I exercise at a YMCA five or six times a week. It’s a great place to work out. People of all sizes and shapes and nationalities and ages use the facilities. I particularly admire the many octogenarians who show up everyday from a nearby seniors residence. There is one man, tall, black and wiry, who sings hymns softly as he moves from one weight machine to the next. There is a tiny Asian lady who can’t speak English but gives me a warm smile and an enthusiastic wave every morning. There is another white haired woman who comes onto the exercise floor with her walker. It isn’t easy for her to maneuver onto the seat of the recumbent bike or the rower but she has a system figured out and she manages independently. One day I was rowing beside another elderly woman with a considerable stoop in her back. We started chatting and she said, “My children have given up on me and so has my doctor. They think I should be in a wheelchair. But they can think what they want. I’m not giving up on myself.” There’s a man with a shock of white hair who reads the Toronto Globe and Mail as he bikes and another woman in her eighties who swims, walks and bikes everyday. There’s a First Nations man with a white cane and a grey ponytail who told me he’s keeping fit because his girlfriend likes him that way.
If I don’t feel like exercising, all I have to do is look at the people twenty or so years my senior at the gym who show up everyday so they can stay as fit and healthy as possible. I admire them. They inspire me.