We joined the YMCA.
As you might recall, I dislike exercise greatly, so you may be wondering why I would pay money for a thing that is mostly made for doing such dreadful things. Good question. Good question. The answer is a full two words long: child care.
The friendly woman that gave me the pre-membership tour pointed out a group of people in a large room with appropriately large windows sweating, gyrating, stretching and kicking while an enthusiastic instructor led them in their heart-pumping movements. “We have over 50 group classes each week,” she noted, to which I replied, “Well that sounds horrible.” (Though I admit “Chair Yoga” sounds intriguing.)
Eventually, I got around to my *real* concern: “Is it acceptable to drop my kid off in child care and then sit in the cafe for two hours?” The answer: yes.
We tested the Y out with a five day trial, which included some entertaining my girls in the splash pad, a lot of dropping my 2-year-old in child care, and a bit of “exercising” so as not to be discovered as an impostor.
After officially joining, I began to feel a little uncomfortable with my café camping plan. The café is really quite small—just a few tables and chairs in the foyer, in fact. I started to feel a little like I would be the resident lazy weirdo which, because of my anxiety around perceptions of me, didn’t seem great. It was time to assimilate. Kind of. With limited movement or sweating.
The plan was to walk. Just walk like I’m taking a stroll through the forest with a blue bird chirping happily from where it’s perched on my finger. At a glance I’d look I was doing a cool down, or doing some of that interval running, but you happen to just see me in the slow times. I’m just like you, fellow exerciser. Yessssss. Yes I am.
To kick it up a notch, I’d listen to audio books, because if you really let yourself get lost in it it’s almost like sitting. I saw one guy reading while pedaling his heart out on a stationary bike, which lands him squarely in the category of unbearable show-offs. No thank you, Kyle. (That was probably his name.) I instead chose to listen to the dry voice of David Sedaris squeaking the stories of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls in my ear. It did not disappoint.
The amount of sweat pouring from my fellow Y members is remarkable. Sometimes you can see where droplets flew from their former homes onto the sides of treadmill. Can you imagine what would have had to occur to make your body start spurting sweat out like an old-fashioned sprinkler? *shudder* All around me, dedication to health and wellness beats out its call in the thump, thump, thump of fancy running shoes. And oh! their faces. They’re working so hard, friends. So very hard.
The other day, a fragrant man in his 50s climbed onto the treadmill next to me as I was executing my morning exercise saunter. He had a mustache and old brown 70s prescription eyeglasses. Surely he was one of my kind.
He started out slow enough; a reasonable pace. But then I saw him grasp the top of the machine, arm stiff, while his other hand cranked up the speed. I assumed he’d soon let go and start pumping his arms like all the rest of us (especially me at my break-neck speed), but he didn’t. He held on tight with both hands now, while the treadmill belt whizzed beneath his feet, each step a genuine surprise to his legs. It was exactly the scene I’d imagine seeing if a man was accidentally pulled across the snowy tundra by a pack of disciplined sled dogs. He wished with all his heart to stop, but had forgotten the German words for “Stop dogs, I beg of you.” I laughed out loud as David told me all about the too-gay items in his shopping cart at Costco.
After a few days I decided it was time to branch out a little. I spotted the rowing machine. A rowing machine! I’ll take my blue bird for a boat ride. Perfect.
Friends, aside from its close proximity to Kyle (*eyeroll*), the rowing machine is glorious. I closed my eyes and listened to David, my mind shouting “weeeee!” as I pulled the imitation oars to my chest. It’s the closest you can get to taking a nap while still burning calories at a decent clip.
In fact, my leisurely strokes around an imaginary lake burn 200 calories in 30 minutes. The treadmill, however, burns roughly 1 calorie for each .01 mile. Which means that if I walk at a comfortable 3/mph, 30 minutes will result in burning a paltry 150 calories. So you’re looking at 6.66 calories per minute on the row/nap machine, or 5 calories per minute on the sweat-inducing walking contraption. A 30% improvement! For all of you kids wondering what you’ll do with math when you grow up, this is it. You’ll figure out which exercise machine burns the most calories with the least amount of effort. Don’t be a fool; stay in school.
The only trouble I had was the day I forgot my earbuds. Without something to keep my mind focused on the goal of not really exercising, I got confused and thought I was there to do the stuff the other people were doing. So I ran for a mile. A whole mile. Like a mad person. I realized the error of my ways when I stepped off the treadmill and my heart slumped over with its hands on its knees sputtering, “What…*pant pant*…was that?”
Aside from that little slip up, I love the Y and want to kiss its face. It shines like a beacon in my otherwise choppy days. It embraces me with its child care, its air conditioning, and even its occasional free, horrible Colombian coffee with powdered creamer. Oh, YMCA, you sexy beast you.