In Search of Fitness


By Neil Offen

In a discussion the other day at the gym with my personal trainer, I asked one very obvious question: What am I doing with a personal trainer? What are any of us doing with a personal trainer?

Now that we have gotten lots more comfortable with a lethal virus that is still sickening and killing a large percentage of the population, many of us have headed back to our gyms — also known as fitness centers if the monthly payment is more than your mortgage. We have done this because we know exercise will keep us healthy, extend our lifespans and perhaps help us identify a song by Megan Thee Stallion.

Gyms help us get stronger, particularly in our core. As we grow older, we need to focus on improving our core strength because strong core muscles keep us balanced and stable, making it easier to perform many of our favorite activities, such as arguing with the cable company. They help us bend down to tie our shoes and get up from seated positions after six hours of bingeing The Weather Channel. They prevent lower-back problems and keep our minds focused on upper digestive system reflux.

Most important, they help fight off the awareness of ongoing physical and mental deterioration, mainly because when your core hurts, you can’t concentrate on anything else.

Many of us also join gyms for the sense of camaraderie. We like being among others who are focused on improving their bodies and also can’t do two chin-ups. Some of us go for the fitness classes, where you can listen to earsplitting music while pretending you’re almost replicating the moves of the younger people in the front row.

I joined a gym through a program called Silver Sneakers, named after our hair color and a much better name than Bald Sneakers. It’s a program designed to get older people to be more active and, in the words of its website, “defy the odds, shatter stereotypes and answer every challenge with, ‘I can do this!’”

I was pretty sure I couldn’t do this, but, hey, Silver Sneakers was free — except for the $325 monthly health insurance premium I had to pay to get the free perk — so I joined a local gym. 

Gyms can be intimidating places, full of people with actual muscles. While those muscular people were lifting Subaru Outbacks over their heads, I found myself a personal trainer because I needed someone to show me how to lift my own Outback.

(Of course, like many of us, I also liked saying I had a personal trainer, which sounds so much better than referring to “my dental hygienist” or “my atrial fib tech.”)

My personal trainer first made sure I was in excellent shape for a 106-year-old nearsighted lifetime smoker with fallen arches. She tested my current fitness level by having me run on a treadmill, squat in place, do as many pushups as I could in one minute and then see if I could remember my name.

As I left the gym, while alternating between gasping for breath and wheezing for breath, my own Subaru Outback was waiting outside. I had just enough strength left to put it into drive. 

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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1 Comment on "In Search of Fitness"

  1. Jock Lauterer | June 10, 2022 at 5:14 pm | Reply

    larfing out loud as a lift my Coors light.

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