Back in the gym … sort of

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk, West Knox

Perhaps it does not bode well for the success of my new exercise routine that I finally picked my fitness center based on which one had the most parking spaces near the door.


To be honest, I visited six gyms/fitness centers and narrowed it to two based on many more factors than parking slots. In the end, however, I did make my final choice based on ease of coming and going and familiarity.

My, ummm, physique would not lead you to believe that for years I religiously showed up at 6:30 a.m. three times a week to do my version of working out. Yes, I said, MY version, which consists pretty much of the treadmill, recumbent bike and, on a good day, a little upper body strength training with weights.

Mostly I sat in the hot tub.

But I was moving. Lately, I haven’t even been doing that.

My varied jobs all require me to sit at the computer. Sometimes I am writing or editing. Sometimes I am researching and studying. Sometimes I am developing agendas and business plans. Always I am sitting.

There are days when the work is heavy, and I am really in the groove that I will look up and realize I haven’t gotten out of my chair for four hours. I decided at the beginning of 2020 to do better. By the time I “got around” to doing better, it was March, and, well, you know.

I sat at the computer. I sat in front of the television. I cooked and baked and gained my COVID 20.

By July, everything hurt. Already limited in mobility by a pulmonary disease and arthritic joints, the stereotype of not being able to walk to the mailbox suddenly didn’t seem like a joke.

With fall in the air, I renewed my vow to find a fitness center and restart my routine. Just moving my legs on the treadmill, even at the slowest speed, will be a vast improvement.

I have everything ready: comfortable clothes, membership paid, audio books to keep me from going stir crazy. All I need is the will to overcome the one big obstacle standing in my way: I hate to exercise.

Put exercise on any list of activities, and it will make it to my bottom ranking. Audiobooks help, but nothing makes it enjoyable for me. It’s a necessary evil, like doing laundry or cleaning the toilet. The problem is  that no matter how you arrange your budget, you can’t pay anyone to exercise for you.

Motivation, says practically everyone, is the key. I have plenty of motivation. I have exciting trips on the horizon, grandchildren to play with and, of course, getting to the mailbox.

I paid my dues on Sept. 30. So far, I have found excellent reasons every day not to show up for my first visit.

Today, however, is the day. My parking place is waiting for me. Look for me on the treadmill.

Or in the hot tub…

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.

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