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  WINDY CITY TIMES

SENIOR MOMENTS Letter from Palm Springs
The Gym
by Sukie de la Croix
2018-03-28

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Never in a million years did I ever think that I'd go to a gym.

It's so out of character that I have friends in England who refuse to believe it. They think I'm making it up. One said, "I'm more likely to believe you died from a heroin overdose up a back alley than I am in you going to a gym." I can see their point. Most of my English friends were there for my misspent youth. I can't believe I'm still alive. I think I must share DNA with Keith Richards.

In my writings, I've compared gyms to torture chambers. It's where masochists hang out when Touche and Cell Block are closed. Another factor in my dislike of gyms is that I am not attracted to Muscle Marys because they all look the same. I like a man with meat on his bones, is scarred, beaten up by life and has stories to tell. I'm not interested in "perfect bodies."

Gym bunnies are so narcissistic.

So why is it that every morning, seven days a week, I'm pumping iron and running on the treadmill in a Palm Springs gym? I'm there for a minimum of seven hours a week. And before anyone mentions showers, sex and steamrooms, my gym has none of those things. It's a simple gym. I work out and I leave.

It was all an accident. I blame my husband.

Like everyone our age, we both struggle to keep our weight down. Two years ago I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. Mama Cass was looking back at me. She was naked. I knew then I had to do something. I started a half-assed exercise regime: walking around the block, swimming in the pool, donuts and coffee. FYI: Donuts are fattening. Not a lot of fat people know that. I didn't. I do now.

My husband's doctor suggested he join a gym and lose weight. Of course, being Palm Springs the doctor was a gay bodybuilder and built like a hay barn. I knew my husband would have problems with this daily commitment, so I offered to accompany him on his trips to the gym. What I meant was, that while he was in the gym working out, I would wait in the car reading magazines and drinking coffee. I was being supportive.

I drove him to the gym to enroll. He went in, I sat in the car and waited. When he came back he said he had enrolled us both as a family. He actually thought I was offering to work out with him. Me?

That's how I joined a gym. I accompanied him to the gym but after six weeks he gave it up and two years later I'm still there. Every morning at 4:30 a.m., I drive from Cathedral City to the gym in Palm Springs. There, I put on my headphones and lift weights to Abba or Blue Oyster Cult. On the treadmill I watch videos on YouTube. A current favorite is the series Who Do You Think You Are? After the gym I drive through the desert into the sunrise. At home I swim 20 to 30 laps in the pool while inquisitive hummingbirds hover and jackrabbits twitch their noses at me. Then I start work.

The miracle is that when I lived in Chicago I walked with a cane. I no longer walk with a cane. I now run on a treadmill. The other day I caught myself in the bathroom mirror and screamed out, "Oh my God—I've got man-boobs."

A head peeked around the door and said. "They're not man-boobs; they're pecs."

I had to Google "pecs."


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