Like most people, one of my first New Years Resolutions every year is to be healthier.
Well, that’s not exactly true.
It’s to get fit.
Which might sound noble, I suppose, but scratch the surface a little deeper and you’ll find what it really means is let’s get this body buff so I can look GOOD. Like, passing your reflection in a window and saying “yeah, I’d do him” kind of good. And so, in retrospect, said resolution becomes about the outside, not the in. Although if one looks better and feels better on the outer, it’s bound to affect one’s innards in a positive way, and so I guess that’s what matters most.
(Yeah, right. Um, tell that to HIM.)
Like many people, I have a rather dusty gym membership that I dig out and shake off in preparation for the coming year. Even if I don’t use it regularly, I’ll never cancel it. It’s kind of like my version of a security blanket…with it I just feel safer and protected.
“Back off beer belly! Get outta my way thunder thighs!” I think, “with this magic card around you’ll never take me alive!” To give up my gym membership, I imagine, would be like giving up, and everybody hates a quitter, right?
But alas, I still remember that early day in January a number of years back, when everything changed. I packed my new Swiss Army gym bag with my New Balance sneakers I’d convinced Santa Me I couldn’t do without, and waited anxiously in the shivering cold outside my little downtown apartment for my gym buddy Elaine to pick me up. And there I stood, nearly chomping at the bit, eager to hit – no, attack! – the gym and divulge myself of those extra 5 lbs I’d put on that holiday season, the direct result of that damn box of Turtles (um, or was that boxes?) those numerous big boy Cape Breton breakfasts (aka Heart Attack on a Plate), and the jar of BBQ peanuts the size of my head, that came with the same size heartburn to match.
And so a short time later Elaine finally pulled up, and as I eagerly jumped into the car, my nose was suddenly affronted, not with the smell of Febreeze wafting from old gym sneaks that I might have expected, but instead with the warm delicious scent of “combination” pizza. (In Cape Breton-ese, that’s pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers. When one leaves the Island, they might pretend to be more worldly and sophisticated…we might tune into CNN for our latest breaking news instead of Breakfast Television or Talk Back on the radio, we may learn how to mouth greetings such as “hello, how are you today?” instead of “Hey! How she goin’ bye”?, and someone might finally convince us that you do indeed pronounce the letter H as “aich” and not “haich”…but when it comes to pizza, anything topped with something other then the Big 3 we regard with suspicion, scorn and disdain, and a simple “Uh, I ain’t eatin’ that'”)
Wide eyed and slack jawed, I watched as Elaine chewed her way through a piece or two before coming up for air and finally saying “You know what? I”ve been thinking. Who wants to be a January Joiner? The gym…It’ll be all crowded with NEW people with their silly new year’s resolutions. They’ll tie up the equipment and they won’t know what they’re doing. I say we wait them out. They won’t last long. And instead, let’s eat pizza. And shop. And maybe go to a movie?”
Gasp! Damn those January Joiners! My friend Elaine was BRILLIANT! Who wants to be another sheep, following the herd? Not I! Who wanted to fight our way through the noise and throng of the gym floor, elbow to elbow with bleary eyed strangers sweating all over the place as they regarded my favourite bike or reliable old treadmill as though it were some evil and vindictive arch nemesis? No. Instead, Jason Statham awaited us in some darkened theatre, battling his own arch nemesis as we fought over whom he’d love the most, followed by beer and chicken fingers at Rogue’s Roost, or maybe some vodka and red bull and some Moves Like Jagger…er, Ashley MacIsaac, at the Pogue. I mean, we were being active. Socially active at least. That had to count for something. And the gym? The gym could wait a few weeks.
Before we knew it, February was upon us, and true to our word, we graced the gym with our presence, and I set off to fulfill the promise I’d shouted out to one red-faced and bewildered fitness instructor years past: “Make me a Happy Naked Person!” And on that first day back, there, standing before us, was the empty, barren landscape of the gym, with it’s shiny polished equipment left untouched, and it’s mountains of towels fluffed and stacked on high. And, as I looked about, not a January Joiner in sight.
“Check it out!” I whispered in amazement to Elaine, “It’s like we OWN the freakin’ place!”
The gym became a bit more populated then that, but now with some serious athletic types, or at least people who knew what the machine was and how to use it without accidentally dismembering themselves. February Firsters, I called ’em, folks there to work on lookin’ good.
And after nearly dislocating my neck as I looked about to see all the good looking going ons (HEY! We were single then! It’s allowed!), we’d head off to do some stretching and goss…er, catch up on world events and such. While contemplating important facts like whether us + elliptical + rowing machine = a large plate of nachos with extra cheese. (Shockingly enough, it did!)
Yup, best gym buddies ever.
Elaine and I are soon planning our triumphant return. And yes, there might be a little pizza in the back seat action. Or a Transporter movie marathon. And no matter how hard I try, I can’t quit that damn honey dill sauce at Rogue’s.
But we’ll get there. Besides, we still have two weeks.
So, if like me, and like so many others, your New Year’s Resolution was to drop those pesky Holidaze pounds, or to simply get out there and get active again, or to be more healthy, then don’t despair….it’s not too late! Take my word for it.
Don’t be a January Joiner. Be a February Firster. Trust me. It’s where it’s AT.