I recently had to find a new gym. The facility I had been going to for, oh, hell, 25 years I suppose, closed because they lost their lease. They evidently had no plans to find a new location in South St. Louis (they have one still in St. Charles). I had made friends over the years. For a time there was what might be viewed as a Geezers Club, three or four of us Of An Age and hanging on, but they all passed away, one after another. One may yet be alive. For the last several months there, going in at my usual time, I usually had the space mostly to myself. Four or five others would be there, spread out.
And then, closing down.
I took a few weeks off to shop around for a new place. Interestingly enough, there was one not a block away. This one is clearly a higher end club. Clean, spacious, newer equipment. They even have a big dance studio space. It’s more expensive than what I had been paying, but that didn’t surprise me. A few others I checked out were considerably pricier, so I finally bit the bullet and signed up.
It’s taking some time to acclimate. See, every gym is a bit different, especially with the kind of equipment they offer. No matter what, some things are just not going to be a smooth one-for-one transition. What you thought you were doing may not be what you can do here, at least not yet. Again, fine. I’ve changed gyms before, even though it’s been a while.
But this I did not expect. I’m doing better, at least in the way my body is responding.
The new facility is a two-story affair. Free weights are downstairs, machines upstairs. I go directly downstairs first. I’ve already established a routine (which will change in time; the best thing to do is change things up every two or three months, otherwise your body gets too used to what you’re doing and the benefits diminish) and I work through about 12 to 14 separate motions. Then I go upstairs to do my legs and a few other shaping exercises on the machines. At the end, I’ve done 20 to 22 motions, which is considerably more than I’d been doing.
I’m not sure where I’m getting the energy, but I think just the fact that I have to break it all into two distinct periods is psychologically beneficial. By the time I walk up the stairs to do part two, somewhere in my brain there’s a reset and it’s like I’m starting over.
And it’s beginning to produce results.
Now, it may seem curious to some that at my age this is even a thing. I will be 69 this year. In certain respects, I’m as if not stronger than I have ever been. It may be that one day I’ll run into a wall and crash, but for now I intend to hang on to whatever physical ability I have for as long as I can.
Serendipitously, I recently saw a new three-part documentary about—Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Now, I have never been even close to a fanatic about body building. I’m vain enough to try to keep a fit body, but the kind of devotion, nay, obsession that body builders give to their sport is just not in my repertoire. I admire them, yes. Have I ever wanted to look like Mr. Universe? Not really. But that doesn’t mean one can’t find inspiration in them.
Schwarzenegger is a cultural icon. The body building, the films, two terms as governor of California…there’s a lot going on there. I was unaware of most of the details. It’s quite an informative documentary. Plus, he has a new series on Netflix, an action comedy called FUBAR, and I have to say, it’s fun. Not great art, but it does what it intends to do rather well. In the first episode there is an action sequence which includes him running after a fire engine, dropping down a manhole, killing some bad guys, etc. The usual kind of thing. His handler remarks that he’s the fastest 55-year-old he’s ever known. It is a plausible assessment.
But Schwarzenegger is 75.
There are brief scenes of him still working out. He says of himself “Right now I’m just trying to hold on.”
It’s not so much the exercise, but everything else he’s doing at the same time, that I find inspirational. what I would like to be able to do is operate at 80 to 95% capacity until one day I just stop. (Not 100% because I believe that running like that is an invitation to burn-out, to injury, to some kind of loss that can’t be recovered from. I have personal reasons to hold back that last 5 to 15 percent, not least of which is I feel I’ll last longer and manage better results.) It helps to see someone apparently achieving that.
On those other fronts, I’m working on a new novel and preparing for some other publisher things which I will talk about later. I’m seeing more of my mom than before, because dad is gone and I don’t want her to feel in any way neglected, or pass up a chance to just soak up more of her. My daily schedule is a bit of a mess, so I’m trying to find a way to fit everything in that I want to do.
Other stuff. One other thing I took from the Schwarzenegger documentary is his “philosophy” of life, if you can call it that, and why not? A philosophy like that doesn’t have to be complex, and this is not. “Keep busy and be useful.” Be useful. Apparently his father taught him that, Whatever you do, be useful. That resonated.
You never know where you might find reasons to do more.
I’ve been keeping busy. I hope I’ve been useful.