems trivial as I watch this stranger.
Acknowledging the life lesson in front of my face, I exercise with a renewed sense of purpose.
Why do I now go to the gym and workout?
BECAUSE I CAN.
My imperfect body with its aches and pains is still capable.
So, I now workout for all those who CAN’T and I do it without complaining!
What about YOU? Do you exercise and if so, do you see it as a blessing or a curse? I’d love to hear your comments!