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In Praise of Co-Ed Gyms


Brianna Popsickle

They say, "When one door closes, another opens." I was reminded of that recently when it was announced that my gym was closing for one month for renovations. Everyone was skeptical it would re-open at all. I was really upset.

I had been a member of the all women' gym for two years and loved it! I got to know and like the staff, as well as the women I'd met while working out five days a week.

Another gym caught wind of ours closing, and offered us a free month trial at their facility. Theirs' was co-ed and offered much more in the way of equipment and space.

I wasn't a fan of co-ed gyms. I had a membership at one, years ago, and although I met a lot of great people, it wasn't ideal.

When I workout I like to plug into my ipod, and do my own thing, with guys there it's not always that simple.

Once I was running on the treadmill, when the guy next to me started to chat. He put his hand out to introduce himself, and reluctantly (I'm not the most coordinated person in the world.) I put my hand out to shake his. I lost my footing, and flew right off the back of the treadmill. My knee was burning, but I quickly shook it off, hopped back on and got back up to speed.

"Are you OK?" he asked.

"Fine." I replied, looking straight ahead.

"Well let's see if we can try this again," he continued, reaching out his hand.

"I'm Richard Dick."

Dick Dick? Are you kidding me? Who does that to their child? At that I lost my footing and for the second time in five minutes, shot right back off the treadmill, again! This time a couple of guys came to my rescue, as I fluffed back my hair and tried to stop the blood from dripping down my leg. Not one to give up, but totally humiliated, I got back on the treadmill.

Another guy at that gym was intent on doing whatever I was doing at the time. When I was on the elliptical he was on the one next to me, if I moved to the weights, he moved to the weights. He was nice enough, but he never came up for air, telling me his marriage woes and all about his first ex-wife. Not only was it uncomfortable at the gym, but equally uncomfortable, and awkward, when our worlds collided outside of the gym.

We ran into each other at a concert. I was with my son and he was with his. Turns out our sons were friends. He was totally embarrassed, and apologized for all his ramblings about his marriage and ex-wife. I told him it was no problem, and said I was happy to hear he had recently remarried. Turned out they were already separated. Had I still been going to that gym, I'm sure I would have known that.

Anyways, my point is, it's just simpler when you work out with women. You exchange recipes, you chat about family and work, and you usually come away feeling like you've had not only a workout, but an hour of therapy as well. It does wonders!

However, not wanting to miss a beat with my workout routine when my gym closed, I decided to give the co-ed gym a try.

Well it's been a month, and let me just say, "I'm loving it."

Men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes, slugging it out, doing whatever they can to be the best they can be. I admire that.

There are middle-aged women and older, in velour track-suits, who don't break a sweat or have a hair out of place. There are tiny, young athletic women strutting their stuff in lycra, who are half my age (and weight).

There's a gawky teenage boy, wearing a necklace and earrings, trying desperately to fit in, and an old man (probably eighty) who walks the treadmill at a snails pace, while wearing brown suspenders and a long sleeved cotton shirt.

There's a fit, thirty-something woman who sips on a Tim Horton's coffee, as she walks on the treadmill. (I know. I couldn't believe it either.) She's the same woman that scared me half to death one day as we were both listening to our ipods while doing our stretches. Suddenly I heard what I thought was a scream, I yanked out my headphones and turned around only to realize she was singing out loud to her music.

Not to be left out, there's the hard to miss, perfect looking, forty-something guy, Rolex and all, texting on his Blackberry as he works out on the elliptical.

Then there are my own personal favourites, the hard-core weight lifters. They're anywhere from eighteen to fifty; tall, short, tattooed, bald, but all, muscular. I can pretend to be viewing one of the many television monitors as I watch them sweat it out, while lifting hundreds of pounds of weights. On a good day, they'll do their stretches directly in front of the ellipticals. I tell you, working out has never felt so good!

So you see, it's true when they say, "When one door closes, another opens."

Not only that, but someone also once said, "For everything, there is a season." A co-ed gym may not have been what I was looking for years ago, but for whatever reason, it's working for me now!

Brianna Popsickle, ScreamBucket.com

Observations and reflections on life, and the people around her; written as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbour, co-worker, or whatever else anyone needs her to be.
Artist. Writer. Woman. - Struggling to re-appear after years of confinement in a suburban prison.


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