Stepping Up with an Unwrinkled Heart

First Day back at the Gym

‘Ok everyone, grab a mat and find a space,” from Kyle, the twenty something Adonis assigned  today’s Seniors’ class.

“The gym’s busy this morning, we won’t all fit,” observes a class member.

“Yes, you will, put your mat down and they’ll move,” Kyle replies (because you’re elderly and there are some who still have respect for the aged)

“Lying on your back, one knee bent, the other straight and lift until it’s level with your knee cap and lower,”  the class has started amidst friendly chatter.

“How many of these?”

elderly woman exercising

“We’re not doing counting today, you confused each other last time.  I’ll let you know when 30 seconds is up, keep going.”  We laugh and the leg raises slow.  ”Common on, back into it, no stopping for a chat.  You can chat and exercise,” he tells us.

“What about us men who can only do one thing at a time?”  Guffaws from the women as the men commiserate with each other.  Kyle weaves between the mats straightening a knee here and tweaking a foot there.  He’s attentive and has the group’s respect.  This is my first day back at the gym and already I’m smitten by this Adonis’ who treats us like the treasured old darlings we are.

The floor exercises are over and we hang the mats up on the wall again.  We are instructed to arrange ourselves into a line according to age.

“Quiet …  quiet … please!  Ok, for every thirty seconds it takes you to complete this exercise the whole class does 100 metres on the treadmill,”  he says smiling.  He’s done this before!

“What are we doing?”  pipes someone.

“Get yourselves into a line by ages.  The youngest at one end the oldest at the other,” says Kyle.  ”And for every 30 seconds it takes you to complete this exercise, you do 100 metres on the treadmill.”

We’re not slow to recognise an opportunity to socialise.  We’re meeting new faces, exchanging names (again) and exclaiming at each other’s ages amid compliments of how good we look.  Eventually we sort ourselves into order, the young old at the front and the old old at the back and were pleased with our effort.

“500 meters on the treadmill,” Kyle announces.

“What?” We chorus in disbelief.

“Yes, off you go, 500 metres on the treadmill.”  No one escapes:  all for one and one for all.  Once the treadmills are rolling we resume the friendly banter as we swap snippets of personal information.

“What did you say your name was?”  …  Was this going to be the group mantra.  Having remembered the names of the people I’d spoken to and knowing I’d have forgotten them at our next meeting I recalled the other remark I’d heard several times this morning.  ”Don’t worry, we only remember the regulars, you’ll get used to it.”  Well no, I don’t think I will.    Firstly I won’t be a regular as I’ll be dropping in once a fortnight by which time I will have forgotten everyone’s name!  If this first class is any measure I’ll be a new member for a while.

It is acceptable Australian speak to call the women “Darl” and the blokes “Mate”.  I can see its merits.  Whether or not I’ll be able to adopt this strategy is something I’ve not thought about.  I’m a plodder who keeps having a go at peoples’ names. I am good at faces and remember names.  Odds on I’ll remember both the face and name if there is something peculiar about the name or the physical appearance.  I tag single word associations to names and faces.  This works well unless they look like Mr Bean –  I’ll remember Mr Bean.  Because I talk to everybody  –  I’m amazed at the things people will tell a stranger – there is generally something I can hook into.  When the associations get crossed over folk are gracious and tolerant.  If I’m on the receiving end of someone’s brain fade I feel I should offer help.  You know, like the prompts in the old family favourite.  Sounds like … begins with …  looks like … ?

The class ends and those of us not staying for the advanced seniors’ class are farewelled “Cheerio, Mate!  See you next time, Darl”.  Half an hour is a long time to spend coming to grips with the fact one is now a bone fide member of a seniors’  class.  I don’t feel that old and the full length mirrors in the gym  surprised me more than a few times during the class.  Who was the old dame with the wrinkles?  What happened to the young woman with the curvacious body and perfect BMI ?

Before I heat up my cocoa, snuggle into bed and nod off with a good book, I’ll leave you with words of wisdom from Thomas Bailey Aldrich

“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly,

cheerful, reverent – that is to triumph over old age.”

I’m working on it Tom, I’m working on it!


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