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55 and Still a Kid

I see them shuffling by me. They solemnly march on by me, never even lifting a glance.

There’s never a smile. There’s rarely even any expression of life in their eyes at all.

They look like such old men, angry with the world, waiting for death to take them.

At least that’s the impression I get from them.

And I don’t just get that impression from what I see. I get it from what I see in their actions.

I get it from the presence they carry and project.

I get it from the look in their eyes when they scowl at me.

Most of them do not care for my company.

This group of old men apparently hold a scorn for me because I refuse to acquiesce to their brand of neurosis. I do not lumber along hoping for the end.

They ask others in the gym – who happen to be friends of mine,

“What’s that kid trying to prove? Why does that kid work out like that? Who does that kid think he is?”

Fifty-five years old, equipped with two brand new hip replacements, and I’m still considered a kid. Who can figure? Why do these guys even care?

See, when I work a weight machine, I’m there to work it. I’m not there to lounge or watch videos on my phone. I’m there to work it. I take no longer than a 15 second rest between sets, and

depending on the exercise, I might not rest at all until I’m done with that exercise.

The machine that started it all was the upright cruncher – that’s what I call it, anyway. You’re seated and you pull the weight forward and down into a sort of half-crunch.

Unfortunately, because of my surgeries and new hips, it’s about all I can do for gut-work right now, although I’m slowly able to branch out more as my strength grows.

So I hit it hard. I work the back extension machine the same way, for the same reason.

I start crunching and I don’t stop for a span of five songs played on my iPod. Give-or-take, it’s about a fifteen to twenty-minute, non-stop workout. The same holds true for the back extensions.

Unfortunately, the cruncher machine is the easiest way to do crunches. Everybody sees it.

Sadly, most people who try to use that machine do it believing that 3 sets of 6 reps is all they’ll ever need to do. Even worse, they take a good five minutes between each set and watch their phones…or stare in a dead expression of catatonia.

They have no real clue what it is they’re doing.

They just believe that their massive, bulbous distended bellies will disappear if they do those three sets of no-work. But it’s not my place to say anything, so I keep to myself.

Just as it’s not their place to pontificate upon my workouts.

Problem is, my workouts interrupt their rest-time on the cruncher machine.

I hit it hard. And long. But even still, my workout on the cruncher machine rarely exceeds the same time they spend idly sitting on it.

One thing that’s been proven to me over the years is that the only way crunches will give substantial benefits is when they are high-intensity/high-volume/high-effort.

They work just like any other endurance workout. I used to be a long-distance runner and that is exactly how I treat the cruncher machine. And that works for me.

I have never preached my personal doctrine to anyone because it only suits me and no one else.

I have never held a grudge against anyone for the way they work out…not until, that is, they draw first blood and attempt to cause me problems in the gym.

One old guy, in particular, tried to do exactly that.

And his complaints fell on deaf ears for so many legitimate reasons.

He bitched and pissed and moaned to the staff – and to a couple of my friends – that I was hogging machines and he could never work out. I was in his way and inconsiderate of other members. He considered me a nuisance.

The staff – and other members – watched me and realized that I’m actually on the machine for less of a time than he is!

They told him that I was not any kind of obstruction and certainly not a nuisance.

That shut him up, but it didn’t stop his belligerence.

So then, this guy actually felt he was justified in interrupting my workout in an attempt to force me to get up and give him the machine.

He was honestly shocked when I didn’t jump up and hand it over.

I simply – and politely – said, “I’ll be done in a couple minutes. You can have it then.”

He sulked off to the back of the gym to wait. And watched me.

Someone in the gym must’ve told him a little more about me. About the reasons that I’m forced to workout the way I do. Maybe even about the things in my past that he should probably keep in mind before harassing me. Either way, he hasn’t approached me since.

Now the guy stays in the background and uses other machines until I’m done with the cruncher.

Now, I am not a pretentious jerk. I understand that I’m not the only guy in the gym.

So, I changed around my workout a little so I would actually finish before he got to it, and he could wedge in a little easier.

I’m an old-school gym rat.

If there’s a way to do it, I’m all for splitting sets with someone else.

You’re just not going to bully me off of my workout.

This breed of old man is fascinating to me.

He lives the same, tired old-man clichés…incessantly chewing gum or a toothpick, wearing a button-down dress shirt for a workout, shuffling from station to station with one hand deep in a pocket, belly distended, all the while stinking from a cheap cologne that was fashionable over forty years ago. Shuffling along wanting to be noticed.

Over the years, I’ve known a few that live that cliché look, but they hate the spirit of the cliché. Those guys do their thing and they begrudge very little, to very few.

Those guys dress how they want and work how they want and they never give a damn what anyone else is doing. And no one ever really gives a damn about the way they do it, either.

Isn’t that how it should be in a gym?

But these other guys…they just cannot feature an anomaly like me, so they’d rather throw a clown’s-punch at my chin…and look like a total, old fool.

They would rather try to cause all this ruckus instead of just doing their own thing.

Yes, this breed of old man is fascinating to me.

I still can’t figure out the ‘why’ in all of this. Not just concerning me, in particular, but the scorn in general, towards all the rest of the world. Why?

I don’t get it because I’m nothing of their ilk.

I don’t go catatonic from disgust as soon as I sit down on a weight machine.

I don’t give off the projection that I hate the world as I scowl across the gym.

I will not sit there, between sets waiting for death to take me.

I certainly will never sit there catatonic, hoping for the end to come.

I guess I really am 55 and still a kid.

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