I get up at 630 four days a week to squeeze in trips to the gym before class and work. I spend a great deal of time bitching about, particularly when my alarm goes off at 630 on those mornings. I moan about being sore and I whine about the numbers on the scale not moving downward quickly enough for my taste. I spend time on the elliptical before attack the Nautilus weight machines. More often than not, I hate it both before and during. Muscles burn. I’m out of breath. I’m sweaty and my hair is all over the place.
And then it happens. Every morning, without fail, an older man wheels himself across the floor of my gym. He’s an older man with a prosthetic leg, a man who has to wear compression stockings on his other leg, which does not work significantly better than his prosthetic. He uses his arm strength to heave himself onto a recumbent bicycle, refusing any help and smiling all the while. After pedaling for longer than I would be able to, he uses his arm strength to heave himself back into his wheelchair, wheel over to the wipe dispenser and then wheels back over, making sure to take the time to wipe down his bicyle. After he is done with his cardio workout, he proceeds to the free weights area to lift and make sure that his arms stay strong and his metabolism stays as high as possible. The whole time he is smiling and jovial with the staff and the other gym patrons.
I am 25 years old. That’s not old by any stretch of the imagination and yet, despite my good overall health, I whine about getting up in the morning. I whine about not having lost enough weight yet. I whine that going to the gym is just one more thing I have to fit into my already overfull day. And then I get to see this complete stranger and his work ethic, his smiling face and his commitment to whatever modicum of health he can maintain despite his obvious injuries and physical ailments and I am reminded that my body is ultimately not my own, it is a gift from my God and I have no business whining about taking care of it. So tomorrow, when I get up to go to the gym, I’m going to do my best to remember this lesson before he shows up. To remember it when I don’t want to spend even one more second on the elliptical or do one more rep on the biceps curl. To remember that I have been blessed with health and that it could be taken away in an instant.
Happy workouts everyone!