The sun is shining.  The air is comfortably dry, definitely a good hair day.  A slight breeze is blowing.  Even before I step outside I can see nature’s glory through the windows and I smile.  Then I frown.  I frown because I suddenly recall the promise I made to myself early this morning just before I rose from my bed.  I would go to the gym today.  Instantly, the day grows dark!

It’s sad but true.  I have become such a gym-o-phobe that even the prospect of donning a sports bra can wreck my entire day.   But perhaps “phobe” is not an accurate suffix to explain my response to this house of dumbbells.  I don’t exactly fear the gym; I out-and-out hate it!

This attitude represents a serious and almost unrecognizable change from my former self.  There was a time in my life, extending over many years, that going to the gym was an integral part of my schedule.  At least three times a week, there I was, the cardio fitness queen, pounding away on the treadmill and Stair Master.   With the fierceness of a warrior, I fought   against flab, torturing my individual body parts on machinery that looked like it might have been designed by Torquemada for the Spanish Inquisition.

It was all worth it.  I felt virtuous, strong, healthy.  To say nothing of gorgeous, as I wore tank tops well into middle-age, flaunting my well-defined shoulders.  Michelle Obama had nothing on me! So what happened?

I believe I am suffering from an acute case of gym burn-out, destined to become chronic unless I can act to reverse it.   And you needn’t bother to lecture me on the importance of exercise in the “later” stages of life.  It won’t work.  I already read the Science Times and worship Dr. Oz.

couchpotatoAlthough I have succumbed to this work-out malaise, I must confess that I have not been able to make peace with my slothfulness.  As much as I am repulsed by the sight of a pair of sneakers, I can’t seem to silence the little voice that urges me to once again get off my butt.  So, heeding the suggestions of well-meaning, more motivated friends, I have so far called into play the following strategies.

Scare Tactics.   My current behavior is hazardous to my health.  I am not striving to ward off osteopenia, or its evil twin, osteoporosis. I will wind up like Sally Field and Blythe Danner, having to take some horrid medication for the rest of my life so my bones don’t snap.  And the worst of it is, no one will pay me to talk about it on television.

I also know that I’m not being kind to my cardio-vascular system, while at the same time depriving my brain of the super-oxygenating results of the elliptical machine.  Well, my brain might just have to be satisfied with sedentary crossword puzzle challenges!

One might think that fear of weight gain was enough to get me bouncing.  And it was, until I learned how long I had to spend working up a sweat to counteract the pleasure of one Oreo cookie!

Bribery.  A few of my friends who are proponents of retail therapy suggested that I reward myself if I go to the gym.  “It doesn’t have to be expensive,” one friend said.  “Maybe a new tee shirt, or a pair of earrings.”  Now this was an appealing idea that actually got me into my workout attire.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately), I got completely sidetracked by looking for potential gifts before I actually went to exercise. The hour got late enough that I was able to convince myself that I had to go right home because the dogs were starving.

Personal Trainer.   Another helpful suggestion was that I acquire the services of a personal trainer.  If I had a specific appointment twice a week, I would not easily be able to wriggle out of my commitment.   This sounded foolproof.  So I hired a trainer to come to the house every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:00 am.   She was a lovely young woman, pleasant, dedicated, and very fit.  What a wonderful role model.  It was good for a while.  And by the third week, I experienced a noticeable shift in attitude.  I no longer hated the gym; I was beginning to hate the trainer!

Vary the Routine.  More wisdom from gym-goers:  don’t keep doing the same old thing.  Take classes.  This made sense; try to relieve the boredom factor.  So I checked the class schedule for the gym I belong to but successfully avoid.   “Yogalates?” Don’t think I want that one.  Sounds like a drink at Starbucks.  With soy milk.  “Kick Boxing?” Too aggressive.  “Zumba?” That sounds goofy enough to be fun.  So with the requisite towel and water bottle I show up for Zumba.  The energetic, SLIM, instructor with a big voice puts on the Latin music and revs up the class.  Why do I soon get the feeling that everyone but me has been doing this for their entire lives?  They are smoothly going through the routine while I’m tripping over my own feet trying to keep up.  Oh sure, I work up a sweat.  But it’s more from the anxiety of feeling like a klutz than burning calories! The loud music drowns out the sound of the door closing after me as I quietly slip away.

Any more ideas to offer? There’s always the guilt factor over the money spent and wasted on the gym membership.  My gym, however, is for the budget-minded.  I think to get the maximum benefit from the guilt factor, I shall have to join and not attend a much more expensive gym.

And so the struggle rages.  The angel on one shoulder telling me to do the right thing, while the devil on the left is saying “Nah!”   In the meantime, I have stashed all of my tank tops.  To borrow a descriptive phrase from Nora Ephron, when a woman reaches that point in life when her cleavage looks like a peach pit, she probably shouldn’t be wearing them anyway!

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