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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?: Working up a good sweat

Excercise is a great way to start the new year. - 123RF
Find an exercise class that suits your style. - 123RF - The Chronicle Herald

This is the time of year when a lot of us are regretting the free-for-all food feast at Christmastime. We do this every year and every year we never learn, so now we’re in the middle of the blahs. We know in our hearts we have to get moving.

But the thought of going to a gym scares the daylights out of me. In my mind, a gym is full of men, heavy equipment and mirrors — three things I always try to stay away from. I am aware that sounds terrible because I really do love men, just not when I have to stand around them in workout clothes. Believe me, I’m doing them a favour.

And I always think people who go to gyms have it all together. They know what they’re doing and they wear the right leggings and have the latest gym bags. They carry water bottles and their running shoes look deadly serious. They spin, which I didn’t know until recently is just riding a stationary bike really, really fast.

I am so far removed from this world, as to be in another universe. What do overweight, almost senior citizens do? The ones who aren’t cool and fabulous and going on bike trips through France or hiking in Switzerland.

A friend and neighbour came over for tea during the holidays and mentioned that a wonderful woman conducts an exercise class every morning at 10 a.m. in an old hall in Glace Bay. She’d been doing it for years and you can go as often as you want. How is it possible I didn’t know this?

I show up bright and early the next Monday morning. The place is fabulous! There’s a sort-of school gym setup with a stage and it’s completely run down and freezing cold. There are holes in the walls, old furniture and stuff on the stage and stacks of chairs piled up in a corner.

I immediately feel at home. This is a place I can relax in. The dreariness lasts only two seconds before it’s replaced by the marvellous bundle of energy named Sharon, who runs the class and the gathering crowd of middle-aged women who bustle in after me.

They’re all wearing normal stuff. They’re all laughing. They know I’m new and reassure me to just follow along. Who cares if I get it right?

And boy, do I get a lot of it wrong. After a couple of weeks, I now know that I can’t do a grapevine to save my life. It’s only four steps, but I mess it up every time. And the cha-cha is beyond me. I also can’t do anything with opposing limbs. If my right arm and my left leg have to do something at the same time, it’s not going to happen.

One of the ladies comes charging over after my second day and asks how I made out.

“I’m watching you for inspiration,” I tell her. And it’s true. She’s in her 80s and can lift her legs like nobody’s business.

“I’ve been doing this a long time. I feel great.”

She looks great, too.

Sometimes we use a step, sometimes a chair. There are light weights on most days, a ball or plastic pipe. It’s amazing what you can do with these objects.

You might be freezing cold when you get in there, but you’re soon sweating up a storm by the end of it.

The beauty of this place is that it isn’t intimidating. There are no expectations or judgments from anyone or, for that matter, from myself. I’m not worried about the ladies next to me. They are my people. We’re not here to change drastically. We just want to feel better.

And this is the beauty of little exercise classes in old church halls in small towns everywhere. They are as comfy as putting on old socks. Modern, bright, gleaming, music-pulsing gyms are a great fit for a lot of people.

But I want old and droopy, like me.

Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and a fat cat who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is in bookstores now.

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